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  #1  
Old Wed 14 December 2005, 09:06
Gerald_D
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Mach3 (or Quantum) - from Artsoft

Mach(N) software runs under 32 bit Windows (XP or 2000) and outputs signals on the standard parallel printer port (LPT1 etc.)

Art Fenerty (in Canada) runs a website ArtOfCNC and a Yahoo discussion list. There is an effort to "modernise" the website and discussion group under www.machsupport.com but there is a lot of resistance from the "old school"
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  #2  
Old Fri 24 November 2006, 06:05
fabrica
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Your advice to us is to go in for mach3 software is it?
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  #3  
Old Fri 24 November 2006, 06:47
Gerald_D
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Yup, Mach3 is the right one.

Mach2 is an old version
Mach4 has been cancelled

You don't need to "purchase" Mach3 immediately because the "freeware" version is okay to run a file with up to 1000 lines of G-code. The only extra thing you get when you purchase Mach3 is the freedom to run more lines. Otherwise everything is exactly the same. Mach3 does not arrive on a CD in a box with a book. Everything is downloaded via the internet, and you already have access to the whole of the Mach3 product (except being able to run more than 1000 lines)
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  #4  
Old Fri 24 November 2006, 07:17
fabrica
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Will not being able to have more than 1000 lines be a hindrance to our operations. I would like to do kitchen cabinets,signs and carvings.
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  #5  
Old Fri 24 November 2006, 08:30
Gerald_D
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As soon as you say "signs" then you need lots of lines..... (even in 2D)


The letter "a" in the MechMate logo needs 85 lines, the whole word MechMate has 351 lines. If you write a program that cuts just the word MechMate out of 25mm thick board and you have a 6mm diam tool making passes of 6mm deep at a time then 1000 lines is not enough....
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  #6  
Old Fri 24 November 2006, 08:40
Greg Waggy
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Gerald, this is very true but the 1000 lines will let you know if it'll perform the tasks you require of the software. That's all I was saying. Besides, $150.00 USD is a lot cheaper than other programs that don't do as much. And don't forget it has a CAM program with it for generating your tool paths.

I am like you though, I think it's a work in progress and not completely bug free but then so is Windoes (any version) and look what you have to pay to be a beta tester for Microsoft. HA HA
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  #7  
Old Fri 24 November 2006, 08:53
Gerald_D
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Yup, the $150 is extremely good value for money. But, if you don't have $150 yet, don't let that be an excuse for not learning to use the "program". You can get started right now and you are not at any disadvantage over someone who has already paid.

Folk must realise though that Mach3 is not a polished product with glossy manuals. New revisions and bug fixes are issued more than once a day at times! It is the hobby of Art Fenerty and his group of volunteers. There is nothing else like it, so fasten seatbelts and enjoy the ride...
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  #8  
Old Fri 24 November 2006, 09:05
Greg Waggy
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Then there's (off topic - sorry) TurboCNC that is totally free, but no CAM software.

Art is darn good with support and bug fixes as they are reported. Heck, he'll even answer private email faster than most true commercial companies will. Also allows wish lists and who knows, one of these days he'll expand the program for more functions.

On the standard printer port you can run 6 functions and MACK allows for the use of 2 ports, that's could open up the program to control 12 functions from one PC. What would you do with all that control?
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  #9  
Old Fri 24 November 2006, 09:49
Mike Richards
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If you add a little 'glue-logic TTL' to the project, those 6-lines can be multiplied. Two lines become four, three lines become eight, four line become sixteen, five lines become thirty-two and six lines become sixty-four. Granted, my little example would only allow one line out of sixty-four to be active at at time, but using a combination of address lines, latch lines, input lines and output lines, you can do a lot with six lines. It's the same princile that allows a microprocessor chip to address 65,535 locations with only sixteen address lines and three or four control lines.

Mach 3 is an excellent program. It's the only low cost program that I like.
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  #10  
Old Sun 26 November 2006, 10:38
Greg Waggy
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Mike,

I'm wondering about the possibility of running 12 functions from one PC and now you're pointing out that 10's of thousands could be operated. HA HA What all would you operate? I guess you could have several CNC machines all running from one PC, all doing different jobs?
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  #11  
Old Sun 26 November 2006, 16:37
Patrick Toomey
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Maybe the mother of all tool changers?
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  #12  
Old Sun 26 November 2006, 16:43
Greg Waggy
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Patrick, I'm not sure but I think a tool changer only requires 2 functions, one to release/hold the tool in the chuck and one to rotate to the proper tool in the holder. I may be wrong. It won't be the first time.
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  #13  
Old Mon 27 November 2006, 10:03
Patrick Toomey
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I think they usually have their own controllers and communicate via a serial or parallel line using their own protocols. But you're right, they don't need a line per tool or anything like that. I did think of another use for all those addresses, though, Christmas lights for the 'bot! You could have a couple of thousand addressable lights on there and have them blink in time with the file you're cutting, and then sync them with Bill Young's program that plays music using the sounds from the stepper motors. The only trouble with that is that if you have a decent controller with Mach, the motors don't make noise anymore so no music.
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  #14  
Old Mon 27 November 2006, 10:37
Gerald_D
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Mach3 can also run via USB to the Gecko G100 and then you have lots more inputs/outputs than the constraints of old parallel ports.
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  #15  
Old Mon 27 November 2006, 12:45
Greg Waggy
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Gerald, Will the G100 drive servo motors?
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  #16  
Old Mon 27 November 2006, 12:49
Gerald_D
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The G100 is not a "driver" as such - it creates the step direction pulses for other drivers and the type of motor is invisible to the G100.
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  #17  
Old Mon 27 November 2006, 12:53
Greg Waggy
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OH, so it's like the breakout board for the drivers/controllers.
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  #18  
Old Mon 27 November 2006, 22:44
Gerald_D
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Yeah, but this "breakout board" has onboard brains and relieves the PC of a huge chunk of processing.
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  #19  
Old Fri 22 December 2006, 23:42
Gerald_D
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Mach3 is being polished and sealed as a final product, while "Quantum" is rising as its replacement. Keep an eye on the Mach forums (a, b) if you want more info. Here is a prelim report from Gary Beckwith.
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  #20  
Old Mon 26 February 2007, 01:19
reza forushani
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(this originally posted elsewhere)

Great. Now, how do I tell Mach that I want two x-axis instead of one and to turn them in different directions?
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  #21  
Old Mon 26 February 2007, 01:40
Gerald_D
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Set up a "slave" axis (Config) to turn two motors in sync. To change any motor's direction swop the wires of ONE coil at the Gecko. Eg, swop black & yellow around.
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  #22  
Old Mon 26 February 2007, 01:48
reza forushani
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I remeber somewhere you said we needed to set up Mach3 for Mechmate but can't find it. Is there anything special we need to do or set up in Mach3 like speeds, factors, etc
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  #23  
Old Mon 26 February 2007, 02:06
Gerald_D
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There is plenty to set up. The best source of info for this is www.machsupport.com. Suggest you start with the videos and look at: Downloading and Installing, Hooking up Inputs and Outputs, Troubleshooting Mach3.
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  #24  
Old Tue 27 February 2007, 21:22
fabrica
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Gerald, Do you think that it is worthwhile to switch over to Quantum at the moment. They say that for Shopbot type machines, big improvements on cutting quality could be achieved specially when it comes to corner cuttings due to smoother accelarations and de-accelarations.
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  #25  
Old Tue 27 February 2007, 22:27
Gerald_D
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Fabrica, I am extremely conservative when it comes to "upgrading" software. We still run Mach3 version 1.87 from about a year ago. It is stable, and it does the job. Our machines are running nearly constantly with tight deadlines (typically the customers know thay get next-day delivery) and the boards loaded onto the machines are big & expensive. Therefore we cannot risk experimenting with new software that might be better, and is not oficially launched or supported.

Your situation is different, you can still test one against another. When I hear guys like you saying the new software is safe, then we might try it over a holiday period.
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  #26  
Old Tue 27 February 2007, 23:11
fabrica
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Ok Gerald I will give it a try and let you know when I get a chance of doing it.
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  #27  
Old Tue 20 March 2007, 12:20
Mike Richards
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Does anyone have some code fragments to share showing I/O control? After 18 months playing with Mach 3, I finally added a couple of extra contactors and some Opto-22 G4 I/O modules to turn those contactors on/off. I can't seem to find any examples that show how to use I/O, so I've just assigned the 'Mist' output control to pin 16 on my PMDX-122 board and the 'Flood' output control to pin 14 on the PMDX.

These lines of code work, but it seems a little unsophisticated:

% Turn on output #3, pin 14
M7
% Prompt operator to flip the safety switch
( ... Turn on Contactor #1 ... )
M0
( ... Pausing 2 seconds ... )
G4 P2000
G0 Z0.2500
( )
...

% Turn on output #2, pin 16
M8
% Prompt operator to flip the safety switch
( ... Turn on Contactor #2 ... )
M1
G4 P2000
( ... Pausing 2 seconds ... )
G0 X19.6875 Y2.1875
( )

...

% Turn outputs OFF
M9
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  #28  
Old Tue 20 March 2007, 13:25
Gerald_D
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We only use the M3 & M5 to start & stop the spindle.
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  #29  
Old Mon 30 July 2007, 20:38
Greg J
Just call me: Greg #13
 
Hagerman, New Mexico
United States of America
Mike,
I understand. Thanks.

This may not be the appropriate thread (or forum for that matter), but, I'm reading the manuals for Mach3, PMDX-122 and the Gecko G203V. The Mach3 wants settings for the Motor Outputs configuration. The step and dir pin #'s are self-explanatory. I don't understand the lowactive checkmark for the step and dir. I understand the meaning of lowactive, and Gecko's require an active-lo signal (I think). Where does the BOB come into play since it's between the parallel port and the gecko drivers.

Do I want "LowActive" for step and dir in Mach3 ?
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  #30  
Old Mon 30 July 2007, 21:41
Richards
Just call me: Mike
 
South Jordan, UT
United States of America
Greg,
When you use the G203 stepper drivers, on the PMDX-122, place the JP1 jumper on pins 2 and 3 to select common ground. You need to tell Mach 3 to send the step and direction pulses Active-HIGH because you are sourcing the signals. That means that the normal state of the signal, when it is off, is LOW or near ground potential. When the signal goes high, it is sourcing current and is active.

The BOB buffers the signals from the parallel port to the G20x stepper drivers. It does NOT invert the signals. The state of the signal (high or low) is passed directly to the G20x.

(The confusing part of this is that for those using the G201 or the G202, do just the opposite. Set JP1 jumper to pins 1 and 2 and set Mach 3 to be Active-LOW. The G201 and G202 sink current, so their normal off state is at 5V and their on state is at 0V.)

By the way, Greg, you're coming along a lot faster than I did when I first tried my hand at electronics.
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