Thursday, November 12, 2009

Featuring EMC2

While settling back in my home town, I found time to evaluate the CNC Controller bits.

After pain staking search and review; I end up PC based CNC software controller
1) Mach3 which runs on Window
2) EMC2 on Linux OS

As I wish to have the flexibility to have the last say on the hardware specifications

I eventually ended with EMC2 which is free open source program. Not that I'm cheap, Mach3 is affordable ~USD100, & you can have a trial version for unlimited period for free, it has all the bell and whistles that any top rank controller programs would have. Moreover, help forums and supporting community are strong too.

It is the believed that Open source Linux OS is practically immune to hackers & deathly viruses which I fear most.

About the software

  • EMC (the Enhanced Machine Control) is a software system for computer control of machine tools such as milling machines and lathes.
  • EMC is free software with open source code. Current versions of EMC are entirely licensed under the GNU General Public License and Lesser GNU General Public License (GPL and LGPL)
  • EMC provides:
    • a graphical user interface (actually several interfaces to chose from)
    • an interpreter for "G-code" (the RS-274 machine tool programming language)
    • a realtime motion planning system with look-ahead
    • operation of low-level machine electronics such as sensors and motor drives
    • an easy to use "breadboard" layer for quickly creating a unique configuration for your machine
    • a software PLC programmable with ladder diagrams
    • easy installation with .deb packages or a Live-CD
It does not provide drawing (CAD - Computer Aided Design) or G-code generation from the drawing (CAM - Computer Automated Manufacturing) functions.
  • It can simultaneously move up to 9 axes and supports a variety of interfaces.
  • The control can operate true servos (analog or PWM) with the feedback loop closed by the EMC software at the computer, or open loop with "step-servos" or stepper motors.
  • Motion control features include: cutter radius and length compensation, path deviation limited to a specified tolerance, lathe threading, synchronized axis motion, adaptive feedrate, operator feed override, and constant velocity control.
  • Support for non-Cartesian motion systems is provided via custom kinematics modules. Available architectures include hexapods (Stewart platforms and similar concepts) and systems with rotary joints to provide motion such as PUMA or SCARA robots.
  • EMC runs on Linux using real time extensions. Support currently exists for version 2.4 and 2.6 Linux kernels with real time extensions applied by RT-Linux or RTAI patches.

EMC2 is precompiled with Ubuntu 8.04 LTS (long term support) versions for ease of installation and longevity.

EMC2 has a few GUIS, Namely, AXIS, TkEmc, HALUI. They even has a Ladder Logic program call CLASSICLADDER. For now, I'll concentrate mainly on AXIS which is an ongoing development.

Screen shoots

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