A Computer for Mach3 & the Taig Mill / Lathe CNC Conversions
Last updated on Sunday, September 07, 2014 05:52:34 AM Eastern US Time Zone

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Mother Board, SSD, Network, Enclosure, Display Brackets, USB Hub, Cables, UPS, MediaServer, XFX R7950 GPU, Mass Storage, SuperbugX

Assembled a computer to handle the Mach3 Mill software, a 4-axes LPT1 interfaced stepper
controller, an LPT2-interfaced manual pulse generator (MPG) pendant, relay control box, & the Internet.

Mother Board

The configuration is: a Gigabyte G41M-ES2L motherboard
with LPT1 I/O, Intel Core 2 Extreme x6800 2.93 GHz
1066 FSB CPU with Rosewill cooler, 4 GB G.Skill 4-4-4-12 DDR2-800 RAM with heat sinks, & an Asus ENGT520
 zero dB fan less PCIe (x16) video card with 2 GB DDR3 onboard RAM. Gigabyte MOBO uses solid capacitors.
The four-computer network is running at either a Gigabit wired or n wireless communication speeds.


The Asus low-profile ENGT520 GPU's massive heat sink covers the adjacent unused PCIe (x1) slot.


Low-profile LPT2 PCI card.


Second LPT2 card (right) for the MPG pendant.


Start, Control Panel, Device Manager, Ports, LPT


In the BIOS, I turned-off the two RS232 serial ports & configured the two LPT ports to EPP+ECP.
LPT1 is on the motherboard (0378 hex) & LPT2 is a PCI card (DF00 hex). The Port #1 address
is standard but the Port #2 address can vary so examine the computer's devices menu.


 

Power meter measurements: 80W at idle (65W without the graphics card) & 110W peak on boot;
300W power supply. This computer was built specifically for & is dedicated to controlling the CNC Taig mill in
4 axes using Mach3 Mill & the CNC Lathe using Mach3 Turn. It also has plenty of power for design applications.

Solid State Drive (SSD)

Using Window 7 (32-bit for the LPT drivers) & installed it on a Samsung 840 250 GB SSD.
Before an upgrade, make sure you have your latest Mach3 mill & turn xml setup files, licenses for
Mach3, Newfangled, Gearotic Motion, Involute. Reset MOBO LPT1 to EPP+ECP in the BIOS & verify
addresses. If Mach3 uses Brain Control (e.g., for an MPG2) they have to be reloaded & configured,
as well. All Brain Control routines are placed into the Brains folder located in the main Mach3 folder.

Performance gains using Win 7 & an SSD in place of XP & an HDD are nothing short of amazing
even though this particular MOBO only has a SATA2 interface. All four networked computers use
Win 7 & SSDs. Four remaining HDDs (3.5 TB) now reside in a Mediasonic 4-bay enclosure for backups.
Total network storage is 6.32 TB. The venerable XP OS has been retired after years of ultra-stability.
MediaServer is wired to three Apple TVs; holds 6500 songs, 14,000 photos & hundreds of videos. 

Network
CPU TB Drive
MediaServer OS 0.50 SSD
MediaServer Data 0.50 SSD
MediaServer Backup 2.00

HDD

Asus OS 0.50 SSD
Asus Data 0.50 HDD
Asus Backup 0.50 HDD
Gigabyte OS 0.25 SSD
Gigabyte Data 0.32 HDD
Gigabyte Backup 0.50 HDD
HTPC 0.25 SSD
HTPC Backup 0.50 HDD
TOTAL 6.32  



Enclosure

This photo shows Mach3 Mill depicting the tool path for cutting a circular pocket.

This Core 2 Extreme x6800 (Conroe) CPU-based system easily generates 100K pulses/sec & higher
 in Mach3. 35,000 pulses/s is fine for this application & does not burden either of the two CPU cores.


This enclosure has a door in an extra effort to reduce swarf infiltration; it is effective.
The low-profile
μATX case was selected to optimize placement under the bench.

Display Brackets

Wall-mounted bracket for the computer's 19" LCD monitor. The bracket allows  the display to move
vertically, pivot, rotate, & tilt. Removing 4 small screws allows the OEM base to be completely removed.


The 4.75" x 4.75" x ¼" plate attaches to the 4, pre-existing M4-0.7 threaded mounting holes.


Top monitor bracket pivot with locking ¼-20 knob.


A wall bracket holds the 19" monitor completely off the bench.


The monitor bracket was lowered for improved viewing.


Upgraded to a 24" 16:9 LG 24EN31 HD LED monitor. There was too much flex when using the 4-screw wall
bracket.
The monitor sits on a bracket that allows access to the outlets & keeps it above the bench clutter.


I have the two USB receivers located above the bench top as they were
 having difficulty picking-up signals through the 3" thick granite surface plate.


Upgraded to a Logitech M510 mouse with a USB micro-receiver. This mouse has superior ergonomics
with comfortable overall shape & slightly protruding forward/backward switches that have tactile feedback.
A shallow indent in the area in-between the side switches gives location info to the thumb. The LED is
invisible infrared light & the two AA batteries last years. It works on one battery if light-weight is desired.
Only one micro-receiver is needed to interface up to seven coupled Logitech devices.


Installed Logitech Z-4 speakers which included a subwoofer. They have a decent price to performance ratio.
All of the components of the install emphasized lowered bench clutter & the mitigation of metal swarf effects.

USB Hub


Seven-port, externally powered USB 2.0 hub (D-Link DUB-H7) with two, high-current charging ports (Taiwan).


Bench-mounted the hub using an aluminum plate screwed to the backstop & attached with double-sided tape.

Cables

The CPU, LCD, opto-isolation, safety charge pump, & pendant interfaces are protected by a computer monitored (RS232)
APC uninterruptable power supply while the stepper motor control circuit is protected by a standard APC surge protector.

UPS

Uninterruptible Power System (UPS).
An upgraded APC Back-UPS ES 550 having computer monitoring software connected via a USB.


MediaServer

An example of a small form factor (mini-ITX) build based on the Shuttle SZ77R5 barebones box.
This unit serves as my iTunes-based MediaServer on a four-computer, gigabit / Wi-Fi (n) home network,
feeding 3 Apple TVs. All four computers are running Windows 7 with Samsung solid state drives (SSDs).
A Neargear ProSafe GS108, 8-port Gigabit unmanaged switch is used for the wired Ethernet distribution.
Computers are much easier to build these days as compared to over 20 years ago, thank goodness.


Three dummy RJ-45 plugs keep swarf out.


 Shuttle SZ77R5 Brochure  L = 332mm (13") x W = 216mm (8.5") x H = 198mm (7.8").


It has a sturdy yet light-weight aluminum chassis. Shuttle SZ77R5 Quick Guide


Front panel header.


500W PSU.


MOBO DVI, HDMI, S/PDIF out, eSATA (no port multiplier), USB3, 1 Gbit Ethernet, USB2, 7.1 channel HD audio.


RAM slots color-coded for population rules, if needed. Two, SATA2 sockets (orange).


32 GB G.Skill DDR3 1600 XMP 1.5v 10-10-10-30 RAM. This amount of memory requires Windows 7 64bit Pro.
XMP enabled allows the i7 CPU to OC the RAM. If needed first update the BIOS then enable an XMP profile.


The socket's clear plastic protective shield is still in-place.


i7-3770 3.4 GHz (3.9 GHz Turbo) 1155 Ivy Bridge CPU.


High-density polysynthetic thermal compound thinly applied before attaching the cooler.


Liquid-cooled radiator-type heat pipe.


Heat pipe snapped into place over the i7 CPU.


The fan comes mounted in a radiator shroud.


Fan & shroud attached with (backside) thumbscrews covering the cooler.


The 1st 500 GB SSD is for the OS & data. 


 The 2nd 500 GB SSD is for data, making it 1 TB of ultra high-speed system storage added to the network.


A Toshiba Samsung Storage Technology (TSST) generic DVD burner & SSD mounted into the bay.




Replaced the ODD with an Asus that yielded a more precise action due to a better micro-switch.
The 2 SSD bracket screws (center) were subsequently removed as they were too close to the GPU.


Two SSDs mounted have flipped positions so the right-angle power plugs do not interfere with each other.


The two, SATA3 (6 GBits/s) interfaces are the blue sockets to the left.
Additional SSDs & SATA3 ports can be added using a mini-PCIE expansion card.

SATA DEFINITIONS
SATA revision 1.0 1.5 Gbits/s 150 MB/s
SATA revision 2.0  3 Gbits/s 300 MB/s
SATA revision 3.0 6 Gbits/s 600 MB/s


The front has been removed via four snap tabs. This shows a round-type open/close button.


The mechanization of the Shuttle's DVD open/close button. The outside button pivots at the far left & the sliding
part pivots on the far right. The left part pushes at the end of the right's arm to provide mechanical advantage.


The detent square button (the white arrow points to it) moves to align with the DVD open/close button center.


With the ODD in place, I slid it forward until it stopped & then secured the mounting screws. The
case's open/close mechanism presses the center of the Asus ODD's rectangular open/close button.

XFX R7950 GPU

Prepared the chassis to install a dual-slot GPU. Removed the center drive bay
for access & moved the cables around. 1 x 6-pin & 1 x 6+2-pin power connectors.


XFX R7950, Double Dissipation, 3 GB GDDR5, PCI Express 3.0 (32 GB/s),1250 MHz (5.0 Gbps),
 384-bit memory, 9th generation tessellation, 28nm technology, 2 x 6-pin power, 10.5" x 4.4" x 1.5".


Two 92mm fans.


Top to bottom: 2 x Mini DisplayPort (DP), 1 x HDMI, 2 x DVI.


Since this is my MediaServer, I do not interact with it very often, so the access panels do not hinder its use.
Can be noisy for a HTPC but fine for a home network server or game box when a high-end GPU is installed.

Mass Storage

Mediasonic 4-bay Probox HF2-SU3S2; low-cost, compact, fast (non-RAID) external storage solution.
Connected to my MediaServer via USB 3 where each drive is used for backups of each computer.
The Shuttle SZ77R5 eSATA does not support port multiplier.


Each drive has an attached handle that acts as a spacer to hold it in & when pivoted down, as an extractor.


This metal retainer plate snaps into place to securely hold all four drives in their slots.


The HDDs were not easily plugging into the box so I opened the back, loosened the six PCB
screws, installed all drives & re-tightened. Now the drives plug & play into the box very smoothly.


Updated the Dell 2001FP 20" 4:3 LCD monitor to an HP Pavilion 25bw 25" 16:9 LED monitor. FSX shown
on the screen. The full-sized keyboard is a Logitech Wireless K800 with laser-etched back-lighted keys.
The Logitech keyboard & mouse use a single, micro-sized, unifying USB receiver module.
The Thrustmaster T.Flight Hotas X USB Flight Stick & matching throttle can be bolted together. 
In order to remap all the control stick & throttle buttons, you may need the FSUIPC module.
The Saitek X-65F HOTAS looks like a good match to F/A-18E which is a fly-by-wire aircraft.

SuperbugX

F/A-18E Super Hornet SuperbugX with TacPack by Vertical Reality Simulations (VRS Wiki).
 It runs as a module within FSX with full weapons, as intended by God. A fantastic combat simulation.
The XFX R7950 GPU easily displays fully detailed, anisotropic filtered, & tripled-buffered imagery.
30 FPS is used since the FSX internal aero model is locked at that speed. Wait for refresh is enabled.

Mother Board, SSD, Network, Enclosure, Display Brackets, USB Hub, Cables, UPS, MediaServer, XFX R7950 GPU, Mass Storage, SuperbugX

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