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Alternatives to Mach3 ? Also some coordinate Qs for MAch3

Discussion in 'CNC Mills/Routers' started by Olivier Létourneau, Jan 24, 2018.

  1. Olivier Létourneau

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    Hello is there a more user friendly control software available for DIY router/mills ?


    im having a hard time wrapping my head around Mach3 , i would like to know if there are products available who can control the steppers straight from a CAM software ? theres so much that can go wrong in my hands from designing in Fusion then creating the toolpath , open the gcode in Mach3 , set the coordinates and zero , having to reset the tool coordinates all the time in Mach3 or thinking of sending it back home before i turn off the machine , something who would know in real time and show me on the screen where is the tool bit even if i reopen the software . i am a mechanic , not a computer tech . The manual bench mill i retrofitted has such a narrow bed (8 inches) , i would like the software to know if the drawing fits in a certain space or orientation before going past the limits and let me reorient the drawing if need be.

    i am aware i could have to replace the breakout board for something more evolved and maybe install encoders on the slides so the software knows the machine's coordinates in real time or other mods . im looking for a user friendly solution and involving less steps in my workflow. i will get an automatic tool z-setter to help the tool changes .

    i know i know i may sound like a witty princess but i am running a motorcycle shop and i am short on time for this kind of stuff. this is my most problematic part of the deal , going from computer stuff to a proper physical position on the machine

    if theres not much else available for DIY setups here are some questions i have about Mach3 , i am still a very beginner and i dont get everything id like to know thru youtube , its taking forever



    - can i use the limit switches of the bed and tell mach3 to automatically go back to a certain position before and after every use? can i tell my CAM software (Fusion 360) to include these commands in every g-code i generate or would i have to manually enter them in the code after the "post" in Mach3 before running the code so im always starting with the same position even if i turn off the machine and close MAch3 ? if yes i would like to know how to program this!!!


    - regarding automatic tool height setter , is there a way to assign a button in Mach3 to tell him to go reach a specific position on the table where the z-setter switch would be fixed to ? maybe send the machine to its X-Y limit switches for my tool change and then make the z drop down on the setter switch wich would send its signal to the breakout board and set the tool offset automatically? Can i tell Mach3 to directly go to this tool change coordinate when a tool change has been entered in the CAM so i dont have to stop the program in time to change the tool and set the offset then restart the program. can it be done? would it be in Mach3 or in the CAM ? Who does what? i am still a bit puzzled with all this


    - can we program something with the outputs to get a flashing light when the program asks for a tool change or when it is done with his program?

    many questions i know , the learning curve has been kind of rough lately but i only broke one super cheap harbor freight 1/4" endmill , yet...

    thanks for the support , i will be able to help others here too if i learn enough to do so , any help would be appreciated this project is super exciting but theres soooo much i dont know !
     
  2. Giarc

    Giarc Master
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    Have you looked at Estlcam.com? The same software that you use for CAM controls your machine. The videos he has done on jis youtube channel are very informative.
     
  3. Olivier Létourneau

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    Wow this is waaaayyy simpler than the CAM in Fusion!!! 3000 less buttons and settings than Mach3 , this software looks pretty interesting i just checked the videos on the website , i will dig in the youtube .

    Would it work with my smoothstepper and my chinese breakout board?

    The touch plate zeroing the work with the whole corner of the stock relative to a diffrent position is way cool and the scan mode looks very awesome ! I was really wondering how i would be able to engrave on existing 3D parts , this is gonna get very very very usefull for me. I am doing a lot of hand fabrication , i am gonna be able to brand my parts and get my logo or sensitive information engraved in the good spot and orientation.

    This software is actually solving 80% of my problems mentioned above , thanks alot for the cue !!
     
  4. Giarc

    Giarc Master
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    No problem. It is free to try, as well. I believe when you set it up, there is a selection for smoothstepper, but I am not 100% sure on that. I am using an arduino so it was easy for me to give it a try and change back if I didn't like it.
     
  5. Olivier Létourneau

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    i seen on the website that if the board i own is not supported they could provide a setup of settings so it works , this is pretty cool

    if it doesnt works i think the arduinos are pretty cheap
     
  6. Gooshpoo

    Gooshpoo Veteran
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    Estlcam is awesome for noobies. but if you have never done Arduino before it could be a pain. If you want to use estcam you should get a Xpro V 3 CNC xPRO V3 Controller Stepper Driver


     
  7. Olivier Létourneau

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    so i can see in the wiring diagram that the XPRO is not using any seperate stepper drivers and only one single power supply ? is there a stepper motor size limit to what it can drive?
     
  8. Gooshpoo

    Gooshpoo Veteran
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    On the stock system it has dv88s witch if i remeber correctly is around 3 amp. But you can hook up external drivers np so u can drive what ever u want stepper wise
     
  9. Giarc

    Giarc Master
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    If you already have the drivers, I would buy the $20 arduino if Estlcam can't provide a solution. It is easy to set up and you do not have to worry about overheating drv8825 drivers on the xpro. The GRBL wiki shows the connections and Kyo has great info in his Cbeam CNC (aka Sphinx) build. That is what i used to get everything hooked up when I ditched the drv8825s.

    Also, those drv8825s are not 3 amps. I believe the peak is 2.5, but they get real hot. I do not believe they were designed for large steppers. More of a 3d printer driver. I had issues with them overheating even with a large fan blowing directly on them. But, that was my experience.
     
  10. Gooshpoo

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    Im not looking at this from a price point. You are correct 2.5amps is the peak of the dv88s. But if he has no experience arduino getting one up and running can be a hassle. And unless hes driving larger 23s he will be fine with a heatsink and fan. With xpro hes got screw terminal hook up intagrated steppers.
    Hes also having problems killing chips he will have a larger pot to play with less chance of shorting out.
    Its easy 1 click install with estlcam. Its up to you
     
  11. Olivier Létourneau

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    cool , my steppers are Nema 34 and they ask for 5.7Amps each , will definately try the software !
     

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