CNC Mill Upgrade

by John

I was not planning any more major projects for 2019, instead intending to finish the triple expansion engine, the beam engine, the vertical boiler, and the CNC rotary table.

But… my hand has been forced.

The Y axis on my CNC mill has been a bit unpredictable for some months, and on my return from UK, it has totally stopped working.  It seems to be the encoder on the Y axis servo.  I could just repair or replace the encoder, but after discussing the situation with my expert advisor Stuart, I have decided to replace all of the electronics in the mill.  New axis motors, new breakout board, new drivers etc.  It is a 1997 model, and this is the second electronic failure this year.  Plus, it is only a 2.5 axis mill.  It will move in only 2 directions per move….   XY or XZ or YZ,  never XYZ in a single move.   Plus I would like to add a rotary axis, making it a 4 axis machine.

The in built computer in the mill has a 7k memory.  That’s correct, 7000 bits.  I have an external computer linked to it, which makes it a bit more useful, but the Fagor controller is clunky and idiosyncratic, and I would like to switch to Mach 3.

So, I will document the upgrade as it happens.  The mill is a good solid machine, with big ball screws, and 1000mm of x travel, 450mm Z and 450mm Y.  It is worth spending some money on it.  There are a lot of big, old, CNC machines with obsolete electronics out there for sale.  It will be a project which might just be worth watching.

Showing the handwheels for XYZ axis movements, including the broken X axis handwheel