Emcoturn 120 lathe retrofit
1. COMPUTER. Dell FX170 Thin Client 1.6Ghz 2GB, 1GB Window Embedded Standard Desktop Computer. For Linux I think this same computer was available with a linux OS, but I think if possible I would like to keep the windows embedded intact, maybe boot linux from USB?
2. GENERAL INPUT/OUTPUT. I was planning to use a smoothstepper with a CNC4PC C32 - DUAL PORT MULTIFUNCTION CNC BOARD This has relays, e-stop control and a charge pump along with a very nice rj45 setup for wiring inputs. Also supports spindle speed control through a VFD.
3. TOOLCHANGER CONTROL. Plan to use the Toolerator 3000 PCBA copied from user tome on this forum.
4. SPINDLE. I have replaced the DC spindle motor with a 5hp 3phase ac motor, I will used a VFD to drive this. I plan to use a CNC4PC C3 PULSE INDEX CARD for the spindle speed sensor. I would like to add a brake for the spindle eventually. (assume through VFD).
5. AXIS. I plan to use the stock Berger-Lahr 5phase steppers with Vexta UDX5128NA drivers.
You could get your machine working with just the parallel port with both Mach3 and LinuxCNC, then decide which you prefer and which step generation hardware you want to use. The lathe will probably work pretty well with software step generation with both systems).
the smooth stepper I use is the Ethernet version, would that make any difference for linux? I think the issue that moved me to the smooth stepper in the first place was the windows delegation of processor resources and to get two parallel ports on a laptop. My understanding is windows would interrupt step generation if a windows process decided it was more important and required the processor resource for a short time. If I get rid of the smooth stepper though, my thin client computer does not have 2 parallel ports nor can they be added, so I would need to bridge the gap from the thin client to the i/o pcb for a linux install. Would I need to go to a PC and add parallel port cards or something like that?
The cheapest ethernet option from Mesa is the 7i92 for $89, it gives 2 parallel port connectors, that can be set up like parallel ports, or configured to work with Mesa's DB25 daughter cards.
Some one with the knowledge to, should dig into the guts of the ESS and it's firmware to see if it can or can't be made to work with Linuxcnc.
Not really, there is no smooth-stepper driver for LinuxCNC. It is not impossible that one could be written, but the way the smoothstepper works is basically to move all the motion control into the smoothstepper.
The LinuxCNC equivalents (Pico PPMC, Mesa 5i25 + 7i76. General Mechatronics) only move step-generation into the hardware, and the hardware still depends on regular position updates every 1mS.
If I get rid of the smooth stepper though, my thin client computer does not have 2 parallel ports nor can they be added, so I would need to bridge the gap from the thin client to the i/o pcb for a linux install. Would I need to go to a PC and add parallel port cards or something like that?
You can probably run a lathe in basic mode from a single parallel port. You only really need 4 outputs for 2 axes of step/dir and 5 inputs for axis limits and spindle encoder.
But if you already have your heart set on, or already have that other stuff a configuration could probably be put together that could directly replace a smoothstepper using a 7i92.
One benifit of using Linuxcnc over Mach might be that Linuxcnc can generate other step output paterns than just step/dir. CW/CCW and quadrature as well as a few more obscure options are available. (I think those vexta drives may use CW/CCW.)