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    Default Simple 2 axis controller

    I have two projects that need simple X-Y axis controllers. I'm looking for a well-supported system (good tech support, distribution, hopefully some good forum support), reasonable cost (need not be US made), doesn't need to be (probably shouldn't be) PC based, hopefully a GUI if needed would be available. One system will basically just move on a grid at several intervals (e.g. 10 x 10 at 2" spacing or 12 x 12 at 1.5" spacing). The other will be more "dxf" based and would ideally like to import a text based program that is kept stored in the controller. Need to have a bit of discrete I/O (no analog) but hoping to avoid integrating a PLC as a separate controller. Also, this doesn't really have to be "CNC", it will all just be point-point. Certainly a CNC controller could do that but, if there's something simpler out there, great. Finally, I am envisioning using stepper motors with open-loop control.

    I have enough experience with Automation Direct that I could likely make one of their PLC's work but I don't want to write a ladder logic program. Can someone point me in the right direction as far as at least a brand? Hopefully enough info here for that.

    Thanks,
    The Dude

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    If it were me, I would use one of these . . . Delta Tau Data Systems, Inc., Motion Control Solutions

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    Quote Originally Posted by motion guru View Post
    If it were me, I would use one of these . . . Delta Tau Data Systems, Inc., Motion Control Solutions
    Hey MG, we didn't get to chatting about these the other day. I'll explain more the next time we talk. In the meantime I checked out the specs and aside from a few questions it looks like a good candidate.

    Thanks!
    The Dude

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    I have two slightly used units for cheap if you have interest - we removed them from a consumer products test stand that our customer wanted expanded to 3-axes

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    What are National Instruments up to with LabView these days? Back in the late 1980's & 1990's I hacked out several of that sort of simple controller very quickly with LabView for demo and laboratory purposes on the understanding that if required the program could be moved off the PC to a FPGA or embedded devices. Not that I ever did anything of that ilk being strictly a proof of concepts and demo guy.

    With things like LabView Home Edition and other lower cost ways into the eco-system being pushed these days I'd have thought there would be some way of offloading a proven program on to an common board level processor, Arduino or whatever.

    Clive

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    Quote Originally Posted by motion guru View Post
    I have two slightly used units for cheap if you have interest - we removed them from a consumer products test stand that our customer wanted expanded to 3-axes
    Okay, hopefully we can chat next time we meet up.

    The Dude

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    For a similar application I've used a TMCM-3110 3 axis stepper motor controller/driver module from Trinamic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Dude View Post
    I have two projects that need simple X-Y axis controllers. I'm looking for a well-supported system (good tech support, distribution, hopefully some good forum support), reasonable cost (need not be US made), doesn't need to be (probably shouldn't be) PC based, hopefully a GUI if needed would be available. One system will basically just move on a grid at several intervals (e.g. 10 x 10 at 2" spacing or 12 x 12 at 1.5" spacing). The other will be more "dxf" based and would ideally like to import a text based program that is kept stored in the controller. Need to have a bit of discrete I/O (no analog) but hoping to avoid integrating a PLC as a separate controller. Also, this doesn't really have to be "CNC", it will all just be point-point. Certainly a CNC controller could do that but, if there's something simpler out there, great. Finally, I am envisioning using stepper motors with open-loop control.

    I have enough experience with Automation Direct that I could likely make one of their PLC's work but I don't want to write a ladder logic program. Can someone point me in the right direction as far as at least a brand? Hopefully enough info here for that.

    Thanks,
    The Dude
    Sherline mill has cnc package its plug and play. uses linuxcnc
    .
    there is config file you have to choose. basically telling if you have mill or lathe and how many axis
    .
    open loop if little motor cannot move it will miss steps. not saying best but i have used and it works. i bought used pc to use with it. plenty on ebay
    .
    it uses gcode fairly standard type of fanuc rs274 ngc

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    You could attempt to go the cheapo route and spend a lot of man-hours trying to put something together and make it work, and work reliably. There are plenty of Chinese-sourced 2-axis, 3-axis systems of stepper motors and controllers on eBay.

    Other than that, I'd go more expensive/more professional and look at linear units from Yamaha Robotics or Epson Robotics or Intelligent Actuator.

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    sherline also sells stand alone controller for rotating a rotary table

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    Take a look at the new AutomationDirect Do-More BRX PLCs. Built in high speed I/O for 3 axis drives and encoders, plus the usual PLC capability. We are using them and they are really powerful and user friendly.

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    Your desired matrix of services is a very good definition.
    None exist, as such, nor will, in the near term.

    Endless combos of (very) cheap hw and sw can serve your needs in practice - but none will be well supported, or decently documented, or have reasonable chances of being around 5 years from now.

    The mid-priced industrial stuff is exactly the same.
    The PLCs will be obsolete, the companies will likely be absorbed or transformed, etc.. in 5 years.
    Low-none detailed docs, no real expectation of longevity.

    Endless cheap linux plcs,
    cheap hacks with beaglebone/arduino/raspberry pi/etc..,
    Or chinese GSK.
    Or chinese clone controllers.
    Low-none detailed docs, no real expectation of longevity imho.

    Endless cheap motion-controller boards for mach3.
    Low-none detailed docs, no real expectation of longevity.

    For me, I would use mach3/4 or linuxcnc.
    Both are likely to exist for a long time, and go on, with great non-traditional forum support.

    If I had to use a packaged hw platform..
    a chinese gsk or ccxxx platform would be cost effective with zero support in the real world.
    A packaged mach3 system e.g. machmotion etc. would work, and have support, but be very vendor-locked in to a specific company.
    Or delta tau, for example. Etc..
    Similar applies to linux-based boxed systems with a particular very small company of very limited scope, history, and unknown longevity.

    For "supported" systems the CNC refit vendors, or a basic siemens system, would likely be what you want.
    All caveats mentioned apply.
    There is, imho, very little probability that almost-any of the boxed systems vendors survive above 5 years.

    My pov:
    The controllers will become commodities - with a very few 1-2 companies in each sector succeeding, mostly due to customer support, docs, pricing either very-low or quite-high/ unit aka lots-of-hobby or very-good-industrial.

    And some fairly basic but very functional chinese boxes of very low cost, used in huge numbers.
    CCxx offline-controllers around 3-400$, weak docs and weak support, but cheap, and functional for 99% of users.
    These types of controllers establish a base price for a basic cnc machine, with gcode and most desired functionality in common gcode, with some limited support for limits/homing/toolchanger/probing/slaving etc.

    Mesa/linuxcnc compete with the chinese ccxx and gsk controllers.
    So does polabs/machx.

    Then, higher-end, e.g. cslabs/machx and siemens stuff, with some high end stuff like maybe machmotion and similar.
    Some mesa/linux stuff also competes here.

    Multiple hw controllers also exist .. to many axis .. I have no experience but expect they might/could do well short-term in specialist apps- but think their future is limited due to a thin market.

    Ie I am sure the multi-axis hw controllers work well, with caveats like everyone - but - trusting any real industrial stuff to a single-vendor solution of low probability of support long-term is crazy.

    Thus, a real industrial customer of many axis needs to buy siemens/similar at 40k$-90k$..
    or develop plans and know-how and mitigation with a 3000$ multi-axis controller or complex bodge.

    It is very likely within a few years one or more box-vendors develops docs, certifications, extensibility, modularity.
    If they are then commercially successful, they may become the go-to solution.

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    If this is something that has to go into production and last a decade - your name will be said in vain by every poor slob that has to maintain it 5 years down the road when none of the components that you used are manufactured anymore and your only chance of spares is eBay with it being a crap shoot whether the used part you purchase works or not.

    A number of considerations:
    What size / type are the motors you plan to use?
    Does the process tolerate homing or must the system have power up position awareness?
    Will this plug into a 120V single phase outlet or ???
    Does the process require highly dynamic response?
    What level of accuracy?
    What level of reputability?
    Do you need this be be operable by someone with a high-school education but no more?
    Recipe storage for different products?
    Integrated safety requirements for production equipment that OSHA will have opportunity to inspect?

    The list goes on and on and my experience is that farting around with PC based / Linux based systems is a massive time suck compared to an off-the-shelf industrial controller with integrated amplifiers and TUV certified integrated safety features.

    If it is for personal use in your garage and you have more time than money - that is one thing, but if this has to go into production in an environment where you have hired operators covered under L&I . . . it is (or should be) a whole different ballgame.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Dude View Post
    I have two projects that need simple X-Y axis controllers. I'm looking for a well-supported system (good tech support, distribution, hopefully some good forum support), reasonable cost (need not be US made), doesn't need to be (probably shouldn't be) PC based, hopefully a GUI if needed would be available. One system will basically just move on a grid at several intervals (e.g. 10 x 10 at 2" spacing or 12 x 12 at 1.5" spacing). The other will be more "dxf" based and would ideally like to import a text based program that is kept stored in the controller. Need to have a bit of discrete I/O (no analog) but hoping to avoid integrating a PLC as a separate controller. Also, this doesn't really have to be "CNC", it will all just be point-point. Certainly a CNC controller could do that but, if there's something simpler out there, great. Finally, I am envisioning using stepper motors with open-loop control.

    I have enough experience with Automation Direct that I could likely make one of their PLC's work but I don't want to write a ladder logic program. Can someone point me in the right direction as far as at least a brand? Hopefully enough info here for that.

    Thanks,
    The Dude
    How much oomph do you need? I've got experience with Animatics Smartmotors and really like them. Basically it's a servo motor, drive, and controller all in a single package. You give it +48VDC and data and they move to where you want. They have some very neat solutions for synchronized motion, and a ton of network/ feildbus options. There is also some local I/O available on each motor, but not a ton of points. Tech support is really good, and the development software is free.

    SmartMotor Robotic Motion Control | Animatics

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    Quote Originally Posted by motion guru View Post
    If this is something that has to go into production and last a decade - your name will be said in vain by every poor slob that has to maintain it 5 years down the road when none of the components that you used are manufactured anymore and your only chance of spares is eBay with it being a crap shoot whether the used part you purchase works or not.

    A number of considerations:
    What size / type are the motors you plan to use?
    Does the process tolerate homing or must the system have power up position awareness?
    Will this plug into a 120V single phase outlet or ???
    Does the process require highly dynamic response?
    What level of accuracy?
    What level of reputability?
    Do you need this be be operable by someone with a high-school education but no more?
    Recipe storage for different products?
    Integrated safety requirements for production equipment that OSHA will have opportunity to inspect?

    The list goes on and on and my experience is that farting around with PC based / Linux based systems is a massive time suck compared to an off-the-shelf industrial controller with integrated amplifiers and TUV certified integrated safety features.

    If it is for personal use in your garage and you have more time than money - that is one thing, but if this has to go into production in an environment where you have hired operators covered under L&I . . . it is (or should be) a whole different ballgame.
    More wisdom here.
    MG likes Delta tau, I would look at Bosch or festo.

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    Hey thanks everyone. I think I have some good info here but my next step is to make sure at least one of these projects will fly. Looking back I can see that I didn't properly clarify that. But to be clear, the info I got is very useful in helping determine feasibility and economics of a few projects that I believe some of my current and past customers could really use. This is definitely an iterative process.

    One of the basic problems is that custom automation has such a high cost of entry. There is understandably a huge amount of engineering and overhead (quoting, project management, purchasing, just taking up floor space in a nice shop, etc.) that goes into a properly designed and documented project. It's hard to even start at anything less than $30-50K that is essentially a custom project (let alone "standard"). I have been on many both sides of the fence. I used to concept, justify, write specs, select vendor, etc. for projects up to $1M. I'm now doing what most would call consulting but is really more of what an in-house engineer would do for small companies and getting them to invest large $$, even when it justifies, is difficult. Part of what I'm doing is to see if I can bring down the cost model for "entry level" automation by making the design/build process more efficient (making projects more of a "what size & hp do you need, just a few custom components, etc.) and also using components that are "cost effective" (not cheap-o China stuff!). Obviously this would have a somewhat narrow range of application but I'm surprised at how many there are that would fit within this, just for the few companies I've been working with. Just had another application come up last week.

    I consider myself to have received plenty of good info and, once again, thanks to all.
    The Dude

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    On reread...Epson IAI and any number of inexpensive, well supported integrated systems should work.


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