Deckel NC Upgrade Cons & Pros
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    Default Deckel NC Upgrade Cons & Pros

    Hello everyone:

    I have heard a number of people comment that upgrading an NC Deckel is practically insurmountable...... Hopefully everyone will weigh in with info as to the difficulties and approximate costs involved.

    For example, If one already has a NC servo controlled machine, can you not easily interface your newer controller with the existing servo drives?

    Spindle control issues? Which FPNC models had servo drive spindles vs. the geartrain?

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    Quote Originally Posted by gernoff View Post
    Hello everyone:

    I have heard a number of people comment that upgrading an NC Deckel is practically insurmountable...... Hopefully everyone will weigh in with info as to the difficulties and approximate costs involved.

    For example, If one already has a NC servo controlled machine, can you not easily interface your newer controller with the existing servo drives?

    Spindle control issues? Which FPNC models had servo drive spindles vs. the geartrain?
    Oh lord...here we go again...what is this, the 39th time this exact same topic has been started here ?

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    Nick Mueller has apparently done it, I might try it some day just to torture myself.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJQtx80euGM

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    Well, the group has been a little slow on the posting front lately!

    I was planning on doing a retrofit of my ill-fated FP3NC. In planning this out, however, it was apparent that there was going to be a LOT of custom code that was going to need to be generated. All of this is dead now, however, because the machine is, well, fried (literally, if you've followed the other threads... Gone to Deckel heaven or made into I-beams by now...)

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    It can be done, but you have to really want it, need it or be other wise crazy. Because it will cost buku time and money to get it right.

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    Quote Originally Posted by yzfr1pwr View Post
    It can be done, but you have to really want it, need it or be other wise crazy. Because it will cost buku time and money to get it right.
    Yeah, the below has only taken 6 years...maybe in another 6 he'll finish 'er up..

    Wessley's Project - Deckel NC Milling Machine Web Site

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    Quote Originally Posted by Milacron View Post
    Yeah, the below has only taken 6 years...maybe in another 6 he'll finish 'er up..

    Wessley's Project - Deckel NC Milling Machine Web Site
    Anyone know if this project got any further ,As far as I can remember there doesn't seem to have been any updates for a long time ,perhaps he has finished it and is now too busy using it.

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    The FP5NC and larger have variable speed motors and a 2 or 3 speed gearbox. Doing it that way would simplify that matter a great deal.

    Once that is handled, what does it take in a control to allow programming for both horizontal and vertical spindles? Plus swinging the vertical spindle 90° to the right and left? Do modern controls take this into consideration in their standard equipment or is this up to the integrator?

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    Been gone a long time, so I don't know what the current state of things is, but I did just see an FP2NC on ebay being fronted with Windows 7 and Mach3.

    That's pretty much what I was hoping to use (since Mach allows you to write code into it by which you could emulate the Dialog's charms).

    I'll look for the link in case this is new to anyone.

    Sean

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    CNC Fräsmaschine Deckel FP 2 , Mach3 Steuerung 3D ,Touchscreen, Windows 7 in in Kemnath | eBay

    Here is the rough translation of the ad'. The "manual transmission" part makes me suspect of that control aspect.

    Equipment and delivery :


    CNC milling machine lid FP2 NC
    Manufacturer: Deckel
    Type: FP2NC
    Control: Mach3 , 3D capable with different cycle programs
    (Text milling , milling pockets , milling circular pockets , PCD , etc )
    Spindle with frequency 2,500 r / min
    manual transmission
    Feed 4500 mm / min
    Job Title:
    X : 300 mm
    Y: 220 mm + 300 mm sliding head
    Z : 400 mm
    electric central lubrication
    Touch screen computers 60GB hard drive
    USB / Wireless LAN
    Windows 7 Operating System
    electr. handwheel
    Instruction Manuals
    Hydraulic tool clamping
    SK40 tool holder
    state:
    original paint
    Ready to use

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sean S View Post
    Been gone a long time, so I don't know what the current state of things is, but I did just see an FP2NC on ebay being fronted with Windows 7 and Mach3.

    That's pretty much what I was hoping to use (since Mach allows you to write code into it by which you could emulate the Dialog's charms).

    I'll look for the link in case this is new to anyone.

    Sean
    Yeah but then the nsa has complete control of your machine and will have records of everything you ever machine that they can catalog along with all our other data .

    Actually it's not really funny.

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    Mach had a very mixed reputation and I'm not too sure it would have worked very well. The skuttle-butt I heard was that although it was capable and could be customized easily, it was also fairly unstable and had less than stellar feedback for use on larger machines. I'm sure there will be people out there that will bristle at this perspective, but hey, it is just based on some of private comments I heard from a decent cross section of people I talked with about the application.

    Development on Mach effectively stopped quite some time ago and the application was transferred to a new owner. They are coming out with (or have come out with) a new version that is supposed to address a lot of the issues that existed in the older version...
    Last edited by wrench; 02-27-2015 at 12:01 PM. Reason: never post without reading how stupid you sound.

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    Well Alan, it's really hard to say what is the best route.

    I would agree that anything Windows based is a POS, but if trimmed down enough, and sorted out enough, I think it can be robust enough.

    I live in the fortunate world where I don't need to produce anything with my machines, so keep that in mind when I make the next statement...

    *All* proprietary control hardware is going downhill from the day you bought it. The fantastic Dialogs through the retrofitted HH's.

    With a PC based system, it's rough at first, but is usually on the upslope as computers improve and people work out the bugs.

    When you apply this to cast iron, well it is unlikely that anyone will ever reproduce what Deckel did in the 60's-90's as far as hardware, so that hardware will always be viable if taken care of.

    The trade off to being on the bleeding edge of conversion tech' is that if you attach a machine to that technology, it can always parallel the current state of technology.

    Mach3 is a good example of this... The machine on German ebay that I linked is running Mach3, and maybe it has shortcomings, but now Mach4 is out. The Dialog 6 is *never* going to come out.

    What you end up with is cast iron that will never be replaced by something better, being fronted by software and electronics that are "constantly" being replaced by something better. If new cast iron of the same or better abilities were coming on the market, Deckels would be completely obsolete, but that isn't happening.

    Now, I'm a Dialog user and like Ross (for instance), I am very partial to some of the ways it does business. There are only two ways to maintain what was a really nifty work flow (I'm sure the Hurco has it's own charms too). The ways are to keep repairing the Grundigs, or to emulate. Eventually emulation will be the only remaining possibility.

    I am reminded of the fax machine. I remember the period when fax machines were still used before email and fax "emulators" took over. Not a lot of people using fax machines these days vs email or electronic fax.
    The technology was replaced by a better emulation. Remember faxing photos to people...what they looked like? To me, that is what a PC Dialog emulation would represent... email.

    Retrofitting with compatible controls (i.e. Heidenhain) isn't the same (for me) because it not only tosses the Dialog workflow, but it once again locks the cast iron to an aging technology.

    That is why I, who doesn't need to make anything on my machines to make a living, supports the PC path. Once the machine can do everything it originally could via the various interpreters and converters, then it's an open field as to what to front it with. The machine becomes "unlocked" from it's destiny.

    To me, that is worthwhile.

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    ...continued...

    As a Deckel lover, I'm really frustrated by the obvious void of people who see this.

    Here's another analogy... Hot Rods.

    Retrofitting old cars with modern tech' is a bazillion dollar business, and to a great extent it's plug-n-play.

    Take one of my dream cars for instance (1967 Firebird). They are never going to make that car again, but I can go on the net and add disc brakes, EFI, independent rear suspension, electronic transmission, 1500hp worth of twin turbos... it's endless.
    Why? It's unique, and there are thousands of unique cars like this, and 10's of thousands of retrofit products.

    Imagine for a moment thought that there were only maybe 10 "classic" cars in the world. A Corvette, a Mustang, a Jag..etc. The retrofit parts for each of these would go through the roof.

    Well, I see about maybe 10-20 "classic" machines in the world that really need retrofitting, but nearly nobody does it. I think that's dumb as hell.

    Why some bright German team doesn't make a plug-n-play conversion for NC Deckels and sell it for maybe $10k (without software or PC) is beyond me. They could include a "Dialog emulator" as part of the package, but would allow you to hook the motion control with anything you liked.

    Big deal, build a box that controls the AC servos and reads linear scales with the right connectors to interface the original servos and systems. This is well within the capability of a small set of engineers.

    I'd be the first in line to buy this plug-n-play USB to Deckel box for $10k, and there are many *thousands* of these machines out there.

    $10k X 1000 = $10,000,000, yet not one generic motion control box manufacturer has figured this out? I'm shocked that Siemens never jumped in there.

    Instead what we get is hobbyist adaptations and jury rigs. Very frustrating.

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    Hi Sean,
    Actually, I think you have some very good points but I'll add a few more (well, of things I hope represent good observations/points)... You are absolutely correct that a proprietary control is typically one which immediately suffers from the age old problem of being almost impossible to update. That is one area where a PC based system excels. To be clear, although I don't care much for Windows being the control OS, I don't have an issue with the hardware; clearly is is very reliable and robust or it wouldn't be used in everything from ATMs to running hydro plants (ATMS historically ran OS/2 for a long time, but the hardware is not much different from the normal PC... all from what I have been told).

    However, MS Windows is not (IMHO) the best platform for something like a CNC. Personally, I'm much more partial to Linux there. That puts you squarely in the land of EMC/LinuxCNC as the most viable way to go. Ironically, that EMC is actually the core of Mach3, something that many do not realize. Art took the publicly available software and wrapped it with a UI layer (among other changes) which became the nexus of Mach. We are now in the post-Art world and the new owners of the application claim that Mach4 is new code from the ground up... We'll see. Anyhow, I think I've digressed from the topic a bit.... Mach3, and probably Mach4, do not work in a real time kernel because Windows is not real time. Mach gets around the problem by installing a very low level, predictable, interrupt on the PC; think of this as a heartbeat. Linux is available as a real time kernel for free, without any games played to get it to behave properly.

    The biggest consideration with Mach, and the main reason why I was steering away from it, however, was that it is limited to working with steppers. Now, there is a huge debate of stepper versus servo, to be sure! I don't want to step (pun) into that foray, but I do strongly feel that I'd rather have real feedback than perceived feedback on something as large as a Deckel; this ain't no Sherline (not to disparage that machine as I think it has a great, and well deserved, following). People get around the stepper issue by using drives such as Geckos. They take step/direction and control a servo; but the fundamental truth is that the Mach is still stepper based...

    The step/direction thing plays a huge role in a conversion of a machine if you want to maximize component reuse. If you run Mach with a Deckel, you'll need to install new amplifiers at a minimum. That is a bit of a downer, IMHO, and really causes me to want to put another nail into the Mach coffin.

    The next nail is reputation. Mach has a wonderful following but for the last several years there have been numerous complaints about stability and supportability. I'm not entirely sure what happened there but I'm guessing that Art's moving out of Mach was either symptomatic or a result of these complaints. But this does beg the question of "who do you call when nobody answers the phone." Then again, as you have pointed out Sean, if the hardware is generic then you can just switch.... assuming you don't have a problem with stepper vs servo subsystems.

    All in all, my original idea was actually to use Mach. However, this was to be a learning experience only. I had always intended on preserving the same feel of the Deckel... Basically I wanted to build a Dialog 4Plus. After completing that, my intention was always to keep the UI module as a generic package so that I could shift it over to EMC. Items such as the logic for the drive shifting were likely going to be handled in a separate micro-controller sub-system, etc.

    I haven't given up on the conversion idea, actually... I know Don feels Deckels are dead, and to be honest, I'm not sure I believe there is a 10M market out there either, but I'm a geek. I love working in the machine/human/software world and it is just a plain old interesting challenge to me! That said, the test subject, Deckel-stein, travelled across the river Styx, as you so personally know. It is ironic that I'd been getting pretty excited about taking this all on. In August I ripped the guts out of my Hurco and was moving that to a 5 axis LinuxCNC control. This was my test subject and it is moving along pretty well.... all a different story. So, I'm not done yet with the Deckel CNC conversion idea. I may get the chance to do it still... Sadly, I'll probably never get a stab at the thing that makes the Deckel so nice, though (the all angle table), even if I ever get another machine.

    Alan

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    Ok Alan, so you and I must be driving Don nuts by continuing the conversion threads well past the grave.

    Let me make a few points.

    First, your FP3A (A for ashes)...

    Man, don't give up on a Deckel conversion dream over one lost non-working NC machine candidate. I know it totally blows, but there are *lots* of cheap non-working Deckel NC's that hit the market, and until a viable conversion route is in place, there will be even more.

    If I were back "in the game", I could probably come up with several in a year, and I know you are capable too.

    The all-angle table loss sucks, but I really have to weigh in with my experience and say that if you're not a hyper-user like Ross, then the beauty of the all angle table is mostly when it is mounted on a manual machine. Even on my manual machine, using it is so rare that it almost becomes more of a trophy of extra hand wheels instead of a practical tool. More often I find myself wishing I had the additional clamping area of a rigid table... that happens pretty often, where "ooh... I get to go circular finally" happens only a fraction of the time by comparison.

    On the NC, that difference is even more pronounced. Because the NC allows for circular moves, even if you had a rotary, you'd have it locked down most all of the time and do your circular work via code. That's just a fact... one that again some will argue, and I admire those who will but I surely wouldn't make it the primary weight in the usefulness of a Deckel conversion.

    I'll just state it again...

    95% of the time when the all angle table is mounted, what I really wish I had was 6 more inches table to work with.

    ..and..

    95+% of the time if I'm doing something circular on the NC, I'm doing it with code.

    Since the all angle table is manual, it is much more likely to be wanting the equally manual *indexer* for most of that kind of work.... with it's ability to quickly mount chucks/collet etc, and guess what? If you have an all angle table mounted...no room for the indexer so have fun with that 2 hour swap over.

    Beyond that, if you really wanted to go in circles on an NC, the NC rotary tables/indexer can at least be programmed.

    Don't get me wrong Alan, all angle tables are really neat...especially on a manual Deckel, but I don't see a major impact in the functionality of an NC Deckel and I'd pursue the indexer and NC tables as a priority over one so please don't let that stop you from grabbing that auction NC with pendant in pieces to continue the crusade.

    Bottom line is that if you find another donor NC (which shouldn't be too hard), you'd have to convert it *first* before there was any usefulness at all, and at that point there will always be umpteen attachments to seek out.

    As a matter of personal pressure I will tell you that you *are not allowed* to throw in the towel over your loss unless you want to compete with me in the loss arena.
    I'm going to recover, and I'd like to see you adopt that same viewpoint on the Deckel front because you are one of the few people who shares my enthusiasm for seeing a truly viable conversion before the machines themselves are lost to obscurity.

    Sean

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sean S View Post
    Ok Alan, so you and I must be driving Don nuts by continuing the conversion threads well past the grave.
    LOL...it's ok... a breath of fresh air just to have you back here Sean !

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    I too agree LinuxCNC makes a superb platform for retrofit control. LinuxCNC includes a software PLC system. I would be willing to pay a licence fee to one whom has already developed the software to control the gearbox shifting sequence. Signed NDA included!

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    There's a FP3NC carcass on the 'bay minus the controls.
    Pretty tempting to try building the controls up and having a damn nice little NC mill.


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