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Thread: Prolight turning center mach 3 conversion

  1. #1

    Default Prolight turning center mach 3 conversion

    Hello Everyone! New lathe picked up from a local school that was hardly ever used. The controller was sold months before in a previous auction so ill be converting it to mach 3.

    It appears in great shape. Came with a 5C collet holder and quick change tool post. Machine seems really well built.

    Anyone been there done that as far as the conversion and this lathe go? I'd rather monkey see monkey do that reinvent the wheel!

    I'd like the purchase the 5C collet to 3 jaw chuck for it, and maybe possibly go to a gang style tool holding system.

    I guess i need to know where to obtain the pin outs, and the required tech documents of the machine to learn what makes it tick.

    Here are some photos for now.

    Any help would be much appreciated. This will compliment my KX3 cnc mill for prototype use.

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  2. #2


    Do you have manual spindle control now? How about some extensive shots of the electronics? Even if it hasnt been successfully interfaced with prior, many members here could help identify a way. Good find.

  3. #3


    It does have a knob for manual spindle and pc controlled.

    Ill get some more pictures and well go from there. Looks like the spindle has an optical encoder on it for feedback.

  4. #4


    It should be able to turn on the spindle with nothing but a power cord.

  5. #5


    Link to a guys conversion.
    Prolight 3000 Lathe Retrofit - Home Model Engine Machinist

    "The lathe has some really nice features such as precision ground ball screws, limit switches on all axises, a 8 position tool changer, an air operated door and chuck, and the spindle is set up to accept 5C collets. It also came with a 4" 3 jaw Bison chuck to replace the air operated chuck.

    To build the control box I bought three Leadshine Digital DM 856 drives, a Combo breakout board from Sound Logic, a 48 volt 7.5 amp power supply to run the stepper drives, and a C-3 pulse board from CNC 4 PC to tell Mach how fast the spindle is turning. There is an encoder on the spindle motor that tells a RPM gauge on the front of the machine how fast it's turning too.

    I also replaced the Z and X axis motors with some more powerful ones from to make sure I didn't have any issues with missing steps when running. The original motors were 150 oz and the new ones are 282 oz. I didn't replace the tool changer motor as it works just fine.

    I'm happy to report that the lathe is running great, and I have the amps turned way down on the stepper drives as I have plenty of power on each axis. With a simple M code I can control the spindle speed, open and close the chuck and open and close the machine door. Accuracy has been really good and it looks like I can easily keep .0005 accuracy."

    Quick specs
    User manual:

  6. #6


    Hi diyengineer

    this could give you an idea of how to reuse the original stepper drivers and power supply -

    as an alternative to this link you found

    Prolight 3000 Lathe Retrofit - Home Model Engine Machinist


    Last edited by john-100; 09-05-2013 at 04:18 PM.

  7. #7


    Hello John, Good find. I do not have the controller box at all.

    I''m trying to find a suitable, and simple controller solution. My router i went all crazy with servos, and every bell and whistle and i wanted to pull my hair out.

    I'm thinking of installing a Gecko G540 controller, with cnc4pc C3 index pulse card for spindle speed feedback, and upgrading both steppers to Gecko 280oz/in, with a 48V and 5V power supply. This would all be in a single box, with fan, and it would utilize the cnc4pc MPG16 lathe panel with C22 interface board connected to a second parallel port. Seems like it "Should" be a no brainer? However the price tag will be about $900 bucks (for everything).

  8. #8


    Hi diyengineer

    with the Gecko G540, motors and various cnc4pc boards you will be starting with known good parts with detailed instructions
    they may be expensive but you will not be gambling with cheap items that you may need to replace because they don't work as expected

    the MPG16 looks interesting I'll have to remember that


  9. #9

    Default - 4quot 3 Jaw Self Centering Precision Chuck amp 5C Arbor

    I believe this chuck should work out. I will also probably pickup a 16 piece 5C collet set and holder.

    I wouldnt mind a bolt on gang tooling setup, any ideas?

  10. #10


    Hi diyengineer

    a few days ago I read this - Clever gang tooling. =) a possible idea ?

    in the past the old automated lathes I've repaired had 6 tools on a turret - Emi-Mec presents the AutoSprint S
    building a turret will be a lot more work !


  11. #11


    8 Position Gang Tool Bar Omniturn 805 Tool Holder | eBay

    Maybe something along the lines of this? they also have them in single tool, two tool, three tool, etc.

    That Emi-mec is intense!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    united States


    You don't need that 5C collet chuck to mount a standard chuck to your lathe. I think that could cause extra run out and possibly be too heavy for the spindle. I'm not positive, but I don't think they make that 5C adapter for this use.

    The spindle nose on your lathe has a 2 1/4" X 8 thread and there are a ton of used and new chucks on E-bay that will fit this. You can also buy a 2 1/4" x 8 back plate and mount any plain back chuck to it. CDCO has back plates for $42.00 and 4" three jaw chucks for $58.00. I just picked up a 4" six jaw chuck for my lathe from Grizzly for $126 and a back plate for $60. They also have standard 4" 3 jaw chucks for $69. A 5" chuck will fit, but you won't be able to open the jaws all the way because the swing is only 6" so it would be a waist of money to get anything larger than a 4" chuck.

    As for the G540 they are nice, but will only handle 50 volts max so you will have to watch out with the 48 volt power supply and may have to turn it down a bit as most have an adjustment pot on them. Also the G540 is only good for 3.5 amps per motor which to me is a bit low. You only need two stepper drives for you lathe and I think you can get more for your money if you buy separate stepper drives and a breakout board. If you really want an all in one board you could also look into the new unit made by Leadshine. Here is a link to them. They are the same cost as the G540 but can handle more amps and volts. 60 volts and 6 amps per drive. You only get three drives, but again you only need two.
    3-Axis DSP Based Digital Stepper Drive Max 60 VDC / 6.0A | Automation Technology Inc

    There are a ton of different stepper drives and breakout boards to go with so I'm just suggesting an option. I used a breakout board from Sound Logic that works really nice, but cost $250! It was an all in one board with built in power supplies, relays, charge pump, 0 to 10 volt spindle control, etc. I like the board, but if I did it again I would probably try the C-11 board from CNC 4 PC. The quality is lower on the C-11 board, but the price is half of the sound logic breakout board. In the end I spend around $700 for the beakout board, two new motors, three stepper drives, wires, box, power supply, etc. I also added the C3 spindle pulse board to my lathe and it works well.

    If you want to get the spindle to move you have to plug in the lathe and then apply 110vac to a relay inside the power supply that turns on and off the motor board. There should be a cord on the back of the lathe for this 110vac relay that use to plug into the stepper drive box. If I remember right you can simply plug in an extension cord into it. The speed can be controlled with the pot until you put it into the computer mode, then the speed control uses a 0 to 10 volt control from the breakout board to control the speed. I have this hooked up on my lathe, but never use it as I mostly have it at full speed any way.

    I really wish I had that 5C collet draw bar that yours came with as I really want to try some collets. Please do me a favor and measure yours up for me so I can make one up for my lathe.

    It sounds like you know your way around CNC machines, but feel free to ask any questions on how I wired mine up if you need to.
    Dale P.

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