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  • Stepper motor control via USB parallel port

    Does CAM software that use parallel port for controlling the stepper motors, work with USB parallel port?

    I'm think of something like the following

    http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applicatio...9598&CatId=471

    I'm guessing that the answer is no, since usb parallel port doesn't map to a phyiscal I/O port.

  • #2
    The Mach documentation (www.machsupport.com ) says "no" to USB adapters. You need a real parallel port, either built-in or on a PCI card or similar.
    ----------
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    • #3
      Get a smooth stepper. I have one, works pretty darn good.

      Does almost everything the Gecko G100 was SUPPOSED to do.

      http://www.warp9td.com/index.php

      Added:

      Guess I should say what it does. It is a FPGA based device that works with Mach3. It replicates two parallel ports using USB. Also has extra inputs for a couple encoders. Up to 4Mhz step frequency vs ~45khz on the parallel port.

      Plugin for mach is still in beta. I am waiting for backlash comp to get added before I switch.
      Last edited by macona; 07-14-2008, 08:25 PM.

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      • #4
        You can get a parallel port to fit the PCMCIA card slot. It is mapped into the address space as a real parallel port. ( I assume you have a laptop)

        Description

        Quatech’s SPP-100 fully supports the IEEE 1284 EPP standard, and functions exactly like a computer’s native parallel port. Thus, unlike the many USB to parallel converters on the market, Quatech’s SPP-100 will work seamlessly with any hardware or software that requires either an EPP or standard parallel port. It is compatible with both 3.3V and 5V systems.
        Features

        * Fully supports IEEE 1284 EPP interface
        * IBM PC Parallel port compatible
        * Speeds to 700 kbps
        * Windows 9x/ME/NT/2000/XP/CE/Vista, Linux (standard modes only) and OS/2 (Rev H and prior) support
        * 3.3V and 5V compatible
        * Driver available for HP Palmtop upon request
        * RoHS compliant
        * 5 year warranty
        http://www.quatech.com/catalog/parallel_pcmcia.php

        Note: There are cheaper ones available.
        Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

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        • #5
          I was about to recommend that "Smooth Stepper" that I just saw a day or two ago on Keling's website.

          I was thinking of emailing them asking for the SDK they say they're developing, it might be fun to write a Linux driver for them.

          -Matt

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          • #6
            Originally posted by macona
            Get a smooth stepper. I have one, works pretty darn good.

            Does almost everything the Gecko G100 was SUPPOSED to do.

            http://www.warp9td.com/index.php
            Agreed -- I recommended the SmoothStepper here a month ago. It controls 6 axis plus a spindle, and has 3 quadrature inputs so you can feedback a spindle pulse count (not clear from the meager documentation whether it creates a PID loop), or you can drive the axis with a Manual Pulse Generator.

            It's a total of 24 Outputs and 16 Inputs or vice versa. All for $155 -- seems like a very reasonable price.
            "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."

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            • #7
              Thanks everyone. I'll take a look at SmoothStepper.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by macona
                Get a smooth stepper. I have one, works pretty darn good.

                Does almost everything the Gecko G100 was SUPPOSED to do.

                http://www.warp9td.com/index.php

                Added:

                Guess I should say what it does. It is a FPGA based device that works with Mach3. It replicates two parallel ports using USB. Also has extra inputs for a couple encoders. Up to 4Mhz step frequency vs ~45khz on the parallel port.

                Plugin for mach is still in beta. I am waiting for backlash comp to get added before I switch.
                Macona, what does smoothstepper NOT do that the G100 was SUPPOSD to do?

                I have been one seriously disappointed puppy in the G100. I've never been able to use it for my lathe project because it can't take an encoder input and do spindle sync for threading.

                After waiting years for it to be finished and hearing all the problems blamed on firmware, I finally asked Mariss to exchange it for a couple drivers and he wouldn't even respond to my mail. The experience has really lowered my opinion dealing with Gecko, so I'm hoping the Uhu bunch and others give me some options.

                I still need a solution for my lathe that'll do 2 axes with spindle encoding and as much other I/O for control panel as possible. I've been loath to try SmoothStepper and get another half baked answer. If others are reporting good success, I might just give it a try though. I do worry about whether Artsoft has the resources to support another new device.

                Best,

                BW
                ---------------------------------------------------

                http://www.cnccookbook.com/index.htm
                Try G-Wizard Machinist's Calculator for free:
                http://www.cnccookbook.com/CCGWizard.html

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                • #9
                  No analog in/out, less IOs, less encoder inputs. Think thats about it.

                  Right now the smooth stepper is still in beta. Works pretty well but still no spindle feedback (PID is handled inside of mach), no backlash comp, and no soft limits. When Spindle feedback and backlash comp happens I will switch.

                  Whats really nice is it totally replicates the parallel port and my existing cables off my breakout board will plug right in to SS (With the DB25 adapters) No massive rewiring like I did with the G100, which in ended up yanking and selling on ebay.

                  The failure with G100 was not so much the firmware as there is too small of a FPGA in there to do everything they wanted to do. Not mariss's fault, its the programmers fault. He had his own motion control software (Geckomotion) for it and thats how he sold it. Possibly with someone else writing the replacement firmware and FPGA code it might have come out different.

                  Go with a touch screen and parallel port for your lathe. I have a 15" Elotouch LCD and I almost use no buttons at all. Spindle sync for lathe is on the low priority side so its best to stick with parallel. Peter Homann has a nice pendant that makes life easier as well. For addtional IO you can also use his ModIO board. http://www.homanndesigns.com/
                  Last edited by macona; 07-15-2008, 02:26 PM.

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                  • #10
                    For more I/O look at Pokeys.

                    http://po.labs.googlepages.com/pokeys

                    Very cost effective, initial plug in is written but they are doing a better one that can use the analoge inputs as well so you will be able to have a fully programmable keypad type pendant or professional layout with spindle and feed rate over ride pots on the panel.

                    There is a discount for Mach uses until August that gives about 15% off, see the post on the mach Yahoo forum.

                    .
                    .

                    Sir John , Earl of Bligeport & Sudspumpwater. MBE [ Motor Bike Engineer ] Nottingham England.



                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by BobWarfield
                      Macona, what does smoothstepper NOT do that the G100 was SUPPOSD to do?

                      I have been one seriously disappointed puppy in the G100. I've never been able to use it for my lathe project because it can't take an encoder input and do spindle sync for threading.

                      After waiting years for it to be finished and hearing all the problems blamed on firmware, I finally asked Mariss to exchange it for a couple drivers and he wouldn't even respond to my mail. The experience has really lowered my opinion dealing with Gecko, so I'm hoping the Uhu bunch and others give me some options.

                      I still need a solution for my lathe that'll do 2 axes with spindle encoding and as much other I/O for control panel as possible. I've been loath to try SmoothStepper and get another half baked answer. If others are reporting good success, I might just give it a try though. I do worry about whether Artsoft has the resources to support another new device.

                      Best,

                      BW
                      Bob,

                      I'm sorry you feel that way. I didn't answer your email because I either missed it or didn't get it. There was always a telephone number available.

                      I'm not a computer guy. I design hardware. The hardware worked properly but the Mach3 implementation of that hardware evidently left something to be desired. The G100 has both an Ethernet and USB port. The SmoothStepper uses the USB port and is based on the same motion control principles I developed and placed in the public domain. Is it a coincidence it has 6 axis, a 4MHz max step pulse frequency, similar number of I/O and encoder inputs? It is based on the work that went into developing the unique method the G100 uses to generate step pulses and integrating velocity with time to determine position.

                      I wish SmoothStepper, CNCBrain and others every success. I made the techniques public which means I expected someone would use it. I am proud I was privileged with originating the idea of this method of pulse generation the G100 and these other controllers depend on. I did my best with the G100, the hardware worked like it was supposed to. I wrote GeckoMotion in assembly, made the code open source, all in the hopes it would promote development of the G100. Despite my best efforts it fell short of what it could have been.

                      Please return the G100 for a refund. It is nothing compared to the bath Geckodrive took in development costs and the years of my time spent on it. I am pleased others have taken this very good idea and are making it what the G100 could have been. They have PC programming talent that I lacked. That is the difference that made success elusive. Win some lose some.

                      Mariss

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by John Stevenson
                        For more I/O look at Pokeys.

                        http://po.labs.googlepages.com/pokeys
                        Pretty neat John, but for the less CNC saavy readers, those are radically different products: Pokeys is an intelligent USB IO hub (essentially an analog IO <-> USB converter), and SmoothStepper is a programmable multi-axis step/direction generator with USB parallel port emulation.
                        "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."

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                        • #13
                          Yes,
                          Not saying they are interchangable, use the Smooth Stepper to get from the computer to BOB using USB and then the pokeys to interface to get you a professional control panel with function keys, feed rate and spindle over rides etc.

                          No keyboard or mouse needed.

                          .
                          .

                          Sir John , Earl of Bligeport & Sudspumpwater. MBE [ Motor Bike Engineer ] Nottingham England.



                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Mariss
                            I wish SmoothStepper, CNCBrain and others every success.
                            Based on the little documentation I can find on the SmoothStepper page, it doesn't look like it does closed-loop control. And considering that it's using an FPGA, it doesn't seem likely that you could implement a 6-axis PID controller.

                            But I'd never heard of CNCBrain before -- that's a neat product!

                            http://www.safeguardrobotics.com/def...ubtab=overview

                            CNCBrain definitely does closed-loop feedback on all six axis'. Based on the "Massively Parallel Processing Framework" (aren't marketing weasels great! ), it sounds like they have a dedicated PID processor per axis.

                            CNCBrain is in a whole different price point too: $499 -- about 3 1/2 times the cost of the Smoothstepper.
                            Last edited by lazlo; 07-15-2008, 05:51 PM.
                            "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by lazlo
                              Based on the little documentation I can find on the SmoothStepper page, it doesn't look like it does closed-loop control. And considering that it's using an FPGA, it doesn't seem likely that you could implement a 6-axis PID controller.

                              But I'd never heard of CNCBrain before -- that's a neat product!

                              http://www.safeguardrobotics.com/def...ubtab=overview

                              CNCBrain definitely does closed-loop feedback on all six axis'. Based on the "Massively Parallel Processing Framework" (aren't marketing weasels great! ), it sounds like they have a dedicated PID processor per axis.

                              CNCBrain is in a whole different price point too: $499 -- about 3 1/2 times the cost of the Smoothstepper.
                              The G100 was never purported to be a PID controller. It's 1 millisecond I/O latency would make the Nyquist limit 500Hz or a practical bandwidth of 100 to 200Hz. This is woefully short of the 3 to 5kHz bandwidth needed for a usable PID servomotor controller.

                              Look at the CNCBrain. The guy doing it is very smart and just may pull off a very ambitious project successfully.

                              Mariss

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