General FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)


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General F.A.Q. Topics



My machine stops at the same place every time, or my G-Code doesn't render properly...

If you are experiencing weird issues like:

  • A very small G-Code file runs fine, but a larger one doesn't
  • Your G-Code stops every time on the same line, near the beginning
  • Your G-Code loads into Mach3 (or 4), but doesn't render properly
  • The machine cuts correctly to begin with, but then starts making bad/incorrect cuts.

The problem very likely is that you are running the demo mode of Mach3/4 which has a 500 line limit for G-Code. You also may have reinstalled Mach and forgotten to add your license. Either way, you need to add your license to the program.

If you are using an invalid, cracked, or hacked license, Mach may intentionally corrupt your data so as to not let you use your equipment.


ESS and USS Product Details

To see the product details and differences between the ESS and USS SmoothSteppers, please visit the Products page.  Also there are the documentation pages for ESS and the USS.


What kind of motors and drivers can I use?

Since the SmoothStepper outputs 5V signals (with currents limited to 24 or 32 mA), you will need a motor driver between the SmoothStepper and the motor itself.  For your axes, the SmoothSteppers can control stepper motor drivers and digital servo motor drivers.   We do not support analog servo motor drivers or PWM servo motor drivers.   For the axes, we run open loop and don't support PID (since that is used in analog servo setups).


What is a Charge Pump signal?

Back when parallel ports were included with every PC, the PC would/could send out junk data on the parallel port's signal lines when the PC was booting up. (However, the PC would not be able to accidentally create a 12.5 kHz output which is used as the charge pump signal).  Once Mach took over the parallel port, it would output a charge pump signal to indicate that it was in control of the parallel port and that the hardware (motor driver) should respond to the incoming signals.  Without, the charge pump signal, the motor drivers would ignore any and all incoming signals (i.e. Step and Direction signals).

With the SmoothStepper, we will not output any signals without being commanded to do so.  Because of this, we don't need to worry about sending spurious signals during boot up, meaning we don't need to generate a charge pump signal.  We do provide a charge pump output for motor drivers that require a charge pump input.  However, if your motor driver allows you to disable the charge pump input, it would be fine to disable the charge pump input when you are controlling you motor driver with a SmoothStepper.

ESS Ping Issues

The ESS was first released in November, 2011.  The first build of almost 500 boards had an issue in the bootloader where it replied to PINGs with an incorrect checksum.   In Linux the PING was processed and passed onto the terminal.  In Windows, the networking layer discarded the PING packets, which made it appear like the ESS was not connected (although the packets could be seen in Wore Shark).  Starting with boards produced in May 2012, this bootloader issue was corrected.  


While this may cause the SCU not to detect the presence of the initial batch of ESSs, it will not interfere with the ability of those ESSs to communicate and work with Mach3 or Mach4.


How Do I set up My System?

Please go to our Getting Started page.  It will guide you through the process.

For additional information, please visit our Help Page.


5V Power for the SmoothStepper

This is covered by the relevant ESS (Ethernet SmoothStepper) and USS (USB SmoothStepper) documentation sections.


What is and how do I use a B.O.B. (Break Out Board)?

This may be found here.



This may be found here.


 Making Windows more friendly with Classic Shell

This may be found here.

Disabling Unused Network Protocols

 This may be found here.

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