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Old 05-25-2011, 05:27 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Signal Box looses Connection with computer

Hey everybody, has anyone had a problem with your signal generator box loosing connection with the computer and stopping in the middle of a cut. Kinda getting tired of that happening. I though it may be a problem with a power savings setting with the desktop, so I disabled all the power saving stuff I could find. I'm starting to get into some serious industrial cutting and I want to feel comfortable with keeping my TM running as much as possible to keep up with demand for my parts. I'm wondering if I don't have a grounding problem or something. I'm gonna try and separate all my grounds from everything else and then ground the Plasma cutter separate from the rest of the electronics. any thoughts

I don't think its had anything to do with this but I've run all my wires (plasma torch cable, x and y axis motor cables, homing switch cables, and the ATHC cable in a cable carrier thats fairly tight. Could there be some type of interferance?

I am also having a lot of problems with my Thermal Dynamics A80. It seems like its using a lot of consumables. I was cutting 1/4" with an 80A tip and it lasted about a minute. I have a pretty good moisture separator ( supposed to be an industrial one) so I don't think thats it, but i could be wrong. Should I consider adding another one in befor the Plasma cutter. The industrial one is right after my air compressor and then theres about 25 feet of rigid copper line and then 15 feet of rubber air hose before my plasma cutter.
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Old 05-26-2011, 03:38 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I was having similar issues for about a year.. turned out to be a bad cable from the puter to the box. Replaced it a couple months back and haven't lost signal since.

I use a Hypertherm so I'm not familiar with your TD80 however..

I cut most of my 1/4" with a 40 or 60 amp nozzle (on my PM1250). I would probably only use 80amps if I were cutting lots of large pieces (and wanted them quickly) where the need for speed outweighed the need for edge quality.

Have you gotten down close (with goggles or welding helmet on) to really watch the nozzle during piercing/cutting? Maybe it's piercing too close and ruining the nozzle/electrode from splashback? I pierce 1/4" at .21" and can get 700-900 pierces from a 40amp nozzle pretty consistently.

As for the moisture... You could run one of those cheap water separators with the plastic bowl right up close to the plasma cutter. That would at least give you an indication of whether lots of moisture was getting out that far..
I've been cutting for about 2yrs using nothing more than a couple simple water separators near the compressor..and another at the plasma cutter. I check the one at the plasma a few times a day for moisture.
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Old 05-26-2011, 07:57 AM   #3 (permalink)
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When is the Signal Generator kicking offline? Is it during the piercing process, or somewhere random throughout the program? The computer going into sleep mode will definitely kick off communication, so it's a good idea to keep that off.

If it's happening at the pierce point, then it is most likely the plasma cutter generating a RF that is interrupting the communication between the control box and the computer. If it happens randomly, it may be related to a power draw from say the compressor kicking on. If the control box receives a large enough drop on incoming AC voltage I have seen that power cycle the control box.

Separating the plasma cutter from all of the electronics and cables is an excellent test to see if the plasma cutter interference is the cause. If separating the cables fixes a drop at the piercing point, then problem solved. If it's not at the piercing point, you're going to have to look for another commonality as to when it's kicking offline. As Besrk said, I have seen changing the USB cable fix the problem, and many other off the wall (possibly even unrelated) things people have done to solve their RFI problems.
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Old 05-26-2011, 08:59 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I'll try and change the cable first.... start with the simplest thing first right? I'm gonna separate the grounds from everything else anyhow, just because my electrician didn't do that for all the circuits in the shop anyhow. The loss of signal is totally random. it may not do it for a half an hour but then the next sheet it will stop 3-4 times in 80 inches of cutting for one part. aggrevating as hell.. makes my blood boil sometimes

As far as the fixing the problem if its a power draw from the air compressor... would a battery backup(UPS) help? or should I bite the bullet and put in a couple hundred dollar capacitor bank for the control devices? I'm gonna run through a couple of things with the tech guys from TM later, I have to order some tips and electrodes first though. burned up 3 electrodes and 5 cups in about 3 hours of cutting... thats why i was assuming it was water or something in the line.
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Old 05-26-2011, 09:04 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adilger1 View Post
I'll try and change the cable first.... start with the simplest thing first right? I'm gonna separate the grounds from everything else anyhow, just because my electrician didn't do that for all the circuits in the shop anyhow. The loss of signal is totally random. it may not do it for a half an hour but then the next sheet it will stop 3-4 times in 80 inches of cutting for one part. aggrevating as hell.. makes my blood boil sometimes

As far as the fixing the problem if its a power draw from the air compressor... would a battery backup(UPS) help? or should I bite the bullet and put in a couple hundred dollar capacitor bank for the control devices? I'm gonna run through a couple of things with the tech guys from TM later, I have to order some tips and electrodes first though. burned up 3 electrodes and 5 cups in about 3 hours of cutting... thats why i was assuming it was water or something in the line.
A ups battery backup should help or solve the power draw issue if it ends up being that.

Bad consumable life can be air quality, but is normally air pressure and volume. If the torch is at it's minimum possible air pressure the torch will still operate, but the consumables will heat up and probably fail very quickly. Water or moisture in the airline is usually represented by a darkening and pitting inside of the consumables on the electrode and tip. Make sure the air pressure is sufficient when purging the torch, it should be at a minimum of 70psi while running, but ideally between 75 and 85 psi. Make sure it doesn't drop as the compressor starts to drain.

Give Thermal Dynamics a call if everything seems ok, they have free and unlimited technical support just like us and are far more knowledgeable in their plasma cutters then we are, because they do it all day every day. Their number is 1-800-752-7622
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Old 05-26-2011, 07:06 PM   #6 (permalink)
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The electrode is bluish with a swirl patter to it. welll...... whats left of it.. I'm assuming its overheating even though I don't run less than 75 psi ever. Its a pretty good compressor.. a 175 psi two stage compressor 60 gallon. I measured the actual CFM with an equation I found online.... its actual cfm is 17.5 at 90 psi. I'm thinking it's almost gotta be moisture. I'm gonna work on the grounds, add a ups, and add another moisture separator right before the cutter. Thanks for the info on TD. I'll give them a call and see what they say about the consumables.
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Old 05-27-2011, 04:06 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I have also had the lose connection issue recently. Although its not a permanent solution, putting the control box on its own extension cord to another outlet seems to be working.
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Old 05-27-2011, 06:04 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by 4x4runner View Post
I have also had the lose connection issue recently. Although its not a permanent solution, putting the control box on its own extension cord to another outlet seems to be working.
Sonofabitch! Mine did this same thing for the first time last night. 4 different times in the middle of cuts, not at the pierce point. I get a lost communication error and my plasma cutter stays on (triggered) until I physically turn off my control box. What the fucking fuck? Troubleshooting tomorrow...
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