How to start using the STEP-FOUR Basic 540 CNC mill with EMC2?

These instructions refer to EMC2 2.4.3 but should be adoptable for newer versions.

  1. Download the EMC2 Ubuntu 10.04 Live CD and burn it to CD-R.
  2. Restart the computer and enter BIOS. Ensure that your parallel port configuration is so that the parallel port is enabled and set to “Unidirectional” mode (also called “Output only”, “SPP” or “Standard”). ECP+EPP mode will work also, but “bidirectional” mode will not work (the mill will not move at all).
  3. Also in the BIOS, set the parallel port’s IO address to 0x0378. This is the IO port preconfigured in the EMC2 config files. It can be changed, but so far it did not work out (probably, it has to be changed in more places). It is irrelevant what IRQ you configure for the parallel port in BIOS, as EMC2 will not use that. Also note that it is normal that there is no /dev/lp* device after booting from the live CD, as EMC2 will work with the parallel port directly, without a device.
  4. Download and install the EMC2 configuration files for the STEP-FOUR Basic 540 mill. They are provided as package emc2-cooltool-configs_1.03_i386.deb, provided by company The Cool Tool. For a more detailed discussion, see the article “How to get the EMC2 machine configuration files for a STEP-FOUR Basic 540 or 1000 CNC mill?
  5. Open the file /usr/local/etc/emc2/configs/TheCoolTool/Basic540_3axis.ini and there, remove (or comment) the following line in section [EMC]:

    NML_FILE = emc.nml

    This step will remove the “communication channel” (client / server) configuration of EMC2. If not doing so, when starting emc it will report the following error on the command line:

    waiting for s.axes
    waiting for s.axes
    waiting for s.axes [message repeated about 200 times]
    Invalid configuration of axes is preventing EMC from starting
    Shutting down and cleaning up EMC2...

    Here is the source for that solution.

  6. Connect your parallel port cable.
  7. Start EMC2 on the command line by typing “emc”. The “Axis” GUI should start now.
  8. If you did not already, switch on your motor controller box.
  9. Hit F1 to switch “emergency out” off, hit F2 to switch on the machine, hit F3 to get the manual controls and try to move the axes. It should be possible now.
    Also, all references in the Basic540_3axis.ini file (and files referenced there) to the fourth axis (“A”) have been removed, but this should be unnecessary as the number of axes was set to three there anyway.







2 responses to “How to start using the STEP-FOUR Basic 540 CNC mill with EMC2?”

  1. Mr Busyhands

    Although the links are still there, the configuration files are no longer available on the Cool Tools site. Do you have another source for them? Or can you make them available? Thanks!

  2. @Mr Busyhands: Sorry for the long delay replying. I just made the confguration files available for download in this post.

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