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Thread: Frustration Galore

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Nairobi, Kenya
    Posts
    34

    Angry Frustration Galore

    DISCLAIMER: Just needed to vent somewhere, frustrated to bits with this machine.

    Seeing as we're in lockdown,

    Decided to recommission the PRS Alpha 5'x10'. We ignored it for the past two years because of a plague of operating problems that we just gave up trying to solve.

    Seeing that shopbot updated the firmware, I was excited to try it out. Even got a spanking new laptop for this.

    The only thing we changed was to disconnect the B Axis that had been leaking voltage since it was delivered. Give the shopbot the best chance of not finding an error to throw at us prepped a mahogany panel for a coffee table build which was to be inlaid with a mandala and white epoxy poured in.

    Super excited, we might get our largest CNC in the shop back to work and behaving!

    Our excitement for the new control software and getting the machine running flawlessly was enthusiastically killed by the machine and software. After 7 random stops (of varying errors), 2 missed Z pull up steps (which effectively destroyed the panel), We were reminded why we decommissioned this machine. I'm sure my experience with this machine is an outlier (when it works (rare) it works brilliantly).

    What have we done to try sweet talk this baby beast?

    1) Complete grounding
    2) Disconnected B axis that leaks voltage
    3) Reinstalled all the electrical connections three times (not cheap)
    4) Installed a voltage conditioner and stabilizer to power supply (very not cheap)
    5) Switched out control computers and completely isolated them (6+ times)
    6) Used all combinations for feed, speed, ramp, etc that we could imagine
    7) Slowed everything to a crawl
    8) Switched out USB cables (10+ times)
    9) Servicing and maintenance on a strict schedule

    I think the only thing left to do is change out the Shopbot control system and use an aftermarket third party system. I sincerely think there is a problem with the control boards utilized that make them erratic in behaviour and susceptible to errors.

    I'm sure I'll still tinker with the machine, till then can't risk critical work on it.

    Note:
    The machine was fully serviced before trying out the file.

    The errors thrown up range from:
    a) no error at all. Just stops and completely shutsdown. Most common "error"
    b) "Shopbot no longer being recognized"
    c) Something about a limit switch or stop being triggered. Checked all of them and all seemed alright

    Pictures of latest victim attached:

    IMG_2981.JPGIMG_2984.JPGIMG_2980.JPG

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Memphis TN
    Posts
    890

    Default

    And then you have folks like me. Got my machine in 2013. Assembled it myself. Computer went Tango Uniform after six years, replaced it without fanfare. The SB itself has had ZERO faults or issues running except when the main power itself has tanked.

    I guess I'm just lucky.
    ShopBot Details:
    2013 PRS Alpha 96x60x12
    4hp Spindle
    12" indexer
    Aspire
    Rhino
    Fusion 360
    Ferrari 360
    Prusa MK3S+

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Nairobi, Kenya
    Posts
    34

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by coryatjohn View Post
    And then you have folks like me. Got my machine in 2013. Assembled it myself. Computer went Tango Uniform after six years, replaced it without fanfare. The SB itself has had ZERO faults or issues running except when the main power itself has tanked.

    I guess I'm just lucky.
    Im sure your experience is the norm Mine seems to be the aberration

    Curious, is yours a PRS Alpha? EDIT: Never mind just seen your sig.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Diamond Lake, WA
    Posts
    1,708

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by chubb View Post
    DISCLAIMER: Just needed to vent somewhere, frustrated to bits with this machine.

    Seeing as we're in lockdown,

    Decided to recommission the PRS Alpha 5'x10'. We ignored it for the past two years because of a plague of operating problems that we just gave up trying to solve.

    Seeing that shopbot updated the firmware, I was excited to try it out. Even got a spanking new laptop for this.

    The only thing we changed was to disconnect the B Axis that had been leaking voltage since it was delivered. Give the shopbot the best chance of not finding an error to throw at us prepped a mahogany panel for a coffee table build which was to be inlaid with a mandala and white epoxy poured in.

    Super excited, we might get our largest CNC in the shop back to work and behaving!

    Our excitement for the new control software and getting the machine running flawlessly was enthusiastically killed by the machine and software. After 7 random stops (of varying errors), 2 missed Z pull up steps (which effectively destroyed the panel), We were reminded why we decommissioned this machine. I'm sure my experience with this machine is an outlier (when it works (rare) it works brilliantly).

    What have we done to try sweet talk this baby beast?

    1) Complete grounding
    2) Disconnected B axis that leaks voltage
    3) Reinstalled all the electrical connections three times (not cheap)
    4) Installed a voltage conditioner and stabilizer to power supply (very not cheap)
    5) Switched out control computers and completely isolated them (6+ times)
    6) Used all combinations for feed, speed, ramp, etc that we could imagine
    7) Slowed everything to a crawl
    8) Switched out USB cables (10+ times)
    9) Servicing and maintenance on a strict schedule

    I think the only thing left to do is change out the Shopbot control system and use an aftermarket third party system. I sincerely think there is a problem with the control boards utilized that make them erratic in behaviour and susceptible to errors.

    I'm sure I'll still tinker with the machine, till then can't risk critical work on it.

    Note:
    The machine was fully serviced before trying out the file.

    The errors thrown up range from:
    a) no error at all. Just stops and completely shutsdown. Most common "error"
    b) "Shopbot no longer being recognized"
    c) Something about a limit switch or stop being triggered. Checked all of them and all seemed alright
    I can certainly feel your pain. My 2009 PRS Alpha 96x60 took me several months to get operating properly and without to many errors.

    The most significant thing I did was grounding. As a former electronics technician, in the Coast Guard, for 23 years (dealing heavily in HF communications aboard large ships) and a HAM Extra class for the last 10 years, I cannot emphasize the need for this machine to be PROPERLY and HEAVILY grounded. Every piece that did not have a clean metal to metal touch was grounded using grounding wire. For example, the legs are not properly grounded to the rails, from the factory, because there is paint blocking the ground. You need to scrape paint away and put ground wires in place that jump across these non grounded areas. The spindle is grounded to the Z car, the Z car is grounded to the gantry and the gantry is grounded to the table, the table is grounded to your dust collector, using a wire thru the hose to draw down static, and everything is tied to a COMMON grounded plate and that plate is tied to a GOOD earth ground. The computer/laptop chassis also needs to be grounded to that COMMON grounding plate. If you don't follow this grounding, you WILL have comms errors, which in turn return results you are seeing.

    Since ShopBot can't seem to be able to put together a reliable communications link between the controller and your PC, there will be comms errors. Whenever I have problems, I go check ALL my grounding straps and connections to make sure they are really tight and clean. 99 times out of 100 that fixes the problems. As usual, with ShopBot CNC's, there is the occasional "lost comms" for NO apparent reason whatsoever. Just the nature of this ancient technology. The only reason I don't jump to a Centroid controller is because I still use eCabinets and ShopBot Link in my business. If it wasn't for that, I'd be on another platform.
    Don
    Diamond Lake Custom Woodworks, LLC
    www.dlwoodworks.com
    ***********************************
    Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in one pretty and well preserved piece; But to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, worn out, bank accounts empty, credit cards maxed out, defiantly shouting "Geronimo"!

    If you make something idiot proof, all they do is create a better idiot.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Location
    Thorp, WI
    Posts
    2,783

    Default

    It sounds like you have tried most everything that anyone here would suggest, short of getting a replacement control board from SB. Doing that isn't an upgrade, just a parallel move that may or may not take care of your issues. Also, laptops are not recommended, as they have to many throttling and power conserving options that can cause issues with communication with the controller. Most people never dig into the BIOS and operating system to disable or optimize these settings, some of which still need to be done on a desktop PC as well.

    If you want to keep the base mechanical parts of the machine, I would suggest taking a serious look at converting it to a Centroid Acorn setup. Downside (but really a bonus) is that the "old tech" motors/gearboxes/drivers should be replaced as well. I've been running a Centroid Acorn system for 2.5 years now and in that time, ZERO communication issues or software related hang ups. My "first love" has always been SB and without them I may have never gotten into CNC and am grateful to them for that, but it's way past time to step up and focus on making mechanically solid machines that match up to the competition and partner up with a professional dedicated CNC controls company to provide a solid control system that just works and is actively updated and improved upon.
    Scott

    "It’s easier to fool everyone than it is to convince them they've been fooled" - Mark Twain





  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Hobby-Tronics, Chiloquin Oregon
    Posts
    1,343

    Default

    I got my machine in 2008 as a retirement project. Having grown up and retired from the computer world, the first thing I did before firing up was I replaced every cable with premium cables, connectors, etc. Since then not a single Shopbot caused error (I can make them all by myself). LOL I wish you well in your quest, they really are great machines and the company is even better than the machines! Russ
    AKA: Da Train Guy

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Nairobi, Kenya
    Posts
    34

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by dlcw View Post
    I can certainly feel your pain. My 2009 PRS Alpha 96x60 took me several months to get operating properly and without to many errors.

    The most significant thing I did was grounding. As a former electronics technician, in the Coast Guard, for 23 years (dealing heavily in HF communications aboard large ships) and a HAM Extra class for the last 10 years, I cannot emphasize the need for this machine to be PROPERLY and HEAVILY grounded. Every piece that did not have a clean metal to metal touch was grounded using grounding wire. For example, the legs are not properly grounded to the rails, from the factory, because there is paint blocking the ground. You need to scrape paint away and put ground wires in place that jump across these non grounded areas. The spindle is grounded to the Z car, the Z car is grounded to the gantry and the gantry is grounded to the table, the table is grounded to your dust collector, using a wire thru the hose to draw down static, and everything is tied to a COMMON grounded plate and that plate is tied to a GOOD earth ground. The computer/laptop chassis also needs to be grounded to that COMMON grounding plate. If you don't follow this grounding, you WILL have comms errors, which in turn return results you are seeing.

    Since ShopBot can't seem to be able to put together a reliable communications link between the controller and your PC, there will be comms errors. Whenever I have problems, I go check ALL my grounding straps and connections to make sure they are really tight and clean. 99 times out of 100 that fixes the problems. As usual, with ShopBot CNC's, there is the occasional "lost comms" for NO apparent reason whatsoever. Just the nature of this ancient technology. The only reason I don't jump to a Centroid controller is because I still use eCabinets and ShopBot Link in my business. If it wasn't for that, I'd be on another platform.
    I really do agree. The boards just seem way to sensitive to interferrence of any sort. Just not robust anymore. Will go round the grounding again. I remember when it was giving me major issues before, it was ll because of the grounding. Worth re-checking......then re-checking again

    It's worth a shot.

    Strangely though; while tinkering for the past couple of days.......the errors and stops reduce immensely....... when I unplug the mouse

    Quote Originally Posted by srwtlc View Post
    It sounds like you have tried most everything that anyone here would suggest, short of getting a replacement control board from SB. Doing that isn't an upgrade, just a parallel move that may or may not take care of your issues. Also, laptops are not recommended, as they have to many throttling and power conserving options that can cause issues with communication with the controller. Most people never dig into the BIOS and operating system to disable or optimize these settings, some of which still need to be done on a desktop PC as well.

    If you want to keep the base mechanical parts of the machine, I would suggest taking a serious look at converting it to a Centroid Acorn setup. Downside (but really a bonus) is that the "old tech" motors/gearboxes/drivers should be replaced as well. I've been running a Centroid Acorn system for 2.5 years now and in that time, ZERO communication issues or software related hang ups. My "first love" has always been SB and without them I may have never gotten into CNC and am grateful to them for that, but it's way past time to step up and focus on making mechanically solid machines that match up to the competition and partner up with a professional dedicated CNC controls company to provide a solid control system that just works and is actively updated and improved upon.
    I thought of changing out the control board, but I would just be replacing an outdated board with another. It didn't seem worth it. Came across the Centroid Acorn Setup on another board and it really seems I might end up going that way. Your recommendation is a +1 for that. i really don't wanna give up on the shopbot. It was my first CNC and like you, I would absolutely most definately not be where I am today. I learnt everything i know about CNC on it, and it was immensely forgiving of my mistakes. When I started out it was the only machine I had and had scraped everything together for it. From a garage to an entire full workshop all paid for by the work done by the shopbot. But also as you said; It's way past time for them to step up the software AND hardware. I wouldn't buy a shopbot today though. Its getting old. It almost seems the 5-axis and handibot are taking the spotlight, but really, all i need is a reliable, UPDATED, consistent (in reliability, not errors) 3-axis machine. That's my bread and butter.

    If ShopBot released a new controller board, I'll be the first to buy it. Guarantee.

    Love the shopbot. Strangely, the challenges i've faced with it, have made me better at working with CNC machines. My company was built around it.

    Quote Originally Posted by chiloquinruss View Post
    I got my machine in 2008 as a retirement project. Having grown up and retired from the computer world, the first thing I did before firing up was I replaced every cable with premium cables, connectors, etc. Since then not a single Shopbot caused error (I can make them all by myself). LOL I wish you well in your quest, they really are great machines and the company is even better than the machines! Russ

    That is a new suggestion to me and I think it's brilliant. I think i'll do that first before committing to The CA setup.

    Thanks for that one

    Any specific suggestions on which cables and connectors to switch out?

    I'll keep the thread updated.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Tam Arte Design Studio, Downingtown PA
    Posts
    125

    Default

    Funny, I was just about to post a question about this very phenomena today. I want to see dlcw's grounding setup.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Memphis TN
    Posts
    890

    Default

    Another source of EM issues may be large power users in your building. If you have a major electrical line running near your SB, it could be interfering with the control electronics. No amount of grounding can prevent this type of problem. The answer is to go to the source of the radiation and shield it. So look for nearby large wires that could be throwing stray waves into your machine.
    ShopBot Details:
    2013 PRS Alpha 96x60x12
    4hp Spindle
    12" indexer
    Aspire
    Rhino
    Fusion 360
    Ferrari 360
    Prusa MK3S+

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Nairobi, Kenya
    Posts
    34

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by coryatjohn View Post
    Another source of EM issues may be large power users in your building. If you have a major electrical line running near your SB, it could be interfering with the control electronics. No amount of grounding can prevent this type of problem. The answer is to go to the source of the radiation and shield it. So look for nearby large wires that could be throwing stray waves into your machine.
    Had been previously been warned about that so moved the shopbot into its own corner and ran its own power supply cable directly to the meter drop on a different DB.

    I'm not sure if that could be it.

    Currently purchasing higher spec cables to replace on the machine and see how that goes. Already checked the grounding and all seems good.

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