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Best budget minded THC for thin corrugated steel?

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mikeysp
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Best budget minded THC for thin corrugated steel?

Postby mikeysp » Tue Jan 10, 2017 11:47 pm

Hi, I'm new here. I found this forum while researching for a THC.

I am in search of a budget Torch Height Control for thin gauge corrugated (29gauage, .0113", .287mm) steel.

I am building a 5x10 CNC plasma table and had planned to use the Proma with the Kemo (Ohmic) modification that "East German" shared on this forum; however, I read somewhere that the proma was slow in communicating for drastic changes in height while moving at significant speeds. Since the ideal cutting speed is somewhere near 400 inches per minute or 10 meters per minute for thin gauge, I am looking for some help in identifying the best budget controller to accomplish the mission.

Is the Proma fast enough, and the weak link is the Win PC or Parallel port? I am glad to change any components, since I have not purchased yet. I have been rethinking Mach3 after reading here and now lean toward the UCCNC and Windows; however, I would consider Linux also if it is a factor. In the end, I will change direction as I focus on budget without compromising on cut quality.

The Neuron Simplicity also caught my eye, but I do not know how to evaluate.

I own a Thermal Dynamics Cutmaster 52.

Thank you,

-Mike

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Re: Best budget minded THC for thin corrugated steel?

Postby Dingo745 » Wed Jan 11, 2017 2:19 am

I recently got a Neuron Simplicity and so far it has been good and Andrew's service and help in setting it up were invaluable, no forums just one on one sessions via Skype in my case until we had it working perfectly, and that alone makes the price difference worth the extra.
As they say you get what you pay for in this world.

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Re: Best budget minded THC for thin corrugated steel?

Postby mikeysp » Wed Jan 11, 2017 2:29 am

Thank you Dingo. Do you operate with Mach? UCCNC? How responsive and quick is the Simplicity to changing height at speed on warped thin steel?

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Re: Best budget minded THC for thin corrugated steel?

Postby acourtjester » Wed Jan 11, 2017 11:03 am

I have tried to use 2 different usb controller and could not get them to work correctly. This was about 3 years ago so maybe they have improved.
I would go with commanCNC as a package I myself will be going that way soon, currently using their MP3100 and am happy with it.
There seems to be some here that have gone with command CNC and like it.
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Re: Best budget minded THC for thin corrugated steel?

Postby tcaudle » Wed Jan 11, 2017 1:47 pm

To even have a chance to work on corrugated you have to have a THC that has a vertical speed (under THC control) the same as your horizontal cut speeds. So if you want to cut at 400 IPM you need the Z to climb at 400IPM (45 deg slope) or it will plow into the material and drag it along the table.

It has to have a very fast and tight control loop (defined as being able to read the voltage and turn that into motion in microseconds). To do that it has to not overreact and overshoot causing loop instability and oscillation. It requires a "PID" loop control that changes the response speed in reverse proportion to the amount of error over time.

The Promo uses mechanical relays (slow) for its simple up and down signals and the controller has to react and then move the motor. It can do (at best ) about 30 IPM of vertical speeds meaning at 400 IPM it might cut a 5% grade (change in height) . You have to get into some pretty sophisticated controls to do what you want. So I am not sure what you consider budget minded but its not going to be a couple hundred bucks.

So ask the vendor what the max Vertical speeds are and still track. Its a combination of how fast you actually move your Z and how good the feedback loop is to let it track that fast and stay stable.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDj5SSle-ng&feature=youtu.be

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Re: Best budget minded THC for thin corrugated steel?

Postby mikeysp » Wed Jan 11, 2017 2:13 pm

Thanks gents for your input.acourtjester, I will look into the commandCNC. tcaudle, the video was very helpful. Reference budget, I will pay more as needed and balance it at some acceptable point. You already helped me understand the problem with proma speeed is in the proma, not the PC interface (Parallel) that the Proma is not fast enough to give me the results that I think satisfactory. If I buy it, I buy twice. That video showed 180ipm and some good looking results. I will use your helpful data to ask vendors about there THCs. Thank you.

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Re: Best budget minded THC for thin corrugated steel?

Postby Dingo745 » Wed Jan 11, 2017 10:47 pm

mikeysp wrote:Thank you Dingo. Do you operate with Mach? UCCNC? How responsive and quick is the Simplicity to changing height at speed on warped thin steel?


I am using Mach3 on a laptop with an Ethernet Smoothstepper which has been faultless so far but I am still on the learning curve of using my machine.
I decided to get the Neuron over it's cheaper rivals because I only wanted to spend my money once and get some backup service when I need it.
Check out Neuron's website for most of your questions about what it will or won't do.
One of the other guys commented about how quick your Z axis has to respond to work efficiently and Andrew the Neuron designer went through this procedure with me and my machine, but due to my machines design, bulk, and motor and reduction gearing the best speed I could tune it to was 100 ipm, but that would be an individual thing again depending on your setup.

Quoted from Neuron site:-
Controls Z axis motor driver directly (Pulse/Dir interace, internal motion controller, software 500 uSec PID control loop)

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Re: Best budget minded THC for thin corrugated steel?

Postby mikeysp » Thu Jan 12, 2017 12:40 am

Dingo745, I emailed Neuron as I try to understand THC and asked what the Simplicity vertical speed limit is. A few minutes ago, I received a response.

Andrew said the maximum speed is 10000 mm/min (393ipm), but this value depends on the torch slide parameters (pulses in unit value). Simplicity motion pulsing engine has 50 kHz limit. Lite controller has 100 kHz limit.

I don't know what torch slide parameters or pulse engine is but it seems as though it would be rather quick, if my Z is set up properly. I think Neuron is setup for Mach. If I go this route, and it may be the closest I can get to a "budget" solution.

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Re: Best budget minded THC for thin corrugated steel?

Postby Dingo745 » Thu Jan 12, 2017 4:02 am

Mikeysp the Neuron is definitely not your cheapest option but seeing that you can contact the designer of the Neuron, Andrew to answer your questions in detail must tell you something at least.
How does that compare with a Proma for example
From what I understand the Lite version doesn't rely on Mach 3 at all for control, but it controls it via it's own in built controller and all the settings and adjustments are done on the Neuron controller.
Personally I don't think I have wasted my money and normally I would have cheaped out on a Proma or such but I have seen too mant people bitch about the Proma to be willing to take a gamble, so instead I saw it as an investment and will make my machine worth more if I want to sell it later on.

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Re: Best budget minded THC for thin corrugated steel?

Postby motoguy » Thu Jan 12, 2017 9:06 am

Is the Proma the THC used by Burntables?
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Re: Best budget minded THC for thin corrugated steel?

Postby mikeysp » Thu Jan 12, 2017 10:08 am

Dingo, if you look at tcaudle's comment about the Proma's slow relays, it will have a very slow ipm vertically for cutting a wave, such as corrugated. Neuron told me that both the lite and the simplicity talk with Mach3; however, the Lite can be programmed by the user for the cut from within Mach; while, the Simplicity is controlled programmed from several buttons on the controller itself, not from within Mach. Both communicate with mach during the cutting. So interface with person programming is the variable. I am unaware of a THC that can provide the up/down speeds of the Simplicity for less money. As I see it, the proma is too slow for my cutting of corrugated, without going very slow. Aside from the controllers on ebay that I have no been able to find much of anything about, I am thinking Neuron. However, I have to consider the issue of Mach vs others. I have not interfaced with Neuron about this; however, others have said Neuron encourages Mach3. Now, this may have changed, as I did see a plugin he sells for making it work with UCCNC, and some others. However, this adds about a $100 US to the equation.

motoguy, I checked the burntable website and did not see their control; so, I don't know. However, the video on the front page showed a tracing technology which was really neat. He took a broken bracket from a vehicle and the plasma table had a laser scan the edges (so it appeared???) and then cut out the bracket. Nifty trick my friend. Seemed like they make pretty good quality tables. I would not be surprised if they use CandCNC electronics and THC, since they are known for really good performance and support. Also, the Proma is great for the super low budget approach, but for the reasons already mentioned, it would likely not be on a highend table. All this commentary is specualtion on my part and I am like a soldier in basic training with about 4 hours of hand to hand training, enough to get beat up pretty bad.

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Re: Best budget minded THC for thin corrugated steel?

Postby motoguy » Thu Jan 12, 2017 10:24 am

mikeysp wrote:motoguy, I checked the burntable website and did not see their control; so, I don't know. However, the video on the front page showed a tracing technology which was really neat. He took a broken bracket from a vehicle and the plasma table had a laser scan the edges (so it appeared???) and then cut out the bracket. Nifty trick my friend.


From what I can gather, their "tracing" function simply has the operator locate the torch at various points on the bracket (via the laser crosshair), and it records the xy location. Do this enough times, and you get a point-cloud of the item you're "tracing". Seems like a VERY laborious route to go. Scananything does basically the same thing, but it's an automated process, using a camera. I'm happy with it.

mikeysp wrote:Seemed like they make pretty good quality tables. I would not be surprised if they use CandCNC electronics and THC, since they are known for really good performance and support.


Perhaps you're looking at a different Burntables than I am familiar with. The Burntables I am familiar with (out of Texas) is essentially junk, with absolutely poor/nonexistant customer service. I know they are not using CandCNC controls. Tom (of CandCNC) even has a video on Youtube where CandCNC refit their controls (and rebuilt a table) for a Burntable customer...I guess the table was basically unusable as purchased from Burntables.

I'll stop before this thread gets hijacked...I thought I recalled the discussion of "Proma" and "Burntables" being used in the same discussion before.
Last edited by motoguy on Thu Jan 12, 2017 12:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Best budget minded THC for thin corrugated steel?

Postby mikeysp » Thu Jan 12, 2017 10:42 am

Thanks for correcting me motoguy. I watched the intro vi only and did not have on the sound. I thought it was acting like a scanner. Shows how people can be duped. It looked cool. Thank you for the correction. Also, I did watch that CandCNC rebuild a plasma table, the right way. Really cool video. Tom at CandCNC really knows his stuff. If I was not trying to go as budget minded as possible, being in the US and seeing his level of expertise and good service, I would go his route.

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Re: Best budget minded THC for thin corrugated steel?

Postby tcaudle » Thu Jan 12, 2017 7:23 pm

motoguy wrote:Is the Proma the THC used by Burntables?


No. Is a PLC they found that uses a pot and has no readouts and no user volts feedback or pre-sets . You twist the pot until you get the height you want. It does not have a range wide enough to use Fine Cut.

Never at any point has BT used CandCNC electronics nor would we sell to them if they asked. There is a lot more problems than can be solved with just electronics. They have good marketing and sales and the paint jobs are nice.

The BT parts tracer is a video camera and jogstick with a button that you manually "drive" around the part. Not much different than taking a picture and bringing it into Inkscape and tracing with the mouse. SheetCAM has "ScanAnything" that WILL trace the outlines automatically and it actually drives the table with no user intervention. Its a bit finicky to setup and needs a good quality microscope camera but it works. Les (of SheetCAM ) is working on a LINUX version but there is no timeframe on the completion.

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Re: Best budget minded THC for thin corrugated steel?

Postby mikeysp » Sat Jan 14, 2017 10:10 pm

Anyone using a miniTHC? Can you report performance on vertical speed and fluidity of height correction?

I contacted the manufacturer about vertical speed and he responded with:

"The loopback time for minithc is 80 microseconds -- or 0.00008 s that's comparable to mach3 1/25000 s = 0.00004 s minimum time to react to the increment/decrement"

Not sure how to interpret this data. Sounds fast. He also informed me the speed limit would all be in the Z-axis performance, not in the miniTHC, which I assume means the communication speed between the miniTHC and the software is.... fast

Any confirmation from users?

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Re: Best budget minded THC for thin corrugated steel?

Postby Dingo745 » Sun Jan 15, 2017 12:33 am

I would think he means the electro/mechanical action of the Z drive as in motor speed, drive method and reduction ratio

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Re: Best budget minded THC for thin corrugated steel?

Postby tcaudle » Mon Jan 16, 2017 6:30 pm

The quoted numbers are meaningless. The MiniTHC uses the same exact method as the Promo and several other cheap THC's in its methods.

They send discrete Up and DOWN signals (the speed at which they do that is mostly irrelevant ) to MACH, and MACH reads them on a parallel port input and through IT'S logic moves the Z motor UP and DOWN. The FASTEST you can expect the response is largely the total internal loop delay of the inputs in MACH to its Z motion control . So you can send it a million UP or DOWN signals per second and your Z vertical speed is limited to not just the motor speed but how much delay there is between the input command(s) and the actual motion of the motor. The THC RATE in MACH determines how fast Z can move as a percentage of Max Z velocity. Since THC in MACH is "Bang-Bang" (either fully ON or off) and three is no acceleration curve (and no way to set it) you simply cannot move more than about 20 to 30% of the full Z speed. So the timing of the THC itself is just some of the performance criteria.

Only a THC that operates OUTSIDE the conventional MACH loop and does not use the THC logic in MACH and does not depend on MACH to actually move the Z can operate fast enough to do aggressive cutting.

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Re: Best budget minded THC for thin corrugated steel?

Postby edclayton1 » Tue Mar 14, 2017 7:40 pm

acourtjester wrote:I have tried to use 2 different usb controller and could not get them to work correctly. This was about 3 years ago so maybe they have improved.
I would go with commanCNC as a package I myself will be going that way soon, currently using their MP3100 and am happy with it.
There seems to be some here that have gone with command CNC and like it.


HI Tom,
Long time since I spoke with you. Have you tried out that Commandcnc yet? I saw this post and I'm in a delemma as to which way to go on ,my second table build project. Recently I bought up a NOS CandCNC blade runner. It has a dhtc original version card in it and it's a parallel port setup as it sits right now. I, tempted to do the Linux field upgrade but I haven't read much about the pros and cons of this Vs. the Windows ESS version.
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Re: Best budget minded THC for thin corrugated steel?

Postby tcaudle » Tue Mar 14, 2017 8:09 pm

1. Check with us first before you order the Field Upgrade. Some older Bladerunner systems won't work with the new CommandCNC front end sub assembly.

2. For more detailed info on CommandCNC you can join the Support Forum and there is a whole sub forum on CommandCNC. Website has a few videos. There are the full manuals for setting up the hardware and using CommandCNC on the Manuals section.


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