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  #1  
Old Wed 28 March 2007, 00:58
Gerald_D
Just call me:
 
Specs of the PC needed to drive the MechMate's Mach control box

This thread sets out to develop a specification for the PC needed to drive a MechMate....

1. If you are using the MechMate for production to earn a living, get a dedicated PC that will be expected to do nothing more than to control the machine. This PC will only have the bare essentials to run Mach3 - all other applications need to be stripped out. You don't want a $1000 cutting job to be ruined because the PC decided to go and check for e-mails or decided to do an automatic virus scan. Start with the command format c:

2. The operating system (OS) must be 32-bit Windows. That means either Windows 2000 or Windows XP. The 16-bit Windows (98 & ME) will not work.

3. The PC must have an old-fashioned "parallel" printer port. That is the wide connector with 25 little pins. This connector is being phased out in favour of the USB port, but Mach3 does not have a proven USB option yet (close, but not quite yet). Modern laptops don't have the 25 pin parallel connector. Some desktops don't have them either, but they can normally still be easily fitted to an "expansion slot".

4. What speed, processor, RAM, memory? Quite frankly, I don't know the definitive answer to this. My approach is to get an old office PC of about 2004 vintage with some form of Pentium in it. The Mach3 discussion forums would be the better place to get good specs on these things. (Apparently there is a manual which says the pentium speed must be above 1.0Ghz for Mach3. XP needs more RAM than Win2000)

5. Don't use "wireless" keyboards, mice, ethernet, etc. Mike will tell us about this. Edit Feb '09: Apparently the bigger problem is with wireless ethernet. Most people are successful with wireless keyboards and game pads.

6. A floppy drive will not survive in the dusty atmosphere. The most reliable way of loading files to the PC is via a USB "thumb" or flash drive memory stick.

7. Edited Feb '09: Apparently modern dual core processors give problems. See All motors run fine then start chattering and loosing steps - interrupt in the PC
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  #2  
Old Wed 28 March 2007, 08:00
Mike Richards
Just call me:
 
Gerald has brought up a subject that is very dear to my heart - using wireless ethernet. As he said - DON'T - use wireless ethernet. A while back I added a 3hp Colombo spindle to my Shopbot and immediately started to have random crashes. The Shopbot would hesitate and sometimes move an axis a random amount of steps. That always ruined the part that I was cutting. I rewired the machine using the best grounding techniques that I knew. That didn't work. So I rigged up a Rube Goldberg contraption to keep power cables more than six inches away from signal cables. That didn't work. I added $750 worth of Load and Line reactors. That didn't work. I wrapped all signal lines through ferrite cores. That didn't work.

Finally, late one night, when I was ready to remove the spindle and revert back to a PC-7518 router, I noticed the computer screen randomly flashing a message. The wireless ethernet card was randomly connecting and disconnecting. Every time it disconnected, the computer had to turn its attention to the wireless connection. When it did that, the Shopbot glitched. I had completely forgotten that I had added a wireless card the same day that I had installed the spindle.

The solution was to remove the wireless card and to use a standard wired ethernet connection.

So, as Gerald pointed out - DON'T - use a wireless ethernet card.
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  #3  
Old Wed 11 July 2007, 20:07
tpworks
Just call me: Tom
 
Atlanta, GA
United States of America
Mike,
You could right click and disable that wireless card before starting a job.
Tom
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  #4  
Old Thu 12 July 2007, 15:10
Richards
Just call me: Mike
 
South Jordan, UT
United States of America
Tom,
You're right. You could disable the card, but please remember that I'm an old white-haired memory deficient formerly useful member of society that can't find his glasses because they're sitting on his nose! The only consistently safe way that I have to avoid problems is to eliminate the source of the problem before it bites me in the butt again.
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  #5  
Old Tue 09 October 2007, 22:21
smreish
Just call me: Sean - #5, 28, 58 and others
 
Orlando, Florida
United States of America
PC requirements for Mach3 ?

MM forum.
I have spent hours searching Art's site at Mach and our forum to determine the minimum requirements for the PC to control the table.
I assume (gosh I hate to do this), but I suspect that a
2.8GHZ
512MB
40GB HD
1 Parallel port
Windows XP Pro

would be acceptable...but I can't find RAM, processor requirements anywhere. Any takers? I am buying a new small form factor PC to support the table. Well, A TigerDirect Refurb for under 250.00 dollars. Can't go wrong at that price with XP Pro installed.

SEan
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  #6  
Old Wed 10 October 2007, 04:20
Richards
Just call me: Mike
 
South Jordan, UT
United States of America
Those specs look pretty good to me. If possible, double the ram to 1-Gig. In most cases, more RAM means much better performance and RAM is usually the least expensive component in a computer.
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  #7  
Old Wed 10 October 2007, 07:59
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
The other thing with RAM is that it goes out of date so quickly - 2 years later you can't get the same speed of RAM and then you have to replace it all if you want more.

To get files into the "CNC computer" you would like to have a USB port for a memory stick or a LAN port.

Try and get the parallel port on an expansion card - you don't wan't to blow a motherboard when you spill a beverage on the PMDX.

PS. I moved your post to this thread - there is stuff above your post now.
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  #8  
Old Wed 10 October 2007, 08:05
smreish
Just call me: Sean - #5, 28, 58 and others
 
Orlando, Florida
United States of America
Gerald.
Thanks for moving my post. I am already on your same page. I order 2 PCI bus supported cards for each PC. 10$ each is a small price to pay for safety! I really don't care for the parallel ports running off the motherboard. Plus, the expansion cards have a really nice isolation/buffer circuit as well!

Redundancy, Redundancy...signal..signal flow. I feel like I am back in lecture at the University after 20 years Your input and guidance is well received. Thanks.
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  #9  
Old Sat 13 October 2007, 21:03
gmessler
Just call me: Greg #15
 
Chicago IL
United States of America
Print servers

I was wondering if the use of a bi-directional print server would work.

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applicati...6035&CatId=206
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  #10  
Old Sat 13 October 2007, 21:27
smreish
Just call me: Sean - #5, 28, 58 and others
 
Orlando, Florida
United States of America
Greg,
I would definitely talk to Art at Mach3 for consideration. My concern based on his forum states that the PC is actually pretty processor heavy during operation to run the CNC. The 100mbs speed stated (which is really never the case) may not be fast enough. I will continue to read the Mach forum for ideas, but my gut is telling me - no.

Sean
But, for what it's worth. I just ordered a Factory Refurbished Dell optiplex for 179.00 from TigerDirect to run the MechMate. I figured a cheap Pc with XP and parallel port for under 200 USD was money well spent. I am certainly not going to park one of my 2K CAD stations in the shop to run it
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  #11  
Old Thu 02 October 2008, 09:47
javeria
Just call me: Irfan #33
 
Bangalore
India
I am planning to use the Intel Atom, at 1.6 Ghz and under 100USD here in India, it will be a treat.

will there be any concerns here?

http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=5EUibcJKURs

RGDS
IRfan
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  #12  
Old Tue 10 February 2009, 23:44
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
Good time to read this thread:
All motors run fine then start chattering and loosing steps - interrupt in the PC

Conclusion there is to stay away from fancy dual core processors.
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  #13  
Old Wed 11 February 2009, 08:22
domino11
Just call me: Heath
 
Cornwall, Ontario
Canada
Gerald,
In windows xp you can disable one of the cores in the processor for an application, has anyone tried that to see if it helps the situation? I have heard of others doing this on other apps that did not run well when the os was utilizing both processors. Open windows task manager and then select the application you want to modify (for example Mach 3), and then right click and go to "set affinity" and then deselect one of the processors. Just a thought
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  #14  
Old Thu 12 February 2009, 23:15
shaper
Just call me: Jed
 
Perth, WA
Australia
Heath

I have done what you are talking about here with other applications and had good success, don't know about Mach 3 though.

Jed
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  #15  
Old Fri 13 February 2009, 07:24
domino11
Just call me: Heath
 
Cornwall, Ontario
Canada
Jed,
I have also used this techique with other programs, but not with Mach 3, just thought it might help someone. It could also be other issues.
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  #16  
Old Wed 04 March 2009, 09:08
Fronzel
Just call me: Fronzel
 
Decatur
United States of America
The IBM 6221 has two physical processors. Has anybody tried a computer with two logical processors?

Those mini-ITX(17cm x 17cm!) sized Atom boards from Intel for less then 80 dollars US are pretty attractive. I think they are available in single core and dual core flavors.
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  #17  
Old Wed 04 March 2009, 09:16
javeria
Just call me: Irfan #33
 
Bangalore
India
I have a single core atom - not run the mechmate yet - but has run the motors already. "comfortably"
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  #18  
Old Wed 04 March 2009, 10:19
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
Fronzel, did you see post #12 in this thread 3 weeks ago?
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  #19  
Old Wed 04 March 2009, 14:01
Fronzel
Just call me: Fronzel
 
Decatur
United States of America
I did. That computer uses two separate processors to do things. The current trend for dual processor computers are one chip with two cores. It it one processor, but can do the work of two.

Like when you split a 500 gig hard drive into two 250 gig hard drives. The computer sees them differently, but not like it would see two 250 gig drives.

I'm just curious if that causes the same issues. The problem I see is that a dual core CPU is increasingly common and sometimes not clearly labeled.
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  #20  
Old Wed 04 March 2009, 17:08
sailfl
Just call me: Nils #12
 
Winter Park, FL
United States of America
Fronzel,

The amount of computing power you need to run Mach3 is so minimal that you do not need dual core. I purchased an older Dell and there is plenty of power. Pentium 3 is fine. It sends out commands one line at a time.... it is very simple stuff.
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  #21  
Old Wed 04 March 2009, 20:23
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
Fronzel, thanks for explaining the difference between dual processor and dual core. So the question to the group stands; Does dual core work okay?
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  #22  
Old Wed 04 March 2009, 23:27
liaoh75
Just call me: David
 
Taibao
Taiwan
I've tried 4 different Dual Core (all Intel) machines with different motherboards and components. They all ended up having the exact same problem. However, here are some strange things to think about. Why do the computers work initially and then have problems???? The tests I did resulted in two machines exhibiting the same problem right away. The other two had a few hours or days delays before this problem reared its head and once it started, nothing brings the situation back the "initial" stage (This includes reformatting the drive and reloading Mach3).

My old P4 3.06 HT (Hyper Threaded - Not Dual Core) worked great. However, that is my desktop machine at home. The current PC driving my Mechmate is a Celeron 1.8 GHz with 256 mb of ram and it hasn't given me any trouble or sign of trouble and I'm been using it for about five months now. Is anyone using AMD Dual Core or any other CPU for that matter? A comparison would be very interesting.

Gerald or anyone else, are you using a Smoother Stepper yet? If so, do you think this is the answer to the seizing motors Dual core w/parallel port combo problem?

In answer to the original question regarding rather or not a Dual Core is ok, I have to vote NO at this point. I have a computer lab in my school so I could continue to swap out machines but I think 4 different Dual Core machines with all different configurations is conclusive enough for me. The only thing I haven't tried yet is to put in an independent parallel port card and test that vs. onboard. Granted, I have not tried that many old machine for a fair comparison but the forum has my vote on this.

Last edited by liaoh75; Wed 04 March 2009 at 23:40..
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  #23  
Old Thu 05 March 2009, 00:53
Fronzel
Just call me: Fronzel
 
Decatur
United States of America
I'd say that certainly is a pretty definitive answer.
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  #24  
Old Fri 06 March 2009, 21:25
shaper
Just call me: Jed
 
Perth, WA
Australia
yep I'd say that's pretty definitive too, after a bit of reading the problem that will come up with using the affinity settings is that it can't actually stop the process from using the second core/processor only limit the tendency to use it as it'll be prioritised for whichever processor is set. The other issue is that with the once the processing algorithm decides what is the most efficient processing path then it'll tend to use that path in the future. Or atleast that's my laymans take on it anyway. This would likely explain what david is experiencing with it not always presenting itself immediately.
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  #25  
Old Tue 19 May 2009, 08:21
234ahmed
Just call me: Ahmed #81
 
Damietta
Egypt
using old laptop with mach3

Hi all,

In this post No #18 I made a conclusion that laptop is not recommended to run mach3 and while I was reading on the mach forum I found these info ( http://www.machsupport.com/forum/ind...ic,3378.0.html) and thought to share it with you maybe it will be useful to someone like me who have an old laptop with parallel port and like to use it with the BBB.
An extract from the post giving a solution if your laptop is not working with the mach3:
"The secret is .... disable the ACPI driver!
Open the device manager and find the 'Computer' icon.
Click on the plus next to that and you will see something like Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) computer. Chose the 'update driver' option and select 'Standard PC' as a replacement.
Windows demands a reboot after this, and a lot of the hardware had to be 'rediscovered' and reinstalled (all used drivers it knew about already, so was painless), another reboot for good measure and now it works flawlessly."

I still haven't used this method as i don't have my motors delivered yet but i'll make a test and tell you the result when i start my kitchen project.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg ACPI.JPG (31.8 KB, 1879 views)
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  #26  
Old Tue 19 May 2009, 08:31
domino11
Just call me: Heath
 
Cornwall, Ontario
Canada
The other problem with laptops these days is that they do not come with parallel ports anymore. You cannot just add one like in a desktop computer. Also a lot of the laptops that had parallel ports did not have very good drivers in them ( to save power I am sure) and therefore may not drive a longish parallel cable as well as a desktop parallel port would.
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  #27  
Old Tue 19 May 2009, 08:39
234ahmed
Just call me: Ahmed #81
 
Damietta
Egypt
Heath,
probably you are right but I have the old laptop already so it won’t hurt to try it, RIGHT
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  #28  
Old Tue 19 May 2009, 12:20
domino11
Just call me: Heath
 
Cornwall, Ontario
Canada
Ahmed,
I try things all the time that you are not supposed to do. But it is also nice to know of potential problems in case something is not going as planned.
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  #29  
Old Wed 27 May 2009, 17:50
ger21
Just call me: Ger
 
Detroit, MI
United States of America
Dual Core Help??

Not sure if anyone's mentioned this, as I scanned this thread rather quickly.
With dual core machines, there are two bios settings that have helped others.
Make sure you disable C1E and EIST (dependent on CPU chosen) in the
board's BIOS. You will probably only have one of these settings. This info is from the Mach3 yahoo group.
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  #30  
Old Thu 28 May 2009, 05:17
sailfl
Just call me: Nils #12
 
Winter Park, FL
United States of America
Dual Core machine to run a MM just seems like a waste of computing power. Mach does not need much of a processor to output lines of GCode.

Dual Core machine for CAD and CAM, yes great idea. Quad would be nice also.
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