Author Topic: Bluetooth DRO on X1 and X3 mills  (Read 12278 times)

Offline Firebird

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Bluetooth DRO on X1 and X3 mills
« on: December 15, 2013, 05:51:29 PM »
Hi

One of the best things I have done is to fit DRO's to my milling machines. No more counting turns of the handwheels and losing my place and no need to worry about backlash anymore. The cheaper chinese scales are ok but not very user friendly I have found. Adding remote displays greatly improves the usability. I have found that they are not 100% reliable, losing the position can be very frustrating. One of the main problems is the little connector on the end of the wire that plugs into the scale. If its not in the socket dead right the signal is lost. Eventually they do pack up altogether. I have had to replace the scales on my X1 mill and have used a new type that has the wire hard wired into the scale and a mini USB plug at the other end that plugs into the small display, much better and they seem to be more reliable. The scales on my X3 mill are also getting unreliable so I decided to change them as well. The readouts that come with these scales are ok but a bit on the small side and difficult to see in certain lights because they are not back lit but otherwise function well. I bought the scales from a company called arceurotrade, I have no affiliation with them just a satisfied customer.





Quite by accident I came across a guy that has used these scales to bluetooth the data to an android tablet. I roped in my good mate Julian who knows a thing or two about clever electronics and he soon came up with the goods.

This is the little box of tricks needed to run it.



Powered by a 9volt power supply



I set up on my X1 mill first to try it out.



This is the two new scales for the X3 mill. I have the extra long table on my mill so had to buy the 40" scale + an 8" scale. They can be cut down to the required size.







The little magic box can easily be swopped between the two mills but Julian is going to build me another one.

The app, Touch DRO, is free and can be downloaded on any android device (version 4 or newer)



It has quite a lot of usefull functions.

Finally heres a bit of video

feature=share&list=UUxFK_42ytjP4_lA4B2pscxg

Cheers

Rich

Offline Graham G

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Re: Bluetooth DRO on X1 and X3 mills
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2013, 11:28:34 PM »
 ;D that is sooooo nice and easy to use (user friendly too), does that mean you can ring your mill, set the accordance and have the work done before you get home ha ha.
cheers
Graham :whoohoo:

Offline Firebird

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Re: Bluetooth DRO on X1 and X3 mills
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2013, 11:39:27 AM »
Hi

It looks like its going to be a great bit of kit. I understand the app will be upgraded to 4 axis and there should be a pc based version out next month.

Cheers and a happy new year to all  :cheers:

Rich

Offline Jasonb

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Re: Bluetooth DRO on X1 and X3 mills
« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2013, 01:14:16 PM »
Rich, can you switch between machines without loosing the position of the scales? and can you turn off the app and come back to it the next day and still have the same readings on the axis?

J

Offline ttrikalin

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Re: Bluetooth DRO on X1 and X3 mills
« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2013, 02:20:42 PM »
Rich, can you switch between machines without loosing the position of the scales? and can you turn off the app and come back to it the next day and still have the same readings on the axis?
J

i would think that depends on the scales not the DRO app; the scales must allow for absolute position encoding, otherwise even if one were to muster a software based solution, it would not be reliable... I might be wrong here..

tom
take care,

tom in MA

Offline Firebird

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Re: Bluetooth DRO on X1 and X3 mills
« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2013, 04:06:55 PM »
Hi

I haven't tried switching between machines but I doubt it would work. Blue tooth will only allow one devise to connect at any one time. To switch between machines I have to disconnect the devise then pair it to the other machine.  For that reason julian is building another for me. Each bluetooth devise can then be paired to the tablet so I only need the one tablet. I suppose if you were rich enough you could have 10" tablets all round the workshop  :lolb: but sadly thats not me :'(

Cheers

Rich

Offline Barneydog

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Re: Bluetooth DRO on X1 and X3 mills
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2013, 09:20:09 PM »
Hi All,

The box resets everytime it is powered up so will not retain the reading as it zero's on a reset



Regards

Julian

Offline NickG

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Re: Bluetooth DRO on X1 and X3 mills
« Reply #7 on: January 01, 2014, 02:41:39 PM »
This looks good Rich, I've got 1 scale from last xmas to try which I think has the cable hard wired
And a separate display, however, I now also have a 'spare' cheap 7" android tablet that should be good enough for the purpose of a DRO - not sure whether it's got Bluetooth though, could this be hard wired in or is that the unreliable bit with the cables moving? Is there
Anywhere these Bluetooth boxes of tricks can be bought? Doesn't
Look a simple thing to make!

Offline Firebird

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Re: Bluetooth DRO on X1 and X3 mills
« Reply #8 on: January 01, 2014, 03:59:42 PM »
Hi Nick

I'll give Julian a nudge to answer your questions, he's the electronic wizard. The box contains a circuit board with a programmable chip, the blue tooth transciever and 3 mini usb connections. If you can follow electrical plans and solder very small components together you could make your own. What Julian did is to design and then cnc machine a small circuit board onto which all the components fit. If there is enough interest he is looking into making them.

Cheers

Rich

Offline NickG

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Re: Bluetooth DRO on X1 and X3 mills
« Reply #9 on: January 01, 2014, 08:19:46 PM »
Thanks Rich, I can solder reasonably well but probably couldn't manage to do the circuit board myself. although I do remember etching a circuit board once in the dim and distant past so that would be possible I guess! Just checked my tablet and it doesn't appear to have Bluetooth capability but the app can connect via mini USB which it has. Having said that, it also doubles as the power socket
So wouldn't be ideal. I know you can get good 7" tablets for around the 100 mark now though.

Offline Firebird

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Re: Bluetooth DRO on X1 and X3 mills
« Reply #10 on: January 01, 2014, 08:58:06 PM »
Hi Nick

I have sent Julian a text so he should reply shortly. I'm pretty sure it has to be blue tooth thats how the design works. I don't think it has to be a good tablet just v4 or later with blue tooth. Heres one for 50.00 from tesco

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/ICONIA-B1-A71-8GB-ANDROID-4-1-JELLYBEAN-TABLET-WI-FI-7-DISPLAY-BLUETOOTH-/400616633719?pt=UK_iPad_Tablets_eReaders&hash=item5d469cb577#ht_2883wt_1199

Don't forget if you have an android phone that will work too.

Cheers

Rich

Offline NickG

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Re: Bluetooth DRO on X1 and X3 mills
« Reply #11 on: January 01, 2014, 09:08:30 PM »
Great stuff, do have an old android phone but the display will be a little small. That tablet you put in the link looks ideal. Could get a relatively cheap DRO setup here and if you protect the scales like you have even better. Thanks for sharing.

Offline Barneydog

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Re: Bluetooth DRO on X1 and X3 mills
« Reply #12 on: January 01, 2014, 09:29:45 PM »
Hi.

I wish I could claim all the kudos for this system but I cannot. The guy who wrote the app also supplies the program for the microprocessor and the circuit design. His design involved soldering the cables into the circuit board but we wanted to allow the leads to just plug in. I chose to draw the circuit to engrave it on my cnc mill. I drew it to have the least number of lines and re-allocated the pins used in the program so it made engraving and soldering as easy as possible. The mill engraves the board in two minutes. The beauty of it now is that I can do as many as I want or need to. I also originally did a connection wrong so the drawing was corrected and the boards now cut correctly every time. Some of the soldering is very tight and small mostly in the areas at the micro sockets. There are five pins to solder within an area 2mm by 4mm. I used a head mounted magnifying glass just to see and check all the engraving and to do the soldering. Providing the board is correctly and carefully done any other changes are done with the software. The microprocessor is programmed from a laptop. The program for this is beyond me to write from scratch but I can see what the different parts do so have altered some of it like the pins used. After a couple of hic-ups which I prefer to regard as learning both these boxes are crack-on and accurate to two decimal places that is 0.01mm. I suspect this is more than good enough for most of us.

The design of the circuit itself is done only for Bluetooth but I am sure it can be changed to hardwired usb cable as the I believe the app allows. The Bluetooth is easy to set up and use on any android device with version four android and better. There are more and more tablets coming onto the market with the prices dropping every day so that's probably the way to go. You can also get second hand and new phones cheaply now especially from china. Alternative is on a windows machine when the program arrives.

I am looking at building some of these boxes and selling them soon or alternatively I can supply an engraved board and components. Not worked out prices yet.

Julian

Offline NickG

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Re: Bluetooth DRO on X1 and X3 mills
« Reply #13 on: January 01, 2014, 10:01:47 PM »
Julian, many thanks for that comprehensive response. If the soldering is that tight I doubt I'd manage it! For me it might be worth looking into a non-Bluetooth circuit only because I've got a surplus tablet without Bluetooth. That said I'd still be interested to tot up what it'd cost me for a Bluetooth system once you've worked stuff out. Thanks again
Nick

Offline Tjark

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Re: Bluetooth DRO on X1 and X3 mills
« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2014, 05:44:47 PM »
Julian, i am verry interrested in a box.
Hope you considering making some off them.
I use the same scales.
A secondhand 7" android tablet costs over here on the second hand marked around 45,00
Let us know what the price will be.

   Tjark.