Well it finally arrived, after much deliberation i upgraded to the 560 H model with camera and PhCNC Pro. A 127lbs crate arrived from Fedex Freight, since its a residential address you make an appointment with them, they were only two hours late though. The driver had a palette lift and tail gate, so it was easy to get it inside the garage, I opened the top of the box, and one side, I used a drill to remove the screws.
There are two shipping bolts on the bottom side, two 7/16ths nuts and two metal plates, remove all the gubbins in the box, the nuts and lift the machine out. Remove the two threaded rods and replace with the mystery two bolts that are taped to the bed of the machine.
not a lot of space in the garage!
Out of the box, the two bolts needed to be tightly bolted to the underside are in the plastic bag at the hither side.
Vacuum hose attached, strangely it says but the collector ( metal L shaped thing with a hole) on the left side, well put it on the side with the two bolts and the X axis motor
Tighten this set screw, (middle of the hose/lower) you’ll need a different Allen key than is supplied. The hose has one end where the tube rotates freely, the other is glued and has more length exposed, the short end goes in the head, the longer end in the collector. The label is on it, but i had a slight mishap when i removed it, the metal tensioner inside fell out while I was fiddling with the label, mark the right side with an X before you remove the label.
1 1/2” hose needed here, it seems backwards to me, but I’m sure its for a good reason.
Head/spindle assembly, you can see the contact PCB on the left side, strangely enough I’d been looking at his myself a few days ago, I’m glad to see its used here (it helps to set the z depth) plugs in at the back
Z homing board
The black plug/blue cable added to the spindle to ground it properly.
Setting the Z depth, the PCB isn’t secured yet.
I did pickup a little HEPA dewalt shop vac from lowes, its cheap ($100), fairly quiet and the right sized hose, but it probably won’t last as they aren’t meant to be run for long periods of time. Its a start though
Somehow i totally missed this connector on the front for the camera power, but it also meant that i had to reroute the wires under the vacuum tube, instead of over as the wire would be too short otherwise, not much play and a lot of room for tension, I’d temporarily used zip ties, but i plan to replace them with something more forgiving before i put the machine into use.
Some notes i wrote while on the phone, haven’t tied them up yet, but i want to edit this on another machine!
negative value penetration
for the first board, 5.900, mirror line (the line that serves to flip to the board, x centre)
if you have a camera, you don’t need to use them.
tape backing material on all four sides. because the tape has goes resistance across all four sides, so it doesn’t move.
100mill backing material, place pcb on top of that.
tape pcb on all four sides to backing material FR4 double sided.
inside copper material, place the part over and push it with your hand slightly to lay down on the copper material, there are two wires plugs on them the green wire with black plug into the black socket on the rear, and then connect that to a secure ground, place under the belt on the spindle pulley (smaller pulley) the rotor of the spindle is securely grounded, otherwise the grease might insulate it, so its makes a good ground for the spindle rotor. This way the tool is also grounded via the collet.
CNC mode, button home Z this buttons homes ask you to touch the tool with the pad to check the circuit otherwise it’ll go to far and damage the bit.
The ok button will change, its not active immediately, you have to touch the tool/bit with the pad and the button will become active
the insulation tool is always first, the 90 or v45, one 90o one 45o.
Install it in the collett tool and expand the depth limiter, 1/4” or so, to extend it you have to turn the micrometer clockwise, then you can push the contact pcb underneath and the depth limiter is plastic, careful turn the micrometer counter clockwise itll retract the depth limiter, a red led will light when you contact the pcb with the tool. then carefully go back and forth til it just touches the test pcb, the tip of the tool is exactly in the same surface as the end of the depth limiter, once you are on this point you can turn the micrometer about 3 1/2 division counterclockwise and you’ll get a protrusion of 3mils into the material, 3 mils is perfect for insulation.
45o V tool, and 3 – 3 1/2 protrusion inside the material, penetration.
keyslot table, h has 3 extra pieces.
First power on
On switch on with the USB connected, the machine doesn’t do much, very slight fan noise, flash of a red like then the green light flashes, my windows starts downloading an update for the camera via windows update, I’m not sure yet if it’ll do the right thing since a lot of these drivers are generic and lots of manufacturers have their own driver sets, so we’ll see . It appears as a Lenovo Q350 USB PC Camera. (When I installed it with the CD drivers, it changed the name, so watch out ! )
Didn’t see a driver request for the machine itself, might be a standard driver or one i already have, Hmm no USB, check the cables they’re ok, so i swap to the other usb port on my dell xps 1530 and hear the familiar device connected thunk and asking for drivers for the PhCnc360, off it goes searching windows update first, now asking for a CD, off it goes searching, typing during a windows install is a really bad idea since it often pops up dialogs as window top, so you end accidently cancelling or something worse. Hmm it says it cannot find the file specified, this ought to work with Vista 64, so lets see. From looking over the INF it looks like the file ,PhCNC360_x64.sys, is missing from the CD. The 32 bit drivers are there. Quick call to AccurateCNC and although the drivers are partially there, apparently they haven’t gone ahead with the 64 bit drivers since Microsoft requires code signing (they don’t really since 64 bit windows allows the user to turn it off on boot), but no good for me since this machine is 64 bit as are most of my machines….. so they’ll get a driver off to me soon.
Ok time to grab another machine and install the software BRB ! Or see if my dual boot windows 7 32 rc1 trial is still licensed on this machine
Windows 7 32 bit worked just fine, so i set about cutting a couple of test PCB’s, one problem I found is that the table is too unstable to work with this level of precision, so i have to fix that first.
I did not take into consideration about the border required for the head, thinking it’d just be the bit, so it pushed some of the tape, no big problem just upset the first pcb.
I used the “singlesided” example from eagle for this quick test.
Second PCB came out better, but either i didn’t tape it down enough or the table is wobbly, probably both! I have not finished the layout of this board, right angles, poor routing, but i wanted something quick to test it with, just under 10 minutes to cut this side only.
Masking tape probably isn’t good enough.
This button allows you to move the spindle around the board.
CTRL (the mouse changes to a little drill bit) and right click executes a ‘goto’, this helps you position the PCB. You can also mark it with a right click and add a thumbtack.
So I cut another board after making myself a new table, thinking the old one was too wobbly, and also thinking if the table being wobbly is a problem, why are the rubber feet so soft (to dampen of course) after all its all relative to the bit. So i cut another PCB, this time after going through the HOME Z routine from the manual, it has me place the contact PCB on top of my working PCB, to me this makes more sense, but what makes less sense is that it worked before, and it still works…. so I’m lost on that one. Anyway after looking at the PCN having the same jaggies, I thought check the bit, and looked at the container they came in….. .oh dear… I thought it was bit in position #2 was the V90 ,nope that’s a router 50mil bit… So I drop in the new bit, rehome it and start it off cutting again, it isn’t making it through the copper so i turn the micrometer one division counter clockwise, this does the job.
There doesn’t seem to be any pause function, if you stop it, it restarts, but tool change does work, it’d be nice if there was a way to say pause after you’re done with the this track and let me look at what is going on, but this would be less necessary once you know what you’re doing, which I do not! ( And to further demonstrate I’m a noob, there is a pause, its even in the screenshot above !! ) the Pause is under PARK to the left of the Emergency STOP, yep. I’m blind.
But this thing is awesome so far, I used the follow camera mode and zoomed way in so i could see the tracks, it overlays them on diagram so you can actually see what it cut, and it works really well, better than my camera did of taking a picture of it.
Now the pink areas are ‘’warnings”, I’d have liked it that when I started the machine it said, hey there are warnings on this board, continue? yes/no but then it’d be almost as annoying as windows, i mean for heavens sake they’re in pink and also in the bottom left, but I missed them til it was too late, this is a close up of the bad area ( my fault on the routing ) and sure enough it shows a fault, there is meant to be a cut in the middle vertically. Cool Huh! Beats looking at it with a microscope and sucking up all that copper dust.
The camera is fixed focus, so its out of focus when the machine is moving around, the auto focus moves the Z axis.
I can’t tell if my vacuum is powerful enough or what, its whistling which tells you there is a restriction in the air so it wants to suck more than it can, Chris@AccuateCNC did not to try to get a speed variable one, but I couldn’t find one locally. Also the vacuum switch is a must, I forget pretty much every time, you concentrate on what the machines doing, instead of making sure the vacuum work. On these new boards I’m getting a fine copper dust left over, and didn’t on the sample PCB’s, not sure why yet, it might be the bit change, a height change or material change.
Better picture of the bit changing operation.
So lessons learnt on this PCB
1. Check you’re using the right bit
2. Check for warnings in the PCB before cutting
3. Do a test cut on a piece of the board not being used to make sure the depth is set
4. Don’t forget the vacuum
5. Try not to suck up any of the dust, be wary of it !
6. The shipping box works as a great table, oh and the packing list and how to remove it from the box, is on the underside of the top panel, which if you’re like me you didn’t notice and put the top to one side.
This is my first experience with a machine like this, normally I send it all off to a fab, so I’m a noob here but the learning curve has been nowhere near as high as I expected it to be, I made a couple of silly mistakes, some quiet time with the machine and manual would have helped, but that ain’t happening soon. Its my first day with the machine running and yet managed to produce an almost useable PCB, had i fixed the warnings in my layout and set the depth correctly it’d be 100%
Though i have yet to attack drill holes or double sided yet.