Fadal Fixture Plate
Ever since I acquired a 4th axis and a Tool setter, my smaller VMC with a table area of only 20 x 16 started to get small. Once I had mounted the 4th axis and the tool setter - the working area was pretty cramped. I decided to get some sort of fixture plate that would allow me to mount the 4th axis off the table enough to get most of my working area back.
After looking around for a couple of years on eBay, and finding no joy for a used plate (If my mill happened to use Haas spacing - I might have found one). I did happen to see a listing for a new plate from Saunders Machine Works - saundersmachineworks.com. (They also run the NYC CNC website www.nyccnc.com that has lots of great info). It wasn't cheap, but was specific for my machine and was exactly what I wanted.
I had great feedback from NYC CNC about some questions I had re: mounting, cad drawings, etc. and the plate arrived in about a week. It was nicely crated up and very exciting to receive.
One thing that did come up - they sell plugs for all the holes so swarf won't get down in there. I misread the web page and didn't order enough for all the holes. (I asked SMW to clarify the info on the page so it's clearer how many you'll need.)
All in all this is going to be a great upgrade to the mill, giving me many more set up options. Who knows maybe I'll start using dowel pins for alignment?!?!
Baldor Miter Gauge
I purchased a "bargain" Baldor 500 Carbide grinder on eBay. It looked great in pics, but it went cheap as there was something in description about it not working correctly. I took a gamble and found out that the motor was toast - the windings in the field coils were shorted (it looked like a manufacturing error as this couldn't have seen much use. Also one of the end castings was broken.
Not to be deterred - I found a place in L.A. that would rewind the motor for $300 and I was able to weld the casting back together. So I ended up with a pretty nice unit.
BUT - I still wanted a miter gauge. I started to look for one, but they run $145+ used on eBay! No way! Here's a pic of the PB-547. It's about 1" tall by 3" wide.
So what's a person to do? Make your own of course. I made it out of some scrap I had around. The fence part was done on my CNC and I used Fusion 360 for the CAD/CAM. Took about a day to get it done. Here's my version, I think it turned out OK and I know I'll use it.
Here's a bit of detail
I a massed all the raw stock material from OnlineMetals.com
One aspect of this project was to make a "run", i.e. more than one or two parts. I started with the Petal Support member. Each "flower" has 5 of these "petals" so that meant I needed 60 parts. I ended up making a few more in case I screwed anything up later and also to have some spare parts.
I made a jig to hold the blanks and used the rotary to get both sides. It took about 15 mins per part, but after several hours I had 64 done.
Next I had to mill a slot at the pivot end, so I had to make another fixture and run a other op.
Data Driven Sculpture (DDS)
I had this idea. It's about data visualization.
My basic proposition is that most folks don't like analyzing data, don't really understand graphs and don't have the patience to figure it out. Along with this is a literal tsunami of data coming at us from sources such as the internet of things (IOT). So how does a normal person "grok" the information signal buried in the data?
Let's say you're monitoring your household electrical consumption, and you happen to have a PV Solar system too. Let's also imagine you have a data logger such that you are capturing how much you're consuming, how much you're generating and, by subtraction, how much you're purchasing from the grid. Now you could generate a graph to show the system performance.
However, that's sort of geeky. I decided to approach this problem in the form of a data driven sculpture. The idea would be to have the state - say what it looks like, sounds like, etc - attempt to convey the information signal in the data. So lets say you change the position of an element as one vector. And you can change the color, brightness and period (if you want a blink effect) of an LED as a second vector. So a happy system - i.e. one where the sun is shining, plenty of power is being made and you're not using too much sets the state of the sculpture in an "open" and bright color mode. And a sad system - i.e. sun is shining, but very little power is being generated (maybe due to a failure of some type) the state is "closed" and the LED is off or glowing dull red. So the casual observer could potentially figure out the meaning of the two states.
What I've chosen to do is to make a kind of flower where the petals can open and close and the bud area is illuminated with 5 RGB LEDs. I plan to make a dozen of 'em. I started working on this idea during Dec of '16 and it's been a pretty slow roll. I guess I'm in no hurry. Here's a few pics of the prototype:
After getting the 4th axis up and functional, I thought I might as well try a project utilizing it. My concept was to create a dining table using the rotary as well as some old barn wood we had left over from building our house. Here's the CAD version of the idea. The original concept had this with two legs. After calculating how much aluminum that would take and how long it would take to machine, I scaled it back to a single leg.
I had wanted to use the rotary as a true 4th axis (simultaneous movement in all axis), but ran into trouble creating the gcode. My skills in NX 7.5 just weren't up to the task. So I back-pedaled and went with more of an indexer mode - basically turn 90 degrees between each operation. Although it's not what I started out wanting - it still allowed me to machine all four sides without removing it from the fixture.
Which brings me to the fixture. I've never really put much time into setups as I usually just want to get the part done. This time, I realized the number of parts I wanted to make plus using the 4th axis required one. I'd also never used dowel pins for location devices, so thought that would be fun too! Although it's a bit cumbersome to mount and dismount the part, it worked as designed. When I originally made the fixture, I was a bit careless about maintaining parallelism between the top and bottom. I realized this at about the 3rd part when I was having trouble with things matching up when the rotary went all the way around. Once I fixed that - it turned out to work very well.
Once I got that sorted, the first operation was to cut a chunk off the raw 5"x2.5" stock.
Next up was to add a set of holes - 3 threaded and 2 reamed (for the dowel pins to locate) on both sides to use for mounting in the fixture.
Then I sawed this at a 30 degree angle to make 2 blanks. Here it is mounted up on the fixture in the rotary about to do the first position.
I had never used dowel pins to align a jig and got to use over/under reamers to make it work. It was actually pretty easy and it really made things very predictable and repeatable.
To complete 1 part took around 55 minutes of machine time. Most of this was trying to get a very fine finish on the contoured areas which took a lot of passes.
I was originally planning to do enough for 2 legs, which would have required 48 sections. At an hour each, that really added up.
Once I had the buttress pieces done, I moved on to the leg. I mounted the lumber in my lathe and turned the ends. What a mess! Turning wood in a metal lathe gets sawdust everywhere!
After turning that down, I slipped on some aluminum collars to each end and put together what I had for a bit of a mockup.
Now that I had the leg mostly there - I started in on the top. I had wanted to make it up out of a bunch of strips and glue/screw them together. I really ran into issues with warped and twisted strips. I ended up wrestling it around to something I considered acceptable, but it was a lot harder than I thought it would be. It ended up being 48x36".
One feature I attempted was to use 5 threaded rods to hold the top together. Although I got it done, it was probably the worst part of this whole job. I really underestimated how much trouble it would be to drill straight holes though 3 feet of 3/4" strips of wood of varying species! I thought it would be fun to make a set of custom nuts to hold it together. I wanted to recess them into the side of the top. I based the design off the 12 lobed base.
You may be wondering how I got those nuts tightened up. Well you make a tool of course!
I wanted to have a plate mounted on the underside of the top to use to attach the leg and also to help stabilize the wood. I found a galvanized round cover of sort make out of diamond plate. I was going to expose the diamond plate, but ended up liking the other side more.
Next was the base. I found a 20" diameter metal plate that was apparently used as a pipe cap. It probably weighs about 80 lbs and was a bear getting into the mill by myself! I milled a pocket in the top for the leg and on the underside I added pockets for 6 feet, plus thread milled the outer holes to accept an adapter I needed for the feet.
I realized I needed a way to securely mount the aluminum collar on the ends of the leg so they wouldn't spin. I decided to glue it on, but then added a wedge - just to make sure!
And here's the final result!
Some additional notes:
I think the overall design was OK, but in looking at the finished product I think it didn't come together as well as it could have. Not bad for my first attempt at furniture, but there's room for improvement. My brother pointed out there should be some metal form from the base/leg coming up through the top. I think he's right as that aspect is sort of the point of the whole thing. My wife thinks there are too many materials involved and it doesn't really come together - she's right too. Additionally I think proportions of the top to the base are off, I probably should have gone with a circular top. Although I largely managed to solve it, there is tendency for the top to be able to spin on the base as the compression collars just don't provide enough force to resist that.
VH-65 Seal Repair
After rebuilding the VH-65 and mounting it, I kept my eye on the oil level. After a few weeks it fell below the sight glass and I knew I had a leak. I had really fought with the large seal in front and immediately came to the conclusion I had messed it up. Careful observation seemed to show that it was leaking as there was evidence on the front of the rotary.
It's kinda hard to see, but there is some faint staining right below the seal area as shown here.
First up - remove the old seal. Easy - just drill a small hole in the seal and use a slide puller!
My problem the first time was I had no way to evenly pull in the seal. I had tried to gently hammer it in, but I knew at the time I had deformed it. I needed a tool.
When I was scrounging around my local surplus yard, I found a scrap ring of 6.5" ID aluminum. Perfect. For $10 it was mine. All it needed was to a bit of machining to open up the ID a bit and face it. I used the T slots in the face and a couple of scrap plates to rig up a way to pull it down. I carefully tightened each nut so as to install the seal square and even. It went in pretty easy.
I topped it up with oil and I'll keep any eye on it for the next few weeks a see what happens.
When I had purchased the rotary, the Fadal logo plate was missing. One happened to come up on eBay, so I decided - what the hell.
Since I got my '95 Fadal VMC20 a few years ago, I've always wanted a probing system. Not only does it help you stay accurate and reduce work, but you can insert probing routines in the programming. I wanted it all, a tool setter and an optical probe to use while machining. I hunted on eBay for a couple of years (it takes a while to find good/inexpensive examples) to finally assemble the following Renishaw Parts:
Next I had to figure out the wiring and how I was going physically mount everything. The first step was to create a diagram of how everything needs to be connected.
The above layout should work like this:
1) If you want to use the Tool Setter, you send an M65. This will cause the MI8-4 to select the Tool Setter as an input and output it's status to the 1060 board. If you send an M64, it will select the Inspection probe (OMM) for the input.
2) If you select the OMM, then you need to also send an M66 to actually start the probe. In all of the Fadal wiring docs I could find, they never connect the Error and Battery status to the control. If you use them, you can verify the probe started OK is working before you initiate probing. I've written the gcode to test those after a start is issued to verify the probe stated (i.e. go from error to OK) and to make sure the battery isn't failing. If there's a problem the program will loop to try starting again or allow you to abort.
In order to enable the M64 and M66 gcodes you'll need to populate the 1100 board with 2 SSR's (Solid State Relays) and 2 fuses. I used a Grayhill 70S2-01-A-03-A and a 1A fuse. Populate K31/F40 and K16/F10 on the 1100 board. These SSR's will be switching power supplied by the 24VDC power supply.
Here's a shot of the SSR's mounted and wired. The red wires are from the 24V PSU. The Green wire is for the M64 signal and the White wire is for the M66 signal.
In order to detect the Error and Battery status you'll need to create and adaptor for the 1040 board. This has a 26 pin edge connector that you need to interface with. By referencing the Fadal User Manual -> Macros -> Layout of I Macro, you can see that I(3) is pin 19 on J2 and I(4) is pin 20 on J2. You can test is the pin is logic high or low and create logic from there. I assume this card requires TTL voltage levels, so use 5V only!
I decided to mount the MI8-4, the 24VDC PSU, and the connector block to the inside of the electrical cabinet. Luckily there were two 1/4x20 studs sticking out that I could conveniently mount a DIN rail to. I also made up a small connector block out of some perf board to handle wiring up the various components. I 3D printed a couple of DIN rail adaptors for the backside. The 1040 board uses approx. 10K pullup resistors on the input pins. I set things up so an Error or Low Battery are high (active - i.e. the default state) and you need to pull them to GND to indicate a no Error condition. I added some caps to help with AC ripple, as it seemed the power from the Fadal was kinda noisy.
And here's the PSU, Connector Block and MI8-4 mounted and connected. All in all I'm happy with the layout.
I mounted the TS27R on the back left side of my table and ran the wiring up and over to the cabinet. Initially I was going to mount the OMM on the top left of the cabinet as indicated in the Fadal Maintenance manual, but looking at a bunch of pictures on the internet of HAAS and Fadal OMM installs - it looked like the back of the cabinet would be better. I mounted the MI12 on top of the pendent and ran the wiring under the cover that runs along the top of the cabinet. I had to create a hole to run the wires through on the pendent end. (The black box to the right of the MI12 is my interface for a programmable coolant nozzle I'm working on - more on that in a future post.)
I calibrated the TS27R (basically getting the stylus flat) and then determining the fixture offset. After that I tried a tool setting cycle and low and behold - it worked! Can't wait to machine something with my new capabilities.
Renishaw TS27R Toolsetting probe
I've been wanting a tool setting probe for my mill for a while now. It makes changing tooling a no brainer and also allows for high accuracy. These things are expensive however, so I watch eBay. After over a year of waiting, one came up for sale for $80. I went for it in spite of 3 strikes against the eBay add -
It was covered in a rusty dust and had a very funky protective flexible conduit attached. I removed that and washed the whole unit. I inspected the flex seal in the nose and everything looked really good.
The next thing to do was to test the contacts - I hooked up the DVM and tested the Red/Blue pair. Everything looks fine.
Looks like I got myself a probe.
Now all I need to do is source a waterproof conduit and the fittings to seal to the probe, mount the probe, run the conduit, mount the interface card, figure out where to add the probe signals to the machine I/O and calibrate and test it. It'll take weeks, but I'm pretty interested in getting it in.