Taig Mill: Mach3 --> Mach4


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Thread: Taig Mill: Mach3 --> Mach4

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    Default Taig Mill: Mach3 --> Mach4

    I have a setup consisting of:

    -- Taig mill;
    -- 166 oz-in stepper motors;
    -- Gecko G540;
    -- 48V motor power;
    -- Ethernet SmoothStepper;
    -- Mach3; and
    -- Windows XP/SP3.

    I have been having some strange, infrequent but frustrating errors within Mach3 that I just haven't been able to figure out, and I'm considering migrating to Mach4 instead, to see if that may just work in my case.

    Has anyone made this same migration from Mach3 to Mach4 with a similar setup? I would deeply appreciate any impressions or recommendations with this process, and/or a working and debugged profile if you've gone one.

    Thanks for any advice;

    --dave

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    Default Re: Taig Mill: Mach3 --> Mach4

    What are the errors you've been noticing?

    Andrew Werby
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    Default Re: Taig Mill: Mach3 --> Mach4

    Hi Andrew.

    In a nutshell, I'm occasionally getting errors like these:

    -- "The SmoothStepper's watchdog timer has expired........"

    -- "The Smooth Stepper has failed to communicate properly for an extended amount of time......"

    The thing is that the errors aren't common, so it's been very difficult for me to diagnose with any clarity. Also, the errors generally will occur nominally at the beginning of a session with the machine: By which I mean, that I'll boot the system up, turn on all the motion control parts, start Mach3 running, set my origin and so on, and then run some program or other. And then, after a few minutes, I may get one of the aforementioned errors. But not always: Often the system will just work fine with no troubles. When I encounter one of these errors, my normal response is to shut everything completely down, and then start the whole system again from a completely off state. And, I distinctly notice the following tendency: Once the system finally starts and makes it through some ill-defined initial period without errors, it will then run fine from then on: Then I can run programs and make parts all day long, and it's completely solidly reliable thereafter. But then, the next day, I'll be back to the same situation, where upon startup I may or may not encounter one of these errors during the first 10-20 minutes of running.

    So the system is mostly usable; in fact this has allowed me to neglect fixing this issue once and for all. It's very hard to get the problem to replicate in any predictable way, and once I get the system going and making parts, it's much easier just to continue using it as it is, and procrastinate about fixing it.

    That said, I''ve gone through a whole long saga trying to fix it. There's a long thread about my travails on the SmoothStepper forum:

    https://warp9td.com/index.php/kunena...h3-ethernet-ss

    I don't want to clutter this thread by repeating everything here. But a guy named Andy over there has been very diligent in trying to help; I've gone through whole lists of optimizations and tweaks. Just nothing has really worked definitively.

    Last week, I finally put a new disk drive in the machine, and reinstalled the OS completely new from scratch, with just the bare bones components necessary to run Mach3. I had hoped that this would fix things, but no - in the end, the system is basically the same as before my OS reinstall.

    I was thinking to abandon this PC and try a completely different one; maybe there's something flaky about it's Ethernet port, or something along those lines. But to my way of thinking, it could just as well be the SmoothStepper itself, or some thermally-mediated power supply problem, or who knows what.

    So I was also thinking about Mach4. I don't really want to go there; I don't really feel like configuring and learning a whole new program right now. So I'm not sure.

    --dave



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    Default Re: Taig Mill: Mach3 --> Mach4

    You might be right about the thermal issues. Is your G540 mounted on a heatsink plate with thermal paste between it and the plate? Does it have a fan blowing past the plate? Although heat problems usually take longer to manifest; if the errors all happen in the first ten minutes, it's probably something else.

    Is the control cabinet full of dust? Sometimes blowing it out can help with mysterious issues like these. Have you established a solid ground between your control box and a water pipe or ground rod? RFI can empower gremlins...

    Have you asked Jeff Birt about this? He's pretty good at troubleshooting the systems he sells.

    Andrew Werby
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    Default Re: Taig Mill: Mach3 --> Mach4

    Andrew, thanks again for the replies.

    The problem with thermally-mediated causes, is that what I observe works backwards from the way you'd expect: Once the system get good and warmed up, then things seem to operate most reliably. I've considered that there may be some poor connection that improves with a little heating; I've seen stranger things before, in my life.

    There's no dust or obstruction of airflow.

    The G540 is not fitted with any sort of heatsink; it's just the black anodized aluminum box of the G540 by itself. I wonder if it ought to be at these power levels, though nothing ever feels really hot, even after long running.

    I did talk to Jeff Birt several times when I was first getting used to the system, however I haven't heard back from him recently.

    I did take the covers off the Soigeneris control box, to put an oscilloscope to the power supplies; all are behaving what looks like normally. However, when I see the interior layout and construction of this box, I do have a concern:

    Basically, the high-power 48V supply, the G540, and the high-current wiring running between these two, are all packed right in the immediate vicinity of the SmoothStepper; furthermore the SmoothStepper's (separate) 5V power supply is wired to the SmoothStepper by about nine inches or so of a wire pair, which runs right in along with the 48V power wiring to the G540. In hindsight, I don't think this is the best arrangement for minimizing EMI being coupled from the pulsing motor currents, into the SmoothStepper supply power. I've thought about disassembling this box, and separating the smoothstepper and it's power supply, from the G540 and it's supplies, to get better isolation, and with some sensible scheme of grounding. But for now I haven't mucked with the arrangement as built by Soigeneris.



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    Default Re: Taig Mill: Mach3 --> Mach4

    I had almost the exact same setup (Soigeneris G540/Smoothstepper USB not Ethernet/Mach 3/Taig Mill). Compared to the price to upgrade to Mach4, I would seriously consider looking at a UC300ETH-5LPT motion controller/BOB, and stay with Mach3 (if you have a lot of macros or customizations) or even better move to UCCNC. I have been really happy with the performance and the vendor and user support of the UC300ETH-5LPT and UCCNC.



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Taig Mill: Mach3 --> Mach4

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