I would not generally use the CNC in the winter. It's just too cold here in the winter months to be in the shop.
I ran a canned toolpath with it right after we bought it (Sept 2014?), and it ran fine, and then I started sincerely using it in April 2018 after I felt like I was through my initial learning curve using Aspire. The CNC router was working with expected results. I was traveling, other life stuff , and then on 8/1/18 I started working with the CNC router again.
Motors are running. They sound fine, nothing unusual about these stepper motors.
I open Mach 3
I load a saved file from the toolpath I created in Aspire.
Because I am having problems with the CNC I manually draw an intersection of X,Y on my MDF board using a square. (I do not use the top edge of the board as my 0,0,0 datum position because my Rockler clamps are in the way, and I'm not investing in a vacuum system, or any other cool tools until I know I can get my CNC issues resolved.)
I use the pendant to jog to x,y,z at said intersection and zero out the x,y,z axis in Mach 3.
With the file loaded, I manually raise the Z axis and jog with the pendant or key board and move the gantry through the file to make sure I'm not going to hit any clamps with my router bit during this operation.
(Then, and wait for it)... I tell Mach 3 to return to 0,0,0, the machine does not return to 0,0,0. It is off and because Mach 3, does tell me with its tiny little steps on the screen, I can see a measurement that is off when I manually move it back to 0,0,0, and we are talking .75x to .80x inches on the X axis. The result if you actually run a tool path, the router loses its place. Is this a new user issue because of my instructions in my toolpath? a Mach 3 issue? or a hardware issue?
After trying to run the same thing and ruining about 6 pieces of MDF and the time I spent watching the router until it failed - I decided to make everything small and test my theories.
To eliminate software issues created by the user, I just created a toolpath for a piece of Aspire clip art, I tiled a square rosette 3 times, made it smaller, to to see what happens - the result: machine is still off. Hopefully this eliminates me from the equation. End result is that the router is a square rosette for item 1, and a rectangle carve for tiled item 2 and 3 and on the screen in aspire it is the exact same toolpath. I didn't design it, I just ran a finishing toolpath. We are talking about a rosette that is measuring about 1" square, and I'm using a Whiteside SC64 bit - brand new bit, never used before.
I have never unplugged the DB-9 connectors from the Gecko540 drive since we purchased it in 2014. I have only brought the computer out of the shop in the winter. Its first owner had it in his basement; I create way too much dust with this CNC router, I'm not having this in our home.
Is the problem with the hardware, software, or the user?