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Messages - oldmechano

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Got all the hard parts built... now doing cable/air/wire management, mounts for control box/laptop, then strip it down for paint.


Everything attached to the main gantry rail is aluminum except for the motor. I am mounting a 6 inch precision vice (yellow block) on the frame and a rotary head beside it. The work table is 5/8" Blanchard ground plate. The side plates are water cut 1" 6061 plate.

There is a slight issue with frame sag because of the gantry weight but it is being solved with a table brace and some center jack screws.

I changed the design a bit, not using a spindle motor now. Decided to use a 1 HP conventional 110V motor and drive it with some intermediate pulleys to get the tool in the 9000-500 RPM range, built a R8 spindle housing to use the collets I already have.
It's slowly coming together...

The software's I already had (old versions) and the machine is going to be built in stages so not all the $$ gone at once... I didn't say I was looking for cheap software but something like a MasterCam or SurfCam might not make sense for a home built machine especially in at an evaluation stage.

We have already used Mach3 on another machine so we thought it would be easier to get something simple that works with it.

I model in Catia V5 and SolidWorks so I have that covered...

We have already built a previous NC machine for a customer using the same type of frame and components - it has been running limited production for about 2 years now.

We plan to mill aluminum, plastic, and wood, we only plans to drill steel plates - no milling steel because of vibrations (non cast base)

My previous programming was done on Catia because I already had that capability plus they were simple 2D point to point programs with less than 300 lines so I just manually edited them till they were correct.

I have the LazyCam operators manual but have not read it, I will try to see if I can use it but I already think it may get kicked to the curb.

Doing longer programs in 2.5 or 3D would be challenging using Catia so these other programs that you have suggested I have downloaded and I am going to evaluate them to see which one would suit our needs.

Thanks for the input.

Hello All,

It's been a while since my last post... My business partner is looking at building a CNC Mill (see picture) and the only hold up for him is if we can easily use
LazyCam to import DXF files to do 2D profiles and holes. I imported a simple DXF of a profiled plate with some drilled holes but that's about as far as I got.

He seems unconvinced that it is going to be easy to learn, I have a demo version linked to our licenced version of Mach 3 but find it to be not so user friendly and in demo mode unable to post results to show him.

If I can't convince him to use Mach 3 with LazyCam is there an easier to use software with a built in post processor that can be cheaply purchased? Some input from LazyCam user would be helpful or if you are using something different I would like to here about that also.

Our budget for the machine is around $10K (includes a 6K package for controls/motors/boards etc) the table is 3'x4' with a custom 110V spindle.

He says he does not want to waste too much time at a terminal to fix up files to get them to run properly or else it would be easier to use a conventional mill...

Any input on the learning curve with LazyCam would be appreciated.

General Mach Discussion / Re: Homing Softlimit Issues
« on: October 28, 2010, 08:12:39 PM »
Hood to the rescue again! - works as explained... Thanks!

We thought that our home position was at one time positive, but that was a mistake... the only thing wrong was our X/Y min setting - we just jogged till it made that funky sound and all was good.

We ship tomorrow.

Cheers, Alex.

General Mach Discussion / Homing Softlimit Issues
« on: October 28, 2010, 09:36:09 AM »
I have a slight problem... I have a static head dummy Z axis and I can set my zero position relative to it and reference home position which ends up being X-2.0 Y-3.0... I try to set my softlimits but it does not like that negative value of the home position. I can't understand why there is no change if I try to set my softlimits with a negative number? I jog back and forth - the limits work but I can't get it within the proper range I need to run my programs with the softlimits button activated, it comes up with an error message that I am out of the softlimit range.

I can run my programs without any issues from my zero position by pressing GOTO zero without the softlimits activated but I don't want to run without limits set as there is a possibility of jogging off and crashing into the proxy switches... this happened when I tried to run a test program by mistake from the home position and not from my zero position.

At one time I did have my home setup with positive numbers and I was easily able to set the softlimits correctly... I have since lost that setup and need to get it back... Why is this so critical?

It's a bit confusing why it does not seem to work with home values being negative relative to my Zero work position (which all my programs are written from)

General Mach Discussion / Re: custom application
« on: October 27, 2010, 11:42:15 PM »
WELL... We had a surprise visit from the machine owners today at our humble two man shop... we did a trial sample run and they are very satisfied with the machine and the product output - I can't divulge the real product output because of liability issues, but they have been in business for 100 years and were surprised by the output they have gained thru the Mach3 software... we had the machine running at the limit that is possible with 30 year old hardware hooked up to new generation software...

I am not sure at this point they seemed to be worried about the speed - 7 seconds for the small sample and 50 second for the big sample... they are more worried about the complexity of the software and who they can trust to operate it... again, they are going from a manual input to a computer controlled repeatable output - no comparison in there eyes... they are not worried about the machine, but they seem to be worried if the operator can keep up with the product loading demand !

I am running the recommended speeds and feeds, at this time the trigger speed and flywheel output are almost matched on the product samples. I am running point to point with only minimal "phantom staples" - start to finish (M11 start with X,Y lines then M10 end) dragged extra staples into the sample which were undesirable to the customer.

I may play with the motor tuning if I have time... they are planning to ship it out 2000 km East of me in 2 weeks time, and as a designer/programmer I will not have any further direct contact with the machine past tomorrow. I might only be called on to produce programs from my basement office half a Continent away...

I would like to thank everyone who replied to my humble pleas for help and congratulate Mach on supply low cost competitive multipurpose software.

In the future I hope I can post a results thread on this project, but at this time I am limited contractually not to disclosure any information for legal purposes.

Cheers and a toast to all forum members and hosts !

Thanks, Alex.

PS - Hope to post on another project soon...

General Mach Discussion / Re: custom application
« on: October 27, 2010, 05:52:27 AM »
Yes, I had a feeling that was all there was... I guess I has found the machines limits - normal when combining machinery with electronics.

Thanks for all your help.

Cheers, Alex.

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