"One Perfect Part at a Time"


Taig 4th Axis Operational

I have it fully wired and working. I didn’t make finishing this project a high priority because I really don’t have anything to make on the 4th axis. I have lots of ideas but nothing designed.

The work on getting the SmoothStepper installed kind of kicked my butt and said, “What are you waiting on?” I didn’t have a real good answer for myself. I knew there wasn’t much more work. All I had to finish was the wiring.

Then I had to find the piece of paper on how to set up the controller for the correct current for the new stepper motor. I think I spent as much time searching for the document as wiring up the cable.

The final step was to research MACH3 and figure out how to set up a rotary axis for the “A” channel. Since I have never done it before it was a new experience. I didn’t even know for sure how to set up the pulse rate. Right now the acceleration and the top speed are still sort of a SWAG. That’s a Scientific Wild Ass Guess.

In any case, the video here is proof that it is running. I may next have to invest in Art Fenerty’s gear design program so I have something to make on the 4th axis.


SmoothStepper Installed

I received the Warp9TD SmoothStepper board about a week ago. I just had a chance to install it in one of my CNC controllers. I mentioned I ordered it a few posts back.

The picture there did not give a good impression of the actual size of this diminutive surface mount technology (SMT) circuit board. It is small but mighty.

I published a complete photo series of how I installed the SomoothStepper over in The Hobbyist Machine Shop web site under the “Projects” tab. Here is a short cut to the article.

There is an added bonus with a bunch of pictures of the Proxxon PD400 in action. I used it to make standoffs for mounting the SmoothStepper.

Gearotic Motion Software

Sounds almost perverse but that’s the name of Art Fenerty’s latest software. If you don’t know, Art is the creator of the MACH3 series of affordable CNC control software. Art has sold off MACH3 about four years ago so has had time to design gear making software. MACH3 is still very popular and widely used.

I love gear action and when I saw this in a mailing from Bob Warfield (CNC Cookbook) I knew I had to check it out. Here are some links to Bob’s blog and an explanation of the software directly from Art Fenerty: Welcome to Gearotic Motion. Here is another link from Bob Warfield as he is partnering with Art to promote the CNCCookbook as well as Gearotic Motion: Announcing Our New Partnership with Art Fenerty’s Gearotic Motion.

Here is a link to the Gearotic Motion webpage. I have only just looked this over in both Bob’s and Art’s web sites, but I know I will be ordering a copy. I have seen other software that does this but this is really affordable. Even better with one of the CNCCookbook deals.

One of these days I’ll probably be posting pics of some of the gears I have made. I have no personal recommendation until I can run it and test it out. There are lots of videos and Art has a user forum so it’s definitely gotta be worth the $75 investment. It certainly looks to be way more than a toy.

Hardware Pulse Board for CNC

I am going to make (hopefully) an improvement to my CNC operations in a week or so. I have ordered and will install a USB SmoothStepper board made by Warp9 Tech Design. Inc. into one and maybe both of my homebuilt CNC controllers. Probably the first one will be installed and tested in my original chopper controller that I am now using on the Taig CNC mill.

I have used a serial pulse generator before in that controller. Years ago I obtained the pulse card from DeskCNC called their 2nd Generation Controller Board. It is actually still installed but not connected inside the controller case. This controller worked perfectly but is proprietary to DeskCNC software. It can be seen operating in the video viewable HERE running the HB1 mill. That was more than several years ago. A hardware pulse generator makes for a very smooth running machine.

Since I am now doing very small, almost micro-machining (1/32″-“1/64” ball end mills) I am becoming more concerned about accuracy. Several articles in the CNCCookbook blog by Bob Warfield got me to thinking. Read both parts written by Bob.

Tormach CNC has a White Paper about this very subject that I recommend for your reading pleasure. Click on the link in the previous sentence. They mention the Smoothstepper for use with MACH3.

I then remembered how well I like the DeskCNC controller I gave up to use MACH3. So I investigated the currently available motion control boards. By the way, the 2nd Generation DeskCNC Board is still being produced

The Warp9TD Smoothstepper seems best suited to my needs and especially budget. It is designed expressly for use with the MACH3. There is now a LAN version board as well as the USB version.

Some other brands of these… Continue reading

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