Jul 5 11

Ajax CNC FAQ’s

Ajax CNC General Frequently Asked Questions
This is a general CNC and retrofit FAQ.
1. I’m converting my own manual machine to CNC, do I have to use ballscrews?

Manual machine screws are typically ACME style thread which is great for a manual machine but have way too much friction and backlash for a CNC. With ACME thread you can reduce the backlash by tightening up the nut, but you’ll get a lot of friction which is too hard on the axis motors.

Ballscrews give you the best of both worlds, low friction and very little backlash. We have backlash compensation capability in the control. It is a standard feature — easy to set up and easy use. When combined with a repeatable ballscrew, this feature will reduce your machine backlash to a typical value of below .0005″!

Ballscrews make the machine perform like a real CNC — and that’s the whole idea. Conventional and climb milling operations can be intermixed without concern. Climb milling (where the cutting forces are pulling the cutter in the direction of cut) are not possible without ballscrews and no anti-backlash software can accommodate that.

2. Does AjaxCNC sell ballscrew and motor mount kits for knee mills?

No, But one of our best dealers does! Click here for information on the best manual-to-CNC conversion hardware available for your Bridgeport knee mill or Bridgeport clone. Made in the USA with several patents, this gear is the best.

3. How easy is the CNC to use

?Our CNC control has been designed by machinists who use it everyday. Our part and tool setups are the most straight-forward in the industry. We have simplified CNC. It’s so natural most customers just “pick it up” without even reading the manual! All our CNC controls come with Intercon conversational programming which will get you making parts faster then any other method! You simply enter the dimensions from your print and answer a few questions (hence “conversational” programming) and Intercon creates the part program for you. You can instantly view the program graphically and make changes at any point.

4. Can I use my existing motors?

Yes. If your motors are in good shape, it’s cheaper to use the existing servo motors. You may only have to update the feedback method. Many old servo motors used resolvers and tachometers. In that case, you simply replace these old components with our new modern 2000 line (8000 count per rev) encoders. This holds down the cost and labor of mounting new motors plus ensures that the motors are sized right for your machine. Our control can drive DC brush servo motors up to 110 volt DC at 15 amps. Many 80′s and 90′s CNC controls used motors of this type. Analiam, Fanuc, Fagor, Dynapath, Bridgeport, Heidenhain to name a few.

Even though you can use your existing motors, be sure not to try to reuse “bad” motors. Motors with worn out brushes and commutators should be replaced! Our new motor prices are the best in the business — click here to see our new motors.

5. When retrofitting, can I reuse my old control components?

Yes. Often the DC power supplies, spindle motor inverters and all the contactors and fuse blocks, disconnects, solenoids, lube pumps, flood pumps, etc of an existing control can be reused! This saves you time and money. Spindle motor inverters that accept 0 to 10 vdc speed input (almost all) can be used. Closed loop for Rigid tapping or open loop can be used.

6. How long will this take?

Most companies cannot afford to take months “off” to get a machine back to being productive. The learning curve for a AjaxCNC is approximately one fifth of the time needed when compared to most CNCs. AND it’s much much faster to install and learn than than those software-only packages. Our software actually installs in minutes and the CNC user interface has been created for you. Unlike other systems, with an AjaxCNC no extra time and effort is necessary to create setup menus and screens. Complete control installation can be done in 2 to 3 days for most common types of knee mills, bed mills, lathes, lasers, router tables, etc.

7. What about maintenance and repair?

Maintenance and repair are no longer an issue. Be the master of your own machine. Self diagnostics are part of each control. When it comes to spare parts, you can use off-the-shelf INEXPENSIVE personal computer parts purchased from local sources. As you know, the problem with all those old CNC controls is that the parts are expensive and hard to find OR they don’t exist anymore! How long can you be down? You shouldn’t need to rely on others, we can teach you how to service, support, maintain, and upgrade the complete control and replace any part yourself. All Ajax CNC control components are available online 24 hours a day. Click here to view our individual CNC components.

8. Will this help eliminate downtime?

The idea of being able to replace the CNC controller with a spare computer is a good one. To swap out the old computer with a new computer, the old computer will create a “config backup” automatically. This file will fit onto a floppy disk and is small enough to be e-mailed. With a config backup, you can restore the control configuration settings and PLC logic to a new computer in seconds. In the unlikely event that the problem is the motion or servo/io card, you can replace either of these without disturbing the wires, control settings or logic. Replacing either one of these CNC components only takes a few minutes. This is much easier than a “standard” control since they have hard wiring and external PLC devices with ladder logic burned into them. With an Ajax CNC, the logic is running in the computer.

The handheld control pendant is also another good idea because it uses a standard DB15 cable connection that can be unplugged by the user and replaced in 5 seconds. The handheld controller replaces all the operator interface buttons, lights, knobs and handwheel. The computer’s keyboard contains the rest. Think of it this way, you can keep on hand a off-the-shelf computer from the store and any other spare parts you need. If a control breaks, you can swap out the broken computer with a new computer to replace any control for any machine type at any time. You just have to save the config backup file onto a flash drive to restore that particular control’s settings and part programs. It will even remember your part zeros and tool setup info!

9.Where is the retrofit done?

You can do the installation yourself, in your own shop, within your own time frame or have one of our Tech Reps come to you on an as-needed basis. Do what you can to save time and labor costs and call us to finish the rest. Save on shipping/rigging cost. Especially if you have a large machine, you don’t want to have to truck the machine all over creation.

10. How easy is the CNC to install?

Anyone with PC skills and with basic electrical knowledge of simple power supply and relay circuitry will have no problem following our step by step instructions. Alternatively if you have excellent mechanical skills you can do all the mechanical tasks — saving labor costs — and call us to finish the rest.

11. Can I use scale input for my Z axis quill and have the control display as a DRO?

Yes. You can use scale input in “straight” DRO mode (typical 2 axis setup) OR use the scale in “Z axis summing” mode. Which is where you have both a Z axis endcoder on the motor and a scale on the quill. This feature is very cool, it allows you to have both manual and CNC positional control of the Z axis.

12. Why is my new servo motor so much more powerful than my old stepper motor of the same size?

Servos produce more torque at any speed than comparable stepper motors. This can be up to 400% more torque for equally rated motors. Servos are under closed-loop control via their encoders, allowing additional power to be sent to the motor when resistance is encountered. Steppers, on the other hand, will simply stall and lose their position relative to the control — resulting in improperly machined parts. Click here to to learn more about the typical torque and rpm curves when comparing steppers to servos.

13. I want to build my own PC. What components do you suggest?

Minimum Computer Requirements:Intel i3 2120 or AMD  A8 5600 CPU, 4GB RAM, Windows 7/8, 1 Free Ethernet Port,

1 Free Ethernet Port Or Wireless with Internet access for TeamViewer Remote Support

TeamViewer Ajax/CENTROID Remote Support Hardware requirements.

Required CNC control PC internet connection hardware options.

1.) Hard wired Ethernet connection: add a 2nd Ethernet port

a.) Preferred is a PCI Nic card.  $10 plugs into empty PCI slot on CNC PC mother board
b.) 2nd choice USB to Ethernet port (RJ45) dongle  $13

2.) WiFi connection

a.) Preferred hardware is PCI wifi card, plugs into empty PCI slot on CNC PC motherboard $16
b.) 2nd choice is high gain USB wifi dongle.  $17

14. Can I use single phase power to run my three phase spindle motor?

Yes, and without the expense and difficulty of a phase converter! Simply use an Inverter/VFD that accepts single phase power ( most newer models do) and let it create its own three-phase, which is much more stable than ANY phase converter can produce. Just make sure to buy an Inverter rated for one size larger spindle motor ( ex. 2HP Spindle, 3HP Inverter). Go to www.ajaxcnc.com/partsources.htm to see where we buy ours!

15. What type of CAD/CAM compatability does the Centroid CNC software offer?

The Ajax CNC control runs on industry standard G and M codes.
CENTROID/Ajax post processors have been created for most all popular CAD/CAM systems which will output the proper G&M codes from your geometry (DXF etc) to run on our control.
If your CAD/CAM System does not have a CENTROID/Ajax post processor you have several choices.

1.) The Ajax/CENTROID CNC control uses standard G and M codes which are very close to FANUC OM style codes.

Choose a FANUC OM post processor in your CAD/CAM system to output FANUC OM style G&M codes.

Often it only takes elimination of the “%” sign at the beginning of a FANUC style g code program to run on a CENTROID/Ajax CNC control for simple programs containing simple commands like rapids, lines, arcs.

Use any text editor to eliminate the “%” from the g code program.  The CAD/CAM outputted G code is easy to test/debug, simply graph the G code program, if it graphs on the CENTROID/Ajax control, it will run.

If you don’t have a control handy for testing, you can also use our offline demo software to graph a g code program to test as well.

2.) Contact your CAD/CAM system manufacture to request a CENTROID compatible post processor.  Here is a link to all of our G and M code definitions (which is also in the users manual.) that they will need to create a proper post processor.

A contact list for CAD/CAM manufactures post-processors can be found here.

3.) Edit an existing post processor (like a FANUC OM post processer)that came with your CAD/CAM system yourself to output CENTROID/Ajax compatible G and M codes.  (Often editing an existing post processor is simpler than creating a new one from scratch.)

This option depends on your CAD/CAM system, some systems make editing your own available, others do not.