Hi guys and gals;
I just sold my old BP and am looking for an upgrade that can hold a bit better tolerance and eventually would like to do some CNC work.
I stumbled across an older Partner III, 3 HP with a Centurion IV controller. I haven't yet gone and checked it out in person, but the owner says that it works fine as a manual machine by jogging it, but programming is a little sketchy and admits that it was mostly used as a drilling machine the last year it was in operation. Price is cheap, includes 10 Cat 30 tool holders.
That said I'm going to go look at it in person this coming week and want some more info on the machine - I can pick it up for a song and use it as a stout manual machine (which I'm fine with) but eventually I see myself upgrading the controls to something I can hook to a PC.
So if anyone has the answers to any of these milltronics n00b questions I'd appreciate it:
- What kind of steppers/servos does this unit most likely have? How do they keep track of their position?
- What would be a good, reasonably inexpensive drive to run them? Has anyone here retrofitted an older milltronics mill to a PC-based drive? Build thread/log?
- I (briefly) thought about CNC'ing the old BP I had but decided against it, did a lot of reading though. I have a pretty firm grasp of how a geckodrive type system works, but am fairly unclear on how people hook up the feedback (tach/encoder/DRO) back to their PC. Before someone tells me to just spring for a $10k controller solution from milltronics...its not going to happen, and furthermore not economical either.
- What does Partner I, II, III, ..... designate?
- What does Centurion II, III, IV .... designate?
I should add, intended use: I'm riding the line between extreme metalworking hobbyist and mental ward. I used the old BP for mostly precision drilling and milling slots, but have some grand plans that include making parts for my motorcycle and a couple inventions I've got plans in my head for.
Last edited by Greenbuggy; 07-03-2011 at 11:43 AM.
Here is the short version.
“- What does Partner I, II, III, ..... designate?
- What does Centurion II, III, IV .... designate?
The Partner series machines were so named by the original Milltronics owners ,(before Milltronics it was called IIC) when they first started out putting the controls on imported iron back in the late 70's early 80's. The Partner name was given for the "partnership" between the company and their customers. This "partnership" was shown by the excellent customer support provided by, and still provided today, by the company.
P1,6,7,10 are different size vertical machine center made in the USA
P2,3, 4, 5 were different size knee mill machines on imported iron
early P7a and b versions, 8, 9 machines were different size vertical machines on imported, P8 and P9 machines were a 50 taper spindle
The P1,6,7,8,9, 10 grew into the VM series back in about 96.
The original Centurion control Cl and Cll versions (by IIC) dates back into the mid 70's when 4K of RAM was over the top & unheard of, paper tape readers and transistors ruled the world, no CRT just blinking lights to let you know what was going on. These controls were used on industrial projects.
C3 and C4 controls were also IIC products.
The Centurion lll (3) was the first control retrofitted to machines. it had several, (4 I think) 18" X 18" boards strung together, it used "state of the art" IC chips, CRT display, direct input progrgramming. The Centurion lV (C4) control combined 4 boards into one main board about 24" X 24". and could out perform machines costing $1M and had an option of using RS232 and a floppy drive. It did some things NO other control did, at the time.
The later Centurion 1 (C1) control was a less expensive “C-5” it used interfacing parts that cost less then the C5 machines. It was used as a retro-fit package and was sold mainly as a 2 axis retro-fit.
The Centurion V (C5) ( later C1) controls were the 1st PC based control, the first versions (“CAT900 systems”) and -A controls used a "proprietary" " 286 PC" board and version 1 Acroloop control cards all stuffed into a 18" X 18" box The C5-B controls came out with a 386 type motherboard and version 2 Acroloop cards, running DOS 3.2, -c and -d C5 controls added newer functions and features it used the same box but it was not nearly as stuffed. Milltronics has always used current technology when updating their controls and machines.
Centurion Vl (C6) 486 motherboards , DOS 6.22, moved on to Pentium series when they came out. replaced the (up to 5) Acroloop cards for a thing called a NCB board, it could control up to 5 axis + spindle control on one board in one PC slot. still the same box size but it has a lot of extra space in it, Again, adding technology along the way, LCD displays, new software and added functions and features.
C6.5 added the SBC (single board computer to the control, making for adding,
and updating of the controls pretty much PnP.
C7 (7200) controls, big change in technology, The control left the box in the back of the machine and moved up behind the LCD display in the front panel area, interconnect to the interface panel is by fiber optics, new front panel layout. The “control” is now about the same size as a PC power supply. Again more functions and features, new software with S curve plotting.
C8 (8200) this is a whole new control, That I do not have enough experience with.
It runs a version of LINUX for the OS, whole new interface, software and graphics, It appears that it is a "screamer". Contact Milltronics sales or service for more info (952-442-1410) or see CNC Control
All the while that newer controls and functions and features were added, it was done with the mind set to make it as compatible as possible with older controls. ie: Centurion 4 controls can be updated to a current C7. C5 and C6 can be updated to the latest SBC, older controls can have newer software etc.
The exception is that the latest C7.5 and C 8 controls use PNP I/O (and earlier controls used NPN I/O). This makes adding a C7.5 or C8 control to older machines impracticable. A machine would need to be completely rewired. That being said, while the older C5, C6 and C7 software is being updated for functions and features, You can not have some features like “ S curves functions” on a machine built for a C4, C5 or C6 control, the hardware is not there to support it. IE: drives, motors ets.
That it in a "nut shell".
been there. done that.