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IndustryArena Forum > Machine Controllers Software and Solutions > FlashCut CNC > Flashcut error opening serial port (401A)
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  1. #1

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    Flashcut error opening serial port (401A)

    I have acquired a Sherline lathe with a Flashcut system already installed. I was told it came out of a working environment and that it should be functional. Flashcut customer service said there is no easy way to tell which version of the Flashcut software will work with this system. They advised me to just try version 1 and 2. I have tried ver 1, 2 and 3. I always get an error that :Flashcut CNC could not open serial port COM1.

    I have verified the port is set up correctly in Windows XP Pro, and also in BIOS. I have also connected a serial printer to the port and successfully printed a test page on it, verifying the port is set up correctly. Now I am just wondering if the signal generator is bad. When I turn on the signal generator and driver, the stepper motors all turn on, verified by the fact that they are all locked up and I cannot turn them by hand. Based on the diagrams in the manual for the 401A, I am using a db9 null modem cable with full handshake. I called Flashcut support today and they said they thought that was the right cable to be using. I don't have another non null cable to try, not even sure I should as it seems like this is the right cable. Just wondering if anyone here has any recommendations on what I should look at next to try and troubleshoot this.

    Edit to add: I was getting that error after I installed the printer. I deleted the printer and now I get the error "Flashcut CNC cannot communicate with the signal generator". This is what I was getting before too, which made me wonder if it's the wrong cable.

  2. #2

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    Re: Flashcut error opening serial port (401A)

    Just wanted to add that I opened the case of the signal generator and no jumpers are jumping anything. I do have a limit switch on the lathe, but I tried disconnecting it to troubleshoot. It doesn't seem like not having the limit switch set up correctly would prevent the generator and host from communicating, but I thought I would at least add that information in case it helps find a solution. Thanks everyone!

  3. #3
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    Re: Flashcut error opening serial port (401A)

    ,,,try unchecking FIFO buffer or lowering Receive/Transmit
    https://www.oreilly.com/library/view...s04s01s03.html
    DJ

  4. #4
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    Re: Flashcut error opening serial port (401A)

    Quote Originally Posted by tinkerdad View Post
    I am using a db9 null modem cable with full handshake.
    I've only ever used a plain old straight thru extension type cable on my serial version Generators. Null cables flip cables to different pins. Get a simple straight thru... that should work.
    Chris L

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    Re: Flashcut error opening serial port (401A)

    One more thing, please reply back with what main chip is in that SG. If I recall correctly, it should be the largest chip you see when you open it up. Also, note if that chip is plugged into a socket or not. I think the really early SG's had the main chip soldered tight to the board. If so, you probably will be more limited to early versions of software, which to be fair, was still miles ahead of anyone else in 1996-97 when they entered the market. If you have a socket, then it was a newer generator that could be upgraded with new chips, capable of new features.
    Chris L

  6. #6

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    Re: Flashcut error opening serial port (401A)

    Thanks for the replies. It's really nice to have a little bit of help!

    Quote Originally Posted by machinehop5 View Post
    ,,,try unchecking FIFO buffer or lowering Receive/Transmit
    https://www.oreilly.com/library/view...s04s01s03.html
    DJ
    I actually did already try with and without FIFO buffer enabled. I did not try adjusting the buffer, though.

    Quote Originally Posted by datac View Post
    I've only ever used a plain old straight thru extension type cable on my serial version Generators. Null cables flip cables to different pins. Get a simple straight thru... that should work.
    Maybe that's where I went wrong. The manual is very specific about the db25 connection between the signal generator and driver being a straight through cable, but makes no mention of the serial connection other than that it can be a 25-9 or a 9-9. My PC has a 9 pin, so I'm using a 9-9. It does provide pinout, which I interpreted to be a null full handshaking cable, but it's quite possible that I read it backward.



    I'll see if I can pick up a straight through cable today to try that.

    Quote Originally Posted by datac View Post
    One more thing, please reply back with what main chip is in that SG. If I recall correctly, it should be the largest chip you see when you open it up. Also, note if that chip is plugged into a socket or not. I think the really early SG's had the main chip soldered tight to the board. If so, you probably will be more limited to early versions of software, which to be fair, was still miles ahead of anyone else in 1996-97 when they entered the market. If you have a socket, then it was a newer generator that could be upgraded with new chips, capable of new features.
    The SG does have a surface mount socket. The chip in it is labeled in handwriting, "202B Dec. 2009". So it is at least new-er. Do you have any idea what the 202B capability is? I know Flashcut version 1 didn't allow for G76 codes, which means threading would be very difficult to code. At least if this is 2009, I know I can rule out version 1, but no idea which version I should run. In the same purchase, I also got a Sherline mill. It has no spindle motor, but is equipped with servo motors on all 3 axis. I was planning on either being able to mount the vertical milling column onto the lathe to use the crosslide as a milling bed. Or, seeing if it's possible to buy one more servo for the spindle and run it on it's own. Worst case scenario, if the Flashcut works, I could replace the servos with matching steppers. I have a knee mill, so it's not critical, but it's manual so I would like to have a CNC capable mill, even if it's a teeny tiny one.

    Oh, also, my lathe has 4 axis. I notice when I turn on the SG, lights 1, 2 and 3 are solid, but 4 flashes. Then, I think 4 goes dark. It's taken apart right now, so I can't double check that. But I'll go get that straight through cable today and report back this afternoon

    Edit to add: I just looked up the 202B. Looks like it is a lightning chip! Does that mean I have the latest chip available for the 401A?

  7. #7
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    Re: Flashcut error opening serial port (401A)

    Quote Originally Posted by tinkerdad View Post
    Does that mean I have the latest chip available for the 401A?
    Very possible. I think you can run the last version of version 4.5xxx, but, Flashcut might want some $$$ as the 202 probably was introduced around the time V3 came around, and V4 would have been an upgrade. Not real sure how they would respond if you were to ask. Signal Generators also had a serial number applied to them, so I'd think they could tell what it had been sold with.

    You should be quite happy with FC, I've used it like... forever. Never lets you down and those V4 and older versions had a user interface one expected, rather than something made with those large kiddy crayons.

    Their latest software beyond V5 is rather mind blowing with them adding full blown Cad and Cam to it. And it's not just a basic entry level product either. They spent a lot of time focusing on some rather challenging Laser/plasma requirements, then with those wrapped up, swung around to focus on Milling and Lathe work. This prior work never for a second lost focus on the end goal, which also meant killer mill and lathe.

    Let us know how your straight cable pans out.
    Chris L

  8. #8

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    Re: Flashcut error opening serial port (401A)

    Okay! Good news! Swapping the null modem for a straight through cable solved my problem. All day yesterday, trying everything down to probing each pin on the old cable to make sure it was good, and all I needed was a different cable! Thank you for getting responding so quickly and helping to end my disappointment and frustation!

    So I am up and running FC v.3! I guess it might run v4, but I haven't tried it yet. I'm just happy to not be stuck with v1. Now I have a lot of learning to do to figure out how to start writing g-code.

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    Re: Flashcut error opening serial port (401A)

    Quote Originally Posted by tinkerdad View Post
    So I am up and running FC v.3! I guess it might run v4, but I haven't tried it yet. I'm just happy to not be stuck with v1. Now I have a lot of learning to do to figure out how to start writing g-code.
    Great !

    For Lathe Code, might I point you to EZLathe by Stutank, a little lathe cam program you can download in the download/files section of Cnczone. Can't beat free. It could help you figure out what code is supposed to look like.

    https://www.cnczone.com/forums/downl...at&id=4&page=2
    Chris L

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    Re: Flashcut error opening serial port (401A)

    Thanks for the recommendation. I just found a thread about Ezilathe, and it sounds like it will really help. I am pretty savvy with technology, so I know I will learn how to program in g-code. However, having some training wheels like that will be really helpful while learning so I don't spend spend so much time writing code for a simple part that makes a job cost more time that it can afford. I will download it tomorrow and start fiddling with it.

    Now that I have the lathe up and running, I have my eyes on my Sherline mill. The mill has 3 axis fitted with MCG 2383-me4497 servos. The connectors are different. Each motor has two connectors. One is a 15 pin connector, the other is a 3 pin round connector. The round one looks like an XLR connector. I am wondering if there is any way to run these with the Flashcut system, or if I'll need a new driver for it. If it's not compatible, I could either buy new motors for it to work with the FC system or buy a new controller that will run the old steppers on the lathe and the mill. I would prefer to have one system to run both, and upgrading to newer equipment/software makes more sense than going backward in technology. I am considering just mounting the vertical milling column from the mill onto the lathe for awhile, using the lathe's spindle motor to power the mill spindle.

    Do you have any idea what these are and if they're compatible? Obviously, I know the connectors aren't compatible, but what about the servos themselves? I have no idea if this mill was ever run by the flashcut, just that they came from the same place.


  11. #11
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    Re: Flashcut error opening serial port (401A)

    Flashcut can drive Servos, but, the control cabinet with the drivers must have SERVO drivers, not stepper drivers in it. Who knows what was used to drive that mill if you did not get the whole system.

    If I had a Sherline mill with servos and no way to drive them, I'd probably swap back to steppers. The size of the machine certainly doesn't demand servo's, and it will be slightly less expensive and easier to get it back operational with steppers.

    You have a lot to work with there.... your lathe obviously has 4 stepper drivers in the control box according to your other post, so just by fitting steppers on the mill, you could use your flashcut stuff to also run the mill with very little $$$ layout. Not simultaneously obviously, but you can flip back and forth until you buy another complete control setup for the mill.

    You would need to do a bit of research to see if by some chance, those servo's might be powerful enough as a spindle motor on your lathe. I never had a sherline, so I am not familiar enough with them to know what they are like from the factory.

    One thing is for sure. If you stick with this adventure, your sure going to learn a lot of stuff in the next year or two ! But it's a fun learning if you ask me.
    Chris L

  12. #12

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    Re: Flashcut error opening serial port (401A)

    I wish I saw this before I replied to your post in my other thread. This answers a lot of questions I had when trying to comprehend your other post. If I correctly understand what you're saying here, running steppers and servos at the same time isn't something that will work with my Flashcut SG and driver, which rules out my potential idea of using them together. I wouldn't mind buying a servo driver and upgrading both the lathe and mill to run on servos if that is a better option for me. But I know I haven't learned enough to decide if one is better than the other for my applications. You also mentioned servos might be overkill for a machine this size. While I could afford to buy what is needed, of course keeping the budget lower is going to be better. However, if servos are better, I could replace the lathe's steppers with servos to match those on the mill and just run everything by servos. Then I could have a functional CNC mill and lathe at the same time. So do you think that would be better, to upgrade the lathe to servos and add a servo driver from flashcut? I could do that if necessary.

  13. #13
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    Re: Flashcut error opening serial port (401A)

    >>>> If I correctly understand what you're saying here, running steppers and servos at the same time isn't something that will work with my Flashcut SG and driver, which rules out my potential idea of using them together.

    A single CNC "Control", something set up to run a specific machine, CAN run a mixture of Stepper AND Servo motors. The "Control" at this level of a control, sends "step and Direction" signals out to DRIVERS. Varying speeds of pulses for rotation commands, and high or low TTL level signals for rotation DIRECTION.

    It is the motor DRIVER that has to be designed for the type of motor you are running. It sounds like the Flashcut big black box you have has 4 stepper drivers because you said you did have 4 motors turning on the lathe. Now, for example, lets say since Flashcut can run 5 Axis, you ADD a single servo DRIVER into that box. The Servo driver could run a single Servo motor on a machine with 4 other stepper motors. The configuration setup file would be made to work specific for THAT machine, and you would use a different setup file for other machines.

    What can sometimes be an issue is that the control will be keeping positional registers of that Servo, meaning, if you turn it on and run it for 10 days straight, not every control out there will have the headroom to know exactly where it got to after those 10 days. So, you have to dig into and see what your limitations are. I think even your older Flashcut setup can keep track of this for your average Lathe projects without any problem, but you have to ask those questions. In this example, you really do not care what the position IS because it is just running like a regular spindle motor would. However, with such a setup, you ALSO have an "Indexable Spindle" which if geared correctly can act like a rotary table would on a mill where you would, say, make gears.

    >>>> I wouldn't mind buying a servo driver and upgrading both the lathe and mill to run on servos if that is a better option for me. But I know I haven't learned enough to decide if one is better than the other for my applications.

    The Stepper verses Servo arguments will last forever out there, but you certainly should dig and read up on the topic. Servo is quieter, can spin at higher RPM, and can cost a little more than a stepper setup. It can take more effort to dial in, and sometimes, well, more than sometimes, not be as accurate as a Stepper pretty much based on the fact that steppers have exactingly defined divisions built in that aid in positional accuracy.

    >>>> You also mentioned servos might be overkill for a machine this size.

    Not "overkill" per say.... just not "necessary". Millions, maybe billions of machines run Steppers day in and day out (much to the surprise of those who swear they are garbage), successfully, accurately, and effortlessly. Mostly, I made the comment because of the "Dimension" of your equipment... your not going to be hogging .050" off of steel on a Sherline per pass anyhow.

    >>>> While I could afford to buy what is needed, of course keeping the budget lower is going to be better. However, if servos are better, I could replace the lathe's steppers with servos to match those on the mill and just run everything by servos.

    I think I'd still recommend what I have already... put some inexpensive old steppers on the mill.... $25-$30 apiece maybe, wire to the drivers you have and LEARN and CREATE along the way. Your Flashcut can do this EASILY. You might find that you need larger equipment and then all of what you spent could be wasted. Or, you might find that the dimensional aspect of what you have is fine, learn a bunch of great stuff and then you can make better decisions on where exactly to go from there.

    >>>> Then I could have a functional CNC mill and lathe at the same time.

    Again, not really "at the same time", but independently, and you shut down your FC box, disconnect the wires from one machine and connect them to the other, then fire it up, change your setup to match the new machine, run your homing routine and your good to go.

    I will be on the road this week, but hope to follow your posts and hopefully respond. I've been a FLASHCUT user since 1997 and have used it on many, many different machines since then.
    Chris L

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    Re: Flashcut error opening serial port (401A)

    Thank you for sticking with me! And thanks for going into such depth. I really wasn't expecting anyone to be this patient with me. I followed everything you said and I won't need my hand held forever! I am doing my own research through this and learning as I go.

    I understand if I outfitted the mill with new motors that I wouldn't have 2 machines at the same time. What I meant was that I wouldn't have to use the tiny lathe crosslide as a milling table and swap the lathe spindle for the vertical milling column when I wanted to run it as a mill. I could have both machines set up and ready to go by just swapping the plugs into the controller.

    If I continue to learn enough, I may be more confident in retrofitting my full sized mill instead of using this itty bitty Sherline. It's not the best candidate, which is why I haven't tried to do it yet, but maybe I'll try it in the future.

    One thing you didn't explain is how I could be able to do threading without a spindle encoder. That's still something I don't understand. Everything I've read kind of implies that without the encoder, a stepper could potentially miss a step or or speed could be inaccurate for threading. I could see it making sense if maybe the lathe had DRO scales, but it seems like it lacks a calibrated scale of some sort to guarantee positions are accurate. I have not gotten far enough to even measure backlash or anything either, so I'm quite a ways away from being able to do anything with this setup. What I did learn is that the spindle should not be one of the axes. Flashcut is designed to run the spindle off one of the outputs in the SG through a relay. But then to be able to control RPM in the software, they say the spindle still needs to encoder. As of right now, all I can do is use g-code to move the axis for the spindle in amounts of degrees and, I think, at speeds designated by RPMs or percentage of maximum output. I haven't quite gotten an understanding of that yet. But as far as being able to run the spindle at constant speed, it seems like I can't, at least not with what I know yet. So it really makes me wonder how I could do threading, let alone even turning anything.

    I posted up on another forum to see if anyone knew what this setup could be for based on the tooling. The responses I got shed some light. It looks like the little tool on it very likely was used for winding coils or springs of some sort. So they may never have needed it to turn, just to spin, like I said in measurements of degrees for the winding operations. I'm not sure how fast this spindle can turn with the gearing it has, or even what the maximum RPM of the stepper itself is. But let me know what you were thinking about being able to make this thing crank RPMs and being able to do threading, I'm really interested to see how that would be possble.

  15. #15
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    Re: Flashcut error opening serial port (401A)

    >>> One thing you didn't explain is how I could be able to do threading without a spindle encoder. That's still something I don't understand. Everything I've read kind of implies that without the encoder, a stepper could potentially miss a step or or speed could be inaccurate for threading.

    Alright... got a minute here...

    You kind of have an answer to that from those who mentioned coil winding. Think about a coil of wire on a core. Properly done, a wire is placed exactly next to each other with each turn of the spindle. With one pass of wire down, one could say you have created a round profile thread, in this case dictated by the wire diameter.

    Focusing now for a moment on traditional threading with an encoder, what is the encoder for ? It is for the control to KNOW the location of the spindle (in the example of a single point thread), and the RPM the spindle is turning so the feed advancement of the cutter can be calculated by the control to MATCH what the travel is supposed to be in order to be the thread you hope to get. You can look up G76 definitions and understand how this is done with a single line of code.

    One thing to note here is that if you have a weakly powered spindle, or even a drive belt that causes the spindle to even mildly speed up or slow down, the travel of the tool will also slow down or speed up accordingly.

    Now back to the case of the stepper driven spindle. Unlike an encoder on a plain old motor driven spindle NOT controlled by any part of the CNC control, the stepper IS completely controlled by the CNC control. This satisfies your concern about having a "DRO".. the positions are controlled by the control, not just some wildly running spindle only connected by the encoder.

    So, it is entirely possible to calculate the location of the spindle at any given moment and also the speed, which also can be matched to the travel rate you also calculate...... in G-Code. This is exactly how they are coil winding. The tooling in the case of a thread has to be located in similar fashion as to where a wire must be laid down.

    Now yes, if you apply too much cutting load to the tool such that it stalls the spindle, sure, things will go haywire. I do believe I pointed out that it was not "traditional" regards threading, certainly not typical to using a single line of G-code, but absolutely doable because while there is no INPUT telling the control where the spindle is and how fast it is running, it is DICTATED by you the programmer.

    I will admit that I have never had to do something like this, and frankly, I would need to sit down and figure out the best way to calculate the event. Perhaps there would be a lot that could be gained from people who have programmed coil winding.

    Note too, that with the right starting line of code, you probably could copy paste your way thru it given that you could simply make the first pass to run the spindle in forward while advancing the tooling at the capable depth, STOP the spindle, back off the depth of cut, REVERSE the spindle, reset depth of cut to next depth, Forward the spindle and advance the carriage... over and over and over. Not much unlike many guys who actually thread with their lathe while NOT under power. They put a hand crank on the left side of the spindle, then simply crank one way, back off, then crank backwards which moves the carriage back on your typical lathe with a lead screw driven via the spindle.

    So, COMPLETELY DOABLE ! Worth doing ?? Only you can figure out if it is what you want to try.


    >>>> some sort to guarantee positions are accurate.

    As you will learn, the majority of CNC controls along the lines of FC, certainly everything under say, $2000, is OPEN LOOP or SEMI Open loop. The control does not know if a motor or axis has been bound up and lost position or not. There are a lot of ways to deal with this as an issue if it's a problem. First, motors, drives and drive mechanisms must be designed to handle the loads one will be applying. If things are designed right, and you do not go beyond the parameters of that design, there really is no problem. Even then, programs like Flashcut have put in Code options that can automatically go and check position based on home switches via G27. Another, the right combination G-code will make your machine check your switches at the end of every job, then notify you if it has not run within the tolerance you define.

    The SEMI Open Loop surrounds steppers or servos that do have encoders on the ends of the motors directly. In this case, the motor drivers themselves monitor position, and only send back an "out of tolerance" signal to a control if it happens, simply stalling the machine until you correct the issue. None of them actually use the feedback to "correct" the path or location or wait until the machine handshakes that it made the trip correctly or not. This might sound impossible to newcomers, but trust me, you will realize that you can successfully run machines this way and make perfect parts reliably for endless periods of time.

    >>>What I did learn is that the spindle should not be one of the axes.

    There really is no "Should not" here.... most of your highest end modern lathes run spindles completely and fully controlled by the control itself, and as an axis. Just watch some of the oddly satisfying videos out there of the latest and greatest turning machines... I mean it is insane these days, even pushing the STOCK in and out for the cutting engagement rather than moving any saddle or tooling block.

    >>> Flashcut is designed to run the spindle off one of the outputs in the SG through a relay.

    On your typical lathe yes. An output is used to tell the spindle to turn on or off, and even another output could dictate direction.

    >>>But then to be able to control RPM in the software, they say the spindle still needs to encoder.

    Yes, I mentioned that there is a daughterboard that can plug into your SG board to supply a 0-10v signal for speed control and also an input to monitor and process the speed information during threading.

    >>> As of right now, all I can do is use g-code to move the axis for the spindle in amounts of degrees and, I think, at speeds designated by RPMs or percentage of maximum output. I haven't quite gotten an understanding of that yet. But as far as being able to run the spindle at constant speed, it seems like I can't, at least not with what I know yet.

    If you were to put in the MDI for that spindle axis G01 (x) (40 billion degrees) F100....... It will spin for a long time, provided in teh setup, you have defined that the axis is the size of 40+ billion degrees in dimension (the 40 billion is an example). You could set it up as a linear axis, where it does not use degrees at all. Either way, you can run it not continuously like in forever, but at least longer than any job would take. This is where I mentioned the only limitation is what the control has space to record and remember. Once a rotary axis reaches it's theoretic maximum distance, you do not have to REWIND it the same distance.... you just RESET IT to ZERO again ! And that too is doable with G-code !

    >>> So it really makes me wonder how I could do threading, let alone even turning anything.
    So if this is starting to sink in,...... One, you usually thread fairly slowly... and TWO..... you do not need to rotate CONTINUOUSLY like you do in a typical G76 event. It can rotate one way, then the other way to RETURN to cut at a new depth.

    Been a great few days learning already, right ? :-) Great to hear that you have a lot of mechanical exposure.. this might snap into place for you easier then. I wish I had your new toys.... it's a riot to fiddle with this kind of stuff.

    Lastly, I did not understand that your mill is not fully stand alone.... it sounds like it is part of the lathe project ? Pics would help !
    Chris L

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    Re: Flashcut error opening serial port (401A)

    Okay…here we go, gonna be a long one.

    Thanks for taking the time to post all that. I am starting to get a better understanding of this now, thanks to you. I have already been reading here and there, and watching videos about CNC for the past couple years. So I am well familiar with the wild capabilities of modern machining. I think the issue I am having is that I wound up with a unique machine that isn’t really what I was expecting. What you explained about semi open loop and the feedback/corrections really simplified it so I understand a little better now. Verifying positions with home switches makes complete sense, I like that, and didn't know it was a built in feature in Flashcut. Thanks for pointing that out.

    So I did as you said, tried to give it a G01 code and it does indeed spin, albeit only at about 150RPM, no matter how high the feed rate is. Plenty fast enough for threading, but not really general turning. So you’re right, I could thread on it with some learning. However, I will likely have to get a different spindle motor for general turning operations, unless I'm missing something else. At least I see what you're trying to teach me, though. The old "more than one way to skin a cat" lesson. I get that there is no right or wrong way if the tool gets the job done. And I understand there will almost always be better, more efficient ways to do things in CNC machining if your equipment isn’t the newest Haas machine. I am not planning on using my lathe for rapid production, so I don't mind having a unique setup, as long as I know how to use it. Nobody else will be operating it except me either, so it just needs to work for me, and that's fine.

    The main reason I bought this lathe is because I sold my larger lathe when I moved out of state. It was a Grizzly, and I really wanted something better quality anyway, so I opted to sell it instead of moving it. Since then, I have had to do some runs of some small parts for my repair clients that really should have been done on a lathe. The last job really made me know I need another lathe fast. I needed to make many dozens of sliders from PTFE rod. They were simple, 0.5” diameter stock, cut to about 0.375” long with a shoulder about half way down where the diameter went down to about 0.25”, then it had a small groove in the smaller diameter for a hairpin cotter pin. Simple little parts, but I had no lathe. So I put the rod in a collet on the mill and set up a series of turning tools in the vise to turn the profiles then part the piece all in one motion of moving the table. It worked fine, but took forever to set up the three of four tools at the right heights and spacing. So I started looking for lathes and this little Sherline popped up for a great price and I jumped on it. I work on a lot of older equipment that frequently has parts that are discontinued. So the lathe will be mostly for making parts when they aren’t available, or 3-4 days for a part to come is too long a wait. These will typically be things like specialty shoulder bolts, bushings, small rollers, etc.

    I tried to make a separate post to keep things separated by topic. Guess I could have just stuck here to keep going. So below is the Sherline mill. It came with servos installed and the connectors shown in the post above. I did not get any cables for the mill, and it also has no spindle motor. I was initially thinking about mounting the column from the mill on the lathe when I need to use it, but I would much rather have it ready to go on it’s own and not have to have a 2-in-1 machine. If you look behind it, you’ll see one of my other programmable machines, it’s a heavy duty Mitsubishi sewing machine. Basically runs like a CNC, but programming can be done either from the pendant, which has a visual representation of the stitch path, which displays just like Flashcut’s tool path, or using the software on a PC. Then, it has tons of parameters for air cylinders that clamp the workpiece, needle cooling, speeds, thread trimming, etc. So thats why I said I have experience with programmable machines, just not g-code. Then, the other photo is my existing mill. The knee is a late 1800’s Becker, the head is a mid 1930’s Bridgeport. That’s why I said it’s not a great candidate for CNC. It would be really amazing to retrofit it, but I think I would be better served by something more modern when that time comes.

    So that Sherline mill is next on my list. If I am going to buy more components, I would like to try and get the most out of what I already have. I’d also like the solution that is easiest to upgrade. It does seem more logical to do what you said, change the servos to steppers and run this Flashcut box for now, rather than buying more components from Flashcut to set up a discontinued system. The steppers will work with a newer controller, but if I get a servo driver from Flashcut for the 401A, I am spending more money (I’m not even sure they still sell something compatible) to outfit a dated system. So your suggestion is sound logic to me. These steppers are 142in/oz. I’m not sure that is appropriate for the capabilities of the Sherline machines, but I guess I’ll find out when I get this lathe to do some work.

    I think that explains everything! Now I just need to figure out how to power this spindle.


  17. #17
    Registered
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Posts
    391

    Re: Flashcut error opening serial port (401A)

    >>>>So I did as you said, tried to give it a G01 code and it does indeed spin, albeit only at about 150RPM, no matter how high the feed rate is.

    Ok, I have internet again....

    Most small steppers can hit 1500rpm. Yours only turning 150 is probably just because in the machine setup, you can dictate a limit, and they did.

    I would recommend downloading the V4 manual, and while it is a good read from beginning to end (nice references on G and M code and what you can accomplish with it), get thru the machine setup section, where you will see how motors and axis are setup, accelerations, continuous motion blending via continuous contouring settings and also dictating a maximum speed. It's the machine setup and configuration file that you save to use later that really dictates the exact machine that is being used.

    Note too that..... even if you set that particular area real high, JOGGING has its own section to limit it there. Over time you will see why they do this.

    I should be able to look at the rest of your post later tomorrow.
    Chris L

  18. #18

    Join Date
    Jul 2020
    Posts
    12

    Re: Flashcut error opening serial port (401A)

    I think you know I'm running v3. I guess the v4 manual has more info, though? I do have the v8 programming reference that is chock full of code, I'm sure much of which I can't run on my hardware. I don't see the v4 manual on the FC website, but I'll try to find it out there in the worldwide web.

    I'll also look into the machine setup for v3 and see what I can find. Just like the other machine I told you about, it has all sorts of setting for jog speeds too, so I completely understand the need for that. Thanks for keeping in touch, talk soon!

  19. #19

    Join Date
    Jul 2020
    Posts
    12

    Re: Flashcut error opening serial port (401A)

    Had a lot of work to catch up on after working on this for two days straight. I was able to make some adjustments in the settings to change the spindle speed. I wasn't able to get up to high speeds, but I was bale to make it go slower, and just a little bit faster. I need to do some reading of the manual to see why I don't have full speed. I am definitely missing some settings that are capping the spindle speed. Thanks for the help you gave me. The big hurdle of using the proper cable was a big breakthrough. And all the other information you provided was a big help. So thanks again. I'll have a little more time in the next week or so to read up and hopefully get this thing cranking!

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