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Messages - mrprecise44

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General Mach Discussion / Re: Getting started near Huntington WV
« on: January 26, 2013, 10:05:09 PM »
Hi Archie:

I am sure "Hoss" can inspire your mill project. Mach3 is also used on some pretty big "iron"; have a look at the monster drilling machine built by Zafar Salam, in the "Show and Tell" your machines section of this forum. Some of his "projects" almost stagger the mind.

Currently, I am working on the "modbus" program posted by Zafar, which uses an Arduino board for I/O, instead of a commercial PLC. So far I have (3) potentiometers working for Feed rate override, Spindle speed, and Jog %, and (6) push buttons for the typical start,pause, stop,reset, spin on/off/ coolant on/off. I have a big Mach3 CNC knee mill with a commercial PLC, but wanted to play with the Arduino for fun, and see how much I could get out of it. It will go on a Micro-mill project that is a "work in progress." Just running the little stepping motors on the bench right now, with the 2010 screen by Ger.
Have fun.


General Mach Discussion / Re: Getting started near Huntington WV
« on: January 26, 2013, 01:31:32 AM »
Follansbee West Virginia is the home town of a fairly well known Mach3 user, "Hoss." He has many posts on CNCzone regarding CNC conversion of milling machines.

His website, http://www.hossmachine.info/about_me.html. is a pretty good read.

His current build is a long running thread on the CNCzone, www.cnczone.com, regarding a mid size mill conversion.

I think connecting with him would be a good start. He has a pretty good assortment of machine innovations such as various kinds of motors, various drivers, 4th. axis and even a tool changer and power drawbar with design plans available. Also, he has a ton of videos on Youtube of  various machine mods.

He has not posted on the Mach3 forum to my recollection, although he may have in the past.

Hi BR549:

I just watched the video, and got a better picture of what goes on.
Never saw such a machine myself.

The leading ring (steady rest) is a major contributor to it's productive capacity. It appears the leading tool pre-cuts the OD, for the trailing tool, which does the major in/out excursions in the X axis. When the trailing tool is making the big in/out profiles, the leading tool basically holds steady at the current OD.

In the beginning of the video, the leading tool prepares the profile like a standard lathe, while the trailing tool just sits there backed off. The trailing tool doesn't remove the bulk of stock; that is done by the leading tool.

When the cutters move towards the tailstock, they do not go further than keeping the steady rest ring on the square. The two tools trail the ring by a 4 or 5 inches I am guessing, so that is the max reversal distance for the carriage.

Each tool seems to be moving in a regular 2-axis lathe profile manner.

I must say, it is a slick operation to see, and I can see how it gets such productive capacity.

Perhaps with a little creative programming, Mach could drive a lathe like this. Just linking all the profile segments together some simple?? way. Just the thing for a new Wizard.


I believe Mach could drive the machine with two separate cross-slides, driven by two separate motors, in sync with the Z axis.

The Mach profile can be set-up as the traditional Z, X, plus a B axis.
Providing the code is the “trick.”    ……….. (And, not worth doing, IMO.)

Consider you program an MDI move for the tool to travel from one corner of a “virtual” rectangular box to the opposite corner.
If the start point is the top of box, right/rear corner, and the end point is bottom of the box, left/front corner, the X, Y, and Z axis motors move simultaneously from start to finish. The three axis’ dimensions of the “virtual” rectangular box may all be different dimensions, but the motion is a straight line (within the tolerances of the machine) from start to end.
Mach integrates the steps; all we provide is; G1 X5 Y6 X-1 at the start and X-3 Y-2 Z-4 for the end point values on the next line of the program.  We just made an X, Y, Z move with three axis’ moving in sync.
Nothing new so far; this is the “magic” of a CNC machine we use without a second thought.

In the Lathe problem, the two cross slides are riding on the Z axis; X and B must both be in sync with the Z, even though they may be moving at different rates, different directions, or number of steps with each other.
In other words, each incremental step size chosen for the Z, will be similar to the description of a
“Virtual rectangle box” motion from one corner to the other; but it will be Z, X, B moving in sync.

The “bad” part of this code programming is that the Z increment (distance travel) is the “baseline” for the programming.
The Z axis must move some given distance, to produce a corresponding X and B move. In real life, sometimes the Z is stationary, while X is making a cut, like a facing motion, or moving very slowly in tiny steps in relation to the X, as when cutting the OD of a sphere.

For each increment of the horizontal Z path, each corresponding displacement value of the “X”, and the displacement value of the “B” must be programmed on the same line.

One possible method would to use CamBam. Output the dxf for the Z,X profile, and divide the Z(X axis in CamBam) line into however many increments needed. You can then save the CSV file of X (the Z axis) and Y (the X axis) coordinates. CamBam can store the point pairs in a separate file.
Do the same for the Z,B profile, and save this CSV file.

(Note: CamBam may be able to combine the two profiles, but you would have to ask on the forum.)

The two profiles can now be combined using MS Excel.

Paste the first Z,X CSV file into into Excel. You will have two columns. Now paste the second Z,B CSV file into the same spreadsheet, in the next two columns. Make sure to keep the common Z “Zero” point aligned vertically.

You will now have an Excel spread sheet with (4) columns,
Z, X, Z, B.
Delete the duplicate Z column after making sure the Z “Zero” columns match exactly vertically before you delete; add in columns for the G-code letters Z, X, and B in the appropriate position. Save the spreadsheet as a .txt file, and you have a G-code text file that Mach should be able to load and run.

Some CAD programs may be able to do this without the bother of using Excel, but I am not into CAD lathe programming and do not have knowledge of such details.

Unless I am missing something, I see NO viable reason to build a lathe to do this kind of operation.

Two passes with different tools will do the same thing, and utilize the functions such as cutting radii, linear slopes, vertical slopes, and do it well.

This goofy dual slide set-up removes the smooth motions of a standard CNC lathe; you cannot do a vertical slope; you cannot thread, or plunge a slot.  Also, such a set-up more than likely would be a jerky motion, as the feed rate “vectors” (three axis)  would be jumping all over the place, as all the vectors are tied to the Z axis traveling some given distance. Some moves simply could not be done realistically, like cutting a vertical face. And, it certainly is not easily programmed.

I also do not believe such a machine makes a big cycle time improvement, as the motion cannot be as smooth as a standard Z, X lathe profile.

The machine in the picture probably has a very high "Gee Whiz" factor, to impress onlookers.

General Mach Discussion / Re: Tool Sensor / Probe G31 assistance
« on: January 03, 2013, 02:22:21 AM »
The excellent screen set by Ger, Mach3 2010, does everything you want to do. See the "Mach Screens" forum section.

PoKeys / Re: pokeys plugin defective
« on: December 21, 2012, 03:17:14 AM »
Hello Alan:

I just got my 56u working, so this might help.
1. Get the "Activation Key" from Polabs. Email them your device serial #, and they will send the key. It is a code like
    this dummy example: EE60-GH9E-DD49-AAB1
2. Download the two files from Polabs
    productattachments_files__p_o_pokeys_setup_12, or the newest beta file;
3. Connect the Pokeys to the USB port.
4. Run the file. They are application files. I ran the _19 file and have no problems so far.
4. Enter your activation KEY when the program prompts you.
5. The lights on the Pokeys will flutter as the program runs. It takes a little while. It automatically puts all the
    files needed in the Mach folders.
6. When it finishes, it will open a window posting the Pokeys specs, firmware version, install date, serial # etc.,
    and all the latest firmware updates in a list.
7. Close the info window.
8. The next window will ask you to select the device. There is space in the window for 4 Pokeys ID's. There will
    only be the one you installed, already Hi-lighted.
9. Click the box "Connect".
10. The first Pokeys menu screen will appear, ready to enter I/O data.
11. Run (load) Mach3

The Pokeys should be running in Mach3 now. Open the dialog box at the top of the screen "PlugIn Control", and your Pokeys
serial number in brackets preceded by "Configure Pokeys 56u[*****], your serial number.
If you click that filename, the Pokeys menu will open to the first page.

When you run the Pokeys install file, it will put a blue Icon with two gears in the box, on the Desktop. Clicking
this Icon will run the Pokeys "Dashboard" menu. It is slightly different from the menu inside of Mach.

If you start Mach3, and then plug in the Pokeys to the USB port, the config file will say the Pokeys is not connected.
Apparently, the Pokeys must be plugged in first.

Have fun



General Mach Discussion / Re: Introduction/question about Millpwr retrofit
« on: December 18, 2012, 03:21:29 PM »
Upon re-reading your post, a little clarification regarding existing Amps and "scales" would help; apparently Mill is not a 3 axis machine. There are many kinds of Servo's and Amplifier/Drivers available. Also, there have been vast improvements in CNC control hardware and software since the 80's, as you must realize; the differences are like night and day!

Getting away from the costly$$ proprietary CNC controls is always a good move.   


General Mach Discussion / Re: Introduction/question about Millpwr retrofit
« on: December 18, 2012, 02:04:15 AM »
Hello rvain:

I retrofit an older 80's vintage CNC mill, with analog amps, and DC motors, with the dspmc controller. It is an EXCELLENT controller, and certainly worth the effort to get working. No big surprises; just tracing wires, making wire diagrams, removing the old stuff you don't need (which was LOTS!!), new AMT-102 quadrature encoders (excellent little encoders from CNC4PC, 45.00 ea.), making a new control panel with a 17" LCD screen, put a little Foxconn mini-computer in the original console behind the LCD screen, new 8-Relay bank 24v, and your done. Runs better now than the original machine when new! Same motors and amps; same limit switch wiring; same encoder wiring; same home switch wiring; They have two types of I/O boards, one direct to the DB25 for TTL signals, and one with full optical isolation 24v. I/O. You will use both types. More I/O available than you could ever use! Vital Systems motor tuning graphical interface is like having a 17" color oscilloscope, with every motor control function tuneable in real time, showing the accel/decel curves as you make adjustments. If you used a touchsreen and one of the VistaCNC pendants, you could forego the labor of making a control panel with pushbuttons, except for an E-stop button, and maybe a feed rate override pot.

Modbus / Re: Mach3, Arduino, Modbus and MPG
« on: November 26, 2012, 01:56:27 PM »

I have not tried the actual hardware yet, but what I plan to do is copy some working code from one of my working Arduino programs, like a digital pin I/O actuating an LED, into the "void/loop" and see if it works. If I get one to work, changing the pin numbers and re-compiling for higher numbers will show what is or is not working.


Modbus / Re: Mach3, Arduino, Modbus and MPG
« on: November 25, 2012, 06:26:28 PM »
Hello Zafar:

I got the modbus program into the Arduino sketch file finally. Looking it over, it uses a higher level language, C++ perhaps, than the standard Arduino, and is definitely not user friendly to decipher. However, after some effort, I got it to recognize digital input pins, i.e., D2, D3, and compile. What threw me off was the program setup section has analog input pins listed as the letter "t". ??

Also, I did a search on the Arduino site, and located the list of Modbus functions used, and their meaning. In the Arduino sketch, they list the functions like 0x01; 0x03; but do not use the comment feature to explain what they do.

0x01 - Read Coils
0x02 - Read discrete Inputs
0x05 - Write Single Coil
0x0F - Write Multiple Coils

0x03 - Read Holding Registers
0x04 - Read Input Registers
0x06 - Write Single Register
0x10 - Write Multiple Registers
0x16 - Mask Write Register
0x17 - Read Write Multiple Registers

Anyhow, I will try it on a Mega, and see if the digital inputs higher than 15 will work.
Thanks for your effort. The zip file was appreciated.

I did find an un-zipper for RAR on the SourceForge site. All the winRAR files I located by Google were 40 to 50 megabytes, and were a pain to try to use. The SourceForge program was very small, and downloaded in a few seconds.

If the program will run the Mega pins above 15,  you could have lots of digital I/O available.


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