I am going to make (hopefully) an improvement to my CNC operations in a week or so. I have ordered and will install a USB SmoothStepper board made by Warp9 Tech Design. Inc. into one and maybe both of my homebuilt CNC controllers. Probably the first one will be installed and tested in my original chopper controller that I am now using on the Taig CNC mill.

I have used a serial pulse generator before in that controller. Years ago I obtained the pulse card from DeskCNC called their 2nd Generation Controller Board. It is actually still installed but not connected inside the controller case. This controller worked perfectly but is proprietary to DeskCNC software. It can be seen operating in the video viewable HERE running the HB1 mill. That was more than several years ago. A hardware pulse generator makes for a very smooth running machine.

Since I am now doing very small, almost micro-machining (1/32″-”1/64″ ball end mills) I am becoming more concerned about accuracy. Several articles in the CNCCookbook blog by Bob Warfield got me to thinking. Read both parts written by Bob.

Tormach CNC has a White Paper about this very subject that I recommend for your reading pleasure. Click on the link in the previous sentence. They mention the Smoothstepper for use with MACH3.

I then remembered how well I like the DeskCNC controller I gave up to use MACH3. So I investigated the currently available motion control boards. By the way, the 2nd Generation DeskCNC Board is still being produced

The Warp9TD Smoothstepper seems best suited to my needs and especially budget. It is designed expressly for use with the MACH3. There is now a LAN version board as well as the USB version.

Some other brands of these boards sell for over $1K! Not for use in my shop.

I’ll publish more about this device in a week or two.

Update: Received notice the Smoothstepper was shipped 4/5/12!

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