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  • The value of XP licenses

    I often need to buy computers with parallel ports for CNC machines to run on.

    These are for retrofits as opposed to new machines as we do a fair few Denford and Conect conversions and we supply a new machine with the job, just a base unit.

    In the past we have been buying new budget commercial machines, many with Linux pre loaded, then buying a copy of XP.

    Just lately the supply of parallel port machines has been drying up and we have been looking at older surplus machines. Made a few phone calls the other day and today took delivery of some Dell GX260's for £30 each, about $45
    80 GB hard drives all wiped and the copy of XP reinstalled and the hologram is on the case.
    To make the deal better they come with a HP 15" TFT monitor, keyboard, mouse and all the cables.

    To make the deal even better if any stop working in 3 months they will swap them.

    I can't buy a windows licence for this price.
    .

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




  • #2
    that is a good price.

    are you aware of parallel port to usb converters? they usually work a ton better than on-board parallel ports in XP as the drivers are more modern.

    i own about a dozen serial to usb converters. i don't even bother with the on-board ports on any of my machines any more, as you need to go into the bios settings to change any of their parameters...
    -paul

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    • #3
      Windows? There is something called EMC2 you know.

      Clutch

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      • #4
        USB-PP converters are useless for CNC, they are only useful for printers. At least the ones I have seen.

        You can buy PCI cards with a "real" parallel port

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        • #5
          the s/h hologram stickers sell on ebay

          xp home £10 - £15
          xp pro £15 - £25

          or from a car boot sale stuck on the side of a maybe working computer for £5.

          all the best.markj

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          • #6
            Wow, I could buy a fully functional PC for less then eating at a fancy restrant.

            Countzero is right, anything over USB will be limited by the USB timing specs, And well, basicly its like this: There is no guarentee to timing, Not even close. things that 'hack' lpt to bitbang stuff will never work.

            Stuff that uses proper LPT protocols may work, but still not guarenteed, and basicly if your LPT port is outputing dir/step signals to stepper/servo controllers, its not gonna work.

            PCI/PCI-express/etc LPT cards do exist, and should work fine.

            Another thing to look at, is actual USB based CNC sollutions
            While USB timing is unreliable yes, that does not stop a CNC from having a smart microntroller to buffer instructions and provide all the pulse/step information from those instructions.

            I don't know of any such USB CNC sollutions, but im sure some exist.

            I do seem to recall now of some PCI card based CNC sollutions.
            Play Brutal Nature, Black Moons free to play highly realistic voxel sandbox game.

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            • #7
              I do all the official wiping of machines at work that are replaced on a rolling program.

              They get sold to staff first, then donated to charity with the non functioning dregs going for recycling. A Dell GX280 base unit, with 80 GB disk and 2GB ram sells for £45 (free mouse and keyboard), so £30 with monitor is a steal.

              I get to pick over the scraps, so can usually build functioning machines for myself.

              My mill has servos and the parallel port would struggle with the pulse rate, so I'm going down the Smoothstepper route.
              Paul Compton
              www.morini-mania.co.uk
              http://www.youtube.com/user/EVguru

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              • #8
                No the USB converters wont work with Mach, I know we can buy PCI cards but at this price as I said I can't buy the license for XP

                We have looked at EMC2, in fact we have a lathe running on it.
                The problem with EMC and this is not a Windows v Linux argument is that we have to support first time CNC users who have a massive learning curve ahead of them.

                Most are conversant with windows and throwing a whole new operation system into the box is going to faze them probably enough that they don't make the leap in the first place.

                Secondly although they don't realise it it EMC is written by geeks, for geeks and I mean this nicely as I know a few of the developers.

                If you ask a question you get an answer but it's in geek speak and they can't get over that others are not as advanced as they are.

                Thirdly it's a toy to the developers not a tool, if they don't see that a function is needed by them it doesn't get implemented.
                There are not just the release on the web but many tweaked copies done by folk who want different things but they never get back so there is never a master copy.

                If you break a tool in EMC you can't jog off, change the tool, reset the Z offset and run from here, that isn't in the code.

                Les Newell in the UK altered that last year, sent it up but it's still not been written in. Because the developers are programmers and not machinists that isn't a priority for them.
                .

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



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                • #9
                  Originally posted by EVguru

                  My mill has servos and the parallel port would struggle with the pulse rate, so I'm going down the Smoothstepper route.
                  Paul,
                  I have just sold all mine and the C25 breakout boards but I know of another Smooth Stepper that's for sale in the UK, cheaper than buying from the US and the customs hassle
                  .

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



                  Comment


                  • #10
                    DX does have a real USB parallel port solution but unfortunately it is back ordered right now. It won't beat the price John is getting but if you need a real standard parallel port DX has a port replicator that provides serial via a real UART, SPP via a real parallel port chip and two PS2 ports plus two USB pass through ports. It only needs USB 1.1 and it is compatible with 98, 2000, XP and Vista and costs $22.

                    http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.22685
                    Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by John Stevenson
                      I know of another Smooth Stepper that's for sale in the UK, cheaper than buying from the US and the customs hassle
                      Put my name on it please!

                      I'm off to the Stafford bike show for the weekend (My Morini 3 1/2 Sport will be on the club stand), but I should be able to drop in to the Forum in the evenings.
                      Paul Compton
                      www.morini-mania.co.uk
                      http://www.youtube.com/user/EVguru

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Evan
                        DX does have a real USB parallel port solution but unfortunately it is back ordered right now. It won't beat the price John is getting but if you need a real standard parallel port DX has a port replicator that provides serial via a real UART, SPP via a real parallel port chip and two PS2 ports plus two USB pass through ports. It only needs USB 1.1 and it is compatible with 98, 2000, XP and Vista and costs $22.

                        http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.22685
                        Evan, That looks interesting but the info wasn't really forthcoming as to whether it would work or not.
                        Mach is quite unique in that it takes over the PC first and tells windows what to do second so it may or may not work but to prevent any argument I rang Art Fenerty up and asked him if it would work and secondly if it would does it need a plug in writing for it.

                        Unfortunately the answer on the first count was no it wouldn't work, pity as that's another avenue closed.

                        .
                        .

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



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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by EVguru
                          Put my name on it please!

                          I'm off to the Stafford bike show for the weekend (My Morini 3 1/2 Sport will be on the club stand), but I should be able to drop in to the Forum in the evenings.
                          I'll PM you the guys details when I have spoken to him today and you can deal direct
                          .

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



                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by John Stevenson
                            Evan, That looks interesting but the info wasn't really forthcoming as to whether it would work or not.
                            Mach is quite unique in that it takes over the PC first and tells windows what to do second so it may or may not work but to prevent any argument I rang Art Fenerty up and asked him if it would work and secondly if it would does it need a plug in writing for it.

                            Unfortunately the answer on the first count was no it wouldn't work, pity as that's another avenue closed.

                            .
                            It will not work for CNC. There is always the smoothstepper but it has not seen any work on it in a long time. There is not a whole lot out there.

                            Oh yeah, there is the KFLOP board.
                            Last edited by macona; 04-23-2010, 04:16 AM.

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                            • #15
                              Serial ports.

                              I have two pretty new and pretty good computers - one running XP Pro and the other W7 Pro - and both main boards have serial ports plus I have a new main board (matched) for each computer. The computer that I have ordered for my CNC-ing (Mach3) of my Sieg X3 mill (and perhaps a lathe later) has XP on it as well as a new and a spare main board both of which have serial ports.

                              I bought them with Mach3's requirement for a serial port in mind.

                              Main boards with serial ports are very hard to get - same with IDE HDD drives (now SATA2). My machines have one IDE channel - for a CD/DVD "burner" and a single IDE drive. They are all SATA otherwise.

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