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Alternative to PC based Cnc controllers

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Chris Richards 311/09/2016 20:53:57
68 forum posts
13 photos

Hello All,

Just looking into control solutions for a 2 axis Cnc lathe. Has anyone used any alternatives to the pc based systems such as Mach?

Ive been looking at the various standalone systems that have an inbuilt lcd and accept g code via usb memory stick. There's a few no name eBay specials and ones branded as Adtech control etc..

Anyone have any experience with these types of control?

Thanks,

Chris

John Rudd11/09/2016 21:41:09
920 forum posts
53 photos

does this meet your needs?

http://madmodder.net/index.php/topic,11598.0.html

John Stevenson11/09/2016 21:47:12
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Moderator
5068 forum posts
3 photos

That can't do lathe, no spindle encoder input.

You want something like this. LINK

http://www.newkye.com/h-pd-102-0_334_53_-1.html

Chris PM sent

Edited By John Stevenson on 11/09/2016 21:48:13

John Haine11/09/2016 22:26:02
1501 forum posts
89 photos

Alternative to PC or Windows? The obvious choose would be a pc running Linux CNC, or possibly something like a beaglebone running it.

Chris Richards 311/09/2016 22:31:10
68 forum posts
13 photos

John I looked some more at the one you mention and it is similar to a 3 axis one on eBay £500 price doesn't sound bad if it does what it says on the tin. I've had a DRO before that looked questionable on the advert but works better than the branded stuff. Its probably used in Chinese machine shops to manufacture the stuff for sale on eBay

Bandersnatch12/09/2016 01:29:38
avatar
864 forum posts
35 photos

There are some Raspberry-Pi CNC controller boards around and software to drive them.

Martin 10012/09/2016 11:35:44
160 forum posts
5 photos
Posted by John Stevenson on 11/09/2016 21:47:12:

That can't do lathe, no spindle encoder input.

You want something like this. LINK

http://www.newkye.com/h-pd-102-0_334_53_-1.html


Price = zero seems a bit of bargain So thought I'll sign up but sadly it then gives me less info than I had before. Maybe website issues?

Is this the total game changer? Something that will really do threading? Something that recreates what we could do with BBC Model B connected to a Boxford TCL 25+ years ago?

blowlamp12/09/2016 11:44:37
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881 forum posts
59 photos

LinuxCNC does threading quite reliably.

There's also EdingCNC

Both options need a PC though.

Martin.

Edited By blowlamp on 12/09/2016 11:44:56

Edited By blowlamp on 12/09/2016 11:47:30

John Alexander Stewart12/09/2016 12:11:51
630 forum posts
49 photos

I don't know about these "CNC-in-a-box" one-offs.

1) How are the conversational programming features? Spares/replacements?

2) Networking - can you "drag-n-drop" files to them?

My LinuxCNC machines:

1) don't have keyboards (trackball, MPG, numeric keypad only) so are dedicated to running LinuxCNC;

2) even with a Mesa 5i25 card, cost a lot less than these CNC boxes, and perform MUCH better than the current GRBL-based systems for equivalent-ish price;

Lastly, I keep harping on how the relative youngsters (those under, say, 55 now) know a lot about computers and can usually figure out any problems, it's just the old codgers that have difficulty.

Just my (pre-coffee) tuppence on a Monday morning...

John Haine12/09/2016 12:20:55
1501 forum posts
89 photos

linuxCNC needs a computer with enough grunt to run Linux, and Linux has been ported to loads of processors. The rPi runs a version of Linux but people seem to have problems making LinuxCNC work on it, judging by a quick search. I believe people have ported it to the "Beaglebone". However what's wrong with using a PC? A PC with enough grunt can be bought second hand for peanuts, and you get everything you need to do the user interface, i.e. monitor and keyboard support.

As far as I can see, EdingCNC only works with its own external motion controller, which I guess does much the same as for example the SmoothStepper. This is definitely a better solution as you don't rely on the real-time performance of the PC, but loads of people (me included) use Mach3 on a PC to generate the stepping pulses with no issues, equally loads of people do the same with LinuxCNC. Despite what you read, Mach3 can do threading.img_0129.jpg

This is the ER16 collet chuck for my Acute tool sharpener, the mandrel thread was straightforward to cut using Mach3.

blowlamp12/09/2016 13:00:24
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881 forum posts
59 photos
Posted by John Haine on 12/09/2016 12:20:55:

linuxCNC needs a computer with enough grunt to run Linux, and Linux has been ported to loads of processors. The rPi runs a version of Linux but people seem to have problems making LinuxCNC work on it, judging by a quick search. I believe people have ported it to the "Beaglebone". However what's wrong with using a PC? A PC with enough grunt can be bought second hand for peanuts, and you get everything you need to do the user interface, i.e. monitor and keyboard support.

As far as I can see, EdingCNC only works with its own external motion controller, which I guess does much the same as for example the SmoothStepper. This is definitely a better solution as you don't rely on the real-time performance of the PC, but loads of people (me included) use Mach3 on a PC to generate the stepping pulses with no issues, equally loads of people do the same with LinuxCNC. Despite what you read, Mach3 can do threading.img_0129.jpg

This is the ER16 collet chuck for my Acute tool sharpener, the mandrel thread was straightforward to cut using Mach3.

 

Mach3 lathe threading can be very hit and miss and is not in the same league as LinuxCNC. Mach doesn't reliably track tool position per pass, so it won't compensate for a change in spindle speed, however, LinuxCNC does.

Mach might be OK for short threads but probably not for feedscrews.

 

Martin.

Edited By blowlamp on 12/09/2016 13:01:08

John Alexander Stewart12/09/2016 13:31:52
630 forum posts
49 photos
Posted by John Haine on 12/09/2016 12:20:55:

The rPi runs a version of Linux but people seem to have problems making LinuxCNC work on it, judging by a quick search. I believe people have ported it to the "Beaglebone". However what's wrong with using a PC? A PC with enough grunt can be bought second hand for peanuts, and you get everything you need to do the user interface, i.e. monitor and keyboard support.

1) I had a Beaglebone (shown in one of my talks at the LinuxCNCWorkshop in the USA back in 2015) and I recently traded it for some other workshop equipment. It worked really well, but was an "odd ball" for my workshop.

2) My PCs are donated; adequate flat screen monitors (if not donated) are available for about the cost of a pint or two of beer from the local charity shops.

3) What one needs, though (and what John Stevenson is always harping on about) is some computer savvy - the ability to install something other than Windows from a DVD or USB stick; and click through one of the config GUIs - one for parallel port installs, another for the Mesa 5i25 style of boards.

That last part is tough for many people who were not raised with computers; that's not an insult - many "kids" have a tough time with tools as they were not taught at a young age like many of us here.

(For the record, the "trades" were "out" and computers were "in" when I was a kid - I did find night schools that taught Shop and took classes for years learning from the experienced - my schooling had NONE of this - I think I designed and wire-wrapped a handful of 8 and 16 bit computers before I had a real (non-Unimat) lathe)

Michael-w12/09/2016 13:56:36
1740 forum posts
48 photos

Theres something thats very appealing about the halfway house between CNC and manual, teach lathes as they used to call them.

I think it's definitely got these amazing uses in milling complex shapes or turning strange radii. But other than that i like the ability to control myself whats going on in the simple processes.

Michael W

Bandersnatch12/09/2016 18:12:04
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864 forum posts
35 photos
Posted by John Haine on 12/09/2016 12:20:55:

The rPi runs a version of Linux but people seem to have problems making LinuxCNC work on it, judging by a quick search.

What I'd been looking at was this. I do have the board but it only arrived a few days ago and I don't have the Pololus yet so I haven't done anything with it.

Chris Richards 312/09/2016 22:01:30
68 forum posts
13 photos

This has turned into a debate

I know it can work fine in theory my industrial control runs a dos based system fine for milling.

But if you can get a dedicated standalone controller for the price of a breakout board and a brand new computer why not go that route? No booting up, shutting down and all that Microsoft mumbo jumbo.

John Haine13/09/2016 08:44:50
1501 forum posts
89 photos

"But if you can get a dedicated standalone controller for the price of a breakout board and a brand new computer why not go that route? No booting up, shutting down and all that Microsoft mumbo jumbo."

Well...

  • For one, you don't need a brand new computer, Mach3 and LinuxCNC will run on older machines which can be free.
  • Mach3/4 have a company behind them and a community of users, with an active support forum, to solve problems. LinuxCNC is open-source so has a community of developers and also a support forum.
  • You are not dependent on just one hardware platform that may become obsolete, or be made so when the supplier goes bust.
  • It is easy to install updates to both the OS and the code on the PC platform. CNC controllers are complex, bugs will always need fixing, and new features introduced.

Four good reasons in 5 minutes.

John Haine13/09/2016 08:51:05
1501 forum posts
89 photos

"Mach3 lathe threading can be very hit and miss and is not in the same league as LinuxCNC. Mach doesn't reliably track tool position per pass, so it won't compensate for a change in spindle speed, however, LinuxCNC does."

After a little practice I've found that Mach does a reasonable job at least on fine-ish threads. What Mach doesn't cope with is significant slowing of the spindle during the cut as it only syncs the tool and the work once per pass, just as each pass begins, then relies on them staying in sync and the spindle speed staying constant. It might not be very good for feed screws but fine for the type of thread I showed above at least on my Super 7. But if I wanted a feed screw I'd probably buy some precision acme rod. There is also an alarming bug in the Mach simple threading wizard that you have to fix in the G-code.

its-smee13/09/2016 09:20:35
42 forum posts
17 photos

there are a lot of projects around in the "Arduino" Community and it is all open source. many output boards can be fitted and expanded

http://playground.arduino.cc/Projects/Ideas

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_1_11?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=arduino+cnc&sprefix=arduino+cnc%2Caps%2C205&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Aarduino+cnc

 

 

Edited By its-smee on 13/09/2016 09:23:09

John Stevenson13/09/2016 09:47:16
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Moderator
5068 forum posts
3 photos

OK short sharp reply.

Everybody here is looking at this from a purely selfish attitude, how does it affect me. Ok nothing wrong with that, we all do it but please look at it from another aspect.

Most who have posted here are probably using CNC and have converted their own but now look at it from the view of someone who can't do all this CNC mumbo Jumbo and just wants a machine to use.

In this case our hero has to rely on third party suppliers and MOST importantly SUPPORT.

Mach 3 was a good system, developed by Art Fenerty and a limited team of testers who were also users and he listened to them.

Linux is possibly a better system but run by a team of developers not users who frankly don't listen to anyone and this has been well documented over the years. With Linux everyone is free to do what they want and return any modified code to the developers but then it falls thru the cracks.

All these systems require hardware like breakout boards, external controllers computers etc.

Everyone tells you Linux is free, technically yes but the time taken to set it up isn't. No two computers whether free, bought or whatever are the same. The result is when a system is shipped out to a customer you can get all sort of problems that have to be supported.

Hardware is a nightmare in that many of the suppliers never sort problems out with their hardware, refuse to answer questions or support, or just disappear off the fact of the earth.

This is a shelf above the bench where I prepare CNC conversions.

In those boxes are multiple versions of breakout boards drivers, external controllers etc.

The total cost of this lot is well over £1,000 possibly close to £2,000 and this is not the only store of crap redundant parts that don't work or that I can't get support for.

So please excuse me if I sound bitter and selfish.

I have had to jump in my truck, travel from Nottingham to Bristol, Darlington and Hull on 4 separate occasions to replace faulty supplied boards for customers as part of the support package.

I could go on and on but suffice to say I see these simple all in one box a total game changer.

Problems with the box ? Could happen but in over 20 years of working with CNC's I have never know a proprietary controller to go down, it's always the ancillary board, encoders etc. The simple controllers being made at the moment are actually less than a decent breakout board, forget the computer and licensing.

Suppliers goes out of business OK can and will happen but the box will carry on running.

OK Mach and Linux will be around for a long while and suit many why can and are able to play but spare a though for the vast majority who just want to own a CNC machine and use it without knowing how it works inside.

These people are not the minority like the posters on here but the Majority.

blowlamp13/09/2016 10:47:12
avatar
881 forum posts
59 photos
Posted by John Stevenson on 13/09/2016 09:47:16:

OK short sharp reply.

Everybody here is looking at this from a purely selfish attitude, how does it affect me. Ok nothing wrong with that, we all do it but please look at it from another aspect.

Most who have posted here are probably using CNC and have converted their own but now look at it from the view of someone who can't do all this CNC mumbo Jumbo and just wants a machine to use.

In this case our hero has to rely on third party suppliers and MOST importantly SUPPORT.

Mach 3 was a good system, developed by Art Fenerty and a limited team of testers who were also users and he listened to them.

Linux is possibly a better system but run by a team of developers not users who frankly don't listen to anyone and this has been well documented over the years. With Linux everyone is free to do what they want and return any modified code to the developers but then it falls thru the cracks.

All these systems require hardware like breakout boards, external controllers computers etc.

Everyone tells you Linux is free, technically yes but the time taken to set it up isn't. No two computers whether free, bought or whatever are the same. The result is when a system is shipped out to a customer you can get all sort of problems that have to be supported.

Hardware is a nightmare in that many of the suppliers never sort problems out with their hardware, refuse to answer questions or support, or just disappear off the fact of the earth.

This is a shelf above the bench where I prepare CNC conversions.

In those boxes are multiple versions of breakout boards drivers, external controllers etc.

The total cost of this lot is well over £1,000 possibly close to £2,000 and this is not the only store of crap redundant parts that don't work or that I can't get support for.

So please excuse me if I sound bitter and selfish.

I have had to jump in my truck, travel from Nottingham to Bristol, Darlington and Hull on 4 separate occasions to replace faulty supplied boards for customers as part of the support package.

I could go on and on but suffice to say I see these simple all in one box a total game changer.

Problems with the box ? Could happen but in over 20 years of working with CNC's I have never know a proprietary controller to go down, it's always the ancillary board, encoders etc. The simple controllers being made at the moment are actually less than a decent breakout board, forget the computer and licensing.

Suppliers goes out of business OK can and will happen but the box will carry on running.

OK Mach and Linux will be around for a long while and suit many why can and are able to play but spare a though for the vast majority who just want to own a CNC machine and use it without knowing how it works inside.

These people are not the minority like the posters on here but the Majority.

So who's going to help him when he buys the controller you linked to, but gets stuck integrating it into his machine? It so far seems that no hobbyist on this forum has fitted such a control as yet, so it'll be a step in the dark for the OP if he chooses that route.

Anyone just wanting to own & run a CNC machine can already buy one ready to run, can't they?

Having said all that, I'd still be interested in knowing the price of the control you pointed us to if anyone has it.

Martin.

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