Cut2D as alternative to Mach3

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Cut2D as alternative to Mach3

Postby ryadia » Sun Jun 11, 2017 9:42 am

Hi guys,
I bought Vcarve a while ago and like it a lot but the Chinese Router I bought went 2000 Klm away to have a Gecko G540, new transformers and a few other parts not up to scratch replaced. I've got it back now and after a few teething issues, the machine is working although not accurately. I'll fix that part easily enough once I decide on the software to send Gcodes to the machine.

Originally it had USB CNC software from Planet CNC. Odd that they told me the controller had a counterfiet board in it but they licensed their software to it anyway! PayPal to the rescue for a refund. Now the system uses parallel port connection, I'm faced now with deciding which program to buy (or use in the case of LinuxCNC) to complement Vcarve.

I'm hoping someone with more experience than me (almost everyone) can tell me that Cut2D is a better or as good as program as Mach3 which is obsolete now. I've been sent (by the firm that modified the controller) a Mach3 XML file that pretty much only need the XYZ accuracy set to be functional... Hmm. Big statement that one! Seeing as I need to buy one or the other software, I'm asking now for some advice. Linux CNC is always an option and I have G540 options for it but its pretty thin on instructions. Those that it has are a lot more technical that in Mach3 and frankly... I'm getting too old to re-learn what I abandoned 15 years ago.

As usual, any and all help will be gratefully received.
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Re: Cut2D as alternative to Mach3

Postby Adrian » Sun Jun 11, 2017 11:29 am

Cut2D and Mach3 are totally different animals. Cut2D creates the files for Mach3 to run, it can't control a CNC machine on it's own.

Cut2D is basically a cut down VCarve with no 3D or vcarving capabilities.

You need a control program like Mach3, Mach4, LinuxCNC, WinCNC, USB CNC etc to run the actual machine.
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Re: Cut2D as alternative to Mach3

Postby Leo » Sun Jun 11, 2017 1:00 pm

Adrian is 100% correct - Vectric does not have any software to "drive" the machine.

If you already have V-Carve - stay with that or upgrade. V-Carve is a very powerful program and can do a LOT of stuff for you.

The XML file and all you need to do is calibrate the machine IS a sensible statement.

As to driving the machine.
Mach 3 is not really obsolete. You can still purchase is from New Fangled Software, but they just do not "support" it any longer. They still sell it and it is still GREAT software to drive the machine.

Mach4 is the new version that New Fangled Software is "supporting"

This is my opinion as to how to complete your project:
If it were me - I would keep the V-Carve that you already have, and make it up to current version. I would also setup Mach3 with a parallel cable. I would install the supplied XML file and calibrate the machine.
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Re: Cut2D as alternative to Mach3

Postby IslaWW » Sun Jun 11, 2017 8:05 pm

A small difference of opinion with Leo... and I hate saying definitive terms like "obsolete". The reality is that along with not being supported, there have not been any upgrades, bug fixes or patches for numerous years. Like the developers wanted to keep collecting $, but let the software die on the vine.

I can remember when Mach was the control software that most others tried to imitate. Numerous other control developers were called to task by users that saw or heard of features that Mach had. Not so much anymore. Have they added anything in a decade?

Another factor: The business model of developing CNC control software and not having brick and mortar factory support along with factory approved or branded I/O hardware and computer specs has not proved to be as successful as the numerous brands that have sprung up over the last few years. Add this to the fact that there are a good number of newer controls that cost substantially less that Mach, and come with support, I/O hardware, cable and instructions. Actual brick and mortar operations that don't rely on the user base to provide support.

If you visit a number of unbranded forums as I do, you will notice that most of the listed machine control issues can be attributed to users of Mach. None of these issues can be attributed to the huge mostly loyal userbase, they must be aimed at developer lack of interest.
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Re: Cut2D as alternative to Mach3

Postby Makingtoothpicks » Mon Jun 12, 2017 12:11 am

I might suggest looking at something other the Parallel port. Some of the USB or Ethernet connections are
far better.

I use UCCNC and a USB. There are others. The parallel port was dropped I think about the same time
as support for Mach3. Mach4 I understand is not well received. Go to the Mach forum check things out
and look into other forums.

Your Mach3 XML will work in UCCNC and run just fine. Most of the others will also I believe

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Re: Cut2D as alternative to Mach3

Postby ryadia » Mon Jun 12, 2017 2:22 am

Thank you all for your input. Everyone who replied had something different/additional to tell me. For this I am grateful.

I already have an Eckler rt stepper dongle to supposedly use a USB connection to the controller. Like all too many objects being sold via the Internet, it arrived without software or any instructions for use. Even I know that without a driver, no USB device is likely to work unless it is registered with Microsoft and Windows automatically knows what it is. That isn't the case with this device. Looks like I've done $85 on this one so any suggestion I use one I'm sceptical about.

I looked (briefly) at WinCNC and left the site after reading the first line of its description. "WinCNC is software and hardware package that allows control of a CNC machine" at $1200 for a daughterboard and few bucks worth of accessories, I can't see any real value in it except the likelyhood of more PayPal intervention for a refund when it doesn't drive my router.

Linux CNC is a neat looking interface. It has support for G540 controller but not the 'nowandforever' VFD. I guess it wouldn't be too hard to go back to using the controlls on the 'black box' to adjust the spindle speed but it is much nicer to let the Vcarve Gcodes do it for me.

I guess in reality, Mach3 looks like to only viable alternative. I found information on running it under Windows 7 and some sketchy details about getting it to run under Windows 8. It seems the developers could have done this themselves but chose instead to support Mach4 and charge users who have a parallel port configuration for making it backwards compatible.

I'm afraid I don't subscribe to the therory of making millions of dollars selling a few lines of code. I don't have a problem paying for the work that goes into developing a complex program like Mach but at some point stopping support for a program still being sold doesn't do a lot for the developer's ethics. BTW. Its illegal to do that in Australia but not being in a country with strong consumer laws makes it easy to abandon any ethics that produce respected companies in the search for undeserving profit. :twisted:

Again, Thanks everyone for sound advice. Looks like Mach3 is my only viable choice. USBCNC software needs a Planet CNC controller board if you plan on updating it or forever you'll be annoyed by a nag screen telling you to update its firmware. A real pity because it is both easy to use and easy to configure.

Ryadia :roll:
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Re: Cut2D as alternative to Mach3

Postby ryadia » Mon Jun 12, 2017 2:29 am

IslaWW wrote:Add this to the fact that there are a good number of newer controls that cost substantially less that Mach, and come with support, I/O hardware, cable and instructions. Actual brick and mortar operations that don't rely on the user base to provide support.


Thanks for that IslaWW.
I wonder if you could let me know the names of the "newer controls" you mentioned? I don't actually have a lot of time on my hands and searching for alternative software is not something I can alway find a few hours to do. It would help me greatly if you could name the other software so I can Google it.

Thanks for replying,
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Re: Cut2D as alternative to Mach3

Postby IslaWW » Mon Jun 12, 2017 2:45 am

There are at least a half dozen listed above in this thread. There are also dozens that you can look over if you google "cnc controller". In the lower price ranges, UCCNC seems to have the most promise due to serious commitment to the userbase by the developers. In the higher end, WinCNC is the gold standard of pc based control.
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Re: Cut2D as alternative to Mach3

Postby Leo » Mon Jun 12, 2017 5:11 pm

I have run Mach3 on Winxp - Win7 - Win8 - Win8.1 - Win10
No problem there.

I have Mach3 running with a XHC Mach board and a USB interface on Win10. The Chinese USB has some bugs in it, but it does work 98% of the time. I have had no major issues with it.

Mach3 is MY experience. I have used only one other on my CNC router but it was inferior.

I have heard lots of people using WinCNC and others.

The UCCNC is pretty new and seems to be up and coming.
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Re: Cut2D as alternative to Mach3

Postby IslaWW » Mon Jun 12, 2017 7:42 pm

Leo makes a good point. What is good for each of us is what we are used to. And as long as we can get what we need, few of us will ever need more. The sad news is that Mach seemed to stop development right before the CNC explosion in the US.

There have been innumerable improvements in CNC control sparked by competition in that time. Many of them just to keep up with hardware improvements. I/O and digital drivers among them. We now have access to simultaneous 6 axis control with 100,000 kbits/sec on each along with drives, motors and encoders that can operate a cnc like we want. On PC based controllers. Gotta luv it
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Re: Cut2D as alternative to Mach3

Postby ger21 » Tue Jun 13, 2017 12:12 am

The sad news is that Mach seemed to stop development right before the CNC explosion in the US.


It can be argued that Mach3 is partially responsible for this explosion, and is still very much involved in it.

The reason that Mach3 development stopped, was because it had grown to complicated. Too many features were added that affected other features. It got to the point where a complete rewrite was necessary. The problem, is that the re-write (Mach4) has taken 7+ years (and still going). And Mach4, imo, is targeting a different audience. It's infinitely more powerful than Mach3, but that comes with a lot of complexity.
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Re: Cut2D as alternative to Mach3

Postby IslaWW » Tue Jun 13, 2017 12:20 am

ger21 wrote:
It can be argued that Mach3 is partially responsible for this explosion, and is still very much involved in it.


Agree... It's sad they didn't/couldn't ride it out.

At the very least, there is real evidence for developers not to "jump" on every feature request by endusers.
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Re: Cut2D as alternative to Mach3

Postby ger21 » Tue Jun 13, 2017 3:04 am

IslaWW wrote:Agree... It's sad they didn't/couldn't ride it out.


One guy working full time for 10 years, in addition to his day job. He sold Mach3 to the current developers, and retired.
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