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  • Manual operation of a CNC mill?

    I want to put a Centroid allin1 DC servo control on my mill. It will be a very straightforward conversion as the mill is actually built to be CNC'd. It has power feeds on all axis, ballscrews on all axis. It should be as simple as it gets to convert!!!!!

    Most of what I use the mill for is making slots, surfacing blocks of metal and drilling accurate holes. Now my question. Is it possible to clamp a workpiece, put my 3D taster in the spindle to locate the edges or 0,0 then mount a drill in the spindle and drill my two holes 50mm along my X axis?

    Or do I have to do all in the conversational wizards? Is it possible to mount electronic handwheels in order to use the mill as one would a manual mill?
    Location: The Black Forest in Germany

    How to become a millionaire: Start out with 10 million and take up machining as a hobby!

  • #2
    I've got the original joysticks on my bridgeport interact so I can move things and machine things manually if the desire takes me, and also the handwheels can still be engaged for really manual use. But... as I still have a manual mill, I can just use that instead.
    My control is linuxcnc, so I could just map the joysticks as key inputs into a old keyboard matrix plugged in as usb, then map the keystrokes to the same key in the control. I can use the touchscreen or the joysticks for this.
    Mostly I use the joysticks while setting up, and theyre great for rapiding near the limit switches so the auto touch off is quicker first thing after power up

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    • #3
      I do it all the time. Many controls have mpg's for jogging which can be set to various increments, .100, .010,.001,0001 etc Its just a matter of jogging to the location, watching the dro's and then feed the z down with the mpg. Just in case you are not familiar with the term MPG, its manual pulse generator. Its a calibrated electronic handwheel(s) without a mechanical connection to the axis. As you rotate it the selected axis moves in a calibrated manner according the the increment selected.

      Unfortunately I am not familiar with the control you propose so I can't say if it has the capability described but most do.

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      • #4
        For simple moves/operations the MPG will do it, but I would suggest to also get used to using MDI moves etc, MDI = Manual Data Input, IOW in the simplest sense, you type in a move(s)/operation(s) etc and push cycle start for each one.
        Centroid is a nice control.
        Max.
        Last edited by MaxHeadRoom; 11-21-2017, 10:33 AM.

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        • #5
          If you have an MPG it's pretty straight forward. I do it all the time. I probably use the HAAS machines at work just as much in manual mode as I do in CNC. It's just like a manual machine, only your're not cranking the handles.

          That being said.....If you're used to running things by feel, and never really gave a thought to putting numbers to feeds and speeds, and just kind of wing it with feedback from your finger tips it's going to be a bit of a transition for you. Jogging the machine through the control takes the feel out of it, and you're left with your eyes, and ears (and calculator) to figure it out. I mention this because it's the #1 thing that has caught a lot of the manual machinist/toolmakers I've taught to use the CNC's. Other than that it's pretty straight forward. You won't want to go back....(I don't)

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          • #6
            Can you just leave the manual handwheels on? Sure... you can live without handwheels but why?

            I have a BP with 3 axis MillPwr3 conversion. I love the conversational mode but would never give up the hand wheels. For simple positioning or limited operations I can't be bothered using the jogging or power feed modes. If I need to feed at a certain rate my screen displays my actual speed even when using the handwheels.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Black Forest View Post
              I want to put a Centroid allin1 DC servo control on my mill. It will be a very straightforward conversion as the mill is actually built to be CNC'd.
              If this is your first CNC, I would definitely suggest you pick up CNC Programming Handbook by Peter Smid, considered the bible for G/M code programming.
              It is particularly useful if opting for the MDI route, of which he shows examples and recommends it over MPG/HW.
              Max.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by MaxHeadRoom View Post
                If this is your first CNC, I would definitely suggest you pick up CNC Programming Handbook by Peter Smid, considered the bible for G/M code programming.
                It is particularly useful if opting for the MDI route, of which he shows examples and recommends it over MPG/HW.
                Max.
                Off on a tangent a bit, but I'll second the recommendation for that book. It's a GREAT resource, and worth the money.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Black Forest View Post
                  I want to put a Centroid allin1 DC servo control on my mill. It will be a very straightforward conversion as the mill is actually built to be CNC'd. It has power feeds on all axis, ballscrews on all axis. It should be as simple as it gets to convert!!!!!

                  Most of what I use the mill for is making slots, surfacing blocks of metal and drilling accurate holes. Now my question. Is it possible to clamp a workpiece, put my 3D taster in the spindle to locate the edges or 0,0 then mount a drill in the spindle and drill my two holes 50mm along my X axis?

                  Or do I have to do all in the conversational wizards? Is it possible to mount electronic handwheels in order to use the mill as one would a manual mill?
                  Have you looked into a ProtoTrak conversion? It is pretty much made to be used that way, either with the original handwheels or electronic handwheels.

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                  • #10
                    I run a Centroid on my mill and most of the time for simple cuts I use the MDI. Just make darn sure you don't input your cutting coordinates while in G0....I made that mistake a time or two when in a hurry.
                    Using the MDI to input simple G-code commands is quick, easy and accurate.
                    The MPG works also, but is not a preferred method for cutting.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by polaraligned View Post
                      I run a Centroid on my mill and most of the time for simple cuts I use the MDI. Just make darn sure you don't input your cutting coordinates while in G0.
                      Which points to the fact that many G-codes are Modal until changed, so to avoid 'accidents' it pay's to first enter G01 etc and err on the safe side!
                      Max.

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                      • #12
                        I have 2 Milltronics mills with Centurion 6 controls. They are similar to Hurco and Centroid in that they have G code as well as conversational programming. I use the smaller one manually just like a Bridgeport about half the time. I drill, mill, and whatever else just by turning the MPG (handwheel). All you do is select the axis you want to move (XYZ), how far you want to move each click of the handwheel, turn on the spindle and dial the handwheel. There's a 3 axis DRO built into the control panel. It's essentially the best version of a BP you could ever wish for.

                        Additionaly, there are other functions so you can step through a CNC program with the handwheel, and it only moves when you are turning the wheel. There are lots of options to use the mill manual, CNC, or any combination of both. I can't think of any reason why you shouldn't do the retrofit. You will never be sorry if you do. From all the reports and vids I've seen, the Centroid is a good choice.
                        Kansas City area

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                        • #13
                          With the Centroid, find where the X0,Y0 will be with the taster indicator, then in MDI mode type G92 x0, y0, those will then be set as the 0,0 work coordinates of the part (in default G54 work coordinate system unless one of the other work coordinates is specified, you can have a few work coordinate systems active on the same part). To go to X50, again in MDI mode, type G00 X50 (assuming the machine is in metric mode, G21). Use the Z axis jog keys to drill and retract.

                          Rather than MDI'ing G00 X50, you could set jog mode on the operator panel to 10mm and jog 5 times.

                          It can't get much simpler than that.

                          Oh, and you'll want to turn the spindle on using the on screen operator panel, preferably with a touch screen monitor.

                          Another thing, the Centroid being PC based you might want to bring up your CAD program resident on your control PC to verify you really want the hole at X50.

                          No reason for the crank handles.

                          On edit: the on screen operator panel is equivalent to an MPG.
                          Last edited by DR; 11-21-2017, 04:24 PM.

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                          • #14
                            Great. Thanks for all the replies!
                            Location: The Black Forest in Germany

                            How to become a millionaire: Start out with 10 million and take up machining as a hobby!

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