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IndustryArena Forum > WoodWorking Machines > Commercial CNC Wood Routers > Chinese Machines > Recommendations for replacement controller for 3040 router
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  1. #1
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    Recommendations for replacement controller for 3040 router

    All, having seen some glitches during machining of components that appear to be some kind of controller problem (gcode was independently checked) I think that I really need to replace the chinese knock off controller supplied with a better quality one.

    The one I have is the type in the picture. The spindle axis control is separate.

    I believe that the board in it is a copy of the Planet-CNC board, and I purchased a license from them in order to get it running. If I read it correctly, if I purchase one of the Planet-CNC USB controller Mk3/4 I should be able to use it but before I go down that route I would like a bit of feedback on a couple of points.

    Firstly, how much of a 'drop in' mod is it? Can I simply replace the existing board and connect the relevant connectors, or is there any other collateral work or parts required? I see that I have to purchase a license separately, is that right? It doesn't come with a license?

    Secondly I would like feedback from anyone who used it as to whether they have any issues with it, as if it does not cure the problem I am trying to resolve I don't want to bother with it.

    Any help given is gratefully received

    Les

  2. #2
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    Re: Recommendations for replacement controller for 3040 router

    Hi All, I am back asking the same questions as before as no-one seemed to have any answers at the time.

    As mentioned I'm looking preferably for a single box pre-done solution, where all I have to do is make adapter cables for the router. I want a USB connection type, as serial and parallel port solutions would be stupid considering none of the 10 PC's in the house have one, and I am fairly neutral about which software it would work with

    Any ideas?

    Cheers

    Les

  3. #3

    Re: Recommendations for replacement controller for 3040 router

    Do you want to use handhold control system on cnc ? Check dsp as bellows:
    USA Client Teach You Use DSP Handhold Cnc Control System
    https://youtu.be/D7x6Bh86JKE

  4. #4
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    Re: Recommendations for replacement controller for 3040 router

    Thanks for this. Hand held is not that much of a priority for me - I have an old laptop that serves great duty as the interface screen and for my relatively limited purposes is working fine.

    I predominantly do 2d stuff, and the occasional 3d work, and all I want is for what I have programmed in CAMBAM to be reflected by the CNC machine. This machine obviously has a knock off controller, and it has a nasty habit of either dropping steps (for instance in a series of drilling operations either missing out holes, or not lifting the cutter before translating to the next hole, breaking the cutter) or inserting weird extra steps like making a diagonal cut across the face of a component mid print where no cut exists both in the model or the code. I used a GCode simulator (camotics) to model the gcode operation and in all cases CAMBAM has correctly programmed to operation. It must therefore be the knock off controller that is introducing the errors.

    I have a proper PlanetCNC license, which was required as the machine would not go beyond a certain number of steps without it, however when I look at the inside of the controller box, it does not resemble the PlanetCNC controller, and I'm not sure if I would be able to install it in there. I don't know if the real Planet CNC controller would fix my problem, or if it is even compatible. I am willing to buy one with the new license it requires, but need to know first if it is compatible; 250 odd Euros just to have a non-functioning controller doesn't appeal! It's not that I'm averse to spending 250 euros, it's just stupid if it doesn't fix my issue.

    Cheers

    Les

  5. #5
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    Re: Recommendations for replacement controller for 3040 router

    Have you looked at the Geckodrive G-540? It has a breakout board and 4 drivers, and it's well-regarded here in the States.
    Andrew Werby
    Website

  6. #6
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    Re: Recommendations for replacement controller for 3040 router

    Thanks, that looks like a neat, well packaged solution; I'd still have to work out how to integrate it into my control box, presumaby it replaces the the main controller and the three stepper drivers. But the big problem is the parallel port - why has the CNC faction got this fixation for parallel ports? I have 12PC's and laptops in my house, most of the laptops being older ones that shipped with Win XP - not a single one has a parallel port!

    The PlanetCNC board has USB which was one of the benefits, though you do require sparate stepper drivers. Maybe I'll end up making a complete new controller using the PlanetCNC board, some stepper drivers and a power supply. I presume that's most of what is required?

    Cheers

    Les

  7. #7
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    Re: Recommendations for replacement controller for 3040 router

    Hi,
    USB has greater latency and is much more noise (electrical) prone than Ethernet. Excepting Chinese designs which tend just to regurgitate an existing design almost all
    US and European manufacturers have gone to Ethernet.

    I use an Ethernet SmoothStepper and Mach4. The Ethernet SmoothStepper can be used with Mach3 or Mach4 but to my knowledge not PlanetCNC software,
    in fact most of the US and European manufacturers use software OTHER than Planet CNC. Mach3/4, LinuxCNC and UCCNC are probably the most common examples.
    US and European motion control products tend to work as advertised, and are more expensive, whereas Chinese..........

    Craig

  8. #8
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    Re: Recommendations for replacement controller for 3040 router

    For 3-4 axis machines I'd go with a UC400ETH as a controller. For 5+ axis the UC300ETH.
    This gives you options of Mach3, Mach4 or UCCNC.
    Then for hobby use connect 2 of those £5 Chinese 5 axis breakout boards to it (they do generally work well). For 'better' use go with a UCSB and a decent version of a 5axis board with spindle output.

    I've looked at Geckos before but decided against it simply because if one axis fails it's expensively stuffed. At least with seperate drivers you can replace individual units at less cost if 1 fails. But that's just me. I ended up bumping my Nema24's to 60V in the end anyway so I'm glad I went the way I did.

  9. #9
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    Re: Recommendations for replacement controller for 3040 router

    Hi,

    But the big problem is the parallel port - why has the CNC faction got this fixation for parallel ports?
    I don't think its a fixation but an overhang from history.

    In the very earliest days of CNC motion controllers were all professional units and eye-wateringly expensive. Then Art Fennerty, the
    the 'father' of Mach3 made a motion controller using a PCs CPU and communicate to hardware over a parallel port. This put CNC in the
    reach of hobbyists, and explains the meteoric rise of Mach3 and others....it was affordable CNC.

    Despite being cheap the parallel port does have its issues on Windows PCs. Because Windows is NOT a realtime operating system the motion
    commands must be buffered, ergo the delay between the PC planning the trajectory and the parallel port motion controller executing it.
    Additionally any other software/thread/process running on the PC threatens to starve the CNC motion controller function of CPU service
    and the CNC machine 'loses the plot'.

    Then came the advent of external motion controllers, variously communicating with the CNC software on the PC via USB or Ethernet. The external
    motion controller relieved the PC of the necessity of generating tightly controlled pulse streams for which PCs are not well suited. The result is that
    your CNC machine would now run on a PC WITHOUT a parallel port but even more importantly VERY much less subject to the vagaries of
    a motion control algorithm running on the CPU.

    CNC software development has leaned of this new and affordable capability. For example Mach4 can and does run on a parallel port (called Darwin),
    but it was always intended and designed to be run with compatible external motion controller like an ESS. UCCNC is another very popular and good CNC
    software and it REQUIRES an external motion controller made by the same manufacturer CNCDrive.

    You might ask 'if external controllers exist and CNC software is designed to exploit them....why is there ANY parallel port stuff out there?'

    One part of the explanation is cost, the parallel port for all its disadvantages is still the cheapest way into hobby CNC, and is in fact the only
    opportunity to 'get in on the act' for many.

    Another explanation is LinuxCNC. LinuxCNC was invented at about the same time as Mach3 and also used the parallel port. One distinct difference between
    the two is that LinuxCNC runs on a realtime Linux distro and confers many advantages, for example no lag between the planned trajectory and its execution.
    The parallel port was/is somewhat restrictive and so MESA boards are used instead. They are, if you like, 'a parallel port on stereoids', they have a great deal
    more IO, much faster and all-around better. There is quite a range of models to chose from, some costing upwards of several hundred dollars, but are still
    affordable in the scheme of things.

    I don't know enough about LinuxCNC to be sure, but many thousands of users report superb performance and flexibilty.

    I believe for instance Hass controllers are in fact their own customized LinuxCNC controller at heart, as is PathPilot used by Tormach.

    So just before you rock up about 'why use an antiquated parallel port' that there are some truly excellent controllers that still use it, or its close cousin.

    By the way LinuxCNC is free and open source.....you can't get cheaper than free.

    Craig

  10. #10
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    Re: Recommendations for replacement controller for 3040 router

    Quote Originally Posted by joeavaerage View Post
    Hi,

    Despite being cheap the parallel port does have its issues on Windows PCs. Because Windows is NOT a realtime operating system the motion
    commands must be buffered, ergo the delay between the PC planning the trajectory and the parallel port motion controller executing it.
    Additionally any other software/thread/process running on the PC threatens to starve the CNC motion controller function of CPU service
    and the CNC machine 'loses the plot'.

    Craig
    This is why I think winxp is the best for mach3. It's tiny with no bloated crap to get in the way.
    Cough win10 cough.

    Even wifi makes no issues on xp.
    I've only ever had a glitch while transfering a file over to the garage. I sent it to the folder that was in use by the machine.
    Caused a pause on direction changes.

  11. #11
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    Re: Recommendations for replacement controller for 3040 router

    I've looked at Geckos before but decided against it simply because if one axis fails it's expensively stuffed.
    There are individual drives in a G540 that can be replaced.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Buildbotics might be an option.

    https://buildbotics.com/
    Gerry

    UCCNC 2017 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2017.html

    Mach3 2010 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2010.html

    JointCAM - CNC Dovetails & Box Joints
    http://www.g-forcecnc.com/jointcam.html

    (Note: The opinions expressed in this post are my own and are not necessarily those of CNCzone and its management)

  12. #12
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    Re: Recommendations for replacement controller for 3040 router

    Hi,
    the whole point about using a Gecko G540 is that they are reliable. Its not that you can't blow them up but you really really have
    to try to do so. Gecko offer a repair service should it ever be required. That's what service used to mean....and Gecko retains the tradition,
    and good on them.

    If I had one gripe about the G540 is that its limited to 50V, whereas the majority of the individual drives are 80V. 50V is not bad, but 80V is better.

    Craig

  13. #13
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    Re: Recommendations for replacement controller for 3040 router

    JoeAverage, I do realise that at some point in the past that the parallel port option was very viable and a good solution. But now? Considering that you can get some machines that run off a USB stick without even having to be connected to a PC (my two 3D rinters for example) and that both those and my small 3018 router can be connected to a PC and run from that it is obvious that since the parallel port has been dicontinued, and was last seen at least ten years ago on PC's, the CNC companies would have been sensible to update too.

    If Lagy GaGa only released her music on cassette tape, despite the fact that some people still have them, people would have to either go for a hooky ripped version, or have to pay for an extra bit of hardware that has no other use.Just because something works well does not mean that it should be continued for ever. Petrol cars? CD's? CRT screens? 4:3 resolution video? All old technologiies that are either replaced or being replaced. The manufacturres (and users) are all moving to the new technologies, and I think the CNC companies are relying too much on the 'niche' status in the market.

    Just my ten pence worth!

    Les

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    Re: Recommendations for replacement controller for 3040 router

    Hi,

    I do realise that at some point in the past that the parallel port option was very viable and a good solution. But now?
    That is just what I'm saying is that there are two controllers in then form of Hass and PathPilot which ARE parallel port type controllers and every bit
    as good as any alternative. Likewise there are countless thousands of LinuxCNC machines out there which use the parallel port or the MESA equivalent
    and are easily a match for any alternatives.

    May I suggest do a little research into LinuxCNC, you will be impressed with its performance, especially with one of the MESA boards. Or not...your choice.

    Craig

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    Re: Recommendations for replacement controller for 3040 router

    Another vote here for LinuxCNC.Absolutely solid system but I am a bit concerned about the need to speak and understand gobbledegook when you get a little deeper into it,as I fear I must.

  16. #16
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    Re: Recommendations for replacement controller for 3040 router

    All, many thanks for the replies. I'm not very software savvy, so the concept of Linux is a bit daunting, meaning that I think I will go for a real PlanetCNC USB controller board - this one here (the 3/4 axis one)

    https://planet-cnc.com/hardware/#products-hardware

    To accompany it I am thinking to get 3 of these stepper modules

    https://www.amazon.de/-/en/gp/produc...UH7Y5NVN&psc=1

    I already have a spindle controller so that is OK (its a BLH-80276 PWM DC Motor Speed Control 6V~60V 20A), but my question to you guys now is over the power supply or supplies. I have the 3040 router with the NEMA23 steppers, and I see that the PlanetCNC requires a 24v input, however I cannot find what wattage that I would require for the router for the three axes. This one here is a 600W powersupply with three sets of power terminals, so would be good for the three axes in terms of connectivity, but is 600W enough? I would primarily with MDF and plywood, but do was to work with light alloy occasionally

    https://www.amazon.de/-/en/Transform...9689133&sr=8-7

    However I believe that a 36v supply is better for the spindle, which of course the above does not supply, and I cannot find a dual voltage supply. Would it be better to have a separate pwersupply for the spindle supplying the 36v or am I overreaching on the requirements? If anyone has experience of this and can advise whether what I have selected above is OK it would help immensely.

    For info, the knock off board in my current controller is an all in one board that includes the stepper drivers onboard and hardwired to the controller board. I suspect that is probably not a good design and is causing the strange behaviour.

    Thanks again for all the help and attention

    Cheers

    Les

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    Re: Recommendations for replacement controller for 3040 router

    Quote Originally Posted by lesthegringo View Post
    All, many thanks for the replies. I'm not very software savvy, so the concept of Linux is a bit daunting, meaning that I think I will go for a real PlanetCNC USB controller board - this one here (the 3/4 axis one)

    Les
    You use seperate 24v/5v power supplies for the control boards for isolation.
    Now for your axis.

    36v on steppers is still dissapointing. If using nema 23/24's. I would get an adjustable 48v and drop it to around 45v.

    Your rapids will be much better.

    600w should be fine for 4 steppers of that size.

  18. #18
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    Re: Recommendations for replacement controller for 3040 router

    There are several types of control systems, you suggest that you can learn about each function and find the most suitable control system for your machine. Such as Syntec, SIEMENS, NC Studio, DSP Handheld Controller, OSAI, Fanuc, Mach3… https://forsuncnc.com/controller/

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