Author Topic: CNC controller  (Read 240 times)

Offline ddmckee54

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CNC controller
« on: September 12, 2019, 04:37:30 PM »
No idea where to post this on this forum, but I know some of you are using CNC machines that you built.  What are you guys using for a controller on your CNC's.  The last CNC machine I built ran off TurboCNC so I'm looking to step up to something that's using technology that's at least in this century.

I'm in the process of designing/building a CNC router and I'm not sure which way to go.  I'm currently designing around a 48"x24"x6" working volume and planning on using NEMA 23 steppers for the X, Y and Z axis.  My original machine was a converted New Hermes engraver and it's working volume was about 8"x10"x2".  I'm not planning on, and don't need to run this at blinding speeds, I figure that rapid travels in the 125"-150" per minute range are more than enough.  I'll be cutting mainly wood and plastic with MAYBE some non-ferrous metals thrown in at greatly reduce feed-rates and DOC.  The spindle will either be a Bosch Colt compact router, that I already have, or a Chinese spindle in about the 1KW range.

I have looked at the following:

Mach 3/4
Flashcut
LinuxCNC - I don't have a Linux machine but I'm including it because somebody would say I need to use it.
Acorn Centroid
TinyG
Arduino GRBL

I know each one has advantages and disadvantages.  What are you guys' using and why?

Don
« Last Edit: September 12, 2019, 04:51:30 PM by ddmckee54 »

Offline Vixen

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Re: CNC controller
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2019, 05:09:24 PM »
Hello Don,

I am a 'dyed in the wool' LinuxCNC user. I have it installed on two lathes and two mills. Each machine has it's own dedicated PC which talk to the machines via the 25 pin printer port without the need any form of additional processing power. It is possible to twin boot a PC to run Windozz or Linux but I dedicated them to only run LinuxCNC.

It's good, very reliable, it's free but can be daunting when you start from scratch, but I can help you get started

Cheers

Mike
« Last Edit: September 12, 2019, 06:04:51 PM by Vixen »
It is the journey that matters, not the destination

Offline ddmckee54

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Re: CNC controller
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2019, 05:31:02 PM »
15-20 years ago I was seriously considering building a Linux system for the full-blown version of EMC2.  I know that Linux systems are almost bullet-proof once you get them running, but at that time it seemed like everybody on the forums was having trouble getting the original Linux install to run for one reason or another.  That and the fact that at the time the Linux for Dummies book was over 2 " thick scared me off from using EMC2.

Is it better now?

Don

Offline Vixen

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Re: CNC controller
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2019, 05:41:41 PM »
EMC2 has evolved into the very usable LinuxCNC 2.7 There is still an enormous amount of 'geek speek'  out there on forums, books for dummies etc, which are best ignored. The set-up wizards now do it all relatively painlessly for you.

Mike
It is the journey that matters, not the destination

Offline ddmckee54

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Re: CNC controller
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2019, 09:36:08 PM »
Mike:

It was the Linux 'geek speak' that scared me off EMC2, that and it seemed like everybody on the forums was having trouble getting something in the install to compile for one reason or another.  I may have been too much of a scared outsider looking in, but it always seemed like the problem was due to different issues.  I'm not fond of WINDOZE, but they do make setting up a new machine relatively painless, even if it is long-winded.

Don
« Last Edit: September 13, 2019, 09:40:17 PM by ddmckee54 »

Offline Muzzer

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Re: CNC controller
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2019, 06:18:31 PM »
I've got a Centroid Acorn and it's definitely a good option to consider. Bear in mind though that the full version of the software that includes support for probing adds a fair bit to the cost. If you also add the wireless MPG, the cost is becoming not insignificant (call it $1k) but it all works very nicely. They have been developing their system for many years on professional applications and it shows. The support is also very good and setup is pretty straightforward. The IO of the basic Acorn is rather limited with only 8 inputs and 8 outputs but they are about to release an expansion board that can accommodate up to 56 of each(!!). For best experience, you really need a touchscreen and a NUC PC - or possibly an all-in-one machine, as I did.

I originally planned to use LinuxCNC for my 2 milling machines but even with the improvements over recent years, you need to be a bit of a black belt with Linux unless you are lucky enough to be able to use a standard setup with no changes required. It was originally developed with US Govt funding but was then taken on by a group of (generally pretty competent) enthusiasts, many of whom appear to be professional or semi-professional s/w engineers. The support forum is very active and helpful but you need to become fairly competent to cut it with them, like a sort of rite of passage. I shied off in the end and ended up with the Acorn. The rather nice PathPilot controller software used by Tormach is actually a customised version of LinuxCNC and some of the LinuxCNC team have managed to repurpose it for other applications, although it was clearly not an easy task.

I've seen and heard good things about UCCNC (from cncdrive.com) http://www.cncdrive.com/UCCNC.html. I have used their servo drives and was impressed with what I found. Obviously you need a PC, breakout board and other gubbins.

Also don't overlook the standalone controllers such as the DDCSV. I see you posted this same question on Madmodders, which has a lot of material on it https://madmodder.net/index.php/topic,12976.0/topicseen.html. They have worked with the manufacturer to develop the software. It looks pretty darned good. IIRC, they also have a Facebook group which is shared with the manufacturer.

As well as the Acorn, on my second machine I have a Newker 990MDCa which is a Chinese clone of an industrial standalone controller - loosely based on a Fanuc controller perhaps. Like the DDCSV, it also incorporates the display and keys, so you only need the drives, VFD etc to get up and running. I actually bought mine when I was in China for ~300 but it looks as if it would cost you a bit more now https://www.aliexpress.com/store/group/Milling-Controller/4927050_515432375.html?spm=a2g0o.detail.0.0.644e41eavkZh7N. The main downside is the VERY strong Chinglish in the manual. I almost gave up on it due to that but finally after using the thing on and off for a couple of years, I am getting the hang of it and I have made a vaguely understandable English manual.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2019, 06:24:22 PM by Muzzer »