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oldtiffie
05-18-2008, 12:19 AM
I am getting ready to retro-fit a "Seig" X3 vertical column mill with a "bolt-on" packaged CNC in 3 axis - to have a 4th. axis for use as and when required.

I will also fit a "Manual Pulse" system as well for manual over-ride or control if and as required.

I will instal a new computer in my shop - just for the X3.

I have a HF-45 vertical column mill which I will be leaving "as is" as I like a "fall-back" option "just in case" and for "old times sake".

I have 3 CAD systems on my computer and have yet to settle on a CAM system. I need to really "brush up" with my CAD systems as it had not been used for years.

I have and will be using Mach3 for the CNC-ing. I need to really "get my finger out" and "get a move on" with this as well.

My "learning curve" is going to be somewhere between exponential (to several orders) and dead vertical!!

It is "early stages" yet and I am in no hurry.

I thought I'd throw it up on the forum/board for the info of and comment by others.

I have bought the Seig X3 and will pick it up in the next week or so - as I said, I am in no hurry.
http://www.machineryhouse.com.au/Products?stockCode=M153

I was going to go for the Sieg Super X3 but was advised to stick with the X3 - which I did. Details of the Super X3 are at:
http://www.machineryhouse.com.au/Products?stockCode=M155

There were several options as regards machines and the CNC retro-fit "bolt-on" packages.

The first was "Syil" (recently re-named "Toolmach") as it was established in OZ and was a full "turn-key" set-up. It is full "stepper" set-up.

http://www.toolmach.com.au/home.php

http://www.toolmach.com.au/product.php?productid=16133&cat=0&page=1&featured

I was led to believe the machine was a "Seig" but apparently not - it seems that Seig will not supply them and the "Syil" is an "in-country" (China) copy of the Seig. Syil had supply problems and was on the other side of Australia to me. The costs were too high and was not certain of support or spares supply - so I gave it a "miss".

The one I "went" for (and am awaiting a formal quote/offer to place my order) is at:
http://www.cnckits.com.au
http://www.cnckits.com.au/details.html#Kits
http://www.cnckits.com.au/images.html
http://www.cnckits.com.au/pricing.html

This is a full stepper drive set-up.

The developer is "local" to me - only about 2 hours (maximum) drive and provides full technical and parts support.

It doesn't get better than this.

Two other options that I have been made aware of - one by a member of this forum, the other by "poking around" are:

http://www.rlberg.com/CNC.htm

This is in the USA (sincere thanks to the member who sent me the link and comment).

This too has been developed "from the ground up" on a Seig X3 mill. It is a "servo" motor system. I thought it was brilliant but I prefer "stepper" to "servo" - not because one is better than the other but because - as a complete novice in this field - I am more "at ease" with "steppers".

The next was a mix of "stepper" and "servo" from that brilliant Japanese machinist - Mr. Ashimura - at:
http://homepage3.nifty.com/amigos/53_cnc_system/cnc_system.htm

For those that may not know of or have not seen Mr. Ashimura's web site - you have really missed something special - check it out at:
http://homepage3.nifty.com/amigos/index-e.html

Why the hell am I doing this to myself at my age - you may well ask, I've asked myself often enough. I just wanted to "have a go at it" - that's all. I'd like to know a bit more about it from a complete novice's ("dick-head"??) point of view from a "learn-by-doing" approach I suppose.

Well there it is folks.

I hope it is of some use - to me and others who might read this.

DICKEYBIRD
05-18-2008, 12:53 AM
Great stuff 'Tiffie. I got into 2-1/2D CNC routing for cutting out my r/c aircraft parts almost 10 yrs. ago and loved/hated it. The software at the time was very user UN-friendly but I did get it working. I'd really like to convert my X-3 (great lil' mill by the way) but finances won't allow it.

I'd seriously think twice about the 3MT spindle in the one you've linked to though. R-8 is much cheaper to tool up with. Isn't that what your other mill has already?

Milton

oldtiffie
05-18-2008, 01:32 AM
Thanks Milton (DickeyBird).

Thanks heaps - I feel better already!!

At 71 I am short of time!! So its in with both feet - "now or never" and "all or bugger all"!!!

I picked the 3MT as it is on my HF-45 and my 3-in-one mill spindles - for which I'm pretty well "tooled-up" and "ready to go".

I have adaptors for my ER-32 collets as well - so it all "fits".

Swarf&Sparks
05-18-2008, 02:13 AM
Looks like a very tidy package Mick.
You will have to license the Mach 3. The demo version is very limited (about 100 lines of code IIRC)

I use Mach 3 on the router and am well pleased with it.
With Vcarve, it is all too easy to generate files with tens of thousands of lines :eek:

oldtiffie
05-18-2008, 04:00 AM
Thanks Lin.

Licence for Mach3 is "done and dusted" - about 2 days after I tried it. It has been sitting around ever since!!

I liked that work of yours on V-carve - very nice indeed.

Charles Ping
05-18-2008, 05:38 AM
Have you had an input from John Stevenson?

He makes X3 CNC kits and whilst the dollar rate probably wouldn't make it an attractive proposition to buy one from the UK his experience might be useful?
http://www.arceurotrade.co.uk/Catalogue/Machines-Accessories/Milling-Machines/CNC-Conversion-Kit-for-X3-Small-Mill

John Stevenson
05-18-2008, 06:38 AM
The first was "Syil" (recently re-named "Toolmach") as it was established in OZ and was a full "turn-key" set-up. It is full "stepper" set-up.

I was led to believe the machine was a "Seig" but apparently not - it seems that Seig will not supply them and the "Syil" is an "in-country" (China) copy of the Seig. Syil had supply problems

Naughty, naughty - name change to be very close to a Tormach ? of which it isn't in the same league.
Use of the X4 name to imply it's still in the Sieg stable ?

Short term they will get away with it, long term it will hurt them.




The one I "went" for (and am awaiting a formal quote/offer to place my order) is at:
http://www.cnckits.com.au
http://www.cnckits.com.au/details.html#Kits
http://www.cnckits.com.au/images.html
http://www.cnckits.com.au/pricing.html

This is a full stepper drive set-up.

The developer is "local" to me - only about 2 hours (maximum) drive and provides full technical and parts support.

It doesn't get better than this.



That looks a nice kit Mick, well made, correct specs for components and better still you will have the all important support which is worth more than anything else.

I get asked for CNC kits to be supplied out of the UK but flatly refuse on the support issues.

.

oldtiffie
05-18-2008, 08:15 AM
Naughty, naughty - name change to be very close to a Tormach ? of which it isn't in the same league.
Use of the X4 name to imply it's still in the Sieg stable ?

Short term they will get away with it, long term it will hurt them.
.................................
...................................

That looks a nice kit Mick, well made, correct specs for components and better still you will have the all important support which is worth more than anything else.

I get asked for CNC kits to be supplied out of the UK but flatly refuse on the support issues.

.

Thanks John.

Geezuz you DO have a sharp eye!! I never spotted the pseudo Tormack or pseudo Seig with the X3 bit.

I don't have to tell/remind you where I go the info from re. Syil which on relfelction seems just as close to Seig. Thank you sincerely - I'm still shuddering at the close call.

I emailed Arc Eurotrade re. supply of a Manual Pulse Generator which was on their web site when it was discussed on here recently. It isn't on the web site now and a search on the site yields a "nil" result.

Any idea why? Any help will be appreciated. I asked the developer here (who is a user of his own stuff and makes his stuff on the CNC-ed X3) and he said that the MPG with a USB connection will work with Mach3 and his package. I am getting him to install/provide the 4th. axis.

He is in the middle of developing a CNC-ed "Vertex" 6" rotary table as the fourth axis. I have a "notional" order in for one.

He is as slow as ........ getting the quote out, but I will give him a reminder this week.

Interestingly, he said that the X3 is better than the Super X3 for CNC-work as he said that re-setting/re-tramming the head is a PITA and the X3 is ideal and had lots of "grunt". All that he has had to do in over 3 years of development and production work is to replace the drive belt.

He also said that the rolled ball-screws are all well within tolerance and do the job fine and that ground ball-screws cost big $ and cannot be justified.

He said too that the computer should have a "bare-bones" XP or W2K OS - and no MS OS "upgrades" nor should IE be fitted. Minimum/nil "back-ground" applications installed or running either.

Others who read this may appreciate and hopefully will explain or advise. A new computer is not expensive. I asked about using a lap-top and he said that while it would work, one of the problems was that Mach3 requires a parallel port dedicated to Mach3 and that ideally the parallel port should be on the main/"mother" board and not on an IDE card (which will work). The reasons against the lap-top as I recall was that they usually don't have a parallel port and require a conversion card which is far from the optimum arrangement.

I notice that Arc EuroTrade have a PDF file for getting the Seig X3 ready for CNC-ing. I must remember to down-load it.

Again, many thanks.

Swarf&Sparks
05-18-2008, 08:42 AM
I did notice the "toolmach" thing, but kept me gob shut thinking it might be a typo, or just confusion.
If it is the case, that is very naughty indeed!
Can anyone clarify this please?

I'm well aware of (and have been drooling over) the Tormach mill for a couple of years.

ptjw7uk
05-18-2008, 08:48 AM
The main problem with the PC is that if you have lots of programs loaded then windows will keep on doing its 'thing' with all the loaded components and not concentrate on your cnc program. The more dedicated controller you have then better the control of the cnc operation will be.
In some respects the old dos was much better than any form of windows will ever be.
I would even go so far as to say turn any automated windows functions you can especially the screen saver as windows will be forever checking for keyboard activity so it can activate the saver, some have even said it is better to get a PC without an onboard video controller.
Not sure waht effect the more modern duo or quad chips would have on the effects as your cnc package will not use the extra processor.
Perhaps Evan would know!
Peter

Swarf&Sparks
05-18-2008, 08:49 AM
Mick, just noticed the part of your post relating to using a lappy to drive your machine.

The answer is a qualified "maybe".
Trouble is , most lappies use 3V logic on the parallel port, whereas most stepper drivers expect 5v logic.

I get away with using my old HP lappy to drive the router because I'm using PMDX drivers, which are designed to accept 3v - 5v logic.

You will have to check the drivers provided with your conversion, re voltage/logic levels.

Hope I have not further muddied the turbid waters for you mate ;)

oldtiffie
05-18-2008, 08:52 AM
I did notice the "toolmach" thing, but kept me gob shut thinking it might be a typo, or just confusion.
If it is the case, that is very naughty indeed!
Can anyone clarify this please?

I'm well aware of (and have been drooling over) the Tormach mill for a couple of years.

Try this Lin.

http://www.syil.com.au

Then this.

http://www.toolmach.com.au/home.php

(More than?) a "bit rude" - as you say.

Swarf&Sparks
05-18-2008, 09:04 AM
"site is underconstruction.."

Yup :mad:

tmarks11
05-18-2008, 09:16 AM
"ToolMach Quik Tooling System"

Now where have heard something like that before?

:D :D :D :D

Swarf&Sparks
05-18-2008, 09:20 AM
C&C qualified tooling?
:D

John Stevenson
05-18-2008, 10:00 AM
Quote:-

Syphilis.au has now changed it's name to Gonorrhea.au

End Quote.


.

(http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Ghonorrea)

Swarf&Sparks
05-18-2008, 10:03 AM
Don't mince words John :D

"a pox on't"

Dawai
05-18-2008, 10:45 AM
hi..

I am confused.. with Mach3 and a joystick you don't need a manual pulser.. why complicate things?

A usb keyboard emulator and a arcade style 4 NO joystick works fine. THE keyboard emulator throws keystrokes to Mach3 and it thinks you are pressing a arrow or "assigned key".. ok? This moves the machine in manual.

David

Swarf&Sparks
05-18-2008, 10:51 AM
Appreciate the comments Dave, and I agree.
But you gotta remember that this is Mick's first venture into CNC.
If he prefers to spend the $$ and get up and running, I can go along with that.
An off-the-shelf MPG pendant will save a lot of time and grief for a noob, and allow intuitive "handwheel" operation for someone used to manual machining.

BTW, have you done any more work on your machinist cam software?
That could be real handy. I can give Mick 20 years, and my eyes aint what they were :D

Rgds, Lin

Dawai
05-18-2008, 10:57 AM
I, have a clarostat optical encoder I purchased for $39.. it with a $5 opto22 ttl-interface board could pulse anything here..

With three axis, that would cost what? $130? your mileage may differ, but these young guys forget what a transistor is? it could do it also cheaply..

TO pulse the drive you need a sinking 5volt signal with a square edge with a pulse width duration of at least 5milleseconds. TO reverse, logic or a switch with at least 5 milleseconds warning of a directional change.

Swarf&Sparks
05-18-2008, 11:11 AM
I think you miss the point Dave.
I'm a techie, and agree wholheartedly with what you say, but Mick aint, and he wants to get a CNC setup running with minimal grief.

As he said, he's on a pretty steep curve just with the software, even though he's an accomplished machinist.

Swarf&Sparks
05-18-2008, 11:50 AM
Had another look at that kit and. FWIW, I noticed home, but no limit switches.
The do have a loop terminal for extra Estops.
It may well be worth investing in 3 microswitches in that loop as limits.

John Stevenson
05-18-2008, 11:54 AM
If you want a handwheel then just buy a Contour Design Shuttle Express, 5 buttons and two handwheels, the outer one moves a selected axis, the more you turn the faster it goes, the inner wheel moves step by step.

The buttons are configured for X, Y, Z, and A with the last button toggling thru steps in units, 1.000, 0.100, 0.010, 0.001 then back to 1.000

About $60 off the shelf and it just plugs into a USB port on the computer.

Why reinvent the wheel ??????

.

Swarf&Sparks
05-18-2008, 11:58 AM
Is that a USB gadget John?

Swarf&Sparks
05-18-2008, 11:58 AM
OOPs, gettin tired, I see it is :o

Swarf&Sparks
05-18-2008, 12:06 PM
Hmm, their "oops"
get to the site, want to order and all I get is "take the shortcut"
OK, I'll take the shortcut and bypass em

Dawai
05-18-2008, 12:19 PM
John: you didn't post a link... do you have one?

Swarf&Sparks
05-18-2008, 12:23 PM
Right here Dave
http://www.logickeyboard.com/shop/default.asp?SetLng=2&BypassShopClosed=1

Just been there and all I got was "take the shortcut"

lazlo
05-18-2008, 12:57 PM
He said too that the computer should have a "bare-bones" XP or W2K OS - and no MS OS "upgrades" nor should IE be fitted. Minimum/nil "back-ground" applications installed or running either.

That's partially right. When you're using a PC as a CAM controller, you're effectively building a real-time system: the MACH software is manually writing the step/direction pulses to the parallel port. So if you have a bunch of junk loaded on your PC, MACH can miss the step/direction update interval, and the machine will run off into the weeds.

But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't install the OS updates and service packs -- a lot of those are critical security updates.

Also, like ptjw7uk suggested, this is one of the few cases where multi-core will help you: a dual- or quad-core machine will offload some of the OS .DLL's to the other cores, freeing-up the main OS core so MACH can drive the parallel port.

Note that a dual-core machine improves system responsiveness (critical to MACH) a lot, but it's not a panacea: the Windows scheduling service is non re-entrant (non-threaded), so all thread scheduling happens on one of the cores. So if you load a bunch of junk on a multi-core machine, you can still run into missed steps with MACH.

Another thing you might consider is a process priority monitor like "Process Lasso", that allows you to manage the relative priorities of the Windows applications. You can set MACH to a higher priority than than rest of the stuff running on your machine. That helps a lot even for a normal machine that's not running a real-time program like MACH. I use "Process Lasso" on my laptop, because my corporate IT department load a ton of auditing and monitoring sh!t on it that will bring even a modern quad-core to it's knees:

http://www.bitsum.com/prolasso.php


The reasons against the lap-top as I recall was that they usually don't have a parallel port and require a conversion card which is far from the optimum arrangement.

The issue with using a parallel port on a laptop on MACH is that many laptops use a low-power implementation of the parallel port that is barely within the TTL spec, so some stepper drivers can't consistently read the signal levels. Microsoft also aggressively powers down the parallel port drivers when it's idle, so sometimes you run into issues where you have to "wake-up" the parallel port.

But you can avoid both issues with a USB break-out board for MACH.

Swarf&Sparks
05-18-2008, 01:16 PM
Hmm, sorta agree to disagree Rob, see my above re running lappy 3v logic.
Mick has stated that he will use a stand-alone machine to drive the mill, so, as in my case, all other MS BS will be disabled, removed, or otherwise crippled. And I do currently drive the router with an old HP lappy, Pentium, 128 Mb RAM. So far, so good.
(except for that dead stepper motor, but that's another story, #$%#$!!)
and obviously not down to the computer or PMDX driver.


When/if Vectrics and Artsoft come out with a linux version, I'll move so quick that I may just be living proof of special relativity.

Dawai
05-18-2008, 01:56 PM
Linuxcnc.org... it looks new, runs on ubuntu or mepis..
Mepis still allows root privilidges.

It is missing all the wizards from Mach3, does not have the massive support online or such a great manual.

I really suggest anyone wanting, thinking of cncing a project to read the mach3 users manual. It explains and describes the working principles of a Home based machine and wiring, operation of.

lazlo
05-18-2008, 01:59 PM
Hmm, sorta agree to disagree Rob, see my above re running lappy 3v logic.

Sure, it depends on what line drivers the laptop manufacturer used on their parallel port. Some work (with Mach) some don't.


When/if Vectrics and Artsoft come out with a linux version, I'll move so quick that I may just be living proof of special relativity.

That's really the ideal solution: run a Linux distro in real-time mode. I'd be surprised if Art would port MACH to Linux though -- isn't MACH derived from the original EMC2 source code?

Swarf&Sparks
05-18-2008, 02:03 PM
7th heaven :D
mach and vcarve under linux :D

As I said earlier Rob, the PMDX drivers I'm using are quite happy at 3V, but they are limited to 35V, 3A per phase.
Ah well, ya can't have everything :rolleyes:

lazlo
05-18-2008, 02:11 PM
the PMDX drivers I'm using are quite happy at 3V, but they are limited to 35V, 3A per phase.

Yep, those Allegro A3977's are nice driver chips. 35V @ 3A is pretty beefy for a Hobby CNC. If you have a machine that needs a bigger motor than that I'd rather go with servos anyway...

Swarf&Sparks
05-18-2008, 02:19 PM
I'd appreciate advice on that Rob.

My next grand plan is to build a full sheet (8' x 4') router.
I considered servos, but am familiar with steppers.
I reckon a NEMA 34 at 440 oz/in would damn near drive anything I'm likely to encounter.
And the usual Gecko drivers with MBR damping look good, handle the current and are rated 80V IIRC?

John Stevenson
05-18-2008, 03:27 PM
Mach will never go Linux, Art stated that a long while ago.

As regards a laptop the biggest problem is getting an upto date one with parallel port and the fact that laptops take shortcuts on memory useage to save battery power.

Why not just use a dedicated PC to run Mach and Mach only ??

When Mach first came out the biggest stumbling block was you needed a high end computer to run it. However Mach has stayed the same but computers have moved on and that isn't a problem any more.
We have 4 workshop machines on various mills and lathes and test benches.

ALL were given to us as throw outs when the owners updated.
Other than a couple of hard drives we haven't spent Zilch on computers.

But for some reason people won't do this ?

If they go out and buy a machining centre probably $10,000 of that price will be the Fanuc control and because they paid $10K it's the best deal ever.

Now they go out and buy Mach for $159 and bitch that it won't run on a crappy laptop whilst downloading thier email and watching YouTube video's.

Well sorry but they deserve all they get.

Home CNC has got more affordable in the last couple of years, note AFFORDABLE not FREE.

Oh and the link to the Shuttle is here:-

http://www.contourdesign.com/shuttlepro/shuttlexpress.htm

Recomended retail $59.99

.

S_J_H
05-18-2008, 03:34 PM
Lazlo, thanks for the link to Process Lasso. I like it!
Got to get me one of those shuttle pro gizmos that John mentioned. I use a usb gamepad. Never have I missed having handwheels once I got some experience under my belt with cnc.Just no need. But the gamepad is a little cumbersome sometimes. The shuttlepro looks ideal.
Tiffie, you'll really like the x3 even if you are used to bigger machines. It is a good little bench mill that can actually cut steel pretty well if you don't go nuts with the DOC and feed. With the head down lower near the table it's quite rigid.
Compact and pretty well made and lends itself to modifcations easily.

Steve

Swarf&Sparks
05-18-2008, 03:39 PM
No argument with any of the above John. I just happen to be using the old pentium HP lappy because the dedicated workshop computer died (fried MB won't recognize the keyboard) When I have time and inclination, I'll go and get another $20 machine, to drive the machine.

The aforementioned machine (a P II) didn't cost me a razoo. I just slung the mate that picked it up, a few beers ($20 and I drank half of em anyway)

And yes, I did finally manage to get an order through for a shuttle, after revisiting the site and clicking on the menu for the canteenth time.

lazlo
05-18-2008, 05:13 PM
As regards a laptop the biggest problem is getting an upto date one with parallel port


But you can avoid both issues with a USB break-out board for MACH.

The SmoothStepper by Warp9. $155 USB break-out board and pulse generator for MACH. This will let you use any relatively recent laptop for a MACH controller:

http://www.warp9td.com/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1

http://www.warp9td.com/components/com_virtuemart/shop_image/product/40826ad5f7fa6eedfcdc0d9936e35e1c.jpg

They're selling them like hot-cakes. Current waiting list is around a week, which is completely reasonable.

Swarf&Sparks
05-18-2008, 05:22 PM
Rob, nice, but why would you bother?

As "hereinbefore stated, by the parties of the first and second part"
Old computers, more than capable of running Mach 3, are to be found in the garbage.

If the old computer doesn't have a parallel port or 3, cards abound.
Lift the lid, plug in and you've got addressable ports lpt1 to ........

Only thing I'd save me zacs for is a flat screen, and they are crashing in price, like all consumer electronics in the 5th or 6th year.

lazlo
05-18-2008, 05:37 PM
Rob, nice, but why would you bother?

If you really want to use a laptop for Mach :)

Personally, I'd just use a dedicated PC, but whatever floats your boat...

Dawai
05-18-2008, 06:19 PM
Best I can tell, Mach3 and EMC both use a rtlinux timing kernel..

With Mach3 you get all the advantages and disadvantages of Windows. I have worked on my computer on the mill weekly till I left it on all the time, it would get too cold, so I put a darned light bulb in there like my old dog house. It keeps the rodents living in there warm.

THE software I wrote in Visual basic also works with mach3. I keep saying I will redo it all in Vblinux and chunk the whole windows thing out.

I have a servo-transformer-gecko drives about now for more than 2 years awaiting my 4x8 table.. no room.. I did knock together a 2x4 table for a torch cutter table last week.. I may succumb to a smaller plan. It will be a linear slider and roller blade wheels on other side.

John Stevenson
05-18-2008, 06:21 PM
The SmoothStepper by Warp9. $155 USB break-out board and pulse generator for MACH.

They're selling them like hot-cakes. Current waiting list is around a week, which is completely reasonable.

Yup had one of the beta models for a while but slight correction to your statement.
They are NOT a breakout board.

These go between the USB post of a computer [ laptop or modern desktop ] and the parallel port of an existing breakout board.

They are not opto isolated.

In it's present state of development for a mill all it has to offer as a plus is USB connectivity.
Minus point is that it's another $155 on top of what you have spent.

Later when the firmware is updated we ' should' be able to see rigid tapping and it will come into it's own on lathes, it can thread at the moment but with a servo driven spindle with feedback it 'may' be possible to stop the spindle in a given place and use a live 'C' axis for cross drilling holes or milling flats etc.

I say 'should' and 'may' as to be honest we have been promised a lot in the past that never materialised like the Gecko G100.

It will allow many more inputs and outputs so things like toolchangers should be easier to implement.

.

lazlo
05-18-2008, 07:27 PM
Yup had one of the beta models for a while but slight correction to your statement.
They are NOT a breakout board.

Depends on your definition of a breakout board John :) I meant that it breaks-out a USB port into a pair of parallel ports. In other words, it's specifically made so that you can run Mach on a laptop, which is why I was suggested it to Tiffie if that's what he wants to do.

But you're right that the SmoothStepper doesn't break out a parallel port into individual opto-isolated step/dir headers, like a typical Mach parallel port breakout board. But the parallel port on a PC isn't either.

John Stevenson
05-18-2008, 07:42 PM
But you're right that the SmoothStepper doesn't break out a parallel port into individual opto-isolated step/dir headers, like a typical Mach parallel port breakout board. But the parallel port on a PC isn't either.

Agreed, but it depends on what you are using / running.
If you are just driving motors with say Geckos or the Chinese leadshine drives which are opto'd anyway then you can get away with driving from a parallel port if it puts out a decent 5 volt signal, some are only 3,5 volts

If you then start getting more adventurous and fit limit switches which return a signal or try running a speed control then you can be in trouble.

Many of the Chinese DC controllers, the KB controllers and even many of the AC inverters have the speed control at mains potentional.

If you are in this position then it's unwise to leave a decent opto isolated breakout board out of the design hence the remark about adding on an extra $155.

Even using the Smooth Stepper on a laptop with or without breakout board still isn't guaranteed to work because of the way they handle memory and power saving.
Onboard video is also another gray area with computers where it swaps memory.

.

.

oldtiffie
05-18-2008, 09:20 PM
Thanks guys - heaps.

I put this thread up to do several things mainly:
- to get the "machining" focus back to where it should be;
- to start off with an affordable adequate mill with due regard to space and cost limitations that is more than just a toy but certainly not a Bridgeport or the like and with a "bolt-on" retro-fit CNC package, and preferably not not exclusively running under "Mach3", and with adequate CAD and CAM packages;
- to aim at or for those that like me are complete novices when it comes to the brave new world of CNC;
- to have anybody with and interest or comment that is interested in this topic - either as "an interest" or as a potential user of a retro-fitted CNC-ed mill (or lathe);
- to see if some of us "oldies" (say over 60 - but pick your own figure!!) can get the support we need both from suppliers and members of this board.

So far every criteria has been met - in spades.

I am completely over-whelmed with/by the responses, support and focused discussion and advice on and by members. The result has been beyond my wildest dreams and expectations and is and hopefully will remain "on topic".

I am truly grateful for all the advice.

I will comment/reply in detail later in the day.

John Stevenson
05-19-2008, 05:17 AM
Thanks guys - heaps.


- to aim at or for those that like me are complete novices when it comes to the brave new world of CNC;
- to have anybody with and interest or comment that is interested in this topic - either as "an interest" or as a potential user of a retro-fitted CNC-ed mill (or lathe);
- to see if some of us "oldies" (say over 60 - but pick your own figure!!) can get the support we need both from suppliers and members of this board.



This brief run down may help to settle any fears of learning CNC.

About 9 - 10 years ago I knew next to nothing about CNC, I had seen them run, knew they read a variation of code depending on what make they were and that was about the sum total.

My work and workshop was all manual but I realised that a CNC mill would be able to help me on short run jobs and specials.

With no experience I decided to go to an auction to see just what you could get for your money, just looking that is.

First auction was a pattern makers who had gone bust, they also machined some of the castings so part woodworking, part metalworking. Most of the metalworking machines were old and worn except one CNC which looked quite new.
On digging the foreman out he said it came from a college not working and they had neither the time or money to fix it.

I had a tame electronics guy that I worked with on the laser machines so that didn't faze me and one hour later I was the proud owner of a 3 tonne Beaver NC5 CNC mill for 1050.

Another 250 got it delivered by crane truck and Kieth was called in to fix it. Two nights later and a handful of secondhand bits it was running after a fashion.
Controller was out dated, it wandered off home position and it had no way of holding a program, switch it off and you had to manually type in the whole lot.

I looked at this and realised i hadn't a clue how it worked or what to press !!

Just then a truck pulled up with 5 pallets of steel plates to second opp drill from the laser company, a job I had quoted weeks before and heard nothing.This job was quoted for hand drilling on a 2 spindle drill with a simple jig and two size drills.

I asked small Son who had done a course at college on programming if he could program this job. It took him about 3 hours to do this by hand, in retrospect it wasn't hard but we were both learning.

We ran this job which was quoted at 5 days, Friday night, all day Saturday and part of Sunday and got it finished. Every 4th setup we had to reset home as it had wandered off.

That paid for the machine.

Next two jobs paid for a new controller [ Mach wasn't out then ]

Then we bought a DOS CAD/CAM package and life got easier by being able to do parts quickly and being able to load and save programs.

I still have the machine and it works most weeks on my parts, I don't look for work for it as it's not competitive enough but it suits me for small runs or special one offs which it can do and make money or save time.

When it's not working for me it turns out division plates literally by the 100 for Gert [ where do they all go ? ]

The whole operation has learn me a lot, I have now designed and built many CNC's, worked with the Chinese to produce a range on machines and are still doing so.

Produced many kits for the X3 and met some very interesting people.
If someone 9 or 10 years ago had told me I would be in this position now I wouldn't have believed them, I'm 60 now but still learning everyday.
It's getting easier as well day by day, better functions in controllers like conversational programming, fill in the boxes etc.
Easier CAM packages, cheaper drives and other components and the list goes on.

I am also seeing CNC being more and more accepted as it becomes more affordable and I don't feel that I'm an exception, I feel I'm just the same as a lot of guys on this list.

.

LG
05-19-2008, 06:42 AM
Tiffie
MiniTech in Queensland are now offering a small Sieg CNC mill.
A copy off there details here
Affordable PC based CNC Milling with the KX1
Manufactured by world renown producers of the Sieg lathe and Milling machines.
Based on the Sieg X1 milling machine it comes with 3- axis stepper motors, ball screws, variable speed spindle motor, limit/home switches, MT2 spindle taper and your choice of CNC Control system ....MACH or SIEG SYSTEM. G code compatible with FANUC. Ethernet interface with PC or notebook
http://www.minitech.com.au/new_products.html

Lee

oldtiffie
05-19-2008, 07:06 AM
Hearty thanks John.

You've had quite a life!!

Thanks for the post and the boost to those of us that don't or may not have an electronic and/or computer programming back-ground or qualification - and I am fairly and squarely in all of those categories.

I am 71 and just starting out on this adventure and voyage and I'm curious about it and whether I can make it and to what extent and what can I achieve.

At 71 my actuarial age is 83 - 12 years to go if I make it at all let alone if I am alive but not fit enough.

The medical chances give me less than an even break - but I am giving it a go.

My biggest hold-ups at present are fixing my trailer (to pick up the mill) which I bent up when I forgot I had it on (put it on the previous night) and backed out of the car-port. It "jack-knifed" and I have one bent car (quote = $750) and trailer towing arms/"triangle" which I am in the middle of replacing. The other is getting the quote from my preferred (local) CNC kits supplier. He does this part-time and is "snowed" - hopefully in 7 to 10 days.

At least the grinders, cutters (off-hand, oxy/acet and "Plasma) and welders (MIG, O/A and "Cobra") will all get a much-needed work-out.

Now to respond to previous posts.




Have you had an input from John Stevenson?

He makes X3 CNC kits and whilst the dollar rate probably wouldn't make it an attractive proposition to buy one from the UK his experience might be useful?
http://www.arceurotrade.co.uk/Catalogue/Machines-Accessories/Milling-Machines/CNC-Conversion-Kit-for-X3-Small-Mill

Thanks Charles.

That was my first thought but as John advised he does not service outside the UK.

Local supply and support is important to me while I am on "training wheels" at least.



hi..

I am confused.. with Mach3 and a joystick you don't need a manual pulser.. why complicate things?

A usb keyboard emulator and a arcade style 4 NO joystick works fine. THE keyboard emulator throws keystrokes to Mach3 and it thinks you are pressing a arrow or "assigned key".. ok? This moves the machine in manual.

David

Thanks David.

Excellent advice. I will keep it in mind. This, as I said, is all brand new to me.


If you want a handwheel then just buy a Contour Design Shuttle Express, 5 buttons and two handwheels, the outer one moves a selected axis, the more you turn the faster it goes, the inner wheel moves step by step.

The buttons are configured for X, Y, Z, and A with the last button toggling thru steps in units, 1.000, 0.100, 0.010, 0.001 then back to 1.000

About $60 off the shelf and it just plugs into a USB port on the computer.

Why reinvent the wheel ??????

.

Thanks John, that looks like the "real deal" to me. I will seriously consider ordering one.



..............When you're using a PC as a CAM controller, you're effectively building a real-time system: the MACH software is manually writing the step/direction pulses to the parallel port. So if you have a bunch of junk loaded on your PC, MACH can miss the step/direction update interval, and the machine will run off into the weeds.

But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't install the OS updates and service packs -- a lot of those are critical security updates.

Also, like ptjw7uk suggested, this is one of the few cases where multi-core will help you: a dual- or quad-core machine will offload some of the OS .DLL's to the other cores, freeing-up the main OS core so MACH can drive the parallel port.

Note that a dual-core machine improves system responsiveness (critical to MACH) a lot, but it's not a panacea: the Windows scheduling service is non re-entrant (non-threaded), so all thread scheduling happens on one of the cores. So if you load a bunch of junk on a multi-core machine, you can still run into missed steps with MACH.

Another thing you might consider is a process priority monitor like "Process Lasso", that allows you to manage the relative priorities of the Windows applications. You can set MACH to a higher priority than than rest of the stuff running on your machine. That helps a lot even for a normal machine that's not running a real-time program like MACH. I use "Process Lasso" on my laptop, because my corporate IT department load a ton of auditing and monitoring sh!t on it that will bring even a modern quad-core to it's knees:

http://www.bitsum.com/prolasso.php

The issue with using a parallel port on a laptop on MACH is that many laptops use a low-power implementation of the parallel port that is barely within the TTL spec, so some stepper drivers can't consistently read the signal levels. Microsoft also aggressively powers down the parallel port drivers when it's idle, so sometimes you run into issues where you have to "wake-up" the parallel port.

But you can avoid both issues with a USB break-out board for MACH.

Thanks lazlo - all good points - absorbed and taken notice of!!

I will have a dual or quad core processor and main board. All that this computer will do is run Mach3. I will/may put a copy of my CAD and (yet to be decided) CAM software on it as well. It will have at least 2 Gig of RAM as well, plus 2 SATA drives in removable trays. I have 2 good computers net-worked in the house and can download etc. there. I don't want to increase my chances of a "stuff-up" or missed pulses in Mach3. It will stay "bare bones" unless there are compelling reasons why it should not.

That "process lasso" sounds very interesting too - thanks again.



.............................................
.........................................
I really suggest anyone wanting, thinking of cncing a project to read the mach3 users manual. It explains and describes the working principles of a Home based machine and wiring, operation of.

Excellent advice David - thanks.

I read the manuals of everything I use or buy - Mach3 will be no exception. I will read it end-to-end at least twice!! I have read - but need to re-read - it again - twice.




.................................
As regards a laptop the biggest problem is getting an upto date one with parallel port and the fact that laptops take shortcuts on memory useage to save battery power.

..................................

Why not just use a dedicated PC to run Mach and Mach only ??

..........................
Oh and the link to the Shuttle is here:-

http://www.contourdesign.com/shuttlepro/shuttlexpress.htm

Recomended retail $59.99

.

Thanks John.

That's why I will have a dedicated desk-top computer and not a lap-top.

That's settled it - I will order the "shuttlepro" as it sounds as if it is pitched at me and the price is OK too.




lazlo, thanks for the link to Process Lasso. I like it!
Got to get me one of those shuttle pro gizmos that John mentioned. I use a usb gamepad. Never have I missed having handwheels once I got some experience under my belt with cnc.Just no need. But the gamepad is a little cumbersome sometimes. The shuttlepro looks ideal.
Tiffie, you'll really like the x3 even if you are used to bigger machines. It is a good little bench mill that can actually cut steel pretty well if you don't go nuts with the DOC and feed. With the head down lower near the table it's quite rigid.
Compact and pretty well made and lends itself to modifcations easily.

Steve

Thanks Steve - from someone like you with your back-ground - that is a huge "rap" - many thanks. I feel lots better already. Is there such a thing as a machine that you have that you haven't repaired of "modded"? They are all great jobs. I just loved that upgrade to your lathes and the "from scratch" build of your CNC lathe!!


Tiffie
MiniTech in Queensland are now offering a small Seig CNC mill.
A copy off there details here
Affordable PC based CNC Milling with the KX1
Manufactured by world renown producers of the Seig lathe and Milling machines.
Based on the Sieg X1 milling machine it comes with 3- axis stepper motors, ball screws, variable speed spindle motor, limit/home switches, MT2 spindle taper and your choice of CNC Control system ....MACH or SIEG SYSTEM. G code compatible with FANUC. Ethernet interface with PC or notebook
http://www.minitech.com.au/new_products.html

Lee

Thanks Lee - very much indeed.

I had a look at that web page (in OZ) but the CNC kits only applies to the smaller KX1 where-as my machine is the larger Seig X3 (which they also stock).

I will file that link away just in case I have any problems with my preferred supplier.

oldtiffie
05-20-2008, 08:38 AM
If you want a handwheel then just buy a Contour Design Shuttle Express, 5 buttons and two handwheels, the outer one moves a selected axis, the more you turn the faster it goes, the inner wheel moves step by step.

The buttons are configured for X, Y, Z, and A with the last button toggling thru steps in units, 1.000, 0.100, 0.010, 0.001 then back to 1.000

About $60 off the shelf and it just plugs into a USB port on the computer.

Why reinvent the wheel ??????

.
Thanks again John.

I ordered the Contour Design Shuttle Express today through the OZ distributor. Great service answered successive emails in under 1/2 hour. They are on back-order in the US and about 3 weeks to here.

I realize that they plug into the USB port, but how do they, or are they configured to control the axis under Mach3? How is the axis selected? Can it be switched "On/off" and between axis?

I mistakenly thought I say a Manual Pulse Generator on the Arceurotrade web sire in the UK. Wrong. The responses from ArcEurotrade were magnificent as they went to the trouble to find and forward the site for the Shuttle Express. Great service. I have dealt with them before and have no hesitation what-so-ever in recommending them as a very satisfied customer.

S_J_H
05-20-2008, 11:50 AM
Tiffie,
I have not tried it but I think this is what you want.
Near the bottom of this page is a plugin that supports the shuttlepro and express.-
http://www.machsupport.com/plugins.php

Steve

John Stevenson
05-20-2008, 07:01 PM
Yup Steve is right.

Go to the downloads page and get the plugin.
Stuff it in Mach 3 and run it.

Then go to >Config > config plug ins and you will get this screen come up

http://www.stevenson-engineers.co.uk/files/shuttleconfig.jpg

Each button can be configured from the same set menu and there is a set of radio boxes at the bottom right so you can select which model you have.
Close the program, open up and it will be all set for you.

.

Dawai
05-20-2008, 08:35 PM
See.. I learned something new today too.. thanks John:

I would like a little more thou:
HOW do you cut with two directions at once with the shuttle? Is it not possible? With the HUGE ARSED Box with the arcade buttons and joystick.. I can using the keyboard emulator..

I spent probably excess of $100 building mine. Seems the joysticks were $40 each. Emulator was $50.. buttons another 10-20.... THEN the time to make a stainless box, punch all the holes, then break it on the 12" break. THEN wire it into a keyboard cable..

The shuttle looks interesting.. but Like I told Art about updates.. they may look neat, but I am used to this.. Old dogs and old tricks that is.. I confess.

Note to cnc newbies: a script to strip Windows of it's extra garbage is handy.. handy... It runs mucho better. I broke a few endmills only to see a "update available" balloon floating there on the lower left.