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New guy with some Boss 5 Questions

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  • New guy with some Boss 5 Questions

    First off, hello to all. I've been lurking here a few monthes and really like the site. I finally got off my butt and signed up.

    Anyway I recently decided I wanted to manufacture some parts for myself and some friends and wanted a CNC mill to do it as opposed to my manual BP so I bought this mill locally.

    I'm picking it up next week and will install it at my business. The machine has a tape emulator for PC control. I'm totally new to CNC and I imagine the learning curve is a bit steep but I'd like options on what to do with the machine. I've been reading past posts here about what guys like John Stevenson and IbewGypsie have done with their Boss machines. Would it be very difficult for me to install Gecko or Larken drives? Should I use the machine as is for awhile? Anything you might want to tell a newbie about CNC? Any and all help would be greatly appreciated. My ideal would be complete PC control somehow translating SolidWorks files to the mill. I have a general understanding of electronics and I'm pretty handy with computers (I build servers for fun). Thanks in advance for any help.


  • #2
    WOW, a wall mounted mill sorry, couldn't resist.

    I'll leave it to someone who knows what their talking about to answer your questions, but welcome to the nut house.



    • #3
      That's a beauty! I think you got a great deal if it isn't too far from you. The best part is that you know it is a functioning machine so you should be able to put it to work right away.

      I bought one just like that for only $100 less than yours but mine didn't have manuals, and hadn't been run in years. There were other technical hurdles to overcome, and that process gave me some familiarity with its inner workings. Also mine has the Kwik-Switch tool holders that are pretty pricey.

      Good luck on the move and get ready to have fun. That is one sturdy machine.



      • #4

        Make sure your's don't develop bad habits like mine has since I installed the new 2.4 gig processor... (notice all the beer bottles that appear on the machine?)

        I vote for a total refit. Is it Servos or Steppers.. your first thing to figure out.. The magazine issue of HSM had the motor documentation in it if you can find a copy..

        You can try to learn the old way if you have plenty of time.

        Rigid ram machine.. I bet you need a big truck for that one.. I think they are heavier than mine.. it tells in the manual you have there..

        Check out this guy on ebay, he has a exact duplicate of my machine.. check out the pictorial resemblance.. I did email him.. I thought about swapping the picture in photobucket with a real obnoxious one just for meaness.. (nahh.. I bought some linux software from him and said it was alright)
        He is marketing the emc software.. good luck to him, no relation...
        David Cofer, Of:
        Tunnel Hill, North Georgia

        [This message has been edited by ibewgypsie (edited 10-16-2004).]


        • #5
          ibewgypsie: you need to make a larger beer bottle holding fixture for the table.

          I had to laugh at that pic. I think machining make a guy thirsty.


          • #6
            Congratulations on your new machine, be prepared for an interesting but steep learning curve.
            Just for the record I'm a long way down the list with experiance on these machines than Ibew, Spence and Eddie [ Motorworks]
            They have all modified their machines to run on PC's or in Spences case he's still on the original controller.

            Ibew you have heard from as with Spence, Eddie ripped his whole setup out and used Larken drives and TurboCNc to run his machine.

            It looks from the pic's on Abay that you have the manuals.
            I'd be tempted to try it as it is for a start.
            If all else fails and you have to do a retrofit then you at least will notice the improvement when you go onto PC.

            I have a rigid ram Boss series 1 machine but it's still under sheets a waiting a place to put it.
            This is a weird Brit machine that's on servo's and a Heidenhain system.
            I may rip this out and replace it with a spare Ahha system I have or leave it as is for simple drilling etc - time will tell.

            My main CNC is a Beaver NC5 also with Ahha fitted and a 4th axis which has been a sterling machine.

            John S.

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


            • #7
              Once a program is debugged, zero located on the vise, you just load metal blanks in the machine, make tool changes and drink beer..

              I love it, turn the stereo up. I have a couple friends that never tire of watching the machine work (and drinking my beer). This old one does not have a screen around it thou.. it throws shavings everywhere.

              Perfect hobby to keep me out of the house and make a few items.. Not hardly a money tree but it works. I have sold on ebay everything I made to sell there..

              TUrboCnC is pretty cool, something to be said for Dos reliability. I have Mach2 on mine now and XP pro.. and the Bobcad 19.. The machine in the house has blue-screened me a few times.. I have not tried the "other" machine in the shop on bobcad..

              When I am feeling really productive, I run the lathe and the mill at the same time.. I don't drink then.. but it does clear my mind to be so busy.

              Mach2 has wizard setups you just fill in the blanks for to pocket, radial drill, square pattern drill, circular pocket, probe.. etc.. These are the things you regularly do on a cnc. It is worth the money but you have to deal with Windows..

              I remember the Larken drives being $600 for three cobra 16's. But that was a while back. Your machine might not have the high ampacity motors mine does, they are not all the same. I have been sent the chart with amperage ranges from 4 to 16 amps per phase.. With my setup Geckos could not achieve more than 60ipm on a G0 move, otherwise you'd lose steps by it overstepping.. Larkens can go 110 reliably.

              Off to bed, nitey nite ya'll...

              David Cofer, Of:
              Tunnel Hill, North Georgia


              • #8
                Thanks for the help so far guys. I'm picking it up on Weds. with my flatbed trailer. I've had 6000lbs on that trailer before so no real worries there, besides it's only 25 miles away. I'd like to learn more about a retrofit but I'll wait until I have the machine here so I can see what motors it has. They are going to show me how it operates when I go to pick it up so I assume I can bring it back, plug it in and start making simple cuts at least. Are there any good reference books for learning G-code and M-code in case I want to manually enter programs?


                • #9
                  One more question. How tall is this thing, loks like 10' to me. I'm trying to decide where to put it. I can't contact the seller until Monday.


                  • #10
                    Hello Christian,


                    is a page showing a Boss 5 getting a Centroid retrofit. I think it mentions that those finned motors are steppers and not servos.

                    There's an intro to G code that is worth reading at


                    Congrats on getting a solid machine at a good price. I'm waiting for the electrician to finish the service upgrade and other work so I can start figuring out how to run the Tree Journeyman 325 I bought a few weeks ago.



                    • #11
                      <font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by rsr911:
                      One more question. How tall is this thing, loks like 10' to me. I'm trying to decide where to put it. I can't contact the seller until Monday.</font>

                      Floor area 75" x 65"
                      Hight Vee Ram 82"
                      Hight Rigid Ram 86"
                      Weight w/control box Vee ram 2920 #
                      Weight w/control box Rigid ram 3129 #
                      Shipping weight Vee ram 3310 #
                      Shipping weight Rigid ram 3550 #

                      Michael has given you some good links and he's also correct that the motors are steppers.
                      Don't be put off by the bg fins, these are standard type 42 motors with a heat sink fitted.
                      The bridgeport manuals cover programming and give some good examples.

                      John S.


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


                      • #12
                        I would devote at least 8 foot x 8 foot for your new machine. That way you can sweep around it.

                        Power, how are you going to handle the neccessary 3 phase needed to run it unmodified?
                        The problem with these machines is the 3phase control transformer located in the box on the back. It is a common armature unit with 3 phase coils wound on it. I tried for a week to wire it up so I could get the 70 or so volts out of all 3 banks.. no matter what I did I could not. I think several of the people on this BBS did not take thier machine to Thier garage because of this.
                        I am not sure about the ampacity of two of them, it might be possible to wire two to supply geckos or Larkens drives. I installed a 2kva 24+24 transformer. I used all the terminal strips, the capacitor from the unit.

                        THE way I mounted everything, I tried to keep all the high voltage in the rear box, the single phase in 3 phase out inverter for the head, the transformers, the bridges, the on-off enable solid state relay, the 220/120 factory transformer and the stepper transformer. There is a channel wireway on the bottom left of the cabinet to route all the wiring. The head, speed change solonoids feed out the top of this cabinet. I mounted a 16channel opto board on the door, and control the inverter/ coolant/ and other things from there to shorten wiring runs of low voltage.
                        ON the right hand box, the one with the door and the huge filter.. I mounted my computer behind the filter. Routing the cables up where the old pc connect plug was for the usb,mouse,monitor and gamepad extension cables. I mounted opto-22 behind the door for my convience. On this I isolated the 5vttl step/dir signals from the computer. I also installed input modules for limits (they come into this cabinet) and a reset relay for the overide of limits. Drives are mounted on the HUGE heat sink on the back door of this cabinet. THE motors wire into the bottom terminal strip on this door. YOU do not have to rerun cables out to the motors or limit switches. Just find them there on the door. With using the motors bipolar you ignore two of the leads. I have drawings if you want them.

                        My machine had cutting oil in the wireway, on the cabinets, on everything like it was ran with the doors open. It was a disaster of wiring with errors. I bought it running, how I don't know since I found several errors with crossed wires in between axis.

                        I did not have documentation. This prompted me to "do it my way". So far except for choosing geckos running maximum current it has worked out. I lost several of them before I switched over to Larken drives. It has been absolutly troublefree for about a year now. I did have to replace a bridge then.
                        I recently added Home switches for my machine. It is pretty neat, after you cycle it and reset (0) to the vise or fixture you can press one button and it will creep toward home and reset zero in Mach2.

                        It is pretty neat being able to concept a ideal, draw it in autocad or Bobcad, create or generate gcode then make it right here at home. I tinker, I dabble, It is a Santa Claus machine like his bag was in that story for me. I have a wad in my machine now, I hope you do much better on the money thing. Sounds like you are off to a good start.

                        David Cofer, Of:
                        Tunnel Hill, North Georgia


                        • #13
                          Thanks again for the help. As far as power my shop has 480/3phase, 220/3phase, 220/1phase, and 110 so power shouldn't be an issue. I was concerned about the height because while most of my shop has 15'+ ceilings my tool room only has 8.5' so it looks like I'm good there. I pick it up weds. I'll have to take some pictures of my own that aren't sideways LOL

                          -Christian, impatiently waiting 'til Weds....


                          • #14
                            If you got 3phase, I'd run it as is for a while... as long as you can find parts..

                            David Cofer, Of:
                            Tunnel Hill, North Georgia


                            • #15
                              Hello. I have a series 2 Boss 5. It is converted over to Ah-ha control. It is very strong on the ahha.

                              Only thing I don't like about steppers (and I mean the only thing) is the possibility for lost steps. But if you configure the system correctly and are somewhat conservative with yer rates I really don't see a problem.

                              I backed up the cnc with a dro system cause I'm paranoid (and it was a good price). So now when artisan (ahha controller software) says we moved .xxx If I desire I can confirm it with the dro. Don.t know how long it will stay there, my lathe has been askin to borrow it.

                              Now, Artisan runs resident in DOS. Not a dos window within windows, but a clean dos boot. It runs very quickly there without all the windows B.S. and will utilize a fast processor.

                              An advantage of using the original steppers is they are placed tight "into" the mill. I have seen some servo conversions with the servo motors sticking out quite some distance, it would knock my slow arse down should I get in the way.

                              I know Gecko has drives for the your steppers but dont know the specs, I think 7amps may be a little "light" for the Bridggy. The Ah-Ha 500 system provides 12 amps.

                              Now I just bought a small mill I am going to put a servo system on. I will use Gecko (g320) drives, servo motors with encoders mounted on the ball screws. With this path you have to use a controlling software such as Mach1,Mach2. What I liked about this system is the encoders (feedback) are on the ball screws. So it can be a very accurate method for determining table position.

                              Ah-ha Is nice cause you have a bunch of pin-outs to control various functions. P.S. the was a full system for sale for cheap on the yahoo grp.


                              P.S., I don't have any affiliation to these references, just tryin to help.