Converting Machine to Path Pilot

@DavidSohlstrom @ymilord @GeoffSteer Hello Everyone - I know you are all super busy - but I think you three have experience with this and for others seeing the subject who might have done this, please chime in.

I have a Tormach 440 and an X-Carve (barely recognizable). I want to switch my x-carve to use Path Pilot and was wondering if anyone has done this.

My x-carve runs on an ancient windows machine running Mach 3 and using its native parallel port to communicate to a Gecko G540. I want to use the G540 but run Path Pilot. It is a three axis system, 48 volts… I will add limit switches.

Essentially, I just want one CAM package: Path Pilot. And, since I have the 440, I have the latest Path Pilot Software (AND a Path Pilot controller but sometimes both machines need to be running simultaneously, so I will need two controllers).


  1. Do I NEED a PCI based motion control board like MESA? If so, which one?
  2. When I wipe the hard drive, do I need to install a Linux OS? Which one?
  3. Many of the online threads reference older MESA boards like the 5i2S - which, I believe is in the Tormach box, but there are newer more capable MESA boards at the same price. Seems smart to use the newer boards.

Any advice or links would be greatly appreciated.

Your best bet is to find forums on Tormach and ask this question there. Those forums would have the latest info on porting Path Pilot to other machines.


To answer you questions in order-

Yes. A 6i25i (either PCI or PCI-E) (If you are computer savvy, network savvy and linux savvy- you can use a 7i92H or M)

You don’t need an OS, the PathPilot ‘installer’ is a disk image. So whatever system you run the USB key against, it’s going to wipe the machine. As for the machine, a basic Intel machine with either a ethernet port or USB WiFi and a HDD that’s 40GB or bigger.

See answer to question one.

In addition to the 6i25, you need a parallel (DB25) breakout board. A basic one that’s is NOT meant for Mach3. This way you can wire your existing drivers to this. Fortunately the pin out for the main axis (XYZ) are in the common locations. The A Axis is wired differently for the 440 in the config (Mainly due the fact that the 440 does not have a rotary option) But this can be changed.

The next step is reconfiguring the stock 440 config to work with your machine.

This is going to require some linux knowledge. So if you are going to do this- be ready for that.

PathPilot is basically LinuxCNC. So the underlying files are similar. The main things to change is the step pulse (to match whatever method you are driving your CNC.) for all your axis, setting the max feed rates, Axis direction, size of the workspace etc. Also configuring endstops. Thou you can use PathPilot with out endstop- its a pain in the ■■■. Just add them. Lastly is spindle control. You can do speed control with a VFD, SuperPID and basic on/off. Anything else that requires a unique PWM signal is going to be hard. This is due to Tormach removing alot of underlying libraries from LinuxCNC to make the package smaller.

I’ve done it. So it’s possible. But it’s not going to be some tool or wizard to make the changes. This is going into 2 configs files and making the changes. And knowing what to do if the changes you make crashes PP on boot.

You. Are. the. Man. The MESA boards come with Gecko 540 configurations so, I do no think I will need a BOB. You plug your DB25 into the Gecko and the four drivers are built in. I know I can reconfigure Path Pilot’s stock 440 config; end stops are planned - especially since I had to replace my limit switches on my 440 - and bought a ten pack. As for speed control, it is totally unnecessary - but there may be a sensor in the 440 configuration looking for some kind of spindle speed signal - which I can hopefully disable or mimic. This is going into a large “wood and plastic milling machine” for signs, Wave Whackers (I fish), v-carving and typical x-carve stuff. Not making parts for NASA on this machine.

Thanks again for the response - I know it is not the first time.

David… I will try that (8 hours ago…). Nope… no Tormach forums filled with adventurous makers willing to share their madcap, often dangerous experiments with the unworthy (me). Only here is that possible. But thanks for chiming in. Now you have to post a pic of your latest project (in this thread) and it better be cool.

That is not going to work.

PathPilot reflashes the Mesa with the configuration that supports the MX3660. Which is wired up like a BOB. The Gecko config after you apply it will get wiped by PathPilot on boot. (This part in bold is correct.)

Edit: For some reason, my brain was auto-completing the G320. Let me look at the pinouts for the 540.

I COULD get a MX3660, but they are $300. Which would suck, but I could sell the G540… for $200.