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  • El Cheapo Pendant

    Here is a simple El Cheapo Pendant I am sure many have looked at. I have a much more expensive VistaCNC pendant on one of my machines, and I have used XBox 360 game controllers, numeric keypads, and even a mechanical micro switch arcade joystick. They all work. The VistaCNC Pendant worked the best, but the game controller wasn't to bad either. I seem to recall I used a gamepad at one time too, but that was a long time ago.

    I'm working towards having the same or similar pendants on all my machines, and I decided to give this cheap one a try. I was prepared to be stumped by it or to have it be junk but neither happened. I copied the driver .DLL file into the plugins directory, started Mach3, and the pendant just worked. The default constant velocity jog works, the step jog works. Got to zero works. When you turn the pendant on it reads the machine coordinates and the current work offset coordinates from the control software and displays them directly on its own screen.

    There are some little oddities, but all the general functions just worked. I have not even checked out all the options or looked at the plugin configuration in Mach yet. I just plugged it in and used it. I'm pretty happy with it. Rosy glasses not withstanding of course.

    If it works out I may just order a few more of them and equip all my machines with them. One issue I had with the VistaCNC pendant is if it loses communication it is done for the session. You have to restart Mach to bring it back. I don't think that's an issue with this one. I can turn it off when not used, and turn it back on to have it pick up where ever the machines is currently and its ready to go.

    I have one sort of major thing I don't like about it. The cord comes out the top of the pendant. Its always being pulled down by its own weight. The cord should come out the bottom of the pendant. I chose the corded version instead of the wireless one because if I wind up really liking it I'll have several of them. I wouldn't want interference or worse accidental cross machine control.

    The magnets built into the back of the case seem to hold it in place just fine for now. I have not left it hanging by the magnets with the machine running yet.

    I think I paid 74.95 on EBAY for this including shipping from a USA based warehouse in California. It took just 2 shipping days to arrive, but I always get USPS from So Cal in 2 days. I could have gotten it a little cheaper by ordering from China, but I think its worth the few extra drachmas to get it so quickly.


    Last edited by Bob La Londe; 05-01-2018, 05:08 PM.
    *** I always wanted a welding stinger that looked like the north end of a south bound chicken. Often my welds look like somebody pointed the wrong end of a chicken at the joint and squeezed until something came out. Might as well look the part.

  • #2
    I was prepared for some of the unexpected after watching this video from This Old Tony. His is the wireless version, but functionally its nearly the same. I may have a newer driver, but that's about it.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7aLiMDHQrM
    *** I always wanted a welding stinger that looked like the north end of a south bound chicken. Often my welds look like somebody pointed the wrong end of a chicken at the joint and squeezed until something came out. Might as well look the part.

    Comment


    • #3
      Bob,
      On your recommendation I bought one, wired version as well. Works quite well and I am pleased with the purchase. I need to program some of the keys when I get the chance.

      Thanks for the recommendation.

      Comment


      • #4
        Just broke 3 end mills and two tool height setters. That cheap pendant ain't so cheap anymore.

        The problem is simple enough. It uses bubble switches for changing functions and one of the ones I use all the time to select step increment is just plane wore out. I thought I was dailing in at .0001 and it moved 1.000.

        Didn't realize what was hapening the first time. Second time the display on the pendant wasn't right. Third end mill was just because the mill homing was off after the previous crash.

        Miraculously managed to save the part.

        Back to VistaCNC pendants I guess. The worst I ever had my Vista pendant do was lose communication with the program. Just have to keyboard jog when that happens.



        Just ordered some VistCNC Pendants to replace them, and... some new tool height setters.
        *** I always wanted a welding stinger that looked like the north end of a south bound chicken. Often my welds look like somebody pointed the wrong end of a chicken at the joint and squeezed until something came out. Might as well look the part.

        Comment


        • #5
          I have been using the contour shuttle for jogging for many years on various machines. Its actually a video editing pendant but there are drivers for mach3 for it and I interfaced it to linuxcnc too. What I REALLY like is the outer ring is a variable rate jog, 5 incremental speeds in each direction by how far you twist the ring. I have the first speed set extremely slow for touching off. The center spinner ring is setup as incremental jog. There are also a bunch of buttons that can be defined in the setup.

          I am really spoilled with the variable rate jog, its extremely nice to use.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Sparky_NY View Post
            I have been using the contour shuttle for jogging for many years on various machines. Its actually a video editing pendant but there are drivers for mach3 for it and I interfaced it to linuxcnc too. What I REALLY like is the outer ring is a variable rate jog, 5 incremental speeds in each direction by how far you twist the ring. I have the first speed set extremely slow for touching off. The center spinner ring is setup as incremental jog. There are also a bunch of buttons that can be defined in the setup.

            I am really spoilled with the variable rate jog, its extremely nice to use.
            Amazing a cheap Chinese pendant almost trashed your machine and a job. I paid about $50 more for one made in USA. I have used on both of my machines without issues. I think they are VistaCNC.
            Last edited by wmgeorge; 09-25-2018, 09:50 PM.
            Retired - Journeyman Refrigeration Pipefitter - Master Electrician - Fine Line Automation CNC 4x4 Router

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by wmgeorge View Post
              Amazing a cheap Chinese pendant almost trashed your machine and a job. I paid about $50 more for one made in USA. I have used on both of my machines without issues. I think they are VistaCNC.
              Amazing, it took almost 3 days before somebody jumped on the judgment train. LOL.

              I was just sharing my experience to help somebody else down the road. Its so nice to get such kind feedback for trying to help out the next guy down the road.


              I have a VistaCNC pendant on one of my machines. It had flakey and inconsistent failures starting right out of the box. While after much going back and forth VistaCNC did replace the bad unit its failure was the reason I was looking at other pendants to begin with. Well that and its other problem. VistaCNC pendants have another issue even when they are working right. They lose communications with the software when running big programs, and the only way to get communication back is to restart the software. I already mentioned that. I'm sure that's never happened to you though, but when was the last time you ran a million lines of code. I did it on 2 machines at once just yesterday. I run upto a couple million lines of code (in one code file) fairly often. (once a week maybe) The Chinese pendant didn't lose communications with the control software once in several months.

              After the new pendants arrive I do plan to contact VistaCNC and see if its possible to do some sort of refresh or forced reconnect without restarting.
              *** I always wanted a welding stinger that looked like the north end of a south bound chicken. Often my welds look like somebody pointed the wrong end of a chicken at the joint and squeezed until something came out. Might as well look the part.

              Comment


              • #8
                Bob did you not post this? "Just broke 3 end mills and two tool height setters. That cheap pendant ain't so cheap anymore.

                The problem is simple enough. It uses bubble switches for changing functions and one of the ones I use all the time to select step increment is just plane wore out. I thought I was dailing in at .0001 and it moved 1.000.

                Didn't realize what was hapening the first time. Second time the display on the pendant wasn't right. Third end mill was just because the mill homing was off after the previous crash. "

                Sorry I thought you had a bad experience with the Chinese ones and I suggested perhaps a Professional like you needs a better Pendant. Not judgmental, just responding to your complaint.
                Retired - Journeyman Refrigeration Pipefitter - Master Electrician - Fine Line Automation CNC 4x4 Router

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by wmgeorge View Post
                  Bob did you not post this? "Just broke 3 end mills and two tool height setters. That cheap pendant ain't so cheap anymore.

                  The problem is simple enough. It uses bubble switches for changing functions and one of the ones I use all the time to select step increment is just plane wore out. I thought I was dailing in at .0001 and it moved 1.000.

                  Didn't realize what was hapening the first time. Second time the display on the pendant wasn't right. Third end mill was just because the mill homing was off after the previous crash. "

                  Sorry I thought you had a bad experience with the Chinese ones and I suggested perhaps a Professional like you needs a better Pendant. Not judgmental, just responding to your complaint.
                  That's a reach George. Besides its invalidated by this one sentence, "Amazing a cheap Chinese pendant almost trashed your machine and a job." The Vista you recommended has issues too. I reported those too for others to learn from. Absolutely I'd like a better pendant, but so far the totally non-professional Xbox 360 controller has had the least issues and decent flexibility during operation. A USB numeric keypad (no driver required version) had the least issues period. The USB numeric keypads are limited in their functions, but you can change the scan codes for Mach 3 to achieve some things. The XBOX 360 controller is very flexible in its capability, and once you have it dialed in its really fast to use. Both have the failing of a lack of a display, but both seem to work and maintain communications even when running huge programs. The XBOX 360 had one major problem though. If you forgot to e-stop your machine when shutting down sometimes the Z axis would creep down into a slow motion crash. I've tried a lot of different things including a variety of direct input devices like MPGs and mechanical joysticks tied directly to the breakout board and configured in Mach.

                  To be frank a "professional like me" started with crap and learned everything on the fly to do the next job. A "professional like me," is certainly not like what ever definition for a professional you have in your head or try to project on me. I gave information. You passed judgement for it. Thank you. Your judgement is noted, has been pointed out, and will weight the value of future feedback you may provide. Thank you so much.
                  *** I always wanted a welding stinger that looked like the north end of a south bound chicken. Often my welds look like somebody pointed the wrong end of a chicken at the joint and squeezed until something came out. Might as well look the part.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Bob, Your going way out on a limb to pick a fight. So I am going to let you win.

                    My thought is maybe its not the Pendant but something in Mach3 or your computer setup causing those issues? Are you running a parallel port or Ethernet connection? I went to the Warp9 ESS because of issues with my parallel port and yes I have been around computers since dirt was invented. But I also know about EMI and RFI getting into a controller via cables. Good Luck.
                    Retired - Journeyman Refrigeration Pipefitter - Master Electrician - Fine Line Automation CNC 4x4 Router

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Well I'm not old enough to make that claim, but my dad and I built computers before people built their own computers. I started out with a Commodore Pet 2001 and wrote game programs on a Heathkit H89a. We bread boarded our own first serial ports, and when we got a DSDD floppy drive I thought it was the cat's meow. I worked on a few mini computers, but never was tortured by any of the old dog main frames thankfully. All my main MACH control machines are currently running ESS motion control interfaces, and as much as possible has been handed off to the ESS. I do have one CNC router I hardly ever use running off a USB SS, but it has never had a pendant on it. (I might have had a USB numeric keypad on it. I can't recall.)

                      The issue with the VistaCNC pendant really is just that they require constant communication with the PC. With it being a USB device that can be an issue when Mach 3 is running near its limit. I was once told Mach3 had a practical limit of around 3 million lines of code. I often run around a million lines, and have run as much as 2.3 million lines. Even with the toolpath display turned off on a multi core machine it can still get a bit cludgy. You tip toe around the machine and don't touch anything (except maybe the e-stop if you have to and you better have a hardware e-stop) when you are running them that hard. I have run the Vista pendant I have on several different machines, and have noticed its less of an issue on faster multi core machines than on single core machines. Still have two single processor control machines running XP Pro 32, but one of them is the router mentioned and the other is not used often anymore.

                      Since the Vista pendants include an e-stop button I can see why they would be coded for constant communication, but the reality is when they lose communication they don't e-stop the machine. They just lose communication. That could be dangerous if somebody hits the e-stop because they really need to and it doesn't work. I checked. When it loses communication the button doesn't e-stop the machine. You have to restart Mach to reestablish communication. I don't know if that any of this is the case with LinuxCNC, but I'll find out as I intend to replace the Tormach jog shuttle with a Vista pendant to run under PathPilot. After using the Tormach jog shuttle for several months I just don't like it, although to be fair it has worked as intended 100% of the time. Then LinuxCNC and a Mesa card are reported to be more stable and consistent than Mach and an ESS.
                      Last edited by Bob La Londe; 09-26-2018, 03:36 PM.
                      *** I always wanted a welding stinger that looked like the north end of a south bound chicken. Often my welds look like somebody pointed the wrong end of a chicken at the joint and squeezed until something came out. Might as well look the part.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Well I have been advised by experts in CNC that Mach3 is a POS, even as I have ran it on two machines so far, granted not the use you have had, and only had that same problem you did. Seems to want to drive the running spindle into the A. work or B. spoil board. and I think you had the same issue. I have noticed if you use the STOP button the Mach3 or ESS buffer still has code to run and on a Restart, no matter what that code is going to be ran.

                        The solution I use sometimes now, is to use the Feed Hold or on my new Screen its called Pause. It runs out that buffer and then stops. I have been told to ReCalculate the file before starting again if you need to ReSET or E Stop.

                        I am looking at the Acorn board which seems to require Windows 10 Pro which I hate. Or UCCNC which is a clone of Mach3 improved. I hate change when its working.
                        Retired - Journeyman Refrigeration Pipefitter - Master Electrician - Fine Line Automation CNC 4x4 Router

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by wmgeorge View Post
                          Well I have been advised by experts in CNC that Mach3 is a POS, even as I have ran it on two machines so far, granted not the use you have had, and only had that same problem you did.
                          I have to think about that for a moment. I have five Mach 3 licenses, but all together I think I have run it on 8 different machines since I started playing with it. All I have to say is HARDWARE E-STOP is the only safe way to setup an E-Stop on any machine.
                          *** I always wanted a welding stinger that looked like the north end of a south bound chicken. Often my welds look like somebody pointed the wrong end of a chicken at the joint and squeezed until something came out. Might as well look the part.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Bob La Londe View Post
                            I have to think about that for a moment. I have five Mach 3 licenses, but all together I think I have run it on 8 different machines since I started playing with it. All I have to say is HARDWARE E-STOP is the only safe way to setup an E-Stop on any machine.
                            I agree, but sometimes you just want to Pause or Feed Hold to move or tighten down a clamp or take a potty break. It works slick at least on what I am using. Runs out the buffer and stops. I don't remember if the spindle stops or not?? Hit Start and it takes off where it stopped.

                            I use my Pendant all the time, so far no issues... but I am not running a million lines of code either!!
                            Retired - Journeyman Refrigeration Pipefitter - Master Electrician - Fine Line Automation CNC 4x4 Router

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by wmgeorge View Post
                              I agree, but sometimes you just want to Pause or Feed Hold to move or tighten down a clamp or take a potty break. It works slick at least on what I am using. Runs out the buffer and stops. I don't remember if the spindle stops or not?? Hit Start and it takes off where it stopped.

                              I use my Pendant all the time, so far no issues... but I am not running a million lines of code either!!

                              Feed hold does not stop the spindle. I do sometimes add an temporary stop to the code after an operation in order to move a clamp or even flip a part (usually on alignment flip pins).

                              P.S. I'd have to look for it, but I seem to recall UCCNC interfaces have an issue with spindle control. I don't recall exactly what it was, but I'd hunt it down before going that way.
                              Last edited by Bob La Londe; 09-26-2018, 09:44 PM.
                              *** I always wanted a welding stinger that looked like the north end of a south bound chicken. Often my welds look like somebody pointed the wrong end of a chicken at the joint and squeezed until something came out. Might as well look the part.

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