Running the CncPod and KinetiC-NC control software requires at least the following equipment:
- PC with Windows operating system (XP, Windows/ or higher), laptops, notebooks or other such devices are not recommended.
- At least 1 GHz processor frequency, at least 1GB RAM and 2 GB free hard-drive are needed.
- A graphic card (or onboard chip set) with 3D hardware accelerator
- An IEEE802.3-compliant network interface with at least 10 MBit (10 Base-T) should the network also be used for file, internet or other services, at least 100 MBit (100 Base-TX) and also a network switch or a second interface.
- A 5V power supply with mini-USB cable
- A CNC lathe or engraving machine with stepping motor drives or servos with step/directional signals and relevant control electronics (e.g. Zero 3)
- A power cable (Cat 5 or 6) with RJ45 plugs to connect the CncPod to the PC.
A SUBD-25 cable (plug to socket) to connect the CncPod to the stepping motor controls
In order for the PC to be used as control computer, it needs to have limited real-time capabilities, i.e. be able to react to signals from the machine in the shortest possible time.
The KinetiC-NC control uses external hardware – the CncPod- to generate all time critical signals instead of using the PC directly. The requirements are not as great as those for CNC software without hardware support such as Mach3, operating via the internal PC LPT port.
Nevertheless, some factors need to be taken into account for smooth operations.
Desktop-PC or laptop?
Whenever possible, a desktop PC or similar device (industrial, panel or box PC) should be used as a control computer and not a laptop or similar portable, battery-operated device. Even though laptops nowadays generally have a respectable processor capacity, they are designed to work with as little energy as possible.
The unexpected switch to energy-saving mode can create sudden delays in the program processes. Extensive knowledge of the operating system is needed to deactivate all energy-saving options and make a portable device ready for CNC operations.
Use of virus scanners
Virus scanners or automatic updates may pose another problem, as they need to be started at a specific time and can suddenly cause network loads or other changes to the operating system.
While surfing the internet or transferring files to the company network will not disrupt CNC operations, the background actions of anti-virus programs can cause problems. Problematic programs such as virus scanners, complex screen savers and other such programs should thus be deactivated and you should not use the PC to surf the internet while the CNC machine is running.
No more step loss
Should an unexpected delay occur nevertheless, this not really a problem for the KinetiC-NC controls. While a delay of a few microseconds with other programs such as Mach3 can have fatal consequences (step loss, possible collisions), machines running on KinetiC-NC simply stop for a few moments (of course with correct brake ramps) and can continue after the problem is resolved.
The stopping is generally harmless, but can still have unexpected effects in certain cases (chatter marks on metal or burn spots when milling wood or plasma cutting).