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IndustryArena Forum > WoodWorking Machines > DIY CNC Router Table Machines > CNC Router Parts > Importance of stand alone computer for Mach 4
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  1. #1

    Importance of stand alone computer for Mach 4

    My Avid CNC 48x48 has been ordered and I’m prepping the space for it. Avid suggested a stand alone computer to hook up to the CNC that has nothing but Windows and Mach 4 installed. How important is this? It would be more convenient for me to use a laptop that also had V Carve Pro installed so I could make design changes at the machine if needed. Curious how important the stand alone computer is. Thanks for your help!
    Joel

  2. #2
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    Re: Importance of stand alone computer for Mach 4

    Well, I guess 'stand alone' is a relative thing. The laptop I use has Vcarve, Icad, and some other stuff. No issues.

    Enjoy you new machine!

    Tony

  3. #3
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    Re: Importance of stand alone computer for Mach 4

    I think the important thing is that you are not connected to the internet.

    For example, when everything is working fine on your machine you don't want some random windows update to mess you over. So you just don't update windows. Since windows "wants" to be updated and frequently "ignores" what you tell it to do, the solution is that you just don't connect to the internet after you're all set up. That's what stand alone means.

    Also, you don't want any background programs to be using up your computing power, like antivirus or firewall, so without these, you want a "stand alone" or not connected to the internet computer. Shouldn't be a problem installing whatever other programs you want on there, as long as they don't run as a background process all the time.

    There's no problem with installing stand alone CAM or CAD software on the same computer. I just wouldn't recommend using them at the exact same time that your router is cutting something.

    Good idea also to make a backup image of your hard drive using one of the many programs that can do this after you're all set up.

    If you wanted to use Fusion 360, for example, where you have to be online to get to your files, well I wouldn't recommend that.

    Never used Mach 4, but heard some bad reviews. Mach 3 worked great for me.

    Were my comments helpful?

  4. #4
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    Re: Importance of stand alone computer for Mach 4

    Mach 4 works great. I have a dedicated Intel NUC small computer and check for update windows before i use it. If I were to do a critical job I will turn off the wireless card. The ethernet port connects it to the avid controller.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

  5. #5
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    Re: Importance of stand alone computer for Mach 4

    I recently upgraded to Mach4. No issues at all. Actually, I haven't had the dreadful "Out of data" error lately, so maybe that helped? Took me while to rewrite all my custom buttons, but it wasn't too bad. There are a few differences in operation from MAch3, but after a few months, I've forgotten what they were.

    Yeah, I do leave the Wi-Fi connection off when working. I can't say for sure that it would be a problem, but I have read several suggestions that it could be.

    I do run VCarve Pro while running my machine with Mach4 and that hasn't caused any issues so far. I don't actually use it, but it is running in the background sometimes. I do that because I am tweaking a program or making changes between passes, etc.

    To qualify, my laptop is pretty new - i7 with 12GB, no spinny drive, W10 (kept up to date) etc. Nice machine. Oh, and I use Windows antivirus and it is always on. I used to turn it off on the old machine, but I forget to and it hasn't caused any problems, so I just don't bother. I do connect to the internet once in a while, so I like to have something there to offer some level of protection.

    I have an Avid 2448 Standard (4 years old now I think - wow!). Great machine. You'll love it.

    Tony

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    Re: Importance of stand alone computer for Mach 4

    I only have limited experience with Windows 10 and would be uneasy about running it with an internet connection while running a CNC machine.It often seems to go into a state of paralysis while updating,unbidden.On the other hand I run my homebuilt CNC router on LinuxCNC and have an online radio station running while I do the CAM stuff and have the machine cutting with no concerns because I get to choose when to update.

  7. #7
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    Re: Importance of stand alone computer for Mach 4

    I think the windows 10 update while running a job fears are overblown. It tends to update upon shutdown or start up. I think sleep and logout as well. I have 2 machines run by windows computers and neither of them has ruined a job yet. At least due to windows update. USB noise is a different matter which is why I'm switching to Ethernet but I can't blame that on Windows. I definitely turn off sleep.

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    Re: Importance of stand alone computer for Mach 4

    I definitely run the CNC via Ethernet because I think it’s vastly superior to USB


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

  9. #9
    Thank you so much for all the feedback! I feel less concerned about using a laptop with other programs installed while running mach4. I have a lot of learning to do. I’m a Mac guy but have had a universal laser for six years and understand Mac just isn’t a realistic option for this type of thing yet, so W10 laptop it is. Thanks again!
    Joel

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    Re: Importance of stand alone computer for Mach 4

    Yeah my entire family is Mac using and the CNC is the only reason to get the small windows computer.



    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

  11. #11

    Re: Importance of stand alone computer for Mach 4

    I bought a refurbished Dell M6800 workstation laptop for about $500.
    It's 5 yrs old but with very powerful i7 processor and dedicated graphics card.
    Bombproof aluminum chassis, extremely easy and cheap to pop in replacement parts.
    CD-ROM, Ethernet and every legacy port you can imagine.
    17" screen to see from across the shop and use CAD software.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by thomasjrusso View Post
    I bought a refurbished Dell M6800 workstation laptop for about $500.
    It's 5 yrs old but with very powerful i7 processor and dedicated graphics card.
    Bombproof aluminum chassis, extremely easy and cheap to pop in replacement parts.
    CD-ROM, Ethernet and every legacy port you can imagine.
    17" screen to see from across the shop and use CAD software.
    Thanks for the info. I’m looking at a few laptop options from Costco in the $500 range that seem like good options .... Curios if a SSD hard drive vs traditional spinning drive is a real advantage in a wood shop?

  13. #13
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    Re: Importance of stand alone computer for Mach 4

    Quote Originally Posted by jmatteson View Post
    Thanks for the info. I’m looking at a few laptop options from Costco in the $500 range that seem like good options .... Curios if a SSD hard drive vs traditional spinning drive is a real advantage in a wood shop?
    I can't speak to Mach 4 as I've never used it, but in Mach 3, an SSD drive wouldn't make a rat's butt worth of difference IMO. And Mach 3 has never skipped a beat for me, running on XP.

    Why bother with a laptop for this? It doesn't really need to be portable. Not too long ago I bought a nice 2nd hand HP SFF (slim form factor) computer on eBay for $100. And it's pretty easy to upgrade.

    Some CAD programs could really benefit from an SSD, but I don't think you'll really benefit from one using V Carve Pro. It depends on what other programs you want to install on there if an SSD would be on any value to you.

    One last point...I was constantly getting chips and dust and crap into the keys of my keyboard while using it on my CNC machine. So really, I think you might prefer a setup with an inexpensive external keyboard, that you can throw out and replace easily, which I guess you could do with a laptop on a docking station to keep the lid closed, then of course you'd need an external monitor also, but why bother when you can just get a SFF computer?

  14. #14
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    Re: Importance of stand alone computer for Mach 4

    Not sure about the advantage of the SSD vs a spinny, but my new laptop has an SSD and I really like it. I was concerned about the capacity, but I don't think it will be a problem since this laptop is dedicated to the shop for CNC, Vcarve, Icad, etc. I was trying to get something I'd keep for a while, so I went i7. This thing is really fast. I really notice that when using Vcarve.

    I do shopvac my laptop now and then, but I try to keep it out of the line of fire of the chips and dust. I cover it when making sawdust with the other machines.

    Funny, when I built the shop, I swore no computers, no phones, no clocks....things change!

    Oh, one cool little gadget I bought was a Logitech wireless numeric keypad. Its small and I can carry it over to the machine to jog. It worked great and was only about $20.

    So, what kind of stuff are you going to make with your new toy?

  15. #15

    Re: Importance of stand alone computer for Mach 4

    Quote Originally Posted by jmatteson View Post
    Thanks for the info. I’m looking at a few laptop options from Costco in the $500 range that seem like good options .... Curios if a SSD hard drive vs traditional spinning drive is a real advantage in a wood shop?
    SSD doesn't mean much in the woodshop. But they are faster and more reliable in general. Every HDD is going to die someday, it's a fact of life. If you are going to get a computer to run your CNC, might as well make it one that can do other important stuff if your main workstation crashes or breaks down. Refurbished business computers are a good way to have redundancy for not a lot of money, and parts are abundant and inexpensive.

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