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Mach4

CandCNC plasma table components discussion forum
metalfixer
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Oct 04, 2017 3:59 pm

Mach4

Postby metalfixer » Wed Oct 04, 2017 5:24 pm

We use your system on our CNC table with Mach3 and SheetCam, we also have a CNC mill that uses Mach4 and
SheetCam, connected with USB.
Is Mach4 in CandCNC's future, as to connect with Ethernet or USB?
Thanks,
Larry

djreiswig
Posts: 130
Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2015 10:02 pm

Re: Mach4

Postby djreiswig » Thu Oct 05, 2017 1:17 pm

I've heard that Mach4 isn't really good for plasma at this point. I believe CandCNC has moved on from Mach3 to CommandCNC which is Linux based. I doubt they'll go back to Mach, but I'm sure Tom will be here shortly to let you in on their plans.

tcaudle
Posts: 812
Joined: Tue Feb 28, 2012 6:47 pm

Re: Mach4

Postby tcaudle » Thu Oct 05, 2017 7:31 pm

Over 2 1/2 years ago MACH3 was declared obsolete and is no longer supported by the developers. (meaning no bug fixes , no updates and no help for developers. At the same time MACH4 was still under development and the owners flatly stated they had no immediate plans to support any THC logic in MACH4 MACH4 is only similar to MACH3 in that it runs in Windows. None of our custom plugins would work and any real time features had to move out to an external pulse I/O card . We started development of a LINUX based control software and hardware combination. Being open source we can (and have) modify all aspects of how it works all the way to the processor level. CommandCNC is built on top of LinuxCNC and has a full GUI configuration tool, Commercial User interface. Multi level screen menus including diagnostics and status screens while running. We utilized a Real Time Kernel that has no delay so inputs are in total sync with position. As we continued development we were glad to find things in Linuxcnc that were better, and to be able to make changes or add features to the core LinuxCNC code. The trajectory engine (that plans the complex multi-axis moves and controls both accuracy and speed) is far superior to MACH and results in things like auto corner control and lets us use the real time control to instantly turn off/on the DTHC without resorting to cut rules and manual speed changes. There will be over time, some Plasma Solutions for MACH4 but there are not a lot of choices at this point.

Probably the best part is not having to deal with the obstruction of Windows sitting on top of the hardware and bringing along gigs of embedded applications of which most are not used or needed in CNC or machine control. Try sometime to remove Windows Explorer browser from Windows even if its not your primary browser...you can't do it. WIN 7 is the last partially configurable Windows OS where you can disable most of the embedded things like auto update and default security settings they deem safe.

I don't want to turn this into a Windows or MACH bashing blog because I used both for many years and we sold them up until about 9 months ago (although 90% of new buyers wanted a new LINUX OS and control hardware/software). The volume finally dropped to a point we just stopped selling any Windows based solutions taht di dnot also run on LINUX.

So development for MACH4, which is a totally new rewrite, is not in our plans and all development cycles will be devoted to CommandCNC and new hardware to broaden the options the builder has.

There are a lot of fallacies about LINUX. There are currently about 37,000 applications for Linux many of which are free and a lot are familiar applications you see on WIndows: File structures are identical and you can network a Linux PC to a Windows PC or network or move files by WIfi or thumbdrive. SheetCAM runs on both and one license will work for both. Job files can be moved back and forth. We have a mixed network here at the shop with dozens of Linux only workstations and a rack full of Linux file servers mixed with Windows workstations and laptops.

I would urge any one looking to upgrade, buy or build a system to consider carefully the advantages and disadvantages of both paths and be informed. If you have our equipment call or email me and let me give you the facts about and the advantages of moving to a highly configurable and open source OS and real time control system. If you have a Windows MACH system from us we will continue to support and provide repair of older systems for several more years. We have tried to make it painless to do an upgrade from older systems without replacing the whole system. Even if all you have is the MP3000 and our DTHCII , the MP3500 and DTHCIV. Older Bladerunners and Plazpaks are upgradable too.

This is being written on my LINUX development PC using Firefox.

metalfixer
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Oct 04, 2017 3:59 pm

Re: Mach4

Postby metalfixer » Fri Oct 06, 2017 8:09 am

Thanks Tom for your detailed explanation. We have used your system for quite a few years, starting with the MP-1000, and upgrading to the MP-3000, and are very satisfied.
When we upgrade it will definitely be your CommandCNC system.
The only things that I really like about Mach4 on the mill are the USB connectivity, real time control, and simplicity to modify screen sets. We use Win7, and disable automatic updates.
Larry

BTA Plasma
Elite Contributing Member
Elite Contributing Member
Posts: 417
Joined: Thu May 12, 2011 4:28 pm

Re: Mach4

Postby BTA Plasma » Fri Oct 06, 2017 10:59 am

A local company came to us asking for help on a plasma cutting machine. They now offer a tube cutting machine but we told them not to use Mach4. They decided to try it and had a nightmare with simple things just not working. I do not know what happened at the Mach3 company and why they cannot put Mach 4 together but the company with the tube cutter runs Mach 3 behind the scenes instead of Mach 4 (You would never know it) and does not use THC. Mach was very good at motion and most things that didn't require real time events. It will be used for decades. But forget about using it on a plasma table there is a much better far superior solution (Linux). With Linux is real time you can detune the THC about 40% and still get better performance in the cuts due to the latency Mach 3 had. We build machines ranging from production HVAC (22 to 30 ga) to general purpose machines (All are HVAC compatible because they use a high speed THC and Linux).

tcaudle
Posts: 812
Joined: Tue Feb 28, 2012 6:47 pm

Re: Mach4

Postby tcaudle » Fri Oct 06, 2017 1:43 pm

CommandCNCruns tube cutters too :)

BTA Plasma
Elite Contributing Member
Elite Contributing Member
Posts: 417
Joined: Thu May 12, 2011 4:28 pm

Re: Mach4

Postby BTA Plasma » Fri Oct 06, 2017 1:47 pm

Yes it does and we use it for our tube cutting applications. This other company wanted to integrate their existing software but I am not sure how much of Linux they understood.


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