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IndustryArena Forum > Metalworking Machines > Benchtop Machines > Light Machine Corp CNC Lathe
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  1. #1
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    Light Machine Corp CNC Lathe

    I've got a CNC lathe manufactured by the Light Machine Corp which looks to be a slightly modified Sherline. It currently is mounted in a case with the motor control working fine and all the stepper motors look to be ok from a visual inspection. I have the controller and cables that went along with the unit, but no software or computer.

    At the very least I could strip the machine down and have a nice Sherline manual lathe out of the deal; however, if it wasn't going to cost a fortune it would be kind of nice to get the machine working again as a cnc lathe. If a person was going to go this route would you work with what was their and simply try to find the software and a suitable computer and than cross your fingers and hope everything worked as it should? Or, would you replace the stepper motors and get a new controller? Would there be much of a savings going this latter route over buying a new Sherline CNC lathe? Any information would be appreciated.

  2. #2
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    I have a D&M milling machine and is very similar to the Light Machines line. I was able to retrofit the machine to work with Mach 3 quite easily. All you really have to do is add a parallel port breakout board to the machine and hook up the stepper drives to it.

    I can send you picts and instructions if you send me your E-Mail address.

    Mine is dpynenberg@new.rr.com

    Dale P.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 1 D&M.jpg  

  3. #3
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    info on spectralight lathe

    I ran into the exact same problem with a spectralight lathe and mill right after Christmas. Another teacher had used them in the classroom and he left for another job, and the next teacher did not know anything about cnc so the machines got put up with the controllers, but that important card that was left in actual PC. I was given the equipment this year for my class and got to figure all this fun stuff out by myself. Intelitek bought light machine corporation so anything as far as parts goes can be purchased from them. I will warn you though they are very expensive. I found the software for the lathe and mill online. I got a replacement card for the PC from a company called Learning Labs Inc. They specialize in educational equipment. They were the cheapest at around $600.00, which I thought was crazy. If you want to use the stock stepper motors and controller you will have to have a certain PCI card that intelitek makes. Your other option is a retro fit with mach 2, I did not want to do a whole retro fit because I have a curriculum they students follow for this certain type of software. If you need the software or have any other questions email me at mhaney@haywood.k12.nc.us.

  4. #4
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    Try these links, I remember the lathe software controller is in there. All you need is an older pc(probably find one in a dumpster) it has to that LSA slot(I think thats what its called)

    http://www.intelitekdownloads.com/So...traLight_Mill/



    http://www.intelitekdownloads.com/Software/CAD_CAM/

    Now if you look on your controller somewhere there will be a serial number. Lightmachines will still give you the software for free if you have the long serial number, I think it was 8 digits or more. Good luck

    P.S. Do you have the interface card? If not then you will have to get ya a new controller and use software like Mach or Turbocam

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by 44-henry View Post
    I've got a CNC lathe manufactured by the Light Machine Corp which looks to be a slightly modified Sherline. It currently is mounted in a case with the motor control working fine and all the stepper motors look to be ok from a visual inspection. I have the controller and cables that went along with the unit, but no software or computer.

    At the very least I could strip the machine down and have a nice Sherline manual lathe out of the deal; however, if it wasn't going to cost a fortune it would be kind of nice to get the machine working again as a cnc lathe. If a person was going to go this route would you work with what was their and simply try to find the software and a suitable computer and than cross your fingers and hope everything worked as it should? Or, would you replace the stepper motors and get a new controller? Would there be much of a savings going this latter route over buying a new Sherline CNC lathe? Any information would be appreciated.
    I'm been trying to get a spectralight mill running using the original stepper motors with a mechatronics driver board a 24v power supply and using emc2 on an old computer. Got everything working but max feedrate I can get is not as fast as the factory spec's. so far I have about $160 invested next I thinking about getting new stepper motors with more power to see if I can get the max feedrate faster.so far it's a lot cheaper doing this then getting the pci card from light machines. hope this is some help to you.
    Kevin

  6. #6
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    Hi, I was given one of these specralight lathes and am attempting to resurect it, mostly for goofing around and some hobby use with my son.

    I will mostly likely just drive the steppers with a mach III setup, as there is no control box with it.

    The challenge I have at the moment is that the motor speed control does not seem to be working. The motor is a 10K rpm type, that fires right up when plugged in the 110V AC, but I need to figure out why it does not work when plugged into the lathe box.

    Is there an external speed control box, or is every thing inside the main cabinet ?

    Does anyone know if I can just use an external speed control of some kind? I am still trying to figure out the motor type, but it seems to have brushes and is 1/2 hp. Sorry for having no idea about this motor.

    Thanks

    Harry

  7. #7
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    I probably have all of the electronics but no software for 1 of these. Does yours have an AC motor? If it does then it had some form of rheostat and I am not sure that spindle speed control was via computer. If the steppers are there and everything but the controller. Buy a G540 and a power supply and get her going. Replace the steppers when and if they prove to be too weak. I just read of someone here on the zone that reverse engineered a card and is able to communcate just fine with his Spectralight/Prolight machine. It might not have been an identical machine but the issues were the same and the approach to a resolution was the same too. If I find it I will link it.

  8. #8
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    Harryn
    there is a magnetic interlock on the lid. if the lid isn't shut the spindle won't run.

  9. #9
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    Thanks for the replies.

    The spindle motor is AC, and the speed control is manul - there is a knob for it, which is fine for my use. The motor does not turn on when run through the circuit, and it looks like it was tampered with underneath, so I assume that the speed control has not worked for a while.

    The speed control is what I am trying to figure out, and if I can just swap that out with another method. In other words, is this a voltage based speed change, frequency, DC - no idea.

    Anyone have a manual for this thing ? I sent a note to the company that owns spectralight now and of course have some limited hope that that will be helpful.

    I saw the interlock switch for the lid, and from its "sound", if seems like it is working, but I do need to check that with a DMM.

    The steppers look like conventional ones, 200 steps, etc, so those are no problem for getting a mach 3 based drive running on, or just replacing as needed.

  10. #10
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    It turns out that the emo spade connections had corrroded with time, making that connection an "open". Once those were cleaned up, it turns.

    Good reason to know an EE.

  11. #11
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    re: spectralathe

    The motor is an AC DC universal motor. The speed control is a minirak 90vdc motor controller. The knob is attached to a 10k ohm potentimeter. If you have the later model it should say computer in the extream counterclockwise position. If that is the case it switches a jumper on the speed control so it will take a 0-10vdc signal to controll the speed. In theory 10000rpm would be 1vdc per 1000rpm. You can purchase a board from cnc 4 pc that will take the 0-5vdc signal from Mach and interpalate it to a 0-10vdc signal. The instruction manual for the Minirak controll can be found through a google search. If you decide to do all of this I can help you avoid a lot of pitfalls. No sense in reinventing the wheel. I had to figure most of this out myself. I retrofitted a Spectralight mill and am working on an auto tool changer for it. If you are planning on threading on the lathe there are some easy solutions for that as well. If you know a little electronics you can save some money with a few scavanged parts.
    Jeff

  12. #12
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    Jeff I have just bought a spectralight that has the 90v 5000rpm motor and the minirak control card with an encoder ran off the headstock. I would appreciate any help you might give to be able to hook this machine up. I would like to use it for threading. Mine runs fine other than there is o controller etc.



  13. #13
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    Re: spectra lathe treading

    Mredburn,

    Did you say you have NO controller. Or did you mean no spindel controll?
    You need a controller and software to make use of the encoder feed back signal. you would also need to know the type of encoder to be able to interpalate the feed back signal in Mach 3.
    If you look closely on the Minirak board it should have a number. They make a lot of boards but they have documintation on line for all of them. Also see if you can find some make and model info on the endcoder.
    Spectra used there own motors. They were not the same as Sherline. I have not seen a 5000 rpm motor? My mill has a 10000 rpm and the lathe I had, was older but still the same motor? I believe they were made by Triem in North Carolina. In any event you will need to crawl (Hook up a controller and software) before you walk ( survive the learning curve and get every thing tuned and running ) and then you can run ( install a macro plugin to thread ). If you give me a rundown of were you are at, and were you would like to be, I will see if I can help!
    BTW I made the prevous post, by mistake, on a dead profile (jkcab95). You will note that this post is by jkcab. I could not login one day and I guess I got frustrated and set up a new account. I was on the couch with the laptop last night and must have typed in the wrong user and password. I wish I could figure out how to remove that profile from this site?
    Jeff

  14. #14
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    Let me start with I am new to this but I do have a taig cnc mill with the gecko g540 running Mach3, I also have 2 Sherline manual lathes besides the spectra light. I have only the turning station with wires hanging out the back. The motor is a Baldor spec 31531a 5000rpm 90volts dc. type DCPM frame is 135-AH-0

    The encoder is from us digital. 5 wire. the card in side is MinariK I do not see a number for it but I havent pulled it out of the machine. Im trying to set it up primarily for threading and then for hte more complex shapes that are difficult to cut by hand. I was never very good at Etch a Sketch. I have extra stepper motors if the ones on the machine are better off replaced. I realized I would have to buy/build a controller for it. I appreciate any and all help you can offer.
    Mike

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    Mike,

    First you need to detimine what you have more of, Time or money? Money buys plug and play and has faster results. Time has the advantage of learning new skills and having a better understanding of your machine. That understanding relates to faster solutions to inevitable problems. That being said a little research is in order. I can offer suggestions but they will be based on my experience and limited budget perspective. Gecko's are great but out of my budget. I used an eazy cnc board because that is what I had. I would look at the offerings from PC4U. Arturo Duncan is a great guy who supports his products. If you know the amp rating and the mh of the steppers there is no reason to replace them. People will tell you the round ones are no good and the loose there magnitisum with age. This is true but irrelevent you are not going to stall the steppers on a Sherline lathe. If you do you are working the lathe beyond it's designed capacity. Since you are starting from scratch, I would look for a board that was opto isolated or is bufferd. You will need provisions for at least one relay for the spindel motor. This might be on the spindel board you purchase to convert Mach's control signal to an anolog 0-10vdc. I ended up having to put a buffered signal card, ahead of my all in one driver card, to pullup the signals from the computer. You will need an appropriate power supply for your motors and drivers. You will also need a SEPERATE power supply for the spindel signal board and relay. If you use a buffered signal card I had to have a third power sorce of +5vdc. I taped an unused fan plug from inside the computer. You will need an enclosure for all this mess! There is a guy on this forum (vmarshall) who had a creative solution. He used a plastic storage container. There is a post with pictures on here some place. Search Vmarshall's posts. You will need to handle grounding a little different if you go plastic. Go back and review the Mach 3 instructions for spindle control before you start looking at boards. Well I guess thats enough to get you started. You will have some more specific questions as we go. I think we should continue this on the forum for others to benifit. I find that we tend to PM and move to private email and then end up answering the same questions for others later. Please excuse my spelling, I have yet to take the time to figure out how to use the spell check within the forum. I am a very slow typist....hunt and peck so it takes me some time to post.
    Jeff

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    I agree on leaving it online. There have to be more and more of these coming up needing alternative solutions to going back to the Original manufacturers. There are cheaper solutions. I figured the worst case was I would have to start with just the hardware of the lathe and replace everything else. Like everyone else I have to balance time and money. I do need to get this going for prodution on my parts im making. I can do the threading either with taps or with the sherline threading accessories. I have both. However most of my threading is non standard diameters and metric. 7.4x.5 is just one of them
    Mike

  17. #17
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    I fogot to mention, for the more complicated parts you could use the mill as a lathe. I have a Lab-Volt lathe that I needed and was not working (long story) so I was going to rotate the head of the mill 90 deg and use a four jaw in the headstock. I figured I could mount a tool holder to the table and then program it as a lathe. I could then put the G code in notepad and replace all the "Z"s with an X and all the "X"s with a Y. There would be no tailstock but if the parts are small this would work fine. If you wanted you could mount the endcoder from the lathe onto the Taig spindle and use it to thread with a Mach 3 plugin!
    Jeff

  18. #18
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    I have an extra 1hp 10,000rpm ac/dc motor that will fit the taig, I thought that I might eventually convert it also. I hadnt thought about threading on the Mill. i do have 4th axis capabilities. Im looking into a tachometer for the taig at the moment also. If i go to an encoder and the dc motor on the taig is the tachometer just a waste?

  19. #19
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    I guess i need to know what step is next to make the lathe workable. Find the card number? pull the encoder and see which one it is? I know I will need 2 power supplies, an enclosure, and some kind of drivers for the spindle motor and steppermotors.
    Mike

  20. #20
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    Mike,

    The Lab-volt lathe I have has an optical pickup on on the spindle. There is a disk with 1 slot attached to the back and a bracket holding the pickup attached to the case. If you pulled apart an old inkjet printer you would find one with an optical end coder attached to the paper feed shaft and a liniar one attached to the print head. It looks like a plastic disk with a bunch of radial lines. It can be used as a cheap substitute for a stepper to track position or as a rev counter. You can cobble one up if you are into electronics or you can go to CNC 4 PC and buy one for a reasonable price. Either way if you down load the instructions you will understand the aplication. You can adapt it to the mill spindle and leave it there for feed back to maintain speed under load or you can take it off and put it on the lathe when you are ready so you can thread.
    As for were to start I will make the same suggestion. Read the Mach 3 instructions on spindle control and then look at the offerings from cnc4pc. You need to get the lathe steppers under mach control before you get into spindle issues. You still need to look at the whole picture though so you are not purchasing redundent systems. You can purchase driver cards that incorperate almost all the needed features or you can go alacart. Somtimes you end up with overlaping features if you don't plan you progression. Research, list your needs and desires, ask specific questions for clarification and then impliment the plan.
    Jeff

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