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Im going to build a controller that uses mach 3/4, is anyone else interested

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  • Im going to build a controller that uses mach 3/4, is anyone else interested

    not happy with proprietary stuff, 99 bucks for a zero set that I made for less than 2 bucks for mach 3. It's very simple to make another controller, and thats what I will do, if interested I'll give the info to anyone for free!

  • #2
    Take a look at in the store at the electronics. They have a new product called BlackBox. They were out of stock as of yesterday but it is open source which is not propriety and they have a free control program called "CONTROL". The write up has provisions for limit switches, is modular in design and looks tempting. I am thinking about it and it is only $149.00. If you buy an interface that requires Mach3/4 you have to buy that and the openbuilds BlackBox is open source and free. Please take a look and see if it meets your requirements and feed back.


    • #3
      It is pretty trivial to create a driver for Mach4 to control the Piranha FX. You don't need to replace the control box unless you want extra features such as limit switches, though you can implement limits with a Raspberry Pi or Arduino which is one of the first upgrades I put on my Piranha back in Christmas 2015. The Piranha is (mostly) aluminium and ABS so I used simple linear Hall sensors that send the proper E-STOP code to the Piranha control box. I use a Pi3 and an old Samsung Android tablet to control the Piranha these days.

      I've implemented most of the Ready2Rout/Ready2Lift functionality onto my Piranha FX which includes finger-joint/box-joint, dove tails that can machine in horizontal or vertical orientation depending on whether I swivel the router to horizontal or not, and of course perfect width dados, and rebates. Along with a "zero to home" functionality via the z-touch probe that is super useful when I need to change bits in the middle of a job run or just want to accurately place a work piece to machine. I've also got spindle start/stop via a USB controllable power relay from the Pi. I implemented a Mach 4 driver because I want to expierment with JointCAM for doing joints along with some ideas that riff on the Leehyun work table.

      I know there are now much more capable machines out there in the intervening four years, but out of the box, the Piranha is ridiculously hackable and extensible and easily controlled by an Android tablet or a Raspberry Pi. Reason I run a Raspberry Pi with a RTOS Linux on it is to make sure that if the Android tablet reboots (it happens) or the Android app crashes, the CNC keeps working properly. The Android tablet tells the Raspberry Pi what to do and the Raspberry Pi tells the Piranha FX what to do and the Piranha FX tells the stepper motors what to do. Though now I have Mach4, one end of that chain of control will be a Windows laptop.
      Last edited by justinlloyd; 03-04-2019, 03:42 AM.


      • #4
        Has anyone successfully removed and replaced the NWA controller with the Openbuilds Blackbox? Now that there is a pendant available for the Blackbox it looks like a viable option. I am tossing around the idea of completely gutting the Shark electronics, motors and pendant and replacing it with the OpenBuilds Blackbox, motors, pendant and adding limit switches. From what I see this might be a better way to go to get away from NWA's proprietary system and software. I really like the fact that I would be able to use LightBurn software with the laser.

        Any thoughts - has anyone gone this route?



        • #5
          Replaced mine months ago, not with the Openbuilds, much better results


          • #6
            Originally posted by Cessnargpilot View Post
            Replaced mine months ago, not with the Openbuilds, much better results
            What did you end up replacing with?


            • #7
              I replaced my system with a Plug and Play System from a guy in Florida called the Javi Box, came with everything including new stepper motors, all you need to do is switch out the motors and connect to the box 30-45 minute change. The only thing I didn't like was the enclosure he makes them out of wood. I switched everything over to a alum box looks much better runs off Mach3. You can find him at There is another guy on youtube, corvetteguy50 offers a neater system, and offers outstanding support, very nice guy I stopped using my Shark and switched over to the Axiom system. If you want I can shoot you of a picture of what my system looked like