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Taking the CNC Plunge

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TomS

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Everything seems to be working OK now. The limit switches were driving me up the wall so I checked all my wire connections and they were good, or so I thought. Had continuity from the limit switches thru to the two wires that connect to the BoB. So rather than fight it I wired each switch individually to the BoB and now I can reset. Evidently the problem was in my wiring the switches in series.

Now that all these bugs have been worked out I was able to set my limits and run G-code. And wouldn't you know it I was about five minutes into running G-code and my laptop power supply died. Jeez will it ever end? Luckily I had a spare power supply so it's not slowing me down.

Next steps are cleaning up the wiring, building a riser for my monitor, and making an enclosure. I'm not using flood coolant but want to contain the chips.

Tom S
 

TomS

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Everything seems to be working OK now. The limit switches were driving me up the wall so I checked all my wire connections and they were good, or so I thought. Had continuity from the limit switches thru to the two wires that connect to the BoB. So rather than fight it I wired each switch individually to the BoB and now I can reset. Evidently the problem was in my wiring the switches in series.

Now that all these bugs have been worked out I was able to set my limits and run G-code. And wouldn't you know it I was about five minutes into running G-code and my laptop power supply died. Jeez will it ever end? Luckily I had a spare power supply so it's not slowing me down.

Next steps are cleaning up the wiring, building a riser for my monitor, and making an enclosure. I'm not using flood coolant but want to contain the chips.

Tom S
Forgot to mention that the new USB hub cured the problems I was having with the SSR and the UC100 error messages. All is good.

Tom S
 

TomS

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Wiring is finished and I was able to "play" with Mach 3 for a couple of hours today. What I noticed is the jog directions for the up/down and left/right keyboard buttons do not match the movement directions of the control buttons fly-out X and Y buttons. Z axis is no problem. Both sets of buttons move the axis in the same direction. I've gone into limit/home switches on the config menu and checked reverse. This works but it reverses the direction for the hot keys and the flyout keys. I also tried key emulation on the input pin screen but that didn't change anything. Looked through the Mach Support forum but couldn't find anything related to the situation I have. From a safety perspective I'd like to have continuity between the two jog options.

Thanks,

Tom S
 

JimDawson

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No, the hot keys are set under Config, System Hotkeys in the main menu bar.
 

TomS

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Got it. I'll try this in the morning.

Thanks
Jim - made the changes and both the keyboard keys and flyout buttons are now in sync. Thanks. Next on the agenda is checking movement accuracy as I changed the kernel speed from 25k to 100k. Not sure what I'm going to see but I'm learning.
 

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Happy to hear that worked. Now comes the real fun, calibrating and tuning the motors.:)
 

TomS

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I consider myself somewhat computer savvy and of average intelligence but I've had no luck with Mach 3 motor calibration. . This is my procedure and dilemma. My X and Y axis drives are set for 1000 micro steps, have 5 pitch ball screws and are direct drive. Went to motor tuning in the config menu and input 5000 in the Steps Per box and saved the axis setting. I set up a 123 block square to the table and zeroed my DTI to the 123 block after removing backlash. Went to the Settings tab and clicked on Set Steps Per Unit, selected Axis Section and clicked on X. Input 3 in the distance to move dialogue box and clicked OK. The table moved about 3". Using another 123 block I slipped it in between the 123 block clamped to the table and my DTI. My DTI is .030" travel and evidently the table moved less than 3" because I maxed out the DTI travel. My guess was that the table moved about 2.970" so I entered that in the dialogue box. I accepted the number in the Steps per Unit box. My logic is I could run this exercise again and get closer with each successive run. Not so. Each time I ran it I am getting further away from my 3" calibration mark.

I know there are literally thousands, if not tens of thousands, of copies of Mach 3 in use so I can't blame the software. What am I doing wrong? If you need additional information I'll gladly provide it. This can't be as hard as I'm making it.

Thanks for your help.

Tom S
 

jbolt

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You have 5mm pitch ball screws so you initial setting should be 5080. 25.4/5 = 5.08*1000 = 5080.
 

TomS

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You have 5mm pitch ball screws so you initial setting should be 5080. 25.4/5 = 5.08*1000 = 5080.
Thanks Jay. I had it etched into my brain that my ball screws were 5 pitch, not 5mm pitch. I will input 5080 into the Steps Per box then fine tune, if necessary, using the Set Steps Per Unit feature on the Settings page.

For info I played with the velocity and acceleration slide bars and have a feel for where I need to be.

Tom S
 

TomS

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Thanks Jay. I had it etched into my brain that my ball screws were 5 pitch, not 5mm pitch. I will input 5080 into the Steps Per box then fine tune, if necessary, using the Set Steps Per Unit feature on the Settings page.

For info I played with the velocity and acceleration slide bars and have a feel for where I need to be.

Tom S
Your number worked great! The X axis was within .0015" of my target and the Y axis was within .0005". I fine tuned the X axis and it is now spot on. Tomorrow I'll work on the Z axis. I'm slowly moving forward but slow progress is still progress.

Tom S.
 

jbolt

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Fantastic! You are getting close to making chip!

I was super cautions when I ran my first parts. The first thing I did was run a text program with a Sharpie held in a collet. When that went well I did a couple parts in acrylic. That really helped in gaining confidence with the machine and software.

When you get into metals I highly recommend G-Wizard for calculating speeds and feeds. CNC machining can be way different from manual machining.

Oh and be sure to post some pictures!

Jay
 

TomS

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Fantastic! You are getting close to making chip!

I was super cautions when I ran my first parts. The first thing I did was run a text program with a Sharpie held in a collet. When that went well I did a couple parts in acrylic. That really helped in gaining confidence with the machine and software.

When you get into metals I highly recommend G-Wizard for calculating speeds and feeds. CNC machining can be way different from manual machining.

Oh and be sure to post some pictures!

Jay
Got the Z axis calibrated today and set velocity and acceleration. All three axis' are set at 180 ipm and acceleration at 18. The motors run smooth and reasonably quiet. These settings will change but I wanted to see what the motors were capable of. I checked backlash and was quite surprised to find X and Y with less than .001". I'm sure these numbers will change after I have a few hours of run time on the machine. Z is another story as I have about .018" of backlash. I wasn't expecting it to be as good as X and Y but .018" is excessive. I'll look into it but I'm certain the contributing source is between the ball nut housing and the sleeve that connects to the headstock base casting. I need to make this as one piece. If I can get less than .007" I'll be happy.

Next steps are to make guards to keep chips out of the motor couplings and an enclosure. And of course play with the machine.

Tom S
 

TomS

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I was going to play with my mill today using a felt tip marker to test my programming but had a glitch with my D2NC software and will have to reload it. That pesky UC100 Did Not Respond message reared it's ugly head again but I think it was nothing more than a startup glitch. Restarted the computer and all is well again. I did get all of the motor, limit switch and power cables organized and up off the floor and I made a couple of chip guards for X and Y axis couplings. And fine tuned the Ultron quick change tool holder system. Now I can start on the enclosure.

20150516_094323_resized.jpg

20150516_094353_resized.jpg
 

TomS

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After reloading the D2NC software I'm still having the same problem. What's interesting is I have a duplicate copy of D2NC loaded on my other laptop and loading the same .dxf file it works fine. This leads me to believe the process I'm using is correct.

Here's what I'm doing. I'm opening D2NC from within Mach 3 and selecting my .dxf file. I select the origin then click the Offset button. I'm doing an internal hole so I click on the circle in the drawing section, select In/Right, input the tool diameter and click Offset. So far good. Next I click on the Path button, again select the circle in the drawing section, and click Contour. The Contour screen appears and I select Local Shape and then None. I select the circle in the drawing section then press the Move Current Selection to Local Shape button. When I do this the Close, Add Only and Add and Close buttons at the bottom of the screen disappear. I've moved the cursor around to see if the function is still available. No luck. My questions are:

Is it a D2NC issue?

Is it a Mach 3 issue?

Is it me?

I'd like to get my machine running but these hardware and software problems are keeping me from doing so.

Tom S.
 

jbolt

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Have you tried running D2NC outside of Mach3 on the same computer?

Nice work on the Ultron adapter! I never heard of that system. I will look forward to hear how it works out.

Jay
 

TomS

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Have you tried running D2NC outside of Mach3 on the same computer?

Nice work on the Ultron adapter! I never heard of that system. I will look forward to hear how it works out.

Jay
Just solved the D2NC problem. It was a screen resolution problem. Changed the text size to medium from large and dropped the resolution one setting below max. Now I can play with Mach 3!

I picked up the Ultron system for a song from a local machinist that didn't want to spend the time and money to set it up. Parts from the manufacturer are not cheap. This system is made for a Bridgeport style mill so I had to make the plate and riser to adapt it.
 

TomS

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I noticed a growing oil puddle under my mill so I decided to find the source. Checking all of my one-shot lube fittings everything seemed good, no leaks. I pumped up the system and it became evident that there was an excessive amount of oil flowing out of the ball nuts. So what to do? I looked on-line at Bijur restrictors. Not wanting to wait or pay the steep price I decided to make my own. I had a piece of 3/8" round aluminum in my scrap bin that would work. I turned the OD to .175" which is a snug slip fit in 1/4" Tygon tubing. Then I drilled a 1/16" hole 1/4" deep then followed with a 1/32" drill another 1/8". Parted the piece off at 3/8" long. My drill chucks won't hold a drill smaller than 1/32" so that's how I ended up using that size. No high tech engineering analysis necessary. Put the restrictors in the X, Y and Z axis feed lines and reconnected everything. Pumped up the lube system and noticed a significant reduction in excess oil running out of the ball nuts. This mod should at least make less of an oil mess and force more oil to the ways instead of the floor.

Here's a picture of two restrictors. The Z is already installed.

Ball Nut Restrictors.jpg
 

TomS

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Been playing with Mach 3 and learning how and why it works the way it does. All good stuff and enjoying the learning experience. What I don't understand is I set the Distance Mode and IJ Mode to Absolute and do the same in D2NC. Mach 3 starts OK and randomly the Normal/Abnormal Condition button starts blinking. I can correct this by manually changing the IJ Mode setting but am curious why this is happening. Any suggestions?

Thanks,

Tom S
 

TomS

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As time allows I've been working on setting up my home switches. It has been a bit frustrating because I am not able to zero the machine coordinate DRO and lock in the machine home position. I've got the X, Y and Z axis home switches enabled and the limit switches disabled on the Input Signals
screen (also tried it with the limits enabled). On the Motor Limit/Home screen X axis Soft Max is 20 and Soft Min is 0, the Y axis Soft Max is 7 and Soft Min is 0, and on the Z axis the Soft Max is 0 and the Soft Min is -15. Slow zone for the three axis is 1.00 and Auto Zero is checked for each axis. Each axis is jogged onto their respective home switch until the M1, M2 and M3 home switch indicator lights up. When I press the Ref All Home button the machine blasts right through the home switch and keeps on going.

I've spent a lot of time searching the internet on how to set the home position for each axis and have found an overwhelming amount of information on the subject. After several hours of experimenting I haven't been able to successfully lock in the home settings home my machine. I have to believe I'm missing a critical step but don't know what it is. I could forget about using home switches but my goal is to learn as much as I can about Mach 3 so that when future problems come up I'll be able diagnose them. Not there yet.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Tom S
 

jbolt

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As time allows I've been working on setting up my home switches. It has been a bit frustrating because I am not able to zero the machine coordinate DRO and lock in the machine home position. I've got the X, Y and Z axis home switches enabled and the limit switches disabled on the Input Signals
screen (also tried it with the limits enabled). On the Motor Limit/Home screen X axis Soft Max is 20 and Soft Min is 0, the Y axis Soft Max is 7 and Soft Min is 0, and on the Z axis the Soft Max is 0 and the Soft Min is -15. Slow zone for the three axis is 1.00 and Auto Zero is checked for each axis. Each axis is jogged onto their respective home switch until the M1, M2 and M3 home switch indicator lights up. When I press the Ref All Home button the machine blasts right through the home switch and keeps on going.

I've spent a lot of time searching the internet on how to set the home position for each axis and have found an overwhelming amount of information on the subject. After several hours of experimenting I haven't been able to successfully lock in the home settings home my machine. I have to believe I'm missing a critical step but don't know what it is. I could forget about using home switches but my goal is to learn as much as I can about Mach 3 so that when future problems come up I'll be able diagnose them. Not there yet.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Tom S
Not sure about your D2NC issue. I have the program and have used it in the past with no issues but do not use it now.

I don't recall how you have your home/limits setup but here are screen shots of my settings. I use a single switch for each axis for home and limits. My home position is left rear. Gen Config.gif home limit screen.gif soft limits.gif
 

TomS

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Not sure about your D2NC issue. I have the program and have used it in the past with no issues but do not use it now.

I don't recall how you have your home/limits setup but here are screen shots of my settings. I use a single switch for each axis for home and limits. My home position is left rear. View attachment 104624 View attachment 104625 View attachment 104626
Turned out my D2NC issue was a screen resolution setting. Changed the resolution and problem cured.

My switches are the same as yours; one limit/home switch for each axis. Looking at the screen shots your ports and pins and home/soft limits are similar to my settings. I'll have to compare your general logic configuration screen to mine and see what differences there may be. I'm going to adjust my settings to exactly as yours and see what happens. If it works for you it should work for me.

If I understand the process correctly, and the settings are right, Mach 3 recognizes each axis home position once the switch is activated when you ref all home or ref each axis on the diagnostics screen. Have I got this right? How do you reset the machine coordinate DRO to zero's? I'm getting this sloooowly!

Tom S
 

jbolt

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If I understand the process correctly, and the settings are right, Mach 3 recognizes each axis home position once the switch is activated when you ref all home or ref each axis on the diagnostics screen. Have I got this right? How do you reset the machine coordinate DRO to zero's? I'm getting this sloooowly!

Tom S
Mach3 only recognizes the home position when asked to reference home otherwise it treats the switch as a limit. It will home the Z, then Y Then X one at a time in that order.

In the Home/Limit settings check the auto zero for the Machine coordinates to auto zero on home.

Mach3 by default does not display the machine coordinates on startup, it displays the current offset coordinates, you have to hit the toggle button to see them.
 

TomS

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Mach3 only recognizes the home position when asked to reference home otherwise it treats the switch as a limit. It will home the Z, then Y Then X one at a time in that order.

In the Home/Limit settings check the auto zero for the Machine coordinates to auto zero on home.

Mach3 by default does not display the machine coordinates on startup, it displays the current offset coordinates, you have to hit the toggle button to see them.
Thanks for the clarification. I'll set up my machine like yours and report back.
 

TomS

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Thanks for the clarification. I'll set up my machine like yours and report back.
Well that didn't work! When homing the machine still travels past the switch and keeps going. If I don't press stop or activate the e-stop the machine will run out of travel and crash.

I set my general logic configuration exactly like yours. The motor/home screen is just like yours with numbers in the soft max column and zeros in the soft min column. Auto zero is checked for each axis. On the input signals screen all of the X, Y and Z ++, --, and home signals are enabled, all assigned to port #1, pin numbers are set like yours and confirmed on the diagnostics screen. If I check the active low buttons and push the ref all button or the individual axis ref button on the diagnostic screen I get the "requested home switch is active" error message.

Literally I've read hours of forum threads and it appears I'm executing the homing sequence correctly. I'm almost at the point where I'm going to disable homing and play with making chips.

Tom S
 

jbolt

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Well that didn't work! When homing the machine still travels past the switch and keeps going. If I don't press stop or activate the e-stop the machine will run out of travel and crash.

I set my general logic configuration exactly like yours. The motor/home screen is just like yours with numbers in the soft max column and zeros in the soft min column. Auto zero is checked for each axis. On the input signals screen all of the X, Y and Z ++, --, and home signals are enabled, all assigned to port #1, pin numbers are set like yours and confirmed on the diagnostics screen. If I check the active low buttons and push the ref all button or the individual axis ref button on the diagnostic screen I get the "requested home switch is active" error message.

Literally I've read hours of forum threads and it appears I'm executing the homing sequence correctly. I'm almost at the point where I'm going to disable homing and play with making chips.

Tom S
Bummer!

Do the switches trigger on a limit?

Can you post your screen shots of the config and diagnostic screens?
 

TomS

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Bummer!

Do the switches trigger on a limit?

Can you post your screen shots of the config and diagnostic screens?
Yes, the switches trigger on limit. It's safe to run the machine but I'd still like to figure out this homing problem.

Here's my diagnostics screen. When I manually trip the limit switches the ++, --, and home indicators light up.
Diagnostics Screen Shot 5-28-2015.jpg

This how I set up the input signals. Z home settings are the same as Z++ and Z--. I tried enabling active low but when I pressed the ref all button or the individual axis ref button on the diagnostic screen I get a "requested home switch is active" error message. I unchecked them and the error message went away.
Input Signals Screen Shot 5-28-2015.jpg

On this screen I had the Z soft max set at -15.00 when I tested it this morning. Trying different settings I changed it to what you see here.
Motor Home-Soft Limits Screen Shot 5-28-2015.jpg

This is my general logic config screen. Same as yours.
General Logic Config Screen Shot 5-28-2015.jpg
 
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