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Hi folks. I know this question popped up a few years ago about DrufelCNC software, but it appears to have evolved and improved. The software seems to support more of the Asian branded CNC controllers and I suspect the company is Asian based too. From the small number of reviews, this software does not have some of the advanced features that are found on Mach3 and is geared towards novices like myself. My UC300 motion controller has drivers for Mach3 software, but I do not know how stable these drivers are. I do know this model is well supported by DrufelCNC and is sold together as a package. Does anyone have any experience with this software?


Regards,

Rick H
 

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Ross
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Welcome to the forum Rick. I’m sure someone from our CNC community will be along to give you some advise.
 
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Welcome to the forum, Rick.
 
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When I was deciding on CNC controllers, the research I did found the controllers that worked best were either the parallel ports or motion control boards that use ethernet. As getting PCs with true parallel ports is getting very difficult and not supported at all on Windows 10/11, I made the decision to go with an ethernet controller. The next piece I researched, and spent a lot of time going back and forth on was the controller software. I am not familiar with DrufelCNC, but I looked at Mach 3, Mach 4, and LinuxCNC. The more I read up on Mach 3 and 4, the less I liked it. It seems most CNC operators still prefer Mach 3 as it has broader support of add-on devices, and most are using an old version of Windows. However Mach 3 is not really supported anymore. I work in IT and running unsupported OSes and software just really bugs me (lol) so I eliminated Mach 3. Mach 4 is still supported and being developed. However it is missing support for a lot of add-on devices and I have seen many complain it is still not up to the same standard as Mach 3.

So I took a deeper dive in to LinuxCNC. First, it is still being actively developed, and has broad support of both parallel port controllers and the MESA line of ethernet controllers. It is very feature rich and is on par with Mach 3. Also, it is very easy to setup your configure it for your controller and CNC. You do not necessarily need to be Linux guru to get it installed as they have prebuilt Linux images with LinuxCNC already installed with necessary realtime Linux Kernel. There is even now a Raspberry PI version. The more that I read, the more that I started prefering LinuxCNC over other options. The icing on the cake is that it is free. So I made the decision to go with LinuxCNC and the Mesa controller line (I ended up going with a 7i96). I did install it on a Raspberry PI, but I likely will eventually move to a standard desktop. I do have some Linux knowledge so I was able to configure it so I can easily copy my G Code files to it over the network, but I otherwise kept the installation very basic.

Note, I never really considered GRBL for my controller. I know this is common on a lot the current CNC offerings, but I used much bigger stepper motors than those machines and I never really found a good way to use the bigger drivers necessary for them. Also they are very basic and would not support all the features that I was looking for.
 

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Note, I never really considered GRBL for my controller. I know this is common on a lot the current CNC offerings, but I used much bigger stepper motors than those machines and I never really found a good way to use the bigger drivers necessary for them. Also they are very basic and would not support all the features that I was looking for.
For what it's worth, the size (voltage, current, what ever) of driver is irrelevant to Grbl since a controller simply provides step signals and the driver provides the stepper power.

Also, there are 32 bit Grbls that bring Grbl up to a par with the higher end controllers. I have an Avid Pro4848 with NEMA 34s running at 60VDC - it is powered by grblHAL and I can get 1000 IPM rapids and 500 IPM cuts (if the bit is willing). It uses Ethernet for the connection. Not very expensive, total cost is about $75 USD.
 

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For what it's worth, the size (voltage, current, what ever) of driver is irrelevant to Grbl since a controller simply provides step signals and the driver provides the stepper power.

Also, there are 32 bit Grbls that bring Grbl up to a par with the higher end controllers. I have an Avid Pro4848 with NEMA 34s running at 60VDC - it is powered by grblHAL and I can get 1000 IPM rapids and 500 IPM cuts (if the bit is willing). It uses Ethernet for the connection. Not very expensive, total cost is about $75 USD.
I will take another look for future builds. Whenever I tried to research using larger drivers on GRBL, my searches always came up to drivers that appeared proprietary to the GRBL controller and very small. Perhaps I should have specified the 32 bit GRBL controllers in my searches.
 

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I will take another look for future builds. Whenever I tried to research using larger drivers on GRBL, my searches always came up to drivers that appeared proprietary to the GRBL controller and very small. Perhaps I should have specified the 32 bit GRBL controllers in my searches.
There are no proprietary Grbl drivers. Grbl breakout boards (and the arduino, itself) outputs step, dir and enable which is all you need to use any stepper driver. You might be thinking of the little step sticks but they are standard as well - probably 100 companies selling them. I wouldn't recommend them for any kind of CNC router. Way under powered.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
When I was deciding on CNC controllers, the research I did found the controllers that worked best were either the parallel ports or motion control boards that use ethernet. As getting PCs with true parallel ports is getting very difficult and not supported at all on Windows 10/11, I made the decision to go with an ethernet controller. The next piece I researched, and spent a lot of time going back and forth on was the controller software. I am not familiar with DrufelCNC, but I looked at Mach 3, Mach 4, and LinuxCNC. The more I read up on Mach 3 and 4, the less I liked it. It seems most CNC operators still prefer Mach 3 as it has broader support of add-on devices, and most are using an old version of Windows. However Mach 3 is not really supported anymore. I work in IT and running unsupported OSes and software just really bugs me (lol) so I eliminated Mach 3. Mach 4 is still supported and being developed. However it is missing support for a lot of add-on devices and I have seen many complain it is still not up to the same standard as Mach 3.

-Snip-
Mike,
I am curious as to why Ethernet would have an advantage over USB for motion control. As for using a printer port, yes, this is archaic legacy technology and I am surprised it is still widely used. However, more important is why these CNC controllers have not evolved? I come from a 3D printer background (designing/building them) and the USB port is used almost exclusively for transferring G-code to and from the controller. Simply speaking, the 3D printer controller is the actual brain that does all the kinetic calculations for motion. Furthermore, the simplistic method of providing only step and direction is primitive compared to using a SPI bus or UART based TMC stepper drivers that have a plethora of options including smooth stepping and sensorless homing, just to name a few.

The reason I bring this up is because Marlin and Smoothieware, both organizations that create open-source software for 3D printers, have recently released software for CNC machining. The only thing missing is the stepper motor drivers, as the TMC family of drivers can only handle 4 Amps and those drivers are still expensive and rare. Anyway, do they have a CNC routing software package that communicates only in G-code?


Rick
 

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Anyway, do they have a CNC routing software package that communicates only in G-code?
G-code is what I send to Mach4. I generate the G-code in either Fusion 360 or Carveco.
 

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Mike,
I am curious as to why Ethernet would have an advantage over USB for motion control. As for using a printer port, yes, this is archaic legacy technology and I am surprised it is still widely used. However, more important is why these CNC controllers have not evolved? I come from a 3D printer background (designing/building them) and the USB port is used almost exclusively for transferring G-code to and from the controller. Simply speaking, the 3D printer controller is the actual brain that does all the kinetic calculations for motion. Furthermore, the simplistic method of providing only step and direction is primitive compared to using a SPI bus or UART based TMC stepper drivers that have a plethora of options including smooth stepping and sensorless homing, just to name a few.

The reason I bring this up is because Marlin and Smoothieware, both organizations that create open-source software for 3D printers, have recently released software for CNC machining. The only thing missing is the stepper motor drivers, as the TMC family of drivers can only handle 4 Amps and those drivers are still expensive and rare. Anyway, do they have a CNC routing software package that communicates only in G-code?


Rick
Smoothstepper used to have some information on their website, but they did at one time recommend the Ethernet version over the USB. It looks like they recently revamped their website so I cannot find that information now. I believe a lot of it has to do with the way the ethernet is grounded which keeps the computer and controller better separated. Also the twisted pair of an ethernet cable is better at blocking interference then many of your USB cables. Think about this, a CAT 6 ethernet cable is able to communicate a lot of data reliably up to 100 meters in length vs. the 30 meter limit on USB cables. Even at the much shorter lengths we use for our CNCs this is a benefit. Typically a CNC is in a woodshop with dust collection and sometimes other tools running. Each one of these machines generate an EM field that can cause interference. This makes ethernet the more reliable option for a CNC.
 

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snip - Also the twisted pair of an ethernet cable is better at blocking interference then many of your USB cables. Think about this, a CAT 6 ethernet cable is able to communicate a lot of data reliably up to 100 meters in length vs. the 30 meter limit on USB cables. Even at the much shorter lengths we use for our CNCs this is a benefit. Typically a CNC is in a woodshop with dust collection and sometimes other tools running. Each one of these machines generate an EM field that can cause interference. This makes ethernet the more reliable option for a CNC.
Thanks for that. Yes, I do agree with you that Ethernet is much more reliable, can travel longer distances, and has better common mode noise immunity since it uses isolation transformers. However, I have four extra USB ports and only one NIC. BTW- 6 meters is the best I've seen for USB.

Regards,

Rick
 
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