View Full Version : Southwestern Industries Prototrak Plus
05-03-2010, 12:59 PM
Hello to everyone. I'm a new member to this sight. Recently I purchased a BP Series 1 Mill. It came equipped with SWI Prototrak Plus CNC set-up. I believe it's age to be around the late 80's early 90's.
I'm not at all familiar with this set-up but I'm sure someone on here is. The most I have done with it is use the powerfeed in both the X and Y axes. However, I do have the operators manual for it.
My question is this. Is it worth keeping on the machine assuming everything is functional? Or am I better off leaving it a manual machine? If it does work how avaliable are replacement parts? I would appreciate anyones advice or input. Thanks.
05-03-2010, 01:54 PM
Assuming that the control is operational I would definitely keep it on the machine. The nice part about those machines is that you can use them manually and just use the control panel for a digital readout or you can program parts that are too complicated to make manually. They are relatively easy to program once you understand them. If you have any cnc experience then it shouldn't be much trouble to learn at all.
05-03-2010, 07:10 PM
Thank you for your reply. I don't have any CNC experience. I would guess with a simple set-up like this it will give me the basics.
05-03-2010, 07:38 PM
Yes you will learn the basics but the control you have is capable of doing some real nice work once you get the hang of the programming. Where are you located? There may be a member in your area that could help you with the basics.
05-04-2010, 08:38 PM
Are there members from the western part of Illinois?
05-04-2010, 10:10 PM
It's entirely possible. I'm in East Tennessee. This forum has members all over the world. You might want to put western Illinois in your location profile, it may be helpful in other threads. If there is any questions about the control I can help you with I'll be glad to try and help you through the forum.
05-23-2010, 07:10 AM
I have one also that was installed on the BP when I got it. It seems a fairly robust if simple system. I have no prior CNC experience and I'm getting decent with the machine. If you have any questions feel free to PM me and maybe we can work through them with some shared learning.
05-25-2010, 01:46 PM
How far are ya from Peoria?
05-25-2010, 04:59 PM
I'm in Virginia Beach, VA so not exactly local but I have a few things I have done on the machine and am slowly learning to program it myself. So far I have turned out a vacuum block off plate, PCV cover, thermostat riser and torque strut mount for the 3800SC engine I'm putting in my Fiero. I can send an Auotcad file to you of what I was making and the sequence of programming I went through to get it on the machine. Unfortunately I do not currently have the cabling to hook it to a PC but if you need the pinout for the cable I was sent it by SWI and it seems simple enough. They quoted me I believe $54 for the cable and I still have their contact info if you need it.
We have an old prototrak at my place of employment and a couple newer ones. I can't say I recommend them for new purchase (there has got to be better bridgeport CNCs out there...), but if you already have one they are nice for simple to intermediately complex 2D parts. They are great for simple machining too, you can do alot of pocketing and circle cutouts with only a few button clicks.
If down the line you find it limiting you can leave the ballscrews/motors/glass scales on there and hook it up to Mach3 or something like that for a full CNC control. I'm not sure if the servo amplifiers will hook up to mach3, but they might. Worst case you buy a couple servo drives and you have a pretty new CNC setup.
Definitely keep what you have until you run into serious limitations or something breaks!
06-19-2010, 11:07 AM
You surely want to keep the control if it works well. As has been said you can do all the manual operations as well with it installed. It will save needing to put on a rotary table for circular cuts and fillets. Real time saver , I have that same control on a Lagun and really like it. Parts are still around and sometime show up on E-bay. I really have never had a control issue in the last 8 yrs. of home shop use.
12-01-2013, 09:11 PM
The proto-trak plus is one of the most reliable prototraks they ever made, the control (once you get comfortable at programming it) will do most anything you need in 2D and easily. If you ever wish to remove the controls off, let me know and I will purchase them. I have programmed Bridgeport prototrak and EZ-trak for many years (I am retired now and have BP prototrak plus in my basement just for fun) but I never found anything I could not machine with Prototrak if even had to make several set ups to compete with bed mills. MX 2&3 and AGE I found had problems with floppys though. If anyone has or know where there is a tape drive for the prototrak plus, please let me know. Plus is very easy programming once you get comfortable with it. If any questions......my email is firstname.lastname@example.org