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Messages - mrprecise44

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I second the mention of CamBam. The demo is good for 40 program runs, then it needs to be purchased. It is a really fine program. It shows your tool paths in a multi-color wireframe view which can be rotated, and looked at from all directions. Along with CamBam, you can download CutViewer, which will run your program, and simulate a 3D model of your program cutting the blank in real time; the demo is good for 30 days.

General Mach Discussion / Re: Pokeys to Modbus to PLC?
« on: May 09, 2012, 12:27:08 AM »
Hello Bill:
Take a look at the Cubloc I/O modules, www.cubloc.com. They make several different base boards and cpu modules depending on how much I/O you need. They are programmable with their own “Cubloc Studio” program, which runs Basic, and Ladder logic simultaneously, with on-screen debugging. The manual is very comprehensive, with examples.  Keypads, relays, LED displays, Panel push buttons, simply plug into the base board. The connection to the computer is through (2) RS-232 cables, one for machine control/Modbus, and the other for downloading your program.  The manual is excellent, with many examples.  The cost of the modules and components is very competitive.

The most basic use of Modbus is probably Feedrate override, since Mach by itself does not do analog/digital conversion.  When the feedrate pot quits working, the PLC is probably not getting power, but Modbus is still working. The "slave" is just out to lunch. ;)
Other indicators, will be the various inputs handled by Modbus do not work, however this is not really an emergency situation; just another bump in the Mach3 road.
I find the Modbus functions I use (Jog rate, Jog step size, rapid rate, feed rate, various screen buttons) to be very reliable and just putter along in the background. Once you get the various buttons, pots, and brains working right, you tend to forget it's there.
I have not heard of "Modbus" quitting outright. 
You could have a relay in the power circuit going to the PLC, and if power quits activate a signal, but this sounds to me to be a "solution looking for a problem"

dspMC/IP Motion Controller / Re: Servo motor inputs to Vital DSPMC
« on: May 06, 2012, 12:52:46 PM »
Regarding the converter to change from single ended encoder to differential, the "Line Driver Module" sold by CNC4PC will do the job. It is the DG6 module, which takes input A,B,Z, 5v, GND from the encoder, and outputs A+, A-, B+, B-, Z+, Z- 5v, GND through a RJ45 connector. The J6 board, and the J7 have connections for A+, A- ....etc., for each axis. The A-, B-, Z- signals are not regular ground connections. Do not connect them to ground.
Make sure to do a continuity check from each terminal on the J6, or J7 board back to the RJ45 connector which plugs into the module. It is easy to mix up the wires. I used a RJ45 female connector with numbered screw terminals, which you can plug the RJ45 plug into. You have to splice the original encoder wires onto short Cat5 connector cable+end to make up the connection to the DG6 module. The module is less than $10.00, and has a web site to get all the wire date info.

Pay attention to the "Encoder Polarity" check box on the dspmc set-up page. You can specify Positive, or Negative in a drop down box. One way the motor will not work, one way it will. I had a frustrating time trying to get the machine working, until I fiinally tried that check box.

If your encoder wiring does not have the necessary (8)wires with shielding, you will have to change it over.

Do one axis at a time, and get it working before doing a second.

Hope this helps.

Modbus / Re: Arduino Modbus, Complete, Documented and free
« on: April 29, 2012, 08:49:08 PM »
More info on making input buttons to work:

So far, I am using the pushbutton in pull-down, 0 volts mode. Works fine. It took some time trying different check boxes for the proper function for the brains.

Each button has to be in the Set-up page, under a separate config#'s. The address entered into the Mach3 setup table Address column,for each button is the Arduino pin number you are going to use.

I could not get pins 0, and 1 to work. These are default Rx (pin 0), Tx (pin 1) on the Arduino.

So, my pushbuttons start with pin 2. Pin 13 on my Arduino standard (328p) is internally connected to an LED. I did not use pin 13.

The first part of a brain for each button will look like:  MOD:0 - D0 - P:5 : 1

The MOD:0 is the Register address for the I/O, per Table 4 - Register Map, page 15 of manual. All inputs up to 15 will have this 0.

The D0 is from checking the box for bits, and setting bit number to 0. All of the I/O brains had to be like this.

The P:5, is the Config# in the Modbus setup table in Mach3. The pin address (Arduino pin #) is in the Modbus setup table, and is not entered into the brain checkbox's. This number is unique to each button, since each one has it's own config.

The last number above, : 1, is what the brain looks like when viewed in the Brain viewer. When you push the button, this 1 changes to a 0, zero. It does not show up when you make the brain.

So far, all is working well. I have (3) 10k potentiometers working, and they are actually easier than the buttons. The 328p Arduino has 6 analog inputs, which can be either Analog or Digital.

I am sure there are other configurations that will work with this program, but these numbers will get results.

Since an Arduino is about $30, this is a very nice, inexpensive solution for analog and digital I/O. If you need more pushbutton I/O than the small Arduino, the Mega is slightly more money, but has about more than triple the analog and digital I/O.

Hope this is useful.

Modbus / Re: Arduino Modbus, Complete, Documented and free
« on: April 29, 2012, 12:39:32 PM »
Hello Tim:

Looks very promising for Modbus. I have a Cubloc PLC, and am connecting it up to my back-up computer for testing. The (3)potentiometers for Feedrate override, Jog %, and Rapid override all work fine with my brains written for the Cubloc; just had to change the address in the setup screen.

Are the digital input pins, (1 thru 12) fixed at present state? They are all 5v/High state, and apparently must be pulled to ground to activate a digital signal input.

If it is (or is not) possible to change the pin mode state, please explain.

I loaded the Modbus program on a Mega 1280, and the standard 328p. Both load fine.

However, trying to load with the latest Arduino ver. 1.0 would not compile. Compile and upload worked fine on Arduino IDE 0021, and 0022. I am sure 0023 works also, as that shows in as the version you used for the screen shot pictures in the manual.

Also, when I ran the blinking LED test, the timer interferred with the Cycle Start screen button in my MSM screen set. It blinked the little white triangle rapidly. When I unchecked the enable box for the timer config, the mad blinking stopped.

The MSM screen set is produced by David Bagby at Calypso Inc., and is an excellent replacement for the standard Mach3 screen. It also has an enormous pdf manual, and a very comprehensive probing screen, with many videos to explain everything it does.

Also, thanks for the superb pdf manual.   


As I understand your post, the problem with your 20 year old mill is the old DOS computer. If the motors and servo amplifiers are not burned out or malfunctioning there is no pressing need to rip them out, or change them for some other make. They have lasted this long, and are also sized correctly for the machine requirements, i.e., mass and weight of table and cutting loads.
Machmotion makes several levels of machine kit/retrofit systems. Stepper motors and amplifiers are far cheaper than servo motor/amplifier encoder feedback systems. That is reflected in the final cost you see for the different kits.

The dspmc controller used in the Machmotion 1000 controller costs over a thousand dollars, all by itself. It is a highly sophisticated, state of the art electronic system. It does all the motion control mathematics and feedback handling as a totally separate entity from Mach3. The two communicate, but the dspmc does all  the "heavy lifting."

You can keep your current Westamp motors/amplifiers/power supply, and utilize a Machmotion control kit with the screen/keyboard/controller and just wire up the existing encoder wires, reference switches, and analog signal wiring to the controller 1000, and you will have a working system. The Westamp limit switches are already wired into the amplifiers, so you do not even need to worry about them.

My Westamp motors and amps are easier to tune, smoother and faster than the original system. My rapid on the X axis is over 220 ipm on a 52" X 11" table, and I personally do not like to try to jam the machine at the highest speeds possible. This is not the fastest speed possible for a mill, but it works fine for all my machine uses. I tend to run my machines conservatively anyhow. 
If later you wish to upgrade to newer servo amps and brushless AC motors, you can do it, but it is not a necessity to have a working machine. The newer AC drives and motors are faster, more powerful, and of course off-the-shelf, but that is all a personal choice. If you decide to change motors and amps, you will be into making new motor mounts, couplings, motor power cabling, new seal-tite cabling,new encoder cabling and wiring. All of this is in addition to the basic cost of the parts. Not a trivial task.

If you choose to go with the touch screen option that Machmotion offers, you will have a system that is akin to the best industry has to offer. A touch screen plus an MPG will result in very user-friendly machine, and they look great too!

Hello Metlcutr55:

The Machmotion package uses the dspmc external controller, made by Vital Systems. As controllers go, I believe it is in the top level of retro-fit, CNC machine controllers, and is used in commercial machines. It also, is one of the more costly controllers.

I retro-fit an older mill with the dspmc controller, analog Westamp servos and the original brush type DC motors, and it runs fine. All the encocders, limit/ref switches, mag contactor controls, power supply are as built originally. Those hardware things tend to be pretty basic, and long lived. However, any retro project is a lot of time and effort.!!!  You will learn a lot, and it can be enjoyable as well as frustrating. Personally, I like building things anyway, but most people don't have the time or patience.

If your CNC machines are basic to business operations, a professional package like the selections from Machmotion will pay off in the long run. They use the highest quality motors, amps, and electronic hardware that the best commercial builders rely on.

One further consideration is the availability of components. Today's CNC electronic components are nearly all standard, off the shelf hardware, unlike the older proprietary hardware/software CNC machines. If you retrofit for minimum cost, or fix the old computer, you still have an old machine. Westamp is no longer in business, and used amplifier boards run in the neighborhood of $450, and repairing one runs even higher; same for old motors.

General Mach Discussion / Re: combining gcode
« on: February 23, 2012, 02:07:33 PM »

One Cam program that will produce your various machining operations into a total program is CamBam. You can try out the demo for 40 sessions. It is a superb program for Cam, but not a full-on Cad program. It can do Cad, but that is not it's basic function. For Cad, there is a superb, free, full featured program, DraftSight, by Dassault Systemes, the maker of Solid Works.   

General Mach Discussion / Re: Need Digital Thermometer Support
« on: January 17, 2012, 02:10:25 PM »
Hello mblanken:

The temp sensing project you are planning is an interesting side trip from Mac3 machining. If you are not already familiar with the "Arduino", give it a look. It is a microprocessor board developed in Italy, with a very "user friendly" interface, which is a subset of the computer language "C+".

Many electronics suppliers make boards and components devoted to the Arduino platform. Modern Device.com, Sparkfun.com, Adafruit.com, and Solarbotics are among the more well known companies.

Also, Arduino has a large forum with projects similar to yours. However, you must be forwarned: such things can become addictive!

Mach3 also falls into that dangerous realm.

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