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  1. #1
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    Default Considering small CNC mill

    Dear All,

    I've been looking to upgrade my small 330kg / 730lbs chinese manual milling machine to a bigger manual. However I've noticed that with same or even lower price you could get mid nineties CNC milling machine like Brother TC-211 or TC-229. What is it with these machines, are they awkward to program or endless money pits or what, why are they so cheap? I think I could do most if not all the machining work I encounter with NC machine but that would of course mean programming every task even the smallest (I'm not sure can you use the remote jog for smallest task?). But as a hobbyist I have all the time in the world to do so I don’t bother. What I’m especially exited is that with NC machine I’d be able to do radius and other stuff manual cant.

    What do you think, does this make any sense and should I bite the bullet? It's been 15 years since I've tried some small Mastercam and manual G code programming in university (fanuc), so basically need to start from zero. But then again I have time to learn.. I think TC-229 is powerful enough for steel as well at least with small feeds?

    Thank you in advance
    Last edited by Corn; 11-26-2019 at 01:52 PM. Reason: Corrected error

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    I just saw in another thread that the older brother machines were conversational only...

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    The control on a TC-211 is conversational and targeted at hole processing type work. Milling is really only useful for facing operations. Profile cutting is very difficult. If one got the machine for free and was interested in replacing the control as a hobby project, it would make a decent piece of small iron to start with.

    I'm not sure what control model transitioned to having G code functionality. Someone on here will likely reply with that info

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    Ok, what about the 229? Toolhead on that says ”drilling and tapping center” as well so maybe it’s the same.

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    229 machines were Gcode or Conversational. One or the other. Could be converted for $5kish if it is Conversational (don't know if those parts are still available though). Big upgrades to S2A and newer. Hold out for one of those. S2A machines came out in 1999 I believe. 2003 and newer would be best because that is when drip feeding and some other features became standard.

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    In all honesty why not look for a cnc'd Bridgeport or a prototrak bed mill. They go fairly cheap used and are very useful.

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    Not sure about your area of the world, but what about a similar generation Hurco. Takes up a little more floor space, but can handle more variety than a tap/drill machine.

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    Thank you everybody. It`s been very helpful. I`ll ditch the idea of Brother. I`ve put my eyes on Fanuc Robodrill series. They seem to be g-code machines. I`m not sure about the drip feed though..

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    We have a dozen robodrills and love them. Cheap to buy used, lots of them, spare parts are cheap and available and with the pcmcia slot, you dont need to drip feed anymore.

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    I found late eighties Bridgeport Interact 1 Mk. 2 with Heidenhain TNC155 control. What do you think about that, would this be good machine?

    Thank you in advance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Corn View Post
    I found late eighties Bridgeport Interact 1 Mk. 2 with Heidenhain TNC155 control. What do you think about that, would this be good machine?

    Thank you in advance.
    I've owned one and It's a good piece of hardware. Painfully slow compared to a Brother or Robodrill. Tool changes are manual so no toolchanger. The control is powerful, but a different beast especially if your new to G-Code. If It doesn't have ALL the manuals or you can't get them. Forget it. If I was you I'd keep looking towards the Robodrill or the newer Brother. I understand your a Hobbyist. But either would serve you much better than the Bridgeport IMHO.

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    FADAL 15
    I ran Fadals for 20+ years and your nt ging to find a better machine for the $$ on the used market... well there not the fastest machines there a vary ridged machine for there size and if you do need parts there easy and cheap to get ..

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    Any thing you get with cnc will be a serious step up from your present mill. I have a well used Cinci contourmaster. 1960 vintage but went from Boeing to a trade school which got it upgraded to cnc by a Russian engineer (on the cheap). I picked it up at auction. When the trade school surplused it they pulled the control card. So I pulled the GE servo drives and put Servo Dynamics drives on it with SEM servos. Linuxcnc as a control program. It is aging (as am I). I pretty much run with .25" end mills and light cuts. It still is a long step down from my V5 Mazak but until I can find someone to work on the Mazak or fix it myself (belleville stack broken) I'm stuck with the small mill. I'm a gcode guy , some with CAM and some plain programming.
    Never used conversational so cannon comment. Good luck with your quest.

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    This is an awesome forum. So helpful all of you. Without your contribution I might have made a stupid decisions..

    That Bridgeport might fulfill my requirements but considering what VTM said and if ever I decide to use it for small scale production I might consider something else. There is one -94 alpha T10A with Fanuc 18M control which would be in my budget. It is relatively old but according to the sales person still accurate and sound machine. I have no idea how long do these things last and what is considered to be too old / used. What do you think?

    Thank you in advance.

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    Corn: I did the old Brother route to break into CNC milling and I have no regrets. I bought a TC-S2A-O. It was a good choice for me because it is a real production machine, 6k pounds (3750kg) so I can move it around, Low power usage, easy to work on, and still supported. Brother support through Yamazen in the US is wonderful. I don't know how Brother support is in other countries.

    Whatever you buy try to find something that is a good knowledge base because you may well be on your own for repair.

    I would never buy a machine without a tool changer on a machine that I hope to use to make money.

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    I think I have serious issue when it comes to power supply. I only have available 3 phase 400VAC with 25A circuit breaker maximum. Given that it can take almost 18kW resistive load but this machine is different animal. On machine ID plate it says power supply 12kVA. It seems to have 7.5kW spindle motor and all motors I guess VFD driven so I assume no huge start currents occur. Anyone so familiar with electrics that can say will it work or not?

    Thank you in advance.

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    There were no problem with the power supply. So I bought the robodrill. Here it is:
    at10a.jpg
    Havent tried it yet, just doing through cleaning.

    Seller said that it is possible to upload programs through RS232 but I haven't found port where to connect the null modem cable. Anyone know how am I supposed to connect PC to this machine? I found out one connector which was unplugged:
    connector.jpg

    I tracked down the wire and it went to the other side. There is this kind of maybe converter but the wire was disconnected from it. I wonder why. Maybe this has something to do with the PC connectivity. Anyone know?
    rs232.jpg

    Thank you in advance

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    Wow nice looking machine good luck with it!

    I'd say you should follow the wire from the plug marked RS232-1 and and see where it goes, but I'm not a fanuc guy.

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    What's under the door on the right side of the control?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Volitan View Post
    What's under the door on the right side of the control?
    The RS232 port!

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