Mach 4 on Nomad

Does anyone know if Mach 4 can run a Nomad? I’m looking for a more versatile controller.

I couldn’t find a clear answer here, but the nomad and the shapeoko board are the same (or were). Anyways, this thread might be helpful:

Edit: Also the software wiki may be helpful here as well for different gcode senders
https://wiki.shapeoko.com/index.php/Communication_/_Control

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Yes, it can, insofar as it’s possible for one to replace the board running Grbl with a breakout board connected to a computer running Mach 4.

You may find some 3rd party communication/control program better suits your needs, bCNC seems quite configurable, as does cncJS, as well as Universal G-Code Sender.

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Yes, it can be done. I’ve replaced my Nomad controller with an EdingCNC CNC720 but the approach applies just as well to any other CNC controller, be it Mach 4 or otherwise.

The main trouble is exposing the Nomad’s motors and controls to some other controller. If you’re happy to tear apart the Nomad, you can just cut off the existing connectors and crimp on some ferrules or something. I wanted to preserve the original connectors so that I could use the original board still if I wanted to, so I made a breakout board that exposes the Nomad’s internals via standard screw terminals.

However the Nomad’s stock controller enclosure is very limited on space, so I ended up making a dedicated board just for the CNC720.

I can upload the files for my PCBs somewhere if you’d like to make and solder one yourself. The PCBs were $5 + shipping from China and the connectors cost ~$20 IIRC (mostly screw terminals, which are quite expensive if you buy quality).

FWIW, I’d happily recommend EdingCNC as an alternative to Mach4. The website sucks but the hardware and software are quite good and the price is pretty great. It’s also small enough, with a carrier board, to fit into the Nomad’s stock controller enclosure.

But before you go and do this, what is it you’re missing from the Carbide Motion controller that you hope to gain from Mach4?

Alot :slight_smile: The ability to pause a program then run Gcode from any line, preset offsets, customizable GUI, macros and subroutines, optional stops ( the ability to stop the Nomad from probing 4 times when starting up )

That last one might not be possible but I’m basically running this as a production machine for lick 30 products out of my basement - where any other CNC of comparable precision wont fit. I’m concerned about wasted time in my work flow and all the steps I need to go though to do production work on the nomad and hopping I can squeeze more efficiency out of it with a more versatile controller.

Is EdingCNC something I have to tinker with the internals to use?

Bleh, I was hoping not not change the internals. Thank you for the other options, my machine is down for deep cleaning so I might do the breakout option anyway, but I’ll definitely look at those programs first.

Alot :slight_smile: The ability to pause a program then run Gcode from any line, preset offsets, customizable GUI, macros and subroutines, optional stops ( the ability to stop the Nomad from probing 4 times when starting up )

A lot of those things, as @WillAdams suggested, you can get just by switching G-Code sender. CNCjs is pretty popular around here and offers much of what you asked for.

I don’t mean to say that I’m sure it will satisfy you but you should definitely try it out before you go to the rather extreme lengths of replacing your controller.

Is EdingCNC something I have to tinker with the internals to use?

There are two things you can do with your Nomad:

  • Switch G-Code sender to CNCjs, bCNC, UGS or something like that. This does not require messing with the Nomad’s internals/hardware but gives you a brand new UI and new ways of doing things (e.g. changing or overriding the homing cycle).
  • Switch controller. This requires tearing out the control board and replacing it with a new one.

EdingCNC is in the latter category, as is Mach4.

Given your needs, I think switching sender will get you 90% of the way and replacing the controller is almost certainly overkill.

I went down the new controller route explicitly because I wanted to replace the internals, particularly the stepper drivers. The more advanced probing routines are also a very welcome bonus (I’m not there yet but my hope is to have the Nomad automatically pick up WCS offsets using a 3D probe).

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Also I want to add that replacing the controller isn’t just replacing the controller. The Nomad’s electronics are mostly integrated onto the one PCB. If you replace the controller, you basically need to build a new CNC, minus the motors. This means:

  • An interface card for your PC
  • A breakout board
  • Stepper motor drivers

So make sure to account for that.

With the EdingCNC CNC720, you at least don’t need an interface card for your PC, just an ethernet port (e.g. a USB ethernet adapter if you don’t have a spare port). You would need stepper drivers but with my carrier board, the “stepper drivers” are just $20 Polulu-style TMC5160s, not Geckos or anything like that.

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I second that.
@neilferreri has been doing a fantastic job providing CNCjs macros for pretty much everything, and I’m sure that if there is a missing usecase it could be addressed by another macro.

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I’m looking at the page and notice several that look like tool probing, can I use the automatic tool length probe on the nomad with a macro?

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Sure, check that thread (and in case of doubt invoke @neilferreri :slight_smile: )