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  1. #1
    Wade C is offline Stainless
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    Default Help understanding Conversational vs G code VMC/Drill-tap centers

    Ive been looking for a VMC for a while - that is in my budget. Every once in a while I run into a Brother machine, like a TC-2xx something... Usually early 90s era.

    From what I understand, milling may or may not be possible on certain machines, and that mostly (without the option installed) just run conversational controls.

    Im trying to learn up on these machines a little, and though maybe some of you might be able to "hold my hand a little" and explain some of the differences. Im only familiar with Okuma Gcode (early 80s lathe) - so everything will be a learning process... I just want to know enough - so that Ill know if I should even bother looking at the Brother Drill/Tap type machines.

    My main uses for the machine will be:
    -Profiling cast acrylic - the profile is drawn as a poly line, so there are about 180 straight line cuts for the "curve" - using a 1/8-3/16" at what I would expect to be max RPM.
    -Light milling in aluminum - sure if it could handle some steel, great... Largest cutter would be 1/2" - again probably max RPM
    -drilling and tapping up to a max of 1/2-20 - but most commonly 3/8-16
    -if it could handle steel, even with light cuts, I might use it for some general stuff - nothing big and seldom a cutter any bigger than 1/2" - if ever.

    Im trying to figure out how I would know what machines can handle milling, and what ones cant, and a rough "max they can handle when milling" - if they are capable. As well as - what kind of limitations Ill run into with the control only handling conversational - instead of gcode. Since Ive never played with a conversational control, I have no idea how they really compare or how one would handle a lengthy series of short straight line cuts. I would ?assume? that if the machine could handle milling, the control would have its own way of handling arcs of some sort?

    I guess just trying to get my self a little better educated on the machine so I know if it can do what I need.

    Thanks
    Wade

  2. #2
    behindpropellers is online now Stainless
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wade C View Post
    Ive been looking for a VMC for a while - that is in my budget.
    I don't understand why everybody always posts....looking for a budget CNC.

    How about.... Looking for a machine for home use for under $XXXXX.XX?

    Somebody might have exactly what you are looking for but you are keeping your budget a secret.

  3. #3
    psychomill is offline Titanium
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    Yep.. post a ball park budget you're looking at ...

    Also, your questions will actually require a conversation with people. From your descriptions.... a Brother, Robodrill, Tsugami and Kitamura would all work in those applications. Many of these "driling" machines can certainly do some mill work. If you were looking to do some serious hogging... something else might be in order.

    Conversational is not available on just any machine so that may play a factor. Gcode is everywhere (pretty much). Sounds like you need something with some speeds at both the spindle and feed so control software options will need to be discussed. Along with all this, volum of parts, variety of parts, multi-axis parts, etc, etc.

    Really though, you should arrange a "sit down" with someone you know in the business to get the vast questions answered. But most of us are happy to help you out... How about a little more info on what it is you're doing (part wise that is)? A little more detail....

  4. #4
    machine1medic's Avatar
    machine1medic is offline Titanium
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wade C View Post
    Ive been looking for a VMC for a while - that is in my budget.
    .................. Since Ive never played with a conversational control, I have no idea how they really compare or how one would handle a lengthy series of short straight line cuts. I would ?assume? that if the machine could handle milling, the control would have its own way of handling arcs of some sort?

    I guess just trying to get my self a little better educated on the machine so I know if it can do what I need.

    Thanks
    Wade
    At least you are doing home-work. Cool.
    Why not find one of the Fadals that are going for nearly give-a-way prices?
    Rent or borrow a flat-bed..... have a rode-trip.
    Bring it home........and expand your horizons.

    Conversationals isn't "vs" G-code. I was mistaken to beleive that once.
    It's all just languge.
    A good controll does it's job regardless.
    From my niew-point the major difference is line-of-code, sentance-structure.
    G-Code per your liking, conversational is generally "fill-in the-blank"
    Heidenhain for instance is very powerfull. BUT
    You write it exactly as it asks for it. That's all no biggy!,
    Good Luck
    m1m

  5. #5
    Wade C is offline Stainless
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    Quote Originally Posted by behindpropellers View Post
    I don't understand why everybody always posts....looking for a budget CNC.

    How about.... Looking for a machine for home use for under $XXXXX.XX?

    Somebody might have exactly what you are looking for but you are keeping your budget a secret.
    I didnt post a budget, because I wasnt asking if people had a machine or looking for a machine... I was asking about the differences in controls - kinda - so I could understand if certain machines would meet my need/current knowledge. I figured it was irrelevant info... never really thought about posting that info on the chance someone had something that would fit... In that light, my budget - from ground zero to fully operational and tooled for my basic needs is an absolute max of $15k (machine, shipping, vice(s), tooling, holders. I would love to have a 4th even if its just positional instead of a full 4th - but that is likely far outside the budget.)

    I have really been hoping to stumble onto a 40x20ish VMC with a 10k spindle - which is where I have been focusing my search (thinking Fadal would be where Id find something). Id rather have more capacity than I need - then grossly under-machined. But - for the products I currently need to do, I could easily suffice with a 10x10x7 work envelope.

    Secondly, its not for home use - "bonafide" business - been slowly crawling up from nothing since 2002 - started as a side thing in the mudroom of the house with a cheap chinese mill/drill and an idea.... Just very small - providing for a niche market, in a small town, trying to stretch the wings a little, and being small enough that banks arent interested in financing. I guess if quantity of work is what separates me into home/hobby - then I could very well be. If this was for home use, I wouldnt be worrying about it being able to make money for its payments and make me a wage, and would probably research less and buy sooner - and just learn as I go.

    Quote Originally Posted by psychomill View Post
    Yep.. post a ball park budget you're looking at ...

    Also, your questions will actually require a conversation with people. From your descriptions.... a Brother, Robodrill, Tsugami and Kitamura would all work in those applications. Many of these "driling" machines can certainly do some mill work. If you were looking to do some serious hogging... something else might be in order.

    Conversational is not available on just any machine so that may play a factor. Gcode is everywhere (pretty much). Sounds like you need something with some speeds at both the spindle and feed so control software options will need to be discussed. Along with all this, volum of parts, variety of parts, multi-axis parts, etc, etc.

    Really though, you should arrange a "sit down" with someone you know in the business to get the vast questions answered. But most of us are happy to help you out... How about a little more info on what it is you're doing (part wise that is)? A little more detail....
    Oh how Id love to have someone I could sit down with... Buy a steak and some beers and pick their brain, or go visit their shop and see the machines and learn... I have two friends that have been lending the helping hand and holding mine as I have tried to learn this stuff and find a machine over the last couple years. The problem comes with familiarity... Thats why I posted here, and read a bunch of the Brother threads, trying to glean some info from them, but the questions were usually too specific that they went over my head or werent applicable. I guess Im just trying to figure out, if something like a Brother with conversational control could still do what I need - since I have no idea how they operate - I cant evaluate it. I know I can learn Gcode for what ever, did it the hard way with the Okuma. Im sure I can learn the conversational too... but can it do what I need it to do or is it limited to very strict functions?

    More detail - CAN DO!
    Anyone familiar with duck calls? Particularly - J frame aka Arkansas Style? One of the main tasks will be cutting the tone board.

    (note: not my pic, I dont have one handy so I just grabbed on from Anatra Calls on the Refuge Forums)

    It starts turned profile on the one end and a .625" cylinder on the other - need to cut that profile on the cylinder end out (and will have to figure a way to deal with the radiused slot at the back of the cork notch, but even if I can just cut the profile, I can file the radiused slot square.
    Quantity, unknown, I do a lot of turning for my customers, and get regular requests to cut sound boards, but without a VMC, I cant help them. When I do turning, its usually 20-50 parts per customer order, and I probably have 40-50 customers a year right now. I think that would go up if I could do soundboards.

    The other product, I am not really willing to divulge too much on just yet as its a new idea and not been introduced, but the prototypes I have made on my Wells745 - I made from 1.5x.625 bar 6061 about 3.3" long. Without 4th axis, it would likely need done in 5 different ops. Basic shape - take a 1.5" hexagon (pardon my poor geometrical descriptions) cut it in half vertically and widen it out to OAL of 3.3 from left point to right - and it would stand .625 if laying on a table. There would be some thru holes threaded on the face, a couple 1/4" slots 1/2" long, and a couple 3/8 blind holes. Then on one edge a 5/16 hole thru, and counter bored for a SHCS thru the 1.5" width - on the center of the .625 thicknes (think drilling thru the side of a piece of 1.5" plate then a 5/16 slot milled out to one edge from that bore center. Then on the opposite side some 1/4-28 blind threads, and on two opposing 45 edges, a blind 3/8-16 thread bout 1" deep, and yet another 45 edge, a 7/16 blind hole running parallel to the length of the part - about 2" deep. It can be done on a manual, with lots of fixtures and about 6 mounts of the parts and lots of time setting up each op (took me about 6 hours to make 4 of them using two vices - one mounted straight and the other at a 45 angle. Without a 4th, I dont think I could reduce the number of mounts, but it would sure speed things up because with tool changes it would rock through the most complex face which has the holes, threads, milling and blind holes. Its a new product, so no idea on quantity. Blanks could be cut pretty close to size, so I dont see any need for major hogging of AL.

    From there, everything else is "round the shop" work, tinkering and dinking. Im in a farming community, so I would have some repair work that might be done on the machine, which is why I was hoping for a 40x20 size, but right now, all that is clear blue sky, the duck call and the aluminum parts are things I got right now.

    Quote Originally Posted by machine1medic View Post
    At least you are doing home-work. Cool.
    Why not find one of the Fadals that are going for nearly give-a-way prices?
    Rent or borrow a flat-bed..... have a rode-trip.
    Bring it home........and expand your horizons.

    Conversationals isn't "vs" G-code. I was mistaken to beleive that once.
    It's all just languge.
    A good controll does it's job regardless.
    From my niew-point the major difference is line-of-code, sentance-structure.
    G-Code per your liking, conversational is generally "fill-in the-blank"
    Heidenhain for instance is very powerfull. BUT
    You write it exactly as it asks for it. That's all no biggy!,
    Good Luck
    m1m
    Trust me Ive been looking. So far - of what I have found, I could get the machine, but then the tooling and setup and transport, and so on would get me out of my budget. I can haul up to 7000lbs on my flat bed, and between the two forklifts and 3 JCB telehandlers of a friend of mine, we can get er off... but I dont know if Im comfortable with a 2000 mile round trip with it - not to mention paying the diesel and time lost in the drive, it might pay to have it trucked in (I also have a day job during the week at about 20-30 hrs a week). Ive found my budget, though it seems large to me, is not what it needs to be to get a good machine, get it here, get it tooled up, and running. Ive found various Fadals on ebay and such, usually the price range I can afford is from less than "suggested" sellers, or the machine has a noise, or needs this n that, or the seller knows nothing about it, or there is a huge rigging fee along with shipping. It seems Im just on the edge of being able to do something with the budget I have to stick to.

    I guess it just comes down to learning a little bit about what a Brother control might expect for a program, and knowing what machines may or may not handle light milling.

    Can anyone share with me a simple program from a Brother conversational machine and its equivalent in G code? See if I can follow it? Or maybe a list of the generic commands for a Brother conversational so that by knowing the commands I know what it can do?

    My interest in the Brother machine came around by the addition of the new aluminum product idea and having bumped into a TC225 that comes with tooling, is not too far away, and would eat about 1/2 my budget. My thinking, get it, use it to make money, take that money, get a 4020 down the road.... as long as it will do what I need.

    Thanks for all the input - Im still learning, and have a hard head... so feel free to beat me bout the head and shoulders if Im being too dense.

    Wade

  6. #6
    Tonytn36 is offline Diamond
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    Send Perry Harrington a PM. I think he has a 225 with the A00 control. Everything I have is B00 and I do all the programming in G code. Never even played with the conversational side. As for milling aluminum, I'm sure the 225 can handle that.....

    Here's a vid of it cutting steel on youtube. (The machine is NOT that slow, they are just running it that slow.)

    YouTube - 1990 Brother TC225 VMC CNC 3 axis bed mill

  7. #7
    Perry Harrington is offline Titanium
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    I have a Brother TC-211. The milling capability is very limited. Basically you have discrete operations like "mill from X,Y to X,Y" at a given Z depth. You could automate it with a post, but it would take some programming because you'd have to dump the Brother format via RS232, then figure that out and make a post that could generate the oddball program format. It is a multilayered machine, and I think it has a G-code interpreter at the lowest level, because it certainly has standard M-code support via I/O and program operations.

    I happen to have a Tree 1050 VMC in Fremont, CA that I'm looking to part with in order to get something like an Okuma LB-15. This machine is a 1994 with a Dynapath Delta 20, 40x24x25 travels and a 24 position tool changer. I can kick down some tooling as well. I bought the machine and saw it run, but didn't have a place to put it until now. Don't have any work for it, and I don't have much money into it. The machine weighs 17,600lbs, so you'd need to arrange hauling to CO.

  8. #8
    len_1962's Avatar
    len_1962 is online now Stainless
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    HURCO hands down! best dam conversational control out there..period!

    why do you think Haas lost the law suit brought against them by HURCO.

    look for older KM3P's or KM5's knee mill type or for new the VM10's.

    http://www.practicalmachinist.com/vb...rco-vm1-118292

  9. #9
    Wade C is offline Stainless
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    Thanks for the input!

    Im guessing that Ill end up "programming the hard way" like I do with my okuma anyway, so I imagine I could figure a way to make some things work out for the programing - if i ended up going that way. But definitely good info.

    What are the thoughts on the DynaPath control? repair part cost, etc... what little I remember reading about it, is it wasnt all that "highly regarded" - but I really have no idea.

    I was basing my search initially on a couple things, repair part prices and the familiarity my friend has of the machine/control for help on repairs and trouble shooting. Which had me sort of looking at Fadal (repair part prices) or something with a Fanuc 0M (the control my buddy knows really well). I have sort of looked passed machines with other controls for fear of cost of repair (something I learned with the Okuma LC10 I have).

    Perry, that machine might be a little big for me (more thinking weight/foot print). Thats a substantial increase over the Fadal 4020 of about 10,500lbs. Not sure on the foot print though. Something to think about though... what were you thinking price wise (or if yould rather to keep that private - I can PM you)?

    Thanks for all the input everyone! I think Ill not look too hard at the Drill Tap centers unless I notice they have gcode as an option... Or maybe Perry's machine is the ticket... My brain is much too structured to like the "gambles" associated with decisions like these.

    Wade

  10. #10
    PixMan's Avatar
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    Hurco may or may not have the the "best damn conversational control" out there. Have you ever used the IGF programming of an Okuma OSP control, or the conversational control of a Milltronics? I have, those are pretty damned good too.

  11. #11
    len_1962's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PixMan View Post
    Hurco may or may not have the the "best damn conversational control" out there. Have you ever used the IGF programming of an Okuma OSP control, or the conversational control of a Milltronics? I have, those are pretty damned good too.
    okuma no, miltronics yes.... love the parametric capability...but hurco is still the easest to use taught my 10 yr old to cut parts in a afternoon.

  12. #12
    Perry Harrington is offline Titanium
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    Wade, Dynapath is a Conversational/G-code type control. They rely heavily on conversational input for many operations, falling back to G-code for complex parts. Dynapath still supports the control and offers an upgrade to the latest control version as a "drop-in" form factor. That said it isn't a machine specific retrofit, but they may be able to do that too. The Tree 1050 was built by ZPS and uses Yaskawa AC servos and drives. The tool changer is a servo with a crown gear and pinion. The head is 2 speed belt drive 15/20HP 8000rpm max. The drawbar is air over hydraulic. The machine is a hybrid box way with steel rails and turcite coated ways, roller bearings handle thrust loading. The rapids are 787ipm. I'm asking $15k for it, but I'm negotiable.

  13. #13
    Wade C is offline Stainless
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    Thanks for the info and offer. I wouldn't be able to swing that just figuring trucking it even if you were open to a little negotiation as I'd guess it would cost an easy 1500 to get it here. Then adding vices, some of the specific tooling, and getting it wired in and all the little things I'm sure I do t know about.

    Thanks again.
    Wade

  14. #14
    Machinery_E is offline Stainless
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    I'd be VERY careful with the conversational only thing...I had purchased a Sugino Tap and Drill center-really cheap...after taking the manuals back and reading them, I found out it was conversational only...and it would be a HUGE pain for what I wanted to do. Reading what you had to do to program it had my head spinning. Couldn't do anything with G-Code, even downloading it to the machine...so for parts like the tone board in the pic., milling the contour, wouldn't be possible. Fortunately the seller was understanding allowed me to back out since it wouldn't work for what I wanted to do.

    Eric

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    Wade C is offline Stainless
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    That's what I was sort of worried about. Thanks for the input!

  16. #16
    swarf_rat is online now Titanium
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    Here's my $0.03: regardless of the machine, in your budget reserve about $1000-3000 for a CAD/CAM program, and the time to learn to use it. The real power of CNC is not reasonably available to you without it. And it you do that, then the conversational issue becomes somewhat moot.

  17. #17
    HuFlungDung is online now Diamond
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    Quote Originally Posted by swarf_rat View Post
    Here's my $0.03: regardless of the machine, in your budget reserve about $1000-3000 for a CAD/CAM program, and the time to learn to use it. The real power of CNC is not reasonably available to you without it. And it you do that, then the conversational issue becomes somewhat moot.
    That's true. That and the necessity to have a bulletproof simulation of what your code is really going to do to your machine and to the part. How easy is it to verify toolpaths relative to the model geometry on a cnc controller, if you want to check one element?

    I suppose these conversational controllers never ever crash with their own internally generated code......or do they? And how often does PC software get improved upon versus machine firmware? So your conversational controller is running 10 to 20 year old ideas, is that a good thing?

  18. #18
    SIM
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    Conversational can be great...but I like the machine to do exactly what I want, when I want, so for me keep it simple with Straight G-Code.

    I'd also get my "Arse" out of the shop, house, work take a road trip and go see some machines.... How...well you want to buy one....so go see a powered up machine for sale. See what they do , how they do it and figure out what you'll need instead of guessing.

    Sometimes a dealer can be your friend as well. For me I knew little about CNC's, but found a dealer who brought me into several shops to see machines he had "his hands into". I quickly learned what I wanted and needed and narrowed my search...I learned what a few extra bucks could get me and then we worked out a small package for some tooling to be included, a few hour training lesson and a " guarantee limited to " it is guaranteed to be set up and running in my shop before payment. I paid more then I should have for my 1st real CNC, but I got what I wanted and needed. But that little guarantee...the dealer had to lay out almost 2 grand because a Battery took a dump taking along the machines commissioning software and parameters. Also in shipping a couple switches crapped out. Tech was here for two days re-commissioning the machine.

  19. #19
    swarf_rat is online now Titanium
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    Quote Originally Posted by HuFlungDung View Post
    That's true. That and the necessity to have a bulletproof simulation of what your code is really going to do to your machine and to the part. How easy is it to verify toolpaths relative to the model geometry on a cnc controller, if you want to check one element?

    I suppose these conversational controllers never ever crash with their own internally generated code......or do they?
    Oh, yeah, they do!! I have mills (Heidenhain) and a lathe (Prototrak), and with some very simple conversational commands can send the spindle right through the vise or the turret right through the headstock! (I have tested this capability...). Both of those controls draw a graphic of what it is going to do, but not a nice, color, 3D graphic; and not representing the fixturing and obstacles (how would it know?). I generally simulate the cut in OneCNC on the computer, download the code to the mill, then have the Heidenhain show me what it thinks I am about to do: both are factually correct, however the presentation is significantly different, and I have found I see problems on one that I didn't see on the other - the difference in presentation made it noticeable.

    Quote Originally Posted by SIM View Post
    Conversational can be great...but I like the machine to do exactly what I want, when I want, so for me keep it simple with Straight G-Code.
    On the conversational controls I have, there is pretty much a one-one correspondence of commands, conversational-gcode. There is nothing that can be done on these machines in gcode that cannot be done in conversational with the same certainty and precision. Its just that the conversational language is more human readable. G-code is extremely poorly conceived in this regard.

  20. #20
    706jim is online now Stainless
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    Quote Originally Posted by swarf_rat View Post
    There is nothing that can be done on these machines in gcode that cannot be done in conversational with the same certainty and precision. Its just that the conversational language is more human readable. G-code is extremely poorly conceived in this regard.
    Ha! One can read G code just fine with a bit of practice.

    Why, here in Canada, some of us can even read French.

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