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setting up a 5th axis
« on: June 05, 2009, 10:46:35 PM »
Introductions are first I suppose, hello my name is Jesse and have been a Mach user for about 3 years.

I currently have a Townlabs 4th axis machine running in Mach2. Uncrated machine, plugged it in and made a simple Gcode that I made long time ago for one part and have run it since with no changes.

Now I want to get a second machine and have some fun. The Townlabs is perfect for what I use it for, but won't be accurate enough for my new needs.

So... looking at a Syil X4 with 4th axis. My issue is I'll need a 5th axis, gantry style I think it's called for cutting and probing.


How do I drive the 5th axis? Do I have to buy a seperate controller for just that stepper? If so do I need 2 parallel ports on my computer?

The Probe wizard on Mach3, does it only support 4 axis?


Offline simpson36

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Re: setting up a 5th axis
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2009, 04:54:40 AM »
Mach has three additional axis, so that should not be a problem.

More than likely you will need a second parallel port to run 5 axis, but that's easy to accomplish.

You will need an appropriate drive for whatever motor you plan to use unless the machine has a drive that can handle multiple motors and it still has a spot open.

A 5th axis can be a lot of different things. Can you describe further exatly what yuor 5th axis is? 'Gantry' is not making sense to me relative to a mill.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2009, 05:00:05 AM by simpson36 »

Offline poppabear

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Re: setting up a 5th axis
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2009, 09:34:49 AM »
I suspect you mean your 4/5th is on the spindle head, if that is so, All of your G code would have to be done in your CAM that can post for this type of set up. Currently Mach3 doesnt have "Axis Transforms"/Kinematics, so that processing has to be done in your CAM. Most of those are expensive.

if you go with a trunion type 4/5th, you can bring down the cost of your CAM alot, but it is still not cheap.

Commercial Mach3 & Mach 4, Design/Build/Retrofit CNC and Industrial machines.


Re: setting up a 5th axis
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2009, 09:58:24 AM »
YEP what scott said AND if you are trying to do 5 axis probing the kinematics ARE required to translate the coord values back to a 3d world.

Just a thought, (;-) TP

Offline simpson36

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Re: setting up a 5th axis
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2009, 11:37:43 AM »
I didn't think the X4 had an option for a 5th axis on the head.

If that's correct, then the OP must have something else in mind. 
Re: setting up a 5th axis
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2009, 02:53:55 PM »
This is what I'm looking to do


A driver is what controls the steppers/servos correct? Since X4 only supports 4 stepper motors, what would you reccomend for the 5th driver?

This will be for cutting aluminum.

As far as a 5th axis software... my plan was to probe in 4axis certain areas, save code, move 5th axis, probe certain area again.

Then string together the gcode of the area's, type in my 5th axis movement between saved probe moves/data... then it will be all one continuous cycle.

Does that make sense?

Let's say I wanted to probe and cut in a true 5 axis. What software would you recommend?
« Last Edit: June 06, 2009, 02:59:15 PM by jonny quest »


Re: setting up a 5th axis
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2009, 09:28:21 AM »
OK i'll take a stab at this.


 First Mach can only probe in xyza. these axis are all it can record data for when probing and creating a points file. SO it can do that part quite well. BUT there is no way to get the 5th axis data into the file in the correct perspective as MACH does NOT do kenimatics that allow MACH to know WHERE the 4th or 5th is in relation to the other 3.

SO can you do 4 then rotate then 4 again. I don't think so as soon as you MOVED the 5th mach would be lost in regards  to where the others actually are. I believe I was one of the early ones to actually USE the 4th axis data in probing. AND even then it was for very specifc cases (camshaft Grinding, CNC head porting) Remember there are no kenimatics so MACH really doesn't know where the probe tip actually is it just records the data points to be used by other software designed to calculate it in the conversion process. OR to use the data ONLY as an indexer in the 4th plane. even then you have to be very selective on how you use it

COULD it be done MAYBE but not in the conventional sense. You would have to write a plugin to allow Mach to probe and generate points in 5 axis. THat would also require you to generate the correct kenimatics MATH for mach to use with the 4th and  5th axis so it would KNOW where the probe tip is located in 3d space. THat requires it to know the offset from the xyz axis centerlines and the rotated angle AT ALL TIMES and use that info to genrate the  points.

Next you would need software that can take a 5 axis points cloud and work with it to genrate a shape file.  I don't know of any at this level. They are out there BUT I believe very expensive. Then you would need a 5 axis CAM program to generate the 5 axis cutting program. Very expensive

THEN you will be able to cut a part in 5 axis.

Hope that helps, (;-) TP
« Last Edit: June 07, 2009, 09:47:22 AM by vmax549 »
Re: setting up a 5th axis
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2009, 02:58:13 PM »
vmax,  that's exactly what i'm going to use it for... cnc porting...and possibly cam grinding.

Are you located in the states?

I am aware of the software limitations... but don't know until you try.. so I'm going to go for it and see what happens. I know Rhino has a 5 axis for $4k (can't afford that plus machine). But Rhino is just the post processor I believe, and a drawing program. I've read that instead of saving the probe data as a point cloud, you can save it as XYZA code.

At this time it's just a reverse engineered shape, not a way to manipulate a drawing

I'm going to make some calls Monday.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2009, 03:03:07 PM by jonny quest »


Re: setting up a 5th axis
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2009, 05:42:58 PM »
I'll give you a tip. The grinding is a piece of cake no problems using the 4th axis to rotate and the Z gather data. AS the 4th is just used to rotate the part(index to each test point. YOu also USE the 4th to probe into each home position so the cam is located correctly to start

The porting is a little more complicated but can be done BUT it is not as fast as a conventional 5 axis cutting. YOu basically use the 4th and 5th as an indexer to place the part into position to cut the spaces. 

Super secret tip, doing it the way you have to, PROBE with the SAME SIZE AND SHAPE tip as you are going to cut with. That way, how you probe is how you will cut. I created a special probing routine called a G31 ARRAY that will probe slices of the port. then you can move down a touch and probe again colectively you probe down as far as you can then index to another postion and do it again until you run out of area to probe.
 It can be made to cut the port just fine.  THe quailty out will depend on the quality in(probing resolution) Also it is really only good for finish cutting as the roughing cycles will have to worked out based on the actual needs(;-)

YOU would not be working on gokart engines would you (;-) Just about the right size of machine to do the job.

(;-) TP

YEP located in the STATES, Florida to be exact. Let me know if you get started I can save you some time.
Re: setting up a 5th axis
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2009, 08:54:27 PM »
No go kart's, mx only so no worries!

I already have a probe tip and cutters made exact same size. I knew I was on the right track, I appreciate the tips.

Is there a PM function on this site.. we may be able to help each other out... shoot me your phone number.