Troubleshooting

 


 

 



Always the first thing to check, input power!

If the Ethernet SmoothStepper (ESS) or USB SmoothStepper (USS) is not receiving good, clean and solid 5.0 V DC power, many different problems may occur:

  • The SmoothStepper may not power up at all.
  • It may have lights but never connect.
  • It may start uploading the FPGA file but never finish.
  • It may start running a program and crash part way through.

Power supplies may go bad after a few months or years, so this is a likely cause of your problems if your system has been running for a while and then stops working.  Here is our article on ESS power requirements and USS power requirements.

Also if you are running plasma, large motors or welders (etc...) they can create enough noise to pollute the AC power coming into your SmoothStepper power supply that the SmoothStepper resets at random or has other noise relate issues.   The noise can even come in the low voltage DC wiring and have similar effects (especially with plasma); a good BOB with opto isolation can prevent the noise from coming in the low voltage DC side.

Finally, check the temperature of the two black ICs on the ESS to make sure that they feel about the same as room temperature or just slightly warmer than room temperature.  These chips are always at room temperature. However if an over voltage condition exists, they will become hot since they are essentially burning up, and the ESS will usually be destroyed at that point.   (Please remember that these are static sensitive devices, and that you need to discharge any static build up from yourself before you touch the ESS.)

 



Did you configure your system?

We have an extensive Getting Started guide here, to help you get started with CNC and configure your system.

 



Valid Licenses?

Please note, that you must have a valid copy of Windows.   If your computer says that "This copy of Windows is not Genuine" it is very possible that Windows is interfering with communications between Mach and the SmoothStepper, and we will not provide support until you have a fully function windows installation. 

This also goes for Mach, if you have a hacked or pirated license we will not provide support, since Mach3 will cripple functionality in strange ways with an invalid license. 

You may use an unlicensed or demo version of Mach3 or Mach4, but realize that demo versions will limit how much you can do.



The ESS can't communicate with Mach3 or Mach4

Once the SCU has been run, Mach usually has no problem connecting to and communicating with the ESS.  However, when there is a problem, please follow these steps:

  1. Make sure your ESS is powered.
  2. Make sure the Ethernet cable is connected from your ESS directly to your PC's Ethernet Adapter.  (Occasionally it is a bad Ethernet cable causing the problem, so after you go through the other steps, you may want to come back to here and try a different cable.)
  3. Make sure that you are receiving two quick short blinks on the Upper Right Green LED.  If the Upper Right Green LED is doing *anything* else, please power cycle the ESS.  If it is still doing anything else visit this article and follow its instructions.
  4. Make sure that you run the SCU to configure your PC's Ethernet adapter to work with the ESS.  When you do this, please note the IP address of your ESS, which is 10.9.9.9 by default.  
  5. Make sure you are receiving Pings from the SCU.  If the SCU is not receiving pings, you will not be able to connect to the ESS from Mach.  *The exception to this is with the first 500 ESS produced prior to May 2012, which had a Ping problem with Windows.* 

  6. When starting a Mach3 or Mach4 profile for the first time (and every time until you make a successful connection), you will need to enter the IP address of your ESS ( 10.9.9.9 is the default IP address, it may be different if you ran the Configurator).  A Mach profile will only save the ESS IP address once it makes a successful connection.
  7. Windows Firewall may have a rule blocking Mach3 or Mach4 from connecting.  Please watch this video, and then do what is shown, to use the SCU to reset the Windows firewall.  If you are running a third party Firewall it may be blocking Mach3 or Mach4 from communicating with the ESS, but you will need to determine that (or disable the third party firewall and enable the Windows Firewall).
  8. If your computer's CPU usage is heavy or you notice that it is running slowly, you may need to optimize your PC. Here is the FAQ page on this topic.   There is a timeout that will report that Mach can't connect to your ESS if your PC is running too slowly, even if everything else is fine.

  9. Depending on your Windows Security settings, you may need to run Mach3 or Mach4 as Administrator, in order for Windows to allow them to run correctly.  To do this, right click on your shortcut to the Mach Launcher -> Properties -> Advanced and then check Run as Administrator.
    Run as Admin

    Run as Admin

    Run as Admin


  10. If you cannot get Pings in the SCU and Mach will not connect, please try to run the Configurator (especially if the Top Green LED is doing one LONG blink and 2 SHORT blinks).  In a few very rare support cases each year, a Windows machine needs to have the Configurator run, before Windows, Mach or the SCU can communicate with the ESS.

 



My ESS just said that it has an invalid bootloader signature

On rare occasions Mach3 will not be able to communicate with the ESS correctly, and you will see a message that says: "The ESS has an invalid bootloader signature."   If you see this, please close Mach, power cycle the ESS, and then run Mach again.  This will typically solve the problem.  

If this happens repeatedly, please check your power supply to make sure it is delivering a stable 5 V DC since this is a common cause for this message when it was not just a fluke.  If you are still having problems, please contact us through the Forum or our Help Page.

 

 



My Outputs are not working on Port 2 or Port 3

Outputs 2 through 9 on ESS Ports 2 and 3 are bidirectional pins that default to inputs.  Outputs 2 through 9 on USS Ports 2 are also bidirectional pins that default to inputs.  You may choose to change those bidirectional pins as a group to be all inputs or outputs.  Here is how you do that in Mach3 and here is how you do that in Mach4.

Here is a schematic showing the input and output capabilities of the Ethernet SmoothStepper:

ESS Port IO

 

Here is a schematic showing the input and output capabilities of the USB SmoothStepper:

USS Port IO

 

 

 

 



I am having problems with my Home Switches

The SmoothStepper is able to detect pin state transitions in as little as 1.43 us (microseconds).  This is much faster than transitions that can be detected by the parallel port!  Unfortunately, this means that the input signals can be much more susceptible to noise.  If are having issues with your homing, then adding some noise filtering to your Home switches usually helps.

 



I am having problems with my Limit Switches

The SmoothStepper is able to detect pin state transitions in as little as 1.43 us (microseconds).  This is much faster than transitions that can be detected by the parallel port!  Unfortunately, this means that the input signals can be much more susceptible to noise.  If are having issues with your homing, then adding some noise filtering to your Limit switches usually helps.

 



I am having problems with Probing

The SmoothStepper is able to detect pin state transitions in as little as 1.43 us (microseconds).  This is much faster than transitions that can be detected by the parallel port!  Unfortunately, this means that the input signals can be much more susceptible to noise.  If are having issues with your homing, then adding some noise filtering to your Probe input(s) usually helps.

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