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David
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I am a geek by trade and profession, or was for 25+ years. Now I'm just a regular geek, no longer my profession. I'm a woodworker with a full shop of tools - much better! :wink:

But I have rarely been one to jump on and must have the latest, greatest software/hardware/toys, etc. It's fairly normal for me to keep software up to date, at least as it relates to operating systems, but not necessarily apps and production software. I'm still using MS Office 2007! Hey, it works... if it ain't broke don't fix it, right?

So after I cut a couple of Longworth chucks this morning it seemed like a good time to see what versions I was running of Mach4 and ESS (Ethernet SmoothStepper). Turned out it's been a while since I moved to newer builds of these two critical pieces for running the CNC.

The Mach4 build was 3804 and I installed it a year ago. It's not even listed on the FTP site now! There have been dozens of builds released since then. Same with the ESS; I installed version 193 in May 2017. That was before I even finished building the CNC - old stuff! LOL!

So I checked the Warp9 website and the newest ESS build version is 253 and they recommend using it with Mach4 build version 4322. There are newer releases but this is the latest Mach4 version that ESS has been paired with for compatibility.

The updates went smoothly except for one minor detail - Go To Zero no longer worked in Mach4. I could force it to work by manipulating some mapping and motor assignments but I really didn't want to do that. So I dug into the Lua programming and modified the code attached to that button and now everything works as it should.

Anyway, it was an interesting exercise and now I have the latest and greatest build versions, or close enough for now.

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I always do that sort of thing with trepidation. Some companies are not always quite so careful and introduce incompatibilities. Glad it worked out with only a minor issue though that really shouldn't have happened.

Out of curiosity, what changed in Mach4?
 

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David
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Not much, Phil. One thing I noticed right away is that now when I jog the X or Y axes they have a soft start and stop. The old build was an immediate 'bolt out of the gate' even though I have acceleration set to 40 (I think). No matter what I changed that setting to it still took off instantly and stopped like you were stomping on the brakes. Now jogging is much smoother. There are more tabs in the settings, more on screen explanations for various functions in settings, etc.

Another difference that I like is homing the axes. With the old build, once the sensors were satisfied and the axes backed off slightly, I had to hit 'Disable' and then 'Enable' to allow jogging again. Now when I home the machine and the sensors are satisfied there's a message in the History that this has been accomplished and I can jog without having to hit 'Disable'. It's a small detail but I like this much better than the way it was.

Otherwise, this build of Mach4 looks and feels the same as the older version. I'm sure many things changed under the hood, though. Same with the ESS new build version, more tabs, more notations in settings, etc. The main criteria for me has been met, though, and that's they play well together - ESS, Mach4, and CNC.

David
 

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I still have Mach 3 --- works for everything I do. I hate change!!
 

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David
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Well understood, John! I have been thinking about the updates for a while and I really had to talk myself into doing them. Now, though, I'm glad I did because I gained a couple of nice changes. Plus, I had the opportunity to edit some Lua scripting code and that was fun. :grin:

David
 

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I've been banned from editing or changing anything without permission or supervision. Back in the day I deleted DOS on a machine. Don't have a clue how.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Funny! Ok, then don't touch the scripting!

Back in the day, probably 30 years ago and in the era likely before even 9,600 bits/sec modems, a friend and I had figured out how to connect our computers over phone lines such that we could take turns controlling each other's computers. While I was watching my screen as he typed DOS commands to run different batch files, access folders, etc. I saw the command 'Format C:\' pop up. I sat there sort of in a stupor for a couple of seconds as I processed what he had typed. I quickly tried to disconnect the phone line but my modem was out of the way and hard to get to, especially in a light panic mode. As I got up from my chair I saw the letters being erased one by one as he backspaced to remove them. He then typed 'Just kidding!' The whole thing was pretty funny in retrospect and we laughed about it but there was a definite 'oh crud!' moment when it wasn't so funny. :grin:

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Mike
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It's good to update sometimes and really nice when the update maks things work better and adds new items you can use. It's bad when you update and nothing works right so it's always a good idea to have a backup before updating.
 
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David
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
It's good to update sometimes and really nice when the update maks things work better and adds new items you can use. It's bad when you update and nothing works right so it's always a good idea to have a backup before updating.
Agree, Mike. I backed up everything prior to starting. At one point when I couldn't get the Go To Zero button working I seriously considered going back to the old version.

Edit autoexec.bat
Edit config.sys
😉
I've probably typed those a thousand times!! LOL!

David
 
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