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  1. #1

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    CNC Tensilathe Upgrades and Conversions

    Extreme newbie here, other than college and a 3D printer, never messed with any CNC equipment.

    Picked up a CNC Tensilathe that just makes tensile test specimen. It has a Galil DMC-1020 card running tensilathe user interface/software.
    While I can load a dxf of any shape and cut it fine, I'd like to be able to cut threads and have better jog controls.

    I've read that I could use Mach 3 as it supports the galil cards but I didn't see that it supported the 10x0 legacy cards though. I've seen camsoft but the price tag is a bit steep for me, at least while I'm starting out. What other options do I have for software?

    I would like to cut threads with the machine and am not 100% on this but I think it needs some kind of indexing on the spindle. I've looked around for solutions to add an index pulse that will work with the tensilathe software or an aftermarket software. So far I've found plenty of options for the index pulse mechanisms, too many actually. Can someone point me to a good source for setting this up? Doesn't have to be "buy this, screw in here, type this", a general "you'll need this type of index(er?), you can install it on this input, it needs this type of software setup".

    Probably many more questions to come so thank you for your patience and help!

  2. #2
    Community Moderator Jim Dawson's Avatar
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    Re: CNC Tensilathe Upgrades and Conversions

    I had to Google Tensilathe, looks like a nice machine. I don't know anything about the Tensilathe operating software or the control system hardware so you will have to help me to help you. I do use Galil products on all of my machines, so have a very good understanding of that hardware, however the DMC-10x0 cards are antiques. But a quick look at the manual tells me that they will do threading on a lathe, the proper commands are available.

    I'm assuming that the
    Tensilathe computer runs on MS-DOS or something like that?

    As far as a sensor, the best way is to hang an encoder on the spindle, and use an encoder that has an index pulse that can be read by the Galil card.

    I don't know if the Mach3 Galil plugin is compatible with the DMC-10x0 cards, but I see no reason that it would not be. Might require some modification to the initializing code. But the DMC-10x0 command set seems to be nearly the same as the later 17/18x0 cards. LinuxCNC might be an option for you.

    If you decide to do some upgrades, I think the biggest problem will be trying to use that Galil card. I don't think there has been an ISA bus computer made in the last 20 years, certainly nothing compatible with modern operating systems.

    Does the current software accept standard G code?



    Jim Dawson
    Sandy, Oregon, USA

  3. #3

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    Re: CNC Tensilathe Upgrades and Conversions

    Thanks for the reply!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Dawson View Post
    I had to Google Tensilathe, looks like a nice machine. I don't know anything about the Tensilathe operating software or the control system hardware so you will have to help me to help you. I do use Galil products on all of my machines, so have a very good understanding of that hardware, however the DMC-10x0 cards are antiques. But a quick look at the manual tells me that they will do threading on a lathe, the proper commands are available.

    I'm assuming that the
    [COLOR=#000000]Tensilathe computer runs on MS-DOS or something like that?
    It runs on win98. To me, it seems the tensilathe program was written to be user friendly and only cut tensile test specimen without the need for a machining background.
    The galil software is on there but as far as I know, I can only use it for tuning and setup parameters, not so much controlling the steppers.
    As far as a sensor, the best way is to hang an encoder on the spindle, and use an encoder that has an index pulse that can be read by the Galil card.
    I haven't been able to find any reference to an index pulse input in the tensilathe manual, might have to review the galil manual instead.
    I don't know if the Mach3 Galil plugin is compatible with the DMC-10x0 cards, but I see no reason that it would not be. Might require some modification to the initializing code. But the DMC-10x0 command set seems to be nearly the same as the later 17/18x0 cards. LinuxCNC might be an option for you.

    If you decide to do some upgrades, I think the biggest problem will be trying to use that Galil card. I don't think there has been an ISA bus computer made in the last 20 years, certainly nothing compatible with modern operating systems.
    The galilplugin for Mach3 pdf I downloaded doesn't list the 10x0 as a compatible controller. I don't know enough about CNC to know why it wouldn't work though. I have considered upgrading to an 18x0 card from eBay but I wasn't sure about compatibility with the cable or the electronics in the lathe. Difficult to find information about it, probably due to not knowing the proper search terms.

    Does the current software accept standard G code?
    No. Only accepts dxf/mc files.

  4. #4
    Community Moderator Jim Dawson's Avatar
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    Re: CNC Tensilathe Upgrades and Conversions

    Galil products are very flexible devices and can be programmed for any motion control application. In order to run a CNC machine, they need a CNC program that can translate what ever input file into something the Galil controller can understand. This is a very simplistic explanation, but this is basically how it works. The only thing the Galil understands is encoder pulses or steps, it has no idea what an inch is.

    Yes, you will have to look in the Galil manual for the index pulse info. It is just one of the encoder inputs. If it is not used in the existing system, I would not expect it to be referenced in the lathe manual.

    You mention steppers, I'm surprised that the machine does not have DC or AC analog servos. The Galil will run both steppers and servos so no problem either way.

    I didn't see any reason that Mach3 would not run a 10x0 card, but I am no expert on Mach3.

    The down side of changing to a 18x0 card is that the existing cable and I/O board is not compatible. The 18x0 card requires a 100 pin cable and a mating breakout board. Both available on eBay. The up side is that you would be able to use a modern computer and a later OS.

    I'm not sure what ''mc'' code is, can you provide an example?

    I'll be happy to guide you through this, I have done this several times.
    Jim Dawson
    Sandy, Oregon, USA

  5. #5

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    Re: CNC Tensilathe Upgrades and Conversions

    You were correct to assume it had servos. I'm used to seeing little gearbox servos like the ones on an rc plane but I looked up cnc servos and they are a larger form factor. I just looked at the motors and they are servos.

    The mc files are on the computer, I'll have to grab one off for you. Just from a quick search, mc looks like an older mastercam file.

    I'll look up linuxcnc and see what kind of compatibility it has with the 10x0. I've read around here that since galil has their own language, it needs a plugin to translate from other g code languages.

    Thanks again for your responses so far.

  6. #6
    Community Moderator Jim Dawson's Avatar
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    Re: CNC Tensilathe Upgrades and Conversions

    Here are the 3 items needed to make the conversion to a modern computer if you want to go that route.

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Galil-DMC-1...YAAOSwGb9fnEL6


    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Phoenix-Con...MAAOSwDDdenhWQ


    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Phoenix-Con...UAAOSwNXpcqsXE

    There are some other options also, using the Galil Ethernet DMC-40x0 controllers. Mach3 will also work with these.

    Upgrading the computer would expand your software options.

    I don't know how your spindle is controlled, but having a dedicated axis for it would be a big help.

    Another good option would be the Dynomotion Kflop/Kanalog system.
    Jim Dawson
    Sandy, Oregon, USA

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Dawson View Post
    Here are the 3 items needed to make the conversion to a modern computer if you want to go that route.

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Galil-DMC-1...YAAOSwGb9fnEL6


    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Phoenix-Con...MAAOSwDDdenhWQ


    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Phoenix-Con...UAAOSwNXpcqsXE

    There are some other options also, using the Galil Ethernet DMC-40x0 controllers. Mach3 will also work with these.

    Upgrading the computer would expand your software options.

    I don't know how your spindle is controlled, but having a dedicated axis for it would be a big help.

    Another good option would be the Dynomotion Kflop/Kanalog system.
    That doesn't seem too expensive at all. My quick searches showed other galil cards at $1400+.
    I hadn't thought about an axis for spindle control. The spindle motor is currently an 80v dc motor controlled by a minarik scr drive. I thought it'd be sophisticated enough for my needs.

  8. #8
    Community Moderator Jim Dawson's Avatar
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    Re: CNC Tensilathe Upgrades and Conversions

    Depending on the Minarik control it might be possible to run it with the Galil analog output. Many of them have a 0-10V input available that is compatible with the Galil. One of the nice things about that, is that it would allow running the machine with constant surface speed. In other words, the spindle speeds up as the part diameter gets smaller thus keeping the cutting speed constant.

    If you want to upgrade to a modern computer, Win7/10, and a DMC-18x0 or DMC-18x6 card, I'll give you the software to run it. I wrote it, so it is mine to give away.

    A screen shot of the software that runs my lathe. Supports all common G code lathe functions, including threading and rigid tapping.

    Jim Dawson
    Sandy, Oregon, USA

  9. #9

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    Re: CNC Tensilathe Upgrades and Conversions

    That'd be great. I wasn't expecting such fast responses or options to upgrade the machine. I just put in an offer on the 1840. Once I get all the parts I'll be back!

    The only limitation I have with the machine is no threading ability, no numeric jog control, and no numeric feed rate control. The UI just has a slider for axis feedrate and displays the realtime ipm while it's running.

    Regarding the minarik drive, if it does have the analog input for speed control, I'd still need something to index the spindle for threading. A seemingly simple solution is to get an optical or inductive sensor on the spindle to feed an index pulse. Are there other (more reliable?) options that will meet my simple needs?

    Thanks again for your help.

  10. #10

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    Re: CNC Tensilathe Upgrades and Conversions

    I was shopping around on ebay and saw this amp that should interface directly with the dmc-18x0 - https://www.ebay.com/itm/Galil-AMP-1...torefresh=true
    Would this be able to replace the I/O board AND the 2 individual drives I have right now? If my understanding is correct, I would have to rewire with the appropriate connectors versus just inserting the wires in the contactor.
    The reason I'm looking at this is that it *could* be a bit cheaper than buying the i/o board you linked. I say *could* because it's untested and might be useless.

  11. #11
    Community Moderator Jim Dawson's Avatar
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    Re: CNC Tensilathe Upgrades and Conversions

    Quote Originally Posted by ddlaz View Post

    Regarding the minarik drive, if it does have the analog input for speed control, I'd still need something to index the spindle for threading. A seemingly simple solution is to get an optical or inductive sensor on the spindle to feed an index pulse. Are there other (more reliable?) options that will meet my simple needs?
    You need an encoder on the spindle in any case. For proper threading, the Z axis needs to be electronically geared to the spindle, and to do this correctly requires an encoder. Something like this https://www.automationdirect.com/adc...)/trd-s1000-vd


    Thanks again for your help.
    My pleasure.
    Jim Dawson
    Sandy, Oregon, USA

  12. #12
    Community Moderator Jim Dawson's Avatar
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    Re: CNC Tensilathe Upgrades and Conversions

    Quote Originally Posted by ddlaz View Post
    I was shopping around on ebay and saw this amp that should interface directly with the dmc-18x0 - https://www.ebay.com/itm/Galil-AMP-1...torefresh=true
    Would this be able to replace the I/O board AND the 2 individual drives I have right now? If my understanding is correct, I would have to rewire with the appropriate connectors versus just inserting the wires in the contactor.
    The reason I'm looking at this is that it *could* be a bit cheaper than buying the i/o board you linked. I say *could* because it's untested and might be useless.
    Well, the price is right.

    Assuming it works (and it most likely does), then it depends on the specification on your servo motors and existing drives. The 19540 is limited to 80V and 7 amps continuous (500 watts/motor)

    Post some pictures of the motors and drives. I'm most interested in the data plates on them, as well as the connections on the drives.
    Jim Dawson
    Sandy, Oregon, USA

  13. #13

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    Re: CNC Tensilathe Upgrades and Conversions

    Photos attached. I looked on all visible 5 sides of the motors and no name plates to be seen.

  14. #14
    Community Moderator Jim Dawson's Avatar
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    Re: CNC Tensilathe Upgrades and Conversions

    That's a bit confusing. With the R, S, T connection it seems that the motors are brushless DC motors. It looks like there is no connection to the tach input, but I can't tell for sure. But that would indicate that it is being operated in torque mode, no problem there. I can't see all of the connection labels to the drive so I can't tell if it has Hall sensor connections.

    Without a data plate or a part number on the drive I can't tell the operating voltage, but my best guess is in the 200V range. This would eliminate the possibility of using the AMP-19540 board. Per the manufacture web site, the spindle motor is 180V DC, 2 or 3 HP maybe?

    Do you have any electrical documentation for the machine?
    Jim Dawson
    Sandy, Oregon, USA

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Dawson View Post
    That's a bit confusing. With the R, S, T connection it seems that the motors are brushless DC motors. It looks like there is no connection to the tach input, but I can't tell for sure. But that would indicate that it is being operated in torque mode, no problem there. I can't see all of the connection labels to the drive so I can't tell if it has Hall sensor connections.

    Without a data plate or a part number on the drive I can't tell the operating voltage, but my best guess is in the 200V range. This would eliminate the possibility of using the AMP-19540 board. Per the manufacture web site, the spindle motor is 180V DC, 2 or 3 HP maybe?

    Do you have any electrical documentation for the machine?
    More pics. Looks like it does have the hall sensor connection.
    The axis motors are ab34002-e1 and ab34000-e1, 325vdc. No dice on the drive. Oh well.

    I'm not sure how I'll mount the encoder to this spindle. Thoughts? Examples?

  16. #16
    Community Moderator Jim Dawson's Avatar
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    Re: CNC Tensilathe Upgrades and Conversions

    Any more electrical documentation?

    Looks like no problem to interface with the servo drives.

    For running the spindle motor: With the spindle running, measure the voltage across S1 and S3 on the Minarick spindle controller. A guess at this point is that it is 10VDC, if so, you should be able to wire the Galil directly to S2 and which ever terminal is 0V. If you can find a part number on that DC controller it would be helpful.

    It looks like that spindle was set up for an encoder. Is that a gear or a timing belt sprocket behind the nut on the spindle? I can't see clearly in the picture. The good news is that you have a mile of room around the back of the spindle to mount anything you want. Looks like you already have a good mounting boss on the right side below the spindle. You could just hang a timing belt sprocket on the spindle near where the threads stop.

    My lathe has a timing belt sprocket on the spindle that drives a mating sprocket off to the side, 1:1 ratio. The encoder sprocket is on a shaft supported by a couple of bearings that the encoder is attached to with a flexible coupling.

    Here is the best picture I have of mine, I'll see if I can get a better one tomorrow.

    Jim Dawson
    Sandy, Oregon, USA

  17. #17

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    Re: CNC Tensilathe Upgrades and Conversions

    The sprocket on the spindle has a straight cut == timing sprocket?
    Tensilkut says threading options were available for this machine and can be added later, but they haven't responded to any emails.
    I'm not sure why I didn't think of hanging the encoder with a timing belt. I seemed to only find pictures of encoders directly mounted to the end of the spindle.

    This is all of the documentation on the electronics. The parts list doesn't list the spindle controller, all I can see for numbers is an ink stamped 983349 and a silkscreened 0598. Neither come up with anything.

    I'll check on the spindle voltage sometime, it's currently being torn down for cleaning.

  18. #18
    Community Moderator Jim Dawson's Avatar
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    Re: CNC Tensilathe Upgrades and Conversions

    I would have to have a better picture to see if that is a gear or a timing belt sprocket.

    Tensilathe isn't very forthcoming with the electrical documentation. But I think there is enough to work with.

    But I found this https://cdnwww.regalbeloit.com/-/med...9614E1B7C5600F Close enough.

    If you want rigid tapping, we can work some magic in controls and software to allow it. Would need to add a breaking resistor and control it with software because it's not possible to instant reverse the spindle motor just by switching a relay, it would fry the controller if you did that.

    The other option would be to replace the spindle motor with a standard 3 phase motor and a VFD, or a servo motor and drive.
    Jim Dawson
    Sandy, Oregon, USA

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Dawson View Post
    I would have to have a better picture to see if that is a gear or a timing belt sprocket.

    Tensilathe isn't very forthcoming with the electrical documentation. But I think there is enough to work with.

    But I found this https://cdnwww.regalbeloit.com/-/med...9614E1B7C5600F Close enough.

    If you want rigid tapping, we can work some magic in controls and software to allow it. Would need to add a breaking resistor and control it with software because it's not possible to instant reverse the spindle motor just by switching a relay, it would fry the controller if you did that.

    The other option would be to replace the spindle motor with a standard 3 phase motor and a VFD, or a servo motor and drive.
    Nah, rigid tapping would be nice but not necessary at this time. I'm not doing any production parts and just getting started in machining.

  20. #20
    Community Moderator Jim Dawson's Avatar
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    Re: CNC Tensilathe Upgrades and Conversions

    Yup, that is a gear, so not useful as a timing belt sprocket. But there is plenty of room to add one on the spindle. If I were doing this in my shop I would just thread the sprocket bore and screw it onto the spindle, secured with a couple of axial set screws through the sprocket hub. You may not have a way to do that, so just boring to fit the unthreaded part of the spindle might be the best solution.
    Jim Dawson
    Sandy, Oregon, USA

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