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  1. #1
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    Apr 2013
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    Advice wanted on controller upgrade

    Hi, I have a Sieg X3 that has been converted to CNC. I purchased a conversion kit and a CNC controller from Promica in Australia but Promica ceased trading back in the 2010's and there are no more resources or spares available for the hardware or the controller. The controller was a proprietary design with microprocessor control and microprocessor based axis cards that have edge connectors and attach to the main board a bit like PCI-e connectors in a PC. My problem is that the controller has started to misbehave and sometimes I have to reboot it three or four times to get all the axes working normally. I have taken the cover off the controller and cleaned it out with compressed air and cleaned all the edge connectors with Isopropyl Alcohol but one card in particular is giving me grief. What I would like to to is to upgrade the electronics to standard stepper drivers and to replace the mainboard with a breakout board.
    I am currently running UCCNC as my controller software and I have a UC100 motion controller since the Promica controller was originally fitted with a parallel port and my current PC has only USB ports. I plan to reuse the existing power supply that has 240V in and 50V, 12V and 5V outputs. I would also like to retain the case and the UC100 since my software licence is tied to the motion controller. I want to run four axes, outputs for coolant and VFD and inputs for home switches and a probe which has a high/low trigger.

    My question is:

    What do I need to buy to do the upgrade?

    My thoughts were:

    * 4 new stepper drivers
    * A breakout board with a parallel port, relays suitable for driving the VFD and a solenoid for the air/coolant and sufficient inputs for the home switches and the probe.
    * new connector hardware for the back panel

    Am I missing something?

    When I start looking for breakout boards it seems that some are called motion controllers. However I already have the UC100 which I believe is a motion controller anyway. I don't want to replace the UC100 or I will have to purchase a new licence for UCCNC. If anyone can recommend a breakout board that is compatible with UC100 and UCCNC I would appreciate it.
    Regards,
    Mark Presling

  2. #2

    Re: Advice wanted on controller upgrade

    You should only need a breakout board and drivers.
    If you include some more details (what kind of steppers to have now, what you're using the machine for, etc.) there might be a few more suggestions.

    I'm not sure how this will resolve all of your concerns, but this *may* be a direct plug in for your UC100 and I've heard good things about this:
    https://www.avidcnc.com/leadshine-mx...ver-p-334.html

  3. #3
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    Re: Advice wanted on controller upgrade

    Thanks for your reply. My mill currently uses Nema 23 steppers, 270 oz/inch with a 2:1 belt drive to the lead screws. I use the mill for general machining but as it's not a particularly rigid machine most of my machining is done with sub 10mm end mills and fairly conservative feeds and speeds. I am concerned that if one of more of the originally supplied axis cards fail, there are no replacements to be had and it's preferable to upgrade now while everything is sort of working. I did swap the Y axis card for the A axis card and I now have X,Y and Z working. I generally don't use the A axis much. The Avid solution looks good. I have heard good things about Leadshine and the cost is about the same as what I had priced for good quality individual components. If I don't get any other suggestions I will probably go with that as a viable controller.
    Regards,
    Mark Presling

  4. #4
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    Jul 2018
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    Re: Advice wanted on controller upgrade

    Hi Preso - Get a BOB here

    https://www.makerstore.com.au/produc...axis-breakout/

    and suitable drivers here:

    https://www.omc-stepperonline.com/

    all come with suitable wring diagrams Peter

    edit- I use UCCNC and a UC100 and these will work fine on the BOB. It also has the inputs and outputs you spec...

    I have used one of these and it was easy to use as no wiring. I've just ordered 2 more for other machines.... but its 24V

    https://www.oyostepper.com/goods-120...per-Motor.html

  5. #5

    Re: Advice wanted on controller upgrade

    Only other thing I'd suggest is consider replacing the motors while you're at it, and go with closed loop steppers motors. It's what I use and the closed loop not only guarantees no lost steps, but it also significantly increases the power output of the motor, and reduces the heat build up.

    I don't believe the Leadshine board I mentioned supports it, but if you're going with a break out board and separate drivers, then definitely consider that route.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Only other thing I'd suggest is consider replacing the motors while you're at it, and go with closed loop steppers motors. It's what I use and the closed loop not only guarantees no lost steps, but it also significantly increases the power output of the motor, and reduces the heat build up.

    I don't believe the Leadshine board I mentioned supports it, but if you're going with a break out board and separate drivers, then definitely consider that route.

  6. #6
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    Jul 2018
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    Re: Advice wanted on controller upgrade

    Hi Langley - I don't see how a closed loop stepper puts out more power than its equivalent open motor. Here's two steppers one closed one open torque curve. They are the same? Peter

  7. #7
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    Re: Advice wanted on controller upgrade

    The cheap boards like the one from makerstore work pretty well. I used one for years with par-port connection.
    If running 50v I would get DM860T drivers from stepper online.
    If you get any spikes, drivers rated for 50v max may blow.
    For small machines it's not worth spending too much.
    The Sieg X2,X3 type mills are generally worth nearly the the same money used (not a lot), whether converted or not!!.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by peteeng View Post
    Hi Langley - I don't see how a closed loop stepper puts out more power than its equivalent open motor. Here's two steppers one closed one open torque curve. They are the same? Peter

    Likely down to having close to the same inductance.
    I've noticed that closed loop steppers are around fhe 2mh mark often.
    With open you have to sift through a lot of crap ones to find one that's around the same.
    I come across loads of 23 size that are around at least 6!.

    Really have to watch what you buy.

  9. #9

    Re: Advice wanted on controller upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by dazp1976 View Post
    Likely down to having close to the same inductance.
    I've noticed that closed loop steppers are around fhe 2mh mark often.
    With open you have to sift through a lot of crap ones to find one that's around the same.
    I come across loads of 23 size that are around at least 6!.

    Really have to watch what you buy.
    Quote Originally Posted by peteeng View Post
    Hi Langley - I don't see how a closed loop stepper puts out more power than its equivalent open motor. Here's two steppers one closed one open torque curve. They are the same? Peter

    I'm not sure exactly how it works (after all, open loop steppers pull 100% of the power all the time, and closed loop drivers are only able to reduce that power when not necessary), but when I ran a quick test I found the steppers were far stronger in closed loop.

    I would grip the X axis extrusion and use the Z carriage to try and move my hand. Since the extrusion and linear rails are smooth, my hand would slide, though I was able to put considerable force against the carriage.
    I found that when I had the steppers in open loop, they would stall at much lower RPM's and it took much less force to stop them.
    When I had the steppers in closed loop (same steppers, just a setting on the driver), they pushed way harder and wouldn't stall until about 3x the speed.

    Obviously not a very scientific test, but the difference wasn't even close. I wasn't expecting it at all.

    For reference, the motors are Nema 24, 1.8mH, 3Nm, and run with a 48V power supply.

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