Once you use a touch screen to control your CNC machine you will never want to go back to standard keyboard and mouse again. I own several CNC machines but for various reasons have never really ventured into the touch arena for any of them.

When I started my KRmc01 mill book I had envisioned an enclosure with a touch screen from the start. I was when I cam across an open box deal any my local Best Buy for a an ACER DA220HQL all in one touch monitor.

After building my enclosure and attaching the touch screen to my Windows 7 machine, things would never be the same again.

I recently came across the Dell E2014T touch monitor and decided to convert all my other CNC machines to touch. I broke down and purchased four of these as well as various mounts and started process.


The Touch Monitors

Let's look at the monitors I am using.

This monitor is one step above a monitor. It is actually a large Android tablet that allows you to switch over to an HDMI connector. This can both a good thing and a bad thing, as the monitor always boots up to Android. You have to hit two buttons to switch to your HDMI connector after you turn on the monitor. This actions while simple, does keep you from the total turnkey experience.

The up side to the Android interface is that you can start a CNC Job, then switch back to the Android interface and watch a Netflix or Hulu show. You can even surf the net with the Android browser.

Specs

  • Max Resolution: 1920 x 1080
  • Screen Size: 21.5"
  • Monitor Size: 20-1/4" x 14"

 

Pros

  • Built-in speakers
  • Built-in Android Ice Cream Sandwich (built-in 8GB hard drive)
  • Compatible with Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8
  • Two point Multi-touch
  • Includes wireless mouse and keyboard
  • Android has built-in Wifi
  • VESA Mount
  • Removable stand

 

Cons

  • Only supports HDMI interface
  • Does not automatically boot to HDMI interface

This monitor is nearly $100 cheaper than the ACER DA220HQL. It has a lower max resolution but this is a non issue since for MACH3 support you want to lower the resolution or the buttons will be too small for touch support. It has a slightly smaller footprint so it's a little easier to mount. One important feature is that it has a VGA interface so with the correct cable you can connect this monitor to an HDMI, DVI, VGA, or Display Port.

Specs

  • Max Resolution: 1600 x 900
  • Screen Size: 20"
  • Monitor Size: 19-3/4" x 12-1/4"

 

Pros

  • Supports VGA, HDMI, and Display Port interfaces
  • Built-in USB Hub
  • Compatible with Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8
  • Five point Multi-touch
  • VESA Mount
  • Inexpensive
  • Removable stand

 

Cons

  • No Speakers

VESA Mounts

The lack of an arm on this VESA mount means that its one sturdy mount. However without the arm it does restrict the angles that you can achieve. This mount will only mount to an edge that is between 1" - 1-7/8".

Unfortunately the clamp will not fit the 3030 extrusion on the KRMx02 so you will have to add a piece of 1030 extrusion in order to provide a clamp surface, as shown below.

At around $22 this is a very economical VESA mount. It does have a couple down sides. First the swivel on the top portion of the mount can not be locked in place. This lets the monitor easily swing from side to side but will not hold its position permanently.

 

The MI-707 is the next step up from the MI-706. The only difference is that it has a small 5-1/2" arm. This arm gets you an additional swivel point so you can better position your monitor, as shown below.

The arm is also held in place rather stiffly so the monitor does not move when you touch it. It has the same mount so the 1"-1-7/8" restriction still exists. This arm only costs $20 and yields better display options so is my pick for a low end VESA monitor mount.

 

Note this is the same model as the VIVO Stand-V001.

 

This mount steps things up a notch. It has a dual swing arm and full cable management clamps. The main clamp is adjustable so it will fit 4"- .25" edges.

mi751a.jpg
mi751b.jpg

The double swivel arm allow you to put the monitor into just about any position. Shown here I have placed the monitor slightly off to the side. This creates a workstation area at the 0,0,0 point on the CNC.

Shown here is the monitor mounted on my small 18" x 14" KRMx02.

mi751d.jpg

Computer Settings

The following are only suggestions, but they work very well for me.

MACH 3

Under the General Configuration/Screen Control I set the following options:

  • Hi-Res Screens, Checked
  • Boxed DRO;s and Graphics, Checked
  • Auto Screen Enlarge, UnChecked
  • Flash errors and comments, Checked

Windows Display Settings

  • Resolution: 1280 x 720
  • Font Size: 100%

Tablet Options

You need to turn on "Tablet PC Components". On windows 7 this is in the "Programs and Features" on the control panel. You will need to select the "Turn Windows features on and off". On Windows 8, you wont need to do this and even most windows 7 installs this will be turned on by default. I don't currently have any XP or Vista machines so you will have to work the tablet features out yourself.

Other Observations

I found that the desktop touch features works better on Windows 7 than they do on Windows 8. On Windows 7 you get the option to dock a small tab to the left or right that can be pulled out. On windows 8 you have to use the charms, or place an OSK in your task bar. On Windows 7 any data field will pop up a small keyboard icon that you can click to bring up the OSK. On Windows 8 you have to use the charms bar or bring up the task bar.