"One Perfect Part at a Time"

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LinuxCNC and Vectric Aspire

For a moment, I thought I may have made a small miscalculation in switching my HB2 CNC router to LinuxCNC.

I finished creating a detailed sign carving in Aspire using three different cutting tools to make the carvings. I have been using MACH3 for my controller for which Aspire has a post processor file that includes ATC, automatic tool change. Aspire does not have a post processor file for LinuxCNC with ATC.

Oops…

There are two post processors for LinuxCNC in Aspire with no tool changing, one in inches and one in millimeters. I spent a moment thinking I might have to run 3 or 4 separate G code files to get the sign made.

I then considered I should do some research as surely someone has created a post processor file for Aspire and LinuxCNC with tool changing. I found some conversations on the subject but no sources.

I never hacked my own post processor file so that was my next consideration. A little more digging and study and I discovered how ridiculously easy adding ATC to the existing LinuxCNC post processor would be.

If you own Vectric Aspire, everything you need to know to add ATC to any post processor is in the help files that are included with Aspire. Check the help tab on the program screen.

In a few simple steps of code, I now have a beautiful operating post processor with ATC running with Aspire and the LinuxCNC. Sometimes the stars are aligned in the right house and things get easy.

I did a “dry run” (axis moving but no carving) with my new Aspire generated G code. The LinuxCNC stopped and waited for a tool change right on schedule. It’s always best to do a dry test run after making code changes on critical… Continue reading

Chips

The metal machining area and tools of my workshop have seen some action today. The Taig CNC mill has been busy cutting the 6061-T6 aluminum making 1 inch wrenches I designed for the Taig ER16 spindle and collet nut. I have been selling them under the KautzCraft brand in my store. It seems appropriate that the machine the wrenches are designed to fit are also making the wrenches.

The aluminum was purchased from Online Metals. They have a distributor in Grand Prairie, TX which is southwest of Dallas. Round trip from my studio was exactly one hour 30 minutes. Tolls and gas were probably almost as much as shipping would have been. I had the time and I wanted to see the supplier. I didn’t get past the will-call, but it is a large impressive warehouse and cut to order shop. It’s actual business name here is ThyssenKrupp. I don’t know anything beyond that.

Win 10 was giving me a bit of a struggle running CNC as I forgot to disconnect the LAN connection and WIN 10 decided it needed to do an update in the middle of my wrench making. No choice. It just corrupted MACH3 and locked it up, luckily just after I finished a part. Only choice offered was load update and quit or load update and reboot. No wait until later.

I had to find something else to do for about an hour as Microsoft did its thing. I won’t forget to pull the LAN connection next time. I did just that when I resumed work. Next upgrade will be on MY terms. Grrr… I think there is a way to block internet connection while letting the computer access and share files on the LAN. That’s all I need it to do.

The wrench… Continue reading

The Machine or the Product?

I like to consider my interest in tools from a philosophical viewpoint. I am not making a decision as to an interest being right or wrong as that is not the purpose. I note and explore the difference I see and am aware there are many reasons for the things I enjoy.

What I find for me is there is seldom a single reason. An interest is like love, there are a number of shades from pale to intense. The colors are seldom just black and white. The spectrum is not static and does vary with the passage of time.

The subject here is tools and machine tools. Specifically, I have explored what I own and use in my own workshop. I use this thought process for all of my areas of interest, It helps me understand myself and why I do what I do    Yeah, perhaps I am a little weird thinking about these things, but that’s OK.

I am a technical and analytical type. I am also a bit creative and like to explore how things work. I like mechanical machines and control systems. That’s an area I have worked all my life. I understand the reason; I am just made this way.

I have made an observation about my use of machines and the systems that make them operate. I admit to an early interest in electronics and my nearly 50 years in amateur radio. Computer hardware was an early outgrowth of the radio hobby. I had a working computer before the PC was born. When I got interested in machine tools, the use of computer numeric control (CNC) to operate some of the machines was a natural extension.

My career became involved with installing Building Management Systems (BMS). So it is… Continue reading

Killer Heat

I operate three PC type computers in my workshop and each controls a separate CNC machine. I have two Taig CNC mills and a home brew (HB2) CNC gantry router. Two of the computers are refurbished., small form factor size. I paid no more than $100 for each of them. One is an HP Compaq and the other is labeled a Compaq. Their styles are different. The third is very similar but larger bare bones built up. Probably $250 invested in it.

None of them have great internal cooling as they were designed to operate in conditioned spaces. My shop operates at outdoor temperature. It’s been running 95 degrees in there for the last two weeks. Outside it has been very near 100.

The larger case unit running the HB2 has stopped suddenly twice in the middle of a long run. It ruined one piece and almost ruined the re-run second.  It is not going to be put back into service again in this hot weather.

The HP-Compaq computer is a sweet little machine, or at least it was. I just let it upgrade from Windows 7 pro to Windows 10. I use it with a smooth stepper so I don’t have to be concerned about pulse timing. The upgrade took many hours of loading and saving files. It converted just fine and MACH3 and the Smooth Stepper were performing well with Win10.

HP-Compaq

HP-Compaq

I left it on for a day with it doing nothing but staying on the network. I wanted to see if WIN 10 was going to do any self-updating since the install. When I came back to it the computer was dead. There is a single blinking LED on the motherboard constantly flashing at about 1 Hz with a slight audible click.

I did a lot… Continue reading

Workshop Updates

I had to decide where to publish these new photos. It’s not really a new build or project so here we are in the blog. If you have been paying attention you may know I now have two (2) CNC Taig micro mills. The first mill is about ten years old. the new mill is less than a year old.

The original mill has mist cooling available and has a metal pan under the base. It is my primary metal milling machine but has machined far more than just metal. The new machine will be primarily used for dry milling. Mostly the carving of wax masters for lost wax casting. That does NOT rule out its use for anything else I want to machine.

Original Taig Mill

Original Taig Mill

This is the old warhorse. You name it, it has probably machined it. I put up a temporary chip barier on the left when the machine is active. You can see the mist/air nozzle mounted on the spindle. In the right hand corner is the set-up table I built and use for most of my projects.

Original Taig Mill with Smooth Stepper Controller

This is a different angle showing the new $80.00 refurbished computer I just bought. It under the monitor. The price included everything but the monitor. The 48Volt  CNC controller is homemade and contains the Smooth Stepper. This is an excellent combination.

New Taig Mill w/4th Axis

New Taig Mill w/4th Axis

This is my brand new Taig CNC mill. I just finished mounting it on this bench. The first mill started out here. The mill is set up for four axis milling. Of course set-ups can be changed at anytime. My intention is to use this mill and location for all my dry milling such as wax masters. With the new digital controller the… Continue reading

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