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machines which I have made, am making, or intend to make, and some other stuff. If you find this site interesting, please leave a comment.

Tag: CNC upgrade

Lathe Toolpost Milling attachment (CNC)

 

Although my recent posts indicate that I have spent  a fair amount of time recently on Google Earth Pro, I have also been busy in the workshop.  Mainly finishing the toolpost milling attachment for the Boxford CNC lathe, but also fiddling with the laser attachment for the CNC mill.  Neither of those projects is completely finished, but I thought that you might be interested in some progress photos.

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This is what the Boxford TCL125 CNC lathe now looks like from the front.  It is substantially modified from the original which I purchased 5 years ago.  To mention a few changes…..

the axis stepper motors are bigger and more powerful than the originals

the ball screws are now 10mm diameter, compared with the original 8mm

there are some adjustable axis limit switches

the 3 jaw chuck is replaced by an ER32 collet chuck

there is a removable toolpost milling attachment with ER 16 Collet chuck, with a speed controller, cables, and panic switch.

there is a removable safety screen (not seen in the photo)

And hidden in the electronics compartment….

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There is a 750 watt AC Servo spindle motor and controller (RHS, under the coiled cable)

The electronics have been replaced with a Mach3 compatible breakout board and associated peripherals.  Anyone with an original 1985 machine will hardly recognise these components.

And the software is now Mach3, running off an old Windows XP computer.  And using “Ezilathe” for most of the G coding, especially threading, and interpreting shapes which have been drawn as CAD dxf’s.

The new toolpost spindle works, but the software  needs a bit more fiddling to tie it into the CNC controls of the lathe.

The Boxford has provided an excellent base on which to make these changes, and I look forward to producing some videos soon of the renewed machine in action.

 

CNC Mill Upgrade – 7.

2 steps forward, 1 step back.   That’s what this project is experiencing.

The axis servo motors, their controllers and connections to power, breakout boards, and computer connections are complete, and all working.

An old laptop has found a use.  Installed Mach3, Vectric V-Carve Pro.   And the connections to the Smooth Stepper board.  Windows 10.   Deleted all non CNC related programs to gain space on the hard drive.

A problem with the main spindle.  It is essentially unchanged from the original.  Same motor (4kw/5hp 3 phase), same VSD, and same 3 phase power which is supplied through a phase changer, because the property has only 2 phases supplied.  When powered up, it worked, but the RPM’s could not be altered from a very slow rate.  The controlling voltage from the breakout board was not changing despite changing the inputs.  ? due to a problem with the settings, or a faulty BOB.  Didn’t seem serious.

So I was a bit surprised when later I switched on the mill, intending to change some settings, to hear 2 significant pops, and to smell that disgusting burnt electrical component smell, with smoke coming from the electrical enclosure.

Quickly shut everything down, and waited for the cavalry to arrive.

Stuart found that a 24v power supply had failed.  No big deal.  Not an expensive component.  Maybe got a short circuit from a bit of swarf?   But further inspection revealed that the VSD had also failed.  A capacitor and diode burnt out.  ? caused by a surge from the failing power supply? Repairable, but I decided to buy a new VSD.  The failed VSD is probably as old as the mill (24 years), so it had a pretty good run.  If the old VSD is repairable, it will serve as a spare.

Meanwhile, as a consequence, the main spindle is not working.  I have a list of jobs that I want to get into, particularly the steam pump for the vertical boiler.   So I will reattach the high speed spindle and use that.  It is 2.2kw, but uses high revs to develop power, so I will be limited to small end mills and drills, until the new components (VSD and power supply) arrive.  The high speed spindle is single phase, and the speed control is manually selected.   Not quite as convenient but useable for the time being.

While Stuart has his head buried in the electrical enclosure, I have been his gopher and TA.  But also fitting in a couple of other jobs which have been on the “to do” list for ages.  Like clearing out rubbish from the workshop, tidying up etc.

One task which has been vexing me, was to remove a sheet of flooring board which was under the Colchester lathe.  The sheet was originally placed under the lathe to protect the vinyl floor covering, but it was not a good decision.  As the flooring board became wet with cutting oil and coolant, it would swell and shrink, and I was aware that the lathe levels and settings were changing.  So I decided to remove the sheet of flooring, and let the lathe feet sit directly on steel pads on the vinyl/concrete floor.

But how to remove the sheet of flooring from underneath the almost 1 ton lathe?  The lathe was originally placed into its rather tight position with a forklift, which is no longer available.  The wooden sheet was the same size as the base of the lathe.

So I made these…

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The bolt adjusts the height of the jack.

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From a piece of scrap I-beam.

I used a crow bar to raise the corners of the lathe enough to place the jacks into position.  A bit of trial and error to get the heights correct.    When the lathe was about 25mm clear of the flooring, I pulled the sheet out.  Then used the crowbar to remove the jacks, and lower the lathe onto its base plates.

I will reset the lathe’s screw feet in the next day or 2, using a precision level and test cuts.  There was an excellent YouTube video by “This Old Tony” on the subject recently.

 

CNC Mill Upgrade – 6. Where to put the computer?

Not much more to report today, but I have decided how to position the computer.

Not easy, because the computer needs to be protected from flying swarf and coolant spray from the CNC mill and the manual mill which is immediately adjacent.    And I want the computer to be close to the machine.  The CNC mill is NOT in an enclosure.

So this is what I have decided….

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The laptop is just low enough to reach while standing.   The E stop and other buttons are underneath.

And if the swarf is really flying, I can turn the PC away…

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Might need some adjustments.  The laptop is an old Dell ATG.   Said to be resistant to fluids and relatively resistant to shock/vibration etc.   Military specs.   I might add some side protection and perhaps a roof.

 

 

CNC Mill Upgrade -2

The major components arrived this week, from China and USA.  Switches, and other components which go “ping” will be bought locally as required.  I am hoping that existing pulleys, belts, brackets will be adaptable.

The motors to drive the X, Y and Z axes are 1.2kW AC servo motors which can be connected to single or 3 phase power.  Each one weighs 6.7kg (14.7lb) .  From China, they are nicely finished.   Substantially shorter than the old servos which they are replacing and slightly larger diameter.  I am hoping that the slightly larger diameter will not cause major problems.

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AC servo.  There are 3 of these.  Kitchen knife to open the box and for scale.

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Old Y axis servo on the right, and the new AC servo left.

 

And each servo motor came with a controller and cables and connectors.

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And the electronics came from USA.

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C11 breakout board.

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C10 breakout boards x2

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And the Smooth stepper control board.  It is tiny, but the most expensive electronic component.

All up cost so far is ~$AUD2100, of which shipping is about 25%.

Next step is to swap over the servos.  The old shafts are 16mm and the new ones are 19mm.  I intend to machine the bores of the pulleys.  Hope there is enough meat  Tofu to allow that.

CNC Mill Upgrade

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

 

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