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upgrade thermwood controller1/13
I have an old 1991 Thermwood machine that does not work. It is a 13000 lb monstrosity that has been a paperweight in my shop for the past 2 years. When I originally bought it, I was told it worked, but after exhausting all my resources at the time, I found a bad controller and a few bad parts that need replacing.
Trying to get it up and running... am thinking the best way forward is to upgrade the controller as I have little interest in replacing the original computer with another 1991 286 equivalent computer...
Does anyone on here know of an affordable option to upgrade? Just received numbers from MachMotion, but they priced the parts at $15000 - seems extreme to me... there must be a hobbiest PC controller that will work.
The system is wired up at 480 - 3 phase and everything is as it should be except for the computer and a few minor parts... any wisdom offered would be appreciated.
I had the exact machine, tore out all the controls except for the power supply and bridge rectifier. Installed gecko stepper drives (yours probably is stepper) and a Flashcut controller. Worked pretty good but still a 13,000lb monstrosity. Takes a fair amount of work but I really enjoyed the project, however you may not like that kind of thing. For me it was my first router and I upgraded fairly quickly! If your looking turn key plug and play retrofit 15k is probably reasonable, I'd look for a used router that's more modern.
How much does thermwood want to update and provide life time tech support?
I would echo the advice to contact Thermwood,they will have a better idea of whats involved than anybody else and they are not unreasonable people.You should also have some assurance that their solution will work.
If you decide to tackle the project yourself I would suggest looking at several alternatives.Mach3 is probably the best known,USBCNC is free and works with several generations of Windows.LinuxCNC does the same sort of thing and is also free and has the advantage that there are no viruses likely to come along.
Since this was a PC controlled machine I would think another PC control package should be able to do the job.
You can give Kelly Davis a call at WinCNC at (304) 472-7206. WinCNC is a highly regarded PC control package used by a number of current router manufacturers. Kelly will be able to tell you if it will work with your older Thermwood machine. If so then any relatively current PC will do the job.
Thank you all for the good advise... The current setup on the router is not pc based - I was only referring to the 286 motherboard and technology that Thermwood used at the time. This will be more of a hobby router for me, and I simply can't put 15k more into it or my wife will divorce me!
So far to this point, with wiring, vacuum setups, delivery, and all the other monies spent on the machine I have 28k into it. I know this is money lost and I cannot re-coup these funds, but it's more than disheartening to know that after such an investment I do not have a functioning system. Stupid investment on my part and if I could change it, I would, believe me. Guess it only strengthens the argument for paying for quality right from the start. As a general contractor, I thought (stupidly) that I could get this machine up and running.
The Thermwood guys are great. They quoted me a new motherboard for this system 2 years ago at around 3k... that with misc other parts should get me up and running for around 5k total if I do the work - and I'll have a system that will function. I guess the real question at this point though is - is it worth it? Or, should I scrap this machine entirely and go with a newer system.
I am primarily a roofer, but grew up building cabinets and working with wood, so this router was a dream of mine to own, but haven't thought of a nice little niche market to make it profitable yet. Most of the routers I have looked at and priced (Multi-cam, NewCNC, etc.) are in the 50K price range and I just can't justify the cost without a way to make the system pay for itself.
Unsure of the best direction...
Do you know if it is stepper or servo? Makes a big difference on a retrofit. If it is stepper, you could easily do a retrofit for less than 5k, IF you can do the work yourself.
Servo... will look at the actuals tomorrow and post online since I have such a knowledgeable audience... thank you guys for your continued responses
I retrofitted a Precix 4x8 router this year for about 1500$. It is also a servo machine. Used Gecko servo controllers, and a smooth-stepper ( converts Ethernet signal into pulses for the breakout board. Used Mach 3. Pretty easy conversion really.
received a quote from the guy I purchased the router from 3 years ago... off the hip quote with no research was 10k for machmotion upgrade or around 25-30k for fanuc controller. Would machmotion do what I need?
Have you asked Thermwood about a comparable upgrade?They have always been willing to incorporate recent developments when asked and you might be more able to sell a machine with a Thermwood upgrade.In fact it could be a lot like a more recent machine.A switch to a windows based controller and a network card could make your work a lot more efficient.