Use a PCI Parallel Port with a TB6560 CNC Control Board

Modern PCs generally don’t come with a parallel port.  Usually this isn’t a problem as USB generally works really well, but not if you’re running a CNC router that uses a TB6560 control board like my Zen Toolworks model with Mach3 control software (see all my CNC posts here).  Here’s a little tutorial about adding a PCI parallel port and using it for CNC control.

install-dell-pci-ports-parallel1 – Install the PCI Card.  This should be obvious.  I used this Rosewill RC-302 card from Newegg, but it can also be purchased from Amazon if you prefer.  It seems to work fine.

2 – Install the Drivers.  This wasn’t too hard for my card.  I was able to browse the CD and find my model then run the install program.  Naturally the Windows XP autoinstall wasn’t able to find it, so that was one challenge.

 

 

mach3-parallel-pci-setup

3 – Get the Parallel Port Address. If you have an onboard port, generally this will be “0378“, but if you install a new PCI port it can be quite different.  Mine was “DCC8″ as seen in the picuture to the right.  If you’re wondering why there are “letters” in this address, I believe it’s actually in hexidecimal notation, or a base 16 number.

 

 

 

 

mach3-parallel-setup

4 – Enter the parallel port “Number” into Mach3.  Assuming you’re using Mach3, go into the “ports and pins” menu and replace whatever is in the “Parallel Port 1″ box with the address you just got.  Make sure this port is enabled in your software.

5 – Test it out.  If you have everything else correct, you should be able to jog the X, Y, and Z axes around after you hit “Reset.”  This is assuming you have your router set up correctly otherwise.  This Zen Toolworks wiki gives the general instructions for getting everything working.  There is a starter confix XML file a the bottom of the page that is quite helpful for an initial setup.

This may be helpful if you don’t happen to have a built in port and would like to run your CNC device on it.  Thanks to logix4u.net for providing the information needed to initially get me going with this!


  1. I must try this, paralell port is something really easy to work with.

    • Nice. I’m not much of a programmer, but I hear they’re really good for that! I’d love to see it if you come up with any projects using it!

  2. I have the Zen 7×7, and have been using Mach 3 to control it, however I’m actually looking for some other type of cnc motion control software for other projects I’m working on. Do you happen to know of any other software that is really simple? Has manual motor control, and maybe programmable?

    • Hi, thanks for commenting! The only other motion control software I know of is linux CNC. I’ve used it very briefly on my notebook. It didn’t seem that easy to use and you have to be running Linux (another barrier for some people), but things may have improved since then. So probably not “really simple”, but if you’re looking to control a robot or something I would bet it’s quite “hackable.” I’ve heard of some Arduino-based control too, so that may be worth some research.

      • I like your site a lot, so not a problem at all!

        It’s funny- at some point everyone has gotten SUPER technical, and all I see are Ardunio projects with modified shields, and custom code, and all sorts of crazy stuff. I just remember the “good old days” of being in Tech Ed in middle school, where we used a stepper motor car made out of LEGOs, and would drive that guy around the table using Visual Basic. I thought things would have gotten significantly easier since then, hahahah…

        Well, I guess I’ll just come out and say my intentions. I would like to make a simulator or something, so that I can drive the Steppes in a way that reflect a game, or video being played. I’ve seen kits, but they’re all waaaaaay out of my price range, you know?

        If you can, shoot me an email sometime, as I have a hypothetical question, and was hoping for your feedback on it.

        Thanks!

        • Well thanks! Glad you like the site!

          Yeah, things get more and more complicated, you definitely can’t be an expert at everything! I really enjoy the experimenting, but it seems like I’m always just learning how much more there is to know.

          Interesting idea, you could always poke around on Hackaday, I feel like I’ve seen stuff like that there. Or maybe you could recycle an old video game for the physical hardware/steppers – like Afterburner or something like that.

          But yeah, I’ll shoot you an email too!

  3. Hello Mr!
    Thank you sooooo much for this information.
    I am sitting for about 10 hours on this problem with the LTP and you had the finaly information to fix my problem!
    Thanks thanks thanks!!!
    Mike

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