Author Topic: CNC controller  (Read 8381 times)

Offline ddmckee54

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CNC controller
« on: September 12, 2019, 11:28:04 AM »
What are you guys using for a controller on your CNC's?

The last CNC machine I built ran off TurboCNC so I'm looking to step up to something that's using technology that's at least in this century.

I'm in the process of designing/building a CNC router and I'm not sure which way to go.  I'm currently designing around a 48"x24"x6" working volume and planning on using NEMA 23 steppers for the X, Y and Z axis.  I'm not planning on, and don't need to run this at blinding speeds, I figure that rapid travels in the 125"-150" per minute range are more than enough.  I'll be cutting mainly wood and plastic with MAYBE some non-ferrous metals thrown in at greatly reduce feed-rates and DOC.  The spindle will either be a Bosch Colt compact router, that I already have, or a Chinese spindle in about the 1KW range.

I have looked at the following:

Mach 3/4
LinuxCNC - I don't have a Linux machine but I'm including it because somebody would say I need to use it.  (WAYYYY back when, I used a version of EMC2 that was ported to WIN 95, so I have used the EMC2 that LinuxCNC is based on.)
Acorn Centroid
Arduino GRBL

I know each one has advantages and disadvantages.  What are you guys' using and why?

Too many irons, not enough fire.

Offline mc

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Re: CNC controller
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2019, 06:36:38 PM »
For a basic router, pick whatever you like the most.
No controller is perfect, but they should all be capable of handling a basic 3 axis router.

It all depends on how much capability you want at the machine, and how much money you want to spend.
Centroid is good, but unless you pay extra for the license, the conversational is limited, and you need a reasonably spec'd computer to run it.
Mach you either need an external motion controller, or run an old PC with Win7 32bit or earlier to be able to use the printer port.
I can't really comment on Flashcut as I've not looked at it for years.
LinuxCNC you are at the mercy of somebody knowledgeable about it, answering any questions you may have about it.
GRBL is limited in what it can do.

If you don't want to have a PC running the machine, then one of the DDSCV standalone controllers is a good option, however it does need all g-code loaded via a USB stick.

Personally, I run Dynomotion KFlops in my machines, but I'll admit that would be overkill for a basic router.

Offline RotarySMP

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Re: CNC controller
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2019, 04:42:24 PM »
I used to use TurboCNC on a minilathe years ago. That was pretty cool. I have LinuxCNC with the Gmoccapy Gui on my Maho. Fantastic software, and community support.
Best regards, Meilleures salutations, Mit freundlichen Grüßen, Cu salutari

Offline efrench

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Re: CNC controller
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2019, 06:39:49 PM »
LinuxCNC is well documented as well as having a good community forum.  The Linux OS is so similar to Windows, there isn't any need to learn anything more than how to copy gcode to the computer.  Hint: Drag and drop just like Windows  :ddb:

Offline David Jupp

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Re: CNC controller
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2019, 04:29:24 AM »
ESTLCam may be worth a quick look, depending on how much construction work you wish to undertake.

Offline RodW

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Re: CNC controller
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2019, 04:33:08 AM »
+1 for Linuxcnc. But beware, Some distributions of Linux are now so smooth, you may never want to use Windows again!

Whilst you can use a parallel port with Linuxcnc, for a router I assume you will have a gantry machine so  I would recommend you use a Mesa 7i96 ethernet board which has  5 stepgens, spindle control, 11 inputs and 11 outputs with integrated 2 amp relays builtin. For USD $119,its a bargain!

For a gantry, one of the nice things about Linuxcnc is that it squares the gantry when homing.

I am trying to build a reference build using this hardware but people keep buying the gear I have or ask me to set Linuxcnc up on a small USFF PC for them.

In the UK, your closest Mesa distributor is at

I've got one 7i96 available here in Australia.
Brisbane, Australia