Can I use my own pc, the specs are not that bad. I hate to buy that Machine Controller (pc) and the one I can use exclusively for it has higher specs. I know the parallel port is key and I have that as well on it. What do you all think?
I thought there was more to it than just the specs of the machine you wanted to use, and a reason why they were using Windows Embedded. I thought about using my old laptop, but in the end decided to go with the dedicated controller. Can't say either way which is better though.
Good, What OS are you running xp or Win 7? I have a dedicated video card and a parallel port. Have you had any troubles with it? As far as OS, did you just cut off certain services? Or did you just run it. I know you don't want word and stuff on machine, that is what they say...
I'm running windows XP with everything turn off in accordance with the manual recommendations (possibly only in the manual for Series 1). The Artsoft (Mach) site also tells you very clearly what spec machine will work and how to set up Windows. I've been running mine for five and a half years now without any problems. There is nothing particular about the Tormach version of Mach3 that I know of, it's just customised ready to run with Tormach mills.
I bought my PCNC way back before Tormach where offering their own PC controller.
Laptops are not recommended for a number of reasons.
Almost any old XP machine with a parallel port will probably work fine, provided there isn't some unknown problem lurking.
In my case, I opted to get the standard control system offered by Tormach at the time (a Dell Optiplex, it turned out to be), and I'm really glad that I did. I ended up having a freakish control system bug crop up after a few years, and was only able to arrive at a reliable solution thanks to the dedicated efforts of Tormach's support team to reproduce the error on one of their own "old" optiplex machines. Tormach discovered the root cause (a particular audio device driver conflict) and solved my problem for good, it appears. If not for their efforts, I would likely still be facing unpredictable performance issues that I couldn't explain and had to hope didn't crop up again in-between re-installing the OS and control software repeatedly. That kind of support is incredibly valuable to me, and why I will always want to have a controller purchased from and supported by Tormach. It's worth the difference in price, easily.
I'll gladly add that Tormach's intensive support activities occured well after my machine warranty period was over; the topic of warranty coverage was never even mentioned. They just kept at it until my problem was solved. They certainly earned whatever small premium I paid for their control computer. Their newest control system setup is even better, from the looks of it.
Read this, especially the last paragraph.
Using the Tormach controller makes you dependent on Tormach and also goes counter to their open source policy. Run the drivertest.exe on your PC.
You pays your money and you makes your choice.
Thanks for your replies!
I have been using a IBM mini desktop running XP with no problems for several years. You can buy them many places for <$100 off lease units.
Great info, thanks...
One of the issues with the more modern computers is the hyperthreading technology they use. This has caused problems with Mach3 timing. The other issue is the parallel port voltage is now commonly 3.3 volts instead of 5v like it used to be. This can be overcome by using a breakout board like the C10 however. Tormach has a list of recommended computers somewhere on their site.
The hyper threading can easily be turned off in almost all computer. Just enter the bios and select "hyper threading off" or the like.
I have been using a dell like that and had no problem ever. It cost me like 60 bucks online. But you may get unlucky and get a computer with problems, its hard to tell in advance what will work or not. Though I suspect most will if you follow the basic guideline. Also, I am sure someone mentioned it (I did not read all thread, shame on me), Tormach has recommendation on their website as per what computer to use with Mach 3. Some of them are dirt cheap on ebay. If you live close to Atlanta I can give you one free! Let me know.