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.
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.
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.
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!