Control Software

Looking at LinuxCNC (EMC2) or Mach 3 so far. Some aspects of the software may limit or modify our plans so feel free to discuss the software here.

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  • Thanks Dustin,

    Do you know how to rotate the model? Does it have to be oriented before importing?

    Else, I believe a 3D printer draws more attraction to this community than a CNC mill/router.

    Entire planes can be 3D printed:


  • Monroe, Mo,

    I had another look at EMC2/LinuxCNC and find a few things, which make me not to switch from Mach3.

    EMC2 does not have master-slave axis. Looking at the CNCzone forum, people suggest to rewire the parallel port to run two motors in sync. Mach 3 allows master slave axis.

    I may step in to issues with post processors not providing the right G-code for CNC mill, hot wire foam cutting and 3D print.

    I wrote and published already some manuals using Mach 3

    EMC2 appears to be more complicated for people just starting to get into CNC

    Here is an example of a tapered wing with a hot wire cut set up:

    I was able to use the g-code without modification.

    Some 3D print files have to be modified in Excel converting letter E to A.

    However, EMC2 can use rotary axis, BLDC motors and encoder feed-back.

  • I posted some stuff in the drawing area as well. The idea was to create a machine set up, which can do foam wing hot wire cutting with 4 axis, than use all machine parts to assemble a router/mill using dual Y-axis motors in master slave mode and then re-place the router with an extruder head to do 3D printing.

    On my search for suitable (cheap) driver boards and software I came across these inexpensive driver boards out of China

    which worked for me out of the box. With the choices of EMC2 and Mach3, I decided to use Windows based as all my other design and analytical software are Windows based.

    From here on I searched for other (free) software allowing to convert 3D models into G-code, like PyCam or Freemill  I also use CamBam plus, which is free up to 40 trials and LazyCam, which comes free with Mach 3. Some other choices are here

    It may come down to personal choices of CAM software, but I fear with free software you get, what you pay for. The cheapest software, which does what I like is this one

    I'm getting a bit off the control software topic. However, control software and CAM software should be considered together.

  • So far I've tried only Replicator G|

    together with Mach 3. My extruder motor is turning and X,Y,Z is moving as well. I got stuck making the heater and nozzle for the ABS filament, but else everything is working.

    I downloaded PyCam as well but have not used it yet.

    I'm a hardware guy, not software. It turned me off, that I can't even install all drivers in Linux.
    I only found EMC 2 interesting to use with the linear delta robot. Else, I (and my son, who is on this forum as well somewhere) use Mach 3.


  • Another aspect of using Mach 3 versus EMC 2 is the use of front end CAM software, which in turn should provide g-code in the right format.

    If you use Mach 3 for a mill you shouldn't have any problems with Cad3d or CamBam, but if you use foam cutting programs or 3 D print software, you may have to modify the G-code file changing axis names from X1, X2, Y1, Y2 to X,Y,Z,A. Also, 3D printer software will use E (extruder) axis instead of A and I have to convert these letters in Excel.

    The licensed version of Mach3 is $150. So far the only glitch I found is that G41/G42 don't work and should be fixed in Mach 4, whenever that is going to happen.

    On the other hand EMC2 has some other capabilities and is open source



  • Found this on the RepRap wiki about servo control:

  • I will be running EMC2 on my personal CNC machine, but to my knowledge EMC2 cannot generate G-Code.

    PyCam ( looks promising for this application, and can run on Linux as well as Windows.  Does anyone have experience with this software?

    Apologies if this has already been brought up.

    Home - PyCAM
    Toolpath generator for 3-axis CNC machining
  • Hi Guys I was in the doctors office today for a 6 month check up and I "scooped " a copy of "Design Engineering from the waiting room www I could scan and send the pages but I don't know if that is legal. for software and I don't know if this will help . the magazine deals with cnc machined parts and  cnc machine and suppliers

  • My next machine build would be with EMC2 so I'll give a thumbs up to that.

    Regarding TurboCNC - it just runs Gcode, sits resident on the controller/PC and makes things move.

    The drawings and the drawings-to-Gcode would be done on another machine usually.

    EMC2 is the next level up IMHO.

  • I've spent few months on reading many CNC forums and blogs. I was about to build my own machine but situation changed and it's a postponed project at the moment. However, I gathered hundreds of links, photos etc.

    One of the best controller shipping together with own software (it has small CAD features too) is PikoCNC. The problem for most of you will be the language - it's Polish and I'm not sure if author (who is still developing this) added at some point support for English. I suppose he could if he will find market for that.

    I've compared dozens of solutions, searched eBay from A to Z and having all that knowledge I've picked PikoCNC as a system of choice.

    It has even it's own system of parametric templates. One can create a script that requires some dimensions and will cut complex result according to those dimensions (imagine template of the wing - you provide length and all other dimension can be done by the script). And many, many more...

    It's using USB instead of LPT which is great as most modern computers just don't have LPT anymore. It has also own software which can alter CAD files and produce better effect in shorter time. There is a 2-years old thread on the forum showing a great progress and some results of that combo.

    Here are some movies of the users.

    If anyone will be interested you can use google translate for a draft overview. Hard to say if that will be interesting for any of you.

    Strona poświęcona projektowi PikoCNC.
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