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20 yr old cnc control needs replacement, and i need help.
« on: April 11, 2012, 09:53:58 PM »
i have this mill: http://www.cncauto.com/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=M3X-5V

mine is 20 hrs old, because the control software is dos based, and because the motion control card fits in a slot only found on gen 1 pentium boards and back, i am stuck with this old school technology.  motherboards and hard drives are getting hard to find, are always used, and to compound things, the fellow who builds these machines is not helpful at all, he has told me just replace everything from the ballscrew pulleys on back.  i have no diagrams or schematics of any kind, and none will be coming.

i have looked at Machmotions teco refurb kit that would replace everything electronic and electric, im impressed with what i see, but its just short of $6000.

as best i can tell, my servo motors are from indiana general, dc brush, with sealed can type (optical?) encoders. my servo amps are westamp.  my motion control board has no name on it, but my software refers to it as the MP 04 board. i will guess since it is the board requiring the old vintage slot, it will not be reused in getting my machine running again.

so i have a nice mill here, bunches of relays in the cabinet likely controlling the vfd, mist, oiler, etc.  good servo motors and encoders.  a servo amp with 3 drive boards, a big power supply, and a dead dos computer and a few hard drives definitely showing their age.

i dont think i want to repair this system as is, i think i want to move into more modern times, run mach3 with a new computer, but retain the servo amp, motors and encoders.  when/if the old amp, motors fail, i will incorporate new hardware.

i am just able to do basic wiring with a little help.  i am not an electronics guy at all.  i do want to do as much of this as i can myself, so i the end i will gain some knowledge of my system, and be able to troubleshoot and repair, at least at a basic level.

i hope you all will give me a lot of input in where i need to go from here and how to get started, and i thank you for your help and patience in advance.

Ken



Offline BR549

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Re: 20 yr old cnc control needs replacement, and i need help.
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2012, 11:01:24 PM »
Just for the record they STILL make "new" ISA motherboards(;-).

To do the analog conversion by the time you are done converting everything you will have a pretty good chunk of change in the conversion. AND a lot of time. AND it may or may not do everything it did before you converted it.

IF all it took to keep the machine running was a new MB and hardrives THAT is cheap.



Just a thought, (;-)TP
« Last Edit: April 11, 2012, 11:04:28 PM by BR549 »
Re: 20 yr old cnc control needs replacement, and i need help.
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2012, 06:52:44 PM »
thanks fro the input TP.  there is a competent fellow helping me with the old 486, it just seems everytime we make a step forward something else pops up.  i have done a little looking via google for the new isa boards you mentioned, found some in the $250-$300 range, if i was sure that would be the cure i would buy two just to have a spare.  i believe the dos 6.22 constraint for hard drives is 2gb, id gladly buy a couple new hard drives and do a < 2gb partition, rather than fooling with old finicky ones.

im not sure of your statement "may not do everything....", the software the cncauto people use in my machine is pretty basic, runs fanuc gcode, has a few conversational helpers for pockets, bolt circles etc, from my looking at mach3 a bit, if anything mach3 looks more capable, and has a nicer interface, better graphics, and links to the motor and machine setup that are not available now in my current software.  i do need a bunch of help getting set up, but i hope to be a lot more knowledgeable about my machine after going thru the setup process.  i am flying a little blind now, i am hoping to get some guidance here, im a machinist not a technician.  when it comes to saving a little money by buying the smaller less complicated breakout board, etc, etc. that is not an issue, i will buy what is needed.  if i get the feel here that the Machmotion complete kit is the way to go, i will do it.  id just like to get some opinions first, of course id rather spend $2000 to get going rather than $6000.  if i need to pay someone for help, its not a problem, or to offer machining time on the machines once i am back running.

and yes i said machines.  my 20 year old nardini fasttrace lathe has also been cranky for a while.  and with fanucs out of sight pricing for parts and technical help, that control is likely being replaced with the lathe version of whatever i come up with on the mill, to keep them both the same, to make parts and working on them as identical as possible.  i made my living in my garage for 12 years with these machines.  i had to take a real job in a shop 2 years ago when the economy went to sh**.  nice having insurance, other bennies again, but i will retire from there in 5 years.  i need my garage shop in good shape again for that day.

so thanks TP, everybody chime in please!
Re: 20 yr old cnc control needs replacement, and i need help.
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2012, 09:49:36 PM »
i have completed 3 retrofits. 1 sajo vf54nc 1 bridgeport r2e4, and a hardinge chnc4. also built a plasma cnc. it is not that difficult. but it takes time. planning how to tackle the project.layout of the control cabinet. and chasing down all those electrical gremlins.   trying to do a retrofit on the cheap will give you grief. old wiring that  you think appear ok will have an intermittent break or oil has broken down the insulation.if the drives are analog i would replace with larken vipers or granite.gecko 320x might do.

Offline BR549

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Re: 20 yr old cnc control needs replacement, and i need help.
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2012, 10:42:17 PM »
Metcutr it will depend on your depth of machining experience as to IF the Mach3 will do the job. There are things that MAch3 does not do well as compared to fanuc based machines.

Nested subs have problems
Toolcomp and subs have problems
There is NO conditional code in mach3
Good macro control is borderline
Some things are strange (Pause/stop)compared to the fanuc type controls.
restarts can be tricky

Now if you are using CAM and not doing alot of special coding then code wise you should be ok.

Converting from your old analog drives you will have to run one of the outside controllers to be able to interface the analog drives they are NOT cheap and can add other things that may not work as expected. This is not allways an easything to do IF you are not electronic savy so to speak.

Not really knocking mach3 as it is a very good hobby controller BUT in the comercial world it HAS its limitations.

NOW you have had the $20 lecture if you are adventurous and have the time and $$$$  go for it.

(;-) TP

Re: 20 yr old cnc control needs replacement, and i need help.
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2012, 06:34:58 AM »
thanks to both of you for your comments.  the only things that would trouble me about Mach3 are the pause/stop issue and the restart issue, i would like to hear more about that.  but with my very limited electronic experience i am getting the impression that the Machmotion kit may be my best option.  how about a word or two about running a servo system that is not closed loop, as the Machmotion system is not (i believe).

thanks all!!
Re: 20 yr old cnc control needs replacement, and i need help.
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2012, 01:08:02 PM »
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.
Re: 20 yr old cnc control needs replacement, and i need help.
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2012, 09:41:04 AM »
thanks again for the reply.  ive looked at the Machmotion stuff a lot, i believe the all the mill controls are just step-direction, and only the lathe servo controls use the interpreter 1000 (where the dspmc is likely contained?), which would make it closed loop?  of course as someone new to this i could be wrong.  i have to wait for uncle sam to send my tax refund then i think i will give Machmotion a call.  i guess i will try to sell my analog stuff as a lot 1st there may be someone interested, if not, off to ebay pc by pc.  once i have the mill running i will likely repeat this whole process with the nardini lathe and the fanuc 20t.  if there are any more comments of course id love to hear them, and thanks to all!

Offline BR549

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Re: 20 yr old cnc control needs replacement, and i need help.
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2012, 11:22:57 AM »
ALL servos are closed loop or else they could not work. It does not matter where you close the loop(;-) . The reason Some controllers close the loop at the controller is to allow it to be used with the DUMB analog drives that cannot close the loop inside the drive itself.

(;-) TP
« Last Edit: April 15, 2012, 11:25:45 AM by BR549 »
Re: 20 yr old cnc control needs replacement, and i need help.
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2012, 10:32:05 PM »
i really appreciate all the input, please keep it coming if you have the time!  ive made some assumptions about closed and open loop, which are incorrect i guess.  all based on looking at various folks advertising, their faqs, etc, i had assumed servos could be run either way, but closed would be better, and that steppers would  be open loop.  my main worry was that unless the loop was "closed" servos could "lose" steps and cause dimensions (and relative position of the machine) to be lost as i guess steppers can if they are undersized?  a few of the stepper based systems i have seen appear to be robust enough to run my machines, bu these fears had kept me from considering them.  they are certainly less $$.  not sure i could deal with all the funny noises they make and i have not seen them anywhere in my years in the industry. once again i am assuming, but it looks like for the small difference in $$ servos are the way to go?  i think i am correct in seeing Machmotion only uses the interpreter 1000 on their lathe servo controls, why the difference from their stepper kit?  bear with me folks, i am getting a little smarter about this, and you guys are helping.