falviani wrote: ↑Thu Sep 12, 2019 6:50 pm
I have a quick question - it appears that LinuxCNC requires a linux installation with the the real-time options to operate. Is this correct? How much horsepower would be required of the machine?
Your question is probably better answered on the LinuxCNC community but I'll take a shot at it.
There are actually two projects worth looking at LinuxCNC and MachineKit. Machinekit is a fork of LinuxCNC with emphasis on the Hardware Abstraction Layer and provides builds that will work on BeagleBone and other SoC hardware. LinuxCNC is focused on traditional PC builds.
The required horsepower depends on many things including whether you're doing step/direction or servo motors, step resolution, whether you're doing software step generation or using dedicated hardware, etc etc.
I saw on the website that USB is not considered acceptable as communications. Am I correct in concluding that ALL control functions are carried out by the linux box, and any interface on the router side is simply for motor control signal, electical isolation etc.
That's basically correct. USB apparently doesn't have guaranteed timing sufficient for a real-time application. You can't be assured that a required step pulse will happen when it's needed.
On one end of the DIY spectrum you have the RAMPS / GRBL 3D printing world. There's some cool stuff here that is powerful and inexpensive but not industrial grade. The focus is on dribbling the gcode to a dedicated interpreter that turns it into step/direction. The other end of the spectrum is closer to industrial grade. With LinuxCNC/Machinekit, the gcode interpretation and path planning happens on the PC. This is more complicated to set up and more expensive but gives some benefits. You can easily use servos as well as steppers, control up to 9 axes, override the spindle speed and feed rates in real time, pause and restart a running job, etc.
I am considering upgrading my current very small machine to something beefier but not a full-on DIY project - an existing kit. So I'd like to know if I should consider any that come up that use LinuxCNC as the controller.
I've run both LinuxCNC and Machinekit on my machines for years. I've found them both to be excellent projects. LinuxCNC is a viable replacement for even commercial grade equipment. It's extremely configurable and reliable, especially with industrial grade motion control cards like those that Mesa