A friend called me up to say a mutual acquaintance got all spur of the moment the other day and bought himself a 4 axis CNC machine. There were some disparaging words said then he asked if I could help getting it to run… Oh boy. It has a USB cord going to a controller box that looks like it’s just some sort of USB to parallel interface card and no documentation whatsoever. I’m guessing the only way to drive it going to be Mach3 or Mach4 unless I tear it apart enough to put a real controller on it. I downloaded Mach4 to his laptop (Windows 7 still) and it looks like demo mode doesn’t let you actually move things. I expect I’m going to have to find some sort of driver for the USB connection, since it doesn’t show up to the system as a COM or LPT. Anyone know what I should do for the next step? I was able to load and preview the crown using the Mach4 demo…
If its a parallel interface its more than likely been designed for mach 3, if its got a USB to parallel adapter it could possibly be a UC100 if its a Chinese knock off it will be trouble, if the PC you are using has got a parallel port and the controller PCB has also got one try using a parallel lead to connect. Mach 3 is really good and very adaptable and i have built 5 machines using it so have some experience with it. does the PCB look similar to this? post up some pictures so i can take a look and hopefully offer so advice.
Nope, the board is simpler than that. It looks like it’s this one. I see they have a driver and settings for Mach3. Nothing indicates it also works with Mach4 and I’m a little concerned that when he pulls the trigger on the software purchase we’ll find it doesn’t support it.
Mach 3 is downloadable from the new-fangled website as a demo version it limits the amount of G-code lines you can run until you upgrade. Another place to look is https://www.chinacnczone.com/en/software-driver_l282_1.html i know people who have downloaded from here and say no issues and its likely the very stuff you need.
What about LinuxCNC? Last I checked, it was free to try and free to keep.
This was going to be my recommendation.
LinuxCNC would likely be too much of a stretch for this user to learn. He’s never done anything in Linux… As an example his main desktop is running Windows 7 because the old version of Corel Draw he likes doesn’t run in 10, and he doesn’t like the newer interface in the later versions of Corel.
From reading your first post, it sounded like you were doing more of the work and just providing him a working system. My assumption was that you’d setup the linuxCNC and he’d pretty much just use it.
No, I’m going to take it to the point where X, Y, Z and A move and he gets the rest. He’s used to a CarveWright, so has had plenty of hand holding in the past. He thinks this will be a second machine to handle stuff when the CW is busy, but I think after he’s bought a few bits at reasonable prices instead of at CarveWright prices he’ll be champing at the ‘bit’ to do more with this guy.
[And who knows, maybe a Low Rider is in his future.]
And it ran today! Moved it in the air drawing a crown several times. Now I can wash my hands of it, and let him figure out his CAD and CAM…