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Question #: 4702

Question: Can the USB CNC Controller be used with LinuxCNC?

Current Solution

The USB Interface can only be used with the Planet-CNC software which runs under the windows operating system.

Respond:

Other Possible Solutions to this Question

  • Can the Planet CNC USB controller be used with a laser engraver/cutter? Can the build your own CNC based on the Planet CNC USB controller accept a Laser head instead of a router?

    The PlanetCNC USB software, like most machine control software, can be used to control a laser engraver/cutter. The typical modification is to use the Z axis down signal to fire the laser, analogous to an endmill cutting into the workpiece from an initial position above it.

    For the second question, it is important to note that BYCNC machines are not based on PlanetCNC software, or any other particular machine control system. The machines themselves will accept standard signals from a wide variety of machine control systems, not just PlanetCNC or Mach3. This allows maximum flexibility for the customer to choose their own preferred software for this part of the toolchain.

    That said, our machines will accept a laser head either in lieu of or in addition to a spindle. Here is an example of a combination spindle/laser mount for our greenBull machine: https://buildyourcnc.com/item/cnc-machine-laser-spindle-combo-head. We have all the parts you would need to add laser functionality to your machine here: https://buildyourcnc.com/LaserComponents.aspx, if you feel comfortable assembling your own package. Also, feel free to contact our sales department for a quote if you need a custom assembly.

    Click the link to respond:
    Can the Planet CNC USB controller be used with a laser engraver/cutter? Can the build your own CNC based on the Planet CNC USB controller accept a Laser head instead of a router?

  • How would LinuxCNC be used with the vertical laser?

    It is possible to use LinuxCNC for laser cutters and engravers but not advisable. The efficiency and control with traditional CNC control programs cannot match that of Laser controllers. This is because laser controllers are very good at matching speed with power, especially with raster image burning. Moreover, controlling the laser tube while cutting and engraving is very built in with gcode. Special software can be used, but the processing and execution is not efficient.

    Laser controllers and associated software have matured well and can do cutting and engraving very well and is worth the extra expense.

    If you are still interested in getting LinuxCNC to work with the laser, let me know and we can discuss this in great detail on this FAQ.

    Additional Information:
    A better question might be "What are some good ways to control the vertical laser directly from a Linux machine without having to hop through Windows?" Let me know if you want me to post this as a separate question.

    If I were buying the blacktooth, I'd order the parallel port board for it and skip the anywells controller -- I notice that you don't show that as an option on the vertical, which is what's generating this question.

    Some background: All of our CAD/CAM is done in Linux (openscad, freecad, librecad, cadquery, blender, pycam, python gcode generators...), we use git and Makefiles and other automation scripts extensively, and we need to be able to avoid doing the double-hop from Linux via Windows to get files sent to the laser.

    An example use case is that of being able to say 'make' in a project's directory on any Linux machine on the network to ship the file to the laser, including power settings etc. Needing to ship it to Windows first, and then manually mouse around to set power etc. is what I want to avoid.

    With Epilogs, I used to always bypass the Windows/Coreldraw toolchain by using Gershenfeld's cam.py, sending PCL from Linux straight to the Epilog.

    Something equivalent to that -- being able to run a script in Linux to convert and ship the file straight to the laser -- is what I'm planning to do here. I mentioned LinuxCNC because it's what I'm already using for our mill, and I'm comfortable hacking on it. I'm not wedded to LinuxCNC for a laser, but I am looking for open-source flexibility and future-proofing.

    We don't even have any Windows machines any more -- we got rid of the last of them years ago, and I'd like to avoid going back.

    Additional Information:
    I've split the more general Linux use case out as a separate question at https://buildyourcnc.com/FAQ/13989

    Additional Information:
    Starting to find some answers -- forums have a thread which addresses some LinuxCNC questions at http://www.buildyourtools.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=3452 for instance.

    Additional Information:
    Example LinuxCNC config for the buildlog 2.X laser is at https://github.com/jv4779/2x_laser

    Additional Information:
    I'm going to need some time to digest this information. Curious, are you able to develop a program to change the g-code if need be? Will you be doing vector style cutting operations only? If so, the process may be pretty straight forward.

    Additional Information:
    Before we adapted the blackTooth laser to use the laser controller, we operated the machine using Mach3 and the z-axis direction signal was the chief mechanism to fire the laser (down=on, up=off). It worked like a charm. It would be better to use one of the output triggers to do this for safer operation; however.

    Additional Information:
    Blacktooth adaptation of the above buildlog config can be found at http://www.buildyourtools.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?p=18157#p18157

    Additional Information:
    Answering the earlier comment (is that you Patrick?) -- yes, we'd be doing vector primarily, though my wife (and CEO) is salivating over the potential for raster. I've got no problem writing a python script to massage gcode if that's what it would take to make things work. CAM is always a problem on Linux but I've been using a mix of things to generate gcode for milling (including just writing it by hand), and can get by as needed. Expect to spend this weekend looking around to see what others are doing.

    Additional Information:
    Yes. This isn’t Patrick. I manage the Customer Service section. I will try my best to help with this over the weekend and balance family time. Haha.

    I will check the links. If raster is a must, you can have two controllers controlling the machine using tri-state gates to the drivers. I did this for a customer a while ago to run CNC and laser with an external switch. You could use an external switch to switch between LinuxCNC operation and laser controller.

    Additional Information:
    This is Patrick. Auto correct on my phone turned the "is" to "isn't". Ha!

    Additional Information:
    The buildyourtools links doesn't really have much to do with LinuxCNC and the buildyourtools information on that thread (by MUK) implements a very similar configuration that I introduced when I first started selling the blackTooth (with the parallel control board). That style of configuration may work well with a LinuxCNC scenario.

    I would rather jump-in cold with the LinuxCNC solution and see if we can address each step. What CAM program will you be using? I ask this question because that program may have the ability to inject g-code at specific points where we can turn on and off the laser.

    Also, I'm going to merge the two FAQs once we pick the one we use the most often to figure this out. I'm also more comfortable using this Customer Service system to address the question for many reasons, one of which is I can tie these questions to the products directly to benefit many others.

    Additional Information:
    For laser CAM on Linux we have used cam.py in the past; it's just a python script, so modifying the gcode it generates is easy.

    I think we've reached a purchase decision; your responsiveness here has helped a lot with that, Patrick. It looks to me like we're going to be able to make this thing work, one way or another.

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    How would LinuxCNC be used with the vertical laser?

  • Can the laser controller work with higher output laser tubes, like 150W?

    Yes, other CO2 laser tubes will work fine with our laser controller (including the Reci tube). Our laser controller is a digital based controller that controls the laser tube power supply, the motor drivers and other peripherals by outputting digital signals to these devices.

    Laser controller URL:
    https://www.buildyourcnc.com/item/Laser-Component-Laser-Control-System

    Click the link to respond:
    Can the laser controller work with higher output laser tubes, like 150W?

  • How do you zero the z axis using a plate with the planet-cnc software and your USB controller?

    The instructions on how to use a plate for z-axis homing (moveable sensor) can be found here:

    http://www.planet-cnc.com/faq/moveable_sensor/

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    How do you zero the z axis using a plate with the planet-cnc software and your USB controller?

  • Can you shortcut the usb controller that comes with the blacktooth laser to hardware reset it?

    The USB controller does not have a reset button installed on it.

    You have some alternate options however:
    - You can remove the USB connector and re-insert it.
    - Set the USB to use external 5v by removing the jumper near the USB connector, use a 5v wall adapter and install a switch along the 5v DC power line to turn it off then on. You can use a momentary push button switch to do this.

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    Can you shortcut the usb controller that comes with the blacktooth laser to hardware reset it?

  • how to control the spindle with the usb controller

    To control a spindle using the USB CNC interface, you will need a relay board that contains a transistor that can activate the relay with a power source with enough current that can activate the relay. This video explains all of the information you will need to develop this relay circuit:

    &index=44&list=PLE72E4CFE73BD1DE1

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    how to control the spindle with the usb controller

  • Can I use Mach3 or 4 with your USB controller PCA?

    The USB controller board is currently only compatible with Planet-CNC software.

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    Can I use Mach3 or 4 with your USB controller PCA?

  • Do you sell the 3 axis electronics combo , for heavy gantry , with the new Planet CNC usb controller ?

    Unfortunately, we don't sell the planet-cnc controller anymore. They made a change to their software that prohibits us from creating the open source board.

    We do sell three other boards that may work for you.

    The Pokeys57CNC board is the mose feature rich and will work with both Mach3 and Mach4:
    https://www.buildyourcnc.com/item/electronicsAndMotors-electronic-component-breakout-Mach4-mach3-USB-ethernet-Board

    The MAch3 USB board is a good inexpensive interface that will work well if you need the interface to be USB only:
    https://www.buildyourcnc.com/item/electronicsAndMotors-electronic-component-breakout-Mach3-USB-Board

    Our in-house parallel breakout board (ytou need a parallel port for this interface to work):
    https://www.buildyourcnc.com/item/electronicsAndMotors-parallel-breakout-relay
    Most motherboards have the parallel port connector on the motherboard, but not as a connector on the back of the computer case.

    Click the link to respond:
    Do you sell the 3 axis electronics combo , for heavy gantry , with the new Planet CNC usb controller ?

  • how many controllers board will i be able to used per one purchased of usbcnc software?

    We do not sell PlanetCNC licences directly, but our understanding from customer input is that PlanetCNC requires a license for every board. For complete and up to date information, you would need to contact PlanetCNC directly.

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    how many controllers board will i be able to used per one purchased of usbcnc software?

  • Can I purchase a computer off Amazon (I have a machine I want to use) and still use the USB interface to drive it with LinuxCNC?

    You will need to build the table unit for your machine. There are instructions on how to do this at the bottom of the product page here, https://www.buildyourcnc.com/Item/cnc-machine-blackFoot-v4
    There is no estimate on how much this will cost though, since there are too many variables involved to do this.

    - PC with parallel port and USB port
    - 20awg stranded wires for the motors - http://www.buildyourcnc.com/electronicscombo.aspx
    - 18awg stranded wires for power supply to drivers
    - 24awg stranded wires for breakout board to drivers
    (location and spacing of components varies from one person to another, so we do not provide cables/wires)
    - General purpose extension cord (cut the female end off) to provide power to power supply
    - USB cable to power breakout board
    - Parallel cable to communicate to breakout board
    - Router
    - (optional - instead of router) Spindle with power inverter http://www.buildyourcnc.com/SpindlesAndAccessories.aspx
    - (if purchasing spindle with inverter) General purpose extension cord (240v) (cut the female end off) to provide power to power inverter
    - End Mill(s) http://www.buildyourcnc.com/ProductsEndMills.aspx
    - CAD, and/or CAD-CAM software (to produce geometry, machine operations, and g-code) http://www.buildyourcnc.com/CNCsoftware.aspx
    - CNC control software (to read g-code and control machine) http://www.buildyourcnc.com/CNCsoftware.aspx

    This answer is applicable to most of our machines with the exception of the greenLean and the blueChick since those machines are equipped with a table structure.

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    Can I purchase a computer off Amazon (I have a machine I want to use) and still use the USB interface to drive it with LinuxCNC?

  • Using USB Controller Board with Planet-CNC software. The S/W recognizes limit switches but not soft limits. Help?

    "Soft limits are used to decelerate machine to stop before machine is stopped hard way at limit switch or before it crashes. I recommend "Soft Limits Decelerate" and "Soft Limits Strict" settings are also checked. Sometimes we need to disable soft limits and there is a command for this in menu "Machine/Soft Limits". When soft limit is triggered position display will be yellow."

    Are the soft limits "grayed out"?
    Here is a link to a very useful forum post from the Planet-CNC crew:
    http://www.planet-cnc.com/faq/machine_setup/

    Click the link to respond:
    Using USB Controller Board with Planet-CNC software. The S/W recognizes limit switches but not soft limits. Help?

  • I have your USB controller sitting here and want to control it with something other than PlanetCNC control software?

    The USB controller will only work with the Planet-CNC software. This software is well made and will provide great functionality. The planet-cnc software delivers instructions to the microcontroller on the board and the microcontroller will send out the pulse trains needed to move the machine correctly.

    There are two main alternatives if you want to use the mach3 software:
    First, get a parallel port card and add it to your computer and get a parallel breakout board. If you have a laptop/notebook computer, this will not be possible.
    Second, if you have a laptop, or really want to use the USB as the main interface for controlling the machine, you will need to get the smoothstepper board which works with mach3. The price combination is much higher than the USB controller with planet-cnc, but will work with Mach3.

    Additional Information:


    Additional Information:


    Additional Information:
    The planet cnc controller can be prone to electrical interference and has been known to cause such problems. In the first instance try to use a quality double sheilded USB cable, hopefully this will fix your problem. Alternatively you may need to sheild your limit switch, estop and or motor cabling. My pick is that a quality USB cable will fix it though, worked for me.

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    I have your USB controller sitting here and want to control it with something other than PlanetCNC control software?

  • Does the usb controller (breakout) come with the needed usb cable?
  • Can other types of laser tubes work with the controller you are selling, for example, the 80W Reci tube?

    Yes, other CO2 laser tubes will work fine with our laser controller (including the Reci tube). Our laser controller is a digital based controller that controls the laser tube power supply, the motor drivers and other peripherals by outputting digital signals to these devices.

    Laser controller URL:
    https://www.buildyourcnc.com/item/Laser-Component-Laser-Control-System

    Click the link to respond:
    Can other types of laser tubes work with the controller you are selling, for example, the 80W Reci tube?

  • Can the spindle be controlled with a PWM signal or analog signal? Which pin do I assign the spindle control to in LinuxCNC?

    The Spindle can be controlled with either analog (Like with a DAC card) or PWM.

    If your spindle speed is controlled by an analog signal, (for example, by a VFD with a 0 to 10 volt signal) and you’re using a DAC card like the m5i20 to output the control signal:

    First you need to figure the scale of spindle speed to control signal. For this example the spindle top speed of 5000 RPM is equal to 10 volts.

    10 volts / 5000 RPM = .002 volts / 1 RPM

    If you need a spindle enable signal, link your output pin to motion.spindle-on. To link these pins to a parallel port pin put something like the following in your .hal file (net spindle-enable motion.spindle-on => parport.0.pin-14-out), making sure you pick the pin that is connected to your control device.

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    Can the spindle be controlled with a PWM signal or analog signal? Which pin do I assign the spindle control to in LinuxCNC?

  • Can the spindle speed and direction be conrolled by LinuxCNC?

    LinuxCNC has excellent documents; however, I would like to offer our help in case you don't understand the information on that page. So, please use this FAQ (Question #: 13233) to state your questions by submitting additional information below.

    The LinuxCNC spindle control page is found here: http://linuxcnc.org/docs/html/examples/spindle.html

    Additional Information:
    After reading the LinuxCNC page my first questions would be can the spindle be controlled by PWM signal? Also, what pin on the parallel port would I set to Spindle Enable and FRW?

    Additional Information:
    To connect your computer to the VFD, use a USB to RS-485 interface. RS-485 is just a serial interface protocol that uses standard 0 to +5 voltage TTL signal levels for communication (as opposed to RS-232 which uses -12v and +12 for signal level changes).

    Get a high quality interface to reduce any issues during the process. The VFD should have two terminals labeled RS+ and RS-. The USB to RS-485 adapter should have this labeled on it as well so the connections should be relatively straight forward.

    In the VFD parameters:
    PD001: 2 to accept RS485 commands
    PD002: 2 to accept frequency comands
    PD163: 1 to RS485 slave address:1
    PD164: 1 RS485 baud rate 9600
    PD165: 3 8bit, no parity, 1 stop bit

    Make sure LinuxCNC is also set accordingly:

    The PIN14 and PIN16 in the stepconf wizard should be set to unused because you don't want LinuxCNC to be outputting unnecessary signals.

    In the options step of the stepconf wizard:
    - Check the Include Halui user interface component.
    - Check the Include custom PyVCP GUI panel.
    - Check Spindle speed display

    You will want to edit the custom.hal text file located in the folder that was created from the stepconf wizard. Add these following lines:
    loadusr -Wn vfd hy_vfd -n vfd -d /dev/ttyUSB0 -p none -r 9600
    net spindle-cmd-rpm-abs => vfd.speed-command
    net spindle-cw motion.spindle-forward => vfd.spindle-forward
    net spindle-ccw motion.spindle-reverse => vfd.spindle-reverse
    net on motion.spindle-on => vfd.spindle-on

    The dev folder in linux is typically used for interfacing devices and peripherals to the computer as these devices are communicated by simple memory addresses and these files are linked directly to these addresses.

    Under the custom_postgui.hal file, change this line:

    from: sets spindle-at-speed true
    to: net spindle-at-speed => cfd.spindle_at_speed

    and add the line:

    setp vfd.enable 1

    When you start LinuxCNC, you will a spindle section with the reverse and forward buttons, a stop button and - and + buttons. Use these buttons to conform that the spindle is functioning properly. The spindle speed indicator in LinuxCNC will show the spindle speed and you can confirm that this is equal to the speed indicated on the VFD.


    Credit for this helpful information goes to:


    Additional information was also added by us to provide a better understanding.

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    Can the spindle speed and direction be conrolled by LinuxCNC?

  • How can i get a complete list of all the components (electronics) I need for a CNC laser cutter with the laser controller? A wiring Diagram would probably be very helpful.

    All the options for and variations of our blackTooth laser cutter/engraver are available on our website here https://buildyourcnc.com/blackToothLaserCutterAndEngraver.aspx#prettyPhoto. The wiring diagram is available here: https://buildyourcnc.com/blackToothLaserCutterAndEngraver.aspx#prettyPhoto/0/
    We do not offer plans or a bill of materials for our machines at this time, but if you are interested in doing your own from scratch you can learn a lot about the design and build process from our tutorials. We wish you success in your endeavors.

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    How can i get a complete list of all the components (electronics) I need for a CNC laser cutter with the laser controller? A wiring Diagram would probably be very helpful.

  • Are there plans to release a USB Controller to work with the Planet CNC Output Board for more advanced spindle control from within Planet CNC?

    At this time we are working to release a new USB controller board that will be compatible with Mach4 software and do not have any immediate plans to update the Planet-CNC USB board.

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    Are there plans to release a USB Controller to work with the Planet CNC Output Board for more advanced spindle control from within Planet CNC?

  • Can I run two stepper motors off the same axis output on the USB controller?

    Yes, you can use 2 motors in the same axis output, however you will still need a driver for that motor! Also depending on the orientation on which you mount the motor you might have to invert the direction of the motor, and that will be simple by swapping the A+,A-, to the B+,B- locations and vice versa, from the driver to the motor wiring.

    Also you can run a slave motor using another axis on the board, and setting it up in the Planet-CNC settings.

    Planet-CNC/File/Settings/Axes, here you will enter 3 in the Number of Axes location, and then change the Function of the Axis 4 to Slave 1. There you will have the 4th axis or A-axis be a slave for the x-axis.
    Slave 1 - X-Axis
    Slave 2 - Y-Axis
    Slave 3 - A-Axis
    Slave 4 - B-Axis
    Etc...

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    Can I run two stepper motors off the same axis output on the USB controller?