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Dear All,

I am trying to study the mechanic, electronic and software associated to the CNC. I have quite a clear idea about the motors and the drivers. Where it get messy is on the control board or breakout boards. I do not have a parallel port, so I have to go either with USB or Ethernet.
I see boards from 20$ to 2000$ that on paper seems to have similar performances and most probably they are quite different. 

How to select one ? I am oriented to something Mach3 compatible, as it looks like this software set a kind of standard.
 On the other side there is the Arduino route. I am presently using the Arduino to use the motors as power feed, just to get familiar with the matter.


I use Mach3 and I find it quite easy to use, once it is properly set up. As I recall, it only works with a parallel port. Mach4, on the other hand, works with USB and possibly Ethernet.

I've been using a common off-shore 4-axis board that seems quite workable. It is, of course, parallel-port driven, so it wouldn't work for you. I think you'd be doing okay to try one of the cheaper USB boards available on eBay.
Can't help much. I use Mach 3, easy to use on my plasma table. As Mike said think it only works with parallel and serial interface. Being electronically challenged I bought a package with the electronics already assembled and motors matched and tested.