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A very, very general question
« on: October 29, 2018, 09:11:59 PM »
Hello all!

Long time lurker and Mach user here.

I am a full time machinist, and am looking to start a small moonlighting shop of my own.

I have implemented Mach 3 on maybe a dozen machines or so over the years. I understand the setups and tunings of the control program, so I am not too concerned about that. I am sure there are some learning curves from 3 to 4, but I am confident I can work through that.

I would really like to purchase a donor machine with a side-mount tool changer, or swing arm, random, whatever you would like to call it. I am concerned with the intricacy of making this work. My skills in LUA, Ladder Logic, Modbus, is.... well it has been a long time, so for all intents and purposes I would say that I need to learn from scratch. The intricacy of making a tool changer function properly is usually worse than setting up the control, and with random pockets can be even worse.

So with this in mind, how big of an undertaking would it be to set up a side-mount tool changer? I am willing to put in the time to learn and work through it, but I also dont want it to take 9 months of investment to get it to work just because I wanted to have a side-mount instead of a carousel. Is this too big of a bite for someone that is not currently fluent with these languages? I am assuming that this would need to be controlled with an external PLC, or are there some hidden windows from within Mach4 that make this easier than I can see? I would really like a side-mount, and much prefer the versatility of Mach as compared to something like Centroid that have more built-in things to help with a random pocket tool changer.

Am I going to end up with a ton of iron collecting dust, with a manual tool change?

Thanks for your time / input.


Re: A very, very general question
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2018, 05:59:19 AM »
Hi Seelesturm,
If  you are willing to do most of the leg work and learn how to do it, there are a lot of people on the forum who are willing to help.
Your motion control option will determine if you can do it without a PLC.
Something like the the DSPMC will have lots of I/O (96) and will drive analog servos if the machine comes with them.
If you use one of the motion control boards that have more limited I/O, the a separate PLC would make a lot of sense.

If Lua programming is not yet in your wheel house, the the built in PMC could be an option if you are familiar with PLC programing or ladder logic.

Go with Mach4 and never look back.


P.S. Since I know PLC ladder logic programing, the PMC allowed me to get my control panel up and running in a few hours, instead of the weeks it would have taken me to learn LUA.
We never have the time or money to do it right the first time, but we somehow manage to do it twice and then spend the money to get it right.
Re: A very, very general question
« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2018, 09:14:15 AM »
Hey Seelsturm,
We have an old Hurco here at the shop.  It has a SMTC and was not too difficult to get working.
We are using the HiCON Integra from Vital Systems for our motion controller but I also put a CLICK PLC from Automation Direct on the machine as well.
The PLC controls the tool change with ease.
Steve pointed me in the right direction when we got this machine going.  Since tool positions are random in the carousel, Mach4 has a place in the Tool Table to keep track of this position.  That way you don't have to set up some weird way to keep track of this, it can be done right in the tool table.
All we do is send a signal to our PLC to start the tool change and send a signal back to Mach4 when it is complete; Mach4 will then handle the organizing of the tool table; Set the current tool and tell the previous tool what pocket it is now in.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Bj_U1tUhTo
« Last Edit: October 30, 2018, 09:16:03 AM by Cbyrdtopper »
Chad Byrd
Re: A very, very general question
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2018, 07:58:30 PM »
Thanks for the input.

It gives me a bit more confidence that it wouldnt be a huge venture into the dark.

It has been a very long time since I have done ladder logic / PLC programming, but I have also seen how amazing the Click PLCs can be without the massive paywall barriers like an AB or Siemens. I am going to need to find some YouTube videos and brush up on things before I take the dive in. I havent looked into the DSPMC hardware at all, I will do some research.

Thanks!
Re: A very, very general question
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2018, 08:00:55 PM »
+1 on the click PLC. I have one here for a future project.

Mike
We never have the time or money to do it right the first time, but we somehow manage to do it twice and then spend the money to get it right.
Re: A very, very general question
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2018, 09:57:22 PM »
The first time I used a PLC was on this Hurco.  If you have any knowledge of Ladder Logic, you'll do jut fine.
The Click is hard to beat; great functionality at a low cost!
Chad Byrd
Re: A very, very general question
« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2018, 01:12:46 PM »
I have used a Click twice but won’t anymore. We use a Do-More instead.  The instruction set in the Click is extremely limited and the Do-More costs a little more. However unless you are building lots of identical machines where the PLC cost is more important than programming cost the Do-More saves a lot on the programming side. You can even drive a stepper or servo from the Do-More or use an encoder to position tools and keep track of which tool you are on much easier than with the Click.
Re: A very, very general question
« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2018, 01:52:24 PM »
The BRX PLC uses the Do-More software.  I've used it on a Lathe, it is an excellent PLC; but it is over featured (IMHO) for what we do with them. 

The Click worked great on the Hurco and I've already got one installed in an old Milltronics that we are currently retrofitting.

But, the Do-More software is pretty powerful, it did save a few rungs in our ladder for making flashing outputs.
Chad Byrd