Calmotion USBCNC

To All:
This looks like a neat device.
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USBCNC
The USBCNC USB controller acts as an interface between commercially
available USB flash memory and any CNC with an available RS-232 port.
Machine tool files can be sent from CNC memory to the USB key, USB key
to CNC memory or drip fed (DNC) from the USB key. Flexible DNC firmware
is built into the USBCNC unit allowing connection to just about any
machine tool. Once the connection to a machine has been established,
settings can be saved and recalled for future use.
Features include:
USB directory listing
DNC (drip feed) operation with single button repeat operation
Tape input for file loading into CNC memory
Punch CNC memory file to USB key
X-Modem communication
Baud rate configurable
Saves machine communication settings
Data bit, parity and stop bit configurable
Hardware and software flow control
End of block character control
Optional end of block delay
Start of transmission character
End of transmission character
4 line LCD display with adjustable backlight for easy viewing
Rugged aluminum enclosure
Industrial rated keypad and display
Panel mount versions also available
Compatible with Mazatrol bin file format
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Reply to
BottleBob
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I don't really see this as being that great. It's ok for a back up if the network goes down, where the cost for this USB option seems to be $500-$700 per machine + installation. Down side is you still have to walk back and forth from the host computer to the machine to upload and download programs.
Seems to cost about the same as some wireless RS232 options where you wouldn't have to leave the machine to use them to upload/download/DNC.
Tom
Reply to
brewertr
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Kind of cool. Beats walking around with a laptop. Reminds me of the =46acit Walk Disk. A small hand held device w/floppy drive. Except, IIRC, it couldn't drip feed.
Matt
Reply to
Matt Stawicki
Tom:
I accidentally marked your other post as read. And for some odd reason Google won't bring it up.
First, not all small shops chose to go to the expense of an Ethernet network with a central server (Grist for a future survey perhaps). Some are sneakernet, & some have computers at every machine. We had an inhouse made switchboard which was able to switch between the 5 programming computers and connect to the 5 VMC's (now 6 since they just got a brand spanking new 4020 15k Fadal), 1 HMC, & 3 CNC Lathes. But when we had to DNC a large mold surfacing program to a VMC that didn't have enough memory to hold the program we went with Predator DNC software to do it. Unfortunately that option has to have a computer dedicated to feeding the machine, so as not to tie up one of the programming computers. I think this little USBCNC device would be nice alternative option in that particular case. It could be transferred to any machine that needed it. I don't think there would be much of an installation charge, since it seems all you do is plug it into the RS 232 port and configure it.
Reply to
BottleBob
I used predator as far back as 10 years ago and never had to leave the machine controller to send or receive programs through the RS232.
Other than you using switch boxes I am not quite sure why you need/ed a dedicated computer to DNC, one computer should be able to communicate with multiple machines simultaneously.
Predator DNC [ Supports up to 256 connections per PC for simultaneous communications via RS232, RS422, Parallel, Ethernet, or FTP interfaces. ]
I may not have looked that close, IIRC all the ones I saw on the site were hard wired in and they cut into the machine controllers sheet metal enclosure to install them.
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1st photo its installed into the Fadal enclosure 2nd photo same as first 3rd photo and all the other photos after it, have not only the USB port mounted inside the machines enclosure but it also has the Universal Serial/USB controller four line LED mounted into the Machine Controller enclosure as well.
Seemed a little expensive at $700.00 - $1,000.00 per machine for what it offers, if I were going to spend that much I think wireless
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or even one of the palm pilots with RS232 cable may be better.
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I had one of the early Palms with RS232 to communicate with CNC's. I gave it away, wasn't nearly as good as these modern ones.
I have my laptop with PCMCIA card with cable to RS232 with me at all times. If a network, computer or cable goes down I still have communications with any machine I want.
I like the PCMCIA card slots on Fanuc's mostly as a backup if the network, computer, cable goes down and I like it for DNC. I like having alternatives should the network, computer or cable goes down, I just don't like this one.
For about $250 or so you could buy a used laptop, New PCMCIA card with RS232 and a cable. You can use the laptop and all the USB or smart media cards you want. Added advantage if the company has wireless router you can use laptop to upload/download programs to the network without leaving the machine. And your not limited to having it hard wired into only one machine unless you choose to do so.
Tom
Reply to
brewertr
Tom:
I'm not sure that DNCing in the background while you're trying to model geometry and create toolpaths in a CAM system is such a hot idea.
There is a pendant mounted one and a portable one. They are both discussed and shown on the Products page you linked to for the price.
You'd only need the portable one if you didn't have to use it often or on more than one machine at a time.
I wasn't even considering the hardwired one, just the portable one. Hey, I'm not selling them or getting a commission, I just thought it was a neat idea that might be useful to some shops.
Reply to
BottleBob
I would use a DNC server.
I thought you had a computer dedicated to send programs or DNC with the machines even though you could only do one machine at a time with switch boxes. Doesn't make sense to me if you are locking up a complete computer work station with your CAD and/or CAM programs on it just so you can drip feed a CNC.
OK, there it is,
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the portable one in the guys hand.....still looks Clunky to me.
Look at page 2;
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For the portable one you have to have a power supply, 110 wall plug and possibly an extension cord and what looks to be Proprietary Flash Key and Proprietary Cable for your RS232.
That's fine, I was just pointing out why I would like a Wireless, PDA or laptop rather than this Clunky USB Box.
Tom
Reply to
brewertr
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Predator is good stuff. Especially for older machines that are not Ethernet capable or originally ran by paper tape. I had a 1985 Mitsubishi v55 M2a control that was totally useless for large programs. It had RS232 but no memory at the machine to hold anything. After installing a 1meg BTR board, I could drip feed the machine using Predator on a cheap pc, on the network serving 3 other CNCs all running at the same time. It made an old piece iron a usable machine again. Although there was still some "Run DNC" or "Sneaker Net" work to call the program at the pc. A centrally loacted pc helped cut travel time. Shop Floor Automation guys were the experts 10 years ago. Today? That USBCNC sounds very cool, especially for backing up exec machine progs & common programs that get edited & trashed. That Mitsu was a turtle but man what a smooth, strong, gear drive head, 50taper machine 25hp? It made a great mold base machine. To bad Mitsubishi Heavy Machines stopped making them. Boy I'm glad those days or over. The new Hurco I use can do damn near everything you need at the machine whilst its running. The DXF translator/editor is almost a CAD program!. IMO it is the most user friendly CNC I have ever used. The boss is working on the 3D swept surface option & NC program call option. It ran all last night unattended cutting titanium. Boy I hope my program was right
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Reply to
milgil
Tom:
I guess I was a little unclear. Any of the programming computers can send programs to any of the machines by plugging in a short jumper from the computer output to the machine input on the switch box. DNCing is a rare event since there are three machines with quite a bit of installed memory that are normally used for long programs. When DNCing IS required on one of the low memory machines we have a separate computer on a wheeled cart with Predator installed that we roll over to the machine and plug it in. None of the programming computers are then tied up DNCing. I hope that explains the situation a little better.
We have to have a wall outlet for the wheeled computer, and an RS232 cable run as well. The Calmotion box would take up less real estate than our wheeled computer. Plus you wouldn't have to spring for the Predator (or other software).
Wireless + Predator seems like it would be more expensive than this USBCNC device. A PDA or a Laptop seem like they would be equivalent options though.
Reply to
BottleBob
To me it wouldn't be as Clunky if it could operate on an internal battery as well as having the DC power supply when the battery life isn't long enough. Still you are having to carry the storage device back and forth to get your programs to and from the network to your machines.
It may be but I am not sure, if needs be I would check it out.
Doubt I would go wireless in a shop like yours because you don't seem to move machines around much and you're already cabled up. However I would look into using the computer you roll out to the machines for DNC and maybe use it as your DNC/CNC Program Server.
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*
You already have Predator so you should be able to get a decent discount on a software upgrade if necessary. The machines are wired up so at this point you only need to replace the manual switch boxes and hook up the DNC server to the network.
You would be surprised how much time it saves not having to leave the CNC machine to send & receive programs or DNC. It is quite a savings not having to walk back and forth between the machines and the office every time you want to send and receive programs plus you having to fumble around with switch boxes and jumpers. Even though it is rare it takes time for you to roll out your dedicated DNC computer and set up DNC communications with a single machine.
Yes it costs money, I would get a quote just to see what it would cost and determine what the payback is. If you look at it closely you may be surprised just how much production time in a year your shop spends walking back and forth between the office and machines just to send and receive programs as well as set up and run your DNC computer.
I looked at the PDA again doesn't look like it will do DNC.
I always have my laptop with me. If a company has wireless access I can send, receive and DNC their programs without ever leaving the CNC Machine. While I am monitoring/operating the CNC, if time permits I can be programming the next part on my laptop without leaving the machine as well.
Network or communications go down between company and machine I am still productive.
Tom
*Some machines may need optional machine macros enabled for remote features. I don't remember for sure, it's been a while.
Reply to
brewertr
Tom:
I don't think having to plug the unit in is that much of an issue. Our machines are against the walls where there are electrical outlets every couple of feet.
Yes, carrying the flash drive falls into the sneakernet category, but on a long DNC part that shouldn't amount to much of a time hit - percentage wise.
Office? OFFICE?? WHAT office? But I'll add that when we only had one CNC mill that we had been manually writing programs for - and then got a CAM system and put the computer in the inspection room - it only took about 5 back & forth trips to the machine to see that this was a really bogus situation - so I moved the computer next to the machine. ALL our programming computers are out in the shop next to the machines. If some optimizing needs to be done you can just go a few steps to the computer, make your changes, and reload the changed program in short order.
The switchboard is dead simple and never goes down. As far as DNCing being rare, I mean it was like two years ago when the DNC computer was used last.
What you've been saying about networking the machines is excellent advice, and if we were starting over from scratch I might very well opt for that approach, even though each machine would have to have an Ethernet card (even at something like $500 each for 10 machines).
Reply to
BottleBob
OK, well ya got me there....LOL. When you stated you were using switch boxes and jumpers between computers I assumed your computers were in an office together.
Tom
Reply to
brewertr
Ethernet Card is one option but it's not a requirement for anything we've discussed here in this thread so far.
Tom
Reply to
brewertr

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