One of the first upgrades for the Mini Mill was a set of 3 DROs. They are not expensive on ebay and work just fine for my use. I did have to replace one cable and I do have to remember to turn them off when not in use.
The standard mounting brackets were used on Z and Y axis but the X axis required a custom bit of aluminum to hold the transducer. Works like a champ.
I found the best place to mount them out of tool and chip harm by making an aluminum panel and arm. I used the hole in the mill head that was for part of the spring counter balance. I had removed the original counter balance and added an air spring. That gave me more height by about 2" and I need that almost every time I use the mill. So far the air spring is working flawless. It has been use about 2 years.
Thanks for your tip on eBay for the inexpensive DROs. I wonder if you could retrofit inexpensive 120V to low voltage DC power supplies for the power sources. I discovered some on eBay for $5 and have used them to power my mini and 12" geared head lathes' tachometers. Here is a photo of these tiny power supplies (in lower left-hand side of photo) and these work well for low power demand devices.
For safe use this would have to be placed in the some enclosure for the power electronics to the mini milling machine so the 120VAC is covered and then feed three pairs of small gage wires to the DROs. In my example, it is in the power supply and relay box to the lathe.
Last edited by Paul Jones; 10-01-2016 at 05:30 PM.
Thanks Paul, I think that is good solution to become "battery less". I believe some have completed wiring them to a small power supply. I have had one very perplexing problem with my x-axis and if I would have them all powered by one power supply it would have complicated troubleshooting. Anyhow my problem was not grounding, electrical noise, faulty transducer, faulty display, But it was the cable between the display and the transducer. My batteries seem to last a long time if I remember to power them off when not in use. I believe some of the DROs will time out after a time but mine do not.
The cables are not that easy to find. They are mini usb and I was lucky to find a thread about the displays and a place to get good cables. Here is a link to a very good post on the subject.
Three Ways to Improve iGaging DRO Scales Reliability | Yuriy's Toys
Thanks JR and Paul. Great ideas, tips and sources! Yuri's website is pretty interesting and a wily EE. His thoughts on noise and the issues are good and true. On my drill machines I used a lot of shielded cable and very careful about ground loops, most of it was RS485 but all the various voltages 230 3ph to 24VDC and motors, servos, solenoids & actuators, plus a computer were a challenge with routing and lengths. One other simple thing I found helped in some cases were ferite cores at the ends of the cables...cheap and cheerful.
I've eyeballed the iGauging stuff for a while now but haven't jumped the cliff. A friend did and ask me to check his out when he got it. What I found was they are pretty darned accurate and repeatable (my main concern). I ran his through the ringer off and on for a couple of days with every test I could think of and for the money, well worth it IMHO. I may help my brother put a set on his Grizzly G0760 instead of a Glass setup from DROPros for ~$7-800 (~1/2 the price the Mill) we've been talking about although a lot more functional with Math and toys in the display and good to 2 tenths...nothing his mill can do yet but nice. The nice thing about these guys for me is they are about an hour from me, no shipping other than the drive and factory visit. I do like the challenge of building it for half that and Yuri's kit may add the functionality for only a few more bucks.
Nice setup JR and thanks for sharing and verifying the functionality over time.
‘‘Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.’’
Good points. The iGaging DROs have been great for me. I think a lot more milling gets done and in less time with them and they are reasonably priced so it does not cost as much as the price of the mini mill to add them on the mill.
Funny thing, I was just talking about the battery life and this very morning I had to replace the batteries in my y-axis DRO. I keep a supply on hand so I was ready for it.
JR and PJs,
The iGaging DROs cost are more proportional to the cost of the mini mills. However, I do like the DRO PROS design for the magnetic incremental scales over the glass scales even though these are more expensive for my 12" swing lathe (actually swings 13"+ over the ways and 17"+ over the gap but the manufacturer insists on calling it a 12" swing lathe). The installation looks easier and the magnetic scales can be custom cut to fit almost any size configuration. One of our kids lives in Vacaville where DRO PROS is headquartered so it would be fun to visit their store next time I am in the area.
Thanks so much for all the info JR, Paul and PJ. I've been pondering this DRO jump for a while. I put a igaging on my Z axis and it has made a world of difference. I've been going back and forth about igaging and their next level up "Absolute" version which seems better, but more expensive. Expensive enough to start pushing me into thermal runaway and doing the full size Chinese X/Y setups. They usually start around $300 and go up from there. On another run through eBay I spotted this:
2 Axis Digital Readout DRO for Milling Lathe Machine with Precision Linear Scale | eBay
Now I'm really in a quandary. Folks seem to like these and for around $200 it's hard to beat ...but I don't know enough about the specs to be able to see through the hype and my buyers fever has started settin' in.
I don't mean to hyjack your thread here JR, but you guys see any red flags here I'm missing before I take a jump in the deep end? I have an old RF-30 that needs some fine tuning, but if this can do for my X and Y what the igaging did for my z and add more functions it might be the next logical improvement.
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