Mach4 or Mach3 for new machine


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    Default Mach4 or Mach3 for new machine

    I'm ordering a new PRO4848. CNCRP is not selling Mach4 yet so they don't support it, and so I'd be on my own to set it up, but from what I've read and seen it sounds like a better option than Mach3. I understand woodworking and CAD but know nothing of the control software and electronics setup. I'll be getting the PNP Nema 34 electronics.

    Would setting up a new machine with Mach4 be difficult? Is there an easier solution with Acorn or similar? I don't mind spending a little more on the software if it's easier to get going. What are most new owners buying? Thanks for the help!

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    Community Moderator ger21's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mach4 or Mach3 for new machine

    Mach4 would not be easier than Mach3 (imo), but it most likely would be a lot better. And the only difference is in the software.
    If you are buying the plug and play kit, then I'd go with Mach4. You'll just need to spend some time on the Artsoft forum.

    Switching to anything else will likely cost you at least $300-$400, and

    Gerry

    UCCNC 2017 Screenset
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    Mach3 2010 Screenset
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    JointCAM - CNC Dovetails & Box Joints
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    (Note: The opinions expressed in this post are my own and are not necessarily those of CNCzone and its management)


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    Default Re: Mach4 or Mach3 for new machine

    What about UCCNC instead of Mach-x

    Might be worth a look.



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    Default Re: Mach4 or Mach3 for new machine

    You may want to check in with the Artsoft forum, but you will get most of what you need from the Warp9 Tech Design site. Warp9 makes the Smoothstepper, which is part of the CNCRP PNP box. Warp9 has a tutorial that walks you through the setup. Been there and done that. I upgraded from Mach3 to Mach4, and have never looked back. Because the tutorial was so good, I found setting up Mach4 easier than setting up Mach3. Most of the setup is done in the ESS (Smoothstepper) Plugin.

    No matter what control software you use, you need to know the ports and pins setup. Once you have that, Setting up Mach4 is a breeze. The easiest way to get the information you need is to start out with a demo version of Mach3 and the CNCRP XML configuration file for your machine. Open Mach3 and write down the ports & pins information. Then, you follow the Warp9 tutorial. I don't want to oversell how easy it is to set up. For a total newcomer, the whole process is pretty daunting. It was a bit easier for me, because I built my own electronics. I had my ports and pins assignments from the build itself.

    Here's a link to the Warp9 Smoothstepper tutorial for Mach4: https://warp9td.com/index.php/gettin...pper-and-mach4

    Here's a link to the forum ger21 referenced: https://www.machsupport.com/forum/index.php

    A word about choosing another control system, like Acorn, You will be getting into an electronics build situation.

    Gary




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    Default Re: Mach4 or Mach3 for new machine

    Gary did you go with the hobby Mach4? I am not unhappy with Mach3 but I keep hearing about other systems.

    1000x750 Workbee CNC - Mach4 - PMDX USB - Windows 10 Pro


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    Default Re: Mach4 or Mach3 for new machine

    Quote Originally Posted by wmgeorge View Post
    Gary did you go with the hobby Mach4? I am not unhappy with Mach3 but I keep hearing about other systems.
    why are you unhappy with mach3?
    try with linuxcnc



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    Default Re: Mach4 or Mach3 for new machine

    Quote Originally Posted by wmgeorge View Post
    Gary did you go with the hobby Mach4? I am not unhappy with Mach3 but I keep hearing about other systems.
    Quote Originally Posted by tivoidethuong View Post
    why are you unhappy with mach3?
    try with linuxcnc

    Yes, I went with the hobby version of Mach 4. Mach3 worked okay for me, but when Windows 10 caused Mach3 to stop working, I decided it was time for a change. And yes, I downloaded the patch and got Mach3 working again, but I didn't like the fact that Mach3 was no longer supported. There was more to it, though. Shortly after I downloaded the patch, my machine started acting up. My Z axis started cutting deeper than my G-code called for. I thought it was a Mach3 thing. That tipped the scales for me. Turns out it wasn't a software issue. I had a set screw loosen up on my Z axis screw, which allowed some slippage. By the time I correctly diagnosed the problem, I had already upgraded. Turned out that I liked Mach4 a lot more than Mach3 and was happy I made the change.

    One thing I like better was the built in ability to zero out all three axes at a corner of the work piece. I use Bill Griggs's Makers Guide Triple Edge Finder to set all three axes to zero. In Mach3, I used Big Tex's Blue Screen addin, which was necessary to permit setting X and Y zero with the guide. It was okay, but the screen set was pretty cluttered. Mach4 has the capability built in and the screen set is, IMO, much cleaner. The only thing I don't like about Mach4 is the lack of pendant support. I used a jobstick under Mach3, and it worked fine for me. I don't know coding well enough to write a routine for Mach 4. The Chinese haven't written routines for Mach4 for their pendants. Vista CNC has great pendants (kind of pricey), but I have read some bad reviews of their Mach4 plugins, and they have shown no interest in improving them - despite a lot of user pressure to do so. Their current plugin is dated to 2016. I am using ShuttlePro, which works like a pendant. I don't love it, but it works. Mach4 comes with a plugin for Shuttle Pro. I would be great if someone could write some plugins for Mach4, like we have available in Mach3. I would give it a shot, but I don't have nearly enough time to learn LUA coding, and there are too many hoops to jump through with the Mach4 folks (non-disclosure agreements and the like).

    I've heard good things about Linux, but the control hardware I built includes Smoothstepper ESS. To change to Linux, I would have to change hardware - basically build a new control box. I wasn't, and am not now, prepared to do that. Same deal with Acorn. I've heard great things about it, I don't want to start over on the control side. Also, Acorn doesn't yet support a 5th axis (think lathe), which is a deal breaker for me. I don't have a rotary axis yet, but want the option to upgrade to one in the future. I built my control box to allow for the expansion.

    Gary




  8. #8

    Default Re: Mach4 or Mach3 for new machine

    Hi,
    in the early days I used Mach3 and two parallel ports and it worked pretty well.
    When I started coding macros for my Mach3 installation I became pretty pissed off with Cypress Enable, the Visual Basic variant that
    serves as Mach3's scripting language.

    I decided therefor to update to Mach4 and learn Lua instead. As it turns out learning Lua is actually a bit more complicated because in addition
    to Lua you have to learn to use Mach4's API and understand Mach4's modular structure. To start with I thought I had made a mistake in choosing
    Mach4 but I have changed my mind. Mach4 and the flexibility of its scripting is light years ahead of Mach3.

    I had a VistaCNC (model P1A) pendant and after updating the firmware have used it with Mach4 ever since. There have been a number of people who have had trouble
    with VistaCNC pendants and Mach4 but in EVERY CASE the pendant had an LCD screen (models P2-S, P4-S) whereas my pendant does not and I had no trouble.
    To my knowledge VistaCNC is the only manufacturer to even try to support Mach4. There are as GME points out Shuttle Pro and a user generated
    plugin for Xbox. A couple of users have generated plugins to operate XHC pendants but could at best be called buggy.

    All up, the support for pendants is patchy at best. As more and more people take up Mach4 manufacturers will take up the challenge to support it.

    If you are building a new machine I would recommend Mach4, its not that Mach3 is bad but it is unsupported. Mach3 is what it is and will not now
    ever be improved.

    Craig



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    Default Re: Mach4 or Mach3 for new machine

    Quote Originally Posted by joeavaerage View Post
    Hi,
    in the early days I used Mach3 and two parallel ports and it worked pretty well.
    When I started coding macros for my Mach3 installation I became pretty pissed off with Cypress Enable, the Visual Basic variant that
    serves as Mach3's scripting language.

    I decided therefor to update to Mach4 and learn Lua instead. As it turns out learning Lua is actually a bit more complicated because in addition
    to Lua you have to learn to use Mach4's API and understand Mach4's modular structure. To start with I thought I had made a mistake in choosing
    Mach4 but I have changed my mind. Mach4 and the flexibility of its scripting is light years ahead of Mach3.

    I had a VistaCNC (model P1A) pendant and after updating the firmware have used it with Mach4 ever since. There have been a number of people who have had trouble
    with VistaCNC pendants and Mach4 but in EVERY CASE the pendant had an LCD screen (models P2-S, P4-S) whereas my pendant does not and I had no trouble.
    To my knowledge VistaCNC is the only manufacturer to even try to support Mach4. There are as GME points out Shuttle Pro and a user generated
    plugin for Xbox. A couple of users have generated plugins to operate XHC pendants but could at best be called buggy.

    All up, the support for pendants is patchy at best. As more and more people take up Mach4 manufacturers will take up the challenge to support it.

    If you are building a new machine I would recommend Mach4, its not that Mach3 is bad but it is unsupported. Mach3 is what it is and will not now
    ever be improved.

    Craig

    Thank you, Craig. Gee, I wish I had know that it was an LCD Screen thing that was the problem. Had I known the non-screen versions of the pendants worked, I would have gone that way, rather than buying the ShuttlePro. I have kept an eye on Vista CNC's website to see if they have updated their firmware, before jumping in. The folks there haven't shown any encouragement. I agree with you. It's going to take a larger Mach4 user base, before we are going to see any movement. Mach3 overwhelmed the hobby market, and probably still does. Now, there are more choices than there used to be, which makes market dominance tougher. It's going to take time to see how all shakes out. Anyway, I really appreciate your weighing in with useful information.

    I could be wrong, but I get the impression folks were, and still may be, afraid of Mach4. I would have thought it natural to transition from Mach3 to Mach4. But folks seem to look elsewhere. I have seen remarks from some influential and knowledgeable posters suggesting that Mach4 was difficult to set up, even though they had never used it, and suggested we should look elsewhere. That doesn't help, and suggesting that the basic setup is difficult is just plain wrong, at least in my firsthand experience. Too bad, because Mach4 is a good product.

    Gary




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    Default Re: Mach4 or Mach3 for new machine

    I'll +1 for UCCNC - here's my post on how I converted from the stock CNCRP electronics to the UC300ETH controller and UCCNC; it honestly was pretty simple.

    https://www.cnczone.com/forums/cnc-r...-software.html



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    Default Re: Mach4 or Mach3 for new machine

    When the Mach controller system came on the market as I recall there was not a lot of competition. Back in those days I used DeskCNC and it did a good job, but the lack of support was and still is a limiting factor. Today... I would go with the Acorn instead of any of the Mach3 or 4 systems. But for now what I have is paid for and working.

    1000x750 Workbee CNC - Mach4 - PMDX USB - Windows 10 Pro


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    Community Moderator ger21's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mach4 or Mach3 for new machine

    I could be wrong, but I get the impression folks were, and still may be, afraid of Mach4.
    Not afraid. More like not interested. I think Artsoft turned a lot of people off by releasing an unusable product, that took a few years to become usable.

    And the fact that they stuck with the terrible idea (imo) of relying on 3rd party motion controllers. How many motion controllers fully support all of Mach4's features? Probably not many.
    And if Artsoft adds features, or fixes bugs, you may have to wait for a new plugin from the motion controller manufacturer before you can use them. That's why CNCRP is still using Mach3. While Warp9 might be faster at their plugin development than they used to be, they've been working on their Mach4 plugin for what, 4-5 years now?

    From what I read these days, Mach4 is now far superior to Mach3. But it's definitely more difficult to setup than Mach3. No, it's probably not terribly difficult, but you do need to do a little research.
    You still see posts almost every day from people that can't get Mach3 working, which is about as simple as it gets.

    Gerry

    UCCNC 2017 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2017.html

    Mach3 2010 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2010.html

    JointCAM - CNC Dovetails & Box Joints
    http://www.g-forcecnc.com/jointcam.html

    (Note: The opinions expressed in this post are my own and are not necessarily those of CNCzone and its management)


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    Default Re: Mach4 or Mach3 for new machine

    Quote Originally Posted by Ctbjdm View Post
    I'll +1 for UCCNC - here's my post on how I converted from the stock CNCRP electronics to the UC300ETH controller and UCCNC; it honestly was pretty simple.

    https://www.cnczone.com/forums/cnc-r...-software.html
    +1 UCCNC. It is easy to migrate from Mach3 and it is easier to use and works better.



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    Default Re: Mach4 or Mach3 for new machine

    Quote Originally Posted by OlfCNC View Post
    +1 UCCNC. It is easy to migrate from Mach3 and it is easier to use and works better.

    Just curious, but what is it about UCCNC that "works better" than Mach4? Not challenging your statement. I would just like to get more detail, so I can better understand what you are saying.

    Thank you,

    Gary




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    Community Moderator ger21's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mach4 or Mach3 for new machine

    He didn't say better than Mach4, he said better than Mach3.
    If I ever get my router built, I'll have to do some comparison testing, as I do have both a Mach4 hobby and Mach4 Industrial license.

    Gerry

    UCCNC 2017 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2017.html

    Mach3 2010 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2010.html

    JointCAM - CNC Dovetails & Box Joints
    http://www.g-forcecnc.com/jointcam.html

    (Note: The opinions expressed in this post are my own and are not necessarily those of CNCzone and its management)


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    Default Re: Mach4 or Mach3 for new machine

    Just curious, but what is it about UCCNC that "works better" than Mach4? Not challenging your statement. I would just like to get more detail, so I can better understand what you are saying.
    - Better trajectory planner.
    - Smoother motion.
    - Faster buttons to actions.
    - Better organised screen.
    - Built in screen editor, no need to load an external and buggy screen editor program. (like you had to do with Mach3.)
    - Easier to write macros.
    - Timing is much better for plasma cutter. (One of my machines is a plasma table).
    - Can do rigid tapping on my mill. (Could not make that work with Mach3.)
    - Support.

    These are the few things that I recall.

    I'm talking about Mach3 with which I have a long experiences with. I do not have much experience with Mach4. I gave up on it after it frozen on me randomly which annoyed me enough to skip using it.



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    Default Re: Mach4 or Mach3 for new machine

    I forgot that it is much cheaper too than Mach3/4.



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    Default Re: Mach4 or Mach3 for new machine

    Quote Originally Posted by OlfCNC View Post
    - Better trajectory planner.
    - Smoother motion.
    - Faster buttons to actions.
    - Better organised screen.
    - Built in screen editor, no need to load an external and buggy screen editor program. (like you had to do with Mach3.)
    - Easier to write macros.
    - Timing is much better for plasma cutter. (One of my machines is a plasma table).
    - Can do rigid tapping on my mill. (Could not make that work with Mach3.)
    - Support.

    These are the few things that I recall.

    I'm talking about Mach3 with which I have a long experiences with. I do not have much experience with Mach4. I gave up on it after it frozen on me randomly which annoyed me enough to skip using it.

    Thank you. I misread your earlier post. My mistake and my apologies.

    I wasn't a Mach3 fan, but until I migrated to Mach4, I didn't have anything to compare it to. It's probably safe to say that all of the usual suspects are better - for all, or most of, the reasons you listed.

    I admire your ability to deal with screen editing, writing macros and the like. I am pretty much the prototypical user. I can use the basic program, but making modifications is beyond me. I wish I had the time to learn, but I have too many demands on my time. Also, learning the more technical aspects hasn't been a compelling priority.

    Gary




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    Default Re: Mach4 or Mach3 for new machine

    Quote Originally Posted by OlfCNC View Post
    I forgot that it is much cheaper too than Mach3/4.
    And you have options for USB, parallel port or Ethernet connectivity.



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    Default Re: Mach4 or Mach3 for new machine

    Quote Originally Posted by GME View Post
    Thank you. I misread your earlier post. My mistake and my apologies.

    I wasn't a Mach3 fan, but until I migrated to Mach4, I didn't have anything to compare it to. It's probably safe to say that all of the usual suspects are better - for all, or most of, the reasons you listed.

    I admire your ability to deal with screen editing, writing macros and the like. I am pretty much the prototypical user. I can use the basic program, but making modifications is beyond me. I wish I had the time to learn, but I have too many demands on my time. Also, learning the more technical aspects hasn't been a compelling priority.

    Gary
    I'm old as dirt so beleive me that if I could learn editing the screen and coding macros then others can too.
    It is very simple to edit the screen. You pressing the screen edit button and you can make new or copy an item. Then in the sreen editor window you set the parameters of your new button or DRO or LED, set a picture image for it, set it's function call code number and that's it. And finally you save your screen. Very simple.
    Coding basic macros is also not that hard to learn, there are example macros install with the uccnc and there is documentation for the available functions.
    and macros are complied on the fly, you can modify the macro with notepad, save it and then run it with the uccnc. No need to restart the software or to do anything else.



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