Not what I usually have in mind when I think "Retro"

rootboy

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I recently bought a used PCB milling machine that came with a ISA stepper card. That set off a hunt for the cheapest legacy PC that I could find with at least one ISA slot.

Maybe I'll load Commander Keen on the beast while I'm at it. :LOL:
 

Ed.D

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There's a guy online somewhere who wrote some CNC machining code in Amos and ran it on an A2000 I believe.
 

rootboy

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There's a guy online somewhere who wrote some CNC machining code in Amos and ran it on an A2000 I believe.

That's cool, but I would still need the ISA slot. That, and who wants to tie up an Amiga just for cutting on PCBc? :)
 

protek

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Could it be controlled with an Arduino? That could be connected via USB.
 

rootboy

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Could it be controlled with an Arduino? That could be connected via USB.

Well, I could just grab the controls off of my Zen Toolworks (which had to give up its spot on the bench for the T-Tech anyway), and use my Gecko controller and my PC (including a second PSU installed in the case for the CNC gear) that has EMC2 running on it. But the very nice stepper motor controller that comes with the T-Tech would be a shame to ignore. And I'm not quite ready to tear into my Zen.

So, for the time being, it all sort of cascades down into doing it their way.

But... the only thing that I really care about electronics-wise, is the stepper controller (and obviously anything on the milling machine itself). And it doesn't suffer from any proprietary nonsense*. So a simple stepper controller tied to a modern PC (or an Arduino as a G-code controller, like the one in my Rostock 3D printer) would do the trick. I see the ISA PC as a stop-gap measure until I either move on to EMC2, or do the Arduino thing (which BTW, I'm liking more and more. Thanks!). I do have some SainSmart controllers here, which BTW, are junk. Google CNCZone and "How I fixed my Chinese TB6560 controller" if you are bored and would like to go through 65 pages of angst. So they won't be showing up anytime soon in any of my gear.


*The stepper controller includes the up/down solenoid driver (no true Z axis, which in IMHO is a good thing in a PCB cutter), the 37 pin port, which connects to everything on the milling machine, the vacuum cleaner relay, and uses a couple of drop-in "Easy Power" GS-D200S stepper driver modules.

The board is already tuned to the stepper motors (it's just a matter of getting the current sense resistors sized right, but it's already done for me), and the controller contains two sizable transformers that are designed to work specifically with this setup. And the controller is very user-friendly. Almost everything unplugs, and if I blow a stepper controller, I can simply unbolt it and drop in a new one.

Heck it even comes with the 110/220 selector and fusing, I just need to drive it. So who wouldn't use it? The board is dirt simple, and even includes a prototyping area (which I found amusing). So repairs/modifications are a no-brainer.

And there is even an empty spot on the board for an additional relay, which I would use to control an air cylinder to raise and lower the spindle instead of the solenoid (the solenoid on these are known for overheating and you have to halt your work until it cools off).
 
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