Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Electronics - Hot wire
For wire length under 30" - use a variable digital power supply

Cutting temperature is between 1.5A to 2,5A, Always start from low voltage and increase the voltage while placing the foam on the hot wire and finding what is the best current setting.

For wires that are between 30" to 100", use the insulated variac
Current setting will be similar to the current setting on the digital power supply, but the variac does not have an Amp meter, so always start from low voltage and increase the voltage while testing the wire temperature  with a block of foam.

To run the machine - use Mach3 from Mach3 download link
If you are using WinXP with an onboard parallel port, install the complete package
If you are using Win7, Win8 or Win10, you will need to use a USB adapter
In this case do not install the parallel port drivers when installing Mach3

When using WinXP once Mach3 installation is complete, restart the computer and download this XML file and copy it into your Mach3 folder. This folder is usually in C:\mach3 

When using Win7, Win8 and Win10 with the UC100 adapter, you will need to install the UC100 driver found here
Copy this XML file and paste it in your Mach3 folder

You can always setup the machine manually (without using the above XML file) by following this Youtube video

Running Mach3:
Click once on the Reset button on the bottom left side of the screen. If the reset button is blinking, the system is in reset mode and the motors will not move.
To calibrate the machine (if needed) follow this Youtube video

CAM software:
Best software out there for 4 axis hot wire cutting is DevFoam from www.devcad.com
Download and install DevFoam (for 2 axis cutting) or DevFoamPro if you need to cut tapered shapes.

By default DevFoam is set to work in MM, if you want to work in Inches you will need to set it up for Inches on the 1st screen.
Click on "New CAD Drawing" and set the units to Inches and the page size - see picture below
The other setting that needs to be changes  is the Y and A axis
By default the 2nd 2 axis are set to A and Z, but for Mach3, they need to be setup as Z and A
Below is a screen shot of how to setup the correct axis - follow the 3 steppes
1 - Click on the "Customize 4 axis G Code" button
2 - Swap between Z and A
3 - Change cutting speed to 20 which is 20"/min, If working in MM set this number to 1000

The 25 pin connector on the left is used to connect to the PC printer port - in the old WinXP PCs
When using Win7, Win8 and Win10, use the UC100 and connect it to the PC USB port - see picture below. The 15 pin connector on the right is not used
Connect the 4 motors to the 4 connectors as shown below
Right side of the machine: X and Y axis
Left side of the machine: Z and A axis
X and Z axis are the horizontal axis and Y and A are the vertical axis
Never connect or disconnect any of the motors when the electronic box is powered, doing so will
cause permanent damage to the electronics.