Inventables Community Forum

Modifying my controller to take USB and suit Mac

I have a small 3040 CNC machine with a controller that has only a parallel port to suit a PC and run with Mach3. But I recently bought a Mac and want to use my CNC machine on my new Mac. Is there a way of modifying my current controller so it can be used by a Mac, or is there a new controller I can purchase and just connect my CNC to?

What type of drivers does it have? Can you post some pictures of your controller? Also what is the budget range you are looking to stay under for the new controller?

I'm not sure what type of drivers it has but attached is a picture exactly like my controller and my 3040 CNC. I'm looking at spending a few hundred to get it working with my Mac and using Easel. Maybe I could buy a gSheild and Arduino and covert my current controller to USB ??? Has anyone done that?

It could be done if you are handy with wiring and the like and have afair understanding of how CNC mills, steppers ,drivers and controllers work. The control box might even be reusable but without seeing more photos of the inside of the box it is hard to say.

I'll take some more photos of the inside later tonight and post them, stay tuned. Thanks for your response

Here's the photo of my current controller inside. Is it possible to connect up Arduino Duo and a GShield and convert it to operate on a Mac?

If you really wanted to downgrade to Arduino and Gshield, it's possible. Can you measure the voltage of that power supply? The G-Shield, I believe is 24 volts max. If that power supply is greater than 24 volts, you would need a new power supply.

It looks like the three stepper motors are four wire motors. If you wanted to use the box, you would discconnect the red, blue, green and yellow wires from the stepper driver board on top there and connect them to your G-Shield. It looks like they are nicely labeled for you as well. You can remove that board and the board underneath which is your breakout board. The board on the other side with the large capacitors, I believe is part of your power supply. You could keep that and have plenty of room in there for your new electronics. Arduino and ghield would fit in there with room to spare.

Alternatively, you could get rid of your breakoutboard (the thing with the parallel port sticking out the back) and replace that with a USB breakout board. Then re-use your stepper drivers on top. Something like this should work:

I think switching to Arduino and GShield would be a step backward for this machine.

Someware (youtube?) I saw someone mod that controller.
... I think it was adding a 4th axis?...

The point it you could easily reuse it. You have got plenty of space inside.
Or you could pick up the muit-pin connectors to wire into the new control board and keep the old control intact. Which is what I would do. At least until I got the new board and software working.

Easel is only 2.5D so if you were looking at doing full 3d carving you would still need some kind of g-code sender.
UGS or chillypeppr. So if you were having to use those anyway you might want to take a look at other board (Smoothieboard or tinyG) and see what works best for you.

FYI: I got a X-Carve because I was looking to replace my parallel port controller on my old CNC. I wound up getting a whole new machine wink
Though I do plan on getting my old CNC up and running as well. My current plan is to upgrade my XC to the X-Controller and use the current GShiled on my old CNC.

Build a ChiliPeppr Driven 3040 CNC John Laur may be helpful