New (to us) Brother TC-31A - and man do I have questions!
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    Default New (to us) Brother TC-31A - and man do I have questions!

    After years of reading about these Brother things here, and even demoing a Sister, I’ve convinced an employer to get a Brother!

    It’s a 1999 with A00 controls and I think it was originally sold to Johnson Components in Minnesota. Ring a bell with any of you? It has a beautiful hydraulic clamping setup for each pallet I hope to use one day.


    Here’s the burning immediate question - how do we continuously run a job on 2 pallets? We’ll be using G code not conversational. My only experience is with a Mazak HTC-400 where I made a macro to keep track of pallets / work offsets and swapped them at the end of the program with a GOTO to start over. Is it done like this with the A00, or do they have a more elegant way?

    How does it know it’s safe to swap pallets? Door switch?

    There a switch on the panel, “Off / Pallet 1 / Pallet 1+2 / Pallet 2”, is that thing involved with this?

    I have the manuals and will read them, but it’s the end of the quarter crunch time and wanted to make sure I have the info for the weekend.

    Bonus question if someone feels particularly generous with their time (and I do appreciate all your help) - is there a way to automatically shut the coolant pump off like we’ve read about on the newer machines? Setting 101 or something?


    Thank you!

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    The rotary pallet select switch works like this: Off = machine behaves as an ordinary vertical. It will run whatever program you have on the screen with whatever pallet is in the machining area. Careful! The pallet 1+2 position is full automatic mode. Use this when you have both pallets proven out. There is a Pallet start button you use when the pallet system is on. There is a separate cycle start button you use when the pallet system is off. Use this when you are proving out programs or MDIing a command. The programs are ordinary vertical programs with no codes for the pallet. There is a Quick Table parameter page in the Data Bank under User Parameters. This is where you tell it what program to run with what pallet. The Pallet 1 and Pallet 2 positions on the rotary switch are for when you want to run a single Pallet only. When it is on 1, you must have Pallet 1 on the outside. Mem Mode, when you hit Pallet Start, it will bring 1 in, machine it and bring it back out when complete. The Pallet system always wants to bring something in from the outside even on the 1+2 setting. When the pallet is loaded, hit Pallet Start and as soon as the inner pallet is complete it will pallet change and run and the outer pallet can then be loaded.

    The coolant pump on those does not have the auto off function. You need to turn it off with the coolant pump button. If M8 and M9 are not working there is probably chips jammed in the solenoid coolant valve.

    Being that this machine has some clamping system on it, it's a high possibility there is custom things done to it that you may need to sort through. There are some Yamazen experts in Connecticut. I think that is your local support but not sure.

    The 31a was a nice machine, but one of the lightest duty machines. Proceed cautiously if this is your first 30 taper. Huge difference capability wise to a 20 year newer Speedio. Good luck. There is plenty of support available to you and parts should still be readily available.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BROTHERFRANK View Post
    The rotary pallet select switch works like this: Off = machine behaves as an ordinary vertical. It will run whatever program you have on the screen with whatever pallet is in the machining area. Careful! The pallet 1+2 position is full automatic mode. Use this when you have both pallets proven out. There is a Pallet start button you use when the pallet system is on. There is a separate cycle start button you use when the pallet system is off. Use this when you are proving out programs or MDIing a command. The programs are ordinary vertical programs with no codes for the pallet. There is a Quick Table parameter page in the Data Bank under User Parameters. This is where you tell it what program to run with what pallet. The Pallet 1 and Pallet 2 positions on the rotary switch are for when you want to run a single Pallet only. When it is on 1, you must have Pallet 1 on the outside. Mem Mode, when you hit Pallet Start, it will bring 1 in, machine it and bring it back out when complete. The Pallet system always wants to bring something in from the outside even on the 1+2 setting. When the pallet is loaded, hit Pallet Start and as soon as the inner pallet is complete it will pallet change and run and the outer pallet can then be loaded.

    The coolant pump on those does not have the auto off function. You need to turn it off with the coolant pump button. If M8 and M9 are not working there is probably chips jammed in the solenoid coolant valve.

    Being that this machine has some clamping system on it, it's a high possibility there is custom things done to it that you may need to sort through. There are some Yamazen experts in Connecticut. I think that is your local support but not sure.

    The 31a was a nice machine, but one of the lightest duty machines. Proceed cautiously if this is your first 30 taper. Huge difference capability wise to a 20 year newer Speedio. Good luck. There is plenty of support available to you and parts should still be readily available.

    So if I wanted to run the same program on both tables but with different fixture offsets (let's say theres a vice on each one with slightly different locations),
    Would I have two programs? One G54 (pallet 1) and one G55 (pallet 2) and set the programs accordingly in the Quick Table parameter?

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    Yes. Or you can make the machining program a sub with no work offsets. Then you have two small programs that you use for the Quick Table programs. Those programs would just call the work offset, then call the machining sub. Many ways to skin that cat I am sure.

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    Great, thank you!

    The book mentions a Pallet 2 Shift Value which is supposed to be under the Pallet 1 and 2 program numbers but this machine doesnt have it, it skips to the next one in the list. Maybe an option the original purchaser didnt buy?

    img_0667.jpg

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    Quote Originally Posted by Volitan View Post
    Great, thank you!

    The book mentions a Pallet 2 Shift Value which is supposed to be under the Pallet 1 and 2 program numbers but this machine doesnt have it, it skips to the next one in the list. Maybe an option the original purchaser didnt buy?

    img_0667.jpg
    I believe the shift value is when you are running the machine in conversational mode only. Watch out with the manuals. There are sections for NC (g code mode) and sections for conversational mode.

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    If memory serves this machine has very low drawbar tension, like around 350lbs, so be very careful when milling. Corncob roughers will try pulling the tool down far less than any other endmill so will be the best when you need to remove metal. And projection out of the spindle will be more important than nearly all other 30 taper machines, if at all possible use the stubby Maritool holders as they are the shortest holders available.

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    Thanks guys for the info and warnings.

    I have thousands of small steel stamped parts (.140" thick and less) that need drilling, tapping, countersinking etc. A small chamfer here and there. It's bottlenecking our Haas's. I also get a lot of cast zinc parts that do need a little milling to become one part number or another, but a 3/16" endmill is the biggest tool on those...
    Now the Haas's can be freed up for our bigger parts and with the pallet changer on this thing, do it more efficiently to boot. I think it's a perfect fit for us.
    The price was right and it came with tons of tooling too. I called Yamazen ahead of time to make sure spares were still available and they are.

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    Sounds like a perfect fit. Use G77 for Synchronized tapping. Format looks like this:

    TPI (inch only):
    G77 Z___ R___ J32 S4000 L6000 Q___ ; (J is for TPI only)

    Metric pitch ONLY:
    G77 Z___ R___ I1.0 S4000 L6000 Q___ ; (I is metric pitch)

    I used as an example J32 for a 32 tpi tap and I1.0 for an M6 x 1.0. The S is tapping speed, L is different return speed but not required and Q is pecking amount and not required.

    The books aren't clear on this, that's why I put up the examples. The way I remembered it is J is Just Inch and I is NOT Inch if that helps.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BROTHERFRANK View Post
    Sounds like a perfect fit. Use G77 for Synchronized tapping. Format looks like this:

    TPI (inch only):
    G77 Z___ R___ J32 S4000 L6000 Q___ ; (J is for TPI only)

    Metric pitch ONLY:
    G77 Z___ R___ I1.0 S4000 L6000 Q___ ; (I is metric pitch)

    I used as an example J32 for a 32 tpi tap and I1.0 for an M6 x 1.0. The S is tapping speed, L is different return speed but not required and Q is pecking amount and not required.

    The books aren't clear on this, that's why I put up the examples. The way I remembered it is J is Just Inch and I is NOT Inch if that helps.

    That's great!

    What's the deal with the G1xx codes? Like G173 instead of G73, G183 instead of G83 etc.. I could not seem to Google an answer on that one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Volitan View Post
    That's great!

    What's the deal with the G1xx codes? Like G173 instead of G73, G183 instead of G83 etc.. I could not seem to Google an answer on that one.
    Off the top of my head I think those were for double drilling. Say you have a tube and you need to drill the near and far wall, those codes will let you set a feed amount and rapid distance between walls. Didn't use those too often.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Volitan View Post
    That's great!

    What's the deal with the G1xx codes? Like G173 instead of G73, G183 instead of G83 etc.. I could not seem to Google an answer on that one.
    I think you'll find that in the manual. Once you get used to the format/type of jargon used, they'll be very helpful. Some of the ways different planes are called out for radii, peck tapping (either all the way out of the hole or just break the chip) - stuff like that. Frank is the king of support for these machines on this forum. There might be a few others pop up from time to time that have experience with your machine.
    For the type of work you are describing, I think you'll be amazed at how quickly the work will be finished, compared to a traditional VMC like your Haas. Being able to load the parts while the other side of the table is making chips saves a LOT of time. Good luck! I love my R450 machines.

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    Now I just have to figure out the comms.
    Using Cimco same as the people I bought it from. They werenít sure how their cable was made up though. So I made one like I was taught years ago: 2 and 3 swapped from one end to the other, 7 goes straight through, 4 and 5 jumped on each end, 6 8 and 20 jumped on each end, and 1 connected on one end only for noise.

    I canít even get any errors. Nothing. Checked the cable itís good. Guess Iíll have to mess around with the settings on Monday.

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    Cable sounds right. Software handshake. Been a long time since I used RS232. You need to use input and output from ptp/ptr settings. I usually like to try sending a program out from the machine and trying to capture it first. On the A00 control there is a button labeled E.STA on the keyboard, as in Edit Start. To send something out, you go to Edit mode, select output to ptp/ptr, select Programs, get your pc ready to receive, enter program # and press E.STA. as I recall.

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    My machine has the same A00 control (different model machine though). I am using the BrotherComm software, which I got from Yamazen, to download to it. I've tested drip feed but am not currently using it. My cable, which came from the BrotherComm setup info is as follows:

    PC -------------TC
    RD(2) -------- SD(2)
    SD(3) -------- RD(3)
    ER(4) -------- DR(6)
    SG(5) -------- SG(7)
    DR(6) -------- ER(20)
    RS(7) -------- CS(5)
    CS(8) -------- RS(4)

    It seems to use hardware handshake. I never was able to make it work with a USB serial port on a laptop so I have a dedicated pc, which is also on my network, connected to the machine. Works very reliably.

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    Exclamation

    Whoa Iíve never seen a cable like that before. Send and receive each going to each other? Maybe the brother comm software handles that...
    Is it expensive?

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    Actually I planned on messing with the settings for another half hour or so Monday but then I’m getting right on the phone with Yamazen. Like I said earlier in the thread it’s end of the quarter crunch time, so I can’t waste too much time on it. My one boss who ok’d me getting this machine already figured it wouldn’t be ready until next quarter, but if I can get it going now it would be a help. So if they tell me buy this software and use this cable and it’s a reasonable price I’ll probably just do it (even though the pin out I’m using has always worked for me). Thanks for the heads up!

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    The BrotherComm software was something one of the Yamazen guys emailed me. Not sure it it was free back when it was the hot new thing or not. It's nothing fancy but works. As far as the pin connections being 2-2, 3-3, no this is not handled by the software. It depends on the equipment design and if each piece of equipment is a DTE or DCE. The terminology is sort of meaningless now since RS-232 became used for so many things over the years. Basically sometimes pin 2 can be transmit and sometimes it can be receive. Same with pin 3. This is what keeps RS-232 interfacing interesting. Hardware control is another issue. All I know is this works and it took me a few weeks of hair pulling to get it working.

    http://ftp1.digi.com/support/cabling/dte_vs_dce.pdf

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    Sheesh! Well thanks for sharing that and saving me some of the same. Iíll just call them first thing and see about that software then,

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    Would the program be too much to hand input? You can type in one program and copy and rename it on the machine for the second pallet. Also when typing in the program, there is an extended editing mode that allows you to copy, cut and paste sections of program. Look for the button near the EOB/Enter button that says EXT I think. The machine may have other issues with the communication hardware that could take a while to sort. The Brother can use the CommSoft with the special cable, or it can use hyperterminal, predator or other software with the software handshaking cable. Settings and parameters and files are different too. Software handshaking you will have percent signs at the top and bottom of programs and Oxxxx program # in the program. Not with Brother Comm. Big thing too is I never had success with serial adapters. I preferred pc or laptop with 9 pin serial connector. Hard to find these days I think. I have seen people successfully use USB to RS232 adapter boxes such as Calmotion and others too.


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