Hey yall, this is Clive, the facilities manager and shop foreman of Crashspace. This is my first blog post, I hope you like it.
1. What we have!
2. What we are working on hasing. Having.
Here I am rooting around the guts of an old laser cutter. I am going to be upgrading this bad boy over the next few weeks to be a lean mean cutting machine again. I have already ordered the parts to retrofit the X-Y stage. The problem we might have is that the servos have really high count encoders on them and the computer might not be able to drive the table real fast because of that. There is a way around this however.
The basic principle of a CNC machine is the conversion of G-code into meaningful machine motion. This requires a few things to be in order:
1. Mechanical: your machine needs to be able to move with accuracy. This means you need either stepper motors or servo motors, and they need to be driving some sort of backlash compensated drive train. In the case of the laser cutter we have, it is servo drive on backlash free ball screws.
2. Electric: you need to be able to power both your servos or steppers and your spindle or cutting unit. Our laser is missing an RF amp stage. This might mean we need to get a whole new tube.
3. Electronic: You need a system to feed the motors with voltage in a very precise way. I am using gecko320 drivers to run the servos, and they are talking to the computer via a breakout board that expands the parallel port into a multi-io device. The computer handles converting gcode (machine motion language) into motor control commands, the motor drivers convert those commands into voltages.
Our mechanicals look good, the electric and electronic is getting stripped out. I have new power supplies and servo drives. I will hopefully get the laser table running a week after I get the parts in the mail.
In other news I whipped the problem of serial communication with the contact sensor system.. they are amazing. I wish they were not so damned expensive though.