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Mach 3 Cnc Control Card As Controller

Discussion in 'Motor actuators and drivers' started by ERGUN OZYURT, Sep 15, 2020.

  1. ERGUN OZYURT

    ERGUN OZYURT Heximax Gold Contributor

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    Hi,

    Today I saw a electronic card which is used in cnc machines. It has pwm based 5 axis control (servo or stepper) and limit / homing switch inputs + emergency input. Cnc users are using Mach 3 software to control their steppers / servos. Not real time. Mach 3 software prepares motion paths for motors (g-code) and sends required pulses to drive motor simultaneously.

    This cards cost is starts from 18 usd only and very industrial / stable. I feel that, if we can send commands to that card (like mach 3 software does) in realtime with custom simtools plugin, we can use this to drive rigs.

    I am looking to find mach 3 communication protocol, but no luck until now.

    If anybody has any knowledge on this area, please help me.

    Thanks.
  2. Ads Master

    Ads Master

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  3. cgodwin

    cgodwin Active Member Gold Contributor

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    I built a CNC machine from scratch and I use Mach 3 to drive it, so I'm quite familiar with what you are trying to do. My CNC uses stepper motors, but the setup for servo motors should be similar.

    The $18 card you are talking about is NOT a motor controller. It is just a break-out-board (BOB) that routes the signals from a parallel port to screw terminals and usually has some electrical protection built in. There is no intelligence in this board and it does not receive "commands" from Mach 3. There are more elaborate CNC controllers, but they are more than $18. The Mach 3 software is what is doing all the work, creating the actual pulses the drive the motors. On the other side of the $18 board are motor drives which amplify the pulses from Mach 3 into something that can directly drive the motor.

    The Mach 3 software doesn't apply to a sim. A parallel break-out-board isn't helpful either as it is better using USB directly to motor controller such as an Arduino, JRK, or a servo drive.
    • Informative Informative x 1
  4. ERGUN OZYURT

    ERGUN OZYURT Heximax Gold Contributor

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    Hi, thanks for reply. I have seperate stepper drivers and I am a software developer. I just need ready to use card to manage drivers.

    Now I am using arduino but 8 bit atmega mcu is very limited.
  5. cgodwin

    cgodwin Active Member Gold Contributor

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    There are more powerful Arduino's compatible boards. The Arduino Due has a 32 bit ARM processor and costs $20 to $40 USD.

    If you are using an Arduino to handle the control signals, a break-out-board probably doesn't serve a purpose. You would probably just wire outputs from the Arduino directly to the motor drives. The Arduino would be what creates the pulse string, adjusting the speed and number of pulses as appropriate for the motion you want.

    I don't think I've heard of anyone using stepper motors on a simulator, but it should work fine. My CNC machine doesn't have any position feedback, which works fine because my stepper motors are plenty strong enough to drive the CNC without any binding or lost steps. On the other hand, my simulator constantly overloads my 1/4 horsepower motors and it has to have the position feedback that usually doesn't exist with stepper motors.