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  #1  
Old Thu 24 June 2010, 19:13
Blue eleven
Just call me: Blue
 
Melbourne
Australia
Ghost in the machine ?... Router creating its own G code

G'day to all you clever folk out there !

I may well be in the wrong forum to discuss this rather long winded problem ( and please let me know if I am ...or direct me to someone who may be able to help if you can )
In a nutshell, it goes something like this.
In mid 2008 I purchase a Chinese made Woodpecker CNC cutting machine manufactured by ROC Machine electronic system engineering, an Optima 1325, through an Australian distributor. It included the router, a computer and Type3 v4.3 machine software. If you google it, you will eventually find it and be able to see its basic tech specs.
The Australian technical support team ( which is basically one person ) had a very basic understanding of the machines parameters, capabilities, limitations and software. So , myself and my operator essentially taught ourselves how to use it and now we actually know more about the machine than the distributor. We have had the following issue since around September last year and the distributor has been unable ( and at times unwilling ) to help us solve the mysterious problem. Hence, I come to you in the hope that you may have an inkling of what may be going on .....
That's the background ....Here's the problem....
All the files at the first stage are generated either in Adobe illustrator and exported as a dxf or they are produced in AutoCAD ( as a dxf ) or they are generated in the Type3 v4.3 machine software itself ....fine.... then as you do, you generate the g code in the type3 and away you go.
In the first few months of having the machine we were cutting fairly simple shapes, squares , circles etc etc and it seemed to perform fairly consistently and accurately. As we started to understand the machine and software better we started to produce complex files, started engraving complex images and generally started to exploit the full potential of the machine. Progressively, over time, the machine started to do wierd things ....
It would happily be cutting away and then just decide to head south or head north or start straying this way or that or even start cutting shapes which weren't even in the file ....basically , it started writing its own G code ?!
It is worth noting that files would never go wrong in identical places. You could run the same file 20 times and each time it would go wrong in a different place ( ? ).....Occasionally even very simple files would go wrong.
So....
Here's what we have investigated -
Was it due to dirty power or a power spike sending the machine off ? .....No, we did a 24hour test on the power supply with the machine running and even when it went wrong no fluctuations or spikes in power were registered
Was it a fault in the mother board ?....No, we have had it replaced
Was it wrongly formatted files from either Adobe illustrator or AutoCAD ? ....No, as even files produced 100% in the type 3 machine software have been faulty.
Was it a foreign body ( eg sand/dust ) on the guide rails or in the worm drive ... No, we had it all pulled appart and rea-assembled.
Was the worm drive bent ? .....No
Was it microwave or electrical interference from a nearby or adjoining building ?..... No
Was there loose or dodgey wiring ? ....not that we have been able to locate
Was it one of the stepper motors malfunctioning ? .....At this stage the very unreliable and unavailable tech guy has only swapped the X drive motor , so I can only say it is not the X drive motor. I am reluctant to believe that it could be the Y motor as periodically both simple or complex files can be cut successfully ( ? )

So.....what else could it be ?
It seems to leave really only a couple of possibilities. One comes from a 'similar' problem that my operator had with a large format printer he has at his house. He would be trying to print something then halfway through the printing the printer would lose the plot and go haywire. He scratched his head about this then increased the RAM on his computer, then hey presto, printer works a charm ..... So does the RAM need to be increased on either the CNC motherboard or in the Computer running the type3 ?
Or ....
Is the type3 software faulty or simply not capable of dealing with complex files ? We are now frequently uninstalling and re-installing it to try and 'clean-up' and speed up the processing power of the software. We also installed an improved graphics driver to help with this. The CNC itself, as we are not running it via ethernet, takes files from a ( maximum ) 2GB stick, so we are frequently re formatting the stick to try and get any ghostys out of it. All these things to no avail.
I have sent some of the 'faulty' files to the tech support guy ( who has the 4 x 4 version of the identical machine ) ... They have also not worked on his machine .....This is an important point isn't it ......However, he has no technical/software knowledge to be able to tell me why (???). He has also sent these files to the manufacturer in China to see if they can tell us why they are not working ....Essentially , they are not returning his calls...they claim to have produced thousands of these machines, none of which have been faulty ( which I believe for the record )....My distributor here has also had no complaints from anyone he has sold other machines to in Australia, but noted that no one he has sold to here cuts files anywhere near as complicated as the ones we produce....but, to re-itterate , we are also having simple files go astray from time to time.

Can anyone enlighten me on this ?
Are any of you out there Type3 v4.3 wizards ?
Has anyone ever had a similar problem ?
or is my machine simply becoming intelligent and likely to become sentient ???

Please find attached a dxf exported from Adobe illustrator which proved to be 'uncuttable'

Please help !
Blue
Attached Files
File Type: dxf CNC test 200420052006.dxf (257.1 KB, 28 views)
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  #2  
Old Thu 24 June 2010, 21:12
David Bryant
Just call me: David #99
 
Western Australia
Australia
Hi Blue

http://www.cnczone.com/forums/showthread.php?t=101786
discusses type 3 bugs

Mach3 wizards can do strange things if the software is not licenced and there is a limit to the number of lines that can be run.

Some ghosts are cool, but not so this one
Cheers
David

Last edited by David Bryant; Thu 24 June 2010 at 21:18.. Reason: mistake on earlier post
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  #3  
Old Thu 24 June 2010, 21:37
Blue eleven
Just call me: Blue
 
Melbourne
Australia
Hi David,
You're very right ...this ghost is not cool....in fact it's high maintenance and quite costly. I just checked the program properties and it actually titles itself as ' Type3 v4.3 simplified Chinese' .....mmmmm......sounds interested huh.
As this machine and its software is the only one I've ever used or known I never thought twice about it. I did start scrounging around the internet to see if anyone else was having issues with it and the strange thing was I couldn't locate this particular software anywhere. Like you mention above , I found Type3 mach 3 and a whole lot of other CAD/CAM programs , but not the particular one which I have.
Would it be reasonable to assume that the maunfacturers of my machine have done a deal with Type3 in which they have purchased the rights to a 'simplified' version of the top end Type3 software which has just enough features for very basic programming and cutting ....hence its falling over when I do anything even remotely complicated ?
Also, when you say ' there is a limited number of lines that can be run ' what exactly does that mean in laymans terms ?
Cheers
Scotty
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  #4  
Old Thu 24 June 2010, 21:42
domino11
Just call me: Heath
 
Cornwall, Ontario
Canada
Unregistered copies of Mach can only run a limited amount of gcode lines and then it will stop. Registered (paid for) Mach 3 does not have this limitation.
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  #5  
Old Thu 24 June 2010, 21:47
David Bryant
Just call me: David #99
 
Western Australia
Australia
Hi Scotty
Here we are using Mach 3 not Type 3 when the limit was hit with the number of lines the g code just stopped. we have just got the lic and I have to install this and retest.
Some wizards in Mach 3 were "funny" and did perculiar things and a note on the forum said to expect this on the demo system.

If you are up to the challenge you could load a computer with a licensed version of Mach 3 and redo the engineering to ensure that this software can drive your hardware. This would only cost less than AUD$200 for lic software and demo is free. You would have to do the work to load and test to determine what your hardware is and how it is wired etc.
Cheers
David
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  #6  
Old Thu 24 June 2010, 21:48
Blue eleven
Just call me: Blue
 
Melbourne
Australia
Uh huh .....
The only thing that I find strange about this is the fact that the cutting never corrupts at the same point. As I mentioned above, you can run the same cut file many times and it will always go wrong at a differnet point. Wouldn't it always stop or go haywire at the same spot if there are only X amount of of gcode lines available ?
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  #7  
Old Thu 24 June 2010, 21:52
Blue eleven
Just call me: Blue
 
Melbourne
Australia
Interesting David .....I might have a squizz at that forum and then have a go with the Mach 3 software .....
Thanks for the tip

Scotty
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  #8  
Old Fri 25 June 2010, 05:17
KenC
Just call me: Ken
 
Klang
Malaysia
All the symptom of EFI, but I take your word for it that it isn't. Then it boils down to only software issues.
When I run My EMC2, I do get similar problem but not to those you get. Then I learnt that pendrive (which I use as the main harddrive) do give jitter because of its reading speed.. I increase the total jitter time & then the problem disappeared.
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  #9  
Old Fri 25 June 2010, 05:31
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blue eleven View Post
. . . .
All the files at the first stage are generated either in Adobe illustrator and exported as a dxf or they are produced in AutoCAD ( as a dxf ) or they are generated in the Type3 v4.3 machine software itself ....fine.... then as you do, you generate the g code in the type3 and away you go. . .
If your Type3 can read .dxf. then it is not the equivalent of Mach3. Mach3 only reads g-code.
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  #10  
Old Fri 25 June 2010, 05:37
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blue eleven View Post
..... Progressively, over time, the machine started to do wierd things ....
It would happily be cutting away and then just decide to head south or head north or start straying this way or that or even start cutting shapes which weren't even in the file ....basically , it started writing its own G code ?!......
I agree with Ken, it sounds like plain old electrical problems; bad joints, corrosion, cables breaking up internally.

But, if it suddenly cuts nice new extra circles, then it could be a failure in the software.
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  #11  
Old Fri 25 June 2010, 05:39
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
Type3 lives here: http://www.type3.com/EN/corporate/corporate_us.php
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  #12  
Old Sat 26 June 2010, 17:16
chrisd7306
Just call me: Chris
 
Melbourne
Australia
To narrow down the problem if it is hardware or software, get the g-code file (that copy you sent to the technical support which is thought to be faulty) and submit it to a g-code simulator. Some G-code simulator software is available as free-ware or shareware, google "G-code simulator software" and start the search for demo version or freeware etc....

This software will execute the g-code line by line and draw it on the screen. If the problem occurs in the simulation the g-code is faulty and the path of generating the g-code should be looked at.

If no problem is found in the simulator it is a hardware problem.

I remember reading a post some time ago about problems similar to this and it was traced back to earthing. The company was American and they had spent a fortune in time and lost productivity. It was a white paper that was attached to a post on this site, have a look in the "earthing section" and I think it was posted by Gerard.

I am based in Melbourne so if you want to discuss over phone, send me a mail with contact number etc... (I used to do this sort of stuff professionally for 25 years until I got out of computing, sorting out hardware and software issues. I saw the light and got my life back!!!!)

cheers
Chris
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  #13  
Old Sat 26 June 2010, 17:29
chrisd7306
Just call me: Chris
 
Melbourne
Australia
Found article, go to Wiring and Cable management on this site, look for Grounding or earthing go to post 5 on page 1 but have a read of this whole thread it might give you some ideas and what to look for.

cheers
Chris
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  #14  
Old Sat 26 June 2010, 19:04
chrisd7306
Just call me: Chris
 
Melbourne
Australia
On re-reading your problem, the line, "It would happily be cutting away and then just decide to head south or head north or start straying this way or that or even start cutting shapes which weren't even in the file ....basically , it started writing its own G code ?!" gives me the best clue that the problem could be in the computer - either memory management or the physical memory or hard disk. When you replaced the mother board, did you replace the memory or hard disk? Memory chips do fail occasionally and one of the symptoms is getting random errors similarly for faulty hard disk. In this situation you might be getting merger of a number of g-code files which would explain new shapes embedding in the file. Even when files are removed from the system or you reformat a disk, there is still a copy left on the disk. You can get back files after a reformat using various specialised disk utilities.

When was the last time you did a disk clean and a defrag?

Do a clean disk and then a defrag. You will be surprised at how much you clean up and how much space you get back. Also the performance will greatly increase as the disk is now contiguous and not broken up.

Also run check disk to do a full analysis on the disk to flag all the bad sectors etc.... If you get a lot of bad sectors the disk drive is faulty or it is on its way out.

I hope this does not over whelm you but most of these tasks a easy and do not cost anything. I would first clean the system, then a defrag, followed by a check disk, then start looking at the memory.

I am surprised at how many problem disappear when you follow these initial tasks especially the clean and defrag.

For computer systems that are using a lot of graphics eg CAD, you should shut down your PC then restart not a reboot every 4 or 5 hours. When you do a restart from cold, memory checking is performed and cleans/reorganises memory. AutoCAD is notorious for poor memory management and inefficient in cleaning up memory when editing/creating drawings (as the drawing session progresses in time, more memory is consumed until none is left then it crashes). How often have I heard this!!!!!!
If you are using the same computer to do CAD and CAM, after finishing the CAD drawings and generated the g-code, I would restart the PC to clean out the memory then do the CAM from a clean system.

I hope some of these ideas give you some insight and help
Cheers
Chris
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  #15  
Old Sun 27 June 2010, 00:19
lumberjack_jeff
Just call me: Jeff #31
 
Montesano, WA
United States of America
a) read the thread about grounding.
b) "start cutting shapes that weren't even in the file" When my router misses steps, it appears that it is doing exactly this... but it's not. It may be executing the y moves and only some of the x moves, creating extremely unexpected shapes.

I'm an EMC fan, so I can't give any relevant advice... except to suggest you make sure that your step rate isn't exceeding your system's speed limit. e.g. make sure all other applications are turned off and the machine controller software has as close to real time access to the drivers as possible.
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  #16  
Old Sun 27 June 2010, 17:46
Blue eleven
Just call me: Blue
 
Melbourne
Australia
Howdy all,
Firstly , please excuse the delay of my reply ...9 to 5 , 5 days a week, but back on board today ...
Secondly ...to ask a question of myself ....Why did I not put this question out to you guys months ago ???
I cannot tell you how happy it makes me to hear advice from people who actually know what they're talking about and have a genuine knowledge of CNC software and machinery !
I will spend the next few days going through all your above suggestions and see what happens with the machine performance .... At the very least you have given me a software maintenance schedule which I had no idea needed to be applied to keep things running smoothly.
Chris, it's great to know that you got your life back ( ! ) so I will try everything I can to get the machine going before I give you a buzz and drag you back into this mystery world !
Wish me luck and thank you all again .... I will keep you posted as to the outcome
Cheers
Scotty
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  #17  
Old Fri 30 July 2010, 10:03
toad
Just call me: Toad #80
 
Burlington NC
United States of America
Scottie,

The only other thing I can think of is that the vacuum hose for dust collection is not grounded properly . I had that happen, and must have scrambulled the g code because the router went where it wanted very randomly.

Toad
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  #18  
Old Sun 01 August 2010, 16:35
Blue eleven
Just call me: Blue
 
Melbourne
Australia
Thanks Toad ....
We did also investigate this at one point earlier on as my operator was periodically getting 'zapped' by the hose .... I can't remember why we put this off the possible cause list, but maybe i should re-investigate it.
Question - How did you mange to resolve the grounding issue with your vacuum hose ?

Cheers,
Scotty
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  #19  
Old Sun 01 August 2010, 23:23
KenC
Just call me: Ken
 
Klang
Malaysia
a conductive strip placed along the inside wall of the duct & ground it.

Managed to solve your erratic machine movements?
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  #20  
Old Sun 01 August 2010, 23:42
Blue eleven
Just call me: Blue
 
Melbourne
Australia
Would some steel or copper wire do the trick Ken ?
.....as for the Ghost ? ......still there....but I'll have a go at grounding the vacuum hose

....otherwise I'll just hit it with a hammer !
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  #21  
Old Mon 02 August 2010, 09:39
toad
Just call me: Toad #80
 
Burlington NC
United States of America
Good day,
My hose was replaced with one that had a wire embedded in the hose itseld. I just had to ground it to the machine, the machine was allready grounded. I found mine when it finally took out my BOB, and the manufacturer suggested that static electricity is what took it out.

Good luck

Toad
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  #22  
Old Mon 02 August 2010, 21:00
KenC
Just call me: Ken
 
Klang
Malaysia
Blue, any bare exposed conductor will do, you can always try copper wire.

You may also want to tune your motor too. try setting your motor max speed or acceleration lower. This can cause motor slip too.
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  #23  
Old Mon 02 August 2010, 22:12
Blue eleven
Just call me: Blue
 
Melbourne
Australia
Fair call .... I'll get it grounded and see what happens

Cheers
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