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View Full Version : A crossroads - what to do with my ancient cnc control?



Jim Shaper
02-20-2010, 12:42 AM
I recently bought a Milltronics Partner 1 with centurion 5 controller. It's a 1D model which places it somewhere around 1990.

The control works, but it's awfully slow and the memory is severely lacking which requires drip feed via DNC for anything complicated.

Milltronics will upgrade my box with the latest control for $1600 and this is something I could do in a day or so, as they're local. Drive down, drop it off, go have some lunch, come pick it up and write a check.

There's other options like the CNC brain for $500, but then I'm not sure if my same servo amps would work with it or how long it would take me to get it running once the conversion was under way. The potential variable expenses could easily push this beyond the $1600 fixed cost of the factory retrofit.

Anyone have any insights as to what I should do to get this machine up to date?

Jim Shaper
02-20-2010, 02:34 AM
http://www.demaagd.com/compmod/cent.html

This is another interesting solution, but I'm not sure how to port the software over for the newer hardware. I've emailed him a couple questions, but it's been a while since he's updated any of the pages and I don't know what my chances of a response are.

Porting the I/O card and anything else needed to interface with the servo amps and such to a modern PC would be great.

macona
02-20-2010, 03:55 AM
Skip the CNC Brain. Its mostly vaporware.

is the upgrade to a Cent 6?

Get the new Centurion upgrade. We had a mill with a Cent 6 on it and it was really nice. Great conversational. The guy that owns it used to work for Milltronics. A real control beats anything else hands down.

Jim Shaper
02-20-2010, 04:23 AM
It would be a 7 I believe. I haven't talked to them about it yet.

The other option I'm seeing is porting all the old cards over to a new host running XP via ISA to USB adapters. I just don't know how the GUI would work if I did that.

$1600 is a big pill to swallow right now. Mainly I'd just like to speed it up and expand the memory a bit. Also being able to run wifi to it for data transfer would be sweet. I'm not so interested in generating CAD/CAM files on it or internet or any of that.

macona
02-21-2010, 02:12 AM
I would jump on a Cent 7 for that price. But I really think it is going to be a Cent 6 which is still a real nice control. The Cent 6 has the control box in the back cabinet of the mill where the Cent 7 has the entire computer in the front panel behind the LCD. The Cent 7 communicates with the IO unit through a fiber-optic cable. A lot of rewiring would be involves. With a Cent 6 I think it would just be a swap of the boxes.

Dont try to hack something. Its just not worth it. Use it like it is till you get the money to do it right.

Jim Shaper
02-21-2010, 02:37 AM
I talked to a friend of mine who's more familiar with it, and basically it's the same turd with a different software package and the same archaic hardware limitations of the 486. They give you a new processor, but you retain all your original cards.

I'm thinking of doing a Pentium 1 port, but I'll get the machine going on this hardware first. It's basically dos 3.1 run from SIMM cards.

I managed to borrow a video card and got the screen issue resolve, but I'm still getting a ground fault error on my servo amps. I think the bridge rectifier died when the power cap went, but I haven't verified that yet.

fasto
02-25-2010, 12:21 AM
Looking through my junk box (er, junk boxes, er way too many junk boxes) for something this evening, and I found:
The factory radio from my 1993 VW (which I replaced 3 days after getting the car new). Now, I can say it's in "showroom condition".
A huge 6" muffin fan, nos, made in 1988, which I'm going to use as an additional fan on my VMC's servo drive. It will fit right in, my VMC was made in 1989.

And, whay you're probably more interested in,
a supply of ISA bus motherboards (1 386SX, 1 386DX with 387, 1 486DX) and not one, not two, but three ISA VGA cards! Two are old enough to have switchable VGA/EGA on them. One 8-bit, two 16-bit.

If you'd like one for shipping costs, drop me a PM.

Oh, I did not find what I was looking for, a red laser tube that I have around here, somewhere...
--
Aaron

Jim Shaper
02-25-2010, 12:56 AM
Aaron, thanks for the offer, but I've managed to scrounge up a replacement for the spare I'm borrowing, and a spare of my own. ;)

One of them also happened to come in a fully functional 486dx-66 wrapper and also had a couple pretty high end rotary motion control cards which are now on fleabay.


I also verified that my bridge rectifier is functioning just fine, but I might have a wiring short in the motor leads which caused the real problem which lead to the discovery of the dead cap. I've gotta do some more checking on the machine tomorrow.

Another development is that I got the milltronics backup disk from the previous owner today, so I'm probably going to try loading it on the 486 (once I find a keyboard adapter ha!) and go from there.

wmgeorge
02-25-2010, 11:10 PM
Looking through my junk box (er, junk boxes, er way too many junk boxes) for something this evening, and I found:
The factory radio from my 1993 VW (which I replaced 3 days after getting the car new). Now, I can say it's in "showroom condition".
A huge 6" muffin fan, nos, made in 1988, which I'm going to use as an additional fan on my VMC's servo drive. It will fit right in, my VMC was made in 1989.

And, whay you're probably more interested in,
a supply of ISA bus motherboards (1 386SX, 1 386DX with 387, 1 486DX) and not one, not two, but three ISA VGA cards! Two are old enough to have switchable VGA/EGA on them. One 8-bit, two 16-bit.

If you'd like one for shipping costs, drop me a PM.

Oh, I did not find what I was looking for, a red laser tube that I have around here, somewhere...
--
Aaron

Don't you just hate that? You know you have it, but where is it at? I have spent days looking for something and find it on top of my workbench right where I left it, only behind something I should have moved.

Jim Shaper
02-25-2010, 11:31 PM
I did find a short to ground on the motor wiring today. So now I just need to chase down some twisted pair 14ga and get to pulling the old stuff out.

It's nice that it faulted out rather than waiting till the motor leads shorted causing the servo drive to blow. That happened to a friend of mine on the same machine.

I also found the encoder wiring insulation is rock hard due to how the coolant has rotten it. So that'll likely need to go as well.

Mark Hockett
02-26-2010, 04:22 AM
Jim,
I have a Milltronics machine and really like the control. I would spend the $1600 and fix it right. The new Milltronics software has some very cool features like the ability to convert a DXF file to a tool path on the machine.

Jim Shaper
02-26-2010, 04:51 AM
The issue I was fixing was actually motor wiring, not the control itself. I had to swap video cards due to the crt being junk and replacing it with an lcd, so that's been resolved. I still have to deal with the herky jerky motion of a slow CPU at faster feed rates (for plastic and wood - which is on the agenda).

I've pretty much decided to just leave it as is, as I'll likely sell it not too far down the road and get something faster/bigger/ and with a tool changer.

Steve Seebold
03-14-2010, 02:20 PM
The issue I was fixing was actually motor wiring, not the control itself. I had to swap video cards due to the crt being junk and replacing it with an lcd, so that's been resolved. I still have to deal with the herky jerky motion of a slow CPU at faster feed rates (for plastic and wood - which is on the agenda).

I've pretty much decided to just leave it as is, as I'll likely sell it not too far down the road and get something faster/bigger/ and with a tool changer.

I think that's a wise decision. There's no need to reinvent the wheel. While the Centurion is a very good control, Haas is much better.

Jim Shaper
03-14-2010, 04:56 PM
I know how to write WAF, so I don't need conversational controls.

What about the molested Fanuc of Haas is better than the molested Fanuc of Centurion?

Personally, I HATE how many f'n buttons there are on a Haas control. Not only are there a zillion of them, you still need to navigate multiple screens to get anywhere after pushing any of them.

I won't be buying a Haas machine. Their toolroom size machines are less rigid than my partner 1.

Toolguy
03-23-2010, 11:28 PM
I have an MB18 I bought new in 2001. It has a Centuion 6 control. I use it everyday to earn a living. I really like the control and how easy it is to program.
I have it set up so I can program on the desktop computer, copy to a floppy and download to the mill. In all these years of prototyping, I've never come across anything I couldn't write a conversational program for. This mill is the centerpiece of my business and it has been a good solid and accurate machine.
It still looks and runs great. It's easy to maintain. I've never had to call the factory guys out to fix something. If I can ever get a CNC lathe it will probably be a Milltronics too.