My apologies in the beginning for the long post! Hopefully you will still read it and respond. If there is anything you know about any of the points brought up Hopefully you will post your knowledge about that subject, no one is an expert on everything!
I have a New Hermes IS6000XP engraving machine that I've had for several years now. It is a great machine,fast, servo driven (all 3 axes), heavy duty, precision ball screws and linear rails all around.
Machine runs great and there is nothing wrong with it but it has a list of inadequacies that have driven me crazy for years.
First is the machine is very proprietary and very expensive (was selling for nearly 30K at the time I acquired it 6 or 7 yrs ago), Runs on HPGL through a printer driver which makes makes it relatively easy to run but causes it's controllability and functionality to be rather limited in many respects. It is incapable of running 3D unless you upgrade the software for $4000. Personally I am not extremely fond of Gravostyle98 and I'm certainly not willing to cough up another 4K on a software I am already not super fond of. Support was great when I bought the machine but I have since moved out of the area and support is not great. I'm a machinist by trade and am familiar with Gcode I would much rather export Gcode from a CAM software where I have more control over the motion of the machine rather than a simple print driver, to say nothing for the ability to run 3D.
With that said I need the help of you experts out there that are willing to look at a very obscure and unique machine and give me your best advice on how to proceed with retrofitting it to run on Mach3.
Initially I wanted to use a Smooth stepper because it could deliver a fast pulse stream that could keep the machine moving at the nearly 800ipm it is used to going. Upon opening up the machine I was disappointed to find that the servos and drives are all +-10V analog... so much for step direction simplicity!
Here is a list of features the machine now has, that if at all possible, I would like to maintain or duplicate the functionality in Mach3 or in the CAD/CAM software before going to Mach:
Long Plate option: Allowing engraving on a piece longer than the table by breaking it up into sections.
Dials and scales: Ability to produce accurate dials and scales for engraving quickly.
Variable Matrix: Ability to import names or serial #'s from a database and then have the software export the completed plate files without manually entering all of the info and drawing everything repeatedly.
Engraving fonts: Single and multi-line fonts for decorative and efficient engraving.
Would also like to keep the speed, accuracy and smoothness in it's operation.
I have posted several pictures of the machine and it's various boards and connections along with comments on what little I know about each photo at the following link:
New Hermes IS6000XP Mach3 Conversion pictures by aeromachine1 - Photobucket
I really appreciate the help of anyone that takes a look at this. I've been reading a lot over the past year but my knowledge is primitive at best ANY help or advice on any topic related would be really appreciated!
Thank you, Dustin