How hard to convert my current Mill?

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10 Oct 2015 23:21 #63663 by sticky
I have been getting inspired by stalking the LinuxCNC boards for a couple weeks... now I am finally ready to start a project. I am good with computers and good at operating CNC milling machines but I am looking to put an updated controller on a mill and need a little help. I have a mill with an old SONY controller but all of the retrofit packages I have found are thousands of dollars and require me to convert my machine to their proprietary computers, boards, servos etc. I am afraid of paying thousands for a new package then every time my machine goes down I would have to pay someone just to come look at their proprietary equipment. Since all my hardware already works, I would rather just change my controller.

My mill currently has 3 axis control and the SONY controller that has Windows 95 installed. I am traveling and cannot photograph my mill right now but this one is nearly identical (and appears to have the same controller & software.)

My question is: if I install LinuxCNC on a computer that has a parallel port, should I have to change any other hardware (boards, drivers, amps) on my milling machine? Or will this setup basically be plug & play, other than some software configuration? I really appreciate your guy help on this!



the software

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10 Oct 2015 23:55 #63665 by cncbasher
ok the main question is how good are you with electronics ? ,

regarding the machine , it should be a resonable conversion , if you have some knowledge of Electronics , changing the controller would involve something along the lines of a 5I25 & 7I77 interface
not a cheap route such as a parallel port , but definitely worth the effort , keeping the motors & encoders if fitted along with powersupplies , and origional switches etc

the main question is do you have any of the schematics or documentation for the machine .
if not it will probably require you posting or sending pictures of parts as needed , so we can identify them .

i am presuming this machine is servos , not stepper motors , which will place a bit more work on your part , if it's a stepper then you may get away with a cheaper conversion .

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11 Oct 2015 01:12 #63668 by sticky
With electronics I am more of a MacGruber than a MacGyver.

Here is the user manual for my controller. It is a Sony NU-20/30.

On page 9 it shows the serial port then a 20 pin and a 100 pin port that both go to the electrical box. I might be oversimplifying this in my head, but if I had a computer with the same configuration, would I still need the 5I25 & 7I77 interface? For that matter, the Sony controller is just a personal computer inside the box. Why couldn't I just install LinuxCNC on the Sony controller and utilize the existing configuration? Sorry if these are dumb questions. Again, I appreciate the help!

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11 Oct 2015 01:43 #63669 by PCW
Its possible that you can use your existing hardware _BUT_

1. What bus does the hardware use? if the interface cards are ISA based
it may be difficult now to find a CPU that runs linuxcnc well and has ISA slots

2. Is the hardware documented well (down to the register level)

3. Are you prepared to write or hire someone to write a linuxcnc driver for that hardware?
This may no be terribly hard if the interface cards come with full low level documentation, but
if they do not, you have a substantial reverse engineering task

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11 Oct 2015 02:53 #63673 by aventtini
Its a PC based system so you need to see if you have any PCI on the system board . Attach another HDD , get a combo pack . Use the existing PC can work .

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12 Oct 2015 08:16 #63704 by sticky

Its possible that you can use your existing hardware _BUT_

1. What bus does the hardware use? if the interface cards are ISA based
it may be difficult now to find a CPU that runs linuxcnc well and has ISA slots

2. Is the hardware documented well (down to the register level)

3. Are you prepared to write or hire someone to write a linuxcnc driver for that hardware?
This may no be terribly hard if the interface cards come with full low level documentation, but
if they do not, you have a substantial reverse engineering task


1. I am not sure about the bus... I will have to check it out when I get back home (that will be in a month or two.)

2. The controller hardware is not documented (at least I couldn't find it), but once I crack into it the cards may be well documented Sony computer cards.

3. No, I am not prepared to hire someone to write a driver... unless it is fairly inexpensive!

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12 Oct 2015 08:18 #63705 by sticky

i am presuming this machine is servos , not stepper motors , which will place a bit more work on your part , if it's a stepper then you may get away with a cheaper conversion .


Just curious... why will the controller conversion be cheaper with steppers than servos?

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12 Oct 2015 08:36 #63706 by sticky

ok the main question is how good are you with electronics ? ,

regarding the machine , it should be a resonable conversion , if you have some knowledge of Electronics , changing the controller would involve something along the lines of a 5I25 & 7I77 interface
not a cheap route such as a parallel port , but definitely worth the effort , keeping the motors & encoders if fitted along with powersupplies , and origional switches etc


last question for tonight. I looked at the 5I25 & 7I77 interfaces as well as other listed for sale. I cannot find an interface that matches the 100 pin connector. What should I get to match this one?

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12 Oct 2015 14:26 #63716 by cncbasher
simple answer is you wont ..
if your looking for a plug and play answer , chance is their is none

and thats basicly what your doing with a 5i25 and 7i77 is replacing the interface card ,

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12 Oct 2015 18:38 #63717 by BigJohnT
When you convert a machine like this usually you retain the servos and drives and the power supply and limit switches. The first thing you need to figure out is if the servo drives take 10+- velocity input. A photo of your drive cabinet may help. Assuming you have velocity servos with encoder feedback you need a PC and a motion card like the Mesa 5i25 / 7i77.

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