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  1. #1
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    Tormach Control VS PC?

    I'm sure this has been asked, but the terms are too common to search for it.

    Is there any benefit to the Tormach control vs. a PC running Path Pilot?

    My last PC running XP/Tormach Mach 3 **** the bed. I'd love to just stick with Tormach's Mach3, but it sounds like it is tough to find parts to put together an XP computer these days. I think I am probably going to have to upgrade to Path Pilot now. I am dumb with computers, but have a friend that will put together whatever I need for free/minimal costs. I have typical shop conditions, where it may get well over 90 degrees in the summer and into the 40s during winter, and I lose a PC every couple years. I'd rather be able to use PC than the Tormach control for ease/cost of replacement.

    Next question, can I run the original Tormach Mach 3 off of a new computer/Windows 10? I'd prefer to not have to learn a new control, and stick with Mach 3, but if it's overly complicated, I guess upgrading to PP is what I'll need to do.

  2. #2
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    Re: Tormach Control VS PC?

    Quote Originally Posted by 300sniper View Post
    I'm sure this has been asked, but the terms are too common to search for it.

    Is there any benefit to the Tormach control vs. a PC running Path Pilot?
    Their control is pretty much a PC running Pathpilot in a nice case with jog dials and touchscreens and whatnot, so I'd say a PC will do fine if you don't need those. It doesn't need to be a fancy PC. PP runs on top of Ubuntu Linux.

    It's a pain to switch, but IMO after a few weeks of PP, you won't miss Mach at all.

  3. #3
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    Re: Tormach Control VS PC?

    2 ways to make this work on older series 3 mills

    #1 install a mesa control card in the new pc. Then connect new pc to mill with parallel cable connected to Mesa card parallel port. Search cnczone for Mesa hardware for pp
    #2 add a mesa control card to mill and connect new PC to mill with a cat 5 network cable.

    edit: 3rd option. they also sell the brix fanless pc with a break out cable that connects to older lathe model parallel port this would work on mill also as far as I know.

    The control panel they sell for 2k is for new machines and would require machine mods to get it working on an older s3 mill.

    Option #1 is the tormach upgrade path from years ago. They sold the Mesa card and usb pp Memory stick to upgrade old pc boxes.
    And or they sold a pc box with the Mesa control card and pp installed. Just connect parallel cable to new pc and go. This is how I upgraded.

    Option #2 is little more involved but there are threads on the zone on how to do it. This requires installing Mesa control card in the mill and connecting mill to pc with a cat 5 network cable

    My mill has a tormach built computer with Mesa card and pp installed connected with a parallel cable. Option #1
    My router and lathe both have tormach brix style fan-less computers with pp installed and they both have cat 5 network cable connections to machines and the machines have the interface card built into them. Option #2

    As for pp . All I can say is the difference is night and day. My mill runs smoother and is even more accurate driven by pp. The interface is easy to understand and follow the state of the machines. You can load huge programs, 10k plus lines. Start and stop code predictably. Hundreds of user offsets. Touch screen option......list is long. I dont use it much but the conversational programming is also very handy for many people.
    IMHO you will wonder why you didn't upgrade long ago.

  4. #4
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    Re: Tormach Control VS PC?

    The tormach controller is just a pc with pathpilot pre loaded that still has parallel port. Shred I think you are talking about the operator console, which is only available (to my knowledge) with M or above (no parallel port required). If the machine is running mach3 then that would probably make it a PCNC1100.
    I will say as someone that started on mach3, I like pathpilot way better. I don't believe there is anything special about the PC from tormach other than it has usb3.0 and parallel port. If you can source a box (try newegg refurbished) that has a parallel port or room for a card I think you could go that way. Not sure if pathpilot installs as a linux distro or if you need to do that as well. You would need someone smarter to guide you there.
    -Jon

  5. #5
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    Re: Tormach Control VS PC?

    Quote Originally Posted by 300sniper View Post

    My last PC running XP/Tormach Mach 3 **** the bed. I'd love to just stick with Tormach's Mach3, but it sounds like it is tough to find parts to put together an XP computer these days. .
    If I ever need to replace a XP based machine I always go with a Gigabyte socket 775 motherboard as they're plentiful in uk on ebay.
    Changed the bios setting to IDE for the hard disc, and it seems to install fine on sata without needing F6 floppy drivers.
    (I might have got lucky). I still have XP on physical retail CD.

    Mach3 needs 32 bit O.S. to work via parallel.

  6. #6
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    Re: Tormach Control VS PC?

    Quote Originally Posted by mountaindew View Post
    As for pp . All I can say is the difference is night and day. My mill runs smoother and is even more accurate driven by pp. The interface is easy to understand and follow the state of the machines. You can load huge programs, 10k plus lines. Start and stop code predictably. Hundreds of user offsets. Touch screen option......list is long. I dont use it much but the conversational programming is also very handy for many people.
    IMHO you will wonder why you didn't upgrade long ago.
    I completely agree with mountaindew. I upgraded as soon as PP 1.0.0 was released and I have never regretted the decision.

    I used an off-lease HP machine for several years but most any reasonably modern machine with an 80GB disk and 4GB of RAM (or more) will run PP. You'll need a Mesa 5i25 or 6i25 depending on the available PCI slot and the PP USB drive. Total cost including a used machine should be less than $250.

  7. #7

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    Re: Tormach Control VS PC?

    Wait.....you can use a Windows machine to run Path Pilot?? Why would I have never asked this? I know you probably should choose to run LInux/Unix/ whatever, but I'm just so much at home in Windows. I ever saw this thread....., good luck!

  8. #8
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    Re: Tormach Control VS PC?

    You can certainly install PP on a typical Windows machine. However, Windows will be replaced by Linux.

  9. #9
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    Re: Tormach Control VS PC?

    Hmm, why can’t you run PP in Windows. I run PP in simulation mode all the time in a Windows host running VirtualBox. I never thought if you could actual run a real machine instead. It seems like using a MESA 7i92H and a dedicated LAN port on the Window host you could pull this off. I think I’m gonna give it a try...

  10. #10
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    Re: Tormach Control VS PC?

    I don't know enough about VirtualBox to have an informed opinion. Does VirtualBox allow direct control of your ethernet port? Would there be any latency issues? Your results will be interesting!

  11. #11

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    Re: Tormach Control VS PC?

    So you could partition the HD and COULD flip back n forth between Win and Linux? I have been very happy with the suggestion from Kstrauss gave me about going SSD HD, but I know I’ll need a new controller at some point.

  12. #12
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    Re: Tormach Control VS PC?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tigster View Post
    So you could partition the HD and COULD flip back n forth between Win and Linux? I have been very happy with the suggestion from Kstrauss gave me about going SSD HD, but I know I’ll need a new controller at some point.
    Dual-boot shouldn't be a problem, but I think you'd only want one OS running the machine to keep it from getting out of sync. Running PP in a VM might work if the timing isn't critical (I think the Mesa card helps tremendously with that), but it's hard to guarantee when the host OS can decide to wander off and defrag a disk or faff around with virtual memory or do updates or whatever at an inconvenient time.

  13. #13
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    Re: Tormach Control VS PC?

    I have trouble understanding the logic. A PC is only a few hundred dollars (if you choose a used machine). I often have $100 worth of stock on the mill table. Is it worth risking a timing problem or other glitch that destroys a tool or the workpiece to save a few dollars? Not to even consider the value of your time mucking about to make things sorta work.

  14. #14
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    Re: Tormach Control VS PC?

    Quote Originally Posted by shred View Post
    Dual-boot shouldn't be a problem, but I think you'd only want one OS running the machine to keep it from getting out of sync. Running PP in a VM might work if the timing isn't critical (I think the Mesa card helps tremendously with that), but it's hard to guarantee when the host OS can decide to wander off and defrag a disk or faff around with virtual memory or do updates or whatever at an inconvenient time.

    I dual boot with 2 partitions. Mach3 Winxp, UCCNC Win7. Works out great.
    Set up the home position in exactly the same place on both. Send cnc machine home - Switch OS - load code - hit run.
    Should work a treat with Win & Linux.

  15. #15
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    Re: Tormach Control VS PC?

    Quote Originally Posted by dazp1976 View Post
    I dual boot with 2 partitions. Mach3 Winxp, UCCNC Win7. Works out great.
    Set up the home position in exactly the same place on both. Send cnc machine home - Switch OS - load code - hit run.
    Should work a treat with Win & Linux.
    Until you have an ATC or tool length offsets or cutter compensation or a POST that outputs different G-codes or switch belts and so on where machine states are saved in SW across power cycles.

    I originally thought I'd do that for a transition from Mach to PP, swapping between two controllers as needed, but it turned out to be a huge PITA trying to manage those things versus just sucking it up and doing a light-switch transition. YMMV

  16. #16
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    Re: Tormach Control VS PC?

    Quote Originally Posted by kstrauss View Post
    Does VirtualBox allow direct control of your ethernet port? Would there be any latency issues?
    Yeah it's not a problem to let a virtual machine have control of a LAN port.
    After I had the above brain fart 2 things come to mind.
    1) PP checks to see if it's running in a virtual machine & then automatically goes into simulation mode if it is. This is an easy fix.
    2) PP utilizes Linux RTAI extensions & I'm not sure how this will fly (or not) in a virtual machine environment.

    Anyway, it would be really cool to run PP in Windows under VirtualBox. It's something I want to try if I can find the time.

  17. #17
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    Re: Tormach Control VS PC?

    ...manywaystoattacktheplan. 1st thing have a backup plan B and C and buy two or three of everyting justin case...

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