Low Cost DIY Pendant for Mach3


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Thread: Low Cost DIY Pendant for Mach3

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    Member revwarguy's Avatar
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    Default Low Cost DIY Pendant for Mach3

    At the CNC Workshop this summer, I met Randy Ray of Texas MicroCircuits who has been selling a plug an play pendant for Mach3. It is plug and play because it plugs into a USB port and looks like another keyboard to the computer. No drivers or layers of software to program, it generates the same keystrokes as if you typed the keys on the keyboard. More info here and the article in the latest issue of Digital Machinist.

    I had been using a game controller with mixed success, and wanted something simpler and more powerful at the table. Randy decided to sell just the "guts" of his pendant as a kit, providing both customization opportunity as well as low cost.

    Well, the "low cost" bit got my attention, so I set out to see just how low cost I could do it.

    First thing is I bought his basic kit for $69.95 in the bottom mounted flavor. I added the thumbstick option as a jog joystick for $19.95. I ordered it a week ago today, and received it two days ago. Cost so far is $89.90.

    A trip to my local supplier got me a Velleman G1098 project box for $3.40 and six switches at $.89 each, so I am at $98.64. I had a knob for the 1/4 inch shaft selector switch in my junk box, but I am sure you can find one for under a buck. I think the only other thing I need to buy is a strain relief snap for the keyboard cord. Looks like everything else is included.

    I've attached some pics so far. One is the lid to the box, one is a printed template file I made as a drilling guide, one shows the cover mostly populated, and one shows the boards mounted under the cover. Its going to be tight in there, I definitely wouldn't use any smaller box, but it looks like everything is going fit. On a box this small, the arrangement of the controls is somewhat limited. The row of holes along the top are for LEDs, and the large blank hole is for another switch with a red button that wasn't handy when I took the picture. All other holes just have mounting screws in them like the others.

    The boards are mounted on nylon standoffs (this hardware was included) that leaves room for the switches.

    I know, I know, I could have CNCed the cover instead of drilling it, but my CNC is tied up with tooling to do other things right now that I didn't want to remove, and some brad point drills on the drill press worked fine and was quick. I needed to see if this box was going work.

    Next is to finish the wiring and make a laminated cover for the top of the lid for the labels.

    Update Real Soon Now.

    Similar Threads:
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Low Cost DIY Pendant for Mach3-raw_cover-jpg   Low Cost DIY Pendant for Mach3-drill_template-jpg   Low Cost DIY Pendant for Mach3-lid_on-jpg   Low Cost DIY Pendant for Mach3-boardplacement-jpg  

    Last edited by revwarguy; 08-01-2010 at 09:59 AM.


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    Registered Regnar's Avatar
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    You know we are going to need a video of it working!

    I read the article in DM and was just waiting for others to get one up and running before I pulled the trigger.

    What system are you running it off of. Mach or Emc?

    Looking forward to more pictures and video.



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    Personally I like the ultra cheep route. Just go to your local office supply. Buy the cheep 10-15 dollar logitec keyboard, bust it open, look at the matrix of keys to the circuit board inside (to map the keys you want to use) and solder your wires to the tabs.

    Keep the milar sheet incase you want to map more keys later..hehe

    I prefer the cheep Logitec classic 200 but now think its a K120.. . Prefer logitec because the tabs on the 1 banks on it's circuit board are not coated so you can solder directly to it (some other brands require you to scrap the boards to get to the coper)

    I will admit it is nice to have screw terminal breakouts but untill some one comes up with one around 20 bucks I'd keep mutilating keyboards.

    b.



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    Default PoKeys 55

    PoKeys 55 allow u to make a pendant with matrix key pad( primary and secondary), lcd screen, has tons of io, encoders, inputs ,mpg, unit is a usb device and can also be used to set up control workstation Panel W/Keypad
    It looks like it has great value and has lots of addons as u need them


    http://www.cnc4pc.com/Store/osc/adva...keywords=pokey



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    Member revwarguy's Avatar
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    I appreciate the low cost alternatives mentioned, like modded keyboards, etc. but you don't end up with a pendant, just a remoted keyboard. The cheapest alternative in this vein is a game pad, which I picked up at a garage sale for $5. But it just isn't a pendant that has both a joystick type arrangement and dedicated function keys.

    Ok, here is further progress:

    Pic 1 - the covers printed and laminated. I used a knife fo rthe larger holes, and a leather punch for the LED and screw holes. I printed the covers on a couple of different colored papers before laminating them.

    Pic 2 - the pushbuttons installed and wired.

    Pic 3 - same, but with the thumbswitch installed and the LEDs soldered in place.

    Pic 4 - The main board on and the wires in place. You can see there is a lot of stuff there. This is about the smallest volume box I would dare use to get everything to fit, at 5.3 x 3.0 x 2.0 inches.

    Pic 5 - Picture from the other side with all those wires inside. There are many enhancements coming, including a programming capability, so this is only 1.0 - for now it logically just looks exactly like the MP2 model. The selector switch, which has 12 possible positions, is set to just go to 10, like the MP2. I can see that the labels for the pushbuttons are obscured by the pushbutton aprons a bit, so in the next iteration I will move the labels to make them more obvious.

    Pic 6 - Keyboard cable through the box with a strain relief clamp. In order to make that fit, I sanded the connector cover of the PS/2 connector round.

    Next, button her up and plug her in!

    I did not need the special hardware kit, and the strain relief was $.49, so the total cost comes to $90.39. (Which does not include my free junk drawer knob or a laminated cover. If you don't have a laminator, you can take it to an office supply place who will do it for a few bucks.)

    eloid, how much would a pokeys55 pendant with about the same functionality end up costing?

    Regnar, I'm running it off of Mach3, but I believe there is an EMC version of this coming.

    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Low Cost DIY Pendant for Mach3-lam_cover-jpg   Low Cost DIY Pendant for Mach3-pushbuttons-jpg   Low Cost DIY Pendant for Mach3-thumbswitch-jpg   Low Cost DIY Pendant for Mach3-wiring-jpg  

    Low Cost DIY Pendant for Mach3-cover_on-jpg   Low Cost DIY Pendant for Mach3-strainrelief-jpg  
    Last edited by revwarguy; 08-05-2010 at 03:09 PM.


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    Default Its working, and I like it!

    Well, version one is working and I like it a lot. It moves the router easily in slow, fast, and incremental modes (as you set them in Mach), makes tool changes a lot easier, and allows you to control execution right at the table. I like being able to do this, as I can't reach across my table from being in front of the computer.

    Next will come a PC program that allows customization of the buttons an switch positions, and after that a LCD display! I will be definitely be looking at some of those things.

    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Low Cost DIY Pendant for Mach3-workingv1-jpg  
    "72.6 per cent of all statistics are made up on the spot." - Steven Wright


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    Xbox360 is a cheap solution.. If you disengrate it and make a pendant... What is the difference between your this pendant and the Xbox360? I saw almost similar functionalities within 25 US dollars!!!

    http://free3dscans.blogspot.com/ http://my-woodcarving.blogspot.com/
    http://my-diysolarwind.blogspot.com/


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    Hi, Khalid.

    I used to use a game controller, and I had some problems: It required some software layer to trap the "game port" USB signals and inject them into the keyboard interface. I had troubles with that, and spent some time downloading more current drivers, etc, but never could get it to be solid. Also, I took one apart and it looked pretty hard to modify, not having SMT equipment and such. All I could do with it was move the X, Y, and Z, and I reassigned most of the buttons to change from fast, slow, and incremental rates, but had trouble remembering which was which, so I ended up going back to the keyboard quite bit anyway. I know, that's is my own fault, but there it is. Also I had trouble with longer USB cables, which isn't really supported.

    I wanted something where I could position the bit using different speeds, do a tool change including setting zero, start and stop the program, all while staying at the table. If you could figure out how to do a tool change at the router without going to the keyboard, tell me how - I couldn't figure it out using a game controller. If you have a small machine, where the distance between the keyboard and router bit is all within arms reach, then you probably don't need either a game controller or a pendant.

    I have a larger table, and it's nice to have one.

    PS I don't have any connection with the company that makes it, I just like the product.

    Last edited by revwarguy; 08-29-2010 at 12:37 PM.
    "72.6 per cent of all statistics are made up on the spot." - Steven Wright


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    I just bought a Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 4000 this week when my old PS/2 port mouse started acting flaky and cleaning the rollers and ball did no good. The new mouse uses the very little 2.4GHz USB connector device and works on most surfaces. These devices are sold separately for around $16 usd. I wonder if one of them could be used to replace the cable interface in a pendant. This one has at least 15 feet of range. Not having a cord and not being directional would make it useful just to have the back of the pendant also act as a mouse. You could use it anywhere on the CNC table surface that is still relatively smooth. There is a lesser version of this mouse for $29.95 usd. The one I have has a wheel that can be moved sideways to scroll side to side when apps can use that feature. In fact, while typing this post I can move the cursor left and right in this Reply To Thread text editor.

    CarveOne

    Last edited by CarveOne; 08-29-2010 at 04:19 PM.
    CarveOne
    http://www.carveonecncwoodcraft.com


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    Hi again,
    first i am not here to say the advertised pendant is not good.. I am thankful to Randy for providing a versatile cheap solution...

    Before getting Xbox360, i don't know what useful the pendant is.. A couple of week before i got one and played with it.. And no doubt it is a good cheapest solution ever one can imagine.. Currently i am using almost all of the buttons, two joysticks, 4-custom macros etc... and i just printed on paper what button is what and it is working really fine to me..and it is my personnel opinion..

    I can jog continuous and in STEPS mode just with one button click, with other button i can increase /decrease the jog step value..With one button i can incraese/decrease the Feed etc.. HOSS did a great tutorial how to took apart the Xbox and rewire it to make a beautiful pendant...Thanks Hoss...

    I just write her to see what other functionality RAY pendant provide???... I Almost using all the functions with Xbox as the Randy providing in his pendant...

    http://free3dscans.blogspot.com/ http://my-woodcarving.blogspot.com/
    http://my-diysolarwind.blogspot.com/


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    Quote Originally Posted by Khalid View Post

    I just write her to see what other functionality RAY pendant provide???... I Almost using all the functions with Xbox as the Randy providing in his pendant...
    Khalid,

    I am glad your game controller works well for you. I just had trouble getting mine to work, and there was enough frustration that there came a time when I just decided to go a different way. If you want to know about the functionality of the MP2 kit, download the manual at:

    http://texasmicrocircuits.com/

    Right now, the functionality is the same as his ready-to-use MP2 pendant. In the future, it will be more customizable, and will allow a LCD display to be added. Customization may require replacing the main IC, a 15$ problem.

    There are more expensive alternatives the even does more, but $100 hit a nice price/performance spot for me. YMMV.

    "72.6 per cent of all statistics are made up on the spot." - Steven Wright


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    IMO, the wireless Xbox360 controller is the ultimate inexpensive pendant for Mach3.

    Using the mach3 xbox plugin there is not need for "key grabbing" and I am able to do all the jogging, incremental, fast and slow, reference all axis, Z and XY zeroing, Cycle Start, Stop, Feedhold, and adjust the feedrate all from the controller.

    I have about 20-30ft range, and its just really cool to show to people.

    I see no reason to try to take the controller apart to make a pendant, its already a great pendant.

    I dont ever touch the keyboard anymore, the only reason for me to go to the machine controller is to load Gcode, and to turn soft limits on and off with the mouse.



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    Well, Phife, I am curious now. How do you do a tool change without going to the keyboard? I couldn't figure out how to do it. Any trouble using the wireless while the machine is running - i.e., hitting a stop button, etc?

    "72.6 per cent of all statistics are made up on the spot." - Steven Wright


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    Quote Originally Posted by revwarguy View Post
    Well, Phife, I am curious now. How do you do a tool change without going to the keyboard? I couldn't figure out how to do it. Any trouble using the wireless while the machine is running - i.e., hitting a stop button, etc?
    If you download the latest Plugin of Xbox from Mach3 website, you will see that you can assign Tool change button... For changing the tool, you stop the machine with the pendant..press the toolchange button after toolchanging press the cyclestart etc..

    http://free3dscans.blogspot.com/ http://my-woodcarving.blogspot.com/
    http://my-diysolarwind.blogspot.com/


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    Quote Originally Posted by revwarguy View Post
    Well, Phife, I am curious now. How do you do a tool change without going to the keyboard? I couldn't figure out how to do it. Any trouble using the wireless while the machine is running - i.e., hitting a stop button, etc?
    The xbox plugin allows you to assign any one of the buttons to activate a custom macro. I use the Big Tex screeen set for mach 3 which has a Laser Zero macro and an advanced Z Zero (tool setting) macro. I just assigned each one to a button on the controller. works great!

    As for the wireless part, It does go into sleep mode after 15mins. it takes about 2-3 sec for the controller to wake up. Other than that there is no issues with wireless except to have it turned on before mach3 starts.

    I havent had a problem, but I also have 2 physical E-stops on my machine just in case.



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    I am not using wireless version...and i don't believe in wireless things..they always gives trouble when you not expected..
    The xbox comes with 3Meters cables... I think its enough...

    http://free3dscans.blogspot.com/ http://my-woodcarving.blogspot.com/
    http://my-diysolarwind.blogspot.com/


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    Both the wireless and wired versions of the xbox360 controllers work the same, they use the same plugin.

    Down side to wireless is the sleep mode and the batteries, I use rechargables and havent had a dead controller in the whole time ive had it. I trust the wireless at this point, especially something like a xbox game controller that is refined and well tested.

    Using the controller as a pendant also seems more intuitive to use, the analog joysticks allow you to drive around the gantry in a natural and smooth way. You can control 4 axis with the xbox360.



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    Quote Originally Posted by Phife View Post
    Using the controller as a pendant also seems more intuitive to use
    Relative to what? If you are comparing it to the keyboard, no contest as anything is step up from that, mostly because its way over off the table.

    I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree. I've had both, and intuitive in this case means to me that I don't have to look at the pendant while using it - I can just jog and do other operations while watching the router bit. It seemed I always had to look at the game controller and back while using it.

    Glad yours worked out for you, but I am happier with this thing.

    "72.6 per cent of all statistics are made up on the spot." - Steven Wright


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    Quote Originally Posted by revwarguy View Post
    Relative to what? If you are comparing it to the keyboard, no contest as anything is step up from that, mostly because its way over off the table.

    I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree. I've had both, and intuitive in this case means to me that I don't have to look at the pendant while using it - I can just jog and do other operations while watching the router bit. It seemed I always had to look at the game controller and back while using it.

    Glad yours worked out for you, but I am happier with this thing.
    Relative to the keyboard and other pendant type controls like the shuttlepro and the MPG wheel type pendants.

    If you are from the video game generation like I am, then using a xbox controller is very intuitive, the analog sticks are great for speed control, and I never have to look for the buttons.

    But everyone has their personal preference. Im glad you found something that works for you, and I applaud the skill you have in making your own pendant! I know I wouldnt even know where to start if I was trying to make one. Excellent work!



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    Quote Originally Posted by Phife View Post
    As for the wireless part, It does go into sleep mode after 15mins. it takes about 2-3 sec for the controller to wake up. Other than that there is no issues with wireless except to have it turned on before mach3 starts.


    Hey Phife,

    I just need to jump in here and ask you about the sleep mode. I too have used the wireless 360 controller and its true that in needs to be on before starting Mach3, no problem.

    However, I found that after the controller would go to sleep, I would have to 'wake' it and then Mach would no longer see it....Then I would have to restart Mach and lose my job setup and all...Very irritating....pretty much stopped using it for this reason unless it's a real quick job to do.

    It seem from your post that your experience with this may be different.
    Any wisdom I'm missing here ??

    Thanks, Jeff



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