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  1. #1
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    Sep 2020
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    single axis positioner build

    Hi, first time on this forum.
    I am really inexperienced, I use a 4x8 CNC for cabinet making but really don't know anything about the inner workings
    but am eager to learn.

    I am planning on building a positioner for a saw cut stop, like a Tiger stop. This would be a starter project for me to dip my toes in and learn more. Eventually I would like to build some more complex machines but need to start slow.
    For now I plan on buying inexpensive parts to practice and test on.

    In the end I would like to be able to use a Tablet ??? for the screen. I would download cut lists from Excel. I understand Excel can be used to generate G-code. The positioner move to the length for each measurement then to the next on down the list.

    What type of control should I use for this? If I can create G-code in excel where does it go from there? Do I need mach3-4,centroid acorn or some other software?

    I would need to be able to have a custom-simplified interface for employees to be able to navigate, somehow just working their way down a cut list. Also being able to punch in lengths not on a list. I know this seems like alot to ask but the uses for this in my shop would not be limited to just this one machine so I am willing to put a lot of effort.

    Thanks for any advice, I obviously know nothing.

  2. #2
    Community Moderator Jim Dawson's Avatar
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    Dec 2013
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    Re: single axis positioner build

    Welcome to CNCZone Slin99.

    Having developed both CNC router systems and Tiger Stop like positioning systems for the wood products industry I would have to say that G code may not be the best choice for a cut to length system. Not to say that it's impossible to use G code, but it actually adds an extra and unneeded step in the process. But should you choose to use some off-the-shelf CNC software like Mach3/4, Acorn or whatever, then you would need to output G code because that is the only thing that the software will understand.

    Standard CNC software would not really lend itself to easy operator use for this application. You really need a custom interface. Using a tablet as the operator input device should be no problem. The mechanics and the electronics of the system is pretty simple, the software is going to be where the bulk of the work is done. Excel can output a cutlist in any format you want, whether it is G code or any other format. It's just a simple VBA macro to format what you want.

    You might also look at Dynomotion products for a controller, they are user programmable. My prefered controllers are from Galil Motion Control, they come as a blank slate and you need to write the operating code to make them do what you want. You would also need to write the operator interface.

    None of this is difficult but requires some programming skills.
    Jim Dawson
    Sandy, Oregon, USA

  3. #3
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    Jan 2016
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    348

    Re: single axis positioner build

    Have you seen this video? He uses Mach3 and custom screen set.


  4. #4
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    Re: single axis positioner build

    I knew I'd seen the Mach3 screen set for sale as well.


  5. #5
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    Sep 2020
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    3

    Re: single axis positioner build

    Jim- thanks for the response. If using Mach3 or the like is not the best for this application what type of software would I use to talk to the machine? What type of code would it be? What would I use for interface?

    Steve303- I did see the first video, it is just what I would like to accomplish. I hadn't seen the second video, I looked it up and emailed the guy for information, we'll see.

    Eventually I would like to use screen interface for more than just this one saw stop positioner, some applications would need to control two axis for 2 different positions. All the applications I envision need to able to just punch in the measurements right at the machine and taken off a cut list, possibly using barcodes to find the parts in the cut list. These are features that are down the road from where I am at right now but I would like to start off going down the right road so when I want to build off the existing system I don't have to start from scratch. I'm just unsure what software I should throw my effort at.

    Thanks for the information guys.

  6. #6
    Community Moderator Jim Dawson's Avatar
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    Re: single axis positioner build

    Quote Originally Posted by Slin99 View Post
    Jim- thanks for the response. If using Mach3 or the like is not the best for this application what type of software would I use to talk to the machine? What type of code would it be? What would I use for interface?

    Thanks for the information guys.
    After seeing the videos, I may have been a bit hasty in my rejection of Mach3. It looks like they have a screen set/system that will do exactly what you want. I have always written my own code for projects like this, but it looks like there is an off-the-shelf solution for a simple positioning system. Most of my work has been in positioning for cut with full optimization on both push and feed through saws.
    Jim Dawson
    Sandy, Oregon, USA

  7. #7
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    Sep 2020
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    Re: single axis positioner build

    That's good to hear, I like the idea of starting off with something that already exists. My big concern is the cut list format, I need to bring it in from excel with multiple columns with part information ie. part#, quantity, type.
    Since it's linked to Mach3 I would think it would be able to operate another axis after if able to change the interface some.

  8. #8
    Community Moderator Jim Dawson's Avatar
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    Re: single axis positioner build

    Not sure how you would bring in a multi-column cut list into Mach3, maybe it's possible with some creative programming. You might need some kind of a simple interface program that would extract the needed data for Mach3, and then have Mach3 report back that a particular cut was made. Should be possible.

    I'm no expert in Mach3, but I think it will handle 6 axes.
    Jim Dawson
    Sandy, Oregon, USA

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