Getting Hot – But Not
I haven’t moved as fast as I intended on the live steam projects. Again, just too many irons on the fire. Excuses are easy.
My little Taig Machine business has greatly picked up in the last month. I know why, it’s the new ball-screw mill. I might have the most sales for Taig for September. Taig doesn’t know why, but I must have done something correctly. I know I have been re-stocking and placing orders as one, if not THE busiest months for me with the RDS store.
I do have a workshop CNC project. I have to make a bunch more of the 1” wrenches for use on the Taig mill spindle. The 6061 T6 aluminum is on order. The wrenches have become a popular accessory. Many customers buy just one but it takes two for me to change tools in the collet. One wrench on the spindle and one on the collet. I might offer a slight discount for a set of two rather than sell them individually. But first I have to make more!
As I write this I have my 3D printer running, making ER16 collet boxes. They are a really nice way to keep those small ER16 collets in order. The Taig set is not supplied with any type of permanent holder or storage box. The boxes are selling good.
Decent weather (temperature) has come back to Texas. That makes working in the shop much nicer. That’s what I considered for getting back to the live steam work, comfortable working conditions.
I received a good question from reader feedback at Ramblin’ Dan’s Store. It was sent to me as a private email, but I think it is worth making my reply public. MPS2000 is a CNC micro-mill produced by MicroProto, the CNC division of Taig Tools. The question is about using a laptop computer for CNC control.
“Looking to see if there is a way to rum my machine (CNC Mill) from a lap top. Has the MPS2000 software been upgraded to true 3D?”
Not sure of your question of “true” 3D. I don’t use or support MicroProto (MPS) controllers and am unaware of any (perhaps hardware?) issues about 3D mill operation and the MPS controllers. The software is MACH3 which can certainly run 3D CNC action in 3 or 4 axes on a single parallel port. I have been doing it for nearly 2 decades.
There may be purest fanatics with certain micro accuracy issues with MACH3 and such things as trajectory planning and my answer is, “don’t use it if it is a bother.” In practical use, it works fine for the hundreds of projects I have run. (Because of issues with Windows 10) I recently switched to LinuxCNC. Not perfect either, but is works for what I need. 🙂 BTW… I don’t recommend LinuxCNC to a non-programmer unwilling to hack code.
Tormach for example, has switched to their own (self-supported) version of Linux based CNC called PathPilot https://www.tormach.com/pathpilot.html
The problem with laptops is the built-in energy conservation techniques at the OS or hardware level that may shutdown ports or interrupt the critical pulse timing. Of course, laptops are being used, but there are too many variables for it to be recommended. One solution is to use an external pulse generator… Continue reading
Autodesk Fusion 360
First look. I poked around looking at the trending in 3D CAD/CAM tools. Autodesk (AutoCAD) has always been at the top of my unobtainable list because of cost. I have a now quite old LT version which is strictly 2D. I also have a standard AutoCAD I think is version 4 or 6. Neither are installed on my machines. I need 3D.
In my web search I discovered a new tool from Autodesk called Fusion 360. I was actually reading about Apple’s new super powered iPad Pro. I thought if I owned an iPad Pro, it would have to do 3D CAD. I discovered a new 3D CAD program for the iPad Pro called Shapr3D.
Shapr3D looks very Avant-garde performing on the iPad Pro. Here is a quote from their home page: “All you need is your iPad Pro, an Apple Pencil and Shapr3D.” The program is listed as “free” but the first two requirements are a bit beyond my budget. That didn’t stop me from exploring the application features,
In the reviews I read on this product, there was a mention of the Fusion 360 application. I followed the hyper-link and discovered it is an Autodesk product. Now I am paying attention.
Fusion 360 is more advanced than Shapr3D. It is also one of the new wave “cloud subscription” products. For professional users, it is a subscription service with a monthly/yearly user fee. It provides a huge amount of professional services, sharing, cloud storage, etc. I expect something from Autodesk to reek with such high end features,
What is truly startling, is a full featured, fully operational, free installation is available for start-ups groups and developers and individual hobbyists (me), no strings attached. I will have to confirm my non professional use on a yearly basis.… Continue reading
CNC Control Penchant (and a new pendant)
The switch to Linux CNC was not without some trepidation. I left a machine control system (MACH3) that has worked well for me for over a decade. When something old still does its job very well there is no need to make a change. (It’s a shame human corporate careers don’t follow that philosophy. 🙂
The truth is , MACH3 is still a perfectly fine CNC machine control program. It’s a tool that just keeps working. The problem I have been bemoaning is the computer operating system with which it must operate within, has left it in the dust and moved on to a better social life.
Yes, I have kept the old OS on my old machines, but as I add additional machines and CNC computers to my shop, the old OS, which must have a license to prove it is legal, is no longer provided or can be installed on new hardware. The MACH3 license is a site/owner license so I can run as many copies as I need. The problem is the computer operating system.
So now my go-to is the Linux OS and CNC software called LinuxCNC (a.k.a EMC2).
I am very fluent in the Linux OS, as I have been working with it almost since it was first created. No, I am not a guru, but let me say, “I know the language.” That helps a lot.
I feel sad that I can not highly recommend Linux CNC to every (hobbyist) as a replacement for MACH3. It definitely CAN be a replacement for those folks where editing and rewriting software at the program level and working with Linux at the system command line level, are no problem.
There exists a large amount of documentation. However, Linux CNC is still evolving and I have to be… Continue reading
LinuxCNC – Tool Change (part 2)
Yowza! More to the tool change than I realized in LinuxCNC. The tool change routine exists in the latest available stock version of LinuxCNC but it is poorly implemented for a manual tool change on a hobbyist machine and unworkable as is, for an automatic tool changer.
The good part is that the bones are there. It is up to the user to hang some flesh on those bones.
LinuxCNC will respond to the tool change code installed in the Post Processor I mentioned in a previous post, by stopping for a tool change. But that is all it does. Stop at the safe move height.
None of the axes will manually move. They remain disabled. Any fooling with the pause or start buttons which will get manual control back, will also set the G code file back to the beginning. Bummer.
With the age of EMC, EMC2, and LinuxCNC (all the same) I would think a MACH3 type of manual tool change would be fully implemented AND FUNCTIONAL in the stock release. Such is not the case.
My normal MACH3 operating method on my Taig micro mills and HB2 is to wait for the auto stop for the tool change. (Stock LinuxCNC only does this.) Then I manually run the spindle up to provide room for the manual tool change. (ER16 collets) Then move X/Y to find a place to touch off Z height. Do the touch and set Z to zero for the new tool. Then move back to a safe Z height.
When I resume the run, the program picks up where it left off and moves to the new cutting location and continues.
I found the solution in the LinuxCNC Wiki. The issue has been recognized for a very long time. That itself, is a… Continue reading