Mach4 Conversation - Gecko G540 - Smoothstepper

All info relating to the Denford Triac series of CNC milling machines

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dubstar_04
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Mach4 Conversation - Gecko G540 - Smoothstepper

Post by dubstar_04 » Wed 05 Jul , 2017 18:43 pm

I'm starting to upgrade my Triac to Mach4 using a smoother stepper (ESS) and a Gecko G540.

I am hoping I can document the conversation here to help other in the future.
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ESS_Gecko.jpg
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Re: Mach4 Conversation - Gecko G540 - Smoothstepper

Post by TDIPower » Wed 05 Jul , 2017 23:09 pm

Will be good to follow this

Pete

dubstar_04
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Re: Mach4 Conversation - Gecko G540 - Smoothstepper

Post by dubstar_04 » Thu 06 Jul , 2017 12:31 pm

Update:
Attachments
Blanks1.jpg
Made some blanks to replace the original stepper drives.
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Installed1.jpg
This is a test installation of the new controller and stepper drive
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stepper1.jpg
Comparison of the original parker driver and the new Gecko drive
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Re: Mach4 Conversation - Gecko G540 - Smoothstepper

Post by alextaylor23 » Fri 07 Jul , 2017 1:26 am

I just got a triac recently running on VR milling...I will be following to see how hard this is. It might be on my list of things to do in the near future.

dubstar_04
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Re: Mach4 Conversation - Gecko G540 - Smoothstepper

Post by dubstar_04 » Mon 17 Jul , 2017 22:22 pm

I have the X axis wired and working and I have moved on to the spindle and I have run in to some issues.

There are 2 outputs on the Gecko G540, these are wired to the Spindle Go Relay (SGR) and Spindle Reverse Relay (SRR).
The spindle speed is controlled via PWM on the Gecko, with feeds from the sprint spindle board. Reference, +10v and input speed.

When the spindle is activated in mach with a speed of 500 rpm the SGR relay is switched and there is a voltage of 1.25v at the spindle board as expected, however the spindle doesn't turn.

If I try to run the spindle in reverse the SRR is activated and there is 1.25v at the sprint board input and the spindle runs just as expected.

Have I missed something?

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Re: Mach4 Conversation - Gecko G540 - Smoothstepper

Post by dubstar_04 » Mon 17 Jul , 2017 22:27 pm

Do I need to switch the Guard Spindle Interlock Relay (GSIR) too?
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dubstar_04
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Re: Mach4 Conversation - Gecko G540 - Smoothstepper

Post by dubstar_04 » Tue 18 Jul , 2017 20:53 pm

This is fixed now.

It was an error in the Mach configuration.

The Gecko Drives the spindle perfectly.

What a relief!!

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Re: Mach4 Conversation - Gecko G540 - Smoothstepper

Post by alextaylor23 » Wed 19 Jul , 2017 15:20 pm

That's good! So the gecko 540 was able to interface with the original spindle controller easily? From everything I have read this is where most people have problems. What was the issue with Mach that was causing it not to work?

Are you planning on replacing the steppers?

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Re: Mach4 Conversation - Gecko G540 - Smoothstepper

Post by dubstar_04 » Wed 19 Jul , 2017 18:19 pm

Yes the Gecko G540 connects directly to the sprint drive and controls the spindle.

The Gecko has two outputs, these are currently linked to the Spindle Go Relay and the Spindle Reverse Relay, I had the SGR set to active low thinking that it needs to be grounded to activate the relay. This is incorrect the Gecko pin is active high to activate the output that pulls the connection to ground and energises the relay.

I was very worried about the spindle, I partially expected magic smoke and an explosion of some description when I switched the spindle on.

My only complaint of the G540 is that it is short of outputs and inputs. I will be adding a second breakout board to control the coolant pump and accept input from the spindle and axis overide pots.

I am however pleased that the Estop, axis limit switches and axis overide all remain functional once the ESR is connected to the Estop input on the Gecko.

I have new steppers ready to swap out but I am going to use the existing ones until I find a reason to change. The Gecko does 10x microstepping and is running at 48v 2.2A and the motors are ripping along quite nicely. The Gecko will do up to 3.5 Amp so there is room for extra torque too.

dubstar_04
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Re: Mach4 Conversation - Gecko G540 - Smoothstepper

Post by dubstar_04 » Mon 24 Jul , 2017 8:21 am

I've posted a video of the machine running on Instagram.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BW6r5Ihlp4q/

This was a first test, the speeds and feeds are way off and I didn't leave enough stock on the adaptive clearing but it works!!

I have swapped the G540 connection to the spindle reverse for the Coolant On Relay so I can control the coolant. I've never used spindle reverse any way.

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Re: Mach4 Conversation - Gecko G540 - Smoothstepper

Post by alextaylor23 » Wed 26 Jul , 2017 15:08 pm

Looks good! First part I made recently too was also a holder for the easy change tool holders.

You seemed to have finished this quickly... It gives me confidence maybe I can do it. So all you purchased was the smooth stepper and the gecko 540? Anything else needed to make the conversion besides buying mach 4? Did you notice any performance increase?

I have been having problems with vr milling 2 losing communication with my triac. The other day I was doing a helical plunge and half way down it lost communication and took off on a tangent until I stopped it. I have also had the spindle turn off randomly and lines of code missed. Yesterday i ran a program 80% of the way no problem then it missed a step and screwed up the whole part. Ran it again and had no problems. Very frustrating. I'm wondering if converting to mach 4 will help these issues. Did you ever experience this before. I'm wondering if this set up will be better?

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Re: Mach4 Conversation - Gecko G540 - Smoothstepper

Post by dubstar_04 » Wed 26 Jul , 2017 21:54 pm

This conversion has been super easy. I will do a full write up soon once it's all finished.

Parts so far:

SmoothStepper
Gecko G540
48V PSU
12V PSU
5V PSU
3 x Namur Amplifiers - Pepperl & Fuchs - KG30-T30/EX (Datum sensors)
Optoisolation board for the namur amplfier outputs.
Ethernet cable
Ribbon cable
IDC50 2.54 breakout board
IDC50 2.54 pitch headers
Some bits of cable and connectors
Parallel adapter

The performance isn't even comparable, the Denford electronics are 20 years old.

It had all the same problems that you described. I could make a part and it would be fine. Make a second and loose 10mm in an axis half way through.

This was a no brainer for me, I want to be able to turn the machine on and it work properly everytime. There are much cheaper ways of converting to Mach but I believed that the Smoothstepper and Gecko G540 are extremely reliable.

Thanks for commenting, it's nice to know someone is listening!!

Updated: Added more parts
Last edited by dubstar_04 on Wed 07 Feb , 2018 13:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Mach4 Conversation - Gecko G540 - Smoothstepper

Post by alextaylor23 » Thu 27 Jul , 2017 17:23 pm

Well knowing you had the same issues I am running into really makes me want to give this a shot. Though looking at the input/output limitations for the gecko 540 I am thinking it may be better to go a different route with the BOB. Maybe a pmdx or something.... They seem to have plug and go pieces to make the conversion a little easier.

I guess I am pretty new to this but I would think 3 of the 4 inputs would be proximity switches and both outputs would be spindle forward and spindle reverse? Then the analog output is just for spindle speed. I think I would only need 1 more output for coolant but maybe I am overlooking something.

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Re: Mach4 Conversation - Gecko G540 - Smoothstepper

Post by alextaylor23 » Fri 28 Jul , 2017 2:27 am

After doing a little more reading it seems like the g540 might be a good choice. I didn't realize the smooth steppers could run multiple BOBs if needed (told you I was new at this!). Do you have specs on the current steppers? How did you decide on a 48V power supply? What amperage?

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Re: Mach4 Conversation - Gecko G540 - Smoothstepper

Post by moray » Sat 29 Jul , 2017 0:09 am

The G540 is overpriced for what it is, as you can buy separate components for less money, especially since a G540 will cost you at least £330 ($299 + about $40 shipping. So say $340, at the current exact exchange rate is £259. Then IIRC the import tax is 2.5%, then VAT on top of that, comes to just under £320, then depending on courier, you can add a £10-30 handling charge onto that). I wouldn't even consider the official UK distributor, as they won't leave you much change from £450.

You could buy 4 drives with similar tech/performance to the gecko G540 for about £190, or 4 digital drives with better performance for about £230. That's assuming you want to stick to the 50V/5A max limit. The steppers on Triacs are good for about 60-70V, but I personally wouldn't run that high unless you were really wanting to maximise performance.

Add a cheap breakout board from ebay for a tenner, then the only thing missing to get the same functionality is a step/dir to 0-10V adapter. They are available but my search skills are failing tonight.
So you'd be looking at around £250 for components with similar features to a G540.

Then add a suitable motion controller of your choice (Parallel port, SmoothStepper etc)

However, that means switching all the control circuits to 5V, meaning you lose the noise immunity benefit of 24V.
For a bit more money, you could get a CS-labs CSMIO/IP-M (€229 plus shipping, and works with Mach 3 or 4) which would allow you to keep using 24V for control circuits, along with analog inputs and outputs (be warned that this is the basic motion controller, and if you need more I/O than the module provides, you can't add any expansion modules to this controller).

There are also various other controller/breakout board options.
PMDX have very good quality breakout boards, and also do motion controllers (Mach 4 only)
I personally use Dynomotion KFlop's with various expansion boards in my machines (Mach 3, or Dynomotion's own KMotioCNC software)
The UCNC boards seem to be increasing in popularity, along with their own software (or can be run via Mach 4).

Then there is the opensource LinuxCNC option, with either parallel port, or MESA board options.

One thing to be aware with conversions, is the homing sensors may be two wire NAMUR output sensors, which either require some butchering of the original controller, or some very expensive interfaces if you want to use them (I swapped mine for standard 3 wire proximity sensors).

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Re: Mach4 Conversation - Gecko G540 - Smoothstepper

Post by alextaylor23 » Sat 29 Jul , 2017 0:52 am

Moray, thanks for the info! Very informative. After a little more reading I am considering the leadshine mx3660... It has better drivers than the gecko and more I/O...And since I live in the States it is pretty reasonable. The only downside is it appears it is 5v signal logic. Then in thinking of pairing it up with warp 9 smooth stepper. Hopefully I will not have to replace the homing sensors...I take it 3 wire switches are the standard?

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Re: Mach4 Conversation - Gecko G540 - Smoothstepper

Post by moray » Sun 30 Jul , 2017 20:58 pm

If you're on that side of the big pond, then the Gecko stuff doesn't carry as big a premium over the other options, but ultimately they are still using at least 10 year old technology. The latest Leadshine drives are probably the best drives available just now.

Personally I'd go for individual drives, as although a bit more expensive initially, should something go wrong with one of them, you only need to replace the one drive.

Early machines were all two wire homing sensors. I know my machine (1997 IIRC), still had two wire sensors, and there is limited choice for changing them, due to the small size used. I used RS part no - 785-8468, which is an Omron E2E-S05S12-WC-B1 2M

I've got a retrofit thread over on mycnc if you want a bit more detail, and the reasoning behind what I done - http://www.mycncuk.com/threads/10344-Ye ... it-thread)

I'm still working on the coding to get my tool changer more robust, and need to get a new control panel made.

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Re: Mach4 Conversation - Gecko G540 - Smoothstepper

Post by alextaylor23 » Tue 01 Aug , 2017 3:06 am

Moray, I read through most of your post on CNC... Very nice write up! Unfortunately at this point I don't understand it all :shock: . I am hoping to make the conversion as simple as possible, much like the OP.

From what I understand, the leadshine mx3660 does Allow you to replace an individual drive if it were to fail. Probably not as easily as a BOB and individual drivers, but I am banking on not having to do this 8) .

So looking through the cabinet tonight I think I get the gist of where I can "splice" in the BOB and drivers with a new power supply. One thing maybe I am not understanding is if I go from the BOB to the existing wires for the relays (coolant relay or sgr), will the new 5v signal from the new BOB activate the relays? I would imagine they are rated for 24 V. I have to be missing something?

Also, I pulled off the way cover and looked at the homing sensor and it appeared to have 3 wires, but my machine is a 95. Hopefully I am looking at this correctly. Unless the micro switch is a limit sensor and the proximity sensor is the homing? In that case I need to do more digging to see how many wires they are. Any easy way to tell by looking in the cabinet? Dubstar, are yours 3 wire? I know you said you had no problem implementing yours.

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Re: Mach4 Conversation - Gecko G540 - Smoothstepper

Post by alextaylor23 » Thu 03 Aug , 2017 18:06 pm

After a little research I have answered my questions about proximity sensors being the homing sensors and the output voltage is dependent on what power supply you use to power the output signals. I still haven't looked to see if my proximity sensors are 3 wire or not, or traced the wires to determine the best way to implement the 3 wire sensor if I need to. Look forward to more Write up from dubstar.

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Re: Mach4 Conversation - Gecko G540 - Smoothstepper

Post by alextaylor23 » Sat 12 Aug , 2017 14:55 pm

So I decided to do the conversion to Mach 4 also. I started hooking things up last night and I think everything is making sense except I am a little confused and cautious with the spindle board. If I look at the writing on the spindle board pin 1 says +10v, pin 2 says min (ground?), And pin 3 says I/P (0-10v?). Is this correct? Before I started unplugging all the original hardware I was probing around and came to a different conclusion, but now that I have dug into this a little I found the writing on the board which I now can't confirm (because the original hardware is no longer in working order). Any help is appreciated.

Also, it appears my homing switches are 2 wire... They never go to 0v but instead are below 10V when not homing and 12v when homing. Has anybody tried wiring in a MOSFET to get a true on/off signal?
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