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CNC PC Setup

Getting the BlueChick CNC machine up and running is more than just assembling the deck. It requires wiring up the electronics, installing a host of software programs, and getting everything to work together. Over the weekend, we mounted and connected a few of the electronic components for interfacing the BlueChick with a computer. However, before we hook up the interface board to the CNC machine, we thought we should get the PC we will be using to run the CNC software up and running.

We have a bunch of ancient (more than 5-years old) WinTel laptops and towers sitting around doing nothing. Some of them were too old (Win95), but there were two Windows XT towers which looked to be suitable (PowerSpecCompaq). The Compaq tower was purchased in 2005, and we have not used it for a few years. The last time we used it, we managed to completely mess it up trying to install an OS upgrade from HP. Fortunately, we still have the original HP/Compaq systems CDs, so we decided to wipe the drive and reinstall everything. A few hours later, we managed to get a working system…minus a hundred Windows XP updates 🙂

While the OS on the machine may be from 2005, the software we will be using to drive the CNC machine will be current. We are going to start with the ones most are using for the BlueChick (Mach3 ProCamBamCutViewer). Once we have some experience, we’ll branch out and see what else is out there.

We spent most of yesterday wiping the drive, reinstalling Windows XP, updating all of the patches since 2005, and getting the WiFi to work. We even had time to install Mach3 and CutViewer CNC software. Everything was going along great until this morning. For some reason, when we started up the machine, all we heard were these long beeps. Nothing is showing up on the screen. Based on the beep, it appears that the Compaq has experienced a hardware failure of some sort. Hmmm…that’s what happens when we try to press a 7-year old PC back to into service. Looks like it is time to get our hands dirty and dig into the guts of the Compaq to see what is going on. Stay tuned.

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