My bench uses a 24x36" tray or sink under the mill to catch coolant. The tray needs to extend under the full reach of the machine to be effective. With an 18" table, 14" of travel, and 7" in steppers and stepper mounts 36" isn't quite enough.
Switching to single stack steppers gets a few inches. Using pulleys instead of the Taig mounts would also save at least 2", perhaps more.
> I think your assessment is correct, but I would point out that
> even an above average parallel port really sucks. Both EMC2
> and Mach are hobbled by sticking with the parallel port. It seems
> like a cheap way of doing things but many times folks wind up
> spending a lot of money going through several iterations of motors,
> driver, power supplies, etc when the underlying problem is really
> the step pulse quality. I really wish there was a better selection of
> external motion control cards for both systems as I believe it is
> the way of the future.
I agree. I thought it was a joke when I first read that they were still using the parallel port this way to control the machines. I'm a software developer and would never have chosen commodity PC hardware as a way to control a very precise and high frequency step pulse wave.
The Mesa 7i43 looks like a good solution and is cheap at roughly $80. It will offload the step generation. I already ordered single stack steppers from you to fix my footprint issues (and to get lower inductance motors). So I won't plan on moving forward with the pulley option.