GRBL vs Mach 3 vs UCCNC, Newbie help plz

EDIT: I just found the software section on the wiki. I’m reading through it now. Hopefully I clear up my questions.

For reference, my original question is below:

All, After watching a bunch of videos on youtube I see most people are using either Mach 3 or UCCNC. After only cutting a few things on my machine, I’ve already desired more from the interface than carbide motion offers. After doing some reading on our wiki about G-code interpreters, I’m not sure I have many options with our machines being controlled with GRBL.

_Am I wrong here or would I need to upgrade my controller? Can we run Mach3? _


Please note that there are two developments coming soon which may address limitations which you feel

  • Grbl 1.1 — this will make possible a more direct tying of comm / control app to machine than was previously possible, and should make the interface more functional — not sure if the screens will change or no
  • Official Carbide3D probe/touchplate — this will require C3D to enable the interface options for this which the Nomad has for the Shapeoko (when their unit is installed?)

FWIW, I really wish that there was an opensource app which had a more directly customizable interface — I drew something up for bCNC ages ago, some of which found its way into the app, but not as much as I’d liefer.


After doing a lot of reading, it seems we cannot use Mach 3 on the SO3 because it is arduino controlled via Grbl. Without changing the controls hardware a lot, we have limited options.

I have found a couple decent options it seems: Universal G-Code Sender and bCNC (thanks to you). I think I will give bCNC a shot as it has all the options I was looking for.

Any thoughts? any others you think I should look into? These two senders will talk to the SO3 wihtout modifying the SO3 itself correct? I can always switch back to carbide motion on a newer release.

My thought is there are way too many communication / control programs and I should probably move a bunch to “moribund” at the end of the listing. Both of the ones you note, and the ones I’ve added below all work w/ an existing install of Grbl.

Seriously, the ones which seem to be the most popular, and my observations of whom they are popular with are:

  • Universal G-code Sender — folks who like Java and new appearing apps
  • bCNC — folks who like Python and don’t mind old-school appearing apps
  • GrblGru — folks who use Windows and want a full machine simulation and possibly find a useful design tool in one of the add-ons (also folks w/ lathes or a 4th axis)
  • Easel — folks who don’t mind cloud-based software and want an easy-to-use, all-in-one tool
  • ChiliPeppr — folks who don’t mind cloud-based software and wants lots of features, including nifty ones such as low-level support for a Contour Design ShuttleExpress

If you have some other specific need, let us know and maybe we can research some other tool which would suit you better. Really looking forward to Grbl 1.1 and hoping that there will be a reference comm framework (then we can have even more!).


You know you will need a Computer with a parallel port to run Mach 3 right?
That’s like harnessing a Dinosaur to pull a Tesla.

Fantastic imagery aside, have you used mach 3? Have you used Carbide Motion?
Ive used both and see no reason to pet Dinosaurs.

I haven’t looked into those ones. Thanks for the additional ones to look at tonight. I do not like the idea of cloud-based but I will at least look at them. I have no preference over Java or Python, honestly I can’t do anything with either of them.

My un-educated opinion of Java is not good. With all the security holes I’ve read about in it over the years, I feel like Python would be more secure. But that is an unfounded opinion.

if you had to pick between UGS and bCNC, which would you pick? Which one seems to be better supported?

I also am excited for Grbl 1.1. I’ve only had my SO3 for a month now, I’ve not poked into the settings in Grbl at all. Will be be hard to update?


Yes, I read that. It also required different control boards. This is the reason I’ve ruled it out for now.

I have used carbide motion. I’ve only had my machine for a month and I’ve only cut a few jobs on it. From reading about it here, I know there are several limitations with it currently and although I’ve not run into them myself yet, I’m sure I will. I’m not opposed to running CM in the future in a newer version, but I would rather not spend time getting used to an environment that I would have to change in the near future.

I have an unreasoning aversion to Java, so you should not consider my thoughts on it valid or even useful.

Java security holes are mostly an issue for web things (and I’m very sad that said issues make things such as Euclid’s Elements (Joyce’s Java Version) less likely: )

I use bCNC when I don’t use Carbide Motion, mostly 'cause I really want to transition to only opensource software (still annoyed at Windows XP being EOLd and my not being able to use my 3rd favourite ever computer anymore (a Fujitsu Stylistic ST4121 which I despair of ever replacing), and that as I predicted over a decade ago, Apple has finally been backed into a corner where ubiquitous touch interfaces make it look behind the times.