"One Perfect Part at a Time"


Smooth Stepper Update

The Smooth Stepper has been in use through several projects. In the picture you can see it installed (green board to the right) with the USB port poking through the front of the case.

I have routed the ribbon cable past the far end of the main board since this picture was taken but it makes no operational difference. It just looked to be a little better wiring practice not passing over the center of the board.

Performance has been outstanding as far as glitch free very smooth stream of pulses. The direct parallel port operation was always first class so without using an oscilloscope, it is more of my personal perception of operational difference. It determinately “sounds” smooth and continuous when running the steppers. Listen to the 4th axis videos in this blog.

My opinion for this installation is the Smooth Stepper is extra piece of mind that I am running with the smoothest pulse stream possible (within my budget.)

There are many I/O ports on the board I am not using in this application. That indicates the Smooth Stepper can do a lot more than generate step pulses. I can see how it could be used in robotic I/O machine control as well as CNC machining.

My OS is Win XP Pro on a custom built AMX dual processor desktop running nothing but MACH3 when doing CNC. I added a high speed parallel port card. There was no parallel port on the mother board. The XP Pro is the best OS scenario for MACH3 on a parallel port. I can option boot into Linux OS for other shop computer uses.

The new Smooth Stepper just steps up my entire system quality and my goal is to have the best output for doing very small and accurate machining. The… Continue reading

Getting “A” Turned On

Late Saturday night I found some time to to work in Aspire software to create a little project I could run using the 4th axis on the Taig. Little did I realize what an intense learning experience I was about to endure.

The first challenge was to learn how Vectric Aspire creates a forth axis tool path. I do a little reading and I dive right in. After working for a couple of hours burning the midnight oil, I realized I was making something far more difficult than it needed to be especially for a first project.

A shallow pocket and add a shallow pocketed name inside of that and see if the shop computer and MACH3 can make it wrap around a cylinder. That’s all I really need.

I had a piece of inch and a quarter aluminum bar. I figured this would be the perfect victim for my first attempts. So on Sunday I began setting up the mechanical side of this experiment out in the shop.

You can see I had to be super cautious around the three jaws so I wouldn’t crash into them. I also discovered what I think is a clever trick for zeroing the Z axis. If I touch off on the top of the tail post I am exactly 0.450 inches above dead center.

All the above was the easy stuff. The hardest time I had was to figure out the MACH3 setup for 4th axis. The first run I showed in the previous post was way off base. I will probably have to write a story for the THMS main site with some more pictures of a real project. I can save someone a lot of trial and error from my experience.

With quarter stepping I am set up for 160… Continue reading

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.

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