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What Brain do you use?

I was thinking of comparing levels of technology. Here is the question. At what point is it a bad idea to use the least best to control your world? This started back when I was in DSL. The Call went like this: " My friend got a new computer, I never had one so he gave me his old one." The first warning sign should have been your friend is looking for a new home outside his house for a 25 lbs beige boat anchor. " I’m trying to get online and it’s slow, how can I make it better?" Buy a new computer.

This is a discussion of what Brian you put in control of your Maslow.

“I have a PC I put away a few years ago maybe I can repurpose it.” This statement is the equivalent of saying I want to find the stupidest person I can and have them be the bus driver on my cross country trip.

I want the smartest best qualified buss driver I can find.

It doesn’t take much on the resource level to run the software so why do I want to spend money on a current pc?

It comes down to the idea you have a driver steering, you are calling out directions, the encoders are giving feedback, 7 people are all yelling while all this is happening. The computer needs focus. If it looses focus for a fraction a second everything can be right but it might not hear an instruction or the feed back of an encoder. This will throw an error and stop everything.

My old PC is free a new one cost money. A current PC can be had for under $100. The Free solution will not cost you in ways you see at first but 8 hours into a 10 hour cut on a $300 piece of wood hurts. Chasing a problem with the motor cables because of an encoder error will take hours to find nothing. Just opening a web browser to look something up could kill a cut.

Chances are if the PC is that old it might not have updated drivers available. In it’s day Windows 7 sucked. That is users were sure Windows 98 was better and more reliable than the new Windows 7. Now people are clinging to Windows 7 as a Gem of operating systems.

If you are running Linux then you are probably aware of what your PC can do.

I’m saying that using the junker PC to run a power tool might end up being the most expensive choice you make. It will likely give you problems right after promising your 7 year old to make something special for her birthday the next day. Right after you justify the cost of your Maslow to your wife to do a house repair, it will pick the most painful time to be an issue.

Did you go out and reclaim nails and screws to build your frame? Why choose everything new until you get to the Brain for your Maslow?

This is just an observation. And that original DSL call guy, if it were a real friend they would have given you a new computer, not the one that was so bad it wasn’t usable anymore.

Use your brain when choosing a brian to drive your tool for you.

My 2 Cents

Thank you

have old computers causing mis cuts been an issue historically? Have not read through every single thread but I dont’ recall reading about this. It’s actually not that easy to use an old windpows laptop/tablet pre Gen2 i core series because many of them do not support Open GL 2.0 which is a ground control requirement. Tried running GC on 2nd gen i5 really good desktop and it would not work. I think an old desktop is easier to get running since you can swap out graphics card easily to be compatable with Open GL 2.0

Hi Bee,
not sure I agree with you here. Given all the dust that is around the Maslow and the little computing power that is needed to keep Groundcontrol running reliably I think using an old computer is a great choice. Repurpose, reuse, recycle.
I am running an old laptop on lubuntu and have been having no issues with it. Since then I’ve been staying away from updates to not mess up my system. I have two backup laptops floating around that could take over the job without much effort. I’d rather use the $100 for wood and bits and make some more dust.

I’ve ordered a RPI Zero W to see if I can get WebControl to run on it. Cheaper than a mouse.


old computer, idle 90% of the time when running GC
new computer, idle 99% of the time when running GC

Why buy a ferrari for a 3 block trip to the grocery store?

now, it does depend on the computer, but why pay to have it site idle? Depending
on the system the new one may use less power, or it may use a lot more power,
require a different monitor, etc.

with WC, we no longer need openGL, we just need a browser.

IMHO, a Pi running WC is the best thing to do (~$40, passive cooling so no fans
sucking dust into the machine) and then any computer that can run a browser. Old
cast-off phones that don’t have cell service make very good hand-held
controllers. Wallmart has 7" tablets for <$30. Being able to use a mobile device
to set the aprockets to 12 o’clock instead of having to go back and forth to the
computer is worth a LOT IMHO.

now that WC is getting packaged for other OSs, throwing linux on anything you
have lying around then running WC on it is an option, it’s a money/learning
curve trade-off.

Now, for doing your CAD work, you want something more than what you need for
GC/WC, but you probably don’t want to be doing most of your CAD work in the
shop. It’s also not a bad idea to avoid doing your CAD work on a machine that’s
doing real-time control of hardware.

David Lang

1 Like

That was exactly what started WebControl’s development.


I resect your right to choose to use something else. I in fact try to test what going to the edge of usability is. But it is just that, I’m testing with something if it goes wrong It won’t matter. My observation is while cutting in a $2400 Live Edge table top is when the computer locks up mid cut. It’s not until after this the person considers maybe Windows 7 forcing an update at that moment was avoidable but it’s too late now. I can tell you the most expensive thing I will ever spend money on is my materials, it far out weighs the cost of that RCA Laptop/Tablet. The second most expensive consumable is my bits. I will have several thousand in wood, a few thousand in bits and an infinitesimal amount on a decent PC that some customer wanting a custom something will someday pay for covering the PC cost. I’m not talking Ferrari, I’m talking a reasonably reliable family car you can depend on to start the first day it snows. If you want to prove to me a 1958 Ford Edsel will work, that is up to you.

@madgrizzle - I’m down to see how the Pi Zero works for you. Last I was aware it had problems being stable running docker. It will Run it ,it just locks up at random times. At least that is where it was the last time I looked when the Pi Zero was last updated. Maybe something has changed or maybe it’s a matter of adding heat sinks, they are really cheep now to get as a kit.

I also include the Pi in an inexpensive alternative but to outfit a non zero Pi typically runs over $100 it makes the RCA a better value in my opinion.

There is a vast number of really decent laptops between $100-$200.

This is just information, each person has to decide what works for them.

Thank you

I’m moving away from docker. It runs webcontrol from pyinstaller installation just fine. It’s a bit slow with file commands, but that might have been somewhat related to my use of a 6-year old sd (not the fastest card)


I will have to build a test Pi. Still gonna use my Mac for the expensive wood :wink:

Thank you