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Member postings for Alan Wood 4

Here is a list of all the postings Alan Wood 4 has made in our forums. Click on a thread name to jump to the thread.

Thread: CAM software for CNC Lathes - With C axis and constrained live tool
14/01/2021 10:34:45

Thanks for the link Joe, I will give it a look.


Thread: Total cost + import for Tormach PCNC 440, and alternatives?
10/01/2021 12:49:06

I foolishly looked at Naomi Wu's YouTube channel and think I am now mentally scarred for the rest of my days ... what did come to mind however were two things .... support and support and I think that is where Tormach scores.

Going to have a lie down in a darkened room.

10/01/2021 11:53:47

Morning Andrew

I echo you sequence. I made my tool zero from a piece of silver steel in a standard TTS collet. It has a domed end and measures the same 'height' as the Haimer under compression at 'zero'.

I have edited the Fusion to Tormach export config to create a G37/G37.1 after every tool change with a soft switch in the export options if I don't need it. While this is a nice automated routine in program, you have to remember to zero the nose on switch on. I have added a visual text prompt to this effect in my spindle warm up routines but still forget if I get distracted ...

Because the 440 has limited Z I also have added a config option for a G53 move to get the tool up and out of the way at every tool change regardless of any G37 activity.


09/01/2021 17:33:24

If I were you Steve I would get your feet under the table with the hobbyist free licence and then wait for Autodesk to offer one of their discounted licence deals that crop up every now and again. I jumped when they offered 50% off on a 3 year deal.

09/01/2021 14:48:37

All understood Steve

So long as you have a means of measuring tool height from the collet edge to tool tip you can manually enter this value into the Tool Table on PathPilot. Assuming no breakages, no significant wear and no movement in the collet grip you don't need to change this value. The tool number and the tool diameter are common to both Fusion 360 but the tool number is the only field that is the link between the two tables

You make the tool number in PathPilot match the tool number in Fusion 360 and the exported GCode automatically asks for the right tool and uses the tool height you have entered in the PathPilot tool table. The tool table in Fusion is used by the CAM processor to watch for tool length, collet size etc that could lead to clashes when calculating the CAM whereas the PathPilot value is used to set the tool height relative to Z0.

Not sure that was very well explained ....What I am saying is for basic operations you will probably believe the tool table in PathPilot unless you are nervous about the job or something happened during the last job that made you twitchy. There are automatic routines in PathPilot that let you set where the tool measuring device is located on the table and auto updates the tool table after a measurement (assuming you have selected the right tool number ..).

I came to CNC some five or six years ago and fumbled my way watching John Saunders on NYC CNC. The early videos are very much as he was learning.

CNC Milling in the Workshop by Marcus Bowman is worth the investment.


09/01/2021 12:18:43

I didn't go for the ATC as like you say in a small shop you tend to keep an eye on things and there is not likely to be a dark milling session. With power drawbar and TTS system tool change is a few seconds but clearly important to make sure the Tool Table is up to date ... you will need a digital caliper and granite block for this but I find the Tormach one I bought to be very small for the footprint of the caliper. Probably a local kitchen granite supplier would provide an offcut providing they can cut a hole for the inverted tool for you.

I was probably a bit premature on the expansion board recommendation. I use it for clock wheel cutting. I have a Sherline CNC rotary table and I increment the table from the expansion board. Note that this was before the microArc came on scene as prior to that there was not 4th axis for the 440. I could now do the same with the microArc but I have a short piece of code that runs reliably so no great incentive to migrate this activity to the microArc. Other uses are for alarm signals as a result of IF statements, beacon lights etc.

Other thoughts - I have just fitted a second nozzle on my Fogbuster coolant kit. The system is very good for giving an air jet and a coolant mist but a single nozzle was not clearing pockets very well so I added the second nozzle. I think you have to order the upgrade kit for this and not get a dual one as standard. Have a look at the Fogbuster site direct. Note that the Fogbuster runs on 10 to 15 psi and you have be able to support this with a compressor that can cope. I have a Bambi PT50 which just manages on a long job but does get a bit warm. The plus side is that it is not too noisy,

I didn't buy any probing from Tormach. I had a Haimer already and I subsequently bought the Hallmark ITTP probe which works very well.


09/01/2021 10:29:10

I would echo Andrew's comments about making sure you get as much as you can afford in the shipment to consolidate the costs.

I would include the power drawbar and the new microArc 4th axis (which is a lovely piece of kit). The TTS tooling system makes life easy with the power drawbar. If you buy the SuperFly and the ShearHog tools then make sure you get a pack of spare inserts as I find these very difficult to source in the UK.

A minor purchase which I have found useful is the USB expansion board which allows you to control external devices using GCodes within your program. This has four I/O ports.

A tooling plate is another ideal item to have. Tormach front the SMW parts but they don't offer metric thread versions. Bit of a chicken and egg situation as you need a CNC to make a plate but the plate needs to be bigger than the cutting envelope of the machine you want it for ... I chatted up a local machine shop to cut one for my 440.

Thread: Another Arduino-controlled pendulum clock
08/01/2021 22:48:37

Hi John

I am using the Pro MIni on a 3V3 supply (it is a 3v3/8MHz version) which is derived from a MCP1703-3302 LDO regulator. The Mini on board LEDs have been disabled. The board overall is supplied with 12V from a Super Polymer Lithium 5AHr battery and this is stabilised at 10V in a LM29371 LDO to feed the solenoid. This stabilises the solenoid pulse and this is the main battery consumption. I am getting something like 6 months battery life.

I have LEDs to indicate swing, overswing, pulse delay and pulse status but these can all be disabled via the Mini to save current. The Mini provides a low battery signal via one of its analogue ports.

Since getting this modification to the clock up and running the Seeeduino Xiao has appeared on the scene which is smaller than the Mini and alleges less current consumption. It claims lots of ports but they are multi use so the net number of pins is limited. If I did away with my status LEDs I could probably use it instead.

The Xiao uses the Arduino IDE for programming but we have had problems talking to it with Win 7 but Win10 is fine. This related to the USB driver and we seem to have sorted this now. Seeed were not very supportive hiding behind the 'Win 7 is no longer supported' banner. This seemed a bit short sighted given that most experimenters use 'that old laptop under the bench' that is still on Win7.

The Xiao is very low cost ! Have a look at DroneBot's Youtube or his .COM blog site if you want a quick overview.

I can send you more details of my board if it is of interest.


08/01/2021 14:36:50

I have converted my William Smith Gearless Gravity Arm clock from mechanical reset to electronic reset.

I have a HED clocked at mid swing from a small magnet on the pendulum. After a programmable number of swing counts a solenoid repels a second larger magnet on the pendulum (at right angles to the swing magnet) to give the pendulum a kick. If left to its own devices the swing amplitude would incrementally increase so a second HED detects an overswing situation and inhibits the swing counter until the swing diminishes. Control is battery powered via an Arduino Mini where I can program swing counts between resets and solenoid reset pulse duration and pulse / pendulum synchronisation.

Pendulum kicks occur around once per minute otherwise the pendulum is left to its own devices and free swings. Monitoring the timekeeping on my Microset Timer suggests a few seconds per day accuracy which is more than enough as a display device. It is also much quieter than the anti social clunk of the old mechanical gravity arm reset.

Bill would not have been impressed but even his wife said she hated the design because of the noise it made. As a result it was forever forbidden from running anywhere in the house but Bill's workshop wall. My wife echoed Judy's sentiments and the modifications have granted a reprieve.

Thread: Total cost + import for Tormach PCNC 440, and alternatives?
08/01/2021 14:11:34

Very envious of the 770MX Steve, I wish I could have squeezed a 770 into my space but couldn't.

I don't think I am qualified to advise on the RCD issue. There is a question in my mind that this problem has obviously been experienced by users in the US where the machine is directly connected to the electrical wiring circuits in properties. The breaker therefore had a direct visibility of the transients etc coming from the machine. Our use in the UK puts the autotransformer in the way and intuitively this ought to look like a lot of inductance to these emissions.

That is probably utter tosh and I stand to be corrected by those more knowledgeable on the physics involved.

08/01/2021 11:44:16

Yes and no to your comment Ady1 (if I understood it correctly),

I think it breaks down into those that want a machine that is fully integrated ready to go because they want to make things and those who take pleasure in making the machine to make things albeit with a propagation delay before they get to the production stage. There is the added complexity that you might need a CNC machine to be able to make a CNC machine.

Having seen what is involved in the Tormach construction I can fully appreciate the road that would have to be travelled to produce a working equivalent without any consideration of the investment in the control software. I have great respect for those who have achieved this route. I also have great sympathy and understanding for those individuals that embarked on the journey and didn't quite make it happen.

For me wanting to learn CNC and to make things it was the right choice and the F/X was very favourable at the time of my purchase.

08/01/2021 10:58:42

Good morning Steve

I have all the workshop machinery mains outlet sockets on a single RCD in a 60439-3 breaker panel. The particular breaker is a brown colour code which I guess is standard for a ring main.

The earth pin on the UK plug is connected through to the earth plug on the US socket on the autotransformer. I have not done any additional earth bonding. I haven't had any tingles while using the machine.

There was a Tormach support note about adding suppressor components at various points if there were EMI issues in use. This mainly related to the compressed air solenoid valve on the Fogbuster coolant not always responding. Subsequent to this I think Tormach began fitting a different component so it may no longer be an issue. I have just added a second Fogbuster nozzle to my machine to overcome swarf removal shadowing but I got this direct from Fogbuster direct as a retrofit. I have also fitted the baby Fogbuster to my Myford S7 and this arrived with a completely different air solenoid.

With the Brexit changes my spreadsheet (as referenced in this post) may not now reflect the duty payable on import but the VAT (the most painful aspect) will still be valid. ACC will sort out all the importation issues for you.


Additional note - I bought in from Amazon a US distribution board.   This is fed from the autotransformer.  All the Tormach devices (mill, controller etc) feed from this dis board which means all the 110V hardware retains its US plugs and is quite separate and cannot be accidentally plugged into 240V outlets.   (My buying choice of US dis board was not ideal being pretty poor quality which I had to rewire).


Edited By Alan Wood 4 on 08/01/2021 11:06:19

06/01/2021 14:04:59

Hi Steve

I bought my transformer (which is an auto transformer) from RS some three years ago. Their part number is 347-6668. It is 2kVA rated. RS also offer a 3kVA version. Both are sealed units with a US socket ready to go on the side.

It makes a gentle background hum to remind you that you have left it switched on ..


Thread: CAM software for CNC Lathes - With C axis and constrained live tool
05/01/2021 10:57:40

Could I add to that with Release Note SB0046 version 2.4.2 Feb 2020 which details how to right click and select a new start point with various options. I just learned something ...


Sorry Bob we doubled on this


Edited By Alan Wood 4 on 05/01/2021 10:59:16

05/01/2021 10:37:39

Good morning Joe

What you are asking may be possible on PP but I haven't approached it that way. The STOP command for instance doesn't change the current modal state of the mill.

It might be worth you downloading the 1100MX manual which is available on the Tormach documentation section.



04/01/2021 19:19:41

Hi Joe

Sorry about that, I thought you were asking how PP warned you and auto stopped.

From my point of view you have to allow a pause to let the expletives diminish and then decide on the easiest route. Long winded is to stop and reload an edited GCode up to a convenient point before the breakage and this will probably involve cutting air. I use GCodeEditor to see where things are at.

If it has been a controlled stop rather than a panic button or ESC then swapping out a tool is possible as I use the Tormach collet system.

If I aim the answer more to your PCB milling then I do this on the small CNC (using Mach3 though) and I use tooling from Think & Tinker. These come supplied with a plastic depth stop ring on the shank so you can swap out tools without having to do a tool height setting. I have extended this idea by 3D printing my own collars and fitting these to my non T&T tooling such as board routers and tooling hole drills. I have a height setting jig that I set these collars against and superglue them in place. Pause the code, stop the spindle, swap the tool and carry on.

That still might not have answered your question ...


04/01/2021 17:47:14

Hi Joe

PathPilot supports in program G37 tool length move and measure in the format G37 H~ P~

H saves the current tool length to the H tool library instead of the current tool number.

P is a positive or negative tolerance whereby the measurements in H and the current tool number can be compared and if greater than the defined limit will stop the program.

This was added in 2019 and works very well. It has an inbuilt discipline that needs you to zero the spindle nose at start up which I think sets a G53 reference.


04/01/2021 09:58:44

I own a Tormach so I enjoy the pleasures and luxury of using PathPilot. It is a clean easy to use interface and the various tabs for conversational routines, probing and tool table etc are very professional.

I visited IMTS a few years ago and had been tasked by a friend to look out for CNC control software. As a result of my searching on his behalf I spent a very enjoyable few hours on the Acorn stand/booth. A really nice bunch of guys and what looked like an impressive product. I was so impressed I asked if they could sell a board and licence off the stand at the show to take home to the UK for my colleague to use. They said sadly no but if I came back the following day they would see what they could do. Next day I duly turned up and received a controller board that had been hand carried overnight by one of their factory team. Speaks volumes about their attitude to customer support.

Finally for those frustrated by the Mach3 visual presentation, have a look at Physics Anonymous YouTube videos SO3E13 and 14. This is as close to a professional layout for Mach3 that I have seen. It is not totally bug free but an update is promised. I have a small CNCEST mill that now uses this interface and I tend to forget I am using Mach3.


Thread: Electronic Lead Screw Project
21/12/2020 17:26:04

Hi Graham

Bearing in mind how long the project has evolved over, James was using version 9 of Code Composer.

Coming to the ELS late meant I was offered version 10 as a download of the latest version which I duly did. I struggled to make the ELS loading work so I cleared out v10 and loaded version 9 and then had success

It is a bit tenuous and I can't be 100% certain that this was the source of my troubles. It is more likely it was finger trouble on my part when trying to use v10. That said it might be worth bearing in mind unless anyone else can confirm success using v10.


Thread: Hairline crack in CH boiler
09/12/2020 18:10:37

Thank you everyone for the opinions expressed which are noted and appreciated.

I have no idea why the crack has occurred but it does only emit a fine spray when the boiler is running. Given its age it is past its sell by date and I will proceed on the replacement path.


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