Centroid Acorn + g540 vs linux CNC + g540?


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Thread: Centroid Acorn + g540 vs linux CNC + g540?

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    Default Centroid Acorn + g540 vs linux CNC + g540?

    Please can someone explain what the benefit is off using a centroid Acorn motion controller over a free Linux CNC set-up?

    I have tried researching this topic but I can't find anything more detailed than generic comments like "the Acorn is a pro (or nearly pro) system instead of being hobby-level". I'm not suggesting that this is wrong.... it just doesn't tell me anything specific....

    I went over the specs at a high level. The processor on the Acorn is very basic compared to most modern intel CPUs. I know that CNC software doesn't require much processing power. Just saying that obviously the extra money is not going towards superior computer hardware.

    As far as I can tell, the "free" Acorn software that it comes with is useless as anything but a demo. Looks like you need to buy the "pro" version to unlock an acceptable feature set so I assume there must be some benefit that makes it worth spending close to $400 over the free option.
    Their price doesn't even include any product support. They charge an hourly rate that is just high enough that nobody would ever call them.

    So, what can you do with an Acorn that you couldn't do with Linux CNC or one of the other cheap software only solutions? Is there anything that would actually result in higher quality parts?


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    Community Moderator ger21's Avatar
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    Default Re: Centroid Acorn + g540 vs linux CNC + g540?

    I've never used either one, but here's my take.

    I think the number one reason is stability, and the fact that you get everything you need in the one board. Your not mixing multiple boards, from multiple manufacturers, which may not always work well together.
    For many people, the fact that it runs in Windows is a huge advantage. No matter how many Linux users tell you how easy it is to use, 95% of people don't want to deal with it.

    I believe that the centroid is the only low cost control available where the actual motion is handled on the board, and the software is really just the interface.
    With all other low cost controls, the motion is handled by the software.

    I know that CNC software doesn't require much processing power.
    No, but it requires high speed, and very precise timing. Linux CNC achieves this with a real time OS. Most others use a buffered system, where the software sends a series of moves, and is always running ahead of the machine.

    Just saying that obviously the extra money is not going towards superior computer hardware.
    Developing a product like this is not cheap, and companies are in business to make money. It's just not fair to talk about cost when you are comparing it to a free product. And a free product that's been developed for 20 years.

    Centroid does provide free support through their forum. There's a reason that phone support is expensive, especially on a low cost product. 1 hour on the phone costs the company any profit they made on the sale. Support is the biggest cost to any company in DIY CNC.

    So, what can you do with an Acorn that you couldn't do with Linux CNC or one of the other cheap software only solutions?


    I think they have a big advantage in probing, but you pay dearly for that option. Otherwise, probably not much else. A lot of the hobby controls allow a tremendous amount of customization, letting you do pretty much anything you want, if you know how.


    Is there anything that would actually result in higher quality parts?
    A potentially better trajectory planner. But you'd need to do real world side by side testing to see the difference, and you'd need to know how to get the most out of both systems, for a fair comparison.


    Gerry

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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: Centroid Acorn + g540 vs linux CNC + g540?

    I think the big difference is that one runs on Windows and the other on Linux.
    It can be an endless argument which one is better and why.
    Windows users will say that Windows is nice, because most CAM softwares also runs on Windows and that everybody is familiar with it.
    Linux users will say that Linux is more stable.
    All is arguable.

    Talking about the functionality I think LinuxCNC has much more functions and is more flexible than the Acorn, but it may be harder to set it up especially if you are not a Linux guy and if you are a beginner.



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    Default Re: Centroid Acorn + g540 vs linux CNC + g540?

    Quote Originally Posted by ger21 View Post
    I've never used either one, but here's my take.

    I think the number one reason is stability, and the fact that you get everything you need in the one board. Your not mixing multiple boards, from multiple manufacturers, which may not always work well together.
    For many people, the fact that it runs in Windows is a huge advantage. No matter how many Linux users tell you how easy it is to use, 95% of people don't want to deal with it.

    I believe that the centroid is the only low cost control available where the actual motion is handled on the board, and the software is really just the interface.
    With all other low cost controls, the motion is handled by the software.



    No, but it requires high speed, and very precise timing. Linux CNC achieves this with a real time OS. Most others use a buffered system, where the software sends a series of moves, and is always running ahead of the machine.



    Developing a product like this is not cheap, and companies are in business to make money. It's just not fair to talk about cost when you are comparing it to a free product. And a free product that's been developed for 20 years.

    Centroid does provide free support through their forum. There's a reason that phone support is expensive, especially on a low cost product. 1 hour on the phone costs the company any profit they made on the sale. Support is the biggest cost to any company in DIY CNC.



    I think they have a big advantage in probing, but you pay dearly for that option. Otherwise, probably not much else. A lot of the hobby controls allow a tremendous amount of customization, letting you do pretty much anything you want, if you know how.




    A potentially better trajectory planner. But you'd need to do real world side by side testing to see the difference, and you'd need to know how to get the most out of both systems, for a fair comparison.

    What do you mean by "stability" in this context? Are Linux CNC and the other hobby software solutions unstable and if so, how does it manifest?

    When you say that you get everything on one board, I guess this is the part I don't understand properly. Looking at the centroid Acorn diagram on their site, it looks like you still need a Gecko G540 (or other drives) and a PC, and a vfd etc, so it's not a plug in n play CNC electronics package. There is still a need for connecting boards from different manufacturers etc.

    What is the advantage of the motion being handled by the board instead of by pc software? I have built enough computers to know that, these days, it's pretty much all software. The hardware involved is typically generic - e.g. a MAC is just a regular PC with a different operating system. Same with most game consoles. I thought that CNC controls (at any level), were the same in this respect. Is this not correct?

    I am sure you are right about Centroid having development costs to claw back but I see that as being their internal issue and not something that should influence our decisions here. If this (or any other system) offers little benefit over a free option then it seems logical to compare them (at least to me). I am not saying it offers no advantage... just trying to understand why people are spending the $400 instead of using the free option and if I should buy one or not.

    I was hoping this would be the place to find someone who upgraded from linux CNC or Mac3 to an Acorn so they could tell us what benefits they saw....



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    Default Re: Centroid Acorn + g540 vs linux CNC + g540?

    Quote Originally Posted by OlfCNC View Post
    I think the big difference is that one runs on Windows and the other on Linux.
    It can be an endless argument which one is better and why.
    Windows users will say that Windows is nice, because most CAM softwares also runs on Windows and that everybody is familiar with it.
    Linux users will say that Linux is more stable.
    All is arguable.

    Talking about the functionality I think LinuxCNC has much more functions and is more flexible than the Acorn, but it may be harder to set it up especially if you are not a Linux guy and if you are a beginner.

    The way I see it, there would be new software for me to learn with any system.

    The pc I am using for my CNC machine is dedicated so I am not worried about using Linux for other things. I'll set it up to load Linux CNC when you turn it on so hopefully I won't have to spend much time navigating Linux...

    I'm no linux guy but my understanding is that it's key benefit is the ability to easily install it without all the bloatware that slows Windows down and causes other potential issues. Windows allways seems to be doing things I didn't ask it to and it drives me nuts with the constant nagging about updates etc. with that said, I'd be happy to use either.

    Most issues I have seen with PCs not being stable are created by the user (I.e. Me), not the operating system.



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    Community Moderator ger21's Avatar
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    Default Re: Centroid Acorn + g540 vs linux CNC + g540?

    What do you mean by "stability" in this context? Are Linux CNC and the other hobby software solutions unstable and if so, how does it manifest?
    You can really lump all the options together and generalize.
    Lack of stability would be directed to Mach3. While Mach3 works well for a lot of people, you're experience can vary greatly, and is very PC dependent. It can be inconsistent operation, random crashes, or any number of other things.

    When you say that you get everything on one board, I guess this is the part I don't understand properly.
    What I mean is that everything connects directly to the Acorn, and it doesn't require additional breakout boards, or speed control boards, like most others do.
    You're always going to have separate drives, and VFD's, even with a $10K control.
    What is the advantage of the motion being handled by the board instead of by pc software? I have built enough computers to know that, these days, it's pretty much all software. The hardware involved is typically generic - e.g. a MAC is just a regular PC with a different operating system. Same with most game consoles. I thought that CNC controls (at any level), were the same in this respect. Is this not correct?
    Timing. With a CNC, there can be upwards of 500,000 things a second happening in a CNC control, all with very precise timing requirements. Software running in Windows is just not capable of precise timing. So everything is buffered in the control board.
    Linux CNC uses a special Realtime version of Linux to avoid timing issues.

    I am sure you are right about Centroid having development costs to claw back but I see that as being their internal issue and not something that should influence our decisions here. If this (or any other system) offers little benefit over a free option then it seems logical to compare them (at least to me). I am not saying it offers no advantage... just trying to understand why people are spending the $400 instead of using the free option and if I should buy one or not.
    Imo, it all comes down to whether you want to use Liinux or not. Or in some cases, how much you dislike Windows.
    My guess is that you won't see many Linux users switching to the Acorn. They tend to be a very loyal group, and most love LinnuxCNC.

    But there have been a lot of Mach3 users switching, and there are many posts here about there experiences.

    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: Centroid Acorn + g540 vs linux CNC + g540?

    Quote Originally Posted by ger21 View Post
    You can really lump all the options together and generalize.
    Lack of stability would be directed to Mach3. While Mach3 works well for a lot of people, you're experience can vary greatly, and is very PC dependent. It can be inconsistent operation, random crashes, or any number of other things.



    What I mean is that everything connects directly to the Acorn, and it doesn't require additional breakout boards, or speed control boards, like most others do.
    You're always going to have separate drives, and VFD's, even with a $10K control.


    Timing. With a CNC, there can be upwards of 500,000 things a second happening in a CNC control, all with very precise timing requirements. Software running in Windows is just not capable of precise timing. So everything is buffered in the control board.
    Linux CNC uses a special Realtime version of Linux to avoid timing issues.



    Imo, it all comes down to whether you want to use Liinux or not. Or in some cases, how much you dislike Windows.
    My guess is that you won't see many Linux users switching to the Acorn. They tend to be a very loyal group, and most love LinnuxCNC.

    But there have been a lot of Mach3 users switching, and there are many posts here about there experiences.
    Thanks. I think I understand it a little better now.

    From what you say, it sounds like Linux CNC avoids many of the pitfalls with hobby-level software only solutions as long as it is a dedicated machine.

    I get the linux reservations. I can't say I am thrilled about using an OS I am not familiar with, or learning new nerd speak for things I knew the name of in Windows, or the hassle of creating USB boot discs (that actually work) etc. I am hoping the install and set-up will be a intuitive as people say.

    I thought about what you said about everything connecting to one board and went over the Acorn features again. It made more sense to me this time. If you want your control software to run everything including spindle speeds, auto tool changes, fan speeds / cooling and any other relays, it definately seems easier to set up with one interface, one board and software specifically designed for it. I wasn't seeing it because intended to use my vfd to control my spindle, not the software and my spindle is MTC.

    Maybe my set-up is currently too basic to benefit from what the Acorn is offering.



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Centroid Acorn + g540 vs linux CNC + g540?

Centroid Acorn + g540 vs linux CNC + g540?