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Postby gatnact » Wed Dec 16, 2009 4:00 pm

http://www.buildyourtools.com/buildyourcnc-topics look at this topic this might help.

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Postby Awesomeness » Wed Dec 16, 2009 5:07 pm

Laptops / notebooks are pretty much a no-go. The power saving capabilities of the chipsets make them screw with the control signals, because the signals have to operate at a very fast rate. So forget about the laptop, unless you enjoy making your life difficult.

Here it's right from Mach3's website... "*You must use a Desktop PC if you are using the Mach3 Parallel Port Driver. Laptops are not supported because the power saving features of the chipsets disrupt the pulse stream."

There are USB controllers out there, instead of DB25 printer port ones. The problem is price. The printer one is like $25, and the USB one is like $160. For that extra $135, you can probably find an old computer with a parallel port to buy! Both breakout boards are available here... http://www.kelinginc.net/BreakoutBoards.html

So to summarize, laptops are for traveling salesman, not CNC hobbyists. Using USB costs a bunch more, probably 1/2 as much as building a low end computer.

If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?
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Postby PHoodDaniel » Wed Dec 16, 2009 6:09 pm

There is a board called the smoothstepper available at www.cnc4pc that can be connected to a usb. This board has IC's that take care of the signal pulses at the necessary frequency so the usb only needs to send the instruction. This board is meant to be a replacement for the parallel port and is compatible with Mach3. You will still need a breakout board. The smoothstepper board plugs into the computer via usb and the breakout board and smoothstepper is wired together via a ribbon cable to db25. then the breakout board is wired to the individual drivers.

Let me know what you decide and if you find any other resources.

I am planning on making a board that uses a microcontroller (atmel or pic) that does the same thing. I have a driver board in development at the moment and I will be adding the microcontroller functionality so usb ports can be used. I anticipate completing the usb board 2nd quarter 2010. The current driver board in development I hope to get out pretty soon.

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Postby servant74 » Sat Feb 13, 2010 3:36 am

http://www.warp9td.com/ are the manufacturers of the Smooth Stepper the best I can tell. I don't know of others that are similar, but theyh may be there.

If at first you don't succeed, think about scratching parachute jumping off your bucket list.
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Re: USB's

Postby woodenduck » Sun Jun 20, 2010 11:57 pm

My second post. I did my first tests with the electronics combo pack, using Mach3 (demo version) on an old IBM Thinkpad T23 notebook, with excellent results, but I had to disable all the power conserving features and the screen saver and set it up much like a desktop computer with no screensaver, but the pulses/second rate was there stable at 28,423 (very low latency). Also, the PARALLEL Port starting address was different than the default for a desktop computer.

I used 1/4 microstepping for the test.

Unfortunately, the modern notebooks are no longer equiped with Parallel Ports, but my old Thinkpad had one, so I thought I would try it, and it worked good.

My new electronics project now is to use my old Celeron based desktop computer to power the breakout board.
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Re: USB's

Postby TheKackler » Wed May 11, 2011 11:21 pm

I found many fully functional and complete PC's on Craigs list for 75-125 BUX! This included LCD monitor and mouse/keyboard.

So I challenged myself to scrounge one up for free! I asked friends and trolled around. Acquired three nonfunctional PC's and made one functional one! There are a lot of people upgrading to laptops that don't have the heart to trash a functional system... Ask around... you may be supprised.
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Re: USB's

Postby swapnil147 » Wed Jul 13, 2011 8:55 pm

Hey thanks for this http://www.buildyourtools.com/buildyourcnc i was facing same question in my mind...
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Re: USB's

Postby Lee DeRaud » Tue Mar 13, 2012 4:24 pm

A few points from a slightly contrarian viewpoint:

1. If the budget is really tight and you have the time/energy/skill to debug a used computer of unknown provenance, go for it. If, on the other hand, the spare computer you already have gathering dust in the back bedroom closet is a laptop, that Smoothstepper starts looking a lot cheaper.

2. A desktop machine has a lot bigger footprint than a laptop. Once you have a place to put a keyboard and mouse, you have room for a whole laptop, including the display, which can be folded down out of harm's way when you're not using it.

3. Maintenance of legacy hardware/software is a time-sink. Even the mainstream machines of today have a 64-bit OS and are USB-only. If the computer running my CNC fails, I want to know that I can fix or replace it without going on a scavenger hunt.

If the Smoothstepper (or equivalent) cost $500, the trade-offs would look a lot different. But at $155...

That which does not kill us will regret not finishing the job.
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Re: USB's

Postby G.H. Boyd » Sun May 27, 2012 6:16 pm

Planet CNC has a very good CNC-USB controller.
I use it with my PhlatPrinter.
I currently have their 4 axis MK1. I just ordered there 9 Axis MK2 controller for my BlackFoot 4 X 8.

You do need to use their driver software. It is easy to use.
All you need to do is connect your current motor drivers to the card, and setup the software.
You can download the software from the Planet CNC download web site.

Hope this helps.
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Re: USB's

Postby Gallchobhair » Wed Aug 08, 2012 4:37 pm

I am new to CNC and am building one from plans on this site.

I see USB to Parallel cables. will these work or do you also
need a box as stated above.
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