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  1. #1
    Hello Everyone

    This might be the longest time anyone has tried to build a 6 axis servo motor driven gantry milling machine measuring X 5m, Y 2m, Z 0.3m Z axis. I started this in 1998, when I purchased a 6 axis NEE AMC Controller (North East Electronics) which runs on Windows 1998 and Dos platform. I have had it running ok many years ago. This cost a lot of money at the time.

    At the moment I trying to machine an aluminium casting by using 3 sets (6 axis) of electrical Camco Varipak units with on and off switches on each axis movement. It all works but and it is a big but, you cannot make any curved cutting movement and nine times out of ten, I touch the wrong switch at the wrong time and the job is lost.

    So it is time to get the NEE controller up and running properly.
    I now have one motor on each end of the Y axis that drive the whole contraption along the X axis tracks.

    The North East Electronics 6 axis controller has a "following beam" facility within the their software i.e. you are able to attach one motor to the other across a beam, so I am told, I have yet to find out if this is true. This does reduces the 6 axis to 5.

    However before I can get this far I crashed into a nasty software problem when the "purchased" licensed dongle stopped working, after being plugged into the parallel port in the back of the computer.
    I have no idea why. Without this dongle working you cannot import G code etc into the controller because NEE in their wisdom, encrypted any imported file into their own file format i.e. .wrk.

    I can get their own work files (wrk) into the controller via the Firmware commands but this is not any good to me as my castings are all different shapes. However according to the NEE manual if their "HEX" file is above V2.12.26 it can read G code directly in the controller

    Q1 Does anyone know how I can get the computer running Windows 98 to see the dongle via the computer parallel port?

    Q2 Does anyone have and updated version of the HEX file above V2.12.26, that they are willing send me?

    I would appreciate any help that anyone can give me.

    kind regards


  2. #2
    This is an update on what might be the problem with the Dougle issue I have.
    I hope it might help others in the same boat as me.

    NEE GPS problems recognizing the dongle

    GPS is supplied with an ‘Activator’ security device. Regrettably the device is too slow to operate with fast PC’s, the solution is to add delays into the device reads and writes, the paragraphs below come from the device manufacturer

    The SSI Activator parallel security devices is a timing dependent devices. The keys can only read or write data at a particular rate and newer machines sometimes perform these operations faster than the key can keep up with. Because of this, the SSI_ACT setting was created to provide a time delay for faster machines. In general, the faster the machine, the larger the setting.

    Unfortunately the method of the system drivers retrieving the SSI_ACT values is inconsistent. Even though it might be set in the autoexec.bat, different values might be read out of the system's registry. Rainbow Technologies has come up with a solution to ensure that the correct settings are passed onto the driver. SetACT.exe will send the values set as the SSI_ACT environment variable to the system drivers. It is designed to be run automatically at system startup so that the correct values are always sent to the system drivers. To facilitate this you must first create the SSI_ACT environment variable as follows:

    Win 3.x/Win 95/Win 98:
    Add a line to your AUTOEXEC.BAT that looks like this:
    SET SSI_ACT=xxx,xxx,xxx
    Where xxx,xxx,xxx are the three values you are setting it to. Values of 10,10,20 are default.
    The values should be increased for faster machines. On a 466 AMD K2 values of 50,50,100 work.

    Win NT:
    Open up the Control Panel and select System. Click the Environment tab. Under the "Variable:" setting, type in SSI_ACT, then under the "Value:" setting enter in the values you would like to set SSI_ACT to, it should be in the format of xxx,xxx,xxx. For example, 200,200,300. Then press the "SET" button, and exit by clicking "OK."

    All systems
    After the SSI_ACT environment variable is set, then add the SetACT.exe program to the Startup folder. In Windows 95/98 and NT 4 this is in the Start menu under Programs | Startup. In Windows 3.x and NT 3, there is a folder called Startup that you can add the SetACT.exe as an item. This will allow the settings you created to be sent to the driver every time you boot up the machine. For this change to take effect, you must re-boot your computer.
    SetACT.EXE is available from the GPS supplier

    kind regards

  3. #3
    I admire your dedication to 22 year old technology. I imagine you're in for a lot of fun, and perhaps a fair amount of frustration! I'm looking forward to learning a lot from these posts :)

    However, forgive me for asking, why not embrace the advances of the past two decades and replace the controller with something more recent? It strikes me that as soon as you have a component failure or irritating software issue the expense and effort of updating will be more than justified.

  4. #4
    Hello AndyUK

    Life has a habit of getting in the way of projects you find yourself involved with, thereby each project always takes much more time than you think, let alone not having enough "spare" money at the time when you most want it.

    I'm now retired and at the stage of de-cluttering, so now is the time, to make it, or break it, or better still get it going as a useable cnc milling machine.

    To answer your question, I would be interested in what controller can work with the amplifiers/drives that I already have.
    I do not know anything about electrics or electronics however I have managed to talk other people to help me over the years, so re-wiring another completely new system would be another nightmare for me.

    Here is the technical stuff:
    X axis is a tractor type belt rack, i.e. like a bulldozer, see photos on another thread concerning 6m racks.
    The X axis is made up of 2 servo 0.37kw 90vdc motors, one on each end of a Y axis beam, both have very accurate 1:100 ratio planetary gearboxes attached to the motors. When connected to the gearboxes the output to the rack is 37kw at each end of the Y axis beam.

    The Y axis beam is 640mm wide and 375 high, made of 4@ 150x60 aluminium channel. The whole beam weighs 150kg plus the cutting forces.

    Both of the motors have HP encoders attached to ends of the motor shafts.

    The Y axis also has 1 servo 0.37kw 90vdc motor and drives a ball screw shaft about 2.0m long x 30mm to which the whole of the Z axis and the turret plus the wrist axis is attached. This moves along just fine.

    The Z axis has a 300mm stroke above the deck, the clearance above any part to be machined, really depends on what cutter I put in.
    The Z has another servo 0.37kw 90vdc motor. The 2 X axis motors are run by 2 Axor amplifier drives.

    The rotating turret has quite a small motor but is geared down a lot
    The wrist axis to which the 1hp 3 phase motor is bolted to a 200mm dia face plate. This motor is heavy hanging onto the bottom of the Z axis
    The face plate is driven by another small motor and similarly geared down.

    To hold the actual milling cutter(s), I managed to fit a International 40 chuck inside a converted 1hp, 3 phase Brooks motor. Thereby using a 60mm or bigger milling cutter "was" possible.
    This worked very well until it blew up. What I had not allowed for was the amount "heat" that was generated by the cutter and the internal heat of the motor. The heat melted the copper windings inside the motor, causing a short. So right now I do not have a cutting spindle. The speed was controlled by an 3 phase inverter

    I hope this information is helpful.

    kind regards

  5. #5
    m_c's Avatar
    Lives in East Lothian, United Kingdom. Last Activity: 15 Hours Ago Forum Superstar, has done so much to help others, they deserve a medal. Has been a member for 9-10 years. Has a total post count of 2,467. Received thanks 283 times, giving thanks to others 7 times.
    6 Axis limits your choice of controllers, but the big question is, how are your amps/servos controlled?
    Step/dir, CW/CCW, or +/-10V?

    For something like this, I'd suggest a KFlop. You would have to write some C programs to configure the KFlop for your machine (plenty examples are given), and if you wanted KMotionCNC to natively handle the kinematics for all your axes, you need to re-compile the KMotion kinematics library with the correct values for your machine (there was mention of this being changed so you don't need to recompile it, but I'm not sure how that's progressing).
    Avoiding the rubbish customer service from AluminiumWarehouse since July '13.

  6. #6
    Hello M_C

    As far as I know the NEE controller looks after everything and just sends out the correct signals to the Axor drivers/amplifiers then onto the motors.

    I would be in deep trouble right at the start, I have no programming experience, let alone C. Because the 1998 Nee controller and software has a graphic package within it, I did not need to know "C" or G-code, this is the reason I purchased the controller in the first place, there was not many options in those days. Little did I know that this dongle would fail on the first time of setting it up.

    The state of play is that I need to configure the controller to the new setup. The Nee software is able to push this info into the controller. I have not hit the go button yet so I do not know what is going to happen. There is feed back software to the controller to tune the machine to the correct smoothness and motions.

    The dongle problem I am working on at the moment, is because if I cannot take G-code from an outside source/cad model, there does not seem much point on going on with this project.
    I keep getting a message that the LTP1 port is not working in the BOIS, yet a printer is able to use it but not the dongle.
    In one part of the Nee software the message HAPtrCONV - handle out of range (0) comes up. I have no idea what this is, or how to put it right.

    Looking on the net, it would seem that Rainbow - Sentinel - software - the dongle supplier seems to have been bought out by Thales, Round and round I go.
    Just in case someone can help me sort out this dongle problem.

    The dongle numbers are as follows RN-AK10023 - 80318C15548 - Dongle Nee number 262

    IS there anyone out there who is using Nee Controllers??

    Any help would be appreciated

    kind regards

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