After consulting with folks on WeldingWeb and cnczone, I’ve redone my trusty electronics comparison chart. A new entry that I was previously unaware of uses Mesa Electronics’ breakout cards and torch height control with Keling stepper motor drivers. It also uses the open source Linux CNC instead of Mach 3. The consensus among those polled who had used both Mach 3 and LCNC was that LCNC provided better performance in terms of speed, flexibility, and reliability… AFTER you conquer the somewhat steep learning curve.
|Ad Hoc Mesa/LCNC||Ad Hoc Proma/Mach||Partial Kit/Mach||Turn Key Kit/Mach|
|Controllers / BOB||$280(KL5056)+ $199 (7I76+5I25PNG)||$260||incl.||incl.|
|Torch Height Control||$70||$268||$268||incl.|
|Misc. Cables, Switches, Cooling||$250?||$250?||$200?||$100 (recently learned limit switches not included)|
|Time||60 hrs?||30 hrs?||20 hrs?||incl.|
|Support||Community||None||None||Included + 2 yr Warranty|
|Software||$175 – SheetCam||$350||$350||$320|
|Total||$1414 + time||$1568 + time||$1606 + time||$1995|
I’ve seen LOTS of folks using Mach 3 and the CandCNC kit who are doing great. I’m sure I’d be up and running quicker if I went that route. However, I’m going to take the $600 bet on LCNC and Mesa and hopefully have a more robust machine in the end. I’ll undoubtedly learn a lot in the process.