Click here to go back to Getting Started: Setting up my PC

*** If you will be using Mach3, you should be at this page instead:  Setting up the SmoothStepper with Mach3. ***

*** Only the ESS supports Mach4. The USS does NOT support Mach4, please read here for more details.***

 

Setting up the SmoothStepper and Mach4 Software

 


 

Getting Started: Setting up the SmoothStepper and Mach4.

Setup Instructions to Install Mach4 and the ESS Plugin

ESS Plugin Configuration

 

Mach4 Core Configuration


Setup Instructions to Install Mach4 and ESS Plugin

Setup Instructions to Install Mach4 and ESS Plugin

For Mach4, we recommend using the latest recommended ESS plugin build found in step#3 of the Setup Instructions (below).  (Pictures on this page may show older plugin version numbers back to ESS plugin build 206, but that will not affect the setup process, since the config screens have remained unchanged from a functional standpoint.) 

Known issues (the status of software development is discussed here):

  1. Homing only backs off the switch.  A lua script is required to then move a specified offset distance, and a video that shows you how to do that is here.

 

SETUP Step 1 - Run the SCU:

Confirm that you have used the SCU to prepare your PC for the ESS.   Please make sure that your ESS is powered and connected to your PC via Ethernet cable.   

Here is a video showing how to use the SCU (System Configuration Utility).

Here is a video showing how to install Mach4 and the ESS Plugin in SETUP steps 2 and 3.

 

SETUP Step 2 - Install Mach4 and its Documentation:

Some people have reported that the download links don't work (or require extra clicks due to security regarding zip files) in Chrome (Google) or Explorer (Microsoft).  If you are using a browser like Brave or Firefox, the links just work. Simply right clicking on the link and the selecting "Save (link/target/file) As:" should allow you to download it in most browsers, or you may need to go to the bottom bar of your browser and click to allow the download (for Chrome, click on the arrow next to discard, and then click on KEEP).

Hobby vs Industrial:  There are two version of Mach4; Hobby and Industrial.  Most users will do well with Hobby.  Industrial has a few more advanced features and support (please view Mach's documentation to make your decision).  When you download Mach4, pay attention to if you are downloading the Hobby or the Industrial version.

If you are going to upgrade your current version of Mach4, make a copy of your entire "C:\Mach4Hobby\" folder before you install the new version.  This will allow you to revert to what you had previously should you decide to do so.

Please select one of the following recommended pairs of Mach4 and the corresponding ESS plugin:

1a) Recommended: Mach4 Hobby version 4.2.0.4612 with ESS 275 or ESS 277

1b) Recommended: Mach4 Industrial version 4.2.0.4612 with ESS 275 or ESS 277

2) Optional for advanced users: Here is a link to the Mach4 FTP download page, where they have newer development releases.  (We don't test against most development releases, so they may have hew features and fixes or they may introduce new bugs and break functionality.) Select an ESS plugin from the next section to go with this.

 

Mach4 provides a bunch of documentation on how to use Mach4, which you really need to read and understand.  You can find it in the Docs folder inside your Mach4 installation folder, typically C:\Mach4Hobby\Docs\

Mach4 Documentation

 

SETUP Step 3 - Install the ESS Plugin:

Some people have reported that the download links don't work (or require extra clicks due to security regarding zip files) in Chrome (Google) or Explorer (Microsoft).  If you are using a browser like Brave or Firefox, the links just work. Simply right clicking on the link and the selecting "Save (link/target/file) As:" should allow you to download it in most browsers, or you may need to go to the bottom bar of your browser and click to allow the download (for Chrome, click on the arrow next to discard, and then click on KEEP).

While there are other archived ESS builds below, you should use the currently recommended ESS release(s):  

The currently recommended ESS Build 275 for use with Mach4 4612 see the section above to download).

See the ESS Plugin Change Log here.  

Mach4 changed a bunch of internal registers (# vars) as of 4517, and requires ESS plugin 260 or newer since their change broke compatibility with the older ESS plugins.   ESS plugin 259 and older will only work with Mach4 builds 4470 and older.  260 is essentially the same as 259 other than compiled against different versions of Mach4.  259 is essential the same as 258, other than it will warn you if you are using too new of a version of Mach4.

 

ESS Plugin install guide:

  • For a new install: Place the plugin’s ‘.m4pw’ and ‘.sig’ files into your plugins folder, which is typically: ‘C:\Mach4Hobby\Plugins\’  
  • For an upgrade from a previous plugin version: This plugin should be fully compatible with profiles made in version 184 or newer. 

- First, make a backup copy of your entire Mach4 folder. 

- Unzip the contents of the ESS plugin file that you just downloaded.

- Inside Mach4's plugin folder, which is typically: ‘C:\Mach4Hobby\Plugins\’, replace the existing older ESS plugin files the ‘.m4pw’ and ‘.sig’ files.

- StartMach4 again to use the new ESS plugin, the upgrade is complete.

  • Here is where the Beta Releases are posted, if you want to try a newer test releases as we make them. 
  • Builds 233 through 244 only had 5 us long step pulses instead of 10 us long step pulses.  245+ are back to 10 us step pules.  This only affected a few servo drives, which just wouldn't move with the 5 us versions. 
  • While we list the older versions of the plugins, we only recommend that you use the most recent version.  Previous ESS plugin releases for Mach4:

 

 

SETUP Step 4 - Turn on the ESS:

Make sure that your ESS is powered and connected to your PC via Ethernet cable.

Here is a video showing how to Create and Configure a Mach4 profile as shown in SETUP steps 5 through 14.

 

SETUP Step 5 - Start Mach4:

Run Mach4 GUI or double click on the Desktop icon.

 

SETUP Step 6 - Select your Profile (if it exists):

For the "Select Profile" window, if you have already created a profile, select it and then skip to the ESS Plugin Configuration section.  If you have not yet created a profile, continue with the next step.

 

SETUP Step 7 - Create a New Profile:

To create a new profile from scratch, open Mach4 and click on "Create Profile".

Select Profile

  • Enter your new profile name, I used "My System", you may use any name appropriate for you.

 Profile Name

 

  • Click on the '...' and then choose "wx4.set" or another screenset that suits your needs; Press 'OK'.  You may change screensets at anytime inside Mach4 by clicking on Menu -> View -> Load Screen.

 Profile Name

Screenset

  • Select your new profile, and press 'OK'

Select New Profile and press Okay

 

SETUP Step 8 - Enter the ESS's IP Address:

When prompted, enter in the IP address of your ESS.  The factory default IP is “10.9.9.9” unless you modified it with the configurator. Press 'OK' IP Address

 


SETUP Step 9 - Select Motion Device Cancel:

When the Select Motion Device window appears, you will only be able to click Cancel.  Press 'Cancel'

Select Motion Device

 

SETUP Step 10 - Enable the ESS Plugin:

Go to Menu -> Configure -> Control... (used to be Mach…) -> Plugins tab:  Make sure that the “ESS – Warp9 Tech Design, Inc” plugin is enabled with a green check.   You will need to restart Mach4 if you change it to a green check.

At this time, you should also enable:

  • ESS (as mentioned just above)
  • Lua (this will allow lua scripts to run)
  • Regfile (this will let you see the values of various memory registers)
  • Keyboard Inputs (this will let you use the keyboard to jog)

 

 

Menu -> Configure -> Control....

Enable ESS Plugin

 

 


SETUP Step 11 - Select Motion Device Cancel, Again:

When the Select Motion Device window appears, again, you will only be able to click Cancel.  The ESS will not be visible since the ESS plugin will not be enabled until after Mach4 restarts.  Press 'Cancel'

Select Motion Device

 

 


SETUP Step 12 - Restart Mach4 and Select Profile:

Exit Mach4, and then open Mach4 again, selecting your new profile

Select New Profile and press Okay

 


SETUP Step 13 - Select Motion Device -> ESS:

When the Select Motion Device window appears, again, you will finally be able to select the ESS as your Motion Device. Press 'OK'

Select Motion Device

 

SETUP Step 14 - ESS Communications:

Check for connectivity by going to Menu -> Diagnostic-> and click on the “ESS v***– Warp9 Tech Design, Inc” to see the Diagnostic Window.Menu -> Diagnostic -> ESS

Diagnostic Window

 

You should be able to see the Sequence ID and Device Time incrementing when the ESS is communicating with Mach4.

 

If nothing happens when you are in the diagnostic window, or you get messages that Mach4 can't communicate with the ESS, here are the usual problems: 

  • The ESS plugin was not enabled in step 10 followed by a Mach4 restart, and selection as the Motion Controller.
  • The ESS is not powered and connected to the PC.
  • There is a Firewall rule blocking communications with the ESS.

 

Please continue with the next section: ESS Plugin Configuration, below.

 


 

ESS Plugin Configuration:


These pictures were taken with ESS plugin build (version) 206, but will be valid for newer versions of the ESS plugin as well.  Please make sure that you have completed the previous section's Initial Mach4 and ESS plugin setup before you start this section.

 

 

ESS Entering the Config:

Go to Menu -> Configure -> Plugins… -> ESS v... - Warp9 Tech Design, Inc

Menu -> Configure -> Mach....

 

ESS Step 1 - Info Tab:

 The “Info” tab tells you the order you should follow while configuring the settings for the ESS.

Info Tab

 

ESS Step 2 - General Tab:

 On the “General” tab, you can:

1) Verify the IP address

2) Buffer Size (Almost always left at 0.18) :

    • A smaller buffer size is more responsive to Feed Hold commands and Feed Rate Override, but more sensitive to the ESS running out of data if your computer gets bogged down.
    • A larger buffer size (which translates to "longer"), is less likely to experience the ESS running out of data (in case Windows ignores Mach or the plugin for a while), but will take longer to respond to Feed Hold commands.

      The buffer size should be small enough that you have good response to jog commands, feed hold, and feed rate override.  I would start out small, and continue to increase it until the delay is noticeable and uncomfortable.  Then back off to where it feels good.

3) Set the Plugin Frequency; 40 Hz is the recommended value.  I have seen homing fail when this is set to 200 Hz.

4) Monitor the Velocity FIFO Buffer - keep checked.

imgGeneral Tab

 

ESS Step 3 - Motors Tab:

On the “Motors” tab, you can:

  • Set your motors to work in Step/Dir mode, Quadrature Mode, or CW/CCW mode.  These motors will be assigned to your X, Y, Z, A, B and C axes in the 'Pins Config', 'Output Signals' tab, 'Mach Config -> Motors' window and 'Mach Config Axis Mapping' window. 
  • Note: While you can assign any axis letter to any motor number (0 through 5) and have it work correctly in Mach4, we discourage it.  Why?  Because most people will assume X =0, Y = 1, Z = 2, A = 3, B = 4, and C = 5.  Following this as closely as possible, will keep your system in line with most other systems, especially those that ran Mach3 previously.

Note:  The settings in this image are for illustration and you will want to use the values appropriate for your system.

 Motors Tab

 

ESS Step 4 - Spindle Tab:

On the “Spindle” tab, you can chose which mode to run your Spindle in.  Relay Mode and PWM mode are the most common choices.

For more information  about the RPM Input source, click here.

For more information about PID, click here.

 

  • In Relay Mode, you will have On/Off control of your router or spindle, and will not be able to adjust its speed from within Mach.  Assign the Spindle output signals for Spindle on and Spindle Forwards or Spindle Reverse relays.

 

Note:  The settings in this image are for illustration and you will want to use the values appropriate for your system.

 Spindle Tab

 


 

  • In PWM (pulse width modulation) Mode, you control the direction of your Spindle using M3 (clockwise) or M4 (counterclockwise). The duty cycle of the signal will be between 0% and 100% and your spindle speed control module will convert the PWM signal into an analog voltage (typically 0v to 10 V DC) that is used by your VFD to control the desired RPMs for your spindle.  You will need to set your desired base frequency (while we use a default  of 1 kHz, yours could be 25 Hz, 300 Hz or many other possible values).  To complete this portion of the spindle setup, please continue with step 25 below.
  • If your ESS were to lose power or Mach4 were to crash, your ESS's PWM value will go to 0 instantly, and your BOB's Analog 0V - 10V output would also go to 0V instantly.  Your VFD needs to respond appropriately to this possibility, and it can.  Your VFD should have a parameter (or register) for acceleration and another for deceleration.  You should set both of these to appropriate times (or rates), like 3 seconds or 5 seconds, to suite your machine and useage styles.

 

Note:  The settings in this image are for illustration and you will want to use the values appropriate for your system.

 Spindle Tab

 


 

  • In SS Motor Mode you will be able to make your spindle run as Step/Dir, CW/CCW (clockwise / counterclockwise) or Quadrature Mode. SS Motor will automatically use MOTOR 5 for the spindle. You must assign motor tuning values to Motor 5 in the Mach Config, and then assign step and dir pins to motor 5 in the ESS Output Signals tab.  SS Motor is preferred for Step/Dir mode compared to an OB motor.

Note:  The settings in this image are for illustration and you will want to use the values appropriate for your system.

 Spindle Tab

 SS Motor Tuning


 

  •  In OB Mode you will be able to make your spindle run as Step/Dir, CW/CCW (clockwise / counterclockwise) or Quadrature Mode. To complete this portion of the spindle setup, please set it up as an OB motor, click here.  Please not that SS Motor mode (the precious section) is preferred over using OB Mode.

Note:  The settings in this image are for illustration and you will want to use the values appropriate for your system.

 Spindle Tab

 

 

 

ESS Step 5 -Laser Tab:

On the “Laser” tab, you can configure a laser to run in Raster and Vector Modes.  Please read the Laser Setup article here, and the articles that follow it, to learn how to use a laser with a SmoothStepper.

Laser Tab

 

 

ESS Step 6 - Pins Config Tab:

On the “Pins Config” tab, you can:

  • For Port 2 and Port 3 you may choose to have Pins 2 through 9 be either inputs or outputs, as needed for your system. When you change this, these modified pins will have their signal assignments (or pin assignments) deleted from the 'Input Signals', 'Output Signals' and 'Homing' tabs.

Port 2 and Port 3 Pin Direction

 

  • If a pin is to have its logic level inverted, you MUST do it here in the ESS's Pins Config.   Do not invert a pin's logic level in the Mach Config! That will just cause problems.

Active Low or High

 

  • While not mandatory, we strongly recommend that you assign an Alias name for each pin you wish to use, since Alias names make it MUCH easier to troubleshoot.  Each Alias must be unique.  

 

  • Here is a suggested naming convention that will help to make it VERY obvious as to which type of signal you are dealing with while setting up your profile.  This is optional, but it will help to catch and prevent mistakes!
    • Use a ‘MOTOR N’ prefix for motor Step, Direction, Quadrature and CW/CCW signals going out.

MOTOR

 

    • Use ‘SPINDLE’ for spindle PWM, Step, Direction, Quadrature and CW/CCW signals going out.

SPINDLE

 

    • Use ‘ENABLE’ for enable signals going out.

ENABLE

 

    • Use ‘IN ’ for input signals.

IN

 

    • Use ‘OUT ’ for the remaining output signals.

OUT

 

  • CAUTION:  If you rename an Alias in Pins Config, it will update the name on the 'Input Signals' and 'Output Signals' tabs.  This may result in a signal going to an unintended output, or being read from an unintended input!

 

  • If a pin is an input, you may perform noise filtering.  However, you really should address the noise issues inherent in your wiring and electronics by fixing the noise at its source, because noise filtering only masks the problem and delays the signal.
    • The minimum value is 0.0 (no filtering), the signal goes straight through.
    • The step size is 1.85 us.
    • It will round up to the next value.  i.e. 0.01 goes to 1.85 us.   2.0 goes to 3.7 us.
    • The Maximum size is 120,000 us (0.12 seconds)
  • If you need to use noise filtering as a stop-gap measure, here would be some reasonable values:
    • 1000 us on home and limit switches
    • 1000 us on EStop signals
    • Preferably no filtering on Probe signals - if you have noise here you really need to fix your wiring or get a better probe.
    • NEVER USE filtering on index or encoder signals; it will cause data loss as you increase to full speed!


Here is an example Pins Config window.  YOURS WILL BE DIFFERENT!

Pins Config Tab

 

 

ESS Step 7 - Input Signals Tab:

Here is a link to the description of all the available Input Signals.  On the “Input Signals” tab, you can:

    • Enable any input signal you wish, by placing a Green check in the Enable column. Then assign a pin alias (or Port M Pin N pin) to the Mapped Pin column, which you created in the Pins Config tab. 

Enable Input Signal

 

    • If you want to clear a mapping, select the blank line at the top of the drop down box, otherwise, select one of the available input signals.

Clear Mapping

 

    • You may use a single input pin’s alias for multiple mappings.  Just select from the drop down list in each cell of the Mapped Pins column.

Multiple Mappings

 Here is an example Input Signals window.  YOURS WILL BE DIFFERENT!

Input Signals

 

 

ESS Step 8 - Output Signals Tab:

Here is a link to the description of all the available Output Signals.  On the “Output Signals” tab, you can:

  • Enable any output signals (left most column) you wish, by changing the Enabled column to a green check mark.

Enabled Outputs

  • Assign an enabled output signal to one or more Output Pins (or Aliases you set up in the Pins Config tab).
  • An Output pin (alias) may only be assigned to one signal in the Output Signals Window.
  • There are 3 columns, so a single output signal may drive one, two or three output pins (aliases).
  • A few BOBs will require a Motor N Enable signal or a Charge Pump signal to function properly.

 

 Here is an example Output Signals window.  YOURS WILL BE DIFFERENT!

Output Signals

 

ESS Step 9 - Homing Tab:

***I have seen homing fail if the ESS Plugin frequency is set to 200 Hz instead of the default value of 40 Hz.  I think that this is PC  dependent as to how high the plugin frequency can be, before this issue comes up.***

When you press the Ref All Home button on your screen set, Mach4 will tell the SmoothStepper which axis or axes to home.  Typically you will have the machine Home the Z axis first, so the Z can rise up to a safe position.  Then you would have the X and Y axes home together at the same time.

When Mach4 tells the ESS to home an axis (axes), the ESS will convert that into motors that it should be homing.  (Each motor that makes up that axis or axes in the Mach4 Axis Mapping tab will be homed at the same time.)  Each motor will move towards the home switch at the faster approach speed, activate the home switch and then sit and wait on the active home switch until all currently homing motors are on their home switches. Since the motors were traveling at the faster approach velocity, they will like be at least several steps into the active region for your switch, which is not super accurate.  That is why we then back off the switch at the slower back off velocity, and preferably we creep off of the switch, so as soon as the switch deactivates we are a single step off of the switch, and can provide an accurate and repeatable home position.  The ESS will then report to Mach that the axis is (axes are) homed, and then Mach4 will tell the ESS to home another axis (axes) if applicable.

If you are having problems with homing, please run a log file while homing and it will describe what is happening or what is going wrong.

Here is how you set up your Home and Limit switches and common issues seen with it.

  • The plugin will automatically populate the Home Pins for you, based upon the settings in the Input Signals tab.
  • Motors that have a “Home Pin” listed will be homed when you do a Ref All Home or reference that individual axis. 
  • ONLY check 'Enable Homing To Motor Index' if you are using encoders or a rotational axis that has an index pin. 
  • The plugin will automatically populate the 'Index Pins' for you, based upon the settings in the Input Signals tab.
  • You may change the 'Approach Velocity' to speed up or slow down how fast the system approaches the homing switch. This should be a reasonably fast speed so you don't need to wait for a long time for the system to home. (However, start with a slow approach velocity when first setting up your homing, until you know that your switches are working correctly. Once homing is working for your setup, then increase the approach velocity.)
  • You may change the 'Backoff Velocity' to speed up or slow down how fast the system leaves the homing switch.  Since the back off distance is usually only a few steps, this should be a very small number to give you the best accuracy.
  • Mach4's homing speed percentages are ignored by the ESS plugin, since we require 'Approach Velocity' and 'Backoff Velocity' fields.
  • The ESS plugin now supports a back off distance after homing is completed.  Enter a distance you want it to move away from the switch.
  • In Mach4 Step 3, we will configure those settings inside Mach4's 'Homing and Soft Limits' tab.  This is where you can change the homing direction, and the order that the axes home in.

     

      Here is an example Homing window.  YOURS WILL BE DIFFERENT!

    Homing Tab

 

ESS Step 10 - Probing Tab:

 

  Here is an example Probing window.  YOURS WILL BE DIFFERENT!

Probing Tab

 

 

ESS Step 11 - Backlash Tab:

If you need backlash compensation, check the box to enable it.

The ESS will import the backlash amount along with the max velocity and acceleration rate from the Mach4 motor tuning parameters.

Depending on the type of hardware you are using and the amount of backlash, you can "Use Custom Values", and assign a faster pull out rate (unlikely) or a slower pull out rate (more likely).

Backlash comp has been working correctly in Mach4 since ESS 231 in 2018. The two reasons people have problems getting backlash comp working correctly are:

  • They either incorrectly measured or incorrectly entered the amount of backlash in the fields of the configuration tabs.
  • The motors are incorrectly tuned. Cut your Mach4 motor tuning velocity in half along with your acceleration (then go back and make sure they are correct).  Then try cutting again and see if everything worked correctly.  If it did you can try increasing your values until they no longer work and then back off of the failure point by 5% or 10%.

 

  Here is an example Backlash tab window.  YOURS WILL BE DIFFERENT!

Backlash Tab

 

If you want to test your backlash settings, here is some great GCode (or MDI window code) to test with.   This is very methodical and makes it easy to test repeatably, and MUCH better than to do your testing by jogging.

 

Paste this code into a GCode file (or MDI window), a LOG FILE with backlash comp messages enabled will tell you everything that is happening.   The 0.005" move sizes should be larger than your backlash amount for initial testing.  Please start your testing with moves larger than the backlash amount, because that will quickly tell you if you have selected the correct backlash amount without the issues of trying to make moves smaller than your backlash size and seeing if you have the correct backlash amount specified:

F10

G00 X1.000 (get to a known position)

G01 X2.000 (We just moved positive, so I am now certain of our real position)

M00 (Mandatory Stop, set up dial to take measurement, press Cycle Start when ready)

G01 X2.005 (We now made a move that should NOT have a Backlash Comp pull out)

M00 (Mandatory Stop,Did we move 0.005"? Press Cycle Start when ready)

 

G01 X2.000 (We now made a move that should have had a Backlash Comp pull out)

M00 (Mandatory Stop,Did we move exactly 0.005"? Press Cycle Start when ready)

 

G01 X2.005 (We now made a move that should have had a Backlash Comp pull out)

M00 (Mandatory Stop,Did we move exactly 0.005"? Press Cycle Start when ready)

 

G01 X2.000 (We now made a move that should have had a Backlash Comp pull out)

M00 (Mandatory Stop,Did we move exactly 0.005"? Press Cycle Start when ready)

 

G00 X0.500 (Back to the negative side of X1.000 so a repeat test will have consistency)

M30

 

 

 

ESS Step 12 - H.C. (Height Control) Tab:

All of our ESS specific information and documentation for Torch Height control is found here.

TMC3in1 documentation is found here.

  Here is an example Height Control window.  YOURS WILL BE DIFFERENT!

HC Tab

 

 

 

 

ESS Step 13 - ESS Config Completed:

You are finished with the ESS Plugin Config. Please close the ESS Configuration window by pressing 'OK' at the bottom of the window.

 

 


 

Mach4 Configuration:

Here is the current Mach4 Installation Manual (MIM), which details what all of the fields and settings are.   There are other manuals provided for you in your "C:\Mach4Hobby\Docs\" folder. Please read them since they provide lots of useful information!

This guide will only cover the fields that are the most relevant to getting Mach4 and your system running with an ESS.  The Mach4 documentation will cover the remaining fields for you.

 

Mach Entering the Config:

Go to Menu -> Configure -> Control... (used to be Mach…)    As we look though the Mach Config tabs, you will see that quite a bit of this has been filled in for you automatically!

Menu -> Configure -> Mach....

 

Mach4 Step 1 - General Tab:

 Mach's General Config tab, has some settings you need to pay attention to:

    • Units.  You will need to choose Inches or Metric, and it is best to choose the same units for both the Machine Setup Units and your Units Mode.  I will use Inches since that is what we use in the US.

Units

 

    • Control Mode will allow you to choose between: Mill, Lathe, Tangential and 3D Printer.

Mach Control Modes

 

  • The rest of these settings will suffice for most users to get started.  Please read the Mach4 Installation Manual (linked above) for more information on these settings.

  Mach General Config

 

 

Mach4 Step 2 - Axis Mapping Tab:

We will skip the Motors tab and cover the Axis Mapping and Homing tabs first.

Please refer back to your ESS Output Signals tab to see which motors you are using, and how they are setup.

Mach's Axis Mapping tab.  This allows you to specify which Motors maps to which Axes.  In this example, I have Motor3 (which would have been my A axis in Mach3) slaved to my Y axis.

  • Assign your motors to the appropriate axes, and place a green check in the Enabled column for those rows.
  • Do not enable rows that you are not using.

 Mach Axis Mapping

 

Mach4 Step 3 - Homing/SoftLimits Tab:

We will skip the Motors tab and cover the Axis Mapping and Homing tabs first. 

Mach's Homing and Soft Limits tab.  This is where we set up our system to return to the home position for each axis.  You need to set up each axis individually.  Slaved axes will be handled automatically via the ESS and Mach4, based on the Axis Mapping tab.

  • Home Direction: Pos for homing in the positive direction.  Neg for homing in the negative direction.  (MIM p. 17)
  • Home Order:  A value of 0 means an axis will be skipped.  1 will be the first axis homed, 2 the next axis homed, etc...
  • Home Offset:  The home offset allows for a shift from the home switch position. This can be used to shift the home position if your home switch is not located at the end of travel. (MIM p. 17)
  • Home Speed %: This is ignored by the SmoothStepper.  To adjust the approach and back off velocities, please go to the ESS Homing Tab.
  • Home in Place:  This will home (zero) the axis wherever it is currently sitting, instead of using a home switch.  You would want to move the Home in Place axis (axes) to wherever you want them before you home.  Place a Green check mark if you want to enable this feature for that axis. ANY AXIS THAT YOU ARE NOT USING SHOULD HAVE A GREEN CHECK FOR HOME IN PLACE!  If you don't the ESS plugin may issue warnings about it in pop up messages.
  • Soft Enable is enabled with a Green check. If it is enabled, Mach4 checks the axis position against the upper and lower soft limit values and the axis will decelerate to the Soft Max or Soft Min limit when jogging and will prevent any incremental jogs past the limits. When running G-Code, any moves panned past the limits will not be done and the machine will be put into a stop condition and a soft limit error will be displayed. (MIM p. 18)

 

Please refer back to your ESS Output Signals tab and the Mach Axis Mapping tab in the previous step to see which Axes you are using, and how they are setup. 

If you have a home switch on an axis, you can have that axis assigned a home order.  If  an axis does not have a home switch, it should home in place.  In either case, that axis may have soft limits enabled.  Soft limits typically are placed just inside the working area in a way that the home or limit switches will not be activated.

In this example, I have it set up to home axes in the following order, Z(1), X(2), Y and its slave(3). All other axes had their home order set to 0 and were set to Home in Place.

Mach Homing and Soft Limits

 

Mach4 Step 4 - Motors Tab:

Now that we have done the Axis Mapping and Homing tabs first, we will now cover the Motors tab .

Mach's Motor Config tab.  For each motor on your system, enter the following (you will know this already or your parts providers can supply you with this information):

  • Counts Per Unit (this was steps per unit in Mach3).
  • Velocity in Units/Minute
  • Acceleration in Units/(Sec*Sec)
  • Backlash (if applicable)
  • Reverse?    Never check the motor tuning "Reverse?" box - instead change the active high low value for that Motor's Dir Pin on the ESS Config -> pins tab.  This will cause all sorts of problems with laser work and other applications!
  • and Enable Delay (if applicable)

You only need to configure the motors you are using; you may ignore and uncheck unused motors.

How do you calculate your steps per unit?  Try this Excel spreadsheet made by RICH.  Or our cached version of it here.  We do not guarantee the accuracy of this spreadsheet, but it seems to be helpful.

You want to see a trapezoidal shape like this. 

Mach Motor Config

 

 

Mach4 Step 5 - Input Signals Tab:

Mach's Input Signals tab should be fully populated from the values you entered in the ESS config, you should not need to do anything here.  NEVER SET A SIGNAL ACTIVE LOW HERE, ONLY SET A SIGNAL ACTIVE LOW IN THE ESS PINS CONFIG!

Mach Input Signals

 

Mach4 Step 6 Output Signals - Tab:

Mach's Output Signals tab should be fully populated from the values you entered in the ESS config, you should not need to do anything here.  NEVER SET A SIGNAL ACTIVE LOW HERE, ONLY SET A SIGNAL ACTIVE LOW IN THE ESS PINS CONFIG!

 Mach Output Signals

 

Mach4 Step 7 - MPGs Tab:

Mach's MPGs tab.  We provide 6 encoders for the 6 motors, 1 spindle encoder, and 3 auxiliary (extra) encoders.   If you want to see the encoders counting, go to Mach4's Menu -> Diagnostic -> ESS, and then look at the lower middle of that window for the 10 encoders (the spindle had counted up to 52).

Encoder 0 is mapped to Motor 0.
Encoder 1 is mapped to Motor 1.
Encoder 2 is mapped to Motor 2.
Encoder 3 is mapped to Motor 3.
Encoder 4 is mapped to Motor 4.
Encoder 5 is mapped to Motor 5.

Aux Encoder 0, 1, and 2 can be used anywhere you want to.

You use the Mach Config MPG window to assign the Encoders to the MPGs.

You need lua to assign a MPG to an axis.

MPG0 is assigned to the X Axis
MPG1 is assigned to the Y Axis
MPG2 is assigned to the Z Axis

 

ESS Encoder Diagnostic view

  This screen shot is just meant to show the MPGs, you will want to set yours up according to your needs. 

Mach MPGs tab

 

Mach4 Step 8 - Spindle Tab:

Mach's Spindle tab.  This is similar to the pulley window in Mach3.   Typically, you will only need to configure Row 0, and your settings at the bottom of the window. 

  • Set the desired spindle MinRPM in the Spindle tab of the Mach4 config. In Mach4, this may be nonzero.  A value of 0 allows a spindle S0 command to output a PWM with a zero duty cycle or no step pulses in Step/Dir mode.  A value larger than 0 (i.e. 500) would bump up all S commands to that minimum value. 
  • Set the desired spindle MaxRPM in the Spindle tab of the Mach4 config. You will typically want this to match the value you enter in Max Spindle Motor RPM in the bottom, just to avoid confusion.  For this example, I picked 24,000 RPM, but you should use whatever is the maximum RPM for your Spindle.  Your max RPM could be MUCH lower.
  • You may need to set your Accel and Decel Time to allow for your spindle to speed up or slow down.
  • Feedback Ratio is only modified if you have up or down gearing on your spindle to change your RPMs.  This will allow for your encoders to account for the gearing change in the measured spindle RPM.
  • If necessary the generated PWM signal can be inverted in the Pins Config tab of the ESS Config.
  • The Max Spindle Motor RPM should match the Max RPM in Row 0, jsut to avoid confusion.
  • The Step/Dir Spindle Axis should be left as none, unless you are following the Spindle Step/Dir mode setup guide.

Spindle speed is fully adjustable between 0% and 100% (this would be duty cycle in PWM mode), using the M3 S### command etc. within Mach4. In Step and Direction mode we would generate between 0 and 24,000 pulses per second.  In the example shown below M3 S24000 will generate a full on signal, M3 S12000 will generate a half speed signal and M3 S0 will stop it (as would the M5 command). 

We covered the initial ESS setup of the Spindle back in step #10.

Here is a video on YouTube showing how to set up Spindle PWM with a FWD and Reverse output as well.

The Spindle works with Step/Dir mode.  You will need to set it up as an OB motor, which is shown here.


Here is a short FAQ article on the Mach4 Spindle buttons.

 Mach Spindle Config

 

Mach4 Step 9 - Tool Path Tab:

Mach's Tool Path tab has nothing to do with the SmoothStepper setup, but it may be relevant to your application.

 

 

Mach4 Step 10 - Plugins Tab:

You may enable any plugins you need in this tab.

 

 

Mach4 Step 11 - Mach Config Completed:

Press 'OK' to save and exit the Mach Configuration. 

 

 

Mach4 Step 12 - G61 Exact Stop Mode / G64 Cutting Mode (Constant Velocity) Tuning:

G61 Exact Stop mode makes sure that you come to a full stop at the end of each G0/G1/G2/G3 motion command, before the next motion command is started. 

G64 Cutting Mode (Constant Velocity) blends one G0/G1/G2/G3 motion command into the next motion command to keep a constant velocity while also holding a specific distance tolerance. 

 

You should select one mode or the other (back in the Mach4 General Tab), but you should always include a G61 or a G64 in EVERY GCode file you generate!

You may use G64 Cutting Mode (Constant Velocity) intentionally or accidentally, in either case, you should have it tuned to operate correctly with your hardware!  If you ever change your motor tuning, you should rerun the CV (Constant Velocity) tuning wizard.

 

a) Mach4 Menu -> Wizard -> Select Wizard.

a

 

b) Load Wizard-> mcCvDistToleranceV001   (use a newer version if available). 

b

c) Read the info and click Next.

 c

d) Select the axes where the blended motion needs to occur.  Typically this will be the X and Y axes and not the Z axis, rotational axes or O.B. axes.  Click Next.

 d

e)  Enter the tolerance you wish to maintain.  Click Next.

 e

f) Click Finished once it tells you that you CV Feed Rate table has been populated.

 f

g) Mach4 Menu -> Wizard -> Select Wizard.

  g

h) Load Wizard-> CV_Feedrate (use a newer version if available).  You will see that your CV Feed Rate table has now been populated.  There is nothing to do here other than click the X to close it.

 h

 

 

 

Mach4 Step 13 - Backing Up:

Once you have Mach4 running the way you want it to, make a copy (or many copies) of your whole "C:\Mach4\" or "C:\Mach4Hobby\" or "C:\Mach4Industrial\" folder and store it somewhere safe.  I have one copy at a relative's house on a USB stick, and another copy on DropBox.com   If I ever need to restore or replace my computer, I can just install Mach4, and then use my copy of the "Mach4" folder to replace the one on the PC and I am all set to run.  It can save hours and hours.  You should also back up your G-Code projects as well.

 

 

Mach4 Step 14 - Wrapping Up:

You are now ready to load a G-Code program and run it!  We suggest to practice running with an air cut first (no tools in your spindle) so you can see exactly what the machine will do, and make corrections to your program if necessary.  Also you should re-read all of the safety information you have, including ours.

Documentation (Manual) pages:

 


 

This concludes the Getting Started walk through.  If you need more help, please look at our Troubleshooting guide and our Help page.

 

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