Controller conversions for a 1991 HAAS VF-1?

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gwerhart0800
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Controller conversions for a 1991 HAAS VF-1?

Postby gwerhart0800 » Wed Jun 28, 2017 10:42 am

Our maker space has been "gifted" a 1991 HAAS VF-1 CNC Mill. It was apparently running when removed from service, but did have occasional issues with the ATC where tool change would fail for some reason. Before attempting to restore the original controller, I wanted to know of anyone had converted one of these to a more modern controller? If so, what did you do for the controller and servo drives? Any chance the conversion was compatible with Mach3/4?

I have seen the MachMotion web site, but their conversions are way out of our price range. I see conversations that only address things like replacing the CRT with an LCD screen or the floppy drive with a USB port.
George Erhart
Loveland, CO
https://lovelandcreatorspace.com

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Bill Shields
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Re: Controller conversions for a 1991 HAAS VF-1?

Postby Bill Shields » Wed Jun 28, 2017 4:29 pm

Careful with ATC problems: sometimes they are in a separate PLC from the actual machine controller.

I am not sure how HAAS does (did?) it -> but I have been in situations where replacing the machine controller did not fix an intermittent ATC problem.

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Gary Armitstead
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Re: Controller conversions for a 1991 HAAS VF-1?

Postby Gary Armitstead » Wed Jun 28, 2017 4:44 pm

George,

At the end of my 40+ year career as a journeyman die sinker (made press forging/steam hammer forging dies), I programmed and operated Haas vertical mills. We had a VF-2 and a VF-4 in those days. This was about 20 years ago. Haas controllers are basically FANUC controllers. 20 years ago, the price for a replacement CRT was around $1000 installed. The "trainer" control was essentially a Haas controller that was not attached to a machine, but you could literally do everything with this controller that you could do on the machine: adjust speeds, feeds, edit programs, transfer programs from a floppy and on and on. The bottom line is that controller was $12,000 at the time. These machines are not cheap to repair and you need a qualified Haas serviceperson to work on these. Having a mill such as yours is great for a "gift", but what you want to do for a conversion could get very, very pricey.

You also mentioned that you wanted to know if you could run Mach3/4. That particular software is much to elementary to be used for a Haas. We used MasterCam v9 (a single "seat" of MasterCam software is $13,000-$14,000) to do our tool paths and had special "post processors" to run the programs in our two Haas vertical mills.

I visited your website for Loveland Creator Space and it's a great idea for the community of engineers, machinists and designers to get together. We have a similar facility out here in Southern California. I would suggest contacting Haas Automation and maybe they might be able to help with a donation" in the form of a service tech to help you solve your "problems" with this machine. The tool changer issues can open a whole new set of issues as far as trouble shooting the problem AND fixing it.
Gary Armitstead
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Re: Controller conversions for a 1991 HAAS VF-1?

Postby Marty_Escarcega » Thu Jun 29, 2017 8:19 pm

Centroid CNC. Industrial control. PLC built in for the ATC. Likely Brushed DC servos on your machine. All in One DC would be the choice. I would NOT use Mach on this. Furthermore, doing a conversion like this is not for the faint of heart. Moving the axis is the easy part. Spindle orient, ATC, integrating with the Spindle drive are more complex issues. You might search out a HAAS tech to see what the issue is and see if you can fix what's there. If there is a problem with the ATC mechanism, a new control won't solve your problem. You might do well to do a thorough cleaning followed by an inspection, and observe the tool changer. Just create a G code with a bunch of tool changes and let it go.

Post a picture of the machine if you can....
Marty
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Re: Controller conversions for a 1991 HAAS VF-1?

Postby Marty_Escarcega » Thu Jun 29, 2017 8:35 pm

Did a search of 1991 VF-1 ATC and came up with this: http://www.practicalmachinist.com/vb/ha ... es-234568/
You need to find out what exactly the problem is with the ATC. Thorough cleaning, inspection and doing a bunch of tool changes is in order. Like was mentioned, maybe a good cleaning and some new grippers?
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Re: Controller conversions for a 1991 HAAS VF-1?

Postby gwerhart0800 » Sun Jul 02, 2017 11:00 am

After reading your inputs, we went back to the folks that donated the mill to us and they are going to have their chief machinist come out to help us restore the mill to working order or at least as close as we can get. It does not appear the conversion to a different controller is in the cards for the moment. We will take a crack at the ATC after the rest is working again. We are now just waiting for some wire to arrive so that we can run power to the mill to get the ball rolling. Thanks to all for the help. This is a big step up from the Tormach 770 that we currently have.
George Erhart
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https://lovelandcreatorspace.com

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Re: Controller conversions for a 1991 HAAS VF-1?

Postby Gary Armitstead » Sun Jul 02, 2017 1:24 pm

George,

Sounds like good news for you with the donor sending his chief machinist out to help with your restoration. The donor is doing the "right thing". He got a nice tax write-off for the donation and you get a great little CNC mill.

Now to the specifics of the issues with the tool changer. If you are not familiar with CNC mill tool changers, I have a couple of points to make. There is a lot of mechanical pieces in these changers that ALL have to work precisely as designed and in the correct order. AND they do this very fast. Marty made a suggestion of programming a few repetitive tool changes into the controller and "letting it go". In my experience with this mill, that might be trouble and you could cause serious harm to the changer mechanism. A single "manual" tool change would be better and much safer for the operator and the mill. I'm just guessing, but I believe that mill had a #40 taper on the holders (again just guessing). These are big holders and very heavy. You CAN get JAMS with these tool changers (at any time in the tool change process!). That can get very "dicey" depending where in the process this occurs. You have to have a manual to walk you through this.......a holder set "cock-eyed" in the changer in either removal of the holder OR replacing the holder back into the changer, a holder that goes not quite "make it to the changer and is dropped on the table (and the work piece!), a completely jammed tool change somewhere in mid-change It won't go forward or backward (this one can be very tricky and dangerous. I know because it has happened to me! Not a great moment :). Manually putting cutters into the spindle and then loading into the tool changer is a very dangerous part of the operation. Keep hands and all fingers as far away from the taper as far as physically possible. The red release button the the face of the spindle housing operates the pneumatic parts of the spindle gripping mechanism that pulls the holder and cutter into the spindle and grabs the grippers on top of each tapered holder. This happens quickly and is very powerful! This will take fingers off in a micro second if fingers are in the "wrong place"! The first time you do it, it is a little scary. but you get used to it. As part of the tool changing process, the spindle housing has to stop at the EXACT height and then the changer comes in from the left side to grab the holder. The grippers then have to release the taper holder. At that moment the spindle housing comes up and the changer moves back into its normal "at rest" position with the holder in its numbered slot and is held there by the changer. If there is another change involved in the program, then the tool changer rotates to the appropriate slot and the cutter is grabbed. Lots of adjustments to getting these changers to work correctly. Not for the faint of heart :).

One last thing to suggest. When getting the electrical hooked up for this machine, think about driving a solid copper rod about one inch in diameter, into the floor and into the ground below. You need to have a proper ground for the machine and the controller. An electrician will know about this.

Good luck in getting this mill hooked up. You can do beautiful work with these :).
Gary Armitstead
Burbank, CA
Member LALS since 1980
Member Goleta Valley Railroad Club 1980-1993

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Re: Controller conversions for a 1991 HAAS VF-1?

Postby Marty_Escarcega » Thu Jul 06, 2017 8:42 am

gwerhart0800 wrote:After reading your inputs, we went back to the folks that donated the mill to us and they are going to have their chief machinist come out to help us restore the mill to working order or at least as close as we can get. It does not appear the conversion to a different controller is in the cards for the moment. We will take a crack at the ATC after the rest is working again. We are now just waiting for some wire to arrive so that we can run power to the mill to get the ball rolling. Thanks to all for the help. This is a big step up from the Tormach 770 that we currently have.


Sounds like a good plan. Do come back and let us know how you made out. A video showing the tool change and issues would be helpful.

Marty
"Jack of all Trades, Master of None"

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Bill Shields
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Re: Controller conversions for a 1991 HAAS VF-1?

Postby Bill Shields » Thu Jul 06, 2017 1:59 pm

I won't describe the nightmare a customer who had a ***** machine that attempted to change a tool at 4000 RPM.

called me up and blamed my software....

duh...like....M6 is M6 -> what else would you like me to do? Suggest you call the machine manufacturer and ask them.

It turned out to be an interrupt problem in the controller communications with the PLC that actually drove the ATC.

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Re: Controller conversions for a 1991 HAAS VF-1?

Postby Marty_Escarcega » Thu Jul 06, 2017 4:56 pm

Bill Shields wrote:I won't describe the nightmare a customer who had a ***** machine that attempted to change a tool at 4000 RPM.

called me up and blamed my software....

duh...like....M6 is M6 -> what else would you like me to do? Suggest you call the machine manufacturer and ask them.

It turned out to be an interrupt problem in the controller communications with the PLC that actually drove the ATC.


Wow. I bet that was scary....shorts cleaning time...
"Jack of all Trades, Master of None"


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