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Thread: Emco 120 cnc lathe

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Sunny So Cal

    Default Emco 120 cnc lathe

    I got this lathe a few years ago. Its a nice small CNC lathe. It sat for years because other projects took top order.

    Now I finally got some time to mess with it. I powered it for the first time in prolly four years. And just like any computer the basic parameters that is stored in memory (CMOS) for personal computers was lost. Its called MSD (machine status data) for this system and its stored on a battery.

    Its the machine specific specs for each machine. I have a feeling they can be used for the variety of 120 Emcos. But they still have to be inputted into the main memory if the data is lost. Catch 22, you cant put the data in if the machine faults out due to a lost MSD. The interface is useless unless you have the old tapes that came with the machine. If you dont have the old tapes you CANT interface with the control.

    With a computer its not a big deal, a new coin type battery and its up and running if the battery in place wont take a charge. The info is still held in the non-volatile memory chip set. And even if it was lost the bios for even really old systems are still wildly available. I wish this lathe was as simple.

    The MSD is not common and not usable unless you have the phillips digital tapes. They look like mini tapes but they are not. They are a lil wider and not the same. I scored some tapes for pennys.

    I was lucky to have the MSD tape. When I bought the machine I handled the tape like it was gold.

    So I started the machine, put the tape in and it read it and responded. YEAH! But I wanted to pull the MSD from the machine to keep it secure for future use. There is a rs-232 port on the machine. Thats how old this thing is.

    I had to break out an old laptop that still has a serial port. And yes, I have two serial to USB adapters for the other computers but I didnt want to use them. The old laptop's battery was surprisingly still viable. An old Toshiba laptop that is about 10 years old and it holds a better charge than my new laptop.

    So I put the MSD data into the lathe then pulled it off the lathe to the laptop. Then stored it on several sites (DVDs, hard drives, and all over the place). Why? Because the machine wont do a move without it.

    It might as well be a candidate for a Mach 3 swap. Which IMO would be a better route anyway. Im just trying to keep it emco for now.....

    As long as I have the original data and the original machine Id like to keep it that way. I have other cnc machines that are projects with Mach and servos. One step at a time.

    SO....? What will I make? Im thinking of a chess set. Yup, I LOVE chess. Been thinking of what pieces I can turn and what pieces need mill work.

    The pawns are simple, turn work. The rooks and bishops are close. The King and Queen are a lil more work and the knights will be the most work. I think. Ill turn what I can and mill the other pieces on the cnc mill.

    Large pieces, two inch for the King.

    Anyway, I strayed. Im HAPPY!!! I got the lathe talking to the laptop for all the data transfer ops and so I can save the needed info AND input the simple code to do what I want it to do. Im finally connected via rs-232 with this old assed lathe...

    Yeah, it sounds simple but it was a long road for me, now it IS simple.

    Anyone have some code for some 1.5" pawns LOL Ill take it!! JR

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Merkel, Tx


    Cool machine, I have been doing manual hobby machining for about 4years now and would like to find a cnc lathe like yours just to see if I could figure out how program and run it.



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