Using Mach3 on a Laptop Parallel Port

Posted by admin on October 28, 2011

Mach3 uses the Parallel Port to communicate directly with a CNC motor controller board.  This requires that the software be able to take full speed control of the parallel port.  If there are any delays, steps or other info will be missed.

Laptops have a lot of power management controls that can slow down communication over the parallel port.  Here are the steps that worked for me to be able to run Mach3 on a laptop.  In the end, the main problem appeared to be the processor wanting to sleep all the time, so the key was a program which kept the processor active and running at full speed all the time.

  1. Turn off all power management in the Bios
  2. Remove all unnecessary background processes in windows.
  3. Install RightMark CPU Clock Utility (RMClock) - Download Page - Direct Link to Download File.
    1. Download and install the CPU RightMark from http://cpu.rightmark.org/2.
    2. On the profiles screen from RightMark for "AC power profile" select "MaxPerformance”.
    3. Check the "Run HLT command when OS is idle” , uncheck the "Use OS load  based management,” and click apply. It will ask for restart and click ok to restart. It will not restart the computer, only the RightMark CPU application.
  4. SUCCESS!

RightMark CPU Clock Utility was the critical component that got it working perfectly.  It's possible that it's the only thing that you need to do, but I had already performed the previous steps.

 

Comments:

Posted by Marty on
Hey Daniel,

Cool project! Hope to see it in action some time. Would you be up for renting out time on it or making some simple engraved parts?
Also, I found that the only really bulletproof way to use the laptop was with a SmoothStepper USB-to-parallel buffer board. Night and day difference, well worth the money... Even with the AHCI driver completely disabled on my laptop, I was still having occasional hiccups.
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Posted by Jeremy Cook on
Nice - as parallel ports are disappearing on desktops, you can always use a PCI version. Here's a little tutorial on setting one up if you're in that situation: http://www.jcopro.net/2012/07/10/use-a-pci-parallel-port-with-a-tb6560-cnc-control-board/ . Given the computer and PCI card are so cheap, it may be a better option than using your laptop.
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