The Ethernet SmoothStepper (ESS) is a high-performance external motion controller for
Mach3 and Mach4. Because it has a connector that conforms to the Parallel Port standard,
it integrates seamlessly with most devices that the Parallel Port driver of Mach interfaces
with. It accepts high-level commands from Mach and produces Step & Direction signals that
are compatible with nearly all step & direction motor drivers. Because it is a dedicated hardware
device, it is capable of producing pulses at very high frequencies and with extremely low
jitter compared to the Parallel Port driver and microcontroller-based solutions. In addition,
the SmoothStepper is able to run on any flavor of Windows, both 32-bit and 64-bit. Mach will
run under 32-bit or 64-bit, but an external controller such as the SmoothStepper is needed
for 64-bit editions.
The computer connects to the ESS via a standard inexpensive Ethernet cable. The cable may
be shielded or unshielded. An advantage of Ethernet compared to USB is that the cable
length may be as long as 100 meters. The maximum length for a USB cable is 5
meters, and that is pushing it in a noisy environment. Another advantage is that Ethernet
uses transformers for coupling the data signals, which galvanically isolates the computer
from the downstream electronics.
The ESS connects to the rest of your equipment via its three “parallel port” connectors. Since
the ESS emulates parallel ports, Mach’s documentation for the Parallel Port Driver of Mach
applies to the ESS as well.
The ESS is intended to connect to your equipment via a “parallel port breakout board”,
sometimes called a “BOB”. This is a board that has one or more connectors that have a
parallel port interface. Typically it is a 26-pin header that is identical to the connector on
the ESS, or a DB25 just like the parallel port of a computer. This connection is usually made
via a ribbon cable. An inexpensive alternative to a breakout board is to connect a ribbon
cable to the ESS that has a 26-pin header at one end, and no connector at the other.
Simply connect the wires of the ribbon cable to each component in your system. This method isn’t
encouraged because you can’t easily swap things out when something is wrong. Breakout
boards are very inexpensive and worth the money invested. Voltages are limited to a
maximum of 5V when interfacing directly with the ESS, so this is a limitation that is easily
overcome with a CNC breakout board.
THE BEST PART IS YOU DONT NEED A PC WITH A LPT(Parralel) PORT!!!