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IndustryArena Forum > WoodWorking Machines > Commercial CNC Wood Routers > Techno CNC > HOW can I modernize a Techno CNC DaVinci Series 1012?
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  1. #1
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    HOW can I modernize a Techno CNC DaVinci Series 1012?

    I have read a few posts and it seems like I am in the same situation as anyone else who owns a Techno CNC DaVinci Series 1012; I acquired it from a school auction.

    Just recently the school board auctioned off 5 of them, and being that I have always wanted to learn CNC, I felt like the model designed for the education industry would be a good start.

    The particular one I purchased as never been used, but I don't see that it comes with a computer and I imagine I am going to have to come up with some solutions to make it work/control it.

    Some older posts mention the purchases of a Gecko540 and the use of Mach3. If I understand correctly, Gecko540 is hardware and Mach3 is the software that controls the hardware. How hard is this modification for someone with no experience with CNC? Is it still a practical modification as some of these posts seem dated.

    I would like to use the machine with a modern windows 10 computer via USB. If the above mentioned method is not best, what do you recommend?

    Thank you.

  2. #2
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    Re: HOW can I modernize a Techno CNC DaVinci Series 1012?

    Hi,
    what control system does the machine have presently? I mean if its in good order the simple expedient is to use whats there already.

    You can certainly replace the control system, and there are many choices. Mach3 is still very popular, although all development on it has ceased some years ago in
    favor of Mach4, and so Mach4 would be recommended if you want to use Mach at all. There are other worthy choices that use Windows PC's, UCCNC , PlanetCNC
    among others.

    All of these Windows type require a dedicated motion controller, in most cases manufacturer specific. For instance UCCNC works only with a UC100, UC300 etc motion boards
    from the same manufacturer. Mach on the other hand will work without a motion controller at all....if you want to stoop to using a parallel port, a questionable choice these days, or with anyone
    of a dozen or more controllers by various manufacturers.

    There are yet other choices, Centroid Acorn, is a good example. Its a CNC software solution plus a proprietary motion controller at a very fair price. It may be somewhat less flexible than
    some of the others but is largely 'turn key', and that no fuss approach has won praise.

    No discussion of hobby CNC control solutions would be complete without mentioning LinuxCNC. It clearly requires a Linux PC, which may or may not be a deal breaker for you.
    LinuxCNC is however very capable, and with some programming extremely flexible. Most serious LinuxCNC users have one or more Mesa control boards. They are modestly
    priced, say $250, for a very capable board. LinuxCNC itself is free and open source.

    I have been using Mach4 ($200) plus an Ethernet SmoothStepper ($190) and my own home built breakout board for many years now.. Breakout boards can be very simple affairs from single port affairs of $20
    up to a three port MB3 at $180.

    Note that my motion controller (Ethernet SmoothStepper) is Ethernet connected and has less latency and much greater noise immunity than USB, and thus Ethernet is preferred and is well represented
    in manufacturers offerings.

    How about posting some pics of your machine?

    Craig

  3. #3
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    Re: HOW can I modernize a Techno CNC DaVinci Series 1012?

    I am unsure what control the system has, but I believe it is the one that it was manufactured with it. The system appears to be unused as most of the parts were still in original packaging. I don't have any problem using the original control system, but I have read it only works with older versions of windows and the computer must have an RS232 port.

    If you don't mind helping me understand the different components of the machine so I can understand your post, I would greatly appreciate it. I know nothing about CNC and ventured on this to learn about them.

    The way I understand it is I have the table which has the (1) router and (3) motors that are controlled by a controller. A controller is a device that controls the motors and router. The controller can be an actual physical controller with buttons and knobs or a device that connects it to a PC/Linux Computer with software such as Mach4, UCCNC , PlanetCNC, linuxCNC. Is this correct?

    That all being said, if I needed to change the controller, I would be changing physical hardware on the machine that would be compatible with one of the afore-mentioned software applications? Right?

    In its current configuration for me to connect a computer to my current setup I would need to find a way to install TechnoCNC’s software as well as connect the machine via a RS232 port, right?

    See the attached pictures and YouTube video of the actual machine,

    Thanks for the help

    YouTube Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Svs38UhNM8w

  4. #4
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    Re: HOW can I modernize a Techno CNC DaVinci Series 1012?

    Hi,
    OK, I am going to assume that you will change the control system to something up to date. For that purpose I will take Mach4 as the starting point, being most familiar with it.

    Mach4 is a Windows application that runs on any well configured Windows PC, and it need not be a powerful PC, one of the kids cast-off laptops would be fine.

    Mach4 will produce numeric Position, Velocity over Time (PVT) data which describes the position of the controlled point, ie the tip of the tool, in one millisecond time slices.
    The motion controller board, I am going to assume an Ethernet SmoothStepper, again my familiarity, will digest this numeric data and generate pulse streams to control, the axis motors.
    These pulses go into a breakout board, basically a series of amplifiers/buffers that allow you to connect wires to it. Those wires are connected to the stepper motor drives which are in
    turn connected to the steppers.

    Depending on what hardware that comes with the machine you will almost certainly want to use the existing steppers, but may wish to change the stepper drivers. You would need to buy
    the breakout board, the SmoothStepper, a Mach4 license and I assume you already have a PC.

    You mentioned a Gecko G540 in your first post. A G540 has four stepper drivers and a breakout board built into one unit, and would probably be very useful to you.
    Another alternative is to buy three separate drivers, one for each stepper. That gives you the advantage to buy a higher performing driver than the G540. Three separate drivers
    and a breakout board are probably going to cost more than a G540, about $300, depending on the quality of the drives you select.

    You need to decide on what software you wish to use, for instance Mach4 OR UCCNC OR LinuxCNC. That choice will largely inform your choice of motion controller which will determine
    if you need a separate breakout board.

    Can you show us any and all of the electrical/electronic stuff that comes with the machine? That may let us gauge whether you'll need new stepper drivers for instance, not a deal breaker
    either way, but $200-$300 in any ones language.

    Craig

  5. #5
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    Re: HOW can I modernize a Techno CNC DaVinci Series 1012?

    Alright that's a lot of information but I think I am starting to get it, thanks.

    Mach4 sounds like the way to go with the Gecko G540 as the motion controller board, it seems like the simplest and most cost effective. I attached some pictures of what I think it the current controller is.

    After looking at this I am now curious how does the G540 connect to the existing steppers/motors? Do I need to make connectors?

    Is the G540 USB?

  6. #6
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    Re: HOW can I modernize a Techno CNC DaVinci Series 1012?

    Hi,
    Ok from pic the big ICs clamped to the heatsink at the back are the stepper drivers. That rather means that you will require new stepper drivers, either a G540 or three individual drivers.


    Mach4 sounds like the way to go with the Gecko G540 as the motion controller board,
    No, that is not quite correct. The G540 has four stepper drivers and the equivalent of a breakout board. Its not a motion controller.

    Remember a motion controller is a device that converts numeric trajectory data into pulse streams, and G540 does not do that. A G540 will accept pulse streams from a motion controller and amplify them
    to drive stepper motors, but cannot generate the pulses itself.

    So you require Mach4 (on a PC of any description) to a motion controller like an ESS (or one of a number of others) to a G540.

    After looking at this I am now curious how does the G540 connect to the existing steppers/motors? Do I need to make connectors?
    The outputs (to the motors) of a G540 are four DB9 sockets, and so yes you will have to solder the wires from the steppers into the DB9 plugs, a fiddly but otherwise easy task.
    The input to a G540 is a DB25 socket, ie a parallel port plug. In your case you'll not be using a parallel port, so you would have a DB25 cable from your motion controller to the G540.
    For instance the ESS has three single port equivalent IDC sockets on the board. You'd plug an IDC-to-DB25 cable between the two. Warp9TD sell those cable for about $10, so you don't
    have to make one, unless you want to.

    Craig

  7. #7
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    Re: HOW can I modernize a Techno CNC DaVinci Series 1012?

    Those machines were really lousy as far as circuitry and software, we didn't give them much love like the servo stuff. That being said, you can run the software for that hardware in modern windows. You can get it from TechnoCNC Router Software under control interface, at the bottom is a link to the DaVinci software. If your hardware is working, it should fire right up without any hardware changes.
    Eric Feldman - Design Engineer, Programmer
    Armor CNC - http://www.armorcnc.com Support hours: 7am thru 10pm EST, 7 days a week

  8. #8
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    Re: HOW can I modernize a Techno CNC DaVinci Series 1012?

    If you've read the posts about upgrading the Davinci, you may have seen mine. I started by trying to use the original Techno software, got the machine to move, but it wasn't very satisfying. So I went with Mach 3 and a Gecko G540. I used the original power source and steppers, and an old Windows XP desktop. Doing the electrical work was new to me, but not very difficult, had to look at some of those posts and do some soldering. There is a lot of documentation out there. It works just fine for my purposes. I also got an ESS, but haven't gotten around to installing it or putting it all into an enclosure. The G540 just sits on the top of the cart I use. Once I figured out how to do inlay work and slot fretboards, I just went back to making banjos. I'm also intending to replace the table slide with a longer unit I found on ebay, so I can
    cut the fretboards in one set-up, rather than having to index them and do 2 setups (not a big deal, but....)

    In my limited cnc experience, the Techno Davinci's are great little machines, with the same precision German components as their much larger machines, which makes them very solid, rigid, and accurate. I did have runout issues with the Kress router spindle because of the tiny endmills I use (down to .012") but I was able to touch up the spindle taper with a little grinder on my lathe and got it down to a few tenths, which actually amazed me!

    BTW, have you been able to peel the protective paper off the plexi? When it gets old it can be quite a chore, good luck!

  9. #9
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    Re: HOW can I modernize a Techno CNC DaVinci Series 1012?

    Hi,

    In my limited cnc experience, the Techno Davinci's are great little machines, with the same precision German components as their much larger machines, which makes them very solid, rigid, and accurate.
    From a current user that is a great recommendation. Any and all effort devoted to getting this machine running will be effort well spent.

    I used the original power source and steppers, and an old Windows XP desktop.
    This very much suggests that dixdance used Mach3and a parallel port. However OP said this:

    I would like to use the machine with a modern windows 10 computer via USB
    Given that Machs parallel port must run on a 32bit desktop PC of Windows7 or Windows XP that all but precludes a parallel port. An external motion controller
    is pretty much mandatory these days, and I would recommend an ESS.

    I did have runout issues with the Kress router spindle because of the tiny endmills I use (down to .012") but I was able to touch up the spindle taper with a little grinder on my lathe and got it down to a few tenths, which actually amazed me!
    That was a good save. However a cheap Chinese 24000rpm spindle and VFD running angular contact bearings would be a very cost effective upgrade over a Kress router, should it be required.

    Craig

  10. #10
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    Re: HOW can I modernize a Techno CNC DaVinci Series 1012?

    Craig gives very good advice in this thread!

    I am using Mach 3 with a parallel port, but I bought an ESS to enable me to use a laptop to save room. Just didn't get around to it yet. And I used Mach 3 because I already had a license, probably would have gone with Mach 4 otherwise.

    Dusting the spindle taper was just to see if I could do it, having seen it done on a Youtube video by Labels Extreme, an interesting Australian who does a lot of inlay work for luthiers. It worked so well I never bothered to replace it, but a Chinese spindle was what I assumed I'd wind up with. The Kress does go up to 30,000 rpm which is nice for those micro endmills. I also thought of mounting a 60,000 rpm pneumatic pencil grinder, but again it just hasn't been necessary. The cnc router is just a small part of my low volume banjo making operation, so I can afford to be patient.

    My only complaint about the Davinci is that it isn't bigger! But for what I do, I've found work arounds. I did have a friend put the t-slot plate in his Hass mill and create a very accurate grid of 1/4" dowel holes on 1" centers. The bottom of the holes is tapped 1/4-20. Great for fixturing and tiling long stuff, highly recommended if you can manage it.

  11. #11
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    Re: HOW can I modernize a Techno CNC DaVinci Series 1012?

    Thanks a lot for all the contributions you all made to the conversation and helping me come up with a plan. This weekend I hung out with a friend of mine, an engineer who used these machines, or a very similar one in college. So as far as operating it, I am hoping I can learn something from him.

    As far as my plans with the machine, I think I am going to take a little advice from all of you:

    ericscottf, after getting the software, how would I connect my computer to the machine? Would a simple USB adapter work or is this more complex? Will I have to find a computer with a RS232 port, or is this done with a motion controller as joeaverage recommended?

    dixdance, yes I believe it was your posts and your project that I am trying to replicate. I haven’t pulled off the paper yet, but I am thinking you are going to be right based on by experience with Plexi.

    joeavaerage, I am researching a lot of the different products you sent me and trying to come up with a plan on how I, a novice, will complete the upgrade.

  12. #12
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    Re: HOW can I modernize a Techno CNC DaVinci Series 1012?

    Hi,

    ericscottf, after getting the software, how would I connect my computer to the machine? Would a simple USB adapter work or is this more complex?
    A USB adaptor WILL NOT WORK. You need a motion controller, ie some hardware that can generate high-speed accurately timed pulse streams from numeric trajectory data.
    A USB adaptor does not even come close.

    Looking at a UC100 it connects to the PC by USB and has a DB25 parallel port output. Its tempting to believe it that it is a USB adaptor, but its not, its a genuine motion controller with an FPGA inside.
    Its way,WAY, WAY cleverer than a USB adaptor.

    Craig

  13. #13
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    Re: HOW can I modernize a Techno CNC DaVinci Series 1012?

    Reading the above reminded me that I also have a new, never used UC100 that I'd be willing to sell at a good price. Yet another item I bought that never got used!

  14. #14
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    A USB to serial adapter will work because the machine already has a cnc controller in it that you're connecting to. It isn't necessarily a great one though.

    Quote Originally Posted by joeavaerage View Post
    Hi,



    A USB adaptor WILL NOT WORK. You need a motion controller, ie some hardware that can generate high-speed accurately timed pulse streams from numeric trajectory data.
    A USB adaptor does not even come close.

    Looking at a UC100 it connects to the PC by USB and has a DB25 parallel port output. Its tempting to believe it that it is a USB adaptor, but its not, its a genuine motion controller with an FPGA inside.
    Its way,WAY, WAY cleverer than a USB adaptor.

    Craig
    Eric Feldman - Design Engineer, Programmer
    Armor CNC - http://www.armorcnc.com Support hours: 7am thru 10pm EST, 7 days a week

  15. #15
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    Re: HOW can I modernize a Techno CNC DaVinci Series 1012?

    Hi,

    A USB to serial adapter will work because the machine already has a cnc controller in it that you're connecting to. It isn't necessarily a great one though.
    So there is a motion controller, its in the machine currently. That is what generates the pulse streams, so yes I can well imagine a USB to RS232 adaptor would work,
    but the do you want to be stuck with a nice machine, albeit small, only to have a weak motion controller that cannot extract the full potential of it?

    The control system of this machine was typical of what was common 15 years ago......but things have moved on long way since.

    Craig

  16. #16
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    Re: HOW can I modernize a Techno CNC DaVinci Series 1012?

    Hi,
    I also am looking at a
    Davinci CNC!!
    Did you solve the software/computer problem? If so, would you share your solution?
    Thx
    randy

  17. #17
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    Re: HOW can I modernize a Techno CNC DaVinci Series 1012?

    Just an update,

    I originally tried to install the Techno CNC software on my modern days Windows 10 computer in "Windows 7 mode" but I continually got an error during an install. I then found an older Dell XPS computer running Windows XP that I was able to buy a USB to RS232 Adapter for but turns outs the USB adapter is non compatible with Windows XP and couldn't get drivers. I then got my hands on an older Dell laptop that had a RS232 port and was able to get the machine to move and run the demo program "2boxes".

    That being said, the machine is operational as of yesterday.

    I watched some YouTube videos and read the 2 manuals I could find on TechnoCNC but am still kind of lost on where to start. Does anybody know any good tutorials I can use to learn how to operate the machine? What would be a good application to design projects and create the necessary G-Code for the DaVinci machine?

    Thanks

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jwills View Post
    Just an update,

    I originally tried to install the Techno CNC software on my modern days Windows 10 computer in "Windows 7 mode" but I continually got an error during an install. I then found an older Dell XPS computer running Windows XP that I was able to buy a USB to RS232 Adapter for but turns outs the USB adapter is non compatible with Windows XP and couldn't get drivers. I then got my hands on an older Dell laptop that had a RS232 port and was able to get the machine to move and run the demo program "2boxes".

    That being said, the machine is operational as of yesterday.

    I watched some YouTube videos and read the 2 manuals I could find on TechnoCNC but am still kind of lost on where to start. Does anybody know any good tutorials I can use to learn how to operate the machine? What would be a good application to design projects and create the necessary G-Code for the DaVinci machine?

    Thanks
    I used BobCad CAM for drawings and g code. Then I loaded the G code into the techno software and off the machine went.

    How did you find the software for the techno router?

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