View Full Version : Turbocnc is coming to Windows OS.

01-15-2009, 10:24 AM

01-15-2009, 10:33 AM
Hey, that's great David! I like TurboCNC's GUI a heck of a lot more than the gauche Mach3 GUI.

01-15-2009, 10:46 AM
Yeah, I been redoing them wizards into Rip's and My gcode writer program in ancient Visual basic 6.. RIP, (add username here) redid a large amount of the graphics to fit all display types.

Got the polar code module in.. now working on the spiral bore.. Keyway cutter gcode, and face-off next.

It's very superficial, no 3d or anything like that. I quit high school to go to work ya know.. right in the middle of geometry. That was in the 70s. I've always loved computers cause you could type a formula in once, and it do the math for you for years.. or till the language is obsolete. As is VB6.
I still have a copy of turbo basic.. a borland basic compiler, it was licensed to me way on back there.. My first cnc and automation projects came out of it. The main author redid it to work with windows but has never sent me my upgrade.. snicker.. I think I have gotten my $59.99 worth out of it.

We had a pattern tufting machine (carpet stitcher) running on it. Using DMA boards and a top of the line 286 cpu. I got hurt on that job, they hired a strange lil fella to redo all that in C.. he didn't have a clue how to logically run machinery with a pc.. just redid my code in the other language.

John Stevenson
01-15-2009, 11:05 AM
Yes I saw that and downloaded the Alpha the other week

What made me wonder though is if this is a true windows application what don't they use a standard font instead of the dot matrix font used.
It is interesting though in that it's another program I just hope they can keep up as the old DOS V4 got really well behind on features and I don't mean fancy ge-gaws but needed thinhs like tool offsets and look ahead.

Screen design is a big item for some people, especially OEM's, Art realised this in Mach and you can design your own screens.

Screen design in EMC is very hard, the developers admit this and there are many people who have looked at EMC who don't like the screens.

The problem is with EMC is it's written by techies for techies, not machinist's for machinists.


01-15-2009, 11:24 AM
Unless the handling of arcs and roundoff errors is fixed it won't be of any use.

01-15-2009, 11:40 AM
As John said, I wish Dave would support TurboCNC 4 for DOS. It does what I require and merely needs a few bug fixes and a more intuitive interface (TCNC 3 had an intuitive interface, while TCNC 4 was written for a mouse and the mouseless interface was added as an afterthought).

I don't forsee the day when Windoze will be on my CNC boxes. If I outgrow TCNC, I'll probably give EMC a try.

To my taste, most of the gcode interpreters are written for hobbyists who like have lots of whistles and bells and eye candy to play with.

I don't play with my CNC boxes, nor do I stand in front of them and watch the show. I calibrate the tool offsets, load the programs, and run. Then I go work on something else while the CNC is doing its thing. Maybe once in a blue moon I'll make minor changes to the gcode on the fly (something that can cause TCNC 4 to crash).

01-15-2009, 11:52 AM
To my taste, most of the gcode interpreters are written for hobbyists who like have lots of whistles and bells and eye candy to play with..

Do you find that's true to the same extent with both Mach3 and EMC2?

I'm looking at both closely, and it's really hard to decide. Like David has pointed out, EMC2 and TurboCNC generate a smoother pulse profile since the former uses a true real-time operating system, and the latter is essentially a dedicated CAM controller. But most people use a pulse generator with MACH3, and seems like it has more Wizards, plug-ins, etc.

01-15-2009, 11:57 AM

EMC2.. Okay..

In the configured program file for the comfigured machine you have set up to run using stepconf wizard. Once you got all the hardware to working. Okay, it makes a .ini file.. go to emc2/that conf name, search out the .ini file open it in the editor (gedit in linux).

go down to the "display = axis" the normal display with the window there on left... and change axis to "mini" .... the sherline mill display which I like with the editor on page.. OR "Tkemc".. the original looking blue display with the big numbers for a blind man..

I am having trouble.. perhaps one of you can help me.. I love the emc2.. clean output waves that run a stepper faster than mach3 or turbocnc.. but.. in the home z phase.. if you get out of home position.. it attempts to go off in the wrong direction in search of home.. all the way to the other limit..

I am setting my bridgeport up as top-home switch is +0.5" and putting in the longest tool, lowering it to 0.0... and raising table up to touch off.. Everything below it is negative... so my z is set up for +0.5 to -3.75 travel.

My design programs.. well 0.0 is top of stock.. and negative below that.. I have various programs I have done over the years and some are different configurations on zhome..

I would be swapped over to emc2 permenant like if I could resolve the home issue.. going to their forum is akin to a chinese circus.. I punched a keyboard trying to get the java applet to work.. and had to tranquilize myself..

I am no techie.. I am stubborn as a goat thou.

I uploaded the location of the python wizards for EMC2... you right click on the python file wizard, then select properties "open with python".. then all you have to do from then on is click on the file like windows and it opens it with python as a given from then on... ok?

THE wizards do most the thinking around here.. simple jobs.. not carving a complex ball in a cube kind of thing..

01-15-2009, 12:28 PM

Then I go work on something else while the CNC is doing its thing. Maybe once in a blue moon I'll make minor changes to the gcode on the fly

My demon possessed "black betty" bridgeport taught me a long time ago to not try to walk off, or talk on the phone.. I was talking to a bud on the phone and turned to see a drill bit "red hot" and smoking dissapearing, getting shorter by the second.. I keep saying I will put in a radio-remote estop so when the carbide shatters I won't have to brave the flying bits to get to the mushroom head estop... Perhaps a dongle like I had on my remote lawnmower?? A pull string?? rip cord? They put plastic boxes around the newer ones for a reason.
I enjoyed it the best when it was nose to nose with the Leblond.. I could run both at once.. now I got them nut-butt (navy term)... My intent was to run a cnc toolpost off the mill to cut on the manual lathe.. Never done it thou.

A couple years back a endmill shattered and I had that biatch round kicked up beside it's vari-speed head before I knew I was going to do it.. I split my shoe and really made myself mad. Nowadays I'd have to kick it in the knee.. or split my pants out.

Today? I got this demon possessed woodpecker pecking on my house at daylight each morning.. I shot at that rascal with a assault rifle yesterday as he flew off.. I got a feather for a dozen rounds expended.. he was back this morning.. I am back to shooting at the endangered species with a pellet rifle.. What is insane? he flew down and looked in the front window at me.. made a sound like.. HU huh huh.. Haw haw... woody woodpecker style.. Mocking me.. No, nobody could make this crap up.. it's too nuts..

Pooka.. a large invisible rabbit, mischevious spirit with a love of rum pots and eccentric old hillbillies?? (Jimmy Stewart Movie "Harvey")

THE dog rolled over this morning.. looked at me, in his eyes you could almost hear it.. "can't you make him stop that?" He then burrowed his head under the electric blanket..

Stories like this get you a white jacket that ties in the back..

John Stevenson
01-15-2009, 02:40 PM
Just my take on this.
TurboCNC seems to have got left behind, it's not clear whether this V5 windows version is by Dave or some guy in Brazil, very sketchy on details.
As Evan has said it has long standing bugs that seem to have been ignored.

Mach works but it's still a work in progress, I honestly wish they would call a cut off point now at this point in time and refuse to do any more feature work until certain bugs are sorted.

The problem is and I know this for a fact is some people ask for a feature to be implemented and it make seem a quick job so it gets brought in.
The problem is then it breaks an existing part but that gets glossed over.

The person asking for the feature has no intention of using it and this has been proved in the past when Art brought two new features out for a request, got thanked for them and 6 months lather when I tried them they were broken and had never worked.

The release on the web is broken as it doesn't handle PID spindle speed correctly, the last version that did, 041, doesn't handle some macro's correctly.

There are usually work rounds but if all future work was stopped until a stable version could be released then go onto a development release as Art did when he was running the show at least you know where you stand.

The guys running the EMC development team are very knowledgeable and very good, they are not machinists, they are programmers.
Because they know this program inside out they think everyone else does and that includes Linux.
You often have to ask the same question three times because the first answer is in Linux speak, then tech speak, then plain English.

The screens are not intuitive for a machinist, they maybe for a programmer but a machinist wants to work off one screen only and you can't change screens, only accept a choice of 2 mediocre and 3 bad.

When we was testing it I asked "How do i jog when on the main screen after a pause? "
I'm told you can't , why do you want to anyway?

"I've broke the tool and I want to jog clear, replace the tool, set length offset and carry on from line XXX "

You can't.

So what do I do?

Abandon the program, change tool and start again from line 1


This is what i mean by techies, you never break a tool in the virtual world.

My main problem at the moment with EMC and this is personal is I have to support close to 300 registered new users of the KX series mills. Many of these users don't have English as a first language.
Can you imagine trying to get a Russian user of EMC sorted when he has only ever seen windows and remember most of the KX's are going to first time CNC users.


01-15-2009, 03:44 PM

THE world has needed a external triggered pulse driven device that runs the interpolation and does the thinking, the computer just needs to dump the positional data to it in a timely manner from the file. Look ahead, look behind, run from here, just like you said there..

I think Marriss tried to do that with his gecko driver. Not sure where he is with that now.. I wish we could talk to him some more.. anyone want to invite him out to play? (I apologized but he still may be mad at me) Steppers still have a place in the hobby machinery market.. I think they need encoder feedback checking thou. All this servo tuning makes a old grey whiskered hillbilly more crazy than normal. They need self tuning..

In the seventies and early 80s.. a resolver was a big box with a serial cable.. you dumped a position to it, it did the math, the interpolation with binary communication lines to other resolver axis.. it went there, when there it gave a indication back to the cpu.. be it plc or pc.. and it ran and ran.. then along came the paper tape and program dump into the cpu.. that localized it all so you could read through the program.
To us hobbiests.. we want it all.. in one box.. I am not sure with the programming OS we have currently we don't need to go like Marriss said with a external controller, like it used to be.. way back when I was a handsome gent.

Perhaps we could bribe Art to strip Mach3 back down to a simple interface? It is almost to the point where a total cnc os is needed. Kinda like Dos.. but with useable interfaces like a mouse, extended memory.. Yes, I have the new linux-dos.. I thought Turbocnc was running from Linux DosBox.. it has some problems with the editor thou.. injects unreadable characters.. It is fast enough.

It's a bitch cnc programmers don't have to buy endmills.. I have broken more than one only to see a lil MS balloon suggesting I stay connected..

01-15-2009, 03:49 PM
He may be talking, I may not have been listening.. Marriss that is..
$299.. contains 4 stepper drives.. parallel port interface.. Looks to have done away with most the work of hooking up a stepper system.

G540 Specifications:

- Four 10-Microstep motor drives
- 0 to 3.5A rated phase current
- 18VDC to 50VDC supply voltage
- Mid-band resonance compensation
- Auto standby current (70% current)
- Short-circuit protected
- Optoisolation on all LPT signal pins
- Two 1A at 0 to 50VDC rated outputs
- Four SPST to GND inputs (TTL)
- FAULT indicator LED,signal to PC
- POWER indicator LED
- I-SET resistor on motor connector
- TRIM adjust for motor smoothness
- Panel mount (5.7” by2.4” hole dim.)
- Anodized aluminum package
- No heatsink needed below 40C ambient
- Easy to service, removable drives
- Modular PCB design with no internal wires
- 10kHz watchdog timer (charge pump)
- Optoisolated analog output for a VFD drive
- Conservative ratings, premium components
- Comes with four backshells and four DB9 solder cup connectors


THE real controller.. has encoder inputs.. what cnc software supports it thou?

G-Rex G100
The G100 is a 6-axis motion controller that uses USB or Ethernet communication with a host PC to execute motion control and I/O commands. The axis outputs use a Step/Direction interface to motor drives. Each axis has an associated quadrature encoder input, which is used for position data only. The G100 also has 22 general purpose inputs, 16 general purpose outputs, 4 analog to digital inputs and 4 digital to analog outputs. Each digital input and output has an LED indicator.

The G100 uses an FPGA to generate axis step pulse timing and an 8-bit microcomputer to calculate motion control flow. Communication with the G100 is via text string commands and replies. Each axis can run independently or in coordination with other axes. Coordinated axis motion is vector based; the associated axes accelerate , run, and decelerate simultaneously while maintaining exact speed ratios.

The G100 uses a unique method of motion control. The FPGA produces step pulse frequencies proportional to 16-but word. This results 32,767 CW and 32,767 CCW evenly spaced step-pulse frequencies per range. The commanded frequency can only be changed at a fixed rate of 1,024 times per second. The same crystal oscillator time base generates step pulse frequencies and the update rate. The axis position is a running sum of the issued velocities.

The 1,024 updates per second also apply to all inputs and outputs. Inputs, including analog, are sampled at that rate; all outputs, including analog, are updated at that rate.

G100 Hardware Features:

8 step-pulse frequency ranges. 65,535 CW and CCW speeds per range. Maximum step-pulse frequency is 4.194304 MHz. Maximum step-pulse jitter is 125ns. Step and direction outputs are 5V logic, +/- 24mA current drive per output. Step-pulse indicator LED is activity driven; it is lit when output is pulsing.

6 quadrature encoder inputs including index channel. Maximum encoder count rate is 1 MHz. Encoder inputs are filtered and have indicator LEDs on each input.
16 general-purpose outputs. The outputs are rated at 100mA, 24VDC maximum per output. The outputs are suitable for driving DC relay coils. Each output has an indicator LED which lights when an output is "on".
22 general-purpose inputs. The inputs can be activated by SPST switches to ground, by open-collector sensors, or by 5V logic levels. The inputs are filtered and protected to +/- 50VDC. Each input has an indicator LED that lights when an input is grounded.
4 digital to analog outputs. Each output is a 0 to 5V (0 to 10V optional) op-amp output and 8-bit resolution.
4 analog to digital inputs. Each input takes a 0 to 5V (0 to 10V optional) input voltage range. The resolution is 8-bit and the input impedance is 2.2K.
The G100 requires a 12VDC to 24VDC power supply rated at 1.5A. It supplies an internally regulated 5VDC to the terminal block output.
The G100 has both USB and an Ethernet interface. Please note that Mach3 is via Ethernet only, and Geckomotion is through USB only.
The G100 has a 2.5" by 7.375" mounting area footprint and is 1.5" high (63.5mm x 187mm x 38mm). The weight is 10 ounces (284 grams). The enclosure is black anodized aluminum. The G100 has 96 bare-wire type terminal block locations. The terminal blocks have a 3.5mm pitch.
G100 Installation Notes (ZIP File) (http://www.geckodrive.com/upload/G100_Installation.zip)

Quantity: $399.00

John Stevenson
01-15-2009, 04:56 PM
The G540 is just 4 drivers with an interface board, it still need a controller to talk to it.
Neat one stop shopping though all the same and if you burn an axis up they are replaceable, unlike the Xylotex which is toast if you fry a drive.

The G100 is dead in the water.
It's no longer supported and the guy responsive for the programming has disappeared. At the stage they are they are still unreliable. Marriss admitted that they turned into a white elephant.


01-15-2009, 05:02 PM
Dang it..

The 100 seemed like a good idea to solve a lot of timing issues..

The interpolation math, acceleration PID subroutines are not that hard it seems.

I was wondering, do you just dump a xyz position in ascii to them? that seems to be like the first equipment I worked with years ago..

01-15-2009, 05:12 PM
External timer tied into a port with interrupts?
Rtlinux works like that internally thou, runs in the background. Made up for networking timing I think.

Perhaps the thing is to look to see how Windows Networking calls critical procedures.. It seems, like networking has priorities over other processes.

I got turbocnc and a antique dos on my bridgeport. I'll run the wheels off it.. till I can't no more.. If it's making parts I am happy..

I do have the wizards about done in Visual basic.. did the spiral bore subroutine a bit ago and tested it.. need to do a simulator on it.. I'd like to try it in emc2, and turbocnc, and Mach3..

I'll post it for free once it is tested a lil bit here.. GPL... Nite before last I did see windows 95 on sale for $15.95 per license.... How's dat? is it from china??

01-15-2009, 05:16 PM
The G100 was a Failure. Never lived up to what it was hyped to be. The firmware took forever to get made, the space in the FPGA was too small, and there were issues just getting it to talk to a computer. I know, I had one. Big mistake.

There are a couple options available other than the G100 now. First there is the SmoothStepper. It is a USB pulse driver that give the equivalent of two parallel ports plus a couple inputs for encoders. Seems to work OK. There are a couple little issues. Main one that has kept me from using it is no backlash comp. It does support threading on the lathe though. About $160, works with Mach.

The one I am really interested in is the CNCBrain. It is a true closed loop motion controller and has optional Analog cards to control older analog loop servo drives. It supports 6 axis's. Has dedicated inputs for two encoders per axis (One on the motor, one linear scale). Currently it uses its own g-code interpreter software. There is talk about a Mach plugin but that will not be happening any time soon. They guy that designed it has taken a job with a national lab and his time is really stretched.

There is also the Kmotion http://dynomotion.com/Help/ Its a neat looking closed loop motion controller that has a mach plugin as well. Some with built in drives.

Remember, if you dont like the look of Mach you can draw your own screens or download one of the many other have made. The basic one works well for me and the buttons are large enough for me to use reliably with a touch screen.

For the price difference between TurboCNC and Mach I would use mach hands down. EMC is still a pain to set up and then you have to deal with linux. No thanks. With the third party pulse generators out there you dont even need a parallel port and can use newer machines since the parallel ports are slowly going the way of the DoDo.

Nothing wrong with windows on a CNC machine. There are a bunch of manufacturers that run windows as the base operating system on their cnc plasmas and the like. Turn on a new Hypertherm and the Windows XP logo greets you.

Since you no longer need a parallel port and use USB. I would love if someone came out with a g-code interpreter for the mac.

John Stevenson
01-15-2009, 05:16 PM
[Edit] macona beat me to it ]

Have a look at the Smooth stepper.


A bit like the G100 but runs off USB..
Still in development but is being worked on.
Working on mill applications for 3 axis.

Further work is needed for lathe at the moment.
It's hoped that when fully developed you will be able to run a spindle on a large servo motor and it will be able to know where it is to enable polygon turning and live C axis work like cross drilling on a lathe or producing hexagons with a sub axis milling spindle.

01-15-2009, 05:20 PM
My main problem at the moment with EMC and this is personal is I have to support close to 300 registered new users of the KX series mills. Many of these users don't have English as a first language.

So John, reading between the lines, you'd recommending Mach3 over EMC2?

01-15-2009, 05:22 PM
Dang it..

The 100 seemed like a good idea to solve a lot of timing issues..

The interpolation math, acceleration PID subroutines are not that hard it seems.

I was wondering, do you just dump a xyz position in ascii to them? that seems to be like the first equipment I worked with years ago..

The G100 had its own motion control language, geckomotion or something like that. or you could load the FPGA with your own software.

$16 is too much to pay for Win95. You can get XP home for that price.

01-15-2009, 05:46 PM
HOBBY machining.. you add in the cost of XP OS, add in the Mach3 license.. to a third world country.. that is a lot of table-hardware learning curve..

EMC2 has it's place if you are broke.. as I am right now.. I ain't sold a motorcycle part in weeks. I started negotiations with Sieg, What it looks like from here, I may buy a few machines from HF and convert them myself. Pain in the rear to import on a small scale. Not a lot of demand at all here in my locale.

I'll check out them controller links here about midnight.. right now I am cooking.. a funny bean dish.. Going to be chillie willie here tonight.. single digits perhaps by morning.

01-15-2009, 05:53 PM
Oh boy do programmers never listen or understand the problem.
Some years ago when I was in research I was trying to analse the type and amount of gasses given off of copper when it was melted all part of a longer process to get better electolytic copper. After some time trying to get good results using a HP programmable calculater someone suggested we use the main frame to get better results, so enter the programmer who set to work and produced some very strange results. Strange in that they had some gases shown as negative amounts. When we talked to the said programmer he said that his programme just kept running through the data until it all balanced out, great but he just couldnt seem to grasp the fact thet it only balanced out by adding a negative amount. It took several people to convince him that we would settle for an unknown afater this the results became quite acceptable but I couldnt understand how he was perfectly happy with his results as they just wernt real!!


01-15-2009, 07:05 PM
Originally Posted by John Stevenson
My main problem at the moment with EMC and this is personal is I have to support close to 300 registered new users of the KX series mills. Many of these users don't have English as a first language.

So John, reading between the lines, you'd recommending Mach3 over EMC2?

Good question lazlo.

Good answer?


01-15-2009, 09:57 PM
Have them speak real slow, like when My brit friends call me on the phone.. You know like MR Presidential Inaugerate Barack Hussien Obama. He speaks so eloquently. slowly and painfull precise so even the most simpleton can understand, and with his intonational emphasis on ending sentences you get the chances to review what was said, how it was said, and what he meant..

That way the almost english can sink into a tiny brain.
WHHAAANN I reallly wanna mass with dem, I star spakin in Southern Hillbilly drawl... (spit terbacci) that mekes em really get some kinda upset wif me..

I actually think there is less problems with emc2.. less functional things too thou.

01-16-2009, 07:36 AM

This is history.. geeze.. too much time.. I am so jealous.

01-16-2009, 08:58 AM

That is incredible!

01-16-2009, 10:27 AM
Reminds me of the replicators in Stargate.