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  • Lab Volt CNC

    Hello,

    I noticed another thread concerning mini CNC machines, but didn't want to hi-jack it. As the title implies, I picked up a Lab Volt 3S CNC lathe and a 5400 CNC mill. Similar to the other guy's machines, they are Sherline. Bought them sight unseen from a local school for $100 apiece. Nobody else was interested, and could have got them both for $10. Oh well. Anyhow, I didn't realize how small they were till I picked them up, and I'm wondering if anyone else has these or something similar. No software came with them, just some PC cables. Think it's worthwhile to try and get them up and running, or should I sell them off? I'm in the process of finishing my shop off before winter, and hope to continue with some model engine projects when the snow hits. Again, this would just supplement my large machines. If it's too cost prohibitive to get up and running, I'd like to know.

    Thanks,
    John

  • #2
    If they have step/direction drives, you can get Mach S/W free for the first so many lines of code, full blown is <$300.00 I believe.
    If steppers are fitted, then they most likely are step/dir.
    They may even have been running Mach, which operates through the printer port of a PC.
    The CNCZone or the Mach forum would give you all the info.
    Max.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by J Richardson
      Hello,

      Think it's worthwhile to try and get them up and running, or should I sell them off? I'm in the process of finishing my shop off before winter, and hope to continue with some model engine projects when the snow hits. Again, this would just supplement my large machines. If it's too cost prohibitive to get up and running, I'd like to know.

      Thanks,
      John
      Well, I'm going to recommend you sell them off...What will the price markup be? Buy now? Bids?
      Or will you have a contest and award them to the one with the best reason for being the recipient?
      John M...your (un)usual basement dweller

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by J Richardson
        Hello,

        I noticed another thread concerning mini CNC machines, but didn't want to hi-jack it. As the title implies, I picked up a Lab Volt 3S CNC lathe and a 5400 CNC mill. Similar to the other guy's machines, they are Sherline. Bought them sight unseen from a local school for $100 apiece. Nobody else was interested, and could have got them both for $10. Oh well. Anyhow, I didn't realize how small they were till I picked them up, and I'm wondering if anyone else has these or something similar. No software came with them, just some PC cables. Think it's worthwhile to try and get them up and running, or should I sell them off? I'm in the process of finishing my shop off before winter, and hope to continue with some model engine projects when the snow hits. Again, this would just supplement my large machines. If it's too cost prohibitive to get up and running, I'd like to know.

        Thanks,
        John

        If they are like other Sherline based school offerings, you will need to retrofit new drivers and software to the machines. Bear in mind that the motors are steppers and undersized...many people upgrade the motors too because of this.

        Your current system requires RS-422 driver cards (expensive) and copy protected software (expensive)..together we are talkiing thousands of dollars from the vendor...if they exist. The cable ends that you see are NOT RS-232 compatible.

        It is well worth your time to see if you can find the missing driver card and the hard drive that has that software.

        There is a market for them if you decide to get rid of them.

        If you think you would like to do some CNC work on small parts or would like to learn CNC then I would keep them and uprade them with generic drivers and software.

        Otherwise sell them and put the profit into a tool that you have been wanting.

        Let us know what happens.

        TMT

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Deja Vu
          Well, I'm going to recommend you sell them off...What will the price markup be? Buy now? Bids?
          Or will you have a contest and award them to the one with the best reason for being the recipient?
          If he wants to sell them, a Buy It Never is a dead end.

          TMT

          Comment


          • #6
            If the original motors were perceived to be underpowered it may have been quite likely that the vintage drives were not capable of the performance of current designs such as Gecko.
            If you can find a good use for them, it may be worth looking at the Mach/Gecko combo?
            Max.

            Comment


            • #7
              http://www.labvolt.com/products/auto...-cnc-mill-5400

              Have you tried contacting Labvolt directly?
              This product has been determined by the state of California to cause permanent irreversible death. This statement may or may not be recognized as valid by all states.
              Heirs of an old war/that's what we've become Inheriting troubles I'm mentally numb
              Plastic Operators Dot Com

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Too_Many_Tools
                If he wants to sell them, a Buy It Never is a dead end.

                TMT
                I use Buy now often for certain items. Checking the "newly listed" option, and if you are quick, you can get the item(if priced reasonably)before it's gone already.
                "Buy Now" works if you aren't trying to make a big profit....especially if you got the item from a school cheap. Pass them on if you don't wish to use them.
                John M...your (un)usual basement dweller

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Deja Vu
                  I use Buy now often for certain items. Checking the "newly listed" option, and if you are quick, you can get the item(if priced reasonably)before it's gone already.
                  "Buy Now" works if you aren't trying to make a big profit....especially if you got the item from a school cheap. Pass them on if you don't wish to use them.
                  As I have said before, I have gone from spending thousands per month on Ebay to almost ZERO.

                  On the rare moment that I look at Ebay these days, I always select the NO Buy It Now option...so I can look at the true auctions.

                  I would bet that many others do too.

                  TMT

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I bought a Sherline based CNC lathe and mill from a local school. They were Lightspeed brand and I got the computers and software with them. When I discovered that one of the dongles was missing I contacted the instructor. He searched and found it for me. I have not yet gotten them running. I hope to upgrade the software but see no problem with the hardware.

                    I think if you have the complete system it would certainly be worthwhile to get it running. If you want to sell them you should make a good profit. I would ask someone to search for anything missing before it goes in the trash.
                    Don Young

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Don Young
                      I bought a Sherline based CNC lathe and mill from a local school. They were Lightspeed brand and I got the computers and software with them. When I discovered that one of the dongles was missing I contacted the instructor. He searched and found it for me. I have not yet gotten them running. I hope to upgrade the software but see no problem with the hardware.

                      I think if you have the complete system it would certainly be worthwhile to get it running. If you want to sell them you should make a good profit. I would ask someone to search for anything missing before it goes in the trash.
                      Yeah I forgot about the dongle.

                      You may also need a password to run the software.

                      These guys are rather paranoid but it is justified...schools are considered one of the worst for software piracy.

                      TMT

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Actually, RS-232 to RS-422 converters are pretty common and can be found cheap. RS-485 on the other hand...

                        I also have a teaching lathe that was based on a sherline as well. The company is long gone so I replaced the control boards and got the machine going. They also used a beefed up light dimmer for the motor speed control so I replaced that with a standard BK speed control. I also added a photo sensor on the spindle for threading. All of it is controlled with a smoothstepper. Which sucks by the way.

                        Mach is around $175 now.

                        Funny story about the lathe. TechShop bought it and I retrofitted it. When TechShop went under the owner sold it to a member. I ran into that member a couple of months ago and he asked me if I wanted it since he decided he was never going to use it. So now its setting in my garage.

                        I have no clue what I am going to do with it...

                        -Jerry




                        IMGP1196.DNG by macona, on Flickr

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by macona
                          Actually, RS-232 to RS-422 converters are pretty common and can be found cheap. RS-485 on the other hand...

                          I also have a teaching lathe that was based on a sherline as well. The company is long gone so I replaced the control boards and got the machine going. They also used a beefed up light dimmer for the motor speed control so I replaced that with a standard BK speed control. I also added a photo sensor on the spindle for threading. All of it is controlled with a smoothstepper. Which sucks by the way.

                          Mach is around $175 now.

                          Funny story about the lathe. TechShop bought it and I retrofitted it. When TechShop went under the owner sold it to a member. I ran into that member a couple of months ago and he asked me if I wanted it since he decided he was never going to use it. So now its setting in my garage.

                          I have no clue what I am going to do with it...

                          -Jerry




                          IMGP1196.DNG by macona, on Flickr

                          I should have gone into more detail...the control card is not just a RS422 card...it also has control lines for the different motors.

                          You have to have THEIR card to run these machines.

                          And their dongle.

                          And their software.

                          And their password.

                          There are also variations of software and driver card running around..and they have to be matched.

                          So you see that you either want the entire system or slap a new driver/software system on them.

                          These machines (I am assuming it is the same group under a different name making this stuff yet...which was the case when I last dug into it) are basically a Sherline setup with some steppers hanging on it without the software to drive them.

                          As for their uses, if you need to make a lot of little parts these machines are worth messing with.

                          One use that comes to mind is robotics. Making one small part is okay but when I have to start making dozens of them the magic of CNC shows its value.

                          It would be an excellent platform to learn the electronics and the programming side of CNC.

                          The Sherline lathe/mill are a very capable machines...when you use them as they were meant to be used.

                          To the OP...if you have ever wanted a small lathe and mill I would keep them and convert them to manual operation. Sherline is very good about supporting their machines and the missing parts to convert to manual operation would be available from them.

                          TMT

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Hi,

                            Thanks for the info. I'll hang on to them and start dabbling this winter when my shop is done. Sounds like the CNC Zone is the place for info. No time for anything now, as we are on forced overtime up the wazoo. They say the economy is slow, but iron mining is full tilt. Actually working a bit too much, in my opinion. But that's another thread.

                            Thanks,
                            John

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I wish i could get my hand on a tiny lathe and mill like those.. I built my tiny lathe, and while it works, it needs a lot more adjustment to get it working the way i want

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