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Do modern CNC systems need a parallel port in your computer to interface with the driver boards? I'm still considering whether to buy that archaic $700 system I posted about a couple days ago. It does have the steppers and driver boards, and a 13-year-old copy of Mach 3 which may or may not be worth the disc it's burned on.

On a side note... I have been reading the posts here for about 10 hours so far. Amazing the wealth of knowledge being shared here.
 

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David - Machinist in wood
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Some use a parallel cable, some use USB, some use Ethernet, Art. Even today that's the case. That's not necessarily a bad deal as long as it all works. There are obviously drawbacks to older technology which is why improvements keep coming along.

David
 

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Do modern CNC systems need a parallel port
No, they don't. Only two controls these days use the parallel port. Mach3, and LinuxCNC. You don't need to use the parallel port with either one, but you'll need additional hardware, which adds additional cost.

While that machine may come with a Mach3 license, technically, Mach3 licenses are not transferable. But it will still work just fine. And a Mach3 license will work with any version, even the latest (which is still 5 years old).

The best low cost option to use Mach3 without a parallel port would be the UC100 controller from CNC Drive. It's just over $100, and provides a parallel interface for your existing breakout board and drives, and connects to the PC via USB.
CNCdrive - motion controls
 

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Interesting, and I thought astronomy equipment (mount, CCD Cameras, etc...) were the only outdated tech out there. Although port cards are still available it can be a tricky path to get one that meets your needs. This holds true for USB to Serial (RS232) convertors. There are a ton of knockoffs on the market that are just plain junk and should never be used. Chip set is key in most, that and buying a reliable brand. It's almost painful remembering those old parallel port CCD cameras. A bias frame (shortest possible exposure) would take minutes to download........
 
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