New software or new controllers?

Information and questions about Denford CNC Control electronics, general electrical issues, cables, diagrams, stepper motors, drives etc...

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MadeForThat
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon 20 May , 2019 15:15 pm
Hardware/Software: 2x Micromill 2000
novaturn ns

New software or new controllers?

Post by MadeForThat » Thu 23 May , 2019 20:28 pm

Hi all!
So after winning a surplus auction, I am the proud owner of 2 micromill 2000s and a novaturn ns! I also have 7 floppy/cd sets, unfortunately none appear to contain security keys....(unless win10 just refuses to display them through my floppy reader..) Thats where I get into my question: can these machines be used without the security keys, and additionally, what software can interface? Am I stuck installing new control boards? I wouldn't be totally against new controllers because I would like to be able to thread with the novaturn, but I'm not entirely sure the spindle is up for it. (I have all the paperwork for the spindle/controller but haven't really reviewed it yet)

Id love to hear if anyone has managed to run their machine outside of VR--- or if they have installed new control boards.

-Tom

TDIPower
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Re: New software or new controllers?

Post by TDIPower » Fri 24 May , 2019 19:32 pm

Hi,

First it would be useful to know which boards are fitted in the machines, Pop the panel off and a quick pic inside of the board that has the fan blowing on it in the micromills, there should be a 32pin eprom that has a sticker over the window saying which software version it is. From that you can work out if you could run the later VR5 software as it looks like you have VR2 with it being on disks.

Now it's been a while since I used VR2 but early on they had a security 'dongle' that was plugged into the parallel port then at some point they moved to a licence file that included a body of text that was the licence info. I don't have a FDD to hand to check a physical licence disk to see how it was presented on them however on a version that is installed it is called 'FLASH.INI'

People have removed the 'top boards' (various threads on the forum) from the actual stepper driver control and put other interface boards for things like Mach3. Some clear it all out and start from scratch.

The Denford stuff is quite safety intensive given the schools use, which I don't have a problem with.

I actually like the Denford interface and control, once you get into the VR control you can config and alter the machine setups a bit too. It works well and has been really good for setting up tools offsets for jobs etc, and it is all quite straight forward for schools use. I have never bothered using the actual virtual reality onscreen machines as i've always just had the machines there.

re the novaturn NS, I have a Starturn 5 which is basically a DOS version but with a lower power/speed main motor. I am in the progress of converting that to the same control spec as the novaturn NS, I say am in the process, I have bought the current VR Turning software and got a second hand control board but have a vehicle rebuild project to complete before i can do more on the lathe. Threading is part of the machine capabilities so I wouldn't worry on that front, not sure up the what size it will cut a thread though,.

Have a bit more of a did through what you have and post up your findings

TDIPower
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Re: New software or new controllers?

Post by TDIPower » Fri 24 May , 2019 23:30 pm

Just had a thought, this licence file flash to replace the dongle, I think you may need to just install VR2 then run 'setup' on the disk that has the FLASH.INI file on it, then next time you run VR milling it should work.
Which software do you have for the Novaturn?

There is a compatibility chart somewhere as I'm not 100% on compatability with win10.

Found it...

http://website.denford.ltd.uk/vista-win ... atibility/

MadeForThat
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon 20 May , 2019 15:15 pm
Hardware/Software: 2x Micromill 2000
novaturn ns

Re: New software or new controllers?

Post by MadeForThat » Fri 31 May , 2019 15:53 pm

Hi TDI! I'm not at home to check the eeprom now, but the mills have the red 7segment display, so as I understand that is the denstep board. The novaturn has the Nextstep board, unfortunately it only has the db9 connector, but has the green 7seg, and the machine is called a novaturn ns on the tag... In talking with support I discovered the novaturn original control cable is pretty important, so I repaired that and rechecked the connections. I have 4 floppies of VR milling 1.47(not sure of version) and one version of vr turning 1.7. (maybe, it also comes in 3 separate floppies) I got a floppy reader to try to pull the security keys, but reading the files is a bit wonky and I'm not sure if I'm seeing everything. (I hope I just cant see the security keys lol :? ) I actually think I have seen a few flash.ini's tho, so you are giving me more hope! :fireworks:

As far as software is concerned, Im not sure I understand the data flow for these machines, I assume VR Milling hands off the gcode to the machine, and from there it will run closed loop and allow the user to adjust speeds feeds and estop from the front panel? If that is how the controller works, it seems to me there ought to be another way to feed the controller gcode without needing denford's proprietary software. Maybe I just know enough to sound dumb to a pro ;)

I actually had some pics, so the eeprom chips are visible. Not sure what "denford beta" is, but I don't like the sound of it hahaha, something tells me beta doesn't align with "long term support"
Attachments
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lathe controller
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mill controller
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so many origional documents and software
IMG_20190520_083904.jpg (265.97 KiB) Viewed 37 times
IMG_20190516_234114.jpg
mills
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novaturn ns
IMG_20190516_234219.jpg (345.24 KiB) Viewed 37 times

TDIPower
CNC Guru
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Posts: 380
Joined: Tue 29 Apr , 2014 18:38 pm
Hardware/Software: Starturn 5 (sort of running, I will get this done!)
Lathe cam designer V1.11
Quickturn 2D Design
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Microrouter Pro NS V5 (microstep)
VR2 and VR5
Boxford VMC260
Techsoft 2d Design tools V1 > V2
ProDesktop
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Re: New software or new controllers?

Post by TDIPower » Fri 31 May , 2019 16:33 pm

From looking at the Boards yes, micromills are denstep, Pretty sure the Beta means it can run VR5 as well as VR2.
Novaturn is NS later board just prior to the USB port.

The VR software is quite powerful stuff. Once you load up the software you will need to select what type of machine it is/board. The software sends the machine info to the board, the boards are really powerful too, lots of capabilities within then I/O wise too (i believe it would be possible to set up your own communications if you are that way skilled, I think mint manager is included in the later software, or downloadable from ABB http://www.abbmotion.com/products/mint/mint.asp). The machines are loaded with safety due to the school environments. You can't open the door without power or if the machine is moving, with door closed you can rapid move but when open you can only get very slow move for setting zero positions. Lots of other things too. You can set up full tool library and offsets for them. You can store JOB locations so set up where the XYZ zero points are and recall as and when required.

Once in the software you can move the machine about, direct input G code commands, In VRMill 2 you can just load up GCode files that have been post processed elsewhere, In VRMill 5 there is a built in DXF to G code processor so you can set up for 2.5D machining direct from the software.
Once running the code it gives you a scrolling line by line of the code going to the machines, You can select line at a time or 'Turbo' mode which dumps a block at a time to the machine. Yes when running you can tweek the feeds and speeds from the front panel.

If you have a search on here there is a post about the flash file to replace the dongle, you should be able to dload the latest version OF VR for your licences, so for milling it would be VR2.xx

The RS232 leads are always an issue, there is a post about the 'god lead' not sure what else to call it, it is a 9way to 9way that you plug direct from the PC to the board, so bypass the case lead.

Looking at the photos, the moulded leads 'look' right for what would be shipped with the micromills, the screw together case right for the novaturn.

I think the licence files will be .tff format, so maybe you need to change the settings in file explorer to see all file types.

Hope that helps.

MadeForThat
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon 20 May , 2019 15:15 pm
Hardware/Software: 2x Micromill 2000
novaturn ns

Re: New software or new controllers?

Post by MadeForThat » Fri 31 May , 2019 19:00 pm

Thanks TDI, I definitey appreciate the good review of the VR software. I guess I will talk to denford to see what a set of both will set me back (assuming the mills are compatible with it, ill ask about the "BETA" chip) Any idea what this stuff costs? I am thinking some day soon I would plan to add a 4th axis onto one of the mills, and Im wondering if I should just plan to completely retrofit at that point. If I could sell the controller and step board for a little cash it might help me justify the difference! As it is I have a whole extra mill I will be selling off! not sure if i should part it out or just try to find a local buyer... time will tell

Hell I'm wondering If I can sell the license keys to someone who is looking to use one of these machines as is... If i can first identify they exist....

TDIPower
CNC Guru
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Posts: 380
Joined: Tue 29 Apr , 2014 18:38 pm
Hardware/Software: Starturn 5 (sort of running, I will get this done!)
Lathe cam designer V1.11
Quickturn 2D Design
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Microrouter Pro NS V5 (microstep)
VR2 and VR5
Boxford VMC260
Techsoft 2d Design tools V1 > V2
ProDesktop
Fusion 360
Deskproto

Re: New software or new controllers?

Post by TDIPower » Fri 31 May , 2019 19:51 pm

Just on another note, in the pic of the NS controller, I noticed there is a blue wire that looks to be disconnected, without going through the wiring diagrams I wouldn't know what it is for though. If I get a bit of time Ill have a look, you can Dload the diagrams from on here although Martin may be along (he is from Denford) with some pointers for you.

The thing with the denford stuff is it works, it does the job and I've been using in for 18/19 years with out much issue, the odd thing crops up.

Pete

MadeForThat
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon 20 May , 2019 15:15 pm
Hardware/Software: 2x Micromill 2000
novaturn ns

Re: New software or new controllers?

Post by MadeForThat » Fri 31 May , 2019 21:32 pm

Yeah I had actually disconnected that to see what the component was, there are 2 of them with who knows what purpose. The original wiring diagrams for the entire cabinet are still in the door, so if anyone needs a copy of that or just wants a specific section let me know and ill grab a copy. Really impressed by the novaturn overall, really beautiful work went into this. The mills are nice too, but clearly aren't quite as complicated haha

TDIPower
CNC Guru
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Posts: 380
Joined: Tue 29 Apr , 2014 18:38 pm
Hardware/Software: Starturn 5 (sort of running, I will get this done!)
Lathe cam designer V1.11
Quickturn 2D Design
FANUC offline and online programs.
Microrouter Pro NS V5 (microstep)
VR2 and VR5
Boxford VMC260
Techsoft 2d Design tools V1 > V2
ProDesktop
Fusion 360
Deskproto

Re: New software or new controllers?

Post by TDIPower » Fri 31 May , 2019 23:22 pm

I ran 2 micromills at work for about 15yrs, great for simple 2D work, I did a lot of 3D prototype work in modelling foam too, I actually modified (reground the tip to a ball nose) a 6mm 1/4" drill bit so i could speed up machining times. Made it possible to machine 50mm/2" depths of cut per pass. It was more than good enough for kids exam work. This thing i found restricting was the bed size I think its about 100mm x 220mm of machinable area, although for some reason I'm sure the specs say 130x220.
We upgraded to the Microrouters as the ones we got have an area of 270 x 550mm on the cutter centre of travel but only 80mm on the Z travel. But having a speed of travel of up to 5meters per min over the ~400mm per min of the micro mill.

The Novamill we still run at work, that is really robust compared with the micromills (which are I believe a sheerline mill boxed up by denford)
My Starturn 5 is basically the same as your novaturn, just older control and lower powered main motor. It's a really nice bit of kit.

The machines i got had the documents in a nice holder inside the panel too. very old school and a nice touch.

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