ShopBot Control Software - Summary of Version 3.8.xx Updates

Functional Improvements (made possible by capabilities of the 2xx series of Control Cards; not applicable for earlier Control Cards).  This is the new stuff under the hood!

  • Enables 2X+ faster communications and 7X more information buffered on Control Card:
    • Speed and buffering creates more robust communication between PC and Control Card; makes computer efficiency less critical to performance
    • Allows faster stepping (50KHz+); e.g. 12ips circles on full-size tools  [also higher resolutions in tools with special gear ratios]
    • New communications supports smoother acceleration/deceleration ramping [we recommend starting with default ramp settings]
    • Additional performance supports a Control Card ramp-down feature that will stop tool gently if USB cable disconnected during motion; similar gentle slowing in cases of starved communication or PC or program fault
  • Behind-the-scenes transmission check & repair system that resends any lost data; also contributing to communications robustness [this means there are now two active data correction systems: 1) within USB signaling system, which is maintaining integrity of the data at a byte level; and PC-Control Card check system maintaining integrity at a message level]
  • Outboard controller now maintains absolute location of all axes unless power turned off  [This means that, in the absence of a driver fault or lost steps, exact location can always be recovered by connecting to the Control Card [e.g. a new computer can be plugged into a running Control Box and will update to the true current location or the tool; note that depending on PC USB system, being able to swap may require V209 or later Control Card]
  • Full 6 axis; simultaneous interpolation in all  6 axes
  • Spindle/router failsafe shutdown if connection to PC lost
  • **NOTE: The remaining new features in this section are not available on V201 Control Cards, only on later versions. (These are dependent on hardware components that are not included on the early cards.)
  • Independent Indexer Spinner or Axis Oscillator [Available via the MI Command]
  • 12 Outputs [additional 4 only directly accessible on newer Control Boards; available on all boards via a header connector on Control Card though user will need to provide isolation]
  • 12 Inputs [additional 4 only directly accessible on newer Control Boards; available on older boards only with modification;  on Desktops only #9-12 will be available; user will need to provide isolation for direct inputs ]
  • PWM System for controlling a laser cutter
  • Heater control functions for 3D printer [extruder motor controlled by B Axis]
  • 2 channels of analogue input measurement capability (0-5v DC)
  • 2 channels of analog output capability (0-5v DC; low mA)
  • Control Card temperature measurement [reported in UD]
  • Logic power line voltage measurement and spiking [reported in UD] as well as communications performance information

New Control Software and UI Features.  These are the enhancement in how it works!

  • Updated layout of standard CNC user interface for clarity; many small enhancements
    • Right clicking on Command line allows configuring Command entry style
    • Right clicking over Input and Output Display allows configuring display
    • Clicking Outputs Indicators toggles them ON/OFF
    • Automation Buttons for Zeroing and Homing now readily available on the Location Display
    • [MI] Command for running/spinning Indexer independently of other operations; can also be used to oscillate and axis (e.g. for an oscillating knife)
    • New [VH and VI] parameters for controlling PWM output and 3D printer heater
    • Additional system variables including those for new digital and analogue inputs
    • [UD] new tool data as well as voltage and temperature; Connection speed efficiency data is now reported in UD
    • [UD] provide access to oscilloscope function that displays logic voltage or voltage on analogue input on 1 or 2; use to evaluate electrical power to system
  • KeyPad Usability Enhancements
    • Memorized Location (like old-time radio) Buttons; go someplace and right click a number button, it will remember; click later to return to location
    • Easier Zeroing from KeyPad
    • "GoTo" now more direct [enter axis key, new location, enter; e.g. "x 3 enter"]
  • NEW! ShopBotEASY Interface … interchangeably available
    • As CNC and digital fab get easier, it will be more natural to primarily use the ShopBot interface just to cut a part or access other software; the ShopBotEASY interface is set up with this ease of use in mind and the idea of making operation more pushbutton and less dependent on learning CNC code or commands (even though we still like OpenSBP). It's all about getting closer to 'Click-to-Print'  and to simply cutting your design. Old-time purists may lament moving away from the old work flow. We look forward to your input on what is missing from ShopBotEASY and absolutely must be added ...
    • Help Dots in EASY provide simplified and customizable Help
    • Buttons in the EASY interface have shortcuts that get away from using C2, C3
    • Cut Part gives optional access to parameters, and Ctrl-Cut Part to FG
    • Accessing additional values and settings is done from the Help page in EASY
    • Note that in EASY, whether you are "connected" or not to a tool is left kind of ambiguous to reduce confusion about SM/SP
    • Switching back and forth between EASY and the standard CNC interface is just a button click, in case you feel a need to use the more extensive system
  • NEW! Button/Macro system for automating frequent tasks and for setting up production interfaces (at the moment this is relatively un-documented and still a bit 'alpha'). We'll put some examples in the next version, but if you want to give it a try got to Buttons in the Virtual Tool Folder and run Buttons.exe. Setting up a couple of buttons to run is relatively straightforward. After you "Set Production Mode" and close, the next time you run Buttons you just see them. To get back to the set-up system hit the "Shift" key immediately after starting Buttons. Data for Buttons is saved in under ShopBot in the Program Data folder.
  • There is an Enhanced Programming Interface for Developers / Customizers that is available through the Windows Registry. This will be increasingly documented in the Programming Handbook, developers can see the types of information made available and tasks that can be accomplished by running the example program (with ShopBot running):  c:/Program Files/ShopBot/Developer Tools/ReadReg_Example.exe   [Program Files (x86) on 64bit computers]. You can also have a look at the Registry entries to see the new options.

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