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  1. #1
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    Smile Acorn and Rays feedback

    I appreciated Ray's comments albeit not what I wanted to hear.

    My CNC interests are simple I just want to control a couple of steppers I have installed on a small metal lathe. If I can get that going I will start to think more complicated thoughts - but not yet.

    It is difficult to sort stuff when my own expertise is superficial. I have asked questions in the past and taken advice including to invest in TOPCNC which I now know was not good advice. There is no support.

    But I have continued to try to get my head around Mach3 and after interruptions caused by "life" have been able to get stuck in again. I have learned enough from this forum to know that the more you spend on gear the more likely you are to get a good outcome. I now have another computer with a parallel port (the last one died) and a good board to have another go. I have the wizard operating in simulation but am yet to get the motors to turn.

    The most helpful advice I have had in this journey was provided by Franco's videos illustrating what a CNC lathe can do. He has recently advised me to think about Acorn. So I did. I had never heard of it before. I was impressed by what I saw. At the moment I am 50/50. If I can get Mach 3 to run I will then have to make a decision about purchasing a licence so I can use the rest of the Wizard software or investing in Acorn.

    Sometimes I think that people as old as me and as inexperience in CNC would be better off just purchasing some new slippers and learning to smoke a pipe to watch the sunset. Problem is that this stuff is like a drug and will not let go off me.

    woodie

  2. #2
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    Re: Acorn and Rays feedback

    I recently bought an acorn and have installed it on my milling machine. I also read Ray's thread on the acorn and I almost did not buy one. Rays point about things being difficult to find because of the lack of documentation is accurate. I had a few issues with that. You will have to watch some videos. You can also go to their forums and a lot of information is there. Some information is in the operators manual. Most of the things he complains about are no longer issues. The product is evolving and improvements have been made since Ray's experience with the acorn. I really think he gave up on it to easily. I recommend you read a bit more about it. Don't base your decision one one thread in the internet. I don't see a lot of complaints about the acorn.

    I have the acorn installed and running but I still need to do the test cutting. The install was easy but took longer than it should. I have the mill in an unheated shop so I have not been spending much time working on it.

  3. #3

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    Re: Acorn and Rays feedback

    Quote Originally Posted by RLWoodie View Post
    I appreciated Ray's comments albeit not what I wanted to hear.

    My CNC interests are simple I just want to control a couple of steppers I have installed on a small metal lathe. If I can get that going I will start to think more complicated thoughts - but not yet.

    It is difficult to sort stuff when my own expertise is superficial. I have asked questions in the past and taken advice including to invest in TOPCNC which I now know was not good advice. There is no support.

    But I have continued to try to get my head around Mach3 and after interruptions caused by "life" have been able to get stuck in again. I have learned enough from this forum to know that the more you spend on gear the more likely you are to get a good outcome. I now have another computer with a parallel port (the last one died) and a good board to have another go. I have the wizard operating in simulation but am yet to get the motors to turn.

    The most helpful advice I have had in this journey was provided by Franco's videos illustrating what a CNC lathe can do. He has recently advised me to think about Acorn. So I did. I had never heard of it before. I was impressed by what I saw. At the moment I am 50/50. If I can get Mach 3 to run I will then have to make a decision about purchasing a licence so I can use the rest of the Wizard software or investing in Acorn.

    Sometimes I think that people as old as me and as inexperience in CNC would be better off just purchasing some new slippers and learning to smoke a pipe to watch the sunset. Problem is that this stuff is like a drug and will not let go off me.

    woodie
    I think if anyone followed anything that Ray said then you should not start, he is known for his criticism, for someone that has done something like this before he failed badly

    Acorn is one of the best and easiest systems to set up watch some videos there is some good one's showing the setup and install for the Acorn it is the best in this price range for control software has been in use for many years

    Here are some Videos there are many more

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbYcSAl6L60

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_c...&v=uUxkLUUzAd0

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_c...&v=NjYaWOW1O8w

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKLCe8DEhTo
    Mactec54

  4. #4
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    Re: Acorn and Rays feedback

    Quote Originally Posted by mactec54 View Post
    I think if anyone followed anything that Ray said then you should not start, he is known for his criticism, for someone that has done something like this before he failed badly

    Acorn is one of the best and easiest systems to set up watch some videos there is some good one's showing the setup and install for the Acorn it is the best in this price range for control software has been in use for many years

    Here are some Videos there are many more

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbYcSAl6L60

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_c...&v=uUxkLUUzAd0

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_c...&v=NjYaWOW1O8w

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKLCe8DEhTo
    Upnorth and Mactec54

    Thank you for your replies.

    I have watched the videos so thanks for your effort and time it has helped a lot. I was attracted to Acorn in the first place because there seems to be so much support which is why I was so disappointed to read of Ray's experience. I am not completely thick but my Mach3 experience has been a continuum of difficulty and frustration. I did modify my Seig mill to use with a simple CNC system to cut clock wheels but it it was limited in scope. This is why I have tried to instal Mach3 so I can use the metal turning wizard. But the ports and pins issues and a dying parallel port computer ended that. I now have another suitable computer and am trying again.

    When I read the information on Acorn it seemed like the perfect solution. The idea of the hardware and software supplied by the same company is a huge plus in my view because it reduces integrational problems. I loved the Acorn conversational programming system. The only downside for me is that I am in Australia and will have to use a 240/110v transformer. I'm impressed by the support compared to other options that comes with Acorn and if the problems listed by Ray have now been dealt with will put it back on my shopping list.
    regards
    Woodie

  5. #5
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    Re: Acorn and Rays feedback

    I started out with a Mach 3 based control. It worked but would some times do bizarre things. It would forget to apply a tool off set. Another time on about the 10th part on a multi part run it moved 8 inches to the right and started trying to cut a part as if I had an additional coordinate system. The errors had me doubting my setups and wondering what I was doing wrong. I think Mach 3 works well on certain combinations of hard ware but not what I was using. I have a Hercus compulathe that I will give Mach 3 a try on. If it does not work it is getting an acorn too. There are a few mach 3 accessories to make mach 3 work better. I have a breakout board from pmdx. I only used it a little on one of my other machines but it did seem to work well. There is another device called a smooth stepper but it did not work on my current mill well enough. By the time you add in the mach 3 license, Break out board and smooth stepper you are probably close to the cost of an acorn.

    I'm not sure why you think you need a transformer for the acorn? It comes with a dual voltage power supply. Mine is currently running of 120 volts but when its wired in permanently I'll be connecting it to 240 volts as that is what the mill runs on. Even if you need to get a new power supply for the acorn they are pretty cheap.

    What part of Australia are you in? I visited Cairns for a month a few years ago. Great place to go for a vacation.

  6. #6

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    Re: Acorn and Rays feedback

    Quote Originally Posted by RLWoodie View Post
    Upnorth and Mactec54

    Thank you for your replies.

    I have watched the videos so thanks for your effort and time it has helped a lot. I was attracted to Acorn in the first place because there seems to be so much support which is why I was so disappointed to read of Ray's experience. I am not completely thick but my Mach3 experience has been a continuum of difficulty and frustration. I did modify my Seig mill to use with a simple CNC system to cut clock wheels but it it was limited in scope. This is why I have tried to instal Mach3 so I can use the metal turning wizard. But the ports and pins issues and a dying parallel port computer ended that. I now have another suitable computer and am trying again.

    When I read the information on Acorn it seemed like the perfect solution. The idea of the hardware and software supplied by the same company is a huge plus in my view because it reduces integrational problems. I loved the Acorn conversational programming system. The only downside for me is that I am in Australia and will have to use a 240/110v transformer. I'm impressed by the support compared to other options that comes with Acorn and if the problems listed by Ray have now been dealt with will put it back on my shopping list.
    regards
    Woodie
    The Power supply is dual voltage so you won't have a problem in that area, You do want to have a computer to there required spec's or close to it though

    If you have problems with Mach3 then you may have problems with anything you try Mach3 I think is one of the easiest controls to setup and run, there are a lot of bells and whistles but you only need the basic's to get it running

    For a Lathe Acorn it very good as it has a simple Encoder setup for threading as Mach3 can be more of a challenge in that area and you would loose any hair that you have left most likely to get that part running
    Mactec54

  7. #7
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    Re: Acorn and Rays feedback

    Thanks for the reply. I live in Brisbane (same side as Cairns but a little further south).

    My CNC experience is limited to a system I built for my mill to cut clock wheels and pinions. It was designed by a retired engineer in the Sydney Clockmakers Society. It uses two K179 drivers. The power supply is an old computer power supply suitably modified. It runs from a parallel port in an old Dell and controls the cross slide and the dividing head. There are a few pictures in my webpage https://timewithcharacter.org/2015/0...-clock-making/. It is controlled by a menu driven system and worked extremely well. He subsequently modified it to run from a USB and used a Stepper B++ stepper driver. I built that as well but had less success than I did with the first version.

    It whetted my appetite for going further with CNC and when I saw Franco's youtubes using Mach3 Wizard on a lathe similar to mine I was hooked. I was able to get the Wizard program he demonstrated to run in simulation but getting the ports and pins sorted was a larger problem.. After that it just got messy with unrelated matters getting in the way and then the Dell decided to take early retirement.

    I now have another Dell also with a parallel port and am getting close to powering up a new board that I got from Stepperline.

    Initially a lot of the stuff I read on this site was as clear to me as trying to communicate in Swahili but I have slowly picked up the lingo. I don't have a problem spending the money if I am actually heading towards a solution but after my experience with Topcnc am a bit cautious. Smooth steppers are expensive before you even pay for a Mach licence.

    If Acorn actually does what it claims to do, it would be the ideal solution for somebody with my entry level expertise. It also seems to be a cheaper solution when you add smooth stepper and mach license costs together. I will just take it slowly and see what happens with my current Mach 3 project and then make a decision about what to do next.
    Woodie

  8. #8

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    Re: Acorn and Rays feedback

    Quote Originally Posted by RLWoodie View Post
    Thanks for the reply. I live in Brisbane (same side as Cairns but a little further south).

    My CNC experience is limited to a system I built for my mill to cut clock wheels and pinions. It was designed by a retired engineer in the Sydney Clockmakers Society. It uses two K179 drivers. The power supply is an old computer power supply suitably modified. It runs from a parallel port in an old Dell and controls the cross slide and the dividing head. There are a few pictures in my webpage https://timewithcharacter.org/2015/0...-clock-making/. It is controlled by a menu driven system and worked extremely well. He subsequently modified it to run from a USB and used a Stepper B++ stepper driver. I built that as well but had less success than I did with the first version.

    It whetted my appetite for going further with CNC and when I saw Franco's youtubes using Mach3 Wizard on a lathe similar to mine I was hooked. I was able to get the Wizard program he demonstrated to run in simulation but getting the ports and pins sorted was a larger problem.. After that it just got messy with unrelated matters getting in the way and then the Dell decided to take early retirement.

    I now have another Dell also with a parallel port and am getting close to powering up a new board that I got from Stepperline.

    Initially a lot of the stuff I read on this site was as clear to me as trying to communicate in Swahili but I have slowly picked up the lingo. I don't have a problem spending the money if I am actually heading towards a solution but after my experience with Topcnc am a bit cautious. Smooth steppers are expensive before you even pay for a Mach licence.

    If Acorn actually does what it claims to do, it would be the ideal solution for somebody with my entry level expertise. It also seems to be a cheaper solution when you add smooth stepper and mach license costs together. I will just take it slowly and see what happens with my current Mach 3 project and then make a decision about what to do next.
    Woodie
    You can get a device which is like a SmoothStepper but only 100Khz this is called a UC100 and you must buy it from the manufacture or there distributors as the are some Chinese copies that don't work you don't need the parallel port then for Mach3 and it works very well this plugs into your Parallel Port Breakout Board and with a USB cable to the computer, this has it's own CPU so take the load off the computer

    CNCdrive - motion controls
    Mactec54

  9. #9

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    Re: Acorn and Rays feedback

    Woodie, I also made extended research choosing a control board for my project - PM-727V conversion. I essentially finalized my decision to the Acorn and DMM servos. Although I so far don;t have experience of such conversion but my experience as a developer of embedded digital controllers and also as a programmer helped me to figure out that the structural design of Acorn software is made more mature. I can see that centroid system was first designed as a "top to down" technical requirements request , then programmed into the firmware development rather than building software from the building block up... The result is that Acorn software looks to me as more intuitive and logical to follow .
    About "old people like you" - As long as you are still burning with desire to create something or to build something - you are young. You will be old when all you want is to smoke a cigar and watch a sunset............

  10. #10
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    Re: Acorn and Rays feedback

    Hi again and thanks for the reply. I have a UC100 which I bought from Banggood. I tried to use it with a cheap Chinese board I had bought a while ago before I read the warnings on this site that a lot of these cheap components do not work. I could not get it to run and a number of the outputs show no output at all. The tests I ran on the UC100 registered voltages on most pins so I concluded the problem was with the board. It seems I had fallen into the same trap others had fallen into buying a cheap Chinese board. I will not be doing that again but will only purchase components from reliable suppliers in the future.
    If the current Mach3 project doesn't work I will abandon my Mach experiments, download windows 10 onto an ASUS I have and start to explore Acorn more seriously. The video you sent me about setting up Windows 10 for Acorn will be invaluable and I am grateful you sent it..

    Woodie

  11. #11
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    Re: Acorn and Rays feedback

    Hi eBirdman
    Thanks so much for the encouragement and the invaluable insight about the origins of Acorn. I was impressed by Acorn when I first started to read about it. It made sense that there is a greater likelihood of integration between the components and software when they are produced by the same company. There seemed to be a philosophy of providing support which is critically important for somebody like me with limited experience. I am finally starting to feel as though the faint light I am can now see at the end of the tunnel I have been in is not a train!
    Getting excited about a project, any project, gives an old bloke a reason to take his slippers off and put his boots back on. Nothing is more important than that. It is what keeps me going even when, as is often the case, I feel like a complete goose for making obvious mistakes.
    Woodie

  12. #12
    Community Moderator ger21's Avatar
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    Re: Acorn and Rays feedback

    I have a UC100 which I bought from Banggood
    That's most likely a chinese copy, and not an authentic UC100.

    And the Chinese copies aren't actually copies at all. They just took the name to try to get people to buy them. They are totally different products from real UC100's.
    Gerry

    UCCNC 2017 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2017.html

    Mach3 2010 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2010.html

    JointCAM - CNC Dovetails & Box Joints
    http://www.g-forcecnc.com/jointcam.html

    (Note: The opinions expressed in this post are my own and are not necessarily those of CNCzone and its management)

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