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CnC programs....Turbo-Mach3

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  • CnC programs....Turbo-Mach3

    Been using turbo cnc on my mill for 10 plus yrs...
    Same computer, huming away in the corner...
    We had the power blinking off/on this past week due to a major
    wind/rain storm...the old girl died.
    So I thought I may upgrade to mach 3 , but I have a tonne of programs
    written for turbo....just wondering if they will run in mach 3 without much change?
    please visit my webpage:

  • #2
    Eddie, send me one but I don't think there will be any serious problems.

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


    • #3
      Ok...Later next week...just trying to sort out a few things
      please visit my webpage:


      • #4
        Umpteen years ago I switched from tubocnc to Linuxcnc... It might be worth a shot.. I love it. Stable Mabel..

        You can boot the livecd and give it a whirl.



        • #5
          Originally posted by skunkworks View Post
          Umpteen years ago I switched from tubocnc to Linuxcnc... It might be worth a shot.. I love it. Stable Mabel..

          You can boot the livecd and give it a whirl.

          After being a Mach user for several years I went to linuxcnc this year after getting totally fed up with the endless bugs in Mach and the inability for them to address the bugs. Well, I am extremely pleased with linuxcnc in every respect, there is no comparision to Mach I feel.

          HOWEVER, I must point out that linuxcnc has a very steep learnin curve!!!! It does not run on just any computer for starters. All the documentation seems to assume you already know linux terminology and such, it makes it a little rough for beginners. STILL... I wish I went linuxcnc years ago, it can interface with pretty much any hardware imaginable, is rock solid reliable, a far superior product. Most importantly, linuxcnc has bug tracking, support and documentation that makes Mach look like a kindergarden project.

          Mach isn't all that horrible on a mill, but is about useless on a lathe, lathe is loaded with age old shortfalls and bugs. The only documentation for lathe is the version 1.84 manual from back in the 1980's, the first and only documentation, never upgraded even though mach has changed greatly. This is the norm for Mach documentation.

          In short, linuxcnc is not for the faint hearted because of its learning curve but the end result is well worth it. I wished went that way years ago instead of Mach but better late than never.


          • #6
            I have been thinking about linuxcnc too...I made some parts for a guy to water cool his computer..
            a guy who is a whiz at computers. never charged him a lot , so he offered to help me with a computer if I needed it.
            Sent him an email last night about getting an old system up and running and he told me I would be much better off to use linux.
            My question is how much of a curve is it...I dont have anything right now for mill and I may be able to make the big jump...
            John S please ring in with your thoughts as we spoke on this with regards to the lathe
            (which runs in mach and sucks at threading)
            Last edited by motorworks; 09-16-2012, 10:07 AM.
            please visit my webpage:


            • #7
              Ok, here is my take on it. Linuxcnc is a PITA to configure and setup, John S. says its for geeks, and he is right LOL. Fortunately, all the pain and suffering is related to installing, and configuring the software, that is the tough part. Once it is installed and configured it is quite easy to operate. It is different than mach but no harder. A important point is that linuxcnc is dead reliable and bug free THAT eliminates a ton of headaches alone! If you could find a present linuxcnc user to help you out in setup that would make the transition FAR easier. I had to go it alone but I did get there and am glad I did.

              As for threading on the lathe, yes mach sucks along with constant surface speed which does not work, and feedhold being about useless and the list goes on. Lets not forget to mention that Mach 4 is well underway and "claimed" to be the cure all for all these issues. Linuxcnc does today what Mach 4 only hopes to do in the future.

              I am just finalizing a lathe retrofit with linuxcnc. It is a American Way lathe which is a near identical machine to the omniturn GT75. The retrofit could not have been handled by Mach without making some big sacrifices. I have threading with the stock 1024 line spindle encoder, homing to the index pulse from the servo encoder, a 2 speed spindle transmission, true closed loop control back to the controller, and other features that Mach simply cannot handle. Oh yea, the retrofit was cheaper than Mach too, a couple of boards from Mesa electronics was the total investment, linuxcnc itself is free. During this retrofit and learning linuxcnc I seeked support and every time received excellent fast support. Most Mach support requests I made went ignored even after several reposts, then any fix came along with more new bugs.

              I have had linuxcnc running now for probably hundreds of hours both during the learning phase, the retrofit and have not once had a hang-up, any unexplained funnies, not seen a single bug, its just works and works extremely well. I continue to be amazed at its ability to interface any hardware imaginable into the system.

              Lastly, Mach3 has been pretty much abandoned with all effort going towards development of Mach4. Mach3 is and always has been full of bugs, many of which they say cannot be fixed at all. I visit the mach yahoo group daily and its a ghost town. Any hint of pricing for Mach4 has been consistantly avoided except to say there will be 3 levels of the product. When the new Mach4 is finally released, it will no doubt take a long time, probably years to refine and get all the bugs out before it finally, if ever, becomes a stable product. Linuxcnc does today what Mach only hopes to do years down the road.

              Linuxcnc is a pain to implement and learn , but it is well worth it, that is my take.
              Last edited by Sparky_NY; 09-16-2012, 11:10 AM.


              • #8
                Looks like I got my hands on two computers so far.
                I plan to put Turbo on one and get the mill back up and running for now.
                The second one I plan on putting the linuxcnc.
                Right now my lathe has mach3 on it. Its a 11 x 33 Iron Curtain build soild as a rock machine.
                Threading has always been a pain on it. (threading worked better with Turbo...)
                But I do like the wizzards in mach...and mach 4?! first I heard...

                So I will switch over to linux on the lathe first...and see how it goes..
                (keep you posted)
                please visit my webpage:


                • #9
                  there are a few config wizards within linuxcnc for helping with setup.. But you really should get comfortable with the hal and ini files. It gives you a flexibility that is just awesome.

                  stepper config wizard.

                  If you go with some interface hardware (specifically mesa) you have the Mesa Configuration Wizard

                  (I have use mesa hardware for a large hmc conversion (servos and such) I didn't use the wizard as I like editing the hal/ini files. The machine is running great - you can see the videos here)

                  The doc have been getting better and better.


                  I have been running it for quit a few years now. From stepper machines to large machining centers. I just love it. I have not had a issue that wasn't caused by my own stupidity

                  If you can dream it - you can configure it IMHO.



                  • #10
                    Another thing to mention is that I always heard that people liked the wizards in mach and linuxcnc did not have any wizards. Well, I found that to be not true. They are not called wizards in linuxcnc but there is something nearly identical which writes the gcode for you and there are a ton of those apps out there for everything from simple turning to threading to rigid tapping, just fill in the blanks hit the button and go.


                    • #11
                      I've fiddled with both EMC and Mach a little (more on Mach). Here's my take on them:

                      Mach has a look that is more similar to commercial CNC machines out there, so it's kind of neat in that respect. I've worked in several production shops before my past couple so the look is still appealing to me since I've been around that for a while.

                      Mach has a lot of options for setting up and is fairly easy to configure to your drive system. However, there's a little too many options in the stock, turn-key, as-downloaded condition and a fair bit of redundancy. You can customize screens to be whatever you want, but then you're getting into a bunch of time spent customizing so the learning curve gap closes a lot there. When you consider that 99% of using these programs (once you're set up and configured) is just entering tool offsets, work offsets and the NC file to run, then all those Mach screens are just eye candy and either is about as easy to use once you get familiar with it. So in the end, I have a little mill I use Mach on and I probably use about 5% of the screens and buttons available in the software.

                      Having said that, it runs my machine fine and I haven't run into any problems with it. I've heard of all the bugginess with Mach trying to use it on a lathe so if & when I go there I plan to just jump straight to EMC.

                      As for support, I've never needed much help so I've been fine with Mach, but I have heard the experiences others have had (i.e. threading bugs). EMC is apparently an ongoing project which is updated now and then as things progress. Also, from what I understand it's a kind of "community effort" and is being worked on by a panel of folks rather than a handful at one company so more resources to pull from. It gets great reviews as far as performance, so they're doing something right. It's a pretty good idea.

                      In operation, I think either one does the job fine enough and are both easy enough to learn to use. Though it certainly doesn't take a rocket surgeon, the general learning to do decent CNC machining is much tougher to learn and get good at than the relatively insignificant effort of learning to use either piece of software.

                      And of course the price of EMC is nice, though for what it is Mach is a bargain as well.

                      So take your pick and you'll probably do OK either way. For lathe, whether that's what you already have or know you probably will soon, you probably ought to just pick EMC to begin with so you just have to have the one system to learn - unless you're like me and just enjoy jumping around with different interfaces for the fun of it.


                      • #12
                        Have you looked at Dynomotion?
                        It runs Mach as an optional front end, but closes the loop to the controller, rather than being a non-closed loop controller as Mach itself is?
                        Last edited by MaxHeadRoom; 09-16-2012, 07:17 PM.


                        • #13
                          I'm using both Turbocnc and Mach3 and like them both. The primary reason I decided to try Mach3 was it is windows based and Turbocnc is DOS. Mach3 is a backup system for Turbocnc. Always good to have a backup plan.

                          Turbocnc runs great on WIN98 laptops and Mach3 does not always run on a laptop. Running CNC with a laptop saves lots of space. The Monitor, keyboard and CPU all in one package.

                          I can run my 2 milling machines with either software without changing any wiring. However both milling machines use the same breakout boards so the port pins are all the same. Different breakout boards have different port pin asignments. My CNC lathe uses the odd breakout board so the lathe always runs
                          with Mach3.

                          Have yet to ever look at EMC.
                          So much to learn, so little time


                          • #14
                            You can get commercial grade interface hardware that is quite inexpensive. They close the loop within linuxcnc itself. So everything is configured in one place. (linuxcnc) Mesa hardware which I really like has quite a few options from printer port, Pci and Pci-e. He is currently working on a ethernet solution also. They are not motion devices. They are just high speed encoder counters, high speed step gen, high speed i/o. high speed pwm and other stuff like resolver interfaces and such. Linuxcnc is and will always be the one in control. (that is why usb is not a device that linuxcnc uses. its latency is not good enough)

                            supported hardware

                            It has always been a


                            platform. So linuxcnc needs to be able to read and write its outside world at least 1000 times a second. every second.

                            It also means - if there is a new realtime 'thing' added to linuxcnc (like rigid tapping) It is available to all interfaces. (that is why if you wanted to - you could rigid tap with just printer port hardware)
                            If you buy a motion board like dynomotion, smooth stepper, whatever - you are stuck with whatever has been implemented within its motion hardware.

                            (sorry - rambling and again - Hope I made sense - I love linuxcnc )

                            Originally posted by MaxHeadRoom View Post
                            Have you looked at Dynomotion?
                            It runs Mach as an optional front end, but closes the loop to the controller, rather than being a non-closed loop controller as Mach itself is?


                            • #15
                              My take on it.

                              We support the Sieg turnkey CNC machines around the world. Most of our customers are rank beginners and the biggest problems we get are in setting up the computer and Mach

                              We have spent a lot of time and effort to make it easier for them. The main one being documentation.

                              All to often we read these Chinglish manuals or even if they are in English you suddenly feel that after two chapters and you start the third they have missed something out.

                              Beginners NEED their hands holding EVERY step of the way.

                              When we started out we told Sieg not to bother with a manual as we know it would have been useless so we started to write one.
                              First problem is we we writing a manual with missing chapters because we knew what we were doing and ASSUMED that everyone else did [ this is one of the biggest problems with EMC ]

                              So we did our best and then gave the machine and manual to Ketan at Arc who's basically by his own admission, a seller. He relies on using experienced people for what he doesn't know.

                              We said OK set this up, don't ask us any questions because you are on your own but we will stop you making any dangerous mistakes.

                              Part way thru he got stuck because we had jumped the gun and missed an instruction out we thought people would know. So back for a re write.

                              After a few rewrites Ketan was useless because he now had some knowledge and he wasn't what we wanted in a beginner so we gave the job to ower Gert who has never run a CNC mill in her life.
                              Couple of little bits sorted and she was good to go. Ran the same experiment with a third person and put the manual to bed.

                              We also send them out with modified screen sets to suit beginners, everything can run off the first screen.

                              We send these machines out with an older copy of Mach on them 3.041 to be exact, it does have bugs but not enough to affect the core program from running a 4 axis CNC mill.
                              I'm happy with this copy of Mach, don't run any later copies and need to remain current on what we support and as far as I'm concerned it's fine for hobby type CNC mills.

                              Lathe is a different matter, again new screen sets and it works , except threading which is anyhow. shortthreads are usually Ok but anyting longer than 2D and anything can happen.
                              I would not recommend Mach for lathe at this time, Mach 4 is supposed to fix this but since Art departed from the scene I feel it just locked in time.

                              Steve Blackmore over here in the UK did probably 90% of the development work on Mach lathe. He now runs a dual boot system and used Mach for his mill and EMC for his lathe.

                              The EMC wizards have been mentioned but they are all hard coded in imperial because they are written in the States and with typical EMC geekness no one needs metric.

                              If someone at EMC bothered to do what we did with the Sieg manual and also came up with a utility where new screen sets could be written to suit uses and not developers then EMC could move on far more than it has.

                              There are user like Sparky and Skunkworks above who are very pleased with it and it works for them and they are good ambassadors for EMC but they need to address certain issues like as mentioned to get the more mainstream users on board.

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