Un-FANUC'ing my VMC
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  1. #1
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    Default Un-FANUC'ing my VMC

    So, my 2005 Sharp SV-2412 with FANUC 0i-Mate MB had this idiotic thing where to access the memory card I needed to shut off power and open the electrical mains cabinet. So I looked and looked for a PCMCIA/PC Card or Compact Flash ribbon cable extender, and the only outfit in the world to make anything like this is a German company, ES&S. It was just over $300 to my door for two of the cards and mounting chassis. I'll save that much in short order just in the time for having to shut everything down.



    The Sharp had a panel that fit this modification perfectly, almost like they intended to do something like this...? This made it easy to pull the panel and mill the slot out on my Bridgeport. Just think, transistors and integrated circuits were still decades off when my '46 was made, and here she is still cutting well into the next century!



    This is the 600mm version, which is the longest they make and you can open the door easily enough to access the card side. I'm using a Transcend brand PCMCIA to Compact Flash adapter, and no issues so far.



    The card sticks out just enough to comfortably grasp it and remove it. I wish they made this with an ejector button, but I'll take what I can get!



    And proof that it works! I can now just pull the card and swap it out without having to shut everything down. I am happy!


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    The only reason you don't have a card slot right next to the display is because Sharp cut corners on the control spec.

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    Wow, never knew there was no front slot on those machines, that's how I transfer all my programs on my First vmc which is similar...
    Nice work!

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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveEx30 View Post
    Wow, never knew there was no front slot on those machines,
    Yep, not all builders spec the control to have a "user" card slot. The control comes with the slot on the main board for service use. Intended for backing up programs, offsets, parameters, etc before working on the control. Sharp probably saved $100 on the control by not opting for the additional user card slot at the display.

    They still can advertise that the machine is equipped with an OiMF control and most buyers assume that all OiMF controls are the same. Little details like this are rarely caught by machine buyers until the machine hits the floor. Sharp can set a slightly lower price or make a slightly higher profit on the initial sale and then in some cases get a follow up order for an upgrade which they might charge $300 for and an install fee. Same thing goes for more memory, additional offsets, macro B, etc.

    Sometimes things like this reflect the machine builders sense of how they think the machine should be run. The builder may be of the mind that one should be using RS-232 or ethernet to load programs, not a card slot.

    At the end of it all many folks call it a shortcoming or problem with the Fanuc control when in reality it is all about a cheap builder or uninformed buyer or a bit of both.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Finsta View Post
    So, my 2005 Sharp SV-2412 with FANUC 0i-Mate MB had this idiotic thing where to access the memory card I needed to shut off power and open the electrical mains cabinet.
    Not that you should be doing this, because there's nasty electrons inside. If you look at the isolator, on the outside, it will have a release screw at about the 5 o'clock position. Its marked 'release" Its a Phillip's head. My Swiss Army knife has them opened in seconds -power on. And you can just close the door normally.

    Agree with Vanc. The port you connected into is for service / commissioning. If Sharp had optioned / engineered it up, they could have easily have brought it out to the front console. You see the exact same control / vintage on things as humble as Taiwanese Hartford, Johnfords, Victors. They have the port out the front. Sharp were penny pinching, or looking to sell an option or upgrade.

    No disrespect to what you have done. That's an elegant solution. But its not a Fanuc issue. The fault lays firmly with the M.T.B Sharp.

    Regards Phil.

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    The thread title is a joke - an homage to the late, great Pat Rogers. But since you brought it up...

    FANUC built a 486 processor-based controller ten years after it was obsolete, and their best option for memory was 240kb. Those are numbers I would have seen in the early nineties when I was in grade school. Trust me I didn't want a FANUC anything but this was the only "real" VMC I'd be able to fit into my garage shop to start my business. It is what it is, but the dinosaurs need to understand that FANUC makes obsolete trash and charges MTBs too much for it. It won't change unless folks get wise.

    That said, I haven't seen any Model B with the front card slot and I don't believe it was an option until the Model C (but I could be wrong - lots of secrets in this industry it seems). I know that the Mate didn't have the dataserver option meaning that serial comms at something ridiculous like 9600 BAUD is that fastest I could get there, so I decided DNC from an IDE device was going to be much better in the long run.

    Or am I just an "uniformed buyer?"

    If anyone wants the second card setup, I'll sell it for $200 shipped - they had a minimum order quantity of two...

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    When you make almost 100% of your own hardware, there's no such thing as "obsolete". That's why Fanuc dominates the industry. I've worked on 8 year old MDSI retrofits that were running completely unsupported hardware. What good is 200 gigs of memory if you can't buy a compatible hard drive or motherboard when it shits the bed?

    Until about 1 year ago, you could still buy a brand new Mate control with a CRT monitor. I believe they have now phased out all new controls with a CRT, but you can still buy one for your ancient 6M if you really want one.

    I suspect you came from the hobby CNC world where all that matters is seeing pretty pictures on the display and having the latest 12 core processor to browse facebook while the Sherline runs a 1/32 end mill.

    In the industrial world, up time is everything. If it's not running, it's not earning. Did you know that Fanuc North America in Chicago has a helicopter for emergency part deliveries? If you absolutely need it and money is no object, you can sure get it.

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    Could you please post the part number of the extender that you bought, Thanks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Finsta View Post
    .....but the dinosaurs need to understand that FANUC makes obsolete trash and charges MTBs too much for it. It won't change unless folks get wise.
    Fanuc may have their own quirks and weird operational needs, but I'll take that obsolete trash that runs more reliably that most any other control. Last place I was at had ~80 CNCs. 70+% were Fanuc and the rest a mix of Mitsubishi, Okuma, Yaskawa and a few others. For control problems, my maintenance guys spent more time on the ~30%. When the CEO is asking about uptime issues on a machine, it's not on one with Fanuc.

    You lucked out getting a machine with Fanuc controls. Keep in mind you did opt for their "entry level" control so it won't do all the things a higher end model will.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vancbiker View Post
    Fanuc may have their own quirks and weird operational needs, but I'll take that obsolete trash that runs more reliably that most any other control. Last place I was at had ~80 CNCs. 70+% were Fanuc and the rest a mix of Mitsubishi, Okuma, Yaskawa and a few others. For control problems, my maintenance guys spent more time on the ~30%. When the CEO is asking about uptime issues on a machine, it's not on one with Fanuc.

    You lucked out getting a machine with Fanuc controls. Keep in mind you did opt for their "entry level" control so it won't do all the things a higher end model will.
    It may be the most reliable, but that doesn't change the fact that they are horribly behind what should be available for memory and UI. As you've noted multiple times in the past Fanuc itself isn't responsible for the UI the MTB is. I understand that, it still doesn't excuse(not fully on Fanuc obviously) the generally shitty UI Fanuc controls are supplied with. If it was easy for the MTB to interface with the Fanuc control, everyone would have a great UI.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sneebot View Post
    .....If it was easy for the MTB to interface with the Fanuc control, everyone would have a great UI.
    While that would be nice, I suspect that part of the difficulty derives from Fanuc's goal to be ultra reliable. A sloppy builder interface into the heart of the control could be devastating to its reliable and predictable operation.

    Builders with the resources to devote to a unique U/I are not numerous. If you want to see what could be done with Fanuc at the core though, check out the controls on an Amada EM/NT punch. Mori has a version their CELOS front end available for Fanuc. On a lesser degree, Makino have their PRO5 front end. While those U/Is are probably way cool for the operator, every time I have had to work on or run a machine with those, I switch over to the regular Fanuc U/I. Much more comfortable.

    I'll admit to being one of the dinosaurs mentioned by the OP. In 1978 when I first got a CNC put in front of me it was so cool and awesome at the time. Then a few years later to get one with a CRT was amazing. They have done nothing but get better over the years. The plain jane U/I on a Fanuc 31 series does everything I need and then some. Compared to those older controls and controls from other manufacturers it's gravy to run and work on.

    Yes, small memory is a PITA and the cost to option in more is crazy. That legacy should go away. When they were using bubble memory, the additional hardware was expensive so I get where they were coming from. Those days are way long past though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ewlsey View Post
    When you make almost 100% of your own hardware, there's no such thing as "obsolete". That's why Fanuc dominates the industry. I've worked on 8 year old MDSI retrofits that were running completely unsupported hardware. What good is 200 gigs of memory if you can't buy a compatible hard drive or motherboard when it shits the bed?

    Until about 1 year ago, you could still buy a brand new Mate control with a CRT monitor. I believe they have now phased out all new controls with a CRT, but you can still buy one for your ancient 6M if you really want one.

    I suspect you came from the hobby CNC world where all that matters is seeing pretty pictures on the display and having the latest 12 core processor to browse facebook while the Sherline runs a 1/32 end mill.

    In the industrial world, up time is everything. If it's not running, it's not earning. Did you know that Fanuc North America in Chicago has a helicopter for emergency part deliveries? If you absolutely need it and money is no object, you can sure get it.
    Actually I come from laboratory instrumentation where up time is everything and the state of the industry (using obsolete proprietary parts) is about as poor as with some machine tools. The service side of things can make or break a company (in fact I've got a tech coming today for a down instrument; we're running our backup which has software compatibility issues but I've fashioned a workaround for now so we can at least perform testing).

    I get that this is a good 'ol boys club type industry, but don't treat me like I haven't been there and done that. I'm the kind of guy most shops call to fix their machines when they're broken and I've been around long enough to know bad design and implementation.

    I'm not trying to come off like I know everything, because I don't, and I'm always looking to learn. I just don't deal well with patronization so forgive my curt tone.

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    We've seen so many of these "cheaper, faster, better" CNC controls come and go. I believe in the free market. If something is really better, it will beat the inferior product.

    There are a lot of really good CNC controls for specific machines. Haas makes a very good control that is well suited to their machines. Mazak has a nice version of the Mitsubishi controls that works great on their machines. Okuma has a great control. Cincinnati seemed to have a good thing going with the Acramatic.

    But, if you just want to build a machine and buy a control, Fanuc is the best option. You can find a Fanuc control on everything from a 6 axis gantry mill to a plastic injection molding press, a 12+ axis multi spindle transfer machine, a swiss lathe, a 2 axis wood router, to things I can't even imagine.

    That kind of versatility comes at the cost of a really slick interface for one specific kind of machine. If Fanuc just made controls for 3 axis CNC mills with umbrella tool changers for native English speakers with only USB program transfer and nothing else, they could make it brutally efficient to operate.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ifixcnc View Post
    Could you please post the part number of the extender that you bought, Thanks.
    Extender:
    ADA-COMPACTFLASH-EXTENDER-0500FFC
    Chassis:
    ADA-COMPACTFLASH-EXTENDER-FRAME

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    Quote Originally Posted by ewlsey View Post
    But, if you just want to build a machine and buy a control, Fanuc is the best option. You can find a Fanuc control on everything from a 6 axis gantry mill to a plastic injection molding press, a 12+ axis multi spindle transfer machine, a swiss lathe, a 2 axis wood router, to things I can't even imagine.
    Heidenhain can also supply a control for just about anything, it is reliable, serviceable, they do not charge extra for every little transistor and feature, and the UI is many decades ahead of Fanuc.

    Fanuc is not alone in being well behind the technology curve. In general, established heavy industry just doesn't get - even in the 21st century - how far they are behind the technology curve. The automobile industry is just beginning to catch up for example. Fanuc is a bit of a victim of their own early success, people are used to how the controls work and the momentum is hard to change. As a result of this and their own conservatism, they are stuck in about 1985.

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    Quote Originally Posted by swarf_rat View Post
    Heidenhain can also supply a control for just about anything, it is reliable, serviceable, they do not charge extra for every little transistor and feature, and the UI is many decades ahead of Fanuc.
    Based on my experience with trying to get replacement parts for a ~10 year old Heidenhain DRO interface unit on a tool presetter, they'd be one of the last control builders I'd ever consider for a machine. I'm not of the mindset that parts for something 10 years old should be no longer available or supported and the item must be replaced in its entirety.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ewlsey View Post
    I suspect you came from the hobby CNC world where all that matters is seeing pretty pictures on the display and having the latest 12 core processor to browse facebook while the Sherline runs a 1/32 end mill.

    In the industrial world, up time is everything. If it's not running, it's not earning. Did you know that Fanuc North America in Chicago has a helicopter for emergency part deliveries? If you absolutely need it and money is no object, you can sure get it.
    Yeah but for less than that helicopter ride us non industry folks can be fixed, hell upgraded and running with in the hour from parts to be found damn near every were, weather that be the local pc place or a old computer from the back of a friends garage. I can take the PC im currently logged on with at 1am on a sunday morning, install my mills controller - complete operating system from a usb pen drive with all the parameters, all my programmes and be running and making parts once more before 2am, im not waiting on a tech, im not paying for phone support, im just making parts.

    You fanuc guys really need to grasp just how reliable most of the non fanuc things are these days. This is the 21st century, unless its made by apple, you want a system you can get parts from multiple sources and not have weird proprietary issues to deal with. Whats your plan for support and parts if when you wake up tomorrow fanucs gone bankrupt? Me, i know full well that thers no one source of supply that could disappear and cripple my machine, i go out of my way on my own and other controls - machines i make to avoid any single source parts because i have seen and had to build the interfaces when the bits not avalible for 6 weeks. My mill tomorrow will be turning out parts just like it was yesterday and the day before thats the bit i can be certain of!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vancbiker View Post
    Based on my experience with trying to get replacement parts for a ~10 year old Heidenhain DRO interface unit on a tool presetter, they'd be one of the last control builders I'd ever consider for a machine. I'm not of the mindset that parts for something 10 years old should be no longer available or supported and the item must be replaced in its entirety.
    EU law, 7 years after the last new ones sold, OEMs don't have to support old anything.

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    Quote Originally Posted by adama View Post
    I can take the PC im currently logged on with at 1am on a sunday morning, install my mills controller - complete operating system from a usb pen drive with all the parameters, all my programmes and be running and making parts once more before 2am, im not waiting on a tech, im not paying for phone support, im just making parts.
    LOL. Hope you have them stacked to the ceiling so you can find one with the magic combination that will pass the real time latency tests. Then log onto an IRC channel and hope some geek with 5 Sherline conversions under his belt can help you.

    If Fanuc goes bankrupt tomorrow, companies will be falling over themselves to buy the rights to make replacement parts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by adama View Post
    ......You fanuc guys really need to grasp just how reliable most of the non fanuc things are these days.
    I think I do. My personal Mori with a Mitsu is 23 years old now and has never had any electrical/electronics failure other than memory backup battery running down. That's as reliable as any Fanuc control I've seen. If something died on it tomorrow, Mitsu will still have parts that will go in without any mucking around. If it were a PC based controller I'm pretty sure that would not be the case.

    Taking an old dead PC based control and getting it going involves lots of hoops to jump through. 23 years ago what was the level of hardware? I'm quite sure that the old motion and I/O cards would not be using the same bus as new PCs. An "industrial" motherboard is still available with an ISA bus. They don't have that motherboard at my local PC store. All my backup/system data for that 23 year old PC they would probably be on 3.5 floppys. Those are still available, but not from my local PC store also.

    I've been there with trying to find a 5" 10mB Winchester hard drive and a Faraday electronics motherboard during the time I responsible for keeping a machine with a PC based control. Todays PC based controls and software may not be quite so hardware dependent, but once bitten, twice shy.

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