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Dan's 5x10 PPLLC & CandCNC Build

Posted: Fri Feb 10, 2017 10:49 am
by DMoneyAllstar
Finally decided it's time to slap this project on the internet. I'm getting into the more technical / intricate details of the build and may need to reach out to some wiser folks.

This project is 80% recreational use and 20% business. I love to fab and have also got an artsy eye (as does my wife who works in PR & marketing). So we'll do some residential and commercial projects through acquaintances and maybe a few UTV & offroad projects. All depends on the precision and accuracy of the machine.

I'm a 18yr BSME & MBA (mostly with Honeywell) and have been drafting in 3D cad for over 20yr (Pro/E, Autocad, Solidworks). Sold our RV so this is what I've decided to do with the cash. Got the space, got the power, got the tools and the fab skills, got the time. Everything is paid for in-cash, so I've got no "overhead" which will require me to knock-out jobs.

The gantry...
Precision Plasma 5x10 w/ floating Z. I believe this is the "VCT" design from the 2011 era. It's light and fast on v-rails. It retailed for over $3k new, but I got it 2nd hand NIB locally for $2k including the pile of 3" tube for the table in Nov 2013. Prev owner discovered the unbelievable cost to run the required electricity to his shop and had to throw in the towel. Also bought the PPLLC magnetic machine torch mount recently (thanks, Ron!). So gantry, breakaway torch head and table frame steel was ~$2200.

The table...
It's the Precision Plasma 5x10 design in 3" tube along with the water table. I added a couple of center uprights and a cross beam to the table simply for more support with the water table and all. Also added 4qty 300-lb steel casters at each corner, but will be leveled on 6qty leveling bolts when cutting. Table is square within 1/16" diagonally and top rails are within 1/32" diagonally, across and in-plane. Water table is per the PPLLC prints with 11ga slats and pan sheet. I went with 36 slats instead of 41 just because it's PLENTY for the 18ga-1/2" I'll be working with. Also had the slats cut 1/4" shorter so they sit level with the water bed angle (can get water level almost touching for when cutting ss & alum). Primed and painted in rustoleum oil-based. Took me about 2.5 weeks of off/on nights and weekends after kids were alseep or napping. Priorities haven't changed. Will load table from the end which works out perfect since that end faces an indoor overhead door to the non-heated portion of my shop. Currently have a 1-ton engine hoist for material. Welder is a 10+ year old Matco 180A 220V MIG on Ar75/CO25, .030 & .035, wire and she does everything I need 'er to.

CNC electronics...
Bought the CandCNC Full Automation bundle on Linux with 620-4 steppers. Figured technology changes every few years, so wanted to put myself on the bow of that sailing ship.

Bought a new Hypertherm Powermax 45xp #088123 with hand torch, machine torch, remote pendant, cnc port, and bought the RS485 field upgrade kit. Bakers had the best price and they have a store about 45min west of me.

I've got a Eaton Polar Air 7.5hp 80gal V4 150psi 220v 1ph compressor with magnetic starter, after-cooler, tank auto-drain, and hour meter. Flows [email protected] which is more than enough for the plasma and then some. Bought it directly from the Eaton show room floor (demo model 30% off). Found them when I was searching the Lowes and HD website after I bought this yellow/black/red 60gal compressor that turned out to be cheap pacific garbage. I returned it to the store 2days after I picked it up for a full refund. Eaton builds a lot of the house brand stuff for those guys, but also have higher-end residential and commercial machines. Got a ton more compressor with a 10yr warranty by going direct. Forget Kobalt, forget Husky, forget the yellow/black/red brand HD carries...just buy a real one direct. Air system is 3/4" copper with 1/2" drops and uses Norgen/Speedaire/Parker regulators, filters and coalescers. In addition to the aftercooler on the compressor, there's 75' of 3/4" pipe with 8 drops/traps before the plasma ties in. And I build my own 1/2-gal desicant air dryer unit out of an aluminum fuel filter cartridge bowl/lid I picked up from a friend's truck shop (FREE). Tested it to 120psi for 24hr with no issues. Got one for the plasma and one for my Trinco media blaster. Plasma air will be clean, dry, and plentiful no doubt about it. Shop air is 100psi with regulators on each drop.

Water table air bladder...
Water table holds about 110gal max, but will be right around 90-95gal during use. I picked up a 100gal steel oil tank that's 44x29x20" (rectangular block)) for the reservoir. Still needs the 6" lid removed and welded shut and needs two 1/2" air fittings for air & vent and 2" fill/drain bungs welded on. It will sit at one corner of the table with a countertop over it (where the computer/monitor will sit) and small pallet beneath. I've got an SMC push/pull valve and a SMC twist-knob valve for draining and filling. No solenoids, just air and mechanical valves. Using 1/4" poly-tube with quick connects. Drain/fill is 2" PVC with 2 drains with a manual valve at the corner of the table. Given the rigidity of the tank and volume of the 2" lines, it shouldn't take but a few minutes to fill and drain. I'm hoping to drain it when not in use to keep the room's humidity down (evaporation). I don't want to put the reservoir under the table since I plan on using the middle shelf for storing some excess sheet. Don't plan on having too much on hand, really. And don't want to strain the table with 800-lb of liquid, nor have it in the way if I need to move the table over.

Next plan is to get the shop room painted. Then need to drill/tap the 88qty 1/4-20 holes for the v-rails. CandCNC kit will be here next week. And then the fun install begins. I'm hoping to be cutting by St. Patty's Day which is roughly ~5wks, and cutting "successfully" by Memorial Day.

Started the table...and you can tell this tubing has been sitting in my barn for a couple years...










Re: Dan's 5x10 PPLLC & CandCNC Build

Posted: Fri Feb 10, 2017 12:15 pm
by gs123
real nice looking cnc table. can't wait to see the first cuts.

Re: Dan's 5x10 PPLLC & CandCNC Build

Posted: Sat Feb 11, 2017 9:07 am
by timberfab
do you have a row of slat holder up the middle going in?

Re: Dan's 5x10 PPLLC & CandCNC Build

Posted: Sat Feb 11, 2017 7:24 pm
by DMoneyAllstar
No, not yet. Have the material. Just waiting to see if I'll need it.

Re: Dan's 5x10 PPLLC & CandCNC Build

Posted: Mon Feb 13, 2017 2:39 pm
by DMoneyAllstar
timberfab wrote:do you have a row of slat holder up the middle going in?

Well I think I am going to add the center support after all. I was finishing painting the shop's ceiling and walls and had to step on the slats a few times (had a piece of plywood about 24x24). I noticed the slats tilting down a little bit. Well DUH if you look at the 3" x 3/16' angle frame and the 11ga (.120) sheet...the slats rest on the 3" angle and "float" across the middle of the table with about 1/16-1/8 cclearance. So I want to put a strip of flat stock down the center of the pan (level base for slats) plus add the spacers. I have the material, so might as well do it sooner rather than disappointed later.

This week's plan is...
...start on drilling/tapping 88qty 1/4-20 holes for v-rails
...welding in drain/fill bungs on table
...start installing the compressed air lines through out shop
...install the 50a 220v circuit for the PM45xp
And maybe...
...hammer in the ground rod right outside the shop wall (~3' from table and ~2' from controls).
...making mounts & trays for energy cable

Re: Dan's 5x10 PPLLC & CandCNC Build

Posted: Mon Feb 13, 2017 6:40 pm
by tcaudle
Do not tie table and controls to the same rod: Just gives plasma noise a way to invade your PC and controls . Controls are isolated from the table so only common connection is one you establish

Re: Dan's 5x10 PPLLC & CandCNC Build

Posted: Tue Feb 14, 2017 4:04 am
by DMoneyAllstar
My plan was for table / torch to be grounded at the new rod. PC and power supply will be grounded through the building's traditional ground which is a second (existing) earth rod located 55' away.

What is the scoop with the "star ground" method then? I've read suggestions to both "keep it grounded separate" and "tie it together" at a common point.

Re: Dan's 5x10 PPLLC & CandCNC Build

Posted: Tue Feb 14, 2017 8:18 am
by timberfab
rent or borrow a bosch hammer drill to drive the ground rod, beats a hammer.

Re: Dan's 5x10 PPLLC & CandCNC Build

Posted: Wed Feb 15, 2017 8:46 am
by DMoneyAllstar
Punch. Drill. Tap. Repeat.
Punch. Drill. Tap. Repeat.
Punch. Drill. Tap. Repeat.

That;'s pretty much how it goes.

Actually I stopped punching on about hole #3. Used a 23/64 drill to locate the center, using the rail's 0.39" holes as a guide. Every hole was dead nuts centered after that. Got about 60-some done and ran out of washers. Using 1/4-20 x 1" SHCS in black oxide. Good material and it looks good.

Finally got to roll the gantry all the way down and back. It's so smooth my eyes might well up just typing about it, lol. :roll:

Re: Dan's 5x10 PPLLC & CandCNC Build

Posted: Wed Feb 15, 2017 9:44 am
by timberfab
fun fun fun

Re: Dan's 5x10 PPLLC & CandCNC Build

Posted: Wed Feb 15, 2017 10:35 am
by acourtjester
Oh yeah, many more happy days ahead, powered movement, running G-code, first cut part, enjoy :D :lol:

Re: Dan's 5x10 PPLLC & CandCNC Build

Posted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 2:13 pm
by DMoneyAllstar
Played with some 80/20 last night to get some ideas for mounting the energy chain. **No these pics are not showing the final product.** Just some idea generation to get my eBay grocery list made, wanted to see how rigid this stuff is, and needed to make sure I had enough energy chain. 10-series and 15-series 80/20. I bought a couple of lots of 80/20 and pneumatic stuff last summer out of a local equipment auction. Had enough to slap this together. Ordered another $100 of parts today from TNUTZ to do get r dun.



Re: Dan's 5x10 PPLLC & CandCNC Build

Posted: Mon Mar 06, 2017 9:04 am
by DMoneyAllstar
Got the energy cable chain mounted in it's final state. Very smooth. See video: I still need to cut-to-length that piece of 80/20 on the side. Shop is a mess in that video b/c I'm in the middle of plumbing. Amazing how quickly an idle table saw or cnc plasma table can become a "drop zone" for everything. :?

If you want to know how this type/brand of cable chain comes apart (yellow dot, also sold under Uxcell name), here is a helpful video someone shared with me: I used the R55 25mmx103mm size for both axis.

Also got the CandCNC system out of its box and tested the motors in CommandCNC. Worked great right out of the box. Only one hiccup: the instructions say connect the green cable "TO PC ETHERNET". On the back of the PC they've added a yellow decal "ETHERNET" above the port. That's not where that cable goes, lol. There is another cable port labeled "TO BLADERUNNER". THAT port is where the cable goes. Just a little bit of literal continuity breakdown, but only cost me about 5min of "huh? what?" time when I was getting an error message. When hooking up a $3k electronics package, I take every step extremely literal and re-read 20x before actually making connections. But seeing the system running and hearing the motors energized got me motivated to keep chugging.

Currently sweating the 3/4" copper air takes forever and my plasma will connect to the very last leg of the system, so it all has to get done to runt he cnc. Hoping I can get all the air lines done and start mounting electronics this weekend. My wife, kids and I also have the notorious winter cold so progress is challenging this week. :roll:

Re: Dan's 5x10 PPLLC & CandCNC Build

Posted: Mon Mar 06, 2017 6:54 pm
by tcaudle
instructions say connect the green cable "TO PC ETHERNET"

Not a real valid excuse but that manual was written before we started offering PC's with two Ethernet ports so the PC Ethernet port was just one plug. Maybe we need to label it as "Other Ethernet Port" :D instead of just Ethernet. Only one port (primary) is configured as the one that runs the controller


Re: Dan's 5x10 PPLLC & CandCNC Build

Posted: Fri Mar 10, 2017 9:58 am
by DMoneyAllstar
Good news!

Copper air lines are all sweated in. Phew. I counted over 170 joints. Insane, but well worth my time & $$ to have clean, dry, plentiful air in my shop from now until I croak! 3 dedicated drops (plasma, media blaster, table air bladder) + 3 open drops in heated room and 1 drop in barn.

Tomorrow I will be cutting and welding in the center row of slat supports, and installing the water table drain/fill ports.

Next week I will be able to start mounting electronics.

Re: Dan's 5x10 PPLLC & CandCNC Build

Posted: Fri Mar 17, 2017 8:59 am
by DMoneyAllstar
A little more midnight oil = a little more progress.

1. Got all the center slat supports welded in.


2. Got the twin 1-1/2" drain/fill ports welded in. Didn't have my shielding gas on for half my weld, so it didn't go so smooth on the 1st pass (brain fart). Going to tack on a piece of expanded metal and maybe a little "splash hut" over the ports to stop geysers and prevent large chunks for blocking drains.

That red thing the elbows are pointing to is the big 100gal oil tank I'm converting to the water tank/bladder. It's still got a 1/2" of fuel oil in it, needs the furnace feed and fill ports welded closed, and the water fill and drain ports welded in. Not looking forward to the clean-out!




Re: Dan's 5x10 PPLLC & CandCNC Build

Posted: Fri Mar 17, 2017 11:40 am
by lockeyone
I created a drain pocket for mine as I wanted to be able to add a screen to drain. I also put a drop in the line back to holding barrel to get rid of anything heavy. At least that's my theory. The hole in the drain you see was then drilled out for the nipple I welding on.

Re: Dan's 5x10 PPLLC & CandCNC Build

Posted: Fri Mar 17, 2017 1:20 pm
by SeanP
Looking good, that should drain down and fill at a good rate with the two pipes.
You might want some gap under the slats for water movement though, especially when you get a layer of cutting gunk building up.

I went with 25mm gap under slats in the centre and only 12mm at the shallow ends, even that after a months cutting it starts the block off the gaps at the close end where a lot of the cuts are done.

I swapped to a plastic tank this year as the 2mm steel tank I made had some pit holes appear after 2yrs use, it wasn't rust it seemed like some sort of reaction, like silver patches eating into the steel.

Re: Dan's 5x10 PPLLC & CandCNC Build

Posted: Sun Mar 19, 2017 9:47 am
by DMoneyAllstar
Lockeyone: I like that idea and method of drawing the drain down to be recessed. So I did it! Saturn Aura front brake rotor and a big washer. I used the torque wrench on the 3/4-16 nut, and it pulled the table down a good 3/16-to-1/4". Screen clears. Used a front rotor from a Saturn I no longer own, a section of tubing, a RZR hub, old Honda spindle, and 3/4-16 threaded rod. THANKS FOR THAT TIP!! =) Of course I started spraying sealer earlier in the day including around the drains, but no problem.





Got the water table top cleaned up. Wire wheeled the seams and welds, shop vac'd, and wiped down with spirits and then a tack cloth.

Sprayed seams with Rustoleum sealer. It's $3/can cheaper than flex-seal and everything I read online shows it's comparable. Sprays on easy and fairly neat.

Then sprayed some Rustoleum Rust Reformer on the underside along the edge (where you can see surface rust in the prev pics). Much easier than wire wheeling it! Will get underside primed and painted this week.



Got the bladder tank cleaned up with spirits as well, and put a bucket of saw dust/chips in the tank with it slightly tipped. Figured it'd be easier to scoop saturated chips that suck out fuel oil.


Got the long axis roller chain assembly all trimmed and done, too.


SeanP: Slat clearance for water flow...I'm good with the 1/4" or so of gap under the center and 1/8" at the edges. Likely get a little more clearance once she's filled with water. If I end up cutting a ton I can always put some holes in the bottom of the slats.

Once I get the underside primed and painted, it will be time for mounting the CandCNC motors!

Re: Dan's 5x10 PPLLC & CandCNC Build

Posted: Sun Mar 19, 2017 3:41 pm
by SeanP
DMoneyAllstar wrote:
SeanP: Slat clearance for water flow...I'm good with the 1/4" or so of gap under the center and 1/8" at the edges. Likely get a little more clearance once she's filled with water. If I end up cutting a ton I can always put some holes in the bottom of the slats.

True enough, better cutting holes in the middle of the slat later on so you can still turn slats over, think I'll do the same soon ;)

Re: Dan's 5x10 PPLLC & CandCNC Build

Posted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 9:29 am
by DMoneyAllstar
Underside of table primed...

And then painted...

Drain screens formed and held in place with the sealant so I can change/remove/replace down the road without having to grind welds. Slats back in...


Table is finally ready for motor install...



Still tossing around idea of either placing the 44x29x20 water tank under the table, at the end where I've got it now under the gantry over-hang, or if I build it into an adjacent base cabinet which will also be my PC / keyboard / monitor station. Was planning to install some rollers on the table's shelf for storing a few sheets. I'm not a production shop, so I'll likely only have no more than a dozen sheets or partials. Outside the overhead door is the inside of my 20x40 barn.

Next update will be some gantry motion later this week. :D

Re: Dan's 5x10 PPLLC & CandCNC Build

Posted: Thu Mar 23, 2017 9:32 am
by DMoneyAllstar
I lied. I said my next update would be showing the gantry in motion.

Ran into a snafu last night when I started to mount the motors. I bought the gantry & Z kit second hand (new, never installed but not directly from PPLLC). The servo coupling and the pinion gears are all for 1/4" shafted nema23 300's while I have Nema23 620's with a 3/8" shaft. SO...I need to order a coupling for 1/4-to-3/8, and then pinions for 3/8. Which means I may not be putting the gantry in motion this weekend. :cry: I sent Ron @ PPLLC an email to see if he could sell me the parts, but they don't carry that stuff. He did point me to a MUUUUCH cheaper/faster coupling option via Graingers (right by my work and I get a discount). =)

I bought an upper cabinet from Lowes yesterday for the cnc control box, PC tower and UPS to keep everything clean and keep wiring neat/tucked. It will either get mounted on the wall, or the side of the machine. Depends on how much cable I've got. I upped to the 35' cables in my CandCNC kit. We'll see! I might actually buy another one for the Hypertherm & consumables. Both will eventually get a cooling fan and filter. I might 86 that top shelf and just mount the cnc control box and UPS vertically to the rear of the cabinet.

Any issues with putting this stuff in plastic cabinets? Everything will be grounded, but I've noticed the shelves are pretty static-clingy out of the box.


I also think the water tank is going to go under the roller chain on the long axis. It fits nicely.

Re: Dan's 5x10 PPLLC & CandCNC Build

Posted: Thu Mar 23, 2017 11:07 am
by DMoneyAllstar

L050 urethane flex coupling ($15 @ Grainger) and the 3qty #H2424 spur gears ($27/ea @ MSC) will be here tomorrow. Not too shabby -- $100 and all arrives Next Day.

Re: Dan's 5x10 PPLLC & CandCNC Build

Posted: Wed Mar 29, 2017 1:44 pm
by DMoneyAllstar
Busy running what seems like MILES of motor wires, limit switch wires, and some shop 220v 50A wiring.

Question about limit switches: Does anyone run a "far" limits at the OTHER end of the table (from Home) in case of some fudged code and/or rogue gantry motion that crashes the gantry to the end of the v-rail?? It doesn't look like everyone does. I've got (2) extra sensors, so I'm wiring one in for a far-X and far-Y. Per the CandCNC manual the home limits are wired N/O while the far limits are wired N/C.

My Z has a micro limit switch it came with while the X, Y & adjustible A Home switches are the ME-8108 not-so-micro switches. Far limits are ME-8108, too. Are the ME-8108 switches "good enough" for Home switches?

Had to adjust my Z motor mount a bit to accommodate the L050 type motor misalignment coupling. Some nylon spacers from the little local hardware store are getting me by until I ever decide to make a pair of taller blocks out of aluminum.




Re: Dan's 5x10 PPLLC & CandCNC Build

Posted: Thu Apr 13, 2017 10:01 am
by DMoneyAllstar
It's alive, it's alive!!!

At 1am this morning I was finally far enough along to fire up CommandCNC and run the gantry up & down the table. It's very smooth and quiet. So happy I finally hit this milestone!!!

Only a couple of immediate issues, but nothing major:
[1] My X-axis arrow keys are opposite. Just need to make the config change.
[2] The Z-axis isn't tripping the Z-limit switch. It's like it's stuck. Not sure if I have something too tight, or what. When I take it apart it will move and click the limit, but when it's back together on the carriage it's stuck.

My original goal was to have motion by St Patrick;s Day and running test cuts by Easter, but I'm about a month off.

Still need to connect the limits to the Bladerunner box, run the torch power circuit from the panel, and do all the motor tuning.

Some pics and a vid coming soon.