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GRBL + THC???

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ernesto
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Dec 20, 2017 3:23 pm

GRBL + THC???

Postby ernesto » Fri Dec 29, 2017 3:24 pm

Have any of you guys experimented with GRBL and a Proma TC?

I've been fighting a friend's Windows/Mach3/Gecko setup for well over a month. At first, it was software/virus issues on the computer and I finally sorted that all out but the system constantly loses setup info and does random stuff. It will work fine for an hour, then go nuts. I've set the whole machine up and checked all connections multiple times so I'm pretty sure I've just been fighting a dying computer, and we may have killed the thing for good today by welding on the table and forgetting to disconnect the plasma work lead first. Rather than buy another junky old tower and go through the hours of setting it back up right, I'm ready to move on to more modern tech.

I picked up a raspberry pi/protoneer setup for a cnc router that I'm building and want to add plasma capabilities to it down the road. Since I also need to get my friend's lightning cnc 5x10 table going, I'm thinking that rather than fight the learning curve of two different setups, it would be best to replace his current setup with the same thing I'll be running on my machine once it's done. I've searched like crazy and the only info I can find regarding GRBL with THC are a couple of really short videos just showing a machine cutting, and they're in German. I'm just wondering if anyone out there has any setup pointers.

This whole thing with getting my friend's machine to run consistently has been a four year ordeal for him and so far, wasted a lot of everyone's time. I just want to make sure that the new hardware/software I recommend for them will actually do the job. Any input would be greatly appreciated, setup info in particular.

ernesto
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Dec 20, 2017 3:23 pm

Re: GRBL + THC???

Postby ernesto » Wed Jan 03, 2018 4:13 pm

It looks like the answer is going to be using a Proma THC-SD that switches into z control using some dpdt solid state relays triggered off of the "ok to move" signal. I'll post up a full build thread when I get it working.

robertspark
Posts: 53
Joined: Mon Jun 12, 2017 6:43 pm

Re: GRBL + THC???

Postby robertspark » Wed Jan 03, 2018 4:35 pm


ernesto
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Dec 20, 2017 3:23 pm

Re: GRBL + THC???

Postby ernesto » Wed Jan 03, 2018 4:57 pm

Thanks!

I'll look into them. The Proma SD will work perfectly but alternatives are always good!

ernesto
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Dec 20, 2017 3:23 pm

Re: GRBL + THC???

Postby ernesto » Wed Jan 03, 2018 5:01 pm

Unless those prices in pesos, I think that I'm stuck with the Proma.

tcaudle
Posts: 1051
Joined: Tue Feb 28, 2012 6:47 pm

Re: GRBL + THC???

Postby tcaudle » Wed Jan 03, 2018 6:23 pm

so how does the SD handle IHS (Touch off) ? How can you control turning the THC on or off on critical cuts? How does it keep track of the Z height if it has no comm to the control software? I guess if you are used to not having a THC or one that does not work anything is better.

If you killed the PC from welding on the table that may explain why you have been fighting this for so long. Plasma noise on the frame of the table will cause all kind of problems with a PC. It will cause MACH to lock up, lose settings (because it writes stuff to the XML when it closes) and even cause arrant motion from noise. Stacking on a virus as well along with a flaky PC and the blame seems to be misplaced on the Control Software (MACH). Yes MACH3 is older technology but so is the whole CNC process.

Most of the users here are not experimenters or programmers. They just want to cut metal and get work done.

ernesto
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Dec 20, 2017 3:23 pm

Re: GRBL + THC???

Postby ernesto » Sun Jan 14, 2018 5:09 pm

Regarding controlling the THC with GRBL, the Proma SD unit is specifically designed to work outside of the control software. GRBL supports G28.1 so I'm going to use a floating head design on my torch holder so it will zero the z axis before and after every cut, then move z to pierce height. When M03 fires the torch, the Proma SD takes over z control until M05 cancels the torch, G28.1 runs again to rezero, grbl moves to safe z, then to the next lead in point, and repeat process. If I'm missing something here, please let me know.

The machine I was working on had a string of issues that I had to fight but in the end, shortening and rerouting some wires, cleaning up the virus/wiping everything, and reinstalling/tuning Mach3 got it going. It's using the Proma THC150 compact and working perfectly now. The welding on the table definitely stunned something but after sitting overnight, the machine fired right up the next time we tried it and has ran perfectly since.

I am making progress on my raspberrypi/grbl powered machine though and am very excited to get away from PC's. Mach3 has always been pretty solid but getting a windows machine to reliably cooperate has always been a pain. I switched to ubuntu on my laptop a few years ago and can never go back. I'm hoping that the simplicity, modernity, and community support that made the linux switch so good translates into cnc world too.

I figured I'd post this info so people that are tired of buying expensive software and fighting with outdated PC's will at least have an alternative to try. I just want to cut metal and get work done too but if I can save a few grand at setup and have a NC system where the most expensive component is $35, it's just something I have to try.


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