Jeff .. everything You say is true, but not really true, and NOT what a
new person needs to know.
The closed boxes are not the SS, Centipede, or the Galil.
None of these works for normal lathe use as expected on 100% of turning
There is no CSS, working threading and MPGs, real toolpost, working
offsets for both toolposts, feed/rev with CSS, feedhold and softlimits.
All of these are demanded by 100% of commercial users.
A subset of these works for some users, in some situations, true.
This is not the same as having a good working solution.
NO GOOD SOLUTION EXISTS FOR LINEAR SCALES !
Implying that this and that may be possible with say "Galil" withour
saying that yes, but maybe, but sometimes, and if you do this then you
cant do that is less than honest, and NOT what I would tell anyone I
sell stuff to.
That was not the point - the point was that none of the optional
hardware kits works even basically for what a user might expect to get
from a normal running commercial lathe.
The probably most advanced mach3 lathe user, Steve Blackmore, cosiders
that mach3 is useless for lathe threading and uses EMC for lathe even
though he does not particularly like it.
Otoh, I and many others use lathe quite well.
It all depends, you see ... and thats what buggy means.
Bad, incomplete, not fulfilling basic expectations, not working as
expected and so on .. buggy.
The SS crap plugin support for 4 years is just a good example of this.
The fact that most of the well known bugs in mach3 have been left as
unfixable, is also lamentable.
It is due to technical reasons and Brian with Mach4 has chosen to make
forge on with Mach3 rather than battle with Mach3.
Mach4 was expected "soon" about 2 years ago..
This is probably a good decision, at the end of the day. It does not
mean that we should be happy, and even less that we should accept the
However, some 10k paying commercial mach3 lathe users are left out in
the cold wondering when oh when we can get a good lathe solution.
At the moment, one does not exist, afaik, from anyone (maybe Centipede).
The closed boxes are the ones runnning " a version" of a gcode
interpreter and able to run independently.
NONE of the closed boxes supports the full basic gcode command set
including arcs, scaling, and rotated co-ordinates.
They basically support lines, and some homing, and not much else.
I myself will be using the Centipede, and hope and expect that excellent
lathe threading is now working.
I need to try the driver from last summer, probably working perfectly.
When I know something I will comment my findings and opinions as I see them.
I have been out for the last year, dealing with real world cnc machines
for real world customers.
As of today, there are several good to excellent hw pulse generators,
with a varying sw feature set.
The most well known and at least somewhat supported are the
Smoothstepper, Galil and the Centipede.
The kfrog and ncpod are some others, each with their drawbacks and gotchas.
Some provide excellent features, when they work.
Support seems to have died on these.
The most advanced in hw, with the best support, in my experience, is the
> >There are lots of ethernet and usb based boxes for running machines.
> >None of them support mach3 or emc2 fully (it's a lot harder than it
> >None support most features of modern milling machines.
> >All have between small and large numbers of bugs and features that are
> >less than desirable.
> There are several motion control boards that works with Mach3 these days a
> few that work with EMC2. Since I have only kept up with Mach I'll not
> discuss EMC2. The motion control boards serve a purpose and many them
> you do things with Mach that you can't do with the parallel port
> driver. For
> example with the Galil, and a few others boards you can do dual closed
> control, i.e. use the encoder on the motor as well as some sort of linear
> encoder on the axis. You can also do electronic gearing, control older
> analog input servo amps and whole host of other things you can't do
> via the
> parallel port. Many of them also let you run code right on the device, I
> have a mill that uses a Galil and has a few user programs that constantly
> run and make sure things are safe.
> Even on the lower cost end of the spectrum The SmoothStepper supports
> features that the parallel port driver does not, like allowing the spindle
> PWM to be varied based on feed rate. This is very useful on lasers and
> plasma cutters as when you slow in a corner you don't want to put as much
> heat into the part. These lower cost motion boards also allow users to
> use a
> laptop computer, they can set in the house and generate the GCode and then
> go out to the garage to run the machine. For a large number of
> hobbyist this
> is a big advantage.
> EVERY piece of software (and hardware) has bugs in it. To denounce
> with a blanket statement of 'because of large numbers of bugs' is simply
> absurd. If the whole of mankind worked that way we would all still be
> in caves (the first tools man created were less than ideal, i.e. had
> but they served a useful purpose and early man then learned how to make
> better tools.) The Mach3 that we all know and love has had all sorts
> of bugs
> over the years, yet it has served thousands of people very well. The
> feedback about what features work well and which features could use some
> What most newcomers need is a good set of hardware/software to get started
> and that will give them a solid base to build on. Getting good advice is
> really important as well.
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