Software build versions - Mach4, ESS


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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!  ;)

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 started with Mach4 so it's all I know, Mick.  I really debated on whether to do the updates because everything was working just fine like it was.

 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.


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12 hours ago, Chestnut said:

I was in a cabinet shop yesterday and I saw the windows 98 pipes screen saver on one of their machines.... So i think your more up to date than some. Man just seeing that screensaver brought me back in time 15 years... uhh 22 years.

Machine interface & control pays no attention to Microsoft's release schedule. We still have WinXP running a ton of automation stuff at work.

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10 hours ago, wtnhighlander said:

Machine interface & control pays no attention to Microsoft's release schedule. We still have WinXP running a ton of automation stuff at work.

I'm aware, the relay equipment my dad used to use at work had issues with computers that operated too fast so they still had quite a few dos and windows 3.1 machines around from the 386 & 486 days. Those old machines can be expensive to fix if a part fails.

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