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Too_Many_Tools
07-24-2006, 08:00 PM
I have a number of older rackmounted computers that I would like to use for CNC usage.

What are the requirements (CPU, MHz, HD size, video) that is needed for the popular types of software in use today?

Does anyone use rack mounted computers? If so, how do you have them set up in your shop environment?

Since I have a number of them, where should one draw the line as to what to keep and what to toss?

Is there anything one should salvage from the old computers before one scraps them?

Perhaps I should also ask what type of CPU power do you have in your shop? While my immedicate interest is in CNC, a computer has many uses
in a shop environment.

Thanks

TMT

Evan
07-24-2006, 08:50 PM
Hmm. Deja vu all over again. Didn't I just see this somewhere? :D

I'm powering my cnc mill with an old IBM Thinkpad. It has a pentium 120 CPU. According to Turbo CNC it can generate up to 15,000 steps per second on it. I have a second identical unit for backup. Both are networked from Win 95 to my XP machines using direct cable connection which works amazingly well.

Rustybolt
07-24-2006, 08:58 PM
Mach2 & 3 require a minimum of 1gz to operate and even at that, 512k ram.Mach2/3 is faster thought starting at 25,000 steps.

Evan
07-24-2006, 09:10 PM
Turbo CNC is a DOS program. With a faster CPU it will run faster. At 1ghz it will probably do around 40,000 steps per second. Not that it matters, steppers won't go that fast.

JPR
07-24-2006, 10:04 PM
How are you protecting the keyboard on the Thinkpad from dirt and oil?

CCWKen
07-24-2006, 10:20 PM
We used to refer to those old IBM's as "StinkPad". ;) When they first came out, they were full of problems.

BillH
07-24-2006, 10:21 PM
if any of them are atleast 400mhz, give linux a wirl in text mode. Quite a lot you can do with it. If you are 800mhz on up, try a gui linux install.

Evan
07-24-2006, 10:50 PM
I'll probably use an external keyboard. They don't cost me much since I own a computer store :D . I pay maybe 6 bucks for a keyboard.

Rustybolt
07-25-2006, 04:05 AM
Turbo CNC is a DOS program. With a faster CPU it will run faster. At 1ghz it will probably do around 40,000 steps per second. Not that it matters, steppers won't go that fast.

I used Turbo CNC before and found it ponderous if you're not a computer nerd. It's my opinion that Mach is more machinst friendly, easier to use.

Evan
07-25-2006, 09:08 AM
I used Turbo CNC before and found it ponderous if you're not a computer nerd.

:D I like DOS. T CNC saves everything in a nice easy to modify text ini file. Of course, it could be argued that I am a computer nerd having written my first computer program in 1963...

JPR
07-25-2006, 10:43 AM
We used to refer to those old IBM's as "StinkPad".
Could have been worse, they could have been using QualServ for onsite support.

Evan
07-25-2006, 10:58 AM
Yabut, the IBM 365 models I have can't be beat for serviceability. Two finger catches allow the entire keyboard top to hinge open with complete access to the innards. Try that with a modern laptop. Most of them are built like chinese puzzle boxes. I refuse to work on most laptops in my shop for that precise reason.

Too_Many_Tools
07-25-2006, 11:09 AM
Hmm. Deja vu all over again. Didn't I just see this somewhere? :D

I'm powering my cnc mill with an old IBM Thinkpad. It has a pentium 120 CPU. According to Turbo CNC it can generate up to 15,000 steps per second on it. I have a second identical unit for backup. Both are networked from Win 95 to my XP machines using direct cable connection which works amazingly well.

Yep...I have had to post a number of places to get knowledgable responses.

This simple question is harder to answer than it would have first seemed.

How did you decide upon the Thinkpad (120Mhz PI)?

TMT

Evan
07-25-2006, 11:23 AM
How did you decide upon the Thinkpad (120Mhz PI)?

I have two.

Too_Many_Tools
07-25-2006, 12:40 PM
I have two.


LOL...I suspected as much.

Have you needed more than a PI at 120Mhz and its accompanying resources?

TMT

Evan
07-25-2006, 01:41 PM
The mill isn't up and running yet but based on previous experience a P120 will be quite sufficient for the task. With no Windows in the way the Turbo CNC program has full control and all of the power is devoted to running only it's tasks.

A P120 processor is a very powerful processor and when dedicated to just one task will have no trouble keeping up with something as slow as realtime machine control.

The saying in the computer business is that "Intel giveth and Microsoft taketh away".

stuntrunt
07-25-2006, 02:19 PM
About the keyboard... How about something like this... not too expensive either
http://www.thinkgeek.com/computing/input/5a7f/

Evan
07-25-2006, 02:38 PM
Check out these keyboards.

http://www.maltron.com/

stuntrunt
07-25-2006, 02:50 PM
Yes... yours is bigger... But mine won't catch any nasty diseases... in the workshop that is

John Stevenson
07-25-2006, 08:03 PM
Yes... yours is bigger... But mine won't catch any nasty diseases... in the workshop that is

No but if it catches a hot chip it's toast.

Try one before you buy as the idea looks good but in actual fact they are crap.
The keys wobble about all over and as you press one it wobbles to the side and you hit the other key.

I bought one thinking as you did but it didn't live to to expectations, I finished up giving it away, that person then did the same.

You don't need fancy keys at a CNC.
If you spend hours typing you are doing something wrong.
You want start and stop, that's all :D

.

Too_Many_Tools
07-26-2006, 12:32 AM
No but if it catches a hot chip it's toast.

Try one before you buy as the idea looks good but in actual fact they are crap.
The keys wobble about all over and as you press one it wobbles to the side and you hit the other key.

I bought one thinking as you did but it didn't live to to expectations, I finished up giving it away, that person then did the same.

You don't need fancy keys at a CNC.
If you spend hours typing you are doing something wrong.
You want start and stop, that's all :D

.

Which keyboard are you talking about...this one?

http://www.thinkgeek.com/computing/input/5a7f/

If so, what would you recommend for a good rugged one?

While we are on the subject of I/O, what do you recommend for a pointing device and a display in a shop environment?

TMT

TMT

Evan
07-26-2006, 12:42 AM
I think I will buy one of these. It is also available with a skin to protect it. It's a bit pricey but I like the idea that I can be sure about what key I am pressing even if I have the wrong glasses on.

http://www.customkeys.com/catalog_pages/shopLPK_1.html

As for input devices check this site. I especially like the trackball with jacks for external switches to operate the mouse buttons.

http://www.specialneedscomputers.ca/em-trackballs.htm

John Stevenson
07-26-2006, 03:54 AM
Which keyboard are you talking about...this one?

http://www.thinkgeek.com/computing/input/5a7f/

If so, what would you recommend for a good rugged one?

While we are on the subject of I/O, what do you recommend for a pointing device and a display in a shop environment?

TMT

TMT

TMT, sorry can't get the link to open so I don't know what board it is you are pointing to.

I have been running two large mills in a commercial environment for quite a few years with PC retrofits and have tried a few different ones, short of getting an expensive commercial tactile one made I have now resorted to just getting the cheapest black keyboard available.
Last lot I got, I got 5 for £4.00 UKP each. These last about a year under constant use.
First sign of problems and dump it.
Works out cheaper and better.

As regards a pointing device I'm against any, full stop.
The workshop isn't the place for a mouse, trackball etc.
My two big mills both use hot key shortcuts on the keyboard for everything, no mouse fitted.

The smaller units which are now on Mach 3 use touch screens.

Look around a full commercial setup some time, with large expensive machining centres. No mouse or anything like this because of safety reasons, knocks, stuff being dropped on it etc.

Mach 3 is also very close to becoming a hot key operated controller, only a few more bits needed by Art.
In fact day to day operation can be all hot key but a mouse is still needed for setup purposes.

.

stuntrunt
07-26-2006, 10:23 AM
For a pointng device...
Maybe you can get someone to convert an old workshop coverall into something like this: http://www.fugly.com/images/11425/Up_Skirt_Mouse_Pad.html ;)

texas_po_boy
07-26-2006, 10:56 AM
I think I will buy one of these. It is also available with a skin to protect it. It's a bit pricey but I like the idea that I can be sure about what key I am pressing even if I have the wrong glasses on.

http://www.customkeys.com/catalog_pages/shopLPK_1.html

As for input devices check this site. I especially like the trackball with jacks for external switches to operate the mouse buttons.

http://www.specialneedscomputers.ca/em-trackballs.htm


Now there is a keyboard even I can see.

Too_Many_Tools
07-26-2006, 11:07 AM
Which keyboard are you talking about...this one?

http://www.thinkgeek.com/computing/input/5a7f/

If so, what would you recommend for a good rugged one?

While we are on the subject of I/O, what do you recommend for a pointing device and a display in a shop environment?

TMT

TMT

What is the favorite display device...CRT or LCD?

How do you like to mount it so it works well in a shop CNC environment?

TMT