The AhHa! CNC Controller is shown on the lefthand side. The gray cables on the front connect to each of the stepper motors on the mill. The controller will accomodate up to 4 axis - X, Y, Z, and W. I have hardware installed for 3 axis. The limit switch inputs are on the back of the controller, as well as all of the aux. I/O. The step rates for each axis are selected from the controller by way of a small DIP switch on each axis controller board. Step rates include 200, 400, 800, and 1600 steps/rev. The CNC Controller is enclosed in a very nice, all metal, 19" rack mountable case.
AhHa! provides a 16 bit ISA controller card for the PC instead of a parallel port connection. This allows them to send a greater number of steps per second as well provide a wide varity of aux. I/O. Initially, I had some problems getting the limit switch inputs to work correctly until I discovered that that I had an interrupt conflict with the sound card. Once that was resolved, everything worked fine.
I am using a 66Mhz 486 PC (circa 1993) for control. This has proved more than adequate for the CNC software. Since the CNC ISA controller board produces 1000 interrupts/sec, AhHa! strongly recommends disabling programs like EMM386 and Smartdrive, and I have found that the software does have problems with running with these installed. I have a bootable floppy disk that has just the bare system on it that I use when I'm going to use the CNC controller.
The CNC Controller software by AhHa! is called CNC Pro or Artisan. Artisan is basically just CNC Pro with a few extra features. This is good software that's easy to understand, configure, and operate. There are a few things that bug me, but over all an A-.
I looked at lot of CAD CAM packages before buying. In my price range (~$1000) most programs were pretty lame. However, AhHa! now resells a program called "PowerStation" by Glasshouse Software, LTD. Check it out! The user interface is a little strange, but the program is very powerful and blows the doors off of any CAM in it's price range - even Bobcad. I have had no problems with the CNC files it generates and it hardly ever crashes. For the price, definately an a++.
Powerstation can be found on the MicroCimm web page or their BBS. Surf over to either of the following for more information:
MicroCimm Website: http://www.microcimm.comThey also have a demo version of the new Windows-based version 5.0 of the Powerstation product.
MicroCimm BBS: 1-516-361-5165
Valu-Tek Sales: 1-602-502-5170
You can reach the AhHa! Design Group at 612-641-1797. They are very friendly and helpful. The new AhHa! Design Group Homepage has an excellent description of their product line and includes the latest pricing.