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  1. #11
    Sadly it wasn't the end of this little saga. Today I went out to use the machine. Was able to jog etc so setup and let mach do its thing, but it only managed the smallest of cuts before going into estop and woulden't come out again. Just waiting on a circuit diagram and then will attempt a diagnostic.

    ptjw7uk: I will eventually use a pc, but I have to say I don't think any of the reasons listed on the Arc website would affect me... the laptop meets the recommended specs no bother, and when the laptop is plugged in (which it always is when I'm CNCing) the OS has the same power settings as a PC. I think theres a little bit of a thing against laptops in the CNC world which comes from the problems you used to get with parallel ports on them... I think they had a lower voltage and slight light different protocol. But when your using a well spec'ed laptop & a usb controller card I'm not sure theres an issue. Or at least thats my thinking on it...

  2. Your correct about being able to use a Laptop with an external Motion controller BUT you still need to set it up so the Energy saving features are turned off.

    This could be your problem.? Laptops are some times setup to turn off USB ports off when not used. To be Honest I hate USB, more so than Parallel port because it's always dropping out or fluctuating power which causes problems like this.

    Personally after checking all wire connections for loose or broken wires I would turn off all power saving and Virus checkers etc on laptop. Then for good measure make a Backup of your XML file then re-install Mach3 and the Motion controller Plug-in.

  3. lateAtNight, have you implemented a solution to the problems your having, if so, what did you choose to do? if not, what are you likely to do next?

    Last edited by Lee Roberts; 07-06-2015 at 01:35 AM. Reason: removed off topic content

  4. #14
    Ahhhh, guys. I must admit I haven't been keeping track of this thread... and I'm sorry I haven't . I assumed it would be dead and I was waiting until I actually had a proper update on the problem.

    Lol. Soooo... I was considering bridging out the estop on the control board. I ran a multimeter to check for continuity at the guard switch and at the estop... all seemed fine. Before I bridged the circuit I wanted to eliminate a few other things.

    On Wednesday I plugged in w/laptop and it wouldn't come out of estop, so I went to considerable effort to lug my f'in huge workstation style PC out to the shed to settle the possibility it could be the laptop. I also switched out the USB cable and on the recommendation of the smallcncsuport guy (John Stevenson... maybe its John S who kicks around these parts?) I added a 400ms debounce to the input signals in Mach. I also replaced the guard cover.

    It came out of estop straight away, and I was already to eat my own words regarding the laptop but sadly my happiness was short lived when the same thing happened on the PC... half way through-ish a small op the machine went into estop and wouldn't come out. It just about broke me and then I almost went nuclear. So I just packed up and went inside. Didn't get a chance to try the bridging thing.

    I was already to try this evening when I plugged in and once again all was fine... I thought I'd give it one more chance to make it all the way through a small part and it did. So I have my first part (ish...). Only then I went on to realise a much different problem... I wanted to do a little drilling on said small part and relaised that two of the MT2 ER16 collet chucks I have don't fit my machine! Wrong thread. Just can't win.

    I went back to have a look on eBay to check and the listing now says "These chucks are threaded for drawbar but unfortunately we cannot confirm the threading size or pitch because each batch might be different." I was well aware my machine has an M10 thread so I am dubious it said that when I bought them (it was back in the spring), but I guess I'll never know now.

    I'm still concerned the estop is a problem and worried about doing a bigger part. Only time will tell I guess.

    For anyone interested here is a shot of the internals of my machine showing the controller card:

    It appears to be this one: http://www.automationtechnologiesinc...breakout-board. Known as an AKZ250 or Xulifeng. Looks like an FPGA at the heart and some kind on Atmel SAM (i.e. ARM) based device for usb coms.

    I never did get rid of my Galil card (its in my workstation style PC which I am planning on switching to a smaller case at some point) so it could be a potential replacement if the card if its at fault (its PCI BTW so I can't wage in on the usb / ethernet war :D ). It would be a massive job and one I shouldn't have to do!
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    Last edited by lateAtNight; 05-06-2015 at 09:35 PM. Reason: typos more typos and typos

  5. Hi LAN,

    Yes John Stevenson is John S and that's who I was going to call on your behalf. If you speak to him again Mention Jazz was Kicking off again he'll laugh and call me not nice names which I can't say or they will be deemed OFFENSIVE . . LOL.!!

    If you have a Galil card then I'd swap it in a heart beat as Galil is industrial strength Controller and will knock the spots of that AKZ250. Yes I agree you shouldn't have too but sometimes it's just easier to bite the bullet and get cutting reliably. Esp if you have such a quality Card already.!

    The next best thing is sort the noise causing the issue. Debounce is a bodge to get you going. Removing the noise is the cure and easy enough done.
    For a start check all the Grounds are correct with a Star setup and separate signal wires from Power wires. Often this will cure the problem if it doesn't then you'll maybe after look at other ways. Like Caps across the inputs. Thou to be honest I've never found them to work very well if noise is bad.

    To test if it's noise thru the switch then just remove the E-stop and put a jumper across the inputs. If it does it again you'll know it's not the E-stop as it can't be noise on the e-stop line.
    Personally I prefer 24V to run trhu my E-stop and controlling a Relay which shuts the machine down. The 5v input signal is then just run thru Relay contacts to inform Mach3 E-stop occured and with a very short wire run you'll never get noise on that input.

  6. #16
    Jess's Avatar
    Lives in Leamington Spa, United Kingdom. Last Activity: 08-06-2015 Has been a member for 1-2 years. Has a total post count of 35. Received thanks 2 times, giving thanks to others 0 times.
    Quote Originally Posted by lateAtNight View Post
    It just about broke me and then I almost went nuclear. So I just packed up and went inside.
    Know the feeling! I'd suggest a nice calming cup of tea but, in the past, I've just ended up angrily drinking tea.

    Quote Originally Posted by lateAtNight View Post
    I'm still concerned the estop is a problem and worried about doing a bigger part. Only time will tell I guess.
    I'm not sure if it's just how you've explained it, but (ignoring the initial problem which we can probably attribute to the guard switch) there seems to be a pattern:

    The machine is running, but then gets itself jammed in e-stop, so you turn everything off, leave it for a bit, then when you come back, it's working again. If so, that sounds suspiciously like it could be an EMI (interference) problem.

    The prime suspect for EMI (as always) is the spindle drive board and spindle, so it's probably worth checking if you can reliably get through the motions of a job with the spindle off/driver board disconnected, but not with it running. That I can't see a shielded cable between the spindle driver and the breakout/motion controller does make me particularly suspicious.

    If disconnecting the spindle board doesn't fix things up, you'd move on to checking if it was the stepper motors and so forth. It's probably better just to link at this point; although, some of it's recommendations are more practical for people making machines from scratch.

    BTW, I think your link suggests that your motion control board is powered from your PC, so if it does get in a huff, it's only going to get power cycled when the USB port loses power. There's a tendency for PCs and laptops to sleep, rather than switch off and they often leave their USB ports powered for your convenience during sleep so you can charge your 'phone. (This might explain why it seems to fix itself overnight, because you unplug everything when you give up.)

    Quote Originally Posted by lateAtNight View Post
    It would be a massive job and one I shouldn't have to do!
    Agreed. You should have been able to unpack it, maybe tram it up a bit, and then be making chips. The attraction of buying a commercial mill is not having to do any of this.

  7. late,

    I noticed you said "shed", what kind of setup would that be? If the "standard" shed is the scenario I'm wondering if there is a possibility of an intermittent damp/moisture/humidity thing going on?

    How close are those power lines (red&black, running cross the top of the picture) to the blue wires at the back of the picture, wondering if there is a noise issue in that area of the box, that PSU is right there to, humming away, sorry can't offer anything more :(.

    Last edited by Lee Roberts; 05-06-2015 at 11:33 PM.

  8. Sorry Jess hadn't refreshed before posting, RE: EMI.


  9. Cut those bloody tie raps off as well I hate to see unshielded wires bound together, esp if 5V signal wires.

  10. #20
    Guys, I appreciate your comments. Its nice just to be able to post, talk it over, get comments / recommendations. Not many (any?) CNC'ers / machinists around these parts that I know of.

    JAZZ, Two things stop me with the Galil... first I really like the fact that, bar the laptop / pc, the mill is self contained and the Galil has a massive breakout box (see attached pic) that I'd have to clumsily fit on the side or something... and then I really would need a PC + monitor. And it would all have to camp out in the shed because a laptop I can handle moving every time but all that lot... no way. Rewiring wouldn't be easy. Over time I could definitely do it. Its just not something I can tackle right now... Got so many little projects I want to finish off. A few of which require parts to be made with the machine! Go back to work on the other side of the country soon...

    Jess, Noise from the spindle getting on the the estop line does seem to be one of the major suspects. Esp. when its cutting I can imagine the extra power going through the spindle creates a lot of noise. The estop and the spindle power are of course on separate cables but they run together from the head into guts of the machine. I could be wrong but I don't think either cable is shielded. But surely that would be a major design flaw... and they must have made thousands of these machines?!

    Lee... your right about the shed. Its aluminium (had I known more about the thermal dynamics of a metal shed when I bought I would have gone with wood) and its a giant moisture trap at certain times. However given that I have so much of my hard earned in there, I have gone to significant lengths to keep the machine dry & insulated. Trust me, the shed itself is rubbish, but that machine is bone dry... except for all the oil its covered in of course :). Just another reason I don't want a computer / monitor out there. How I envy people with basements!

    If anyone does have a shed / moisture problem I can thoroughly recommend Unibonds Aero 360 thingies. Surprisingly effective at sucking the moisture out of the air... reviews on amazon say they are equivalent to having a de humidifier. That and a million layers seem to be keeping the machine well enough.
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