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Hey You Handy CNC Guys!

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  • Hey You Handy CNC Guys!


    Maybe one of you could help me out here. I bought an older Diaform CNC form dressing unit. These units were sold by the old Toolmasters outfit in the UK, that is now PG Technology. The control units were made by Hurco. In fact when you look at the control panel you'd swear it was a Hurco KMB1 controller mounted on a different panel. All the boards in side say Hurco on them, and the control system is built on the same Motorola 6800 processor.

    Just like the Hurcos, these Diaform units have onboard firmware that will only recognize a "Master Program" on start up. The problem is, just like with many of the Hurcos too, that the "Master Program" medium is in the form of a magnetic tape cassette that is no longer available!

    When I bought this unit, the "master Program" cassette was no where to be found! I got ahold of PG Technology in the UK, and spoke to their Technical Manager (who was also the Technical Director of Toolmasters who manufactured my unit). His name is Richard Beaumont- a real nice guy. But he said that the tapes are no longer available, neither are the floppy disk units that replaced the old tape drive units. Dead end there!

    Then I got ahold of Hurco! No more Master tapes there either (even though it would be mill software and not form dresser software). They directed me to another outfit that makes BTR (behind the tape reader) device packages for the old Hurco tape readers. The packages consist of a BTR emulator board, and software package to communicate with the Hurco. But they want $1100.00 for the package. Now I gotta tell ya, I'm a cheap booger! I don't want to pay that much for the package to communicate Mill programming to a form dresser if there is another way!

    I know that some of these old Hurcos have RS232 ports. My Diaform does not. But what I'm wondering is if the capacity exists on a logic board somewhere in the machine where all I may have to do is solder the leads to appropriate places to achieve that communication link. Then I can use a variety of NC editor programs to play around with the controller.

    Presently I communicate with two old Bandit controllers with an old 486SX PC. And it works great. But I don't know how to communicate with the Diaform yet.

    Any ideas?


  • #2
    I'll take a stab at this.
    Even if you get a BTR are you sure you still won't need the mastertapes to get the thing reved up?
    Chances of someone knowing after this time whether you can splice a RS conection in is going to be remote and I dare say there won't be a queue at the door offering free advise.
    The next problem will be if on the slim chance you get it running will something else fail that causes as much trouble.

    Quickest way may be to take the bull by the horns and start again with off the shelf components. How many motors on this thing and what are they?
    If it mimics the Hurco then they will be servo motors and could even have resolvers on them instead of Encoders.
    You may be able to reuse the power supply and replace the drivers with Gecko 320 servo drivers.
    An old PC running DOS and a copy of TurboCNC at $20 will supply enought computing power to runany shapes you need. If you can draw it, you can cut it.
    Up side of this is if it even gets a case of vertically challanged mammary glands [ tits up ] then you will have a complete understanding of how it works and where to phone up for bits.

    John S.

    Sir John , Earl of Bligeport & Sudspumpwater. MBE [ Motor Bike Engineer ] Nottingham England.


    • #3
      Yeah, what John said..

      Basically what happened with my bridgeport, except I have steppers/canadian Larken drives. I had No information, no ideal how to make it do what I wanted. pulled about 500 pounds of non-essential 1976 technology and replaced it with 1990's. Amazing how much room I have left. (Not up to 2,000 yet.. I got steppers..)

      I prefer Rutex servo drives from Australia. I have been beating one up here. Have not killed it yet.



      • #4

        Thanks for the responses.

        No, I'm not sure that after I get into the head of this unit, that I won't need the "master" software.

        The "master" for the Diaform is different than that of the Hurco too, because the movements needed in the dressing versus milling process are different.

        This unit has 3 axes, like the Hurco: "x", "y", and "z". The axes move an arm that supports a precise radial lapped single point diamond that is indicated in on it's axis. The "x" and "y" axes move the diamond along the face of the grinding wheel in programmed movements like the table of the mill moves the work into the spindle. Picture the grinding wheel as the cutter on the mill. "X" axis moves left and right (like the "x" axis on the mill); and "y" toward and away from the operator (like the mill). The "z" though is very different. Instead of moving up and down like the "z" on a mill, the "z" axis on the Diaform rotates the diamond arm to keep the diamond axis tangent to all the parts of the form profile geometery. As the "x" and "y" axes locate the diamond centerline on the centerline of all multiple radii that may be dressed on the same profile, the "z" axis turns the business end of the diamond toward the profile correctly, always keeping the diamond tangent to the profile geometry. This always assures that the shank of the diamond isn't rubbing on the profile being dressed on the wheel, boogering up the form.

        The dresser head houses 3- 8" ball screws gear belted to 3 motors, one for each respective axis. The motors are "Electro-Craft permanent magnet servo motor-tech Mod. E-586 5A"; with "Litton encoders" at the end of each motor.

        I hadn't thought about changing the drivers and servos with something more readily available. That's a good idea! I'd hate to have to- this thing looks like it has hardly been used. It came out of a Timken bearing plant that shut down in Ohio.




        • #5

          You have a few hurdles to get over but it is not impossible. I only have this to say to give you hope. (1)Someone has that program and knows what you are dealing with. (2)Look up people who repaired those units. (Repairmen never throw anything away.)(3)I know of one person who enjoys reverse engineering circuitboards like that as a hobby. There is probably a CMOS program that would be written in machine code that would tell part of the story. This code would have to be read by a special device and sometimes finding one of those prom readers isn't easy either. Still if you take some pictures of what you have and send them to me I'll see if any interest is sparked. I would continue to search the web and BBS's.

          I may have found what you need at


          • #6
            Hey SJorgensen,

            Great find! All the software is there to communicate with the Hurco system; even what appears to be an NC Editor!

            Now I need to find a compatable emulator card, or some other way to plug da 'putor wires in!

            Pics of what I have might be a challenge- I don't have one of them fancy digital "kodaks"- yet! I'm thinkin' that whatever the Hurcos use for an emulator/interface card will work for me too! I've been watching E-Bay for a "parted out" Hurco controller. We don't have any Hurco guys any where near me- but I'm keepin' my eyes open for that BTR interface card.

            Thanks Again,