View Full Version : Ancient CNC machine- advice needed!

15-06-2013, 07:47 PM
I've recently inherited 2x cnc routers from my grandfather (see attached photos). He used them in the 1980's and programmed them using a zenneth laptop. State of the art at the time I imagine! They have not been used since. I would like to get them up and running for my own enjoyment, however all of the gear to run them is missing. I am fairly good with computers and am a quick learner, and I am very good with CAD.
The machine looks to be 3 axis, also I am little confused at how the wheel (in the steel box) attaches.
The motors connect to a breakout board via parrallel port. I presume that these boards are also the 'driver' - can anyone suggest a decent board?
I don't really want to get into learning G Code - I understand that with today's technology a windows based software with convert my CAD dwg's into this. Again, can anyone recommend any software that doesn't cost the earth?

Any response would be greatly appreciated - I have little engineering knowledge and would class myself as a beginner so please bear in mind if you are kind enough to respond!

15-06-2013, 10:28 PM
Hi Tom,

These look quite well built machines and very adaptable to modern controls. Without seeing the breakout board that currently attached to the machine its difficult to know exactly how suitable that is to run with the more modern software.

There are a couple of main software based cnc controllers out there with Mach3 by Artsoft being the most popular. A mach 3 license is around 120, but there is enough capability in the free demo version to get you going. There is a linux based cnc controller called linuxcnc, which I believe is free. Some companies such as Eding cnc offer complimentary software with their own hardware, which I believe its very good. Personally I'd start out with mach3 as there is a larger support group, you might decide to try out other software at a later date.

In terms of the hardware side of things, your motor requirements aren't going to be that demanding, so you could opt for an all in one board. I've dealt with Roy from DIY CNC electronic kit & mechanical products (http://www.diycnc.co.uk/) a few times and his products are very good. You could also look at the Gecko Drive G540, which is a nice compact system from a reputable manufacturer. I'd try and avoid the really cheap chinese stuff on ebay because alot of the time you have to bin it and buy something half decent, plus you'll save yourself the frustration of trying to get something to work that never worked in the first place.

I have no idea how the rotary drive thingy works either??

15-06-2013, 10:48 PM
Hi Tom, welcome to the site. Sorry to hear you lost your grandad, but congratulations on your inheritance! Those pictures all look like the same machine, or do you have two identical? I think that the box of tricks is probably some kind of indexing head or rotary axis. As has been suggested mac3 is probably favourite and it would be best to use modern drives and possibly stepper motors. If you post on here exactly what you have you will get plenty of food for thought. good luck. G.

15-06-2013, 11:04 PM
Hi Tom,

First the wheel in a box looks like it's a rotary table of some kind which is used has a 4th axis. This will be or would have been connected to drive of it's own or shared with an existing drive by swapping cables of the axis thats not used when operating the 4th axis. This is a common way to keep costs down.

Regards the electrics what exactly do you have.? Take good quality pics and post.

To give an overview then in general you have individual per axis Drives to control the motors which often connect to the parallel port using a breakout board (BOB) for easy connection and some protection from damage.
There are multi-axis boards available that combine both drives and BOB but these tend to be cheap lower quality and unreliable, best avoided if you want a stable machine.

The motors are nice units and quality from a German company today called ISEL. They probably did use bespoke multi-axis board thou it would have been a quality unit. To be honest I think you Grandfather probably modified or used parts from a ISEL or ISEL Techno machine which where decent quality machine.

If you matched these motors to modern drives then you'd have a nice setup, avoid the combo boards unless you use Gecko G540.
The Chinese drives like M542 leadshine copies are very cheap these days and far superior to most Combo boards with not much cost difference. They out perform most all-in-one boards by some margin even some of the better one's like Roy's at DIY cnc.
Breakout boards are cheap enough and often you'll find kits on Ebay with drives and BOB.

Regards software then you'll need a CAM (not CAD but CAM) program like CAMBAM to generate G-code from your CAD files and then you'll need CONTROL software like MACH3 or LinuxCnc to control and run the machine.
CAMBAM has a limited free version and the full working version isn't expensive.
MACH3 is by far the best option controller wise for a newbie but it's not free. Linuxcnc is free but not so intuitive and user friendly to new user and hasn't got the newbie friendly user base backup Mach has.

There are other options like USBCNC that combine BOB and control software and use the USB port not parallel port for motion control which you could take a look at if you plan on using a Laptop.
Don't try using MACH3 with a Laptop has they don't mix well without a separate motion control card.

Hope this helps and post more pics of the electrics you have.

16-06-2013, 10:14 PM
Many thanks to everyone who has responded, and for the warm welcome to the forum. The machines (both of them identical) are both in storage at the moment, but I will post further photos of any other electronics I have when I get round to tinkering around with them.

14-03-2014, 05:40 AM
Take thanks from me also.
Really I wasn't have any idea about this type of machine.
But now I can do better research on it.
Many thanks

11-05-2014, 11:17 AM
I have an ISEL techo FB-2, look it up on the isel website.
What I think you may have is an isel techno fb-1 - although I have never seen a picture.

if it is the predesessor of the fb-2 and uses the same parts thats excellent as it all quality.

anyways, if it has fb2 parts......

1. the ball screws are m16 diameter with a 5mm pitch
2. the anti-backlash nuts are the best.
3. it should have 32mm thk/boshe rails and bearings throughout - excellent
4. the motors will be sanyo denki, if 8 wire they are wired bi-polar parallel
5. the shafts are 'b' denoted 'shafts each end'
6. the shagfts on the motors even though the machine is netric are 6.35mm - 1/4'' and not 6mm
7. the motors sit on a mount inside that can, they are only 65mm long
8 the cans are great as they keep out the emf's, the cabling is quality sheathed stuff so keep it
9. If you change the old motors for new ones like I did, you can squeeze in a 76mm nema 23 at 3.1nm
but you may have to buy slightly longer m5 bolts and open the holes in the motors slightly, from memory the motor bolts are 50mm long, you need 55mm and need to file a mm off the back.
10 IF you buy new motors you need to wire thenm bi polar parrallel, the connections in the cans won't be soldered, simply open up the crimpings, the connections - as you have a quality machine will be silver plated
11. you may have limit switches hidden in the motor mounts, these are good here as you get no interference, if not yuou may have whats called a proximity magnetic set up for limits - i think you have them, I'd get the in can style from isel.
12. regards limit switches, you machine will home to the back and to the left - this part is confusing at first.
13. the x axis is the the lower one - looking at the machine zero is to the rear
14, the y axis is the one that moves and zeros to the left
15, the z axis zero's to the top, - this is confusing as you need to turn it around in the mach settings
16, you have a cutting area of 550mm square,
17 buy a leaf boy usb break out board for the 100 - ebay
18. buy a motor , drives and psu power supply from ebay
19. don't buy the 100mm motors 'simply by looking at the can and thinking mmm i need 100mm
as the motors sit on a mountin the can, 76mm max = itys tight, get the next size down from 3.1nm, as they may be perfect you want 1/4'' shafts - dual , I would get 8 wire motors

p.s. I wouldn't call it ancient at all, the m16 screws and anti back-lash nut 'you couldn't buy a better one today.
IF the rails are 32mm wide thk units again, you can't get better today.
ALSO the bits in that machine are still current today, i.e. anyone with half a clue if they had the choice of your machine or a new cheapo one, would have yours. I mean my machine was made in 1998, 16 years old, back then they were thousands and thousands of pounds worth.
you may even have newer motors in it and a new style control system?