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Discussion Starter #1
I came across an Index 9x42 vertical mill with a tape reader attachment on it that's circa 1975 for what seems like a very good price.

I'd like to run this off my PC instead of the tape reader. The machine currently has servo motors with optical encoders for feedback. The controller is about 6'x2.5'x1.5' and is made by GE and I'd like to ditch the whole thing.

Does anyone have info on controlling the servos and getting the encoder feedback to work on a PC?

I'd also like to know about software available to program the machine with.

I'm pretty much a noob and I'd like to avoid a costly mistake if possible. I have programmed robots, and a cnc Bridgeport in college (13 years ago) but I'm capable of learning any software.

I should mention that I have heard of devices that will feed the tape reader that comes with the machine but the prices I've been quoted are about double what the mill is going for.

Any input is appreciated.
 

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This will not be cheap, and IMHO not worth the time and $$... You would be much better off finding a "EZ Trac" or comp import machine, already NC, and easily 3rd axis retrofittable.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the input.

Should have mentioned in the first post: This machine is 3 axis control. It's also manually controllable on the panel with a nice digital readout so I could run it manually if nothing else.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
frankie finland said:
ya what he said wont to sell the mill ???

Frankie,

The guy that has the mill also has 3 or 4 more for sale. The one I mentioned here being the cheapest. He has a couple manual machines and a pendant control machine. I don't remember the brands. At least one is a Bridgeport and one is another Index. He also has at least 15 engine lathes for sale. I can put you in touch with him after I decide if I'm going to buy this mill.

What do you know about the conversion?
 

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servo motor controllers are alot more expensive than stepper

motor controllers. reason: steppers only require 2 inputs.

direction, and step-rate. servo's are more complex. if you can

figure out fairly complex electronic circuitry, then use steppers

for axis control. there are lots of software packages out there

for automation use. most are not cheap. if you can find some-

thing like Bob-cad to use, you can look into that. software is

going to be the money-killer on this conversion..........

--Sherpa
 

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lt1yj said:



Frankie,

The guy that has the mill also has 3 or 4 more for sale. The one I mentioned here being the cheapest. He has a couple manual machines and a pendant control machine. I don't remember the brands. At least one is a Bridgeport and one is another Index. He also has at least 15 engine lathes for sale. I can put you in touch with him after I decide if I'm going to buy this mill.

What do you know about the conversion?
i need a manuel machine for what we are going to do with it.

i dont know much about the controls you need but i think finding a machine already set up would be much less hassle time is money to. ;)
 

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FYI:

most of the Bridgeport EZ tracs sell for over 13.5k on ebay.

FYI...............

--Sherpa
 

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A while ago I look into changing one into a cnc mill. The price came out to be about $7000 with a proto-trak conversion. I settled for one with a digital readouts for now.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
From a CAD software standpoint I'm very well covered. I own two full seats of PTC Pro Engineer and 2 seats of EDS/SDRC Ideas Master Series. I don't currently have the CAM package from either of these companies but can probably get it included in one of my next purchases. Either of these programs will output files in full 3D IGES or STEP format. I can also output a host of other file types like DXF.

How can I tell for sure the motors are servo and not stepper? The guy that is selling it told me they were servo but he may be mistaken. The encoders are attached to the very end of the motors and look almost like an end cap on the motor except for the bundle of wire coming out the end.

To summarize what I think I need so far:

1. Motion controller with feedback control (servor or stepper with linear and rotary feedback)
a. ????

2. CAM software
a. Bob-cam $795
b. Deskcam $230
c. Mastercam (looks expensive but no price listed)
d. Cadcode $???
e. PTC or EDS CAM package $3-4K
3. Amplifier?????
 

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Mastercam is one of the best, but you will pay out the ass for a REGISTERED version (8-10k). There are illegal pirate copies floating around that dont require a hardware key, but again, illegal....;)
 

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Whoa.... lots of opinions all over the place?

How much for the mill? $2K... great! $4K... keep looking! :)

How good are you on LINUX? Do you want to run the mill for the fun of it, or do you want to have it in a commercial shop?

How do you feel about making up a little bread board, soldering the wires, and just getting a good understand about how things work (hey, if you are on this board... you're half way there!).

There have been a series of the "Linux in the Home Workshop" articles in The Home Shop Machinist. You'll also discover there is a CNC program in the public domain from the folks at National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Search for Enhanced Machine Control (EMC) on the machining web sites.

On the Index Milling machine... does it still have B&S #9 tooling? That tooling is a PITA to locate. You can machine the quill to accept R8 tooling (much more common). How is the table? Do you know how to run a dial indicator to check out the wear & slop on it? I was lucky as my old machine spent most of it's life making EDM rams... it was graphite coated beyond belief, but ket the wear down (table drops 0.000 5" in the center of its range... fine for my use). Yep, an old Index 555 Milling machine 9" x 42". Just make your own T-slots, and you're ready to go. Yes, I'm now running R8 tooling.

On the servo controll... search for GECKO drives. They have both servo and stepper controllers.


My system:
Basically I have Vector CAM $800 (pm me before you buy... :)
Yeager Automation (G code to PC parallel port) $250 (??)
Gecko Steppers ($500 for drivers, power supply) etc.

EMC would have saved me $1050 had I known about it (couple of years ago!!!)

If you get the machine, you got to show up to NAMES

When I MOVED last year, everything got put on hold and is in storage. :(

Tom :usa:
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
roundrocktom said:
How much for the mill? $2K... great! $4K... keep looking! :)

Under $2K and this will only be used for a hobby toy

How good are you on LINUX? Do you want to run the mill for the fun of it, or do you want to have it in a commercial shop?

I don't know LINUX at all but my wife does. What's the likelyhood she'd do programming for me? :laughing: The local CC has LINUX classes I can take in the fall

How do you feel about making up a little bread board, soldering the wires, and just getting a good understand about how things work (hey, if you are on this board... you're half way there!).

Soldering is not one of my strengths but I get by. I much prefer to do it myself than to buy it ready made. I think it's because I like to learn new things but my wife says it's because I'm cheap

There have been a series of the "Linux in the Home Workshop" articles in The Home Shop Machinist. You'll also discover there is a CNC program in the public domain from the folks at National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Search for Enhanced Machine Control (EMC) on the machining web sites.

I'll go grab a copy from the bookstore. Good info.

On the Index Milling machine... does it still have B&S #9 tooling? That tooling is a PITA to locate. You can machine the quill to accept R8 tooling (much more common). How is the table? .......

I don't know what tooling it takes. There is a whole pile of tooling that comes with it. I'm going to check it out with a friend that's a machinist. He refurbishes used equipment for his own shop. I can supply the dial indicator though:)

Thanks for the input!!
 
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