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Convert Sherline CNC Machine to USB


Parallel Ports are History

Ever wanted to convert your Sherline CNC Machine to USB. I sure did. Why be locked into a specific PC to run your CNC machine. I'm a Linux fan, but I know there are also many people who like Windows and Mac OS X. Free me from the parallel port and proprietary software that runs my gcode file.

Update: The following pictures show the old REV-1 rt-stepper dongle. The new REV-2 rt-stepper dongle is 20% smaller, has a separate RJ-11 connector for spindle speed, limit switches and digital outputs.

USB Solution

Here is a picture of the rt-stepper dongle plugged into a Sherline CNC controller. The USB cable is plugged into a notebook with no parallel port.

Software

The software that drives the rt-stepper dongle is pymini. Yes it's written in python, so it runs on the three OSs. Software is based on EMC2 (linuxcnc), but without the realtime Linux kernel requirement. I'm running pymini with the sherline.ini file which is pre-configured for a Sherline machine, so no stepper motor tuning procedure is required. All the software is open source and available at www.ecklersoft.com.

Hardware in Motion

Here is a video of the hardware running with no video speedup, so you can actually see how smooth and fast the Sherline machine runs using the dongle.

Although the above video was with a Sherline Mill, this same solution works with the Sherline Lathe by using the pre-configured sherline_lathe.ini file.


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Last updated April 27, 2021