View Full Version : Ethernet Motion Controllers

05-06-2012, 05:39 PM
In the last thread I started there were several mentions of advising not to use a laptop for CNC use. After reading the Mach3 info, I understand why.

However, I have seen some Ethernet based motion controllers, such as the SS-02 unit offered by Homann, which supports Mach3. Is there any reason a unit like this could not be used in conjunction with a late model laptop and Mach3? It looks pretty slick and equivilates to three parallel ports when used with Mach3.

On a somewhat related note are there any forum recommendations for a newbie; equipment, pitfalls, applications, etc? I haven't found anything helpful on Yahoo Groups yet.

05-06-2012, 05:51 PM
Dynomotion is a USB Dsp based Closed Loop controller that can either use Mach as the front end or its own.
Personally I don't know why you would want to run a CNC machine off a lap-top?

05-06-2012, 06:20 PM
The SS-02 that Peter sells is just the ordinary smoothstepper with ethernet. He does not make them, just resells them. Some people have good luck with them, some don't like them. I have not tried one in years so I am not sure. There are still issue like feed holds and stuff that have not been resolved from what I hear.

A laptop is just not the best machine for a shop environment. They just are not as rugged. Spill something in the keyboard and $$$. A pc keyboard is like $5.

There are other external motion controllers as well like the DSPMC/IP which I would trust more: http://www.vitalsystem.com/web/motion/dspmc.php and the HiCON: http://www.vitalsystem.com/web/hicon/hicon.php

A friend of mine did buy a kflop and it seems to work well. It will work with it's own cnc software or through mach and is programmable with C for doing thing like rigid tapping and other stuff.

05-07-2012, 02:58 AM
The SS-02 that Peter sells is just the ordinary smoothstepper with ethernet.

The ESS (what you are calling the SS-02) is all new from the ground up, the only thing that is the same is the footprint and Port 1 and Port 2 positions and pinout.
ESS works well and I have yet to hear of anyone with the noise issues that seemed to plague some with the USB SS. I have had an ESS on my lathe since they came out, probably 6 months ago and it has worked well for me with the exception of Step/Dir spindle control, it works ok but is a bit lumpy on override, the USB version is the same. Other spindle control methods do not seem to suffer that problem though.

Bad thing about a lot of the controllers mentioned is the 5v I/O, 24v is much more noise resistant and differential Step/Dir signals are also a good thing and both a must for me. At the moment I have to make my own boards to interface.
Seems eventually someone is thinking along the right lines and producing controllers with these features, including analogue in/outs as well. Also an analogue controller with +-10v commands for those with amps only capable of that command.
I am waiting for feedback from a friend who is at this time setting up the basic one (CSMIO/IP-M), if it looks good then I will likely be purchasing one of the bigger brothers (CSMIO/IP-S or CSMIO/IP-A).
The controllers I am talking about are from CS-Labs in Poland.

Regarding Laptop use, its not my preferred method but with any of the external controllers mentioned it should not be an issue and many do use them. I prefer to have my computers in the control cabinet and I use either a Via Pico motherboard (100mm x 72mm) or a micro ATX motherboard.


05-07-2012, 10:13 AM
The Dynomotion with Kflop/Kanalog although USB not ethernet, will control 10vdc analog drives, the TTL I/O can hook directly to Opto22 boards for 24vdc/120vac outputs.

05-07-2012, 10:44 AM
Have heard a lot of people your side of the pond talking about Opto22 but when I have looked I have not liked the price very much. Possibly I am looking at the wrong things, do you have a link to pricing for 24v capable I/O?


05-07-2012, 11:42 AM
Ebay is pretty much swamped with them, there is the older legacy type that have the indicator and fuse on the board, the later G2 series have the fuse and ind. on the module.
You can get either hard wired in or ribbon in, the I/O side is always screw terminal.
There are also a few other manuf that make identical style boards and modules.

05-07-2012, 12:34 PM
eBay on your side of the pond may be, this side not so many, there are a few but cheapest here seems to be about $7 relay. I presume you get racks of some sort to fit them into but dont see anything listed here.
There was talk of the SS supporting Opto 22 via its expansion port but that hasnt happened as yet, whether it ever will I dont know.
I like the look of the CSMIO stuff though, all Din rail mountable, nice and compact and all on board I/O, just hoping it is as good as it looks on paper :)


05-08-2012, 07:04 PM
edingcnc also has an Ethernet motion controller

in retrospect I should have bought it instead of usb

05-08-2012, 07:28 PM
The eding one is really slow, 75 or 125khz.

Nothing wrong with USB vs Ethernet. Even basic USB2 is almost 5 times faster than 100MBit ethernet.

05-10-2012, 12:28 PM

I didn't realize 125khz was slow for step pulse train

12-02-2012, 04:23 PM
I retrofitted my knee mill using an AJAX CNC (CENTROID) All in One controller and their software. I did all set up and testing using a laptop with no issues at all. Just be sure to disable all power saving options to avoid having the laptop go to sleep when it should be working. The interface between laptop and machine is ethernet.


12-03-2012, 02:02 AM
Heres a video of my initial tests with the CSMIO/IP-S controller that I previously mentioned.
I am testing it out on the baby lathe first to see how things go but it is looking good so far and I am probably going to use their analogue version (CSMIO/IP-A) on the Chiron FZ12S VMC that I am presently retrofitting.

12-05-2012, 01:56 PM
How are they doing with the threading entry/exit?

Thanks Andrew,
the threading itself looks good but I am wondering about the slow pullout at the end of the thread. Will that be normal or is that due to the lathe it is being used on? If it is normal will that be improved on as you develop further or is that how it will always be?

Heres a video of my initial tests with the CSMIO/IP-S controller that I previously mentioned.
I am testing it out on the baby lathe first to see how things go but it is looking good so far and I am probably going to use their analogue version (CSMIO/IP-A) on the Chiron FZ12S VMC that I am presently retrofitting.

12-05-2012, 03:31 PM
You seem to spend almost as much time on the Mach forum as me ;)

Andrew should be getting the info he requires, hopefully tomorrow, from Steve so fingers crossed the pullout issue will be solved soon.


12-05-2012, 03:39 PM
I see mach/linuxcnc forums as my reality tv....


I really wanted to throw in a linuxcnc jab but there isn't a viable ethernet solution yet. Thinking the begining of next year. Still though - the computer running linuxcnc still needs to be realtime. (the link over ethernet will be realtime also) The latency isn't as critical as what you would need for software step generation but still needs to be decent. IMHO though this gives you wonderful control over all aspects of your machine and you are not tied to what has been implimented in the 'external motion controller'.


12-05-2012, 03:56 PM
I really wanted to throw in a linuxcnc jab
When I started down my CNC road, probably about 8 or so years ago, I looked at EMC. It seemed complicated, especially to a someone who caught shellfish for a living, but things like that have never put me off anything before. What kind of did it for me was the observation that the majority of the EMC community seemed to thrive on trying to score points, looks like you and John are keeping the tradition alive :)


12-05-2012, 04:37 PM
Ouch :) Oh just very passionate. (and can't understand why people would use anything else ;) ) I have converted probably one of the more complicated 4 axis machining centers out there and linuxcnc has done everthing I have needed and more. Plus it just keeps getting better and better. I can honestly say I love linuxcnc - Yes love. It has never failed me or done something random (that wasn't my own fault). Plus it is free and opensource and industrial grade interface hardware is inexpensive and powerful. Yada yada yada... I have said it before and will keep saying it.

I have had nothing but good to say about the developers. They have always been responsive and helpful. Not to mention the users..


12-05-2012, 05:00 PM
Bloody hell that is news to me, I actually thought you hated EMC and that it was expensive ;)
I feel the same about Mach but only because it has served me well and like you I have never had it go do anything weird or fail in all the years I have used it. Oh tell a lie, the lathe once did something unexpected but that was during the Beta testing of the SmoothStepper and was a problem in the plugin. There are some things it doesnt do but then again from talking to people that use both Mach and EMC there are some things EMC doesnt do. I am sure both Mach and EMC will eventually do these things and everyone will live happily ever after :D
I know my way around Mach and can do most things I want, I am sure you are the same with EMC, my next project is a Chiron FZ12S, hope to be able to test out the toolchanger in the next few days, it looks complicated but isnt really :)


04-27-2013, 04:31 AM
Here is the first job done on the Chiron I mentioned above. Very happy with the CSMIO/IP-A controller, it is the best controller I have used so far for Mach and I am loving the encoder update of DROs in Mach.

04-28-2013, 02:03 AM
Wow, that is a unique mill. Moving head and an odd tool changer. Looks like it moves nice.

04-28-2013, 10:12 AM
The travelling column I think has been on a few machines but as far as I know Chiron are the only people that do the basket toolchanger.

Having the column moving is nice, means the table is stationary and always at the front so great for loading.

Tool change is sub 1 second from the factory but the last owner damped the rise and fall a bit to slow it down so I have just kept it that way as the 1.5 or so seconds is good enough for me. The Basket changer looks quite complex but when you break it down its just a few linkages which will last for a long time, they are still good and the machine is 25 or so years old.

The I/O required for the tool changer is quite a lot, think something like 43 total, I used a PLC as I already had it and also I am much better at ladder logic than VB.

Had to drop the accel a bit, down to 1000mm/s/s, it was just a bit to jerky for the weight of the machine. I think an S-Curve trajectory would be needed for faster accel, but again that is plenty fast enough for me, not sure what it was originally.
The rapids were originally 20m/min and I have kept that.


04-29-2013, 08:01 PM
I got my machine that I call the Ifactory running for the first time last night. What I found interesting about you Chiron video is that my machine has the same geometry, stationary table and moving head in a very similar way. I can rotate the head in a few seconds to run it as a horizontal mill too. No tool changer, but I think I see how to add one fairly simply.

I am shocked how long the wiring took me, and I have 50 years experience with wiring! Well I did have hernia surgery in the middle of the wiring process, but still it took a long time. I bought a pulse and direction board to do testing without using the PC, thinking this would save time. The motors all ran fine in one direction, but not the other, they ran really rough. I spent over two hours checking every possible issue. Turned out that the pulse and direction board actually put out CW and CCW signals! Clockwise worked fine. CCW was pulsing the Direction input on the drivers. That really pissed me off.

However I am pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to get Mach 3 working with the USB board I purchase. Once I knew the motors worked okay it only took a few minutes to get Mach 3 working. With a quick tuning session the motors have no problems moving all 3 axis at 6000mm/min with an acceleration of 3000mm/sec^2.

04-30-2013, 07:23 AM
What make is your mill?
What controller are you using? Thinking it may be Smoothstepper or Kflop?

Wiring wasnt the thing that took the time for me, finding time was worse than normal as I have been very busy at work this last 3 or 4 months. I think the things like cleaning, painting and repairing/making new parts took me the longest. Also sourcing motors and drives meant I had to just do things as I got the parts. In fact I originally had intended to use different axis drives/motors then changed my mind and fitted different ones then finally got an excellent deal on some very low hour (and I mean hour ;) ) drives and motors so things changed again.

This is the first analogue command controller I have used, normally I used Step/Dir but I think the analogue is very nice so likely I will eventually convert my other machines over to this controller.


05-17-2013, 09:16 AM
Here is the Chiron and CSMIO/IP-A doing the newly implemented rigid tapping.
Material is mild steel, thread is M6 and I am tapping at 300rpm and reversing at 600rpm.


01-14-2014, 05:49 AM
I had a friend give me three nice Dell laptops. The not so nice part was they do not have printer ports we use to run our CNC projects. I guess they are called serial ports or parallel ports.

I bought a Smooth Stepper board with an Ethernet connection from Warp9 Tech. I'm not familiar with networking but managed to get the Warp9 board to work. I'm real happy with it and I think my CNC
Bridgeport retrofit runs better with the Smooth Stepper. Best part is I finally got away from my old
WIN98 computer, DOS Software and floppy disks.

Now I should buy another Warp9 board and setup another computer as a backup. I was told by several people the
Ethernet port was better than the USB connection for Smooth Stepper boards.