Mesa cards or parallel port? And where to learn about Mesa

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22 Apr 2024 17:43 #298854 by Alistair
Hello, 

First time poster so please go easy on me.

A friend of mine donated an industrial PC for my CNC lathe conversion. however, there was unfortunately some miscommunication and the multiple parallel ports turned out to be serial ports and no PCIe slot. 

There are a couple of Ethernet ports which I understand I can use for mesa cards. I had planned to use a parallel port for simplicity as mesa cards have been very intimidating (I can machine but electronics scare me) I would appreciate hearing people's thoughts, buy a new PC with a parallel port? or stick with this very nice  machine and go for mesa?

I would also be thankful if anyone could direct me to resources to learn about Mesa cards. I have found so much information but am struggling to find really comprehensive information at a beginner level.

Thank you all for your time any help would be amazing.



 

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22 Apr 2024 18:36 #298856 by zz912
I prefer Mesa cards because of their reliability and lower demands on PC latency. Studying Mesa cards is difficult for a beginner. It's easier to write what you need here on the forum. Then you start studying the instructions of the recommended cards. The hardest thing is to understand the first Mesa, after that it's easy.
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22 Apr 2024 20:08 #298862 by tommylight
Find an old Dell OptiPlex 980, the big one has a built in parallel port, can be found sometimes for as low as 50$. Try for at least 4GB of RAM.
Then whenever you can afford it, get a Mesa 7i96S, wire it to you industrial PC and play with it or run the machine with it.
Wiring and using both is quite easy and you definitely do not need to know everything about Mesa, a LAN cable and wiring the drives, that is all on the hardware side, setting up the network is easy enough and making a quick config using the PncConf wizard should be breeze, granted you have the microstep/motor/shaft/pulley/screw... info already. Limits and homing, after you get the machine moving.
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22 Apr 2024 20:54 #298866 by rodw
Go with mesa 7i96s
Nothing to learn initially.
Just build a config with pncconf
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22 Apr 2024 21:26 #298870 by Alistair
Thanks, that's very kind for you guys to suggest a card, I'm sure it's being asked before. @rodw suggested the 7i96s, would you concur? I've seen it mentioned a lot I've just no idea how it differs to other mesa cards in terms of it's capability.

For now I'm controlling 2 closed loop axis and the VFD however in the future will add a spindle encoder, tool changer and potentially coolant. Can that be done on the 7i96s or is another card, or expansion card required?

Thankyou

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22 Apr 2024 21:36 #298872 by Alistair
Thanks this is really helpful. Especially giving me the name of a PC, trying to search for machines with a parallel port has been pretty tricky.

Is there a learning benefit to starting with the parallel port? I have set aside a nice budget for this conversion so could spring straight for the mesa, I'm getting the impression I shouldn't be scared of it.

Beyond the card, power supply and cabling am I right in thinking there isn't any additional cost to it?

Thank you
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22 Apr 2024 22:27 #298873 by tommylight


Is there a learning benefit to starting with the parallel port?

Cheap, easily found, it works perfectly.

I have set aside a nice budget for this conversion so could spring straight for the mesa, I'm getting the impression I shouldn't be scared of it.

Be scared, buy it, wire it, check and double check the wiring, power it on, move the machine and you forget the scary part.

Beyond the card, power supply and cabling am I right in thinking there isn't any additional cost to it?

If you already have the drives and motors and home/limit switches, yes, coffee, lots of it.
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23 Apr 2024 07:31 #298895 by rodw
I managed to bypass parallel port and go straight to Mesa.
There is a lot more gotchas between you and a working config than the mesa card.
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24 Apr 2024 17:25 #299010 by Alistair
Thanks everyone this has been really helpful, and I feel much more confident knowing there is a nice community willing to help. I'm going for a 7i96s.

I was just wondering if anyone knows a good way to get one of these cards to the UK, the shipping isn't insignificant.

Thanks again

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24 Apr 2024 18:30 #299016 by cornholio
Try a freight forwarder

www.shipito.com/

I’ve used this mob a few times to get stuff Down Under.
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