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  1. #1
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    PathPilot, Mesa 7I92H and Geckodrive G540

    Hi all,
    I’m looking into whether it is possible to use PathPilot to control a G540 4 axis stepper controller via the Mesa 7I92H Ethernet card?

    If it is a possibility, can someone point me in the right direction. At this stage I have the Mesa card, a G540 based controller and a PC I can use to host PathPilot on.
    I’m new to PathPilot and linuxCNC so may need some basic help. I do have a bit of Linux and Unix experience from a decade or so ago. ????

    Cheers

    Peter.

  2. #2
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    Re: PathPilot, Mesa 7I92H and Geckodrive G540

    Hi Peter, Long Time (;-) Yes that is doable . One of the 1100 models used that card so there is a setup all ready to use. I believe it was the 1100 S3 series. First you need to get the V2 install thumbdrive . It installs the Linux system and the Version 2 PathPilot . MAke sure the PC is a 64bit system. Then you plug in the 7i92 and see IF it will boot into PathPilot. IF it does you just need to install the G540 and setup the Parameters to match what you are using. IF not you may have to tweek the HAL file for things like Estop until you get the estop setup on the G540 .. I have a G540 with 4 steppers here on the bench right now.

    I can help walk you through setup if you need help..

    (:-) Vmax549 (;-) TP

    .

  3. #3
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    Re: PathPilot, Mesa 7I92H and Geckodrive G540

    Hi Terry,
    It has been a while. Thanks for your offer.
    A walk through the process would be good. I’ll send you an email tonight.

    Cheers

    Peter


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  4. #4
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    Re: PathPilot, Mesa 7I92H and Geckodrive G540

    Hi all,

    I should be ready in a week to start the Pathpilot installation journey. I've done quite a bit of searching trying to find threads on a suitable PC to use for Pathpilot. From what I can glean, a Gigabyte motherboard is probably the best bet.
    Can anyone recommend a suitable NUC style PC that is suitable for this task?

    I could get something like this but don't know it is suitable?


    Gigabyte GB-BACE-3000 Brix

    14nm Intel® Celeron N3000
    500GB SSD
    Ultra-compact PC design – 0.69L (56.1x 107.6 x 114.4mm)
    1x 4Gb 1600 MHz RAM
    Intel® IEEE 802.11 ac, Dual-Band Wi-Fi & Bluetooth 4.0 NGFF M.2 card
    Supports dual displays via a VGA and an HDMI port
    Gigabit LAN




    Any help would be appreciated.

    Cheers,

    Peter
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    Homann Designs - http://www.homanndesigns.com/store

  5. #5
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    Re: PathPilot, Mesa 7I92H and Geckodrive G540

    Unless you plan to use WiFi, you;ll probably want something with two gigE connections since insofar as I know you can't share the 7i92 connection with anything else. You'll want ample USB ports for connection to your keyboard, mouse, touch screen, pendant, maybe ATC, maybe a Tormach USBIO, maybe a Tormach SmartCool and...

  6. #6
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    Re: PathPilot, Mesa 7I92H and Geckodrive G540

    Quote Originally Posted by kstrauss View Post
    Unless you plan to use WiFi, you;ll probably want something with two gigE connections since insofar as I know you can't share the 7i92 connection with anything else. You'll want ample USB ports for connection to your keyboard, mouse, touch screen, pendant, maybe ATC, maybe a Tormach USBIO, maybe a Tormach SmartCool and...
    . Both wired or wireless network connections are available in usb port connector format. I added wired network /usb port connections to both my fan less brix units. Because wireless can be problematic in my garage. Also both brix units required a USB port expander. Mouse, touch screen, keyboard, and network plug into it. Control Puck requires one dedicated USB port on the brix computer. It will crash machine if plugged into an expander. Or It does on both my lathe and router. Other then that usb expanders work just fine. The one network port is of course used to communicate with the machine 7i92 board.

  7. #7
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    Re: PathPilot, Mesa 7I92H and Geckodrive G540

    Of course. My point was that he probably needs more USB connections than one might initially think. BTW, which USB port expander have you found to be reliable?

  8. #8
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    Re: PathPilot, Mesa 7I92H and Geckodrive G540

    Thanks for the replies. All very helpful.
    Do you think that the Brix with a Celeron N3000 will be sufficient?

    Cheers,

    Peter


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  9. #9
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    Re: PathPilot, Mesa 7I92H and Geckodrive G540

    Quote Originally Posted by kstrauss View Post
    Of course. My point was that he probably needs more USB connections than one might initially think. BTW, which USB port expander have you found to be reliable?
    I think both of the usb expanders I have come with the brix computers! I will dig around to see if i still have the boxes they come in!
    As for reliable that is another story! They cant have a device like a control puck plugged into them at all. The control puck well send your machine crashing or it wont even work at all. And you will get error messages from all the other devices being poled like keyboard, mouse, lcd touch screen flashing down the tab that displays machine errors. In short be careful what you plug into the expander and keep an eye on it!

  10. #10
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    Re: PathPilot, Mesa 7I92H and Geckodrive G540

    Quote Originally Posted by phomann View Post
    Thanks for the replies. All very helpful.
    Do you think that the Brix with a Celeron N3000 will be sufficient?

    Cheers,

    Peter


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    I would think so.
    It's more of a function of will Path Pilot / linux install and run using the generic drivers the linux distro provides. If so your good to go!
    Cpu power as very little to do with it. Boot time is about only effect I see. The brix units take about 2x longer to boot then an older control with a faster cpu!
    Older control does have a half dozen fast usb ports built in so usb extender is not required and problems that one can generate!

  11. #11
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    Re: PathPilot, Mesa 7I92H and Geckodrive G540

    HI Peter here we use older DELL 7010 optiplex PCS with at least a series 5 CPU and 8GB mem with a NEW solid state hard drive. THey are ex corporate takeouts and run rock solid, no problem with drivers or ports as there are plenty of the USB. I also add in a decent low profile Network card to suppliment the onboard port. 1 for machine and 1 for the network. So far I have used at least 6 of them without a problem with setup or function with PP.

    (;-) TP

  12. #12
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    Re: PathPilot, Mesa 7I92H and Geckodrive G540

    I strongly suggest putting at least one control device on a dedicated USB port separate from an extender because when USB sees too much noise on a port, it shuts that port down. If that port is the one your KB/mouse/touchscreen extender is on (and it usually is due to extra wire length), all you've got left for control is EStop. Good quality shielded USB cables help as well.

  13. #13
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    Re: PathPilot, Mesa 7I92H and Geckodrive G540

    Hi,
    So this is what I have coming.

    HP EliteDesk 800 G3 Mini 35W Desktop
    Intel Core i5 6500T Processor (6M Cache, 2.50 GHz) Up to 3.10 GHz with Intel Turbo Boost Technology
    8 GB DDR4 RAM
    128 GB SSD
    Intel HD Graphics
    2 x DisplayPort
    Gigabit LAN
    6 x USB 3.0 ports
    1 x USB Type-C port
    Onboard Audio
    HP Power adapter
    May have minor marks & scratches
    Windows 10 pre-installed with digital license key embed in BIOS

    It has 6 USB ports so I’m hoping that will suffice. It only has 1 Ethernet port as I was planning to use a USB WiFi adapter. I don’t imagine that I can add an additional Ethernet card into it

    If it’s not suitable I do have another use for it. If so I’ll hunt down a Dell OptiPlex 7010 as suggested by TP.

    I have two 4:3 15” touch screen monitors. One has a VGA port, the other a HDMI port. Hopefully the VGA will suffice. If not I’ll need a display port to HDMI adapter.

    Cheers
    Peter


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  14. #14
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    Re: PathPilot, Mesa 7I92H and Geckodrive G540

    On another topic. With Mach3 I’m currently controlling my Spindle via Modbus. With the setup I can do semi rigid tapping using a compression/ tension tap holder.
    My understanding is that PathPilot doesn’t support Modbus so I’ll need to use PWM for spindle speed control.

    With that, presumably I’ll need to add an encoder to the spindle to synchronize the z-axis to the spindle speed?

    Cheers
    Peter


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  15. #15
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    Re: PathPilot, Mesa 7I92H and Geckodrive G540

    PP doesn't insofar as I know support modbus. However, LinuxCNC does. Since you'll be running a modified version of PP it might be worth considering further changes. See LinuxCNC Documentation Wiki: VFD Modbus for a little about modbus and LinuxCNC.

    Note that you can use a T/C tapping head with PP.

  16. #16
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    Re: PathPilot, Mesa 7I92H and Geckodrive G540

    Thanks for the Modbus link.
    I think I’ll get it up and working with basic functionality first, then look at Modbus.


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  17. #17
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    Re: PathPilot, Mesa 7I92H and Geckodrive G540

    More questions. My understanding that when Linux is installed it likes to be connected to the internet to down load packages etc. Can I use a USB WiFi dongle or do I need to use the onboard Ethernet port?

    I have a Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse I’d like to use. Does The Linux (Mint) used by PathPilot support the Logitech dongles?

    Cheers
    Peter


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  18. #18
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    Re: PathPilot, Mesa 7I92H and Geckodrive G540

    Quote Originally Posted by phomann View Post
    More questions. My understanding that when Linux is installed it likes to be connected to the internet to down load packages etc. Can I use a USB WiFi dongle or do I need to use the onboard Ethernet port?

    I have a Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse I’d like to use. Does The Linux (Mint) used by PathPilot support the Logitech dongles?

    Cheers
    Peter

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    Peter --

    I've used Logitech wireless keyboards and mice with PathPilot v2 for a long time. I recall fussing around a bit to get both the keyboard and mouse to use a single Logitech USB wireless dongle. A Google search will help solve that if you want.

    If PathPilot senses an internet connection it will poll for a PathPilot update and offer to download and install it. With a custom config you don't want to do that.

    With an internet connection you can use PathPilot HUB for sharing G code between between your CAD/CAM station and PathPilot. HUB runs sim configs of Tormach machines.

    For PWM spindle speed control look at the PCNC440 HAL file for a PathPilot example to follow. Be cautious when comparing PCNC770/1100 HAL pins to PCNC440 HAL pins. The DB25 pin assignment is different between the 770/1100 BoB and the PCNC440 MX3660 BoB/stepper driver.

  19. #19
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    Re: PathPilot, Mesa 7I92H and Geckodrive G540

    Hi,
    That all makes sense. Last night I installed Mint onto the pc as a test as I wait for my PathPilot USB to arrive.
    It all went very smoothly so that’s promising.
    I plugged in a single Logitech dongle for the keyboard and mouse, a WiFi dongle and a wired keyboard just in case.
    I has it all installed in about half an hour.

    I did notice that Mint is able to manage dual boot. So I’m thinking of using the existing Windows 10 drive for Mach3 and put a 2nd M.2 drive for PathPilot.
    That will allow me to switch back to Mach3 if I have issues and allow me to run the machine while I sort out any issues. It would also allow me to support customers with my Mach3 controllers and boards.
    Cheers
    Peter


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  20. #20
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    Re: PathPilot, Mesa 7I92H and Geckodrive G540

    Peter, sorry a bit late to the party. I'm in Brisbane
    The Brix Celeron J1900/N3160 et al is a good option. I used a Brix J1900 for a long time and have just reformatted it again and its still good. The internal wifi card generates a lot of latency so its best to pull it and use a USB wifi dongle. I used a Asus Nano wifi dongle and its been reliable and cheap.
    Some other wifi dongles I've used have needed compiling drivers.
    I have never had issues with wireless mouse and keyboards or touch screens.
    Look through the bios and look for cstate settings and limit it to level 1
    Setting isolcpus=2,3 in grub also makes an amazing difference to latency. There is a program called grub-customizer which makes this easy.

    I used Linux Mint for a long time and like it a lot. Unfortunately it runs the 5.4 kernel vs say Debian Bullseye's 5.10 kernel. It also is several versions behind with Python 3 that are below the minimum for lcnc..
    You will not get Linuxcnc master branch (V2.9) running on any version of mint. However Path Pilot uses earlier versions of linuxcnc so you should be OK.

    Yeh, pretty much any distro of Linux if installed after Windows will allow dual boot. I have done this with mint.

    Personally, if you don't have a Tormach mill, I would just use Linuxcnc because you will have far fewer restrictions..

    Somewhere in the back of my mind there are gotchas with the 540, maybe its the charge pump, but I can't remember the detail. I've never used one

    Sorry for the brain dump.Good Luck!

    Linuxcnc 2.9 is in the Debian unstable branch and all going well in about 5 days from now, will be in the Debian testing branch (V12) to become Bookworm on the next release. If you ever play with debian, be sure to use a nonfree iso.
    Rod Webster
    www.vehiclemods.net.au

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