Tuesday 28 August 2018

Dust Collector HoseSupport 2 - episode 218

I admit it
The hose support I made in the last episode didn't look and work the way I immagined when I designed it. The DC Hose old and not as flexible as it was when I purchased it all those years ago. At the same time I also bought a flexible 4" flexible VentilationDuct and it is still as good as the day I bought it. It has Aluminium on the outside and plastic film on the inside. The plastic walls are very thin and that makes it very flexible indeed. This is not made for use as a dust collector hose and while I'm sure it will not be damaged by dust and woodchips I can't say the same about small peices of wood picked up by the DustShoe. The only thing I have gong for me in that respect is the Dust Ciollector I have is only 1hp and it doesn't pick up too many larger pieces of material. Only time will tell if it will survive but it could be destroyed on it's first time out. I do not recommend you follow my lead in this  until it has proven itself one way or another.
I can kiss my 3 year warranty goodbye on it to start with and if it is still working in 3 years I will be astounded.

Click to view

My Thoughts
I do like the look of the new setup and the cost of the Flexible duct is only $14 so it's worth a try. If it does bite the dust, (so to speak), then no big loss and I will pull the original hose forward down to the DustShoe as I should have enough length to reach. If not i will cross that bridge when I get too it.
I also need to find a way of storing the DustShoe when I don't want it connected to the machine as I sometimes video without it to give better visibility.
Static is a possibility with this hose as with any DC hose. The plastic isside and the metal outside might make an interesting combination. Fortunately if it does prove to be an issue grounding it will be very easy but i will wait and see what happens.

This is the flexible duct I have used if anyone is interested

Not much else I can say about this. I hope you enjoyed the episode and I will see you on the next one.


Saturday 25 August 2018

Dust Collection hose support - episode 217

Pimp my Hose
Chip's back and he's not happy with the state of my dust collection hose. 
Can't say I blame him really and I had a good suggestion from a subscriber, (sorry I can't find his email to give proper credit)
Us a piece of pipe to support the hose and ensure it can't get a sharp bend in it. The sience of air flow in pipes is well beyond me but the basic thing to know is to have nice gentle bends and smooth inside surfaces. The hose I have is far from smooth inside but at least I can reduce the sharp corners. 

Click to watch Video

The Result
Not reallly sure how I feel about the result so far.
It keeps the hose up and it looks tidier on camera but I could have done that by shortening the rope. It does eliminate the sharp bends in the hose so that is good and should improve air flow if only a little.
I am very interested in hearing what ideas you guys have and seeing if I can improve on the design or even abandon it and start something new.

This is the first on camera use of the vacuum table and is the sort of project it was made for. Holding thin material flat so it can be accurately cut. The new AutoZero Macro made cutting this project possible without cutting up the Tabletop.

UCCNC Macro upgrade
I also announced the new UCCNC AutoZero tool setting Macro from John Revill.
For those who are interersted it can be down loaded here

This brings the UCCNC version in line with the changes made to the Mach3 script earlier in the year. 
The addition of a Pre Touch test before the probing can begin will ensure that you have a working circuit so that the cutter will crash into the touch plate. This is particualy useful for those people who have to remember to clip a lead onto the cutter.

The macro has been provided in both Metric and Imperial flavours.
The new Macros have a built in touch test which must be performed before the AutoZero 
routing will start. After entering the material thickness offset you have 30 seconds to touch the 
touchplate to the cutter. When connection is detected the PC will beep and you have 2 seconds
to replace the plate on the table or stock surface.
2 seconds is longer than you think!
If a touch is not detected a time out will occur.
There is 1 parameter in the script that you must change, The touch plate thickness
If you have a touch plate with a switch in it the set "bool SwitchedTouchoff " to true
Everything else should be ok.

The Pre Touch test and beep can be disabled if desired but it is not recomended.

Thanks for watching and I'll see you on the next video.

Wednesday 15 August 2018

Autozero issue - episode 216

This episode is inspired by Ted who was kind enough to share his problem and the solution.
I like a mystery so long as I find out the eventual solution. Probably why I spend most of my time listening to mystery Audiobooks. (no this is not an advertisement for audiobooks)
Teds issue is that despite using the Autozero script that I demonstrated in recient episodes he is having issues with the cutter cutting into the spoilboad even though it shouldn't. He explained how he is using the machine and everything was good so the issue had to be the machine but what?

When it comes to checking things I always check the easiest first. 

 Click to watch

          1. Slop in the spindle / router bearings.
Don't take this for granted even if it is new. It takes a second to check and i have seen the issue on both old and new routers. I have seen people spend hours checking their machine trying to find lost steps when 1 second checking the routers bearings would have told the story.

          2. Slop in the X Z carriage bearings. 
This would equally apply to the Y carriages as well but that is even less likely and the test will highlight it as well. Again it is the work of a second to try and flex the Z axis and all will be revealed. You are not looking for flex in the X rail but abnormal movement in the axis. Some machines have more flex than others but you are looking for flex that doesn't belong there. In this case loose bearings. Vbearings such as I use are very susceptible to this as a small amount of wear on a V'ed rail will provide a lot of movement on the axis. Again it is is so quick and easy to check this why wouldn't you.

          3. Unlevel Tabletop
 All wood absorbs moisture and will swell when it does. MDF is a little worse than other woods but so long as it expands in a constant rate over the entire table you don't have a problem. It's when the MDF expands at different rates over the surface that the tabletop can become uneven. This usually takes many months but because the tabletop isn't constantly being scared and resurfaced the effect will accumulate over time. We all know what happens to MDF if you get it wet. It doesn't return to its original size when it drys out. Maybe it should be marketed as the grow your own tabletop. Just water occasionally and when it grows to the height you want just resurface. I of course jest!
The solution is to simple resurface to the lowest point on the table. It will flatten the table and your soilboard will remain the same thickness.

          4. Lost steps
The curse of all home CNC enthusiasts everywhere. Fortunately it is easy to test for and well worth checking if all else fails.

          5. Machine accuracy
This covers the touch off plate thickness and the Z axis calibration. If either of these is out the effect will be the same. Where possible use a dial indicator to calibrate the Z axis as it will give the most accuracy. The small movement of the Z axis will makes it very hard to calibrate unlike the X & Y. 
Likewise the touch off plate thickness measurement needs to be correct. You would be surprised how a shallow cut in the tabletop looks like the grand canyon when the light gets on it just right.I can't help wonder how accurate the cheap calipers are but they always seem to be pretty good.

The solution
Well as you saw the solution was a combination of the touch off plate accuracy and Z axis calibration. These were always the most likely to be at fault but you must never take things for granted. Check everything but do it in a methodical manner or you will simply make things worse. If you find something wrong then fix it and retest. If you still have a problem continue searching but don't hop about like a flea in a fit. Remember that the aim of the exercise is to fix the problem you have, not create new and even more diabolical ones.
Change only one thing at a time.

Thanks to Ted for sharing his problem and more inportantly the solution.

Until next time

Wednesday 1 August 2018

Mach3 or UNCNC?- episode 215

There are a couple of questions I get asek on aregular basis. 3 times this week already.
Should I change from Mach3 to UCCNC and what do I recommend for a first time builder. Mach3 or UCCNC
Let me start by saying that there are other control softwares out there, so are good and others not so good but the only ones i can really comment on are the ones that I have tried which I why this video is limited to the 2 options.

This is my thoughts on the 2 softwares and why I changed from one the the other.
I leave it to you to decide what is right thing for you.

Click to watch

As mentioned in the video a recent update to Windows 10 has broken Mach3 preventing it from opening. For anyone suffering this problem you can download the latest version of Mach3 which has the fix applied. The new version is Mach3 R3.043

If you wish to read a bit more about it then have a look  here

Windows Updates
The recent issue with Mach3 is a timely reminder that your machines PC should have updates turned off. Windows has a nasty habit of updating when and where it feels like it and if you are in the middle of a cut then too bad.

I you want to have a play with UCCNC to see what it looks like you can download the software and when it open it will ask you to select a motion controller. It will then run as if it has the chosen motion controller installed and you can get a feel for how it runs and configures. Until you but a licence for your motion controller it will not run your machine. 
UCCNC can be downloaded here.

2017 Screenset

If you are interested in the Screenset mentioned in the video you can find it here.

Gerry has a knack of making Screensets that are clean, easy to use and has added some nice probing routines to his screenset. Should you find you want to change a particular key or script to something that suits your personal requirements then there is no issue and you can easily make your required changes. 


United States supplier of UCCNC and motion controllers

This is where I purchased my UC motion controller from and they were very helpful so if you are not sure about anything just ask. They were good enough to see that I had missed out a critical piece in my order and alerted me to it. We got is sorted there and then, otherwise I would have received it and had to order the additional parts after realizing my mistake.

When you select your motion controller of choice you will get the opportunity to bundle it with a UCCNC licence which was cheaper than purchasing both items individually.

There are of course other suppliers around the world but I caution you to purchase from a reputable dealer. 

Be careful if buying a UC100 as there have been instances of fake UC100's being sold on Ebay which do not work. You have been warned!!!

Please also be aware that the UC300ETH requires to be attached to a motherboard to work. This can be in the form of a 5LPT board as I have with mine or a 3rd party board which will give additional features like built in relays etc. When purchasing a UC300 ask the supplier to explain the additional board options so you can choose the one that suits you the best. Don't forget to buy any ribbon cables to D25 you might need to plug into your Stepper motor drives.

The UC400 is a nicely presented ethernet motion controller which gives 2 parallel ports. Just remember to purchase the ribbon cables to convert from DIP to a D25 when you purchase this. 

Parallel ports
Yes, I did say that they are almost impossible to come by but before anyone says they can get a PC or even a laptop with a parallel port 2nd hand, I am talking about new PC's not old ones. There are still PC's with parallel ports on the 2nd hand market but they won't be there forever and sooner or later you will need to move with the times.
 Parallel port monitioring and pulse generation is a time consuming task for the PC and in addition it has to put up with the constant dribble that Windows thinks is important.
Windows is a truly horrible platform to build a realtime application on like a CNC machine and it is a marvel to me that Mach3 and the others do it so well.  I take my hat off to them.
Changing to a motion controller removes the need to generate pulses and monitor the pins for signals and allows it to get on with the rest of the job. This reduces the load on the processor and things run better.

Well that is enough from me for this video.
Please feel free to comment and share and  I will see you next time.