CamPod a USB to Parallel Port Three Axis Step Generator Available
The CamPod is a small metal box. With a USB connector on one end and a female parallel port connector on the other.
The machine tool operating system software, SuperCamXp is included with each CamPod. SuperCamXp is like a CorelDraw for XYZ machine tools. Draw and cut software with grid and snap features. Straight forward and easy to use machine control from DXF, HPGL or G-code files. You can control machine tools completely free of using G-code files if you so desire.
Great for designing in metal, SuperCamXp has built in fonts for engraving. You can draw tool paths directly on the screen. You move the machine carriage around by pointing and clicking with the mouse to the graphics area of the screen. You can also use the keyboard to enter move to coordinates in absolute or relative form in the command console area of SuperCamXp.
By default CamPods are plug and play compatible with Super Tech & Associate’s motor controllers, servo or stepper. Internal jumpers on the printed circuit board make it possible to cut and jump signal lines to reconfigure the parallel port connector signal pins. There is an on board spare 14 pin dip socket for installing a signal inverter, 74LS14, to achieve proper signal polarity for other equipment manufacture’s step and direction controllers.
SuperCamXp is a multithread application specifically written for the multi-tasking environment that Windows XP offers. Best performance is going to be realized on Intel P4's with Hyper Thread option. I think the new Duo processors will work even better. I have base line tested with a 1.3 Ghz generic laptop so you do not have to have the top of the line computer to use it.
More than one CamPod can be attached to the host Windows XP computer making it possible to run multiple machines on one computer system.
SuperCamXp has advanced motion algorithms. Ramping movements are blended over multiple segments if necessary. Also adaptive arc cord features have been added to the motion planner. These two enhancements greatly improve through put, I have been able to do the same cut jobs in one third of the time that it use to take. And the arcs and circles cut as smooth as can be. The trajectory planner precisely follows the tool path and does not round corners and points in polylines assuring the fastest possible cut speeds but not sacrificing accuracy. Constant velocity motion can be achieved by setting the motion ramp parameters to zero. Feed rate changes during tool path execution are achieved by slide bar controls on the main form.
Designed to work with engravers, milling machines, plasma torch and router tables. The objective is to be able to move seamlessly from drawing made in other applications to machine tool motion control. The idea is to draw the tool path on a separate layer in applications like AutoCad or CorelDraw. First the part to be made is drawn then I use the offset command in AutoCad or the contour command in CorelDraw to draw lines offset from the part drawing. I then move the tool path drawing to a separate layer and export only that either as a DXF or HPGL file. I find HPGL works best with CorelDraw and DXF with AutoCad.
The CamPod has TTL outputs for step and direction signals for each XYZ axis, two relay control signals, homing signal for synchronizing motors on home command, power high signal and driver select signal. Relay A is automatically controlled either rotating spindle or torch on/off for each graphic item. There are also TTL inputs for home limit switches and servo fault line status.
CamPod breakout boards are available which do not include the metal case or the DB25 female connector. Terminal blocks are installed for the step and direction signals along with ground and +5 volts for each axis X, Y and Z. Making it easy to connect to micro stepping drive modules. The single board computer is electrically isolated from the board inputs and outputs by two 74LS244 integrated circuits, thus protecting the expensive computer from wiring errors. There are two spare LED’s with resisters that can be wired to the outputs or inputs for signal indicators. There are two transistors, 2N2222A’s, one for each external relay, configured to sink up to about 100 ma of current. There are terminal blocks for connecting to external relays and home limit switches.
I have been using the CamPod with a Taig Micro Mill that has Gecko G320 drives and Pittman Servo motors with 500 CPR encoders. The maximum rapid travel speed is 48 IPM. I have been using it to make the connector panels on my controllers since August 2006. Empirical tests have shown that the CamPod can create 32000 steps per second, which translates to 1200 RPM with a 1600 micro step per revolution stepper motor and 936 RPM with the Geckodrive Micro Stepping drive.
I ported a great deal of my original SuperCam machine control program source code into the SuperCamXp application. The G-code interpreter leaves much to be desired but I have been able to use a demo version of Deskproto to create complex contoured surfaces, I carved a Santa’s face and the perfume bottle on my Taig Mill.
If you are making machines for resale you may want to give this setup a close review. The major advantage is the human to machine interface, which is so intuitive that a girl can use it. The graphical interface is so straightforward that the operator can be functionally illiterate in the use of G-codes and yet be an effective operator of a machine tool. This is particularly true when it comes to operating plasma torches and computer controlled wood routers. The operator simply picks the graphic item on the screen and the machine follows the centerline of the item at a predefined depth or in progressively deeper cuts until reaching the final cut depth.
I created these items to meet demand from a couple of equipment manufactures that currently use SuperCam as their machine tool control program.
If you are looking for a traditional machine tool operator panel type interface you will not be happy with SuperCamXp’s user interface. Which is much more like a CAD program than machine tool control center, it is a unique approach machine control. I consider my machines more as computerized tools than CNC machines.
There are demo versions of SuperCamXp available at: http://www.super-tech.com/root/grp.a...uperCamXp-Demo
There are four configurations there to choose from, XY Torch, Taig Micro Mill with servo motors, one with 100 CPR encoders and the other with 500 CPR encoders, also there is a configuration for a computerized Dremel drill, which I call the MiniRobo.
The demo version of SuperCamXp has a tool path simulator. Tool paths can be viewed in 2D or 3D by toggling the F6 function key. It will export up to 2K of G-code to a file from the drawing buffer. Users of the original SuperCam have found it quite useful for off machine editing of tool path files.
Should you choose to purchase a CamPod and are not completely satisfied I will be happy to refund your money, within thirty(30) days of receipt. Just send the CamPod back and keep the program, which in release form exports generic G&M code files from the drawings.
For more information, pictures and a schematic of the signal breakout interface go to: http://www.super-tech.com/root/grp.asp?p1=CamPod
I used the CamPod, Gecko drives and a Taig Micro Mill to make and engrave the end plates shown in the web site.
My vision of how machine tools should be controlled is far from complete. I look forward to adding many more enhancements and features to SuperCamXp and the CamPod.
I am also interested in providing a more traditional interface to machine tools. If you would like to create your own user interface software for the CamPod, I would be happy to work with you. Once SuperCamXp is installed the motion engine control is accessible as a system class object with methods and properties.