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View Full Version : DRO's are the fancy -looking ones worth it?



SparkyLabs
26-12-2016, 09:56 PM
I've got a Clark CMD10 manual mill. The addition of a digital readout would make it manageable versus the pile of cheap junk it is. I've seen a great variation in digital readout units available. Some are just a simple version year with a zero button others are a full-blown screen of some sort that connects to 2 or three sensor scales and some even claim to allow you to do arcs and circles.

Any guidance greatly appreciated. Most are the ones I have seen sold in the UK where I live look exactly like the ones on eBay from China so I'm guessing I might as well just buy one on eBay from China and be able to spend the extra cash on extra features rather than buying the basic one for a markup from somebody like Warco.

cropwell
26-12-2016, 10:23 PM
I suppose you could always transfer the DRO to something better when you get it. I have a CMD10. It needs setting up properly as you can't adjust the gibes to get rid of yaw, without tightening the mill up so that it binds, but it is just a toy really, no good for serious work. I wouldn't waste money on a DRO for the CMD10.

magicniner
26-12-2016, 10:33 PM
The more complex ones can have 100 or more sets of zeros so you can set a zero for each of the holes in a part or a set of parts and zeros for the corners of rectangular holes, the 1/2 button for setting part centre is very useful.

You can also get a box that scales plug into which connects by USB to a PC running a program giving you a "PC DRO".

Mine are all SINO type from Machine DRO, some have been running 24/7 for over 10 years, I'm sure you can get the same stuff cheaper but I go back to Machine DRO because they do support the products they sell.

- Nick

SparkyLabs
27-12-2016, 07:58 AM
Do you mean like this one?: http://www.machine-dro.co.uk/2-axis-mill-m-dro-digital-readout-package-including-2-linear-optical-encoders-5229.html

Does the PC software give much more funtionality than a stand alone controller ?

magicniner
27-12-2016, 11:48 AM
Arcs, angled lines and inclines are achieved by giving the operator a series of moves to make, inevitably they are a bit lumpy and not intended to give you a finished cut - you'd have to make thousands of moves (like CNC) to achieve a finished surface, it gets you close enough to file to shape off the machine without a huge amount of work.

I don't think you get more from the PC based display, it doesn't mention bolt circles etc. it may do less -

http://www.machine-dro.co.uk/m-dro-pc-digital-readout-4-axis-interface.html

I'm not keen on fitting 2-axis readouts to 3-axis machines but if you can manage and it keeps the cost down...

These are the type which I'm using - http://www.machine-dro.co.uk/sds6-3v-universal-display-console-3-axis-display.html

I had a failed PSU in the display on the mill and called Machine DRO, they didn't have one in stock but could order me a PSU for it, I had nothing to lose so I stripped the PSU and found a 50p electrolytic had let the juice out, maplins had one in stock ;-)

SparkyLabs
27-12-2016, 12:11 PM
Well I have looked around and found a guy on eBay that fits them so he's coming over tomorrow to make my crappy old clerk into something usable. He's got a nice looking graphical controller which makes life just that little bit simpler which I will probably go for. At least once this is fitted I will be able to work a lot more precisely and won't be yearning for a CNC just yet as clearly I'm not ready for one of those.

m_c
27-12-2016, 06:23 PM
Let us know how you get on. I keep meaning to add a DRO to my manual lathe, but never seem to get around to it.

SparkyLabs
27-12-2016, 07:33 PM
I'm having one of these fitted: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Graphical-Digital-Readout-DRO-kit-supplied-or-supplied-and-installed-/172454003686?var=&hash=item28270f43e6:m:mJnuIEOPHvTevP-8160EaRQ

Costs more than the machine but at least then I have it and can use it elsewhere. the guy is fitting it for me.

JAZZCNC
27-12-2016, 09:32 PM
I'm having one of these fitted: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Graphical-Digital-Readout-DRO-kit-supplied-or-supplied-and-installed-/172454003686?var=&hash=item28270f43e6:m:mJnuIEOPHvTevP-8160EaRQ

Costs more than the machine but at least then I have it and can use it elsewhere. the guy is fitting it for me.

OUCH!! . . . . That's lot of money and won't do jot for the machine other than tell you how much backlash you have.!! . . . . There's Saying "Can't make Silk purse out of Sows hear" save your money put towards what we spoke about tonight.!!

SparkyLabs
27-12-2016, 09:35 PM
I know it's a bit of a waste and I'm being a little impatient but the actual difference in price of the unit is not much on a regular one. At least I have something to use now and the readout can be reused elsewhere or sold on on its own leaving the machine with the measuring slides that can be plugs into anything else if people don't want an over-the-top controller.

Sent from my phone so mind the autocorrect.

SparkyLabs
27-12-2016, 09:36 PM
I hope very much that I'd save some money on the eBay price has I've contacted him directly. I can also claim the VAT back.

Sent from my phone so mind the autocorrect.

SparkyLabs
28-12-2016, 11:07 AM
Well Colin came down and ended up taking the machine away to fix up (I'm going to collect it from nottingham on Saturday). He did suggest it was a bit of a waste on such a small machine and has convinced me to have the more basic readout head instead of the graphical one and just tweo axes. At least it will be worth something when sold on ;).

The readout head can store up to 200 positions so almost makes small manufacture feaseable although granted much better to just have the CNC if I can get it.

Lloyd Barnes
08-01-2017, 08:32 PM
It makes using the mill a lot quicker in my experience . I have one fitted to my manual mill and it transforms its usefulness in my view. I used the EBay Chinese one, arrived from a uk stockist. Have never used most of its advanced functionality though if I'm honest and we've made some fairly complex parts (for a manual machine) :smile:

SparkyLabs
08-01-2017, 08:51 PM
Yes in the end I had full three axis DRO attached and I had the graphical readout. Unfortunately the graphical readout did not add the extra functionality I had hoped for in that it may be able to work with a permanently skewed X axis as in not been able to put the vice on straight. It does have the additional functionality of been able to work with something on the skew but that is simply for machining something on the skew not as a general set up base for other functions. But the graphical one does have nice characters. Given my visual stress I think the segment display of the cheaper ones would have driven me round the bend so although it was a couple of hundred pounds more expensive I guess it was worth the extra money. Ultimately if I get rid of the machine it is much more saleable now and the readout could be sold separately if somebody wanted the simpler version. Colin did indeed do a great job and he did give me his honest opinions about it not being worth it but given that I hope to progress into CNC later I didn't think it was worth getting a more expensive manual machine just to put the readout on.

It has transformed the mill from something that I grudgingly used into something that I don't mind using and that is easier to set up. These zero on 1/2 measurement is excellent for working with the boxes I used because they are cast or moulded and therefore always have a draft angle so finding a reference point is very difficult. But if I am comparing the same location on both sides I don't need to care about how far up the box I am and I can easily find a zero point with the digital readout exactly in the centre of the box. Setting the other zero is fairly easy and I then immediately have a two axis reference system that allows me to do the whole drilling as per my drawing. Obviously I can take dimensions on my drawing from any point I like.

I have just completed a box and while I would not recommend doing this for fifty boxes because I think it could become tedious even if I am having an apprentice do it but at least it means I have turned out a perfect box by myself with no setup charges and no waiting. The setup charge with the box manufacturer is 95 pounds, four fifty that is acceptable. After that if any more are ordered they only want 80p.

magicniner
08-01-2017, 11:35 PM
Unfortunately the graphical readout did not add the extra functionality I had hoped for in that it may be able to work with a permanently skewed X axis as in not been able to put the vice on straight.

When you say the axis is skewed do you mean that the slots are out of alignment with the axis of travel or is the X-axis travel not at 90 degrees to the Y-axis?

- Nick

SparkyLabs
09-01-2017, 07:48 AM
What I mean is that the vice is not bolted down correctly to the X axis of travel. The machine itself seems pretty sound not that I'm an expert at getting advice straight is a pain in the arse. So I was hoping that there will be a basic setup function that would allow me to tell it that "this" is my X axis allowing me to be lazy about the vice placement. There is a function that allows me to put something on the bed at an angle and tell the machine what the angle is so that I can machine an angle in a straight line and I think it would therefore give X and Y coordinates for the part even though it is tilted and not in line with the machines X and Y axis.

magicniner
09-01-2017, 09:14 AM
Tramming your vice is where it's at -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_l2dhpIOLY

You can also make and fit a strip, or blocks, in a shallow machined slot on the underside of your vice, the strips are sized to be a comfortable fit in your table slots, the slot under the vice is machined by clamping and tramming a straight square bar on your mill table, clamping the (upside down) vice to the bar then cutting the slot in the vice underside and fixing the bar/blocks.

- Nick