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Thread: Post Processor Modification

  1. #11
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    Hello Jimmy D..... I apologize in advance for making a post here that is not addressing the topic of your thread..... But Gary and Brady have made a some points I'd like to comment on......

    Hello Brady: While I don't know about the majority of Shopbot owners,I do know that I unfortunately fit your comment 100% about my being unwilling to pay for advice to service my Bot. Yes, I have banged my head on the wall for months with issues, hoping to somehow get my problem fixed without having to shell out money. And more precisely, it isn't even as much about spending money, as it is about spending money for technical expertise.......... I always figured it was a guy thing, being willing to buy a physical object, but not wanting to pay for advice/directions,,,, Not that you need any statistical validation, I wanted to express mypersonal resonance with your observation.

    Again, venturing out without knowing if this is just myself, or not........ I bought my used PRT Alpha maybe 10 years ago,,,,,,,,,, I bought it because it was all that I could afford, and all that could fit into my basement workshop that would allow me to cut bigthings I planned to make. (A few months ago, I sent you/Brady a model of the type of thing I want to make, and they can be large,as they go on the outside of large Victorian houses.) But IF Iam typical of a significant segment of Bot owners, that could be aproblem for Shopbot itself, as they would of course benefit from a larger customer base that is willing to spend $$$$$$. As if someone is willing to spend for technical advise, that technical advice will almost certainly translate into the need to then purchase some type of hardware.

    But the interesting point is, tying into what Gary observed based upon his industry knowledge and the results of his survey, while I am reluctant to spend money for advice, and I am very cheap, I would be willing to spend money to improve my Bot undercertain conditions.

    From day one, I have had random Com Error issues, which made me feel that I just couldn’t trust my Bot. And for the last 5 or more years, I have felt like Icouldn’t trust my Shopbot because these Com Errors made me feel my Bot was fundamentally flawed as a platform. Specifically the Bot flaw seemed to me to be: passing corruptible data from a remotely located (5 feet) control PC to the Bot over a corruptible USB port, when powerful computers are so tiny, that they could be stuck inside my big aluminum box along with the motor drivers and all the support hardware, and thusly eliminate the potential for external events from corrupting the USB communications.)

    The result is that when my faith in my Bot is shaken by operational instability, andI subsequently come to feel that my problems stem froma flawed designconcept, I just don't want to spend money on my Bot, even for hardware.

    So when Gary wrote specifically "that if they remain with a USBconnection going forward"...... He really caught my attention.

    I would spend money on my Bot for hardware if I felt like I would be fundamentally making my machine more robust and reliable. And the occasionally mentioned possible future FABMO upgrade at least appeals to my intuition as the way to get me re-energized about myBot. That would also make me more willing to invest in some other possible hardware upgrades to my machine.

    But nothing will get me energized when I feel my machine just isn'tstable. And that isn't good for Shopbot, especially IF theyhave a lot of cheap customers like me, who need to be really excited and positive about something before they will be willing to part with precious cash......... I offer this not to be gloomy or mean, but to offer a positive insight into the mind of at least one Bot customer, and to flesh out things I wanted to say in Gary's survey, but for which there weren't any appropriate boxes..........

    ThanksGary and Brady. And sorry Jimmy for not following your thread'stheme............ Chuck
    Last edited by Chuck Keysor; 04-14-2018 at 05:06 PM. Reason: add a spaces
    Chuck Keysor (circa 1956)
    PRT Alpha 60" x 144" (circa 2004)
    Columbo 5HP spindle
    Aspire 9.0, Rhino 5

  2. #12
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    Frankly I'm baffled by people who don't get that a Shopbot can't be compared to a machine that is built stronger, has heavier motors and cutting tools, typically more capabilities, and are designed to be run all day every day cutting many parts flawlessly with minimal breakdowns. Their purpose is different. They also cost one hell of a lot more money. SB is perfect for the low production/custom shop and the home enthusiast who would rather spend their glad money on making sawdust/chips than the country club. Nothing wrong with either-just a personal choice. (apologize for the off topic comment which has nothing to do with post processor modification). Frankly, there is nothing that you can do with a SB that you can't do with what we almost sneeringly refer to as "big iron". The typical shop that has that type of machine is more into their own product manufacturing and if brought one of those very unique projects that many botters salivate over they may not be able to pull it off simply because it is outside their typical sphere of experience and they don't have either the experience or the available time for R&D to figure it out. Hey-If I decide to buy a roadster and chose a Mazda Miata that doesn't mean that I wouldn't understand that another that was better built, had a hotter engine, and more to it altogether deserved to be more expensive. It's a no-brainer.

  3. #13
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    When Dave says:
    "Frankly I'm baffled by people who don't get that a Shopbot can't be compared to a machine that is built stronger, has heavier motors and cutting tools, typically more capabilities, and are designed to be run all day every day cutting many parts flawlessly with minimal breakdowns."

    Kids... that the problem. Where back in the PRT days that was soooo true. Became the company mantra. Compare a SB against big iron. Not today tho. Nowdays competitors that didn't exist in the PRT days have products that will outcut the Alpha for the same money as the standard. And for alpha dollars, you get higher powered closed loop or servos, linear rails, helical R&P, planetary gearboxes and the ability to cut much faster while maintaining tolerance.

    There is no cut climb to a skin then come back conventional for a no load last pass, you just cut 3/4" at 420 ipm (7"/sec) in a single pass. There is no assembly, the computer is included, the machine has been factory assembled, tested and tuned. And they are thousands less than SB products. And they run on a control system that works properly every day. They have fast enough transmission speed to not need the 5 to1 "gearshift" that allows rapids to work on an alpha.

    There are around 40 CNC controllers sold in the US, a half dozen or so proprietary like SB3. The proprietary controls are for the most part on low end offerings with limited features. The majority of MFGR's offer multiple choices, unless they use WinCNC exclusively. In any case, these controllers offer the user so many more options than SB3. They offer faster speeds, higher resolution, ability to run servos. Did you know you could put servos on a machine for half the price of alpha motors?

    "I want to pay more for a machine that was assembled by someone with ZERO days experience" said no one. Its 2018, not 2005

    Comm errors, SB and Mach with USB own them. Mach went to ethernet to solve it. What if this was a car that you depended on to make a couple bucks and it went brain dead as often as your controller does? Would you put up with that? And maybe even more important is that it started 12 or more years ago, why hasn't it been fixed? If these were 20K plus cars, there would be a recall.
    Last edited by Gary Campbell; 04-15-2018 at 08:08 AM.
    Gary Campbell
    CNC Training & Technology
    GCnC411(at)gmail(dot)com
    The Ultimate Woodworking Machine
    http://www.youtube.com/user/Islaww1


    "We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them"
    Albert Einstein


  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Campbell View Post
    The writing seems to be on the wall. In an exponentially expanding CNC market our friends are losing market share. A share of the market they once "owned". A shame. I would propose the following statements. Only able to be verified if this post, which is not flattering to folks that are good people, stays on this forum.

    I propose, and this is radical, that ShopBot will not survive the next 5 years IF:
    1) They do not offer a viable computer to compliment their control system to aid thousands of past purchasers
    2) That if they remain with a USB connection going forward
    3) They don't swap to Gcode to be compatible with currently produced hardware.
    4) They don't produce a full welded frame using linear rails
    5) Don't offer a menu of control features and machine options that simply match what the other 150 brands sold in the US do
    6) Don't do all of the above, while lowering their prices.
    Gary - Thank you for stating the obvious. As someone who doesn't believe in mincing words - and that clear, direct communication avoids confusion, I admire you for speaking frankly. I also admire you for putting in the work, research and freely sharing some of that with the community. I agree 100% with your predictions - and it isn't without a heavy heart. I really want SB to succeed in the marketplace, but they seem to have lost their way. I personally have spent a good bit of time and money trying out other CNC controllers and hardware in the past few years. I've learned so much and fully realize every point you make & what that means to me, someone who relies on these tools to make a living.

    Quote Originally Posted by steve_g View Post
    Interesting… I’ve done things with my PRT Alpha that “big iron” guys only dream about!
    Like what, Steve? What is it your PRT is able to do that a 20hp ATC machine with 4 Becker vacuums can't do?

    Quote Originally Posted by steve_g View Post
    With the plethora of CNC routers now available to hobbyists, many under $1,000, suddenly ShopBots aren’t considered “real”! I must ask, “Who thinks they aren’t real!” My own answer comes down to “those who are running heavy iron machines… that cost multiple times as much, require a rigging company to set-up, require 3-phase power, a forklift to manage input and output and sales department to keep it busy! Who is impressed with my ShopBot? Anyone with a “low-cost” machine with plastic components, MDF frames or NEMA 17 steppers!
    When I mentioned 'real CNC' - I was not thinking about a 'big iron' machine in any way, shape or form. I was thinking about machines in the same price bracket as a ShopBot. The ones that in some cases are cheaper, controllers that are 5-10x faster, real block & rail bearings, helical racks, planetary gearboxes, welded frames and advanced digital steppers or servos - either with encoders - for less money. (HA! - looks like Gary & I are on the same page!)

    Yeah sure - DIY'ers are going to look up to the ShopBot as a real CNC compared to their MDF project or 3D printer hardware based machines. But you're looking to the extreme with your 'CNC beliefs' because I am speaking to the ones in the same market as SBs - NOT the low end MDF machines and NOT the high dollar 'big iron' ones. If you've never tried any other viable CNC system, suitable for a large CNC, then how can you know how the SB ranks against others? It's kinda like marrying the 1st girl you meet...Right?

    Plastic CNCs? You mean like the dweeby ones that ShopBot has been focused on selling for the past 5+ years? Those things? It seems their focus has shifted to these toys - and I can't take them seriously anymore. The last redesigned full size tool came out was the PRS. That was like 12 years ago. Why would I want to buy 2007 technology at 2018 prices? I can't think of any technology based appliance (and that's what CNCs are - appliances) where I'd pay 2018 prices for 2007 tech. Can you?

    Quote Originally Posted by steve_g View Post
    It's not uncommon for an individual or business to "outgrow" their machine... A crafter gets more work than his smaller machine can keep up with or cabinet shop can't keep up with demand using their middle size tool. These are good problems! Rather than be upset that such and so brand tool can't do the job, recognize a tools limitation and be glad it got you to the point where you need something else! The tool you buy is often determined by your volume of work... You likely can't afford to keep a heavyweight machine that's sitting idle!

    SG
    Steve - you really nailed it there. Except for the heavyweight machine part - As someone who has relied on his CNC to make a living & can tell you EXACTLY how hard I can push the tool until it loses tolerance, stalls or otherwise can't do the job as quickly. Customers want good, cheap AND fast, and if the tool is not up to the task, money is lost. That means if COMs puke, I'm not making money because I am tracking down a problem - other machines just don't have all these COM issues - mainly because they don't use USB - they just run. Can't hold tolerance or square because it flexes too much at higher speeds - slow it down to compensate - more money lost. There is absolutely no case where a bolted machine of any type is better than one with a welded chassis. None - in the combined history of all machines ever made by human hands. Once you run one that IS welded or cast iron, you quickly see what you've been missing & get schooled on any blue kool aid trips you've been on. Believe me - it is pleasantly sobering because it speaks to your subconscious KNOWING that something was 'off' - and now you have the solution. I mean, even an EZRouter - which is a complete ripoff of the PRT is fully welded! LOL!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Keysor View Post
    From day one, I have had random Com Error issues, which made me feel that I just couldn’t trust my Bot. And for the last 5 or more years, I have felt like Icouldn’t trust my Shopbot because these Com Errors made me feel my Botwas fundamentally flawed as a platform. Specifically the Bot flaw seemed to me to be: passing corruptible data from a remotely located (5 feet) control PC to the Bot over a corruptible USB port, when powerful computers are so tiny, that they could be stuck inside my big aluminum box along with the motor drivers and all the support hardware, and thusly eliminate the potential for external events from corrupting the USB communications.

    The result is that when my faith in my Bot is shaken by operational instability, and I subsequently come to feel that my problems stem from a flawed concept, I just don't want to spend money on my Bot, even for hardware.

    So when Gary wrote specifically "that if they remain with a USBconnection going forward"...... He really caught my attention.

    I would spend money on my Bot for hardware if I felt like I would be fundamentally making my machine more robust and reliable. And the occasionally mentioned possible future FABMO upgrade at least appeals to my intuition as the way to get me re-energized about myBot. That would also make me more willing to invest in some other possible hardware upgrades to my machine.
    Roger that Chuck. I would & did spend more to obtain relatively good reliability. The USB COM problem has been the bane of their existence since what, like 2003 when the first Alpha came out - you would think 15 years would be enough time to get COMs sorted.

    Yeah...FabMo...no thanks. No pro wants to run their CNC tool in a dirty shop on an iPad. Get real. Besides, it's already obsolete. The Handibot page says it's based on the Intel Edison - which was discontinued in June 2017. It's just really sad. One would expect SB 'engineers' to be smarter and more on top of things (like what state of the art CNC actually is in this price bracket) than some of their users are. How is that possible? Rest on laurels much? Heads in the sand? Elsewhere? I have personally tried to keep them in the loop over the years regarding what the current trends are (and so have others) to no avail.

    Quote Originally Posted by bleeth View Post
    Frankly I'm baffled by people who don't get that a Shopbot can't be compared to a machine that is built stronger, has heavier motors and cutting tools, typically more capabilities, and are designed to be run all day every day cutting many parts flawlessly with minimal breakdowns. Their purpose is different. They also cost one hell of a lot more money.
    Dave,
    It's from guzzling down the blue kool aid. I guess to some, the blue machines are like a religion - and I am guilty of that to some extent in years gone by. However, there comes a point where you look elsewhere for better or worse and you find out you are out of touch with old beliefs. To be clear, I have no bone to pick - I just feel let down that the folks in NC haven't been keeping the pace. One can only wait for their buddy to catch up so long before he needs to forge ahead.

    Again, I wasn't envisioning 'big iron' - only comparable hardware and controls in the same price bracket. Think about how far SB came in a technological sense from the PR/cable drive days (1998) to the PRS Alpha only 9 years later. The PRS has been out 12 years & SO MUCH has changed in CNC land. And yet, I don't see SB making any advances for commercial machines - which if YOU recall, was a good percentage of their customer base. Think of all the Camps - mostly pros there - and on the forum. So did they go away because SB didn't stay current or SB not stay current because they went away?

    -B
    High Definition 3D Laser Scanning Services - Advanced ShopBot CNC Training and Consultation - Vectric Custom Video Training IBILD.com

  5. #15
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    Brady - Wow. That was quite a put down. I guess I am merry in my ignorance and happy with my 2013 edition of a PRS. Maybe I'm frozen in time. My machine has worked just fine for me. Of course, I don't have any time constraints so I never push it. I like 6,000 RPM spindle speeds because there's is less mess and dust. I don't mind using 3 IPS speeds cutting a delicate job. I have a $500 (2013 price) Dell computer that works perfectly with the SB and never experience comm errors.

    I am certainly not wedded to the SB. I really am brand agnostic.

    So if you were to recommend a $30k machine today, what would it be?

    >> I can't think of any technology based appliance (and that's what CNCs are - appliances) where I'd pay 2018 prices for 2007 tech. Can you?

    You should look at the world of aviation. It is chock full of those exact examples. We have a 2010 Meridian that is 2007 technology. You can buy a brand new one for $2,000,000 today. Same technology. Well, it's actually 1986 tech wrapped in 2007 avionics... Still viable though. Fun and robust. Sometimes new technology doesn't mean better. It just means new technology.
    ShopBot Details:
    PRS Alpha 96x60x12
    4hp Spindle
    12" indexer
    Aspire
    Rhino

  6. #16
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    I have run a couple different machines and what Gary said about the controller having a brain fart doesn't fit well. The 2 Beisses that I ran would have a brain fart and the cuts would be off if you weren't checking each piece. I would have maybe 2 a week but that was when I was running them 9 hours a day. We would run about 100 of the same part then move to another part and run another 100 some of the worst were the smaller ones that didn't need a lot of machining but some time the large ones would screw up and you would ruin a 5 x 8 sheet of material. I ran a couple of jobs on my Shopbot for that company because I could get it done quicker and less money some of those jobs were 50 + 4 x 8 sheets. and some had 50 + parts per sheet

  7. #17
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    So, I'm just getting into all of this discussion about ShopBot.
    With the risk of saying too much I want to provide my inside experience and expertise on what is happening and how we are looking to move forward at least in relation to technical support.

    I've been with ShopBot for just about 3 years now, working with not only tech support but just about every department and know that everyone here is dedicated to making the best product we can.

    from day one the number one issue i have addressed has been communications issues - ultimately 90 percent or more of them are related to the computer.
    Often times i felt like customers probably just thought "'oh here they go again blaming some problem on the PC that they don't know how to fix".

    Coming from a background in computer software/hardware support, this was frustrating. I have first hand experience seeing these issues go away by doing something to the PC. those somethings were VARIED like no other. but, there was always something interrupting the cut while it was running. it was around 2 years ago that I wrote the "Windows Notes" document covering the most common issues that I had seen up to that point and how to address them on the PC. I also petitioned for selling a computer with tools and offering a control computer for sale, the process of getting a model we were happy with in house, setting them all up, valuing the time that goes into the setup, and selling them for a price that we were happy with that didn't feel like a ripoff was too great an obstacle for us at the time.

    The retail control computer path never really did leave our minds as an option but in the meantime I worked on better instructions and a more complete solution than the Windows Notes. There is a 100% viable solution for computers that meet our hardware requirements already with the stipulation that you are familiar enough with computers in this world to successfully complete these instructions. Which in today's world and our field, that is often not the case, so the info I provided always starts with the stipulation "You may need an IT professional to help you" - following this the basic instructions are to clean install windows, then follow windows notes. That PC is now set up to be a successful standalone computer if the computer hardware is fully functional.

    This process can be messed up in many ways as even the best fully-fleshed out process can be, it was only two-weeks ago that I brought up the option of selling a control computer to our sales and tech support team and I believe the consensus is that we should try.

    so to address the points as best as i can from support:

    - A control computer option is being worked on, and I personally am working closely on this. We are trying to flesh out a model we can receive consistently and price it reasonably. Everything up to this point has looked like we would need to turn around and sell it for $1000 or more, which for the hardware you would be getting I do not feel comfortable offering.

    - With the FabMo control system I believe the GCode issue, Application/software offering issue, and USB issue will all be addressed. but I don't work as personally with the FabMo development myself to provide more. I know that what I have seen has been amazing, and would make Tech Support very happy. We are all rooting for FabMo.

    - improving rigidity while reducing cost is one of the number one things I know our Development team is working on and has been working on since I joined ShopBot. We are in overdrive mode right now for trying to find the best path forward.


    Thanks for offering your experiences, opinions, thoughts, etc... I know it will help us as a company as it has helped me on an individual level.

  8. #18
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    Dec 2017
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    My two cents on computer issues........Although I have not taxed my system with intense carving projects as many of you have, (I have only had my Buddy 32 for a half a year and still learning), I have had no computer or com issues. I purchased the 2013 Shopbot barely used and needed to buy a computer for it. Having some experience as a part time IT guy in the engineering room, I knew the importance of avoiding the sharing of the CPU's resources. I went the dedicated route and bought the Intel NUC, a small but powerful box with Win 10 Pro and many other features as shown below. I think the best part of the NUC for this application is the pre-installed "no overhead" installation of the OS on a brand new system. No other programs, (only SB3 and Vcarve 9) no manufacturers advertising ****, no preinstalled demo software, no internet connection, no screen savers, you just have to disable the power saving features. It wasn't financially easy to dedicate a $700 computer but I think it is the way to go. It is also available as an I3 or I7 but I went with middle of the road.......Mike

    https://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...9SIAA0S6MT1095

    Intel NUC NUC7i5BNH Mini PC/HTPC
    CPU Type: Intel Core i5 7th Gen Intel i5-7260U 3.4GHz
    CPU Speed: 2.2 GHz
    Memory Capacity: 8 GB DDR4
    Hard Drive: SSD 256 GB Samsung 960 EVO NVMe 250GB
    GPU/VGA Type: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640
    Windows 10 Pro
    Wifi
    Bluetooth
    HDMI
    Thunderbolt 3
    4k Support
    Dual Monitor Capable
    Operating System: Windows 10 Pro
    Room for additional Hard Drive
    Dimensions: 4.5 x 2 x 4.4 inches

    $669.00

  9. #19
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    That's an awesome machine, and exactly the kind of thing you want. better than a little crappy slim client, and better than an off-the shelf PC with crapware on it that you'll need to clean install after buying.

    I may have to start recommending a similar system to people in the interim while we work on a standalone option. The benefit of having the blank OS install on that machine (well enclosed for a dusty shop too) is profound.

    Thank you for sharing, Mike.

    -Tom H.

  10. #20
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    Before my machine was delivered, I bought a Dell INSPIRON 660S computer with Windows 7. The total cost was less than $500. That included a monitor, keyboard and mouse. This computer has no fan, a plus with a dusty shop (my shop isn't dusty). When I got it, I stripped out all the extraneous stuff and did the recommended things such as turning off all updates, internet, screen saver and the rest. While this is a bargain basement computer, it has worked flawlessly on my PRS Alpha. Recently I ran a 16 hour 3D carving job perfectly. I've never had a computer issue, comm problem, positioning error or any other problems while running a job except when the power itself caused it.

    The processes that run under the SB are incredibly simple. They are not demanding enough to warrant a high powered processor or lots of memory. If the SB program runs as a dedicated process and nothing else is running, there should be absolutely no interference.

    Personally, I think a lot of the computer problems are just like the ones everyone experiences with Windows hardware. Improper configuration, sneaky programs usurping the processor, faulty hardware and inability to follow overly complex instructions carefully. If you aren't a software engineer, you probably are not going to be able to configure your system correctly.

    If I were running the SB IT system, I would make it my mission to switch the entire system to one run by Linux using a computer that could be installed as a board in the controller box. Linux is powerful, simple, stable and requires miniscule resources. It's also free. Once installed, it could last the life of the machine and never need updating of any kind. There are many dedicated controllers for machines in the world based on some sort of Linux flavor and they are very stable.

    Windows is a very poor choice for a controlling computer due to the extreme number of variations and the overload history of Windows. Every silly Windows computer still has DNA from DOS and Win 3.1 loaded into it. No wonder they have so many problems.

    Abandon Windows. That would be my suggestion.
    ShopBot Details:
    PRS Alpha 96x60x12
    4hp Spindle
    12" indexer
    Aspire
    Rhino

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