New member full of questions

25 Apr 2020 13:03 #165539 by kvintus
Hello everybody! I am new here so let me start by introducing myself.

I am new to everything here.
I have no experience with linuxCNC.
I have (almost) no experience with Linux.
I have very limited experience with CNC machines.
I have very limited experience with servos.
I have limited experience with steppermotors.
I have some basic knowledge of mechanical design and machining.
I have experience with electronics.

Now that you know my level of newbieness, this is what I want to do:

I am designing a CNC machine with moving gantry and a working area of about 700x500mm
I think that I will be using JMC or Clearpath integrated servos (step/dir) for all axis but I haven't bought anything yet.
The Y-axis (moving the gantry) will have two ballscrews, one on each side, driven by separate motors.
The gantry will have two separate heads moving along the X-axis, each with its own ballscrew and each head with its own Z-axis.

So I will have two servos for each axis for a total of 6 motors. The two motors moving the Y-axis will have to be in sync with each other and the rest should be independent from each other. I would also like to have the electronics prepared for adding a rotary axis in the future. So my electronics should be able to control 7 motors. And spindle speed. And a lot of I/O for coolant, sensors and stuff.

Now that you know my basic ideas, this is why I registered here:

I want you to tell me if LinuxCNC is a good choice for a complete newbie. I've understood that LinuxCNC is considered more competent than many other alternatives for the DIY crowd, but I have also heard that it has a very steep learning curve. Considering that I have no experience with either Linux nor LinuxCNC I understand that the learning curve will be extra steep. Is it doable and is it sensible?

I want you to help me choose the electronics hardware I need. As I said, I am leaning towards the integrated servo motors since they are cheep and seem easy to work with. I am also leaning towards Mesa control electronics and breakout boards. Here I would appreciate some concrete help with what products to purchase - pick this and this and this.I don't find Mesas webpage particularly helpful for beginners. I am thinking of a solution that communicates with the computer over ethernet. But I haven't picked out a computer yet so if there are reason to pick a PCI or PCIe then let me know.

Sorry for a long first post with relatively little detail. It's hard to ask questions when you don't know what to ask...

Thank you for your time,


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25 Apr 2020 14:03 #165542 by tommylight
You will get all the help that is needed here, there is just one rule to get there: follow the instructions !
Whenever you have doubts, ask again and again before messing up something, although chances of that are pretty low. And knowing electronics helps, a lot.
As for servos, i have no idea what is better, but i know till lately ClearPath was selling closed loop stepper motors as servo, and that was not nice of them. Have not checked lately. But i do know Yaskawa makes some nice stuff as i have used that several times, mostly old ones.
I also use Mesa for everything, but rarely for steppers, for that i use 7i76E, 5 axis plus full spindle control, ethernet. There are cards that can be added for more functionality, but that would be much better if PCW picks that for you.
Linuxcnc is very simple or very complicated, deppendig on what the end result should be, but it is flexible and can be modified to suit almost anything. For what you need, you might need to do some editing of the hal and ini files, and that should be it.

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25 Apr 2020 14:15 #165543 by OT-CNC
Replied by OT-CNC on topic New member full of questions
I would just dive in and learn along the way. Once you understand the basics with configuring linuxcnc you then have a very capable system that you can build on. I have 3 other controls on other machines including mach3 that I'm still using but my preference is linuxcnc all the way. I use the Mesa hardware on 2 machines in the shop and they work great.
People here will help if you're stuck.

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