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Member postings for Another JohnS

Here is a list of all the postings Another JohnS has made in our forums. Click on a thread name to jump to the thread.

Thread: dual boot Dell laptop
14/01/2021 20:13:03

Assuming both are on the same physical disc. Boot in Linux.

Open a terminal window. type:

sudo update-grub

should do it. It should find the Windows partition, and put it in the GRUB boot sequence. This is the "boot loader" that runs when the system boots. Linux will find Windows, Windows will not find Linux. Of course.


If you have differing "boot bios" UEFI settings, tell me. I had to do this a little while ago - my Windows disc was installed in "DOS" mode, my Linux in UEFI, and I had to (simply) re-do the Windows one to be seen as UEFI. I'll see if I can find my notes. I had 2 discs; maybe if you have only 1 this might not be a problem. (I'm NOT an expert here!)

Thread: Linux CNC
01/01/2021 16:58:26

I run my 3 LinuxCNC based machines on old intel D525MW boards; 4gig RAM. These are dual-core 1800 mhz (or so) boards.

I have a MESA 5i25 card in each of them. In theory, they are identical for quick swapping.

Bazyle - stepper timing is fairly critical; using the "old, dumb" parallel port requires pretty exact timing; if you use a card that off-loads the critical timing stuff, almost any computer will do. (card can be plug-in, or via ethernet)

The MESA 5i25 cards (if you go that route) are pretty much plug-n-play, but be sure to order the one you wish; they are "flashed" with a configuration to match the attached device. I've re-flashed one; quite easy. 2 of my cards are for "parallel port" to Gecko G540 stepper driver boxes, one to a "Mesa 7i76 I/O card".

I did start a CNC conversion of my 2nd Emco Compact-8 lathe, put on a 3-phase motor, but work got in the way, and I inherited a little Sherline. 2nd Emco sold on, but kept the 3-phase.

You can find articles in Model Engineer by me, designed to show simple 2D CAD to CNC to actual parts; I don't have the issue numbers at hand. (yes Jason, 2D CAD; hopefully as a first step to get people going with CNC)

Of possible interest: I don't have a pillar drill anymore, but have 4 vertical mills. One of my CNC mills, if I want to manually drill, I just use that. It boots quickly, spindle control is a breeze, and I have a DRO if I want it for accurate manual placing of holes.

In my workshop, these LinuxCNC things just work. I don't worry about them; they have proven themselves incredibly reliable.

Keep going gentlemen! Hopefully 2021 will bring CNC to more of our workshops; whether LinuxCNC or some other program doesn't really matter. It's the learning and experimentation and production that matters.


Thread: CAM software for CNC Lathes - With C axis and constrained live tool
30/12/2020 21:23:48

Joe - the Real Time package for Linux has changed; as LinuxCNC (especially if driving one of the inexpensive breakout boards) needs realtime so that signals come and go without varying latency. It seems like it's fairly settled now.

That first ISO, on the top of the page is one that I would use.

Just download the iso, burn it to a USB, and boot. You should be able (if it is as it was) to run LinuxCNC directly, without installing it, just to test drive it.

32 or 64 bit - don't worry about it. Try that ISO on the top of the page.

(Am I pushing? Well, Tormach went from Mach to LinuxCNC-based software, and paid $$ for work on the trajectory planner in LinuxCNC, so why not use what a successful company uses?? They also use MESA hardware, so you are following fairly closely a known, successful path)

30/12/2020 17:50:24


on all of my machines, I use the MESA 5i25 cards. I use the parallel ("printer" cable option.

On one machine (a small CNC lathe) I use a Gecko G540; on my older Seig KX1, the same.

On my larger mill, and ex-project CNC lathe, a MESA 7i76.

(I hate giving advice, so use your judgment )

I think for you, a MESA 5i25 and 7i76 combo. It gives you lots of stepper outputs, lots of signal outputs, inputs, spindle encoder, "0-10v isolated" spindle control, etc, etc. Way more i/o than you'll need, but better too much than too little. You've got the brains to figure out a) what you need i/o wise, and b) what else you can do once you have it running.

There is a "plug-n-go kit" for the combination:

Anyway, my 0.02c - it's what I use and I find it well supported and incredibly reliable.

And, if it matters, my 3 machines are running an old Intel board, dual-core, obsolete from about 6 years ago; more than enough power to run the machines, with i/o, MPG controllers, touch probes, 4th axes, and so on.


30/12/2020 15:16:12


lists an ISO download.

I do know that there was an issue going from one real-time kernel to a newer one; this gave the LinuxCNC team a bit of an issue. Looks like it's solved.

Note that with "smart" cards like the MESA ones, perfect real-time is not required; with the old parallel port, servicing that port did require quick and timely response. (I use the MESA cards in all of my machines)

I can fully understand the frustration when LinuxCNC was going through that real-time transition, but with an ISO, maybe it'll install nicely. Knowing what I do from seeing your work here, I'd expect that once it is running, and you comprehend the flexibility, you'll be very happy.

Whatever you do, keep doing, and (especially) keep posting!


29/12/2020 20:12:14


As you may not (yet) know, Tormach PathPilot is basically LinuxCNC with a simple install and conversational programming -enabled GUI by default.

The potential issue is setting the correct ports/cards for your system; Tormach sells it configured for their machines. They have a new lathe on the market.

It used to be (have not looked at in a while) that it used MESA cards; I'd assume it is still the same.

Last I read, you can get it on a USB stick. Maybe worth a look, and a web search for others using it.

By the way, yes, LinuxCNC seems to have gone through a bit of a rough patch with documentation and install, but once you figure it out, the thing *just works*. Incredible piece of software. (I have 3 machines with SSD drives and dedicated computers; flick the power switch by the machine, the PC boots, and you are good to go)

One of my mills, with a two-step pulley system on the spindle; I have it automatically figure out what "gear" it is in, and adjust accordingly, thus if you ask for (say) 1,000 rpm, you get it, as close as the sensor, etc, can get it.

Thread: Retro Computing (on Steroids)
17/12/2020 00:04:16
Posted by Frances IoM on 16/12/2020 22:45:55:
It was very early it may have been in first yrs of the 80's - certainly by 82 at latest - what the science museum got was a working machine built from the surviving working models, but I know mine was in full working order when I swapped it with the company for a 286 system so I assumed most of the gift was my machine - I was a consultant and paid towards my machine (meant I was free to use it for other purposes (I wrote cross-assembers in C for use in teaching lab + later on a set of tools for a universal cross assembler for industrial use) - I know I was first staff member to have a home computer that was not a toy tho by current standards it was slow, I still have the CRT terminal) - I think the company (only a small startup) had the machines a few months before me - the operating system was IDRIS - a unix 'lookalike' by a guy who left Bell labs - Bill Plauger rings a bell but it was 40 yrs ago + my memory is not what it was

Edited By Frances IoM on 16/12/2020 22:48:37

Ok, that makes more sense - I left high-school (Canada) in 1978 and University in 1982, and a lot changed in that time. That's how I remember time-frames - In high school it was the 1802 and 8080, by the end of University, it was totally changed. Things went quickly back then. (I guess they do today, too).

Many years ago, I was on an overnight train (would have been autumn/winter 1982, maybe spring 1983) I went on an overnight train here in Canada (almost 9 hours long journey), almost nobody on it. My task was to further a S-100 bus-based 1802/8085 computer, wire-wrapped. The old crusty conductor (they were all crusty old conductors back then) came by and said in the typical gruff voice "What you building, a Bomb??" I said "Yeah", his answer "Good luck" and kept on walking, checking to see if anyone was likely going to give him trouble.

These days, that cocky little kid would be taken down by a SWAT team or something equivalent.


16/12/2020 22:23:53
Posted by Frances IoM on 15/12/2020 21:50:02:
IanT - I'm old - Honeywell 316 + 516s - one of my home computers is in the Science museum collection (long story but one of the first UK built machines - 68008 based running a variant of Unix in the late70s)

Well, my shared Virtual Reality stuff is in the Canadian Science and Tech museum; I can confirm that by the time I created this stuff, we were well and truly into Hexadecimal.

(I remember the 68008 being released - are you sure about the decade? I would have pegged it later; in the 70s, it was almost all 8 bit processors, if I remember that far back correctly) (no matter, those were the fun days; I loved the 1802 because as a kid, I could single step it and debug the hardware with only a really inexpensive analogue volt meter)

15/12/2020 11:37:50

Dear SOD;

Sure, Python's great, I use it a bit at work. However, I have to use C99; Shader work and OpenCL Kernels require this. (have to run on older code platforms sometimes, sticking to OpenCL, OpenGL for the moment)

Your request is tailored to using a language like Python; if I reworded it to something like "find ALL the palindromes in the set [0->2,147,483,647] and return a flag indicating which one is set" then I'd win hands-down, especially with a good graphics card.

BR - JohnS.

Thread: Have You considered getting a 3D printer
12/12/2020 13:41:25

I have one, from 2014 which is not very good. It's been sitting collecting dust for a couple of years now.

At work, I had the use of a Stratasys, but that lab's closed down. Every once in a while I think of picking another one up for home, but... (have CNC metalworking machines and a lack of time for *those*...)

Here's a picture of my Printrbot Simple - laser cut wood, Dremel sanding disks and fishing line for axis drives... Was High Tech at the time!



Thread: Message from ARC to our customers in the E.U.
11/12/2020 14:56:47

Breakups are interesting. The instigators (or, hopefully, unsuccessful instigators) always expect things to go their own way.

Over here in Canada, we have Quebec popping up the idea of separation, and Alberta and the west.

I read this recently, in an obituary of one of our indigenous leaders:

"Although he was friendly with the Quebec separatist leader René Lévesque, Mr. Gros-Louis remained a federalist. During a 1992 appearance at a Quebec National Assembly committee studying Quebec sovereignty, Mr. Gros-Louis was asked by a Parti Québécois legislator whether First Nations in a separate Quebec would insist on forming their own mini-states, turning Quebec into a “Swiss cheese full of holes.” To which Mr. Gros-Louis responded. “We’ll leave you the holes and we’ll keep the cheese.”"

Things like, taking the James Bay hydroelectric dam, cities like (I assume) Montreal and Quebec, etc. leaving the Quebecois with the dregs.

You open Pandoras' box, and you never know what you'll let out.



10/12/2020 17:02:50
But if it is a significant business, rent a wharehouse in Boulogne (or wherever) I am sure that other small businesses will get wise & shared arrangements can be set up.,

Sam - this happens a lot with businesses that are in Canada, but deal with the USA.

Even for individuals - google "shipping to Ogdensburg" - Canadians around here will ship to an address just across the border, then drive over, and declare the goods on return. (not now though due to COVID the border's closed).

I have not bothered doing this yet, but I know multiple people who use this service - a bit of a ride in the car, about $10.00 for the bridge tolls, and pick up your parcel, and skip the $$ customs import fees that would be put on the package.

Sure, you have to pay duty on the border, but there is some exemptions for day-trips, from what I understand.

(if I miss picking up a parcel, last time I drove to the local UPS depot, it was 2 hours round trip with city driving - almost faster to drive to the USA...)


I used to purchase stuff from the USA and ship to Canada, but as 99% of it is from China, I order directly now, and sometimes the parts + postage from china is LESS than the shipping from the USA, and that's not even taking into account the markup by the companies in the USA.


Funny world - John.

Thread: Pennsylvania A3 Switcher
08/12/2020 11:49:06


That's a good choice, in my opinion. His designs and instructions are second to none, and at the end you'll have a great little locomotive.

I built the 1st Shay, and am finishing up a Martin Evans "Ivatt", and have built a little LBSC locomotive. Kozo's design, (completeness and accuracy and instructions) leave the others in the dust.



Thread: Tender locos for a beginner?
08/11/2020 01:07:48

John Alexander Stuart - The Q1 does look lovely, but by gosh the drawings are in metric...

William - I understand, coming from a country where the southern neighbours are inch-based. (I live in Canada)

However - for a bit in the '90s I lived in Europe, got a European lathe, and inch materials and BA were just not available where I lived.

I can remember looking at and trying to use this lathe, throwing my hands towards the gods, saying something quite close to "Just what the f(deleted) is a g(deleted) d(deleted) f(deleted)ing millimetre????" (there might have been more expletives thrown in for good measure) I don't normally swear, but, when times call for it...

When I figured it was close to a 10c coin, I managed, and my little Tich with BA fasteners was completed.

Now, living back in Canada, I do *everything* metric - it's so easy, in my opinion. Sure, materials come in inch, but generally one can adapt, especially if things are machined. My current project is a Martin Evans design ("Ivatt" and everything is converted to metric before I machine.

Just my thoughts on a Saturday evening.


Edited By John Alexander Stewart on 08/11/2020 01:09:16

07/11/2020 17:25:51

There's always Nick Feast's Q1 as described in the Model Engineer.

Polly Models/Bruce Engineering sell castings and laser-cut bits, from what I remember. A fairly quick build, "different" locomotive, and not a lot of time making little brass bits!

Thread: Taking Leave
24/10/2020 11:53:14

Hi Andrew;

Lima Locomotive works made the Shay - straight bevel gears - that is what you see in the MEM thread. Heisler also used straight bevel gears, it's only the Climax that has skew bevel gears. (and, I'm not sure about the Climax class "A" machines - never seen one in person)

Anyway, I'm sure, knowing your skills, you'll find/discover/develop about a half-dozen tooth profiles that'll work!

23/10/2020 18:30:47


I seem to remember reading that the Climax gears were hand-made wood patterns, then cast. i.e. not machined.

Although having seen about 1/2 dozen of them, I can't say that I looked that closely! The other 2 (Shay, Heisler) are more interesting, IMHO.

Kozo gives us a way to machine gears good enough for his model Climax, machining on small machines in the average workshop, so I give him top marks.

Yes, it is good to see you back posting; hope the flying stuff is also going well. Cheers from Canada!

Thread: 1000 to make a Spitfire aircraft fuel tank gauge. Can it be done cheaper?
13/10/2020 04:14:22

Way back when, a colleague and family was flying in a 767 that had fuel gauge issues, and glided into Gimli Manitoba. They got on at the stop in Ottawa, and were flying out to see parents, etc.

It had zero working gauges (allowed at the time) and the tanks were not properly dip-sticked.

So, maybe a known-accurate fuel gauge, with the associated cost, on a priceless aircraft makes sense, despite the initial "wait a sec- I could give them a bargain and make 2 for that price" thought!

Thread: Engineering Sights on Google Streetview
09/10/2020 22:33:58

And, if anyone wants to see what the back of a boxpok wheel casting looks like:


It's in front of a block of flats, on what was part of the Canadian Locomotive Companies' land; CLC built and exported locomotives all over the world; there's at least one in running condition somewhere in France/Switzerland (ex. SNCF141Rs were built in Montreal, Kingston ON, and somewhere else in the USA)

Now, why they had to mount it with the back facing up escapes me, they look better outside side out, in my opinion!

09/10/2020 22:27:10

Does this count? (lets see if the link works...)


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