Older info for the Hardinge - What not to do!!


The machine as it is now:

   Hardinge HCNC Serial # 520, Bought new in 1980 and the AB control always had a problem to work on although the machine itself worked great but the control always fell on its ass.  The control finally gave up the ghost - the back motherboard seems to be shorting out I/O boards as fast as I can repair them. 

   Went out and looked around, regretfully found Ajax/Centroid retrofit kit and of course got screwed. 

   Condition of machine now:  controls have been removed, encoders have been installed, axes do move although at about 2 to 1 ratio, computer of course runs.  Ajax's controller burned out the tool post encoder (actually burned a hole through it - I guess I better check the voltage going to it).  DC motor is still hooked to the spindle with Ajax's recommended DC controller hooked up to it.  Ajax did not know that there was a 90 volt electric brake on the motor and of course had no control for it.  After I jury rigged a voltage line and connected it to release the brake, I can get the motor to turn about 50 rpm. but it growls like hell (I've put the Hardinge induction transformer in line on the plus side of the motor and that might be the problem.  Anybody with info? )

  Direction this project needs to go:   Artsoft or EMC control software , if useable, readily available servo controllers with encoder feedback, 0-10 volt controller with encoder feedback for spindle, control programming, circuit for 8 position turret, the possibility of using Ajax's software (Ajax is using the free version of EMC and claiming it as copyrighted material, (they left the penguin in), they even sent it to China as far as I can determine to modify it for use with their controller - someone out there ought to be able to reconfigure it for use with standard, readily available components for everyone to use and of course we will keep and use the free license arrangement for the EMC controller software (I think we all paid for this software as it is a government project and their license says freely available to the public - I wonder). 

   The servo motors were good so I reused them, jury rigged a 90 volt DC power supply so the controller could run them.  I just talked to somebody about supplying 90 volt DC 10 amp power supplies to drive each servo motor.  Hopefully he will come back with a reasonable price and availability.  The power supply I am using now was purchased from Ajax but if you supply 120 volt AC to it, it gives you the wrong voltage.  I had to install an adjustable transformer and adjust that to get the proper 90 volt DC supply out of this unit (not the way to go, but then that is Ajax/Centroid's misinformation and doing things the hard way so you have to hire their technicians for a supposedly DIY project). 

   Please use this email n120445  at  hotmail.com  for all correspondence and questions.  I'm using hotmail because the spambots will pick this up in a hurry.  Obviously you need to use the @ symbol and take out the spaces to make that address useful.  Sorry about the inconvenience but I don't need all the spam. 

   The information that we accrue on this site to, hopefully, successfully retrofit this Hardinge will be left here for everybody.  We will of course post where you can buy the various components so everybody can retrofit their Hardinge's at a reasonable and sustainable cost. 

  Some Pics of the fried tool turret encoder. I don't think a 12 volt supply can do this much damage. 

Pic 1  Pic 2  Pic 3

More Info on the Hardinge HCNC Project

These 2 pics, Pic 1  Pic 2 show the back end of the spindle with a new encoder installed and the wiring opened.  I installed all of the encoders into the existing Hardinge wiring to avoid disturbing everything by running new cables.  Even though the cables are 26 years old, if they still conduct required voltages, it ain't broke so it doesn't have to be fixed.  There is an extra wire in the encoder cable that you have to dig out and use for the 8th wire on the encoder. 

This pic Pic 3  shows my version of bread boarding the required circuits.  Wood is cheap, a great insulator, and not easily dropped. 

These pics Pic 4  Pic 5  Pic 6  show the back of x axis (cross slide) with the replacement encoder in place and hooked up to the original Hardinge wiring for the resolver and tach. 

This pic Pic 7  is the z axis encoder replaced and wired in. 

All these cables that I am using are the original Hardinge cables that went to the AB control and followed Ajax instructions about cutting the plugs off which for the next two machines I know better.  Given that the wires are all hooked up to terminal blocks where they can go into the rest of the circuitry. 

Of course, I am not going to hook up any more of Ajax's equipment to burn out another $600 encoder. 

I also got the dc motor running with a dc driver that runs off +/- 10 v from the computer driver.  But the first thing that you have to do is pull a 90 v dc line from the axis servo motor power supply and release the brake before you crank up the spindle.  Ajax/Centroid didn't know there was such a brake system on this motor and to this day are clueless about incorporating it into their system. 

Other info I have found out: a lot of the machine control software uses step and direction control which makes the servo motor act as a stepper because it is counting each pulse of the encoder to make the axis movement.  This isn't going to do well for finishes on a lathe never mind tool life.  A sample program for this is Artsoft machine control software.  Another program I found is EMC2 which uses the proper output signals to control the axis.  The only problem is that software is not really setup for lathe control until their next release. 

If there is anybody with a work around for this problem please contact me at n120445 -- hotmail.com.

It's Halloween - Time for an Update - Finally

It's been a while and a lot has been going on. I finally scraped the shit of Ajax/Centroid off my shoes.  I filed a complaint with the Attorney General's office in PA but nothing really happened.  Being a business they are not really interested in helping and $6,000 wasn't enough for them to notice.  Jesse whats-his-face offered up a little over $4,000 and thought he was being generous.  He was just trying to run out the two year statute of limitations.  About a week before it ran out I sued his ass in small claims court, blew away the smoke blowing lawyer he sent in (he never showed up personally), and won a judgment for over $6,000.  That included the cost of that blown out turret encoder and my money back for the dc driver that he said I would need and he could never get working.  Ajax/Centroid sent a rep up to my town and we met at a notary public office where I turned the merchandise over to him for cash in settlement of the judgment.  Good riddance to bad trash.  The only thing I did keep was the three encoders because they were mounted to the machine and were the only things that worked. 

If you are reading this and you have had Bad dealings with Ajax, do the next guy a favor and file a complaint with the Attorney General's office of PA even if the statute of limitations is done.  If enough people across the country complain, maybe they will do something to force him to clean up his act and stop screwing his customers.

I started working on hooking other stuff up to the machine and found out that along with the burned out turret encoder they also wiped out the three hall effect switches for x axis limits and home and the turret down hall effect switch.  That took a few days and alot of soldering to fix.  The picture of the new encoder has a taped up yellow wire next to it which is the turret hall effect switch.  I could have gotten one from Hardinge long enough for about $75 but I wound up with two surplus ones with shorter wires when I took the resolver and tach assemblies out, so I wound up splicing them right there out of the way of everything.  The few times I engaged the turret manually the switch operated beautifully.  The Ajax unit did something really weird to this and it had nothing to do with the 12v supply as it is crossed wired to the z axis switches and they were fine.  Hopefully this will just become a bad nightmare and everything I am putting in there will work fine. 

These six pictures show the machine as they are right now.  Pic 1  Pic 2  Pic 3  Pic 4 Pic 5  Pic 6  I have Rutex drivers controlling the axis with the limit switches working.  I have ArtSoft Mach3 running with the home switches working.  The fellow in Australia who makes the ModIO card is working on a turret program and when that is done I will list it on this site for all to have.  I'm at a crossroads of deciding whether to put in an ac motor with a VFC controller or try to find a dc servo controller for the existing dc 4 hp motor for the spindle.  It would be a shame to get rid of a working spindle motor and 90v dc power supply just to update it to an ac motor.  I'm still wondering which would be easier on the electric bill. 

When I'm all done, all the stuff that has been mounted on the board will go back into the electrical cabinet which I will reattach to the machine.  Ajax instructions are that you remove this large cabinet and put a smaller one on which means you also have to replace main disconnects and a whole lot of other stuff that works in the old cabinet.  Really a bad idea.  Too bad I didn't wise up sooner.  Ajax also has you cut the connectors off the cables and tie them to a terminal strip.  On the next two machines that I have to do I am just going to plug them into DB25 break out cards which will make a much nicer job. 

I think on the next machine I will try out EMC as that seems to be able to drive the axis up to the 200 inches per minute like the Allan Bradley controls were driving.  I should be able to update more often as things are moving along a lot faster now.