PDA

View Full Version : "Real" computer requirements for running Mach 3??



torker
01-04-2009, 09:38 AM
Hey guys...
I'm still creeping along...as snow clearing/wood chopping duties allow...trying to round up the stuff I need for the gurl to start learning some cnc stuff.
Replacing the driver from Xylotec isn't going to happen...he doesn't sell the single driver anymore and won't even repair the old ones (hmmmm???)
He referred me to Geko..ok.
I've decided to go with Mach 3 instead of my old turbocnc setup.
I figured I'd just buy a used Windows XP computer out of the paper and be ok.
However...I've been reading the odd snip here and there.
Seems there is a lot more to it than that. Seems like I could easily buy a machine that wouldn't work.
Any suggestions what I should buy(or try to find)? As in used?
Thanks!
Russ

John Stevenson
01-04-2009, 09:55 AM
Russ,
We [ small son and myself ] have probably supplied about 40 to 50 Mach boxes over the last two years as a lot of the machines have gone out turnkey.
We have also had to babysit owners who have supplied their own boxes.

Initially we were buying new boxes from a UK internet supplier for 110 each, just the box and with Linux installed, took linux for, installed a copy of XP home and away.

Problem now is these linux machines don't have a parallel port so we have to fit an extra card and some don't work with Mach.

Recently we have been buying up S/H boxes off Ebay.
I know it's different here for us compared to you given distances but I search with 25 miles of our post code and only bid 40.

We still get plenty and it means we can collect, saving postage and call in a pub and get a meal out.

Most of these boxes have XP already installed so that one licence less.

So far we have had three boxes that won't work, two we bought that are borderline at 1.2 Gig and one Dell from a customer that can't see the 11Kh charge pump signal at any price but this one is real weird, small mother board and everything plugs into a daughter board and it's mega heavy.

Specs we recommend.

The specifcations that you need for a computer to run mach3
Minimum Spec.
1.2GHz CPU
512MB Memory
20 GB Hard Drive
Windows 2000 or XP (will not work on vista correctly)
1024 x 768 Monitor for standard screen sets
Parallel port (Printer)*
Recommended spec
2GHz CPU (Multi-Core CPU's will run with Mach)
1GB Memory
20 GB Hard Drive
Windows XP
32 MB AGP/IDE-E Video Card
1024 x 768 Monitor for standard screen sets
Parallel port (Printer)*
.

Peter.
01-04-2009, 10:11 AM
I tend to look for used Dell machines for anything like this. I have a coule of GX270's which do everything I want and cost about 60. The best thing is if you use a Dell XP install disk it auto-generates a key which is usable for activation and auto-updates.

Evan
01-04-2009, 10:19 AM
I'll add that if you are buying a used machine make sure it includes some way to reinstall Windows. Then get some help and wipe it clean and do a clean installation of XP with all the bells and eye candy turned off.

If you buy a new machine you should turn off all the unnessary crap too. HP is especially bad in that respect and I would avoid an HP box.

Sparky_NY
01-04-2009, 10:50 AM
I have been using mach on my bridgeport cnc conversion that I did last winter. I started with my old desktop machine, a 1.2ghz 512K amd processor. It worked fine, no complaints.

Then a friend gave me a hp laptop, 1.8 ghz with a parallel port. Also laptops are not recommeded due to the power saving features raising hell with mach, I had to give it a try. I disabled the power saving features quite easily. The pulse stream looked even better than the desktop machine using machs test program. I now have the laptop running the mill and absolutely love it, all those cables for the keyboard/mouse etc GONE. A nice small package, all self contained. Again, laptops are not recommded, many (most?) will not work with mach, but some will. I had nothing to loose by trying but otherwise I would get a known compatible laptop.

Lastly, the speed and power of the machine required has a lot to do with how complex the gcode you are going to run is along with the speed of the controlled machine. A fast mill executing rapid short moves demands a lot more of the computer than a slower homebrew conversion doing simple short gcode programs.

Rustybolt
01-04-2009, 11:14 AM
Tork. I'm using an old Dell 1GZ, 20 mg HD, Windows XP pro, parallel port,and it runs just fine for both mach3 and lazycam. If you want mach3 to run faster, get a faster machine.
I would advise staying away fropm those old Dell opti-whatevers. I've owned four from three different sources and they all went TU in less than a year of casual use.
Check out Tiger Direct, or Fry Electronics for a cheap refurbished or new computer.
CNC Zone can answer a lot of your other questions

Rustybolt
01-04-2009, 11:18 AM
Then a friend gave me a hp laptop, 1.8 ghz with a parallel port. Also laptops are not recommeded due to the power saving features raising hell with mach, I had to give it a try. I disabled the power saving features quite easily. The pulse stream looked even better than the desktop machine using machs test program. I now have the laptop running the mill and absolutely love it, all those cables for the keyboard/mouse etc GONE. A nice small package, all self contained. Again, laptops are not recommded, many (most?) will not work with mach, but some will. I had nothing to loose by trying but otherwise I would get a known compatible laptop.


OK wiseguy, whos laptop was it?

MickeyD
01-04-2009, 11:25 AM
I actually had better luck running 2K Pro than XP. One thing that also helps is to not install networking. Windows has a nasty habit of trying to phone home at 2:00 in the morning and crashing any jobs that you happen to have running then. Also by leaving it off of the network, you can leave the AV and spyware programs off which cause a lot of timing issues on their own.

Dawai
01-04-2009, 12:14 PM
Stripping the eye candy off??

Sounds simple right? A little too vague? well Mach3 has scripts to tell you what you need to delete..

I'm loving this new emc2.. free. I downloaded some wizards that are not as pretty as mach3's but work. Also free. Built as a package it downloads onto the hard drive what it needs to work.

With Mach3.. the wizards are worth the price of admission.. you just load the variables into the idiot box, it does the thinking for you, push the button, it dumps the gcode into the cnc program.. push run.. mission accomplished.

My wife has heard the singing of the lil steppers here on the coffee table for a week now.(she is tired of it). I keep wanting to add bells and whistles to it, but it is ready to bolt onto the southbend shaper..

Snow is a good excuse to play inside, does most the guys up there have two dozen kids? perhaps they don't have home machinist hobbies?

lazlo
01-04-2009, 12:24 PM
I'll add that if you are buying a used machine make sure it includes some way to reinstall Windows. Then get some help and wipe it clean and do a clean installation of XP with all the bells and eye candy turned off.

What Evan said, but be careful with the Dell machines -- they ship with a weird version of Windows XP that's locked to that particular machine, by an encrypted value in the BIOS.

I got a Dell machine with Windows XP Home awhile back, and wanted to install XP Pro on that machine, and use the Dell XP Home disc on an older Dell machine, and it wouldn't activate.

I called Dell, and they confirmed that they lock the XP disk to the machine it ships with...

Peter.
01-04-2009, 12:34 PM
If you use a Dell XP pro install disk it doesn't even prompt for a key. As I said updates fine, activation no problem.

lazlo
01-04-2009, 12:35 PM
If you use a Dell XP pro install disk it doesn't even prompt for a key. As I said updates fine, activation no problem.

It doesn't prompt for a key because the key is embedded in the BIOS.

Are you activating it on a different machine? My Dell XP disk, from a Dimension 8200, will not activate on any machine except the one it was shipped with.
I can send you the disk if you want -- it's useless :)

Dawai
01-04-2009, 12:42 PM
I got a stack of corporate XP pro discs and windows sheaves/install numbers.. I thought it was manna from heaven..

Won't install on anything. Just like Lazlo said..

Crap, junk, more junk, ticked off hillbilly.. sneaky son of a guns...

I got a tubing bending program from 2020 software solutions.. won't reinstall on anything without a confirmation number from the author.. now that was six or seven computer crashes ago and I gotta call up and beg another install number.
I sure hope I didn't give him the idea.. I was telling him about reading the bios serial number on tufting machines I wrote software for in the 80s.. sneaky corporate spies had my software in two hours of machine's introduction.. Think all the spies work for the government, nope.. cousins and brother in laws..

Ding dang it.. save stuff only to learn it's a pile of pig poo... I had a buddy nicknamed squirrel.. he got gave by me a indian arrowhead.. he beamed, glowed.. was so excited.. over his house there is a pathway from the front door to the bed, a small alcove where the tele sits... boxes to the ceiling.. somewhere in one of them boxes is a arrowhead. Packrat, just like a squirrel.. so today I am trashcanning the special XP pro discs before I need some more boxes to store pig poo in...

Evan
01-04-2009, 12:47 PM
Snow is a good excuse to play inside,

Yeah. If the power stays on. We have this morning for the first time I can recall an official BLIZZARD WARNING. Up to a foot of snow, -10 degrees and winds up to 60mph. I'm going to warm up the genset.

SGW
01-04-2009, 02:16 PM
I've successfully run a simple Mach3 program on a 400 Hz machine with Windows 2000, but I suspect that is pretty marginal and not to be recommended.

There are now 3rd-party alternatives to the parallel port, the SmoothStepper interface board being one.

Peter.
01-04-2009, 02:29 PM
It doesn't prompt for a key because the key is embedded in the BIOS.

Are you activating it on a different machine? My Dell XP disk, from a Dimension 8200, will not activate on any machine except the one it was shipped with.
I can send you the disk if you want -- it's useless :)

I'm ok for a disk - but thanks for the offer :)

mochinist
01-04-2009, 02:32 PM
It doesn't prompt for a key because the key is embedded in the BIOS.

Are you activating it on a different machine? My Dell XP disk, from a Dimension 8200, will not activate on any machine except the one it was shipped with.
I can send you the disk if you want -- it's useless :)I know a guy that builds computers on the side and he has a stack of Dell disk and he puts them on all kinds of different non dell boxes, and back onto dell boxes also, he has some sort of crack program or something, I could ask him whats its called if you're curious.

Sparky_NY
01-04-2009, 02:38 PM
Then a friend gave me a hp laptop, 1.8 ghz with a parallel port. Also laptops are not recommeded due to the power saving features raising hell with mach, I had to give it a try. I disabled the power saving features quite easily. The pulse stream looked even better than the desktop machine using machs test program. I now have the laptop running the mill and absolutely love it, all those cables for the keyboard/mouse etc GONE. A nice small package, all self contained. Again, laptops are not recommded, many (most?) will not work with mach, but some will. I had nothing to loose by trying but otherwise I would get a known compatible laptop.


OK wiseguy, whos laptop was it?

One of the big computer manufacturers, upgraded their employees laptops and the old ones were freebies to those with the right contacts. Same old story, one mans junk is anothers treasure.

dp
01-04-2009, 02:45 PM
Yeah. If the power stays on. We have this morning for the first time I can recall an official BLIZZARD WARNING. Up to a foot of snow, -10 degrees and winds up to 60mph. I'm going to warm up the genset.

I was getting ready to drive back to Oroville, WA this week and started loading up big machine parts for you. Then I saw the pass forecast for 3' of new snow, so it may be another week. Our pickup truck is still stranded 250 miles away from the last blizzard.

Peter.
01-04-2009, 03:24 PM
I just rememebred from long ago that there's a difference in the legaily of selling-on used copies of operating systems, in that (from memory) over there they have made it not legal and over here they ruled that to deny it wasn't legal, or something to that effect.
Either way, my disk has installed xp pro onto every Dell machine it's been used on and they have always activated online, and allow updates, WGA, etc with never a problem. The guy also said that Compaq and HP are the same, though I haven't tested that.

Peter.
01-04-2009, 04:42 PM
I got a stack of corporate XP pro discs and windows sheaves/install numbers.. I thought it was manna from heaven..

Won't install on anything. Just like Lazlo said..


David I just asked and I'm informed (but I haven't tested for myself) that if you get an un-branded xp pro disk your keys you have there should work and activate even though they won't work with the branded disk. Worth testing-out at least before you throw the COA's away.

Dawai
01-04-2009, 07:15 PM
Tried that too.. after about the thirtieth driver I downloaded from the net I figured out this is a incomplete corporate xp disc. It said Uhh-uhh for the corporate xp numbers with the xp pro disc that came with the craptop. probably a non-matching lot number?? or?

DOES the OEM people burn their own copy of the discs with just the drivers needed?

I've loaded Linux on four machines here now.. Just trying to work the wrinkles out of the 1gig emc machine before I trudge to the shop with it. My wife ended up with the second best machine of the lot, with xp pro. AND linux.. the xp runs the new Kodak printer, what a pain in the butt.. all for grocery store cupons.. I had to remind her it costs about ten cents per page printed, if a cupon is not more than that.. it is lost money. She has had me standing on my head here.. She keeps getting on the $2k computer system to print virus-java applet laden site cupons for 0.30cents.

It has been rainy for two weeks here.. everything in the shop is wet again.. Kinda depressing.

What does the vista OS cost nowadays?? There is not a linux I found yet that runs on the dual core machine.. Some say they do..