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Alternative to PC based Cnc controllers

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Bazyle02/10/2016 19:36:27
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Seems to me everybody is missing a trick here. There are things like Arduino and Pie that are too domestic, lack power and need a rat's nest of breakouts, Then there are more powerful micro/mini headless (no video keys etc) PCs aimed at music servers with no built in I/O.
The £150 job combines processor and I/O and basic display, and the more expensive are ditto with maybe more grunt. Hooray! There are lots of applications for small industrial controllers which exist but they are at industrial prices because of low volume. If these self contained mini units could just come with a basic bootloader and the CNC bit on a USB stick then it opens the market up for many more uses.

Got an old PC loaded up with Linuxcnc yesterday but the damn thing turns out to be one with known impossible latency issues - can still practice play though.

Michael Gilligan02/10/2016 20:43:09
9082 forum posts
395 photos
Posted by Bazyle on 02/10/2016 19:36:27:

Seems to me everybody is missing a trick here. ...


The £150 job combines processor and I/O and basic display, and the more expensive are ditto with maybe more grunt. Hooray! ...

.

I beg to differ, Bazyle ... That trick has not been missed.

However, I think the manufacturer might have missed a trick ... Nice as full integration might be; I personally would be much happier with the facility to Use a larger external display [and maybe a keyboard of sorts].

If you can point me to the VGA or HDMI connector, I would be delighted.

MichaelG.

John Stevenson02/10/2016 20:57:43
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In which case Michael the Masso unit is right up your street

Michael Gilligan02/10/2016 21:24:46
9082 forum posts
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Posted by John Stevenson on 02/10/2016 20:57:43:

In which case Michael the Masso unit is right up your street

.

That's what I was thinking, John ... Until you pointed out its shortcomings.

MichaelG.

Bazyle02/10/2016 22:12:59
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Yes it was the manufacturers I meant were missing out. I thought the inbuilt display a bonus for the applications I was thinking of, like small industrial oven process control (not everything is CNC) greenhouse control, central heating control, alarm system, that sort of thing.

Older PC beside me loading Linux over windows NT. Fingers crossed the 10G drive and 250meg memory is enough. It didn't self select to install the desktop so knows it's tight.

Michael Gilligan02/10/2016 22:17:06
9082 forum posts
395 photos
Posted by Bazyle on 02/10/2016 22:12:59:

Yes it was the manufacturers I meant were missing out. ...

.

My apologies, Bazyle ... I thought that by 'everybody' you meant all of us here.

MichaelG.

Jat Grewal02/10/2016 23:06:48
10 forum posts

John,

Thanks for such a detailed email and also for sharing your experience.

For me this CNC journey started while making CNC machines in my garage just for fun and while doing that I used PC based systems which gave me a lot of problem. So being a programmer I started making my own system mainly for fun and over time people started asking me if they can have the units.

We are stiff very new to this industry and rather than business its more of a hobby thing and we try to make things as people ask us. I do understand that simple things like wizards could have be called something else but its what mainly people told us in meetups or at maker spaces.

blowlamp02/10/2016 23:25:34
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Done properly, this is where the USB or Network connected controllers make a good alternative. All the time-critical motion control stuff is taken care of while the host computer feeds the controller g-code as required and also services the display & keyboard inputs etc.

Wiring up & configuring the system isn't really any different to either of the £150 or £400-500 self-contained alternatives, but whichever approach is chosen it'll have to be fitted into a housing of some sort, which I find can be quite time consuming in itself.

Martin.

John Stevenson02/10/2016 23:42:42
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Jat,

It can and I dare say it will be improved on but at the moment you are lacking features but your pricing is not into the hobby market range and you don't yet have enough features to interest small business.

Martin,

That's where we are now with Mach3, Mach 4 and Linux but unfortunately there isn't a complete package and no one talks to anyone else.

Mach 3 was about the best option or Linux on the parallel port as they were self contained.

However as soon as you throw a 3rd party supplier into the mix, everything goes pear shaped.

Mach 4 is possibly the worst case scenario in that as a controller it can't stand on it's own feet and relies on an outside company to supply the external controller card be it Hicon, CS Labs, Pokeys or the smooth stepper.

The smooth stepper is three weeks away from doing lathe threading but it was still three weeks away in 2012.

Jat Grewal03/10/2016 00:04:08
10 forum posts

John, I can understand what you mean and appreciate the great feedback.

At the moment its been tough to work fulltime as a programmer and keep working on MASSO, I have been trying to push more monthly sales so that more time goes into MASSO.

As you just mentioned, standardizing the hardware was one of the key requirements and we have tried to address this issues as much as we could in our design with all standardized hardware on one board.

You might be able to give some great feedback in regards to pricing, some of my clients have been saying that if we go for a subscription model then it will be better. Basically sell the units at half or even less cost £150 - £200 and then have a £15 monthly subscription that will include free updates. What do you think about this from clients point of view?

Thanks for you time

John Stevenson03/10/2016 00:14:39
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Jat,

I have no idea how that would work ?

What is to stop someone buying he £200 unit and then not paying the subscription. Problem with the hobby game is 10% of people accept they are paying for time and goods but the other 90% want everything for nothing.

When programs like Fusion 360 are free to hobby and the maker movement is all about open source and getting everything for nothing it is really hard to get returns on your time and effort.

blowlamp03/10/2016 01:09:07
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848 forum posts
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Posted by John Stevenson on 02/10/2016 23:42:42:

Jat,

It can and I dare say it will be improved on but at the moment you are lacking features but your pricing is not into the hobby market range and you don't yet have enough features to interest small business.

 

Martin,

That's where we are now with Mach3, Mach 4 and Linux but unfortunately there isn't a complete package and no one talks to anyone else.

Mach 3 was about the best option or Linux on the parallel port as they were self contained.

However as soon as you throw a 3rd party supplier into the mix, everything goes pear shaped.

Mach 4 is possibly the worst case scenario in that as a controller it can't stand on it's own feet and relies on an outside company to supply the external controller card be it Hicon, CS Labs, Pokeys or the smooth stepper.

The smooth stepper is three weeks away from doing lathe threading but it was still three weeks away in 2012.

 

I'd urge anyone doing a CNC build to take a proper look at CNCUSB by PlanetCNC.

The hardware only works with their software, so the whole package is well defined and stable. My system arrived recently and initial tests are thoroughly positive - stepper motors are dead smooth even when the screen display is complex and the computer's busy with other tasks. A green progress bar indicates the size of the buffer containing gcode within the controller during machining, which for me, seems to be topped up by the laptop ( about 7 years old, 1.4 ghz dual core, 2 gig ram) effortlessly.

I think the selection of available gcodes is good and includes almost all the ones John S mentions above - G33 and G76 are included for threading, as are dedicated encoder inputs on the PCB consisting of Index, Channel A & Channel B.

Gcode Wizards...( I know frown)... are in there too : Round Pocket, Straight Pocket, Drill Array (not circular though), as well as ready defined English, Metric, Trapezoidal & Square threads etc under Lathe Turning.

The screen display is clear, toolbars can be shown as required and it doesn't look like it came out of an amusement arcade.

 

Martin.

Edited By blowlamp on 03/10/2016 01:13:22

Dave Martin03/10/2016 02:11:48
52 forum posts
6 photos
Posted by Bazyle on 02/10/2016 22:12:59:

Yes it was the manufacturers I meant were missing out. I thought the inbuilt display a bonus for the applications I was thinking of, like small industrial oven process control (not everything is CNC) greenhouse control, central heating control, alarm system, that sort of thing.

Older PC beside me loading Linux over windows NT. Fingers crossed the 10G drive and 250meg memory is enough. It didn't self select to install the desktop so knows it's tight.

Bazyle - for non-CNC control applications, there are already small PLC controllers with integrated displays, such as the £270 Cubloc CT1820 with graphics, touch screen display, programmable with scripts or ladder logic; other smaller ones available which could be used to control an ATC etc.

Dave (no connection with CuBloc other than as a user)

Rod Ashton03/10/2016 08:35:42
138 forum posts
9 photos

Martin (Blowlamp) Have you added a fourth axis to your PlanetCNC?

Please pm if you will share your experiance.

John Stevenson03/10/2016 10:03:07
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Martin,

What are you running USBCNC on as regards the machine used ?
Baldric03/10/2016 12:40:48
110 forum posts
2 photos
Posted by John Stevenson on 28/09/2016 17:06:43:
Problem I can see with the Masso unit is they make a big fuss in one of the videos about needing PC, monitor drives all all the other gear, then draw loads of lines to link it up.
They then go on to show the Masso unit connected to a rat's nest when all its done is replaced the PC.

Still needs monitor, keyboard etc.

John,

You mention a rats nest, my understanding is that all the Masso needs is a keyboard, mouse and VDU in addition to the direction/step feed to the motor drivers, I have assumed that all the other systems mentioned would still require separate drivers so the only addition for the Masso compared to the others is the keyboard, mouse and VDU, is this correct? I do agree that the wiring shown does not look neat and tidy but I thought this was more down to the installer than the number of connections needed.
​Baldric

blowlamp03/10/2016 17:48:20
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848 forum posts
58 photos
Posted by Rod Ashton on 03/10/2016 08:35:42:

Martin (Blowlamp) Have you added a fourth axis to your PlanetCNC?

Please pm if you will share your experiance.

Rod.

I've not used the fourth axis as yet - is there something in particular you need to achieve?

Martin.

Rod Ashton03/10/2016 18:36:41
138 forum posts
9 photos

Martin - On the upcoming todo list. Wondered if it was easy to setup.

Rod

blowlamp03/10/2016 20:57:03
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848 forum posts
58 photos
Posted by Rod Ashton on 03/10/2016 18:36:41:

Martin - On the upcoming todo list. Wondered if it was easy to setup.

Rod

Rod.

I just changed my configuration settings for you.

I haven't cut anything or even run the machine, but it was just a matter of changing the machine type to Rotary under Settings > General and then adding the 'A' axis under Settings > Axes.

Here's a demo rotary axis screen shot of a turbine.

turbine.jpg

blowlamp03/10/2016 21:15:05
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848 forum posts
58 photos

For the lathe folks, here's a pic of the controller set up for use with a lathe.

To get the Z & X axes in the right orientation for a lathe had me scratching my head for a while, but I got there in the end by going to Settings > User interface and entering 270 degrees into the X & Z boxes under Rotate. The manual suggests entering 90 degrees in the Y box although this means having to use Front View, whereas my way allows Top View to be used, which is more intuitive to me.

Martin.

lathecurve.jpg

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