PlasmaCAM Communications Errors


Communication Errors in DesignEdge can be incredibly frustrating to troubleshoot. Below, we’ve made a list of the most common issues related to communications errors:

– Update software to the latest version.

– Ensure the table is grounded to its own independent earth spike.

  • Earth spike must be independent – not shared with anything else. Do not use building earth.
  • Attached grounding to the grate (NOT the table frame).

– Pour water around the earth stake to ensure the ground around it is moist.

– Make sure the parallel cable is not bundled together with the power cable. Keep the parallel cable as separate as possible from power cables.

– Move the computer as far away from the plasma cutter as the interface cable will allow (at least 5’/1.5m).

– Move the computer monitor(screen)

– Reinforce the grounding of the computer by running a wire between the clip on the parallel port of the controller to the metal frame of the computer.

– If you are using any extension cords (on computer or controller) eliminate these or at least try replacing them with new ones.

– Replace the parallel cable. It is worth trying at least 2 or 3 different cables as even some brand new cables can have inherent faults which can make them susceptible to interference.

– Automatic software updates should be disabled for programs like Adobe Acrobat and windows updates. Also, try turning off antivirus software updates & scans.

– Ensure that Windows Screen savers are turned off.

– Monitor the applications running on your computer using Task Manager and see if there are any particular applications that startup at the same time as Communication Errors occur.

– Set windows up so that the PC;

  • never goes into hibernation
  • never turns the hard drives off
  • never turns the monitor off

– Noise interference can come through the power circuits from motors and other devices (e.g. machinery, fridges, air conditioners, etc.) running on that circuit.

  • Try plugging controller and computer into separate circuits.
  • Run the computer and controller on a battery UPS (uninterrupted power supply). Boot up the computer and turn on the controller. Unplug the UPS from the outlet so that it is running only on the battery. Initialize the machine. If it works, the electrical power in the shop is “dirty”. You might need a power conditioner.

– Try to identify and eliminate any potential sources of ‘noise interference’ that may be feeding back through your power supply:

  • Fluorescent lights, particularly with bad globe or starter can radiate electrical noise interference. Turn off any fluoro lights.
  • If you have any light dimmer switches also turn these off.
  • Turn off any TIG welders (especially HF) and any AC inductive motors.
  • If you are in a large workshop try also when the workshop is shut down/after hours when other workshop machinery is turned off.
  • Consider carefully if anything at all in your surrounding environment has changed recently (new machinery, machines moved, electrical installs, repairs, etc…). Even outside your building (e.g. mobile phone tower installed nearby recently, etc…).

– It is also important for the workshop mains power to have a good earth ground. Sometimes earth stakes can get corroded which can increase electrical noise through the power supply.

– Ideally, the table should not be installed close to the electrical switchboard. If it is close and where possible move the table further from the switchboard.

– Try to identify and eliminate any potential sources of ‘noise interference’ that may be transmitted through the atmosphere nearby your machine or building:

  • Wireless network systems can sometimes cause noise. Turn off your wireless network modem/router temporarily to see if this helps. If you have a WiFi dongle on the computer try unplugging and/or disabling it.
  • Try turning off any nearby mobile phones.
  • If you are using wireless or Bluetooth keyboard & mouse, try swapping these for corded ones.
  • Consider carefully if anything at all in your surrounding environment has changed recently (new machinery, machines moved, electrical installs, repairs, etc…).
  • Outside your building are there any mobile phone towers, television/radio towers or high-voltage power lines nearby?

– Clip EMI filters onto the parallel port cable. These can help filter out noise interference.

– If your computer is not already installed with a 5V parallel port card, try upgrading to a 5v card. Most parallel cards are only 3.3V but a 5V card produces a stronger signal which can help overcome communication errors.

– Try a different computer. Even if your computer has worked successfully for some time, internal components can degenerate and eventually cause communication errors.

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