Hello. I have a question about using the IoniCube with automatic probing, tool changer and mist cooling.
I must admit i am fairly new to cnc controllers so this may not be a perfekt question.

I am refurbishing an older 3 axis mill, the goal is to have it run from Mach4, using the IONICUBE as a servo driver. On the IONICUBE page it states that there is “Two 26 pin I/O connectors” where the X5 is for exstra I/O drives and custom applications.

i was wondering if these I/O pins can be used to control the relays turning on and of mist cooling, as well as controlling the pneumatic for the ATC spindle, or as inputs from the work finding probe.

If so is this setup through the Mach4 and the simplemotion v2 adaptor?

Best regard
Tobias T. Strate

Hi Strate

Technically that would be possible, however this would require custom firmware features and control through the simplemotion field bus. These would both require extra programming to both IONI firmware and the Mach4 plugin (beta currently).

This kind of setup could be done with an interface electronics that has enough IO for both IONI’s and the extra features, or then using our drives through the Mach4 plugin and the extra features with a separate interface. This however assumes that Mach4 supports the use of multiple interfaces simultaneously, which I cannot confirm due to my limited Mach4 knowledge.

Kind regards,

Thank you for your quick answer. Is there any software which is recommended over Mach4 for applications as this?

i see it is written to use the cube with a smoothstepper board, yet here the cube seems very redundant since the functionality (other than the drivers) seem to already be in the smoothstepper, or have i misunderstood?

Hi Strate

There are many possible interpreter software to choose from. I’m under impression that Mach and LinuxCNC are in the top for hobbyist and small shops. Personally I only have experience on LinuxCNC which I have used for my own hobby projects, it’s running now my third nc-milling machine.

I don’t understand what do you mean with the last sentence.

Smoothstepper can be used with ionicube with e.g. step/dir or quadrature setpoints in position mode. Smoothstepper also can read the motor encoder signals, assuming incremental encoder is used. This would however require splitting the encoder signals, but would increase the overall reliability of the system.

Kind regards,

okay i will look into LinuxCNC since i have seen references to it in many places. My last question was if paring the IONICUBE with a smoothstepper, would enable me to use the ATC, cooling and probing since, that the IONICUBE does not support it in software yet?

Hi State

I’m sorry I don’t understand your question.

The spindle, cooling and probe are separate devices from the servo drive. You can use smoothstepper as the interface between the interpreter (mach/linuxcnc/…) and the hardware, and the servo drives takes some IO. The rest can be used to what you choose.

With ionicube it’s possible to use the relay buffer outputs to use logic signals to drive two open-drain buffers (24V 500mA). Connector X4 pin 6 and 8 are used to activate the open-drain buffer outputs RL1 and RL2 in connector X2.

Please explain, how would you like to use the ATC, cooling, and probing with ionicube?

Kind regards,

Hi Esa,

Would you mind posting some pictures of the control wiring of a few of the controls you have built please? Wiring diagrams would also be awesome!

I am also getting ready to assemble Ionicubex4 control for CNC machine use. I have been thinking about some of the same questions as Strate.



I’m currently using VSD-X/E drives through Mesa 7i43 parallel interface card. I designed a break-out-board for the 7i43 so that it’s wired with flat IDC cables directly to the VSD’s. Encoders are read through differential isolated channels, also direct ribbon cable connection to the EXT connectors in the VSD’s. Total of 6 PWM channels with encoders. Designed my mill for 5 axis, and 6th channel was for spindle.

I built my own firmware to the 7i43 to enable easiest possible routing (to enable 2-layer pcb for the BOB). I included two Mesa smart serial connectors if I ever wanted to add more IO.

STO is wired directly into the BOB, and it electrically disables the VSD’s, and also is read by linuxcnc.

I’m running PWM setpoint in velocity mode, and according to the halscope (linuxcnc feature), I’m getting less than 0.02 mm tracking error when motion starts from zero, independent on speed (rapid/feed). In continous motion the tracking error keeps small enough for my hobby stuff.

Due to a brainfart, the machine can only initialize when a separate hal file is run from the terminal prompt. I consider it a safete feature since it’s impossible to start the machine unless you really know what you’re doing :smiley:.

I had plans for mist and vacuum control, and for those I would just wire one IO and use an opto-isolated control electronics.

I’d remember I published the BOB Eagle files and the firmware code in some forum, however I have no recollection whatsoever in which forum that was.

Kind regards,

Sounds like a nice setup! :):grinning: