WinCNC, UCCNC or Centroid Acorn

WinCNC, UCCNC or Centroid Acorn

Postby WNC_Ed » Sat May 18, 2019 9:27 pm

Hypothetically if you were upgrading your controller which would you choose?
Or something different altogether?
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Re: WinCNC, UCCNC or Centroid Acorn

Postby Adrian » Sat May 18, 2019 9:47 pm

Definitely Centroid Acorn for me but I'd only do it if my existing setup broke. I'm happy with what it does now so I wouldn't upgrade for the sake of upgrading.
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Re: WinCNC, UCCNC or Centroid Acorn

Postby IslaWW » Sat May 18, 2019 9:48 pm

Ed...
Can I assume that your underline of the word "you" that you wish for DIY advice only? If so, you should disregard mine.

As a builder of replacement and upgraded control systems that has built systems with each of the controllers that you mention, each of them may have its own strengths depending on your intended use. How about a few more qualifying facts about the machine, its type, number of axes, size and primary use, maybe even throw in if its used for commercial or non commercial use.

So, if you don't mind playing along, lets start a discussion, as many guys out there often "wonder" if their machine could run better on another controller. And then there is the big one.... what does it cost?
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Re: WinCNC, UCCNC or Centroid Acorn

Postby WNC_Ed » Sat May 18, 2019 10:18 pm

Gary ya got me.
I recently found myself the new proud owner of an '09 AXYZ 4010 dual head machine. For the record it found me, I wasn't looking for it.
I have been cleaning on it for the last couple weeks waiting on the stepdown transformer to arrive. Happy to report the transformer arrived Thursday and hopefully will get it hooked up in the next week or so. At that point I can fire up the machine for the first time and see if the original controller works. If the original controller works then will probably just stay with that for the near future. If not then I will be in the market for a new controller and so far leaning pretty heavily toward the WinCNC but with the wealth of knowledge and experience on the forum it seems crazy not to ask what others would prefer.

So, everyone please feel free to share your thoughts on which controller you would go for.
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Re: WinCNC, UCCNC or Centroid Acorn

Postby ger21 » Sun May 19, 2019 3:37 am

CNC Controls are like PCs vs Macs. Evryone has there preferences, for various reasons.
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Re: WinCNC, UCCNC or Centroid Acorn

Postby Ken Rychlik » Sun May 19, 2019 8:32 am

Wincnc would be my choice with dual Z's if money were not an object. Sounds like 5 motor drives are needed.

The acorn screen can't be modified like wincnc, but it's a decent controller. If you can get by with 4 motor outputs, the acorn is worth looking at. If you have dual drive motors, and wire them off of one motor output (hard paired) you might do fine with it but you couldn't auto square the gantry with software. The axyz I worked on had dual motors on the long axis.

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Re: WinCNC, UCCNC or Centroid Acorn

Postby TReischl » Sun May 19, 2019 2:18 pm

Congrats on the machine Ed, that certainly is a step up from the Shark!!!!

The question is an interesting one since most of us are on the outside looking in, or else we like our current system and well, figure it is just the best cause it works for us.

I visited all the websites for the controllers you listed. Of course most of them have a huge commonality of features. So that makes it difficult to sort through the differences.

Gary's point is well taken about how you will use the machine, as a hobbyist or commercially. I am going to write mainly as a hobbyist.

First off, I would like a control that handles 5 motors without kludging them together. Eventually we all get the bug to do 4th axis work and having to switch plugs is not horrible but hey, we are talking about our dream controller. Also for those of us that are more familiar with gcode it would allow us to do off axis cutting on the rotary.

Second, more pertinent information about how the controller handles accels/decels. I run Mach3, which is linear acceleration. Linear is not the best out there. In my past experience my favorite was an S curve type of accel. That S curve was not a series of finite points that approximated a curve but an actual formula that described the curve and all the points on it. So that would be a question I would ask.

Third, the ability to customize the input screens. When I started with Mach3 I really, REALLY did not like it. Clunky. Then I stumbled across Gerry's Screenset 2010. That has made all the difference in the world running Mach for me.

Fourth, what is commonly known as Macro B capability. Some of us are pretty skilled programmers having been in this stuff for ages. For those not familiar with "macro B" it is the ability to write gcode that uses loops, if-then statements, etc. A very simple example is a face flattening routine. It is easy to write a routine that has the user enter length, width, depth of cut, steps per pass, tool size, etc and the program will loop through the macro flattening the material. Just load the program, set the variables and go.

Fifth, if "macro B" is not implemented then some form of a scripting language written in a standard programming language like Visual Basic.

That is my list so far this morning. The basics are really important and IMHO those basics are acceleration and a healthy sized look ahead buffer. After that are the abilities to be able to customize programming for specific tasks that may not be doable via CAM software at this time.
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Re: WinCNC, UCCNC or Centroid Acorn

Postby ger21 » Sun May 19, 2019 4:08 pm

When designing a new dual Z axis machine, my original plan was to use Mach4. Years of delays, and personal issues with the direction development took, led me to look for an alternative.

Like Ted, S-Curve was very high on my list. There's an S-Curve test version of Mach3 called Tempest, and the S-Curve makes a night and day difference. Unfortunately, it's very feature limited, and was never developed enough to make it usable for most people.

Afaik, there's a version of either GRBL, or one of the low cost maker controls (Tiny G? or Arduino?) that has S-Curve accel. But to me, these controls are toys, with very limited feature sets.
I'm not aware of any of the more common Hobby or DIY controls that have S-Curve Accel.

CNC Drive has plans to develop an S-Curve trajectory planner in the near future. But that could possibly turn into years. It's impossible to estimate the time it takes to develop software. I'd expect it to be within 1-2 years, as they've added a huge number of features in the last two years, to make it more comparable feature wise to the competition.

Next on my list is customization. First, I like to make my own interfaces. (Thanks for the plug, Ted). And second, few if any low cost controls will have dual Z axis support "out of the box", so I need a control that allows me to make it do what I want.

As I mentioned, Mach4 was out of the picture. Cross off LinuxCNC, as I don't want to use Linux. I looked at Eding CNC, which is supposed to be very good. But it was a little too "non-standard" for me.
While the Acorn didn't exist when I made my choice, it still wouldn't be my choice today, due to it's limited I/O and 4 motor limit. There's an expansion board coming (for about a year now I think) that will help with that.

I eventually settled on UCCNC, for several reasons.
1) Super easy to customize.
It has a built in screen editor, allowing you to build any interface you want.
You can create custom M codes in C# or VB (VB.net I think).
You can create macroloops, which are macros that run constantly in the background. Again C# and VB
You can write plugins in C# or VB. These can be used to create just about anything. Spindle control plugins, conversation programming, probing. The sky's the limit, if you can program.
UCCNC has built in Input and Output Triggers, which can let you do a lot of things without writing macros or other code.
Want to setup an external pushbutton to do something? Just assign the function to the input pin.
Want to trigger a relay to run your spindle coolant pump? Just assign the output to the spindle run command, and it will run when the spindle is on. Super simple to build custom control panels, and other custom machine features.

2) Lots of low cost hardware choices. CNC Drive offers four different controllers, from the simple USB UC100, to the all in one ethernet AXBB and the UC300ETH, with a huge amount of I/O.

3) Excellent support. CNC Drive offer great support,, with quick bug fixes, and constant development to make the software better.

Is UCCNC perfect? No. There's a minor issue in the current trajectory planner, that can cause a slowdown at some transitions between arcs, or arc and straight segments. Most users don't notice it, and it's worse with very low powered machines. For me, it's a non issue.
But imo, UCCNC is far superior to Mach3. Even with the issue I just mentioned, it's both faster, and more accurate than Mach3. The planned S Curve planner should make it even better. It's super easy to setup, especially if you've used Mach3. It excels at applications requiring a lot of customization. And is simple enough for basic machines. It's the standard control for stepcraft machines.
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Re: WinCNC, UCCNC or Centroid Acorn

Postby IslaWW » Mon May 20, 2019 11:37 pm

Ed... (the OP)
You will not find a better controller to put on a dual head router table than WinCNC, your instincts are good. I have changed over a number of AXYZ machines to WinCNC and in every case the owners were really impressed with how the machine ran and how intuitive the user interface is. That said, my experience has shown that Centroid runs the machine as well at a lower cost and if needed, has a higher pulse output rate. (400KHtz /channel) This is done simply with newer technology and ethernet communication.

Having built a half dozen systems with UCCNC I can honestly say that along with the bugs Gerry mentions, I found a few more that visibly affected how the machine ran. This was compared to other controllers on machines in my shop at the same time. I stopped building systems using UCCNC for that reason. Hardware is good, software is pretty good, but doing a number of test files (made to be difficult) the machine just didn't run good. I am sure they will get it better in the future.

In many cases the strongest opinions are given by those that do not have experience with the product. It is my guess that Gerry made his decision without having tested either WinCNC or Centroid controllers. There is a good sized difference in the price of a full WinCNC package and UCCNC or Centroid Acorn, so that in itself may be a good reason. As a system builder I am always looking for a cost effective way to provide systems to my customers at a pricepoint that they can afford. That was what led me initially to UCCNC, then to Centroid Acorn.

Gerry listed a number of his reasons in the affirmative for UCCNC and I would like to reply, as someone that has used BOTH systems.

1) Super easy to customize. Yes, for you. Both WinCNC and Centroid are customizable, albeit via different methods. Very few end users cutomize their interface.
You can create custom M codes in C# or VB (VB.net I think). Both can create custom M codes with NO C# knowledge required
You can create macroloops, which are macros that run constantly in the background. Again C# and VB Again, same without C# knowledge required
You can write plugins in C# or VB. These can be used to create just about anything. Spindle control plugins, conversation programming, probing. The sky's the limit, if you can program. Acorn has C# skinning.. unlimited plugins (They call them skins) you can even take over the entire UI is you want and make your own
UCCNC has built in Input and Output Triggers, which can let you do a lot of things without writing macros or other code. Same for Acorn, all done with a "Wizard" interface
Want to setup an external pushbutton to do something? Just assign the function to the input pin. Acorn has simple I/O pick and choose, easy assignment of Inputs and Outputs and auto matching macro creation.. just pick what you want.. Spindle FWD, Spindle REV, DriveOK, Probe Trigger, Tool Touch Off trigger and everything is set up automatically for you.
Want to trigger a relay to run your spindle coolant pump? Just assign the output to the spindle run command, and it will run when the spindle is on. Super simple to build custom control panels, and other custom machine features. Easy within Acorn as well
Excellent support. CNC Drive offer great support,, with quick bug fixes, and constant development to make the software better. Centroid has a free Tech support forum that is populated by factory techs and Pro service offered as well


The IO expansion board is in the hands of the beta testers now and the next major software release is set to support it. Ethernet boards with 16 inputs, 16 outputs, add as many as you wish. The "new stepper controller board" (in development) will be all ethercat capable. Its the next hardware project after the 1616 ETH IO board is mainstream. Up to 8 driver channels, virtually unlimited IO and virtually every feature one could wish for on a step and direction controller.

I will save the smoothing feature for a future discussion. With a 2000 line lookahead and gcode processing done on the onboard processor, the CNC-PC is freed up to "pre-process" G2/3 lines or posted 4 axis segmented code and feed the data stream at 1200 line per second speeds. Combine that with well over a dozen motion related parameters, including centripetal, that will allow you to fine tune motion to optimize virtually any type of file on most any material. Numerous tuning profiles can be saved and called up via gcode within the file. Or be placed as a callup in multiple post processors.

None of these controllers is perfect, nor do any one of them have "all the best" features in one package. But, the one feature I will not suffer thru is a controller that cannot maintain a set feedrate thru straight, arc or segmented code. Its what separates the men from the boys, in other words the commercial from the hobby controllers.
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Re: WinCNC, UCCNC or Centroid Acorn

Postby TReischl » Tue May 21, 2019 2:06 am

Gary, as I look at the Centroid controllers it appears that they have several levels of controllers, priced from $300 to $1600. The other thing that is confusing with them is that they say a person can use their own computer, but then when investigating what that computer needs to be it is certainly not a run of the mill puter.

It would help when you write a comment to specify which of these controllers you are writing about to give us all a frame of reference. Does what you wrote above apply to the $300 option shown on their website?

I think we can all pretty much agree that pricier controls are probably better controls.

I would be very interested in hearing from someone knowledgeable about Mach 4. Mainly because I know that Mach 3 is at least 12 years old because that is when I first used it on my initial machine. It has had no major updates since that time. During those 12 years it surprises me that someone has not developed a program that runs on a garden variety computer and runs circles around Mach3 for half the price.

Here is what I am thinking: We have a bunch of guys on this forum who are pretty good with cnc stuff. We should think about writing several test programs that are fairly short but will put a machine through it's paces. Nothing designed to highlight the abilities or faults of any particular control. Then since all of us have different controls, different machine types, etc run them on our machines. The test would have specified feed rates, DOC, etc so that we were all doing the same thing. All the controls I know of report the run time to within 1 sec. So we would have that. Then we could take some decent pics showing specific areas of the cut so that they can be compared.

I am not big into this "well the machine did not run to my satisfaction, therefore. . . ." stuff. That is opinion. My opinion is that my machine runs to my satisfaction so whoever says it is not running right, is well, wrong. In other words, I would like to see some quantifiable tests with results. It will answer questions like "Does this certain controller really run a program 20-40% faster than others or not?"

Tell you why I am writing this, having worked around what we called the "lab guys" in industry, they would create what we called "lab queens" for samples. The samples were specifically designed to highlight what our machine could do and bring out the faults in competitors machines. So I am skeptical at best.

BTW, not trying to start any arguments here, I respect all the guys who have been contributing to this thread. So if I tread on someone's toes a bit it is certainly not intended to be mean spirited.
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Re: WinCNC, UCCNC or Centroid Acorn

Postby cnckeith » Tue May 21, 2019 2:25 am

" The other thing that is confusing with them is that they say a person can use their own computer, but then when investigating what that computer needs to be it is certainly not a run of the mill puter."

Many Centroid DIY'ers use their own computers.. the requirements are quite basic and can be had for $300-$500... see this thread...http://centroidcncforum.com/viewtopic.p ... novo#p4199
of a User using a Lenovo M92P that he bought on ebay/amazon for $300.
or my latest DIY CNCPC build..
http://centroidcncforum.com/viewtopic.p ... ilit=ryzen

Here are the official CNC PC requirements.
1.) The PC CPU must have a SINGLE CORE minimum benchmark of 1500 for milling machines, 1000 for Lathes. You can look up a CPU’s benchmark # using this web site.

http://cpubenchmark.net/singleThread.html

Notice that this is the “Single Thread” benchmarks chart.
Using a CPU with a single thread benchmark rating higher than 1500 is required for Mills and 1000 and higher for Lathes.

2.) While not required...it is highly recommended to use a SSD (solid state drive) We only recommend Intel or Samsung SSD’s

3.) minimum 4 Gig’s of Ram

4.) Windows 10 that is configured for CNC control use see Step 2 below.

5.) Ethernet port

6.) A 1920x1080 LCD monitor. 1920x1080 is preferred, other sizes with 16:9 aspect ratio will work but screens may be shrunk to fit.


For more info...Here is a link to the Centroid Acorn CNC controller.
https://www.centroidcnc.com/centroid_di ... oller.html

Success stories are here..
http://centroidcncforum.com/viewforum.php?f=57

oh and some of my designed in vectric signs are here.. nothing fancy..just made cool stuff for friends..etc
https://goo.gl/photos/AHMecRzY4yHRqaLS7
and
https://photos.app.goo.gl/ULrmYTQShrDhMTKN8
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Re: WinCNC, UCCNC or Centroid Acorn

Postby ger21 » Tue May 21, 2019 2:37 am

Gary is referring to the Acorn, their $300 control.

During those 12 years it surprises me that someone has not developed a program that runs on a garden variety computer and runs circles around Mach3 for half the price.


UCCNC. It's $60, and runs on any modern PC with OpenGL support.

A friend of mine has a business making acoustic guitar necks and bridges. Lots of 3D machining. With Mach3, he'd always get random gouges, and rounded corners, as Mach3 has no real path control, and some bugs in it's planner. Many people don't see these issues, but they can be bad at high speeds.
He bought a UC100 controller, to see if it ran better than the parallel port. No Change, as the issues were due to Mach3's trajectory planner. Since he had the UC100, he spent the $60 for a UCCNC license. UCCNC got rid of the flaws in the parts, and decreased run times by 30%. Not because UCCNC itself was faster, but because it was more accurate, allowing higher speeds while maintaining accuracy.
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Re: WinCNC, UCCNC or Centroid Acorn

Postby IslaWW » Tue May 21, 2019 3:14 am

Ted...
Good points. I will do my best to clarify. Other than the note about the upcoming "new stepper controller" which is set to be an "Oak for steppers" all of my comments were directed to the $299 Acorn controller. FYI, all these controllers run the same onboard controller, the Beagle Bone Green.

The Acorn was introduced as a DIY step & direction version limited to 4 axis channels, 8 input, 8 outputs, a single 0-10v analog output and a single encoder input. OAk and Allin1 are for servos only. Popular demand has changed the add-on modules in the development schedule. Having just crossed the 2000 unit theshhold and because they seem to be paying attention to the user "want list", a few things are being shuffled.

I use refurbished Lenovo M92p loaded with WIn10Pro with my builds, always providing a setup computer with each control system. I have purchased them as low as $149, but have since started with a higher spec and now include SSD, extra RAM and Wifi due to customer preferrence. These cost around $250 with a Core i5 dual processor. Most DIY guys buy or build their own, as long as they meet the processor benchmark they run fine.

Like you I am not into the "well the machine did not run to my satisfaction, therefore. . . ." stuff. But it was much nicer than publicly stating that I took numerous videos of the same file being run on 3 different controllers, posted them privately on YouTube for the developers and was basically given no credibility for a year before I bailed on UCCNC. BTW, a portion of these files were also viewed by Gerry, mostly with the same conclusion.

When it comes to: "Does this certain controller really run a program 20-40% faster than others or not?" I have had USERS record their same production files at the same feeds and speeds and place them in a video side by side. An example here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUeE23IrZkk

If I am going to state something about a comparison I double check to be fair. I will almost always have a video. I have no need to BS or exaggerate, my customers buy from me because of my fair comparisons and NEVER selling them on anything. If I tell them a machine or controller will or will not do something, they can take it to the bank.

As far as most things CNC go, I am agnostic, I could give a crap about the brand. I go with what makes the machine happy. It is easy to tell when a machine is running smoothly, quietly, and I use controllers that make my machines look good. When it comes to controllers, I have built and sold over a hundred systems Running Mach (one, lasting less than a week), ShopBot, UCCNC, WinCNC and Centroid Acorn. Many of my systems are replacements and I get to run the OEM controller before I change it over, so add another half dozen (small machine) controller's to the list that I have a bit of experience with. A few more brands can be added that I was able to test in a former R & D position. These controllers all do basically the same things, the real difference is how well they do it.

You propose a bit of a test to pass around, I have been doing this on a daily basis for close to 12 years. Half of it on 2 CNC companies dime, the other half on mine. A year ago I had machines with 4 different controllers running in my shop, thankfully I am now only running two. It will stay that way for a while until I can find another controller that pushes a machine the way Centroid or WinCNC will.
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Re: WinCNC, UCCNC or Centroid Acorn

Postby IslaWW » Tue May 21, 2019 4:37 pm

A couple points to ponder:

Ted says: "I would be very interested in hearing from someone knowledgeable about Mach 4. Mainly because I know that Mach 3 is at least 12 years old because that is when I first used it on my initial machine. It has had no major updates since that time."

Think about it. Look at the technological advances that have been made in most products since then. Look at the differences in technology from 2005 products and todays. Do you want to use a 2005 Computer?, Cell phone?, Car or truck? Television? You can rest assured that the same or possibly even greater advances have been made in the CNC controller industry.

Also says: "During those 12 years it surprises me that someone has not developed a program that runs on a garden variety computer and runs circles around Mach3 for half the price."

"They" have, just not at half the price. Dozens of them. And they have added functionality and features to more than justify current pricing. And the current business model is to provide hardware that is compatible and supported by the same mfgr. There are very few of todays contollers that run as poorly as those from 2005-2007. Even the open source versions that run on the tiny ARMS outperform the controllers of yesteryear.

Now, familiarity will always be a factor. Once we as users get used to a controller we have a tendency to want to stay with it as to "not have to learn a new one". Fact is that once you have CNC experience swapping to a new controller takes about as long as getting used to the buttons in a new car. You know you know how to drive, its just that the buttons are in a different place. The one exception is ShopBot users as the ShopBot controller does not use any of the traditional gcode terminology, so i takes them a few days longer to get comfortable.
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Re: WinCNC, UCCNC or Centroid Acorn

Postby TReischl » Tue May 21, 2019 5:12 pm

Ah yes, "familiarity". AKA "resistant to change". That describes me when it comes to this sort of thing.

Let me tell ya, the folks who provide this stuff do not help to overcome that resistance.

Here is a for instance: I use a Gecko G540 and a smooth stepper (usb).

From reading through the techo babble I have no idea if any of their controllers are compatible or not, right down to plug level. Software I have no issue with until I read about one of them saying that their "free software" will only run programs up to 50Kb. These days that is a joke for anyone running anything except mechanical parts in the most rudimentary manner possible. One of them, for a mere $140 more will allow unlimited program size. In addition to that one of them requires a touch screen monitor to run. The costs keep adding up.

There are some drive controls that are pretty ubiquitous, Gecko drives being one of them. It would be handy if in addition to writing techno babble for the techies they wrote something like:

"If you are using a "________" drive control then you will need to purchase A,B and C.

The idea is to make this easy for people just like me. I am not stupid, but I have better things to do than reading up on the latest chip developments, scouring long lists of specs that mean nothing to the average user. Sure, those things are important, but some of these folks need to provide the "Here is how you do it for Dummies."

Right now, having started looking into this, I would lean towards the UC100 and their software at this time.
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