Rong Fu 30 Mechanical conversion done........now it's programs

Discussion in 'CNC Machines and Conversions' started by twobobbwana, Aug 30, 2018.

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  1. Aug 30, 2018 #1

    twobobbwana

    twobobbwana

    twobobbwana

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    I have followed Chuck Fellow's route to convert my Rong Fu30 to cnc. Now that I have the mechanical side of the conversion completed (?) I now have to get programs working.

    I have an older version of Alibre Design 11.2, that the new owners no longer support, If I can revive my old computer (Windows XP system) this program should do all that I need.......I intend to run this CAD program in conjunction with Mach 3.

    I have 4 axis Stepperonline motors, drivers, board etc with 439oz dual shaft stepper motors. I am operating via a parallel port and this complicates the issue.

    Failing resurrection of Alibre Design 11.2 I will buy Alibre Atom 3D.

    Alibre Atom 3D needs Windows 7, 8 or 10 (62 bit) to operate. Mach 3 is having difficulties operating with Windows 10 (believe this is to do with parallel port applications) and is not supported for use on laptops.

    Mach 3 is compatible with the 32 bit version of Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7 but not the 64 bit version.

    I believe (???) that if I run a smooth stepper board it eliminates the parallel port problems (???). Is this the board in my system that tells the drivers/motors to turn on/off, clockwise/anticlockwise ???

    Therefore do I run the old Alibre Design 11.2 (Windows XP system) with Mach 3 and replace my board with a smooth stepper or:

    Run Alibre Atom 3D (Windows 8) with Mach 3 and replace my board with a smooth stepper ???

    Please let me know your understanding/experience with these programs...........or let me know what combinations that you are running that are compatible with my Stepperonline/parallel port setup.
     
  2. Aug 30, 2018 #2

    blighty

    blighty

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    i would say windows 10 64bit, Mach3-4, smoother stepper (or similar) Fusion 360.

    I have an rf45 running on the above...... Mach 3

    If i had my way i would go back to XP as 10 is a pain in the a** with updates. but saying that, if your not going the way of Fusion then the PC doesn't have to be on the net.
     
  3. Aug 31, 2018 #3

    Wizard69

    Wizard69

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    Not being familiar with Alibre I have to ask if it does CAM. If not you will need a CAM package or update to a modern integrated solution.
    parallel port control over Windows is getting to be less and less a thing that you want to do.
    Mach 3 is getting every long in the tooth!! As such I recommend looking at all of the alternatives.

    My experience with Windows 10 has been Horrible! I completely deleted it from my laptop to run Linux, except for two glitches the machine runs noticeably better under Linux. Your millage may vary of course but in my opinion you would be better off with a dedicated computer acting as the NC controller/interface. This doesn't have to be expensive and your could even go with one of the ARM boards for a low cost implementation. Other wise spend a bit more an implement a dedicated LinuxCNC system. Again my experiece with Windows t10 was so bad I deleted it completely, I'm not suggestion that you do this for your laptop/desktop, just that you implement a second computer to run the CNC machine if you want to keep up with Windows on your other machines.
    Smooth Stepper is a pulse generation board that takes the real time software out of the PC and puts it on a micro-controller where timing can be maintained. It eliminates the issue where Windows can go off into never never land and not drive realtime software properly. Note that it is suggested to do Smooth Stepper or similar boards, over Ethernet as some versions of Windows can't even handle the USB port properly. In other words the combination of USB and CNC software has been problematic at times on Windows.
    It really depends upon your needs, if the XP hardware is stable I'd probably stick with that for now. You will still want to do Smoooth Stepper over Ethernet though. Still I don't see where running old versions of Windows makes sense in the long run. Eventually an update will happen that you need and you are stuck without it or worsts and update happens that make syour system unusable due to the lack of support.

    In either case I'd highly suggest looking for an alternative to Mach 3. Mach 3 has been unsupported for a very long time and as you have seen not always functional under newer Windows releases. Currently those Mach 3 issues are driver related but unsupported software can stop working in far more disastrous ways at any time.
    My biggest problem is your reliance on outdated software and operating systems. Keep an open mind to other solutions that are better supported. Lets be honest though it is a risk many take to save a few bucks but there are free solutions out there that are better supported than what you are currently suggesting.
     
  4. Sep 4, 2018 #4

    twobobbwana

    twobobbwana

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    Wizard,

    Alibre Design 11.2 is cad...........and it's what I've got and paid for so I'm trying to use it. Mach 3 is to provide my CAM and I thought it was well respected.

    The parallel port setup is the means to hook my Stepperonline drivers/motors/breakout board to my computer.I have a Mach 3 compatible stepper control on it's way from the supplier of my drivers/motors/breakout board. I believe this will sort out the parallel port issues.

    I understood Mach 3 was a popular Cam but am happy to consider alternatives that work with my existing setup. I'll take a look at Linuxcnc. I am happy to dedicate my desktop to cnc only use. I believe the driver issues relate to parallel ports/64 bit versions of Mach 3 and can be addressed by the "smoothstepper".

    Windows XP was the operating system, supposedly compatible to the cad system, that was on the computer. If updating to a later version of Windows (probably 8 or 8.1............not 10), would solve issues it would be done.

    Having spent money on the setup that I have, with virtually no results, I'm adverse to "throwing good money after bad".

    I've seen posts of people having successfully done this so there must be a result in my future here shortly.
     
    michael-au likes this.
  5. Sep 9, 2018 #5

    ninefinger

    ninefinger

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    Mach 3 is not CAM, nor is Linuxcnc, Alibre Atom 3D and though I didn't look it up I would believe that Alibre Design isn't either. The Alibre are just CAD, and Mach 3 or Linuxcnc are the motion control. CAM is Computer Aided Manufacturing - i.e. take your 3D design and convert it to tool paths for a motion controller like Mach 3 or Linuxcnc, etc.
    I strongly suggest looking at Fusion 360 (Startup /hobby license is free - does both CAD and CAM). BTW - there is no need to run the CAD and CAM on the same machine as the CNC motion controller. I do CAD and CAM on my windows 10 PC and run Linuxcnc on my machines.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2018
  6. Sep 9, 2018 #6

    twobobbwana

    twobobbwana

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    Ninefinger,

    I had assumed Mach 3 and Linuxcnc were CAM ................. but I've been wrong before. I knew that Alibre Design was only CAD - not CAM.

    Sounds like Fusion 360 has quite a following, and being integrated CAD/CAM, may be the way to go.

    I thought it was the CAM that generated the tool paths...........but now you're saying I need CAD, CAM and motion controllers !!!!???

    So you draw the sketch on the CAD, CAM converts the model/sketch to tool paths, and the motion controller tells the machine to move !!!!????

    It appears that I know less about this than I suspected.

    Thank you for your input.
     
  7. Sep 10, 2018 #7

    ninefinger

    ninefinger

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    I'm definitely a proponent of Fusion 360 at the moment (rare for me !) The integrated CAM is a huge benefit as you learn the general work flow of the Fusion system and it applies to CAD and CAM, plus if you change something in the model its dead simple to go update the CAM. Plus - if you do get stuck you can ask for help and let somebody work with you on your CAD/CAM by sharing the project with them.
     
  8. Sep 10, 2018 #8

    twobobbwana

    twobobbwana

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    Ninefinger,

    Thanks for your input. I'll take a look at the Fusion 360/Linuxcnc comination and "blunder on".

    This is a very steep learning curve..............especially for someone who is adverse to the vagaries, black magic and witchcraft that is computers.

    I believe the adversity will be worth the reward.................I've got to keep believing that.
     
  9. Sep 11, 2018 #9

    Wizard69

    Wizard69

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    Mach 3 is a machine controller program and was well respected in its day. Today it is unsupported software that has been Eclipsed by other solutions. Mach 3 does not do CAM so you need to consider a CAM package.
    Possibly but it is also possible it will not do anything for you. There are all sorts of issues with respect to parallel ports that can potentially cause you grief. It can be simple or complex to resolve (sometimes impossible).
    .
    LinuxCNC and Mach 3 are both machine control solutions. From my standpoint the big difference is that LinuxCNC is supported via open source methods while Mach 3 is being phased out with no support at all. Do realize though that there are more solutions out there than just these two. You will want to consider them all.
    Last i knew people using Smooth stepper where getting good results if they where using the Ethernet based SmoothStepper.
    XP is one of the more stable versions of Windows so hopefully that isn't causing you issues. You do need to get everything configured correctly though.
    The problem here is what is bad. It could be hardware, it could be software, it could be configuration.
    Sure, it takes time to grasp everything that is going on! I would suggest taking a few steps backwards and starting over reading the documentation, reinstalling everything according to the manuals and triple checking your wiring.

    Also reduce the confusion in your posts. If you are trying to get a CNC controller running focus only on that and the software related directly to that. It makes life a lot easier for those reading your messages.
     
  10. Sep 11, 2018 #10

    Wizard69

    Wizard69

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    LinuxCNC is a big jump in complexity but a very powerful one. You might want to get what you currently have working first. This especially because last i knew Smoothstepper did not work with LinuxCNC.
    You need to slow down and actually spend some time learning about the technology. You seem to be jumping around a little too much without studying what you are doing and trying to achieve.

    Your comment about computers indicates to me that you are totally in the wrong mind set here. Think of tools as just another tool in the shop, no more mysterious than a shaper or lathe. You don't learn to operate a mill in a days time so why would you expect instant understanding of a computer? If you are going to DIY your own CNC controller you will need to learn about electronics and computers to a deeper degree than buying a controller ready to go. You cant expect instant understanding of the machine (the computer) and processes.

    This is no different than using a mill and achieving its full potential. The basic operations are simple (the cranks move the axis). As you operate the machine you learn about speeds and feeds. You might add a rotary table or indexing head and expand your knowledge space. You build skills and knowledge over time.

    With a computer you do much the same, that is build up your knowledge base over time. If you insist on calling it all black magic you have put yourself at a disadvantage before you even get started.
    Yep there is huge reward in conquering and learning. It simply will not happen all at once though. Look at it this way to get a CNC up in running DIY you need to learn a bit of technology from multiple disciplines. You need a little electrical knowledge to wire up the machine. A little mechanical knowledge is need to fabricate the machine. A little computer knowledge is needed to get the controller software running. This just to get the controller operational.

    At this point i would concentrate only on getting the controller up and running. Put CAD and CAM out of your mind.
     

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