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MichaelHenry
11-25-2006, 12:57 PM
Judging from the IH web site, IH seems to be closing their doors in the next month or so.

Does anybody have an idea of how many IH mills and/or CNC retrofit kits were sold? Tormach seems to be the closest competitor on size and price and their sales seem to have been increasing over the past few months.

Mike

wildcat
11-25-2006, 01:23 PM
Gasp! While I am saddened to see IH close their doors I do not worry about my conversion. Good parts were used - replacements will be available - and having mounted it myself I have the experience to fix it. Wishing Aaron the best - whoever hired him has gained some great skill.

MichaelHenry
11-25-2006, 08:06 PM
It sounds like he intends to provide post-closing support for at least a while, too.

Mike

bohica
11-25-2006, 08:39 PM
I did a lot of research on benchtop mills prior to making a decision on purchasing. In the end, IH won out. I still think IH has the biggest bang for the buck in this market. I recieved the mill about the first of October and just recieved the CNC conversion last week. I still don't regret buying following this bombshell.

Having to do the same thing several years ago, I can fully understand; IH had a superior product, they just lost out on marketing, packaging and pricing.

I hope Arron provides us with sources for replacement parts for both the mill and the CNC compoents. He will survive, so will we.

IndHobby
11-26-2006, 12:24 AM
I have worked too long to get a good rep for support, of course I will provide support and in the end a complete listing of vendors and part numbers.

Runner4404spd
11-26-2006, 08:22 AM
will lathemaster be carrying the Industrial hobbies mill?

phantomcow2
11-26-2006, 07:54 PM
Given that he talks about how he draws a line at importing CNC products from China, I suspect Syil's emergence played a role in this as well.

phomann
11-26-2006, 08:18 PM
I have worked too long to get a good rep for support, of course I will provide support and in the end a complete listing of vendors and part numbers.

Aaron,

It is a real shame to see you close. I have always been impressed by the originality and quality of your workmanship. With so many lurkers waiting to copy good ideas and original thoughts, it makes it tough.

Also, it seems that there are just many who want the cheapest no matter how inferior it may be. It's sad but true.

Good luck.

Peter.

MichaelHenry
11-26-2006, 08:26 PM
Given that he talks about how he draws a line at importing CNC products from China, I suspect Syil's emergence played a role in this as well.


I'm not real familar with the Syil offereing(s) but it looks like their mills have somewhat smaller work envelopes than IH or Tormach. It seems for the size, IH and Tormach were/are the only affordable CNC mills on the market.

Mike

BobWarfield
11-26-2006, 11:02 PM
It will be interesting to see if Tormach raises their price soon with IH out of the market.

Best,

BW

ViperTX
11-26-2006, 11:14 PM
BobWarfield.....I doubt it....there is almost a 3.5:1 price differential.....you still have Lathemaster supplying a very competitive Mill....if Bob would just get serious about marketing his excellent product.

BobWarfield
11-26-2006, 11:28 PM
I think the issue is lack of a CNC mill. There are plenty of ZAY's still on the market, that's true. Just no good CNC options other than build it entirely yourself or Tormach.

Best,

BW

IndHobby
11-27-2006, 02:37 AM
Viper,

I was wondering where you got you numbers.

3.5 to 1 price differential? Maybe when importing heroin, not with machine tools.

I don’t know Tormach numbers, but I know Syil wanted $3100 USD per machine at container quantities.

I figure Tormach is making somewhere in the 20-30% range.

Will he raise his prices? I expect he will, he would be crazy not to.

On top of that all that prices in China are going up, China has been told by the World Bank to revalue their currency in the next 2 years or the World Bank will do it for them.

Remember when stuff from Japan was real cheap, revaluing a currency is a way to bring the prices in line with the rest of the planet. Now it’s China’s turn.

IndHobby
11-27-2006, 02:59 AM
Runner,

Lathemaster will not be importing these mills, no one will. Unit cost per mill was high our mill cost 57% more than Bob’s. Also the container count was low at 41 mills per 40’ container. Seeing as they “look” the same in the pictures the advertising justification of a price difference is low.

SMW Precision
11-27-2006, 02:22 PM
Aaron,

I am sorry to see you go; though I understand why. Ridiculous hours and rest nonsense involved in business ownership. Competition is hard though I have yet to see a good evaluation on Tormach mill.
I disagree on competing against Chinese though it takes side ways solutions. We all wish you the best and appreciate the design and work that went into IH system. I expect mine will run the machine tool life span.

Thanks,

Ken

ViperTX
11-27-2006, 03:33 PM
Aaron...I was using the IH Mill (non-CNC) and comparing it to the Tormach...which I realize is an apple to oranges comparision. The IH Mill with the CNC option is roughly the same price as the Tormach, but much lower then the Smitty CNC 1240.

pzzamakr1980
11-27-2006, 11:49 PM
Aaron, I had a question about your kit. Looking at your mill it seems to be the same as the one Lathemaster is selling. Is this the case and if so, are you going to continue to make the cnc kits even though you are not importing the mills. Because I could still get the mill and then use your fantastic conversion. You mentioned continued support so I would think that would also include replacement parts so a full kit wouldnt be that difficult. I am currently converting a seig x3 to cnc to become my first cnc mill so that I can learn and to start producing parts for my business. But as I've been reading, stepper systems are not really appropriate for full blown production which is what I intend and servo systems are. I also did not feel the seig to be worth the expense to upgrade to a servo system because of its working envelope. Also, I felt that a servo system is far beyond what I need right now. But in the future this is the route I want to take. So saying, are you going to continue with the kits. Please say yes. Also, if the answer is a solid no, are you going to make the plans available for purchase. Thx

One more thing, Your site is full of useful stuff. Keep it around if nothing else.

Runner4404spd
11-28-2006, 07:59 AM
The mill industrial hobbies sold was bigger than the lathemaster mill or all the other RF-45s. hopefully the site will stay around for a while.

Henderson37180
11-28-2006, 03:46 PM
I hate to see Aaron go also. I just bought one of his mills and the CNC conversion kit because I liked what I found on his website. He walks you through the conversion and makes it look like I can have a bridgeport class CNC setup at hobbist chicken feed. But I also understand his problems of unfair offshore competition and depending on a Chinesse manufacture for his mill that sometime lacks quality controls. For example, the newer mills are supposed to have ground ways, but the mill I received still have milling cuts visible on the ways. In fairness the ways do appear to be smooth but the Z-axis binds at the two extremities of movement. I have not check the X and Y axis yet.

ViperTX
11-28-2006, 04:08 PM
From my vantage point the shortcoming of the IH mill are all related to the basic mill....lack of scraped ways, lack of hardened ways, lack of one shot lube system, problems with quill.....

phantomcow2
11-28-2006, 05:26 PM
From my vantage point the shortcoming of the IH mill are all related to the basic mill....lack of scraped ways, lack of hardened ways, lack of one shot lube system, problems with quill.....

You've just described the short comings of nearly every Chinese mill on the market.

The X3 is still pretty good, I was impressed with the quality of the X3 over other Chinese mills.

ozzie34231
11-28-2006, 06:12 PM
Damn shame to see you out of the game Aaron. But if you had a fair year and can see the writing. you're way ahead of most stubborn entrepreneurs who stick it out way too long. (I know, I've been one; ,,,,,a couple times).
I only had a small dealing with you, and you may not remember me, but it was a first class happening, and that's the most anyone can ask.
I think you thought you had a great product, and you were right.
Someone will fill the void you're leaving, I hope they do it as well as you have.

Jerry

ViperTX
11-28-2006, 06:14 PM
Yeah, but the X3 is so tiny.....the TORMACH has all the Chinese Mill deficiencies covered.

Even my Jet Mill/Drill has scraped ways....

1990notch
11-28-2006, 06:18 PM
The X3 is indeed nice. Too bad it's on the small side though. It would be nice if they would build a mill about the size of the RF-45 clones.

phantomcow2
11-28-2006, 06:36 PM
The X3 is not terribly small. I would get something bigger, but 350-400 pounds is about as big as my living situation will allow. Still, it is a good sized for many hobbyists. Expensive compared to the RF clones though

wildcat
11-28-2006, 06:39 PM
The Tormach might have those deficiencies covered in the casting but it introduces others in the CNC. Can't win.

dammachines
11-28-2006, 09:35 PM
The Tormach might have those deficiencies covered in the casting but it introduces others in the CNC. Can't win.

Just wondering, what are the "deficiencies" in the CNC of the Tormach mill?

I've really only had mechanical problems with mine... not CNC issues...

BobWarfield
11-29-2006, 01:44 AM
From my vantage point the shortcoming of the IH mill are all related to the basic mill....lack of scraped ways, lack of hardened ways, lack of one shot lube system, problems with quill.....

The Tormach might have those deficiencies covered in the casting but it introduces others in the CNC. Can't win


Lots of trade offs. Tormach doesn't have hardened or scraped ways, it has Turcite, or rather the Chinese generic equivalent of Turcite. Some like Turcite better, others feel that plastic easily picks up debris and ultimately won't wear very well. The ways on my IH are great, others are unhappy. Tormach has had a mill whose ways were so far out they had to sell it as a bargain on eBay. Stuff happens, but these are all Asian mills, regardless of how you want to dress them up. I doubt that either one of these mills is going to perform as well as a Jet Bridgeport clone converted to CNC. They don't have the beef of a Bridgie.

On the CNC side, Tormach has Chinese ballscrews, IH had Rockford "made in USA" ballscrews. Whose are better? Who knows?

Tormach runs steppers at 65 ipm, IH runs servos at 100 ipm. Servos are pretty much universally agreed to be better, and IH certainly got more performance, but does it matter for your application? Unknown.

There are issues with the IH quill, but not if you run the mill with the quill locked. Tormach has no quill. If I run the mill CNC, I will always run the IH with quill locked, so I've a hard time penalizing it for that. For manual use, the quill is convenient to have for drilling, and I lock it for milling, so it doesn't bother me.

IH runs real Geckos, Tormach has Gecko knock offs. You'll have to decide yourself whether that bothers you or not. It does me, however. I happen to think Mariss is a stand up guy, he is continuously improving his products, and I don't want to buy knock offs on his design as I feel it is completely unfair to him. You should do what your own conscience dictates.

The Tormach spindle has a real advantage over IH because it runs quite a bit faster. This is the biggest win from my perspective. I constantly wish for a faster spindle when cutting aluminum on the IH.

I'm still waiting to see some really cool parts and articles about the Tormach. I've seen more done with the IH to date. If nothing else, Aaron was able to manufacture his CNC kit parts with it. I judge a lot of these products based on whether people are producing parts similar to what I want to produce or not.

In the end, I still think the IH was a better deal for me. I've had minimal warts with mine, and the savings versus a Tormach was substantial. Others who want to buy a cheap CNC and dive in making chips clearly find the Tormach superior. I think the lack of a finished mill at a reasonable price together with less "engineering-tific" marketing than Tormach were IH's biggest business shortcomings.

Lastly, the ZAY/Rung Foo community is a big one. Some of us just had our mill orphaned. Sort of. Still lots of ZAY mills being made and sold. We're going to be able to get parts and accessories for a long time to come, so I don't think it'll be a big hardship. Those that have done the CNC conversion are in a position to maintain their machines as well.

The Tormach is a much more special purpose machine that comes assembled out of the box. If the next step on the evolution scale happens to hurt it badly enough to put them out of business, I think it will be a lot harder on the Tormach users. This is something every machine tool purchaser needs to think about to some extent when they buy a machine. Most of these companies like IH and Tormach are tiny, and fairly vulnerable to these kinds of upsets.

Best,

BW

Richards
11-30-2006, 07:12 PM
My decision to buy Aaron's mill was totally related to Greg's (at Tormach) stepper controller. I'm a big fan of Mariss at Gecko. None of his products has ever caused me problems of any kind. Since I haven't purchased anything from Greg, I can't comment of what his product do or don't do.

Aaron is a great guy. When I visited his place last summer, I saw nothing but good honest endeavor there. I hate to see him closing his doors, but, as a business owner, I've had to do similar things in my own businesses in the past. I wish him the best - and I hope that someone else sees the possibilities and fills the void.

ViperTX
11-30-2006, 08:59 PM
Well regarding Turcite or PTFE....most of the newer Bridgeports use it....

I have to admire Tormach's Design Analysis and the Quality Certificate for each machine.

Regarding price an IH with IH's CNC kit, is comparable in price to the Tormach...

Tormach's ballscrews were ground....does making them in China make a difference....well only if the proper quality control is lacking...

Are either of these machines comparable to a new Bridgeport....certainly not!

Richards
11-30-2006, 09:33 PM
There is nothing that I've experienced to show that "China's" presumed quality has any merit. In fact, I would be very suspicious when 'any' manufacturer shows credentials from China. As far as I'm concerned, unless an unbiased, respected member of the CNC community confirms Tormach's "quality", I would simply say that it is all advertising. Does anyone really think that Tormach's stepper drives are equal to Geckos? To me that is the very basis of the question. I can't trust anything stated from Tormach until I can verify that they have a better stepper driver than the industry standard supplier, Gecko.

MichaelHenry
12-01-2006, 12:46 PM
It might be better to address Tormach quality issues in the Tormach forum, since this is the IH forum.

Mike

Richards
12-01-2006, 02:26 PM
Mike, normally I would agree with you, but it seems that you started mentioning Tormach quality in your original post in this thread, and then mentioned it other times in the thread. :)

My concern is, now that Aaron will no longer be supplying mills or furnishing CNC kits, that some of us might think that the only alternative is to buy a Tormach. Personally, that's not something that I would want to do today (perhaps later when there is more user history available). It seems to me that if Tormach can offer a CNCed mill for less than $7,000, then someone else could do the same for the IH mill - and use servos and Geckos instead of no-name steppers and no-name drivers. Do I have an axe to grind with Tormach? Not at all. I've been treated very well when I've emailed them. They have supplied me with all the information that I've requested. However, my eyes are not totally closed to the fact that there is a huge controversy concerning their stepper drivers. We're all aware also that one of their mills was listed on Ebay when it was found that it could not be easily fixed after the factory messed up on it. That goes right to the heart of whether we can or should trust any documentation coming out of China. How would it be possible to manufacture a machine, certify it and then have to admit that, not only did it not meet specs, but that it was so far out of tolerance that it was being dumped on Ebay with a warning that it would need some serious work done on it before it would be usable? To sit back and watch fellow IH owners flock to another company without being aware that there might be reason for caution would not be very reasonable on my part.

This is definitely the IH forum where IH mills should be discussed. But the only other mill that I'm aware of that is a kissing cousin to the IH is the Tormach. Let's not start thinking that with IH closing shop, that there is only one other choice.

MichaelHenry
12-01-2006, 03:17 PM
[quote/]Mike, normally I would agree with you, but it seems that you started mentioning Tormach quality in your original post in this thread, and then mentioned it other times in the thread. [quote]

Well, it was only a suggestion based on the assumption that those interested in Tormach quality can probably find more Tormach users on that section. In reviewing the thread, I don't think I said much if anything about quality on either Tormach or IH anyway, but mostly posted on the possible sales numbers for either.

[quote/]But the only other mill that I'm aware of that is a kissing cousin to the IH is the Tormach. Let's not start thinking that with IH closing shop, that there is only one other choice.[quote]

The above seems contradictory - if there is only one "kissing cousin" how can there be be other than one choice remaining with IH closing it's doors? I can see where Syil and similar mills can be attractive for home shops but the working envelope seems a lot smaller on those. Not to to suggest that's bad - only that it puts them in a different class.

Mike

IndHobby
12-01-2006, 04:11 PM
First of all I would like to set the record straight, I have NEVER considered kissing Tormach. :)

And although both of you have valid points here are a few things you should keep in mind.

For the most part China will do just about anything for money. They are 7000 miles away, they don’t fear law suits. Their job is to get it out the door.

Do you want a certificate of quality (or something to that extent), give me $20 and an hour and I’ll have China send you one. I can have is say ANYTHING you want, “best lover”, “best machinist”, “Master of space and time”. Anything.

Tormach has 2 options.

1 Have a man on the ground in China that you trust with hundreds of thousands of dollars to inspect EVERYTHING.

2 Pray when the container shows that they are sellable.

Which option he has chosen is his business.

The other thing to consider:

Opinions, views, comments, spam, flaming anything you can write down in ANY forum can be bought and sold for a lot less money than you think.

These machines cost as much as a small car, get in a plane a go see whatever you are going to buy. I have encouraged folks to come on down, you can sit around all day as far as I’m concerned as long as I get to keep working.

The point is simple, trust only what you personally see, measure or do, everything else is hearsay.

Richards
12-01-2006, 08:05 PM
Aaron, I'm happy that you cleared up the 'kissing' thing.:) Your closing your business will leave a big void in the world where most of us who use your mill live. So far, except for a little oil dripping (which you warned me about before I bought your mill, everything has worked perfectly. It is a much better mill than I expected - regardless of the price.

As you so clearly stated, anyone can get a 'certificate' from suppliers in China - who seemingly work on a completely different ethical standard than the rest of the world. Please note that I'm not saying that anyone from any company tolerates dishonesty. But as you pointed out, without someone in country to verify everything, you just have to trust the people in China. That's something that I won't do. When I buy something from an American company, I'll hold that company responsible for the product that it sells - whether the product is manufacured according to ISO standards, or whether it is manufactured with no standards. As far as I'm concerned, the quality had better be in the product before the name goes on the product. In my opinion, the IH mill fulfills those expectations. Granted, I haven't mounted dial indicators and checked every axis and every point of every axis to see just how good the mill is, but I have cut a lot of aluminum and have been able to hold specs to the level that I require.

Going back to the 'kissing cousin' competitor for a minute. I have no idea what procedures and protocols Greg has in place. I do know that whatever he had in place has already failed in a very public way. That doesn't concern me too much. As far as I understand, he handled the matter to the satisfaction of everyone involved. That is very important to me. Things happen in life. How they are handled shows what a man/woman is made of. In my opinion Greg handled that matter correctly.

The other point, that is the basis of my hesitancy to deal with anyone except IH when it comes to buying a mill is the old Protobyte/Gecko fight. That happened long before I ever considered buying anything except stepper motors and stepper drivers directly from Oriental Motor. I don't know what happened between Greg and Mariss. I don't really care what happened between Greg and Mariss. What I am totally aware of is that Mariss keeps inventing new and better ways to drive motors. To my understanding Protobyte does not. Personally, I have four G212 stepper drivers from Gecko on my test bench, a G340 on my test bench and a G101/G102 that I also have on my test bench. I would buy those products again without hesitation. I would NOT buy - for any reason - the Protobyte stepper driver. That's just my opinion. I can read - thank goodness for the American School System. What I have read will keep me from purchasing any product that uses Protobyte products. In addition to that, I've designed and built process control computers for more than thirty years. My experience also dictates that I would never buy a Protobyte product. THAT'S JUST MY OPINION. Everyone is free to do exactly as they please. As far as that goes, I don't think that I'll ever buy another CNC machine that uses stepper drives. I own a Shopbot Alpha - which is basically a very nice machine. In the course of trying to solve a problem that seemed to be inherent in the machine, I added a 3:1 belt drive gearbox to the Alpha. The problem went away. It 'seems' to be that the power-down mode inherent in a stepper driver/motor caused the problem. A servo doesn't have that limitation. All of my future purchases will have servo motors.

Believe it or not, I'm really not trying to knock Greg or anyone at Tormach. I'm just stating my opinions - and some of the reasons that I have those opinions. Perhaps sometime in the future I'll do business with Tormach, but there are a lot of questions that will first have to answered to my satisfaction before that will ever happen.

BobWarfield
12-01-2006, 09:47 PM
Those inspection sheets are a bit humorous. Even if you take them at face value, you still have to read what they really say and understand what it means. You also need to take these measurements yourself and see how it comes out on your machine.

For example, there has been a great deal of hand wringing on these forums over the IH's supposed problems with inaccuracies in Z-Travel. I measured my mill when I read those posts in order to see how it was doing. For comparison, the Tormach spec in the inspection sheets says their mill is accurate in Z perpendicularity to 0.0014" over 5.9".

Here is what I concluded:

- My IH measured to 0.00075" over half the Z-travel, which is a distance nearly twice the travel for which the Tormach is spec'd to develop half the accuracy. Hence, one could argue my IH exceeds their spec by 4x. For Viper's benefit, Bridgeport's spec is 0.002362" for this, which my IH is still beating handily.

- My quill is off by 0.005" for most of its travel. The Tormach is 3x better, but then you wouldn't bother using the quill in a CNC conversion so it is an irrelevant comparison. Heck, if I were keeping my mill manual, I would be planning a Z-axis power feed and probably still would think of losing the quill.

- This is exactly the spec that should have shown up on the machine that had a tapered Z-axis dovetail that was sold on eBay. Interesting that it passed the quality control process with a clean bill of health on the inspection sheet. Goes to show that despite what the spec sheet may say, Aaron's comment that it may not be right holds.

Best,

BW

ViperTX
12-01-2006, 11:13 PM
Come on Bob....and American made products have never slipped under the Quality Radar Screen......give me a break....

Also the measurements that you made....were they on a machine that was just out of the box? A sample of one....give me a break...

And when was the last time that you had your indicators calibrated by a known calibration laboratory......

We are beating a dead horse....IH is out of business and Tormach lives for a bit longer......

Personally Tormach...made a mistake by selling that system on ebay....they should have scrapped it.....it could be just a mistake by a company that is also struggling to survive.....time will tell....

Mariss Freimanis
12-01-2006, 11:35 PM
I'm very sad to hear Industrial Hobbies is closing its doors. We have done business with Aaron many times in the past and I can attest he he is an individual who has the highest business ethics of anyone I know.

Aaron resisted going the Chinese route. In the end I'm guessing it is to some degree the reason that caused him to make the decision he did. He did not bend to "quality be damned, give me the lowest price" so many seem to be mesmerized with now.

Read his words carefully, they are true. Mind in particular because he has no axe to grind now; it's over for him. One by one, thousands of Aarons are being taken out. You've read only one story, Aaron's. You haven't even heard of the thousand others.

Who is Aaron being replaced by? Importers.

It's not a Geckodrive vs. Tormach thing. Buy our drives, buy the other guy's drives, buy the drives from the man behind the tree. I don't care.

We are a small business (doing very well, thank you) and the only way we know how to survive is to fight like junkyard dogs when our work is copied to down to even the mistakes. Fair competition in this world is hard enough without having to compete against my own work.

This fight doesn't include just Tormach. We recently stopped a Chinese copy of our G320 drive thanks to the efforts of some people here on CNCzone. We are hot on the tracks of a Russian copy of another drive. Greg is an honorable person and I have been given new reason to believe he will do the right thing.

This is all tedious and contentious I know. I personally hate writing seemingly destructive stuff as much as you probably hate reading it. I like an easy ride.

Consider what would happen if we didn't fight to keep what are our designs.

Some have naively offered "Forget about it. Just design something better." Doesn't work that way in the real world. I don't own a magic hat from which I can pull a fully-formed new design ready for sale. A new design takes over a year of effort and lots of money.

In reality the way it works is to come up with a single good design that sells well. It then funds thru profits new designs. Basic R&D 101. A new design is an enourmous time and money black-hole; ask me about the G-Rex.:-)

After a long while the new design comes on-line, goes thru the shakedown bug phase, sells, makes money and the process repeats.

Piracy short-circuits this process. Copies take what is proven, duplicates it and reaps the profits from a worked-out product. Zero effort, maximum no-risk gain. Kind of like the game plan of a virus or parasite.

We would eventually be overcome if we didn't fight. We have to make life as miserable and unpleasant as possible for the copier. If we didn't fight, for everyone that dares to copy there are ten on the sidelines looking to see if it's safe to do so. It's like weeding a garden; not a problem if you do it every day.

If we didn't fight, we would go out of business. There is no winning against someone who takes your work without putting in the effort that it took to make it in the first place. That is a disadvantage that cannot be overcome and I don't own a magic hat.

Fair competition is someone uses his own ideas, maybe borrows some of ours and synthesises a new product. Unfair competition is a hack that slavishly copies our work, mistakes and all. Too many of those and we go out of business.

Don't worry about me; I'm way too fixed. I'll be on a tropical island with a really cool mansion I own behind me on the beach sipping adult beverages with a little umbrella in them.

I won't be doing drives though. After the copiers let me know it's just not worth it anymore, ask yourself: who will they then copy from then?

Aaron was driven from the market by the same pressure we have. We will hang in there unless the pressures show it's not worthwhile anymore. For Aaron, I wish the very best for him. He is an honest man that chose quitting over cutting corners.

Mariss

Cruiser
12-02-2006, 11:02 AM
does making them in China make a difference ............ Any screw is only going to be as good as the machine they are made on ! what are they using in china and .........

BobWarfield
12-02-2006, 11:54 AM
Come on Bob....and American made products have never slipped under the Quality Radar Screen......give me a break....

Also the measurements that you made....were they on a machine that was just out of the box? A sample of one....give me a break...

And when was the last time that you had your indicators calibrated by a known calibration laboratory......

We are beating a dead horse....IH is out of business and Tormach lives for a bit longer......

Personally Tormach...made a mistake by selling that system on ebay....they should have scrapped it.....it could be just a mistake by a company that is also struggling to survive.....time will tell....

Viper, you're the guy that always wants to disagree. Anyone can see that just by reading through your posts. That's fine, have at it. But are you actually going to make a real point here with any facts, or just hem and haw as usual? What are the equivalent measurements on your Jet milling machine? What kind of indicator are you using, and when was it last calibrated? Maybe that Jet isn't doing any better than these Tormach and IH mills on Z-Axis perpendicularity. You have a critical eye, you should know these things about your machine.

For the record, the measurements were made on an IH mill straight out of the box. The indicator used was a brand new Indicol tenths indicator purchased expressly for these measurements. They are, BTW, quite excellent indicators and I've enjoyed using it for a variety of other things. I say I bought it for these measurements because I did not own a tenths indicator before this.

In terms of slipping under the quality control screen, I've said nothing in my post other than that things do slip under the quality control screen. This is true for any manufacturer, but it is particularly true for the low cost provider. There is a reason they low cost, isn't there? If you look carefully, you will also see the case being made that quality is a bell curve, and you can get a machine that exceeds specs as well. I've no doubt I was lucky in that respect. OTOH, several others on this board came up with similar measurements to mine after my original post, so it isn't a complete one off. My other point is you need to really know what the specs mean for your machine, understand how your own machine performs, and don't just assume that because one machine has an inspection sheet and others don't that it even matters to you necessarily. Whether the specs given really aren't that impressive even if your machine hits them, whether the QC process lets machines through that aren't on spec, whether the spec even matters to your work (why do I care about the quill on a CNC conversion?) are all relevant.

You say Tormach made a mistake listing the machine. I can't see why that is a mistake, unless you believe that if you were running the business you would have hidden that machine by scraping it. That's just a tacky way to do business, and it would catch up to you. The Tormach people do not seem to be tacky business people at all. They seem to be quite shrewd and good business people. I think the Gecko drive clone is the one place they've slipped up. Given all the bad press that's been floated on it, I would think they'd switch sooner rather than later.

One of the reasons I think Tormach won this foot race is they actually tried to get a lot more quantitative information out there about their machine as well as all sorts of other kinds of information. To start hiding their issues and mistakes would immediately set off warnings that would eventually damage their credibility. Look at Mariss. He writes up mistakes that nobody would likely have even found out, then he writes how he is improving his test methodologies, what board rev fixes the problem, and usually even replaces the board for anyone that hits the problem.

Given that I don't personally trust these spec sheets and QC procedures for machines in this price range, I will always focus on reputation and results. What are people saying about the machines? How qualified are those people to make those statements, and how did they reach that conclusion? Most importantly for me is what kind of parts are they doing on the machine? The last one is where I continue to see very little result from Tormach. I'm not saying its anyone's fault, I just would like to see a large gallery on their site with lots of pics of parts made there, as well as some independent Tormach owners showing off the parts. Any machine I get, I'm going to take a set of measurements on to satisfy myself how well it is working. I will also look at any adjustment I might make to the machine to improve it. Doesn't that just seem like how a machinist should approach the problem?

Given the demise of IH, it is highly likely I'll own a Tormach at some stage. I tried to buy the one on eBay, but it got out of the range I was willing to pay. I will be curious to benchmark it against the IH when I have one in hand. I think Tormach has an excellent reputation at the moment, and I heartily congratulate them on it.

Best,

BW

wildcat
12-02-2006, 12:21 PM
The SmithyCNC might be an alternative to the Tormach with several features that address many of the concerns expressed regarding Tormach and frankly IH in this thread. Unfortunately, there is a price premium.

http://www.smithycnc.com/features.html

BobWarfield
12-02-2006, 01:26 PM
The SmithyCNC might be an alternative to the Tormach with several features that address many of the concerns expressed regarding Tormach and frankly IH in this thread. Unfortunately, there is a price premium.

http://www.smithycnc.com/features.html


It's a nice machine, but the price premium is high!

I suspect the next iteration past the Tormach will be a stepper + llinear slides machine like this one. I'll bet someone can do it a lot cheaper though. Perhaps Tormach will have a "premium" version of some kind for a few thousand more.

Best,

BW

MichaelHenry
12-02-2006, 01:55 PM
Well, it seems that folks want to discuss quality, so here's my take.

Tormach says that they've added an auditor on-site during the final inspection process. See the July newsletter on the Tormach web site if you want to verify that.

I have run through most of the QC checks on my own Tormach mill and found most of them to be very close to the hand written measurements on the inspection sheet. Mill tram is an issue but it looks like that can be adjusted pretty easily after a brief exchange with Greg at Tormach. I'm in the middle of that now and will probably report on the results in the Tormach section at some point. It may even be possible to improve the tram spec given enough patience and desire, but I'm not convinced that is need for the normal class of work I'll be doing. IAC, if my parts fit together I'll be happy, regardless of the specs.

In my case, the Tormach mill was tested in my garage and then moved to the basement in several pieces with little change in QA measurements. I was at least a little surprised at that as I can usually find a good way to screw something up when it needs to be disassembled and re-assembled. I'm no expert at CNC mill design, but did find that the Tormach was fairly easy to take apart and re-assemble.

For Mariss - I hope that you will post an update here if you come to some sort of understanding with Tormach. I'll admit that the issue of copied drives on the Tormach bothered me, but the discussion seemed to have gotten too far out of hand to post by the time I saw the threads.

Finally, I'll also add my best wishes to Aaron. He seems to have earned a lot of respect from those that have dealt with him and its too bad he has to move on. Competition just means better products for owners or prospective purchasers, no matter which mill they decide to buy.

Mike

Richards
12-02-2006, 08:10 PM
Mike,
Your comments: "I'll admit that the issue of copied drives on the Tormach bothered me, but the discussion seemed to have gotten too far out of hand to post by the time I saw the threads." are the very basis of my discomfort.

I would suspect that most of us reading the various forums in the CNCZone are basically 'blue-collar' guys who have to produce some kind of product in order to pay our bills. I think that at day's end, we put our feet up and reflect a little on how the day went. I think that we evaluate whether we gave a full days effort for a full day's pay. I also think that if we see a fellow employee taking a nap, or shirking his responsibilities, at the very least we cross that fellow off the list of people that we trust. At the very least, we expect people to be honest, to work hard, to give fair value for fair pay. In my world, as I suspect in all of our worlds, there is mostly black and white with almost no gray. In other words, we believe in absolutes. Situational ethics are for criminals to debate. In our world, something is either right or it is wrong.

Why then, do we make compromises when we buy equipment? Why do we look the other way, when we know that there is a LARGE gray area involved that needs to be settled? Why are we willing to make a buck or save a buck at someone else's expense, when we know that we would never accept that kind of conduct from our fellow workers? Is our integrity for sale? I sincerely hope not.

In one of my emails or possibly a phone call to Tormach, I stated very clearly, that when they offered their mill with Gecko drivers, I would be first in line to buy that mill. As much as I need a 'ready-to-use' mill, my integrity is not for sale. Please note, this is not a comment on Greg or on Tormach, they have a right to use what ever products they choose. At one time I was under the assumption that Greg was very closely connected to Protobyte. That seems to be an error on my part. If I am mistaken, then I offer my sincere apologies to Greg - not for any affiiation with Protobyte, but for the fact that I assumed something without checking my facts.

Now, if you'll bear with me for another paragraph, I'm almost finished. There are companies, NOT Tormach and NOT IH, that like to threaten to sue anyone who disagrees with them, claiming slander. Our history as citizens of the United States of America started with that very problem. King George demanded that we accept his terms. We thumbed our noses at him and dumped his precious Tea in the harbor. Are we cowards? What about just a few years ago, when an European demanded that everyone look the other way while he seized Poland? How often are we going to turn our heads because someone waves a big club in our faces? Personally, I'm tired of bullies. I've had my fill of them. They lurked around the playgrounds when I was a boy. They seem to be everywhere in government around the world. But they're not going to dictate what equipment I buy or tell me what I can think or what I can write. Enough is enough.

Thank you Mike for hearing me out. This post is NOT directed towards you. You seem to be a total gentleman. What I am sensing is that there are others, just like me, who are sick and tired of being fed a bunch of bull from greedy manufacturers whose only concern is their 'bottom line". If there is no room for ethics in business, then God help us, because we'll get just what we deserve.

Richards
12-03-2006, 10:39 AM
If anyone got the impression that I put Mariss in the 'greedy manufacturers' catagory or 'playground bully' catagory, I apologize. To me, Mariss is one the nicest guys that I've ever talked to on the telephone. I consider him to be one of us 'blue collar' guys who works for a living (although at slightly higher pay scale than most of us would ever hope to achieve) :) I put him in 'our' catagory because he's willing to roll up his sleeves and get his hands dirty. He 'pounds' new designs out of electronics just like we 'pound' parts out of metal. He's a master craftsman at what he does - not a "greedy manufacturer" and certainly not a 'bully'.

-Mike Richards

BobWarfield
12-03-2006, 12:07 PM
I'm sure the folks at Tormach regard the drive situation as largely a "he said-she said" thing. OTOH, it is entirely possible to verify Mariss' claims about the copying since it is so blatant.

Were it me in their shoes, I would switch to Gecko and raise the mill price slightly if I had to in order to cover any increase in cost. In fact, I would likely pass along half the increase and split the difference. I think this would send a hugely positive signal to the world.

Regarding quality, I do remember my first reaction of finding the Tormach QA spec--I was excited and thought it was a great idea, and I still do. My second idea (which I've stated elsewhere in these and other forums) was a fond desire that machinists take it on themselves to measure and publish the result they get on their own machine against those specs.

Wouldn't it be great to be able to compare Tormach, IH, Rong Fu XYZ, and all the Bridgeport clones and see how they were really doing? For those buying used machines, I'd love to have some idea what their before-and-after results were.

Unfortunately, its a lot of trouble for most people who just want to get on making chips. Sure would make for an interesting and useful database of information though. There's nothing quite like real facts to cut through the hearsay and innuendo.

Best,

BW

wildcat
12-03-2006, 01:33 PM
OT - Competition does not insure "better" products. "Better" is generally a multi-dimensional concept (e.g. rigidity, accuracy, squareness, power, performance, support, price, etc.) and unfortunately is often overwhelmed by the price dimension. Competition can result in tit-for-tat "improvements" (e.g. software industry) or corner cutting and service reduction (airline industry). I am for competition in general but realize it sometimes it fails in a consumer environment.

Mariss Freimanis
12-03-2006, 05:05 PM
Good competition: Man builds mousetrap. You look at the mousetrap. You build a better mousetrap.

Someone builds a better mousetrap than yours (maybe the first guy, maybe another guy). Everyone wins, especially mousetrap users. Only the mice lose.

Bad competition: Man builds mousetrap. You copy his mousetrap. You have an unfair advantage because you didn't have to invest the time and gold to design it. Original man goes out of business.

You do the same to the other mousetrap builders. They go out of business. Your traps are cheaper after all. You become the only mousetrap builder left standing.

Everyone loses except you and the mice. Mousetrap users are left with only one choice so you don't care if your traps work or not.

Good competition spurs innovation and progress. Bad competition drives innovators from the marketplace; they become lawyers or something else instead. There is money to be made representing maimed mice.

Mousetrap users are left lamenting how all their traps are marked "Made in China" and wonder how come so many mice they see are limping now. Someone writes an article linking limping mice to global warming.

Mariss

Kipper
12-03-2006, 06:56 PM
Good competition: Man builds mousetrap. You look at the mousetrap. You build a better mousetrap.

Someone builds a better mousetrap than yours (maybe the first guy, maybe another guy). Everyone wins, especially mousetrap users. Only the mice lose.

Bad competition: Man builds mousetrap. You copy his mousetrap. You have an unfair advantage because you didn't have to invest the time and gold to design it. Original man goes out of business.

You do the same to the other mousetrap builders. They go out of business. Your traps are cheaper after all. You become the only mousetrap builder left standing.

Everyone loses except you and the mice. Mousetrap users are left with only one choice so you don't care if your traps work or not.

Good competition spurs innovation and progress. Bad competition drives innovators from the marketplace; they become lawyers or something else instead. There is money to be made representing maimed mice.

Mousetrap users are left lamenting how all their traps are marked "Made in China" and wonder how come so many mice they see are limping now. Someone writes an article linking limping mice to global warming.

Mariss


I'm laughing after reading this analogy...although I "know" it's not funny really.....I dont know the facts so cant comment any further :(

philbur
12-03-2006, 08:24 PM
Hi Richards,

I think dragging poor old King George and Adolf Hitler into the ring is a bit OT for a discussion on small, hobby type CNC mills.

Regards
Phil



Our history as citizens of the United States of America started with that very problem. King George demanded that we accept his terms. We thumbed our noses at him and dumped his precious Tea in the harbor. Are we cowards? What about just a few years ago, when an European demanded that everyone look the other way while he seized Poland?

Loadedagain
12-04-2006, 10:17 AM
do you know how the mice feel? i do dammit! all your comments have been recorded and we expect your defamatory comments will bite you in the rump once our class action suit has been filed. the mice will not take this fall.



Good competition: Man builds mousetrap. You look at the mousetrap. You build a better mousetrap.

Someone builds a better mousetrap than yours (maybe the first guy, maybe another guy). Everyone wins, especially mousetrap users. Only the mice lose.

Bad competition: Man builds mousetrap. You copy his mousetrap. You have an unfair advantage because you didn't have to invest the time and gold to design it. Original man goes out of business.

You do the same to the other mousetrap builders. They go out of business. Your traps are cheaper after all. You become the only mousetrap builder left standing.

Everyone loses except you and the mice. Mousetrap users are left with only one choice so you don't care if your traps work or not.

Good competition spurs innovation and progress. Bad competition drives innovators from the marketplace; they become lawyers or something else instead. There is money to be made representing maimed mice.

Mousetrap users are left lamenting how all their traps are marked "Made in China" and wonder how come so many mice they see are limping now. Someone writes an article linking limping mice to global warming.

Mariss

Richards
12-04-2006, 11:17 AM
Phil,
You've made your choice about owning a Tormach. Perhaps you were not aware of the controversy concerning the stepper drivers. Perhaps you were aware of it. In any case, you bought a Tormach. I will not buy a Tormach. I believe in being totally honest and I expect people I deal with to be totally honest. I am not claiming that Tormach is not an honest company, but there is enough data present to show the the driver issue has not been settled. Until Tormach uses Gecko drivers, they won't have my business.

Perhaps you could explain why it is perfectly acceptable for any manufacturer to basically threaten to sue my socks off if I don't totally agree with his point of view or to keep my mouth shut otherwise. To me that is exactly what those government leaders did. The only difference between their actions and the action of a manufacturer bent on suing someone, is the size of club. A bully is a bully. Period. They will continue to bully as long as people cower before them.

I'm also assuming that both you and I are man enough, that if someone came into your house or my house and told either you or me to keep my opinions to myself or face them in court, that both of us would grab that person by the seat of his pants and by the scruff of his shirt and help him leave the house as quickly as his legs could move.

This issue is clear cut. It's about honesty and bullies. I vote for honesty and I vote against bullies. To make it even more clear, Mariss is an honest man. I vote to use Gecko products.

philbur
12-04-2006, 03:48 PM
I would like to express a different opinion.

A certificate of quality, such as the Tormach certificate of inspection (see link below) is for me an extremely valued document. It contains a range of tests with minimum acceptable and actual measured values for each.

http://www.tormach.com/document_library/PCNC1100_CertInspect_V3.pdf

The minimum acceptable values establish a common understanding as to what the dealer is expected to deliver and what the buyer can expect to receive. If your machine, on delivery, doesn’t meet the minimum defined precision then it is an easy matter to resolve this with a reputable dealer, because the agreed terms of the purchase are clear. If your dealer is disreputable then 1) you choose badly and 2) you still have the potential for recourse in law. Don’t forget that your contract is with the American dealer not the Chinese manufacturer. With no certificate you have one opinion and the dealer may well have an equally valid but alternate opinion, where do you go from there. A certificate of performance is not hearsay it is a contractually binding document.

I’ve never seen a detailed specification of a commercial machine that did not include a comprehensive statement regarding precision of the machine. I would suggest that the reason is as stated above and that a professional buyer would not contemplate the purchase of a machine without it.

So for me the value in the certificate is not an absolute guarantee that the machine will meet the requirements but it makes life so very much easier for the buyer when it does not. In addition it puts pressure on the dealer to chase the Chinese supplier to deliver products according to a specification and in the long run that will be good for all of us. So I would suggest that we all have an obligation to the CNC community to insist on such a statement of performance before we place an order.

Regards
Phil




For the most part China will do just about anything for money. They are 7000 miles away, they don’t fear law suits. Their job is to get it out the door.

Do you want a certificate of quality (or something to that extent), give me $20 and an hour and I’ll have China send you one. I can have is say ANYTHING you want, “best lover”, “best machinist”, “Master of space and time”. Anything...................

The point is simple, trust only what you personally see, measure or do, everything else is hearsay.

Richards
12-04-2006, 04:38 PM
Phil,
That certificate is extremely valuable, for all the reasons that you stated. The one public time that a Tormach machine totally failed to meet those specifications, Tomach handled the problem properly (in my opinion) by replacing the machine.

Mistakes happen in any company. Sometimes people are not properly trained, therefore they have no idea of the importance of a particular step required by the company. Sometimes people forge documents because, until that point, everything proved to be within spec. and the time to test might have seemed to be a waste of valuable time. Sometimes the documents are considered valuable by only one party, perhaps the U.S. importer, and worthless by the other party, perhaps the Chinese representative who is responsible to furnish high-quality equipment. None of that should matter to the end user, as long as the U.S. Manufacturer verifies the test results before shipping the machine, after all, it is their responsibility to insure that the machine meets specs.

Since it seems that someone totally messed up on the Chinese end, as a consumer, I would not only expect, but I would demand that Tomach have a U.S. representative personally conduct the tests from this time forward and personally sign each certificate attesting to the measurements and certifying that the machine actually met all advertised specs. Anything less shows that the certificate is actually just a meaningless sales ploy - not a document certifying the accuracy of the equipment.

Cruiser
12-05-2006, 07:20 AM
I have a mit dial indicator with articulate head that was quite expensive and i use it ALL the time. I broke it a while back and sent it to a reputable shop that said they'd fix it. and it cost $150. to fix. Ind cost $350. all they did was put a darn sticker on it and send it back with a piece of worthless paper ! I had to fix it myself so i could use it. Such is a lot of the paper these days, caveat emptor ! By the way, that is all you can expect if you send out an istrument to be calibrated ! it'll get a new sticker ! and the paper is good for one time use, starting a fire !

dammachines
12-06-2006, 07:50 PM
I had already placed an order for my Tormach mill before the whole Gecko vs. Protobyte issue surfaced publicly - or at least before I heard about it. I have machine S/N 14 so I was one of the first...

I was actually about to place an order for the IH mill and CNC kit when I noticed a Tormach prototype mill on Ebay. I didn't really have the time to put the IH kit together and Aaron wanted another couple grand for a turn key machine, so I went with the Tormach.

Anyway... I just noticed this post from Aaron some time back in 2004. I don't know anything about the circumstances surrounding this, other than Aaron drove a couple hundred miles to help someone setup his mill, but this could add some validity to Greg's statement that he was having problems with the Gecko drives failing? Or not...



Two Gecko’s are going back to Gecko for post-mortems.
.
.
It seems as the Mach2 / Gecko 201 issue is popping up like a virus and needs to be looked at more in general. (To solve this problem I already have a Gecko 210 being sent to replace the 201).


Also, for anyone considering looking to purchase a CNC mill right now you might want to give Smithy a call and see what they have to offer. I posted in another thread that I recently got Smithy's lastest catalog, and they have reduced the price on their CNC mill significantly. In addition they also have a smaller sized mill that is still larger than the Tormach. They also mention that you can buy either mill in four configurations. Complete, w/o software, w/o control box but steppers mounted, and CNC ready. The CNC ready might be a good option if you can get some cheap steppers/servos from Ebay and throw together your own controller...

Dave

Richards
12-06-2006, 10:41 PM
Dave,
Great post! Are you aware that the problems that CNCPlastic had with the Z-axis on the IH CNC kit was caused by a Tormach driver? (See the "Free Lathemaster Mill with IH CNC kit ... " thread for more information. If you do a Google search on "Why Protobyte ProDrive-2000 Drives Fail", you'll probably be able to find the paper showing the exhaustive tests that Mariss performed to compare the G201 drive against the Protobyte drive. In that test, you'll notice that Protobyte's design is almost a direct photocopy of the G201, even to the point that non-standard surplus "don't care" resistor values were used. You'll also notice that the Protobyte drive failed to function when the G201 kept right on going.

Does that mean that the G201 is the best drive in the world. I think not. Mariss hasn't been living in a vacuum with only one product. I personally own some of the G212 drives that I have torture tested for more than a year without any kind of failure. The G203 is even better.

Drivers are the very heart of a CNC machine. Why would anyone want to take a chance on a drive that was a direct copy of an industry standand, particularly when that 'copy' was 'enhanced' with inferior parts so that its failure was guaranteed? As long as we continue to support people who would rather copy than invent, we're going to get just what we deserve. For my money, I'll stick with Mariss and Gecko.

(For those who think that I'm spending a lot of time on this subject, my interest is more than that of a consumer of Gecko products. In my other life, I've designed a great number of process control computers for the professional photo industry. Many of my designs were 'borrowed' by another company for their own use. I don't believe in suing people, even when they are total jerks. In any case, that other company is now out of business. They couldn't innovate. All they could do was copy. As far as I'm concerned, that fate should befall all who think that they can get ahead by 'borrowing' someone else's design.)

By the way, the Smithy looks like a fine machine. It's certainly worth looking at more closely.

dammachines
12-06-2006, 11:52 PM
Aaron posting that "the Mach2 / Gecko 201 issue is popping up like a virus" leads one to believe that this was not an issue isolated to CNCPlastic's machine...

In 2004 I was running a little Taig CNC mill using Xylotex drivers and TurboCNC... I had heard of Gecko and Mach2, but only in passing... I was only asking what this issue is that Aaron was talking about and if it was possible that the few Gecko's Greg tried could have had the same problem.

I have no reason to defend Tormach and am not attempting to do so. I just thought it was curious... Just as I have no reason to push the Smithy mill, I just wanted to share with everyone that the price on the website is not what they are asking for the machine...

Dave

Mariss Freimanis
12-07-2006, 01:49 AM
We are put in an uncomfortable position that frankly is caused by being a success. Consider two options:

1) You are a mfg and purveyor of step motor drives. You build and sell 400 drives a year. 4 out of those drives don't work to your customer's satisfaction. One out of the four posts his dissatisfaction on a news group. It is only one message a year and it gets roundly ignored.

2) You are a mfg and purveyor of step motor drives. You build and sell 40,000 drives a year. 400 out of those drives don't work to your customer's satisfaction. One hundred out of the 400 posts their dissatisfaction on a news group. That makes it a message every 3 days a year and they do not get roundly ignored.

Same percentages, different numbers.

We build good drives. People have used our drives for 7 years and most of the drives we built 7 years are still running today. I know because people buy more and mention, "By the way, the drives we bought 7 years ago are still running fine." That is why they buy more.

The original G201 drives are intolerant of missuse. Don't heatsink them, short-circuit them, reverse polarity them, overvoltage them and they will die, slowly or quickly depending on what you do to them.

The G202 is better protected. It will survive short-circuits or miss-phased motors.

The G203V is our first try at a bullet-proof drive. Short-circuit it, overheat it, overvoltage it, reverse polarity on it, do anything you can think of to it and it probably will survive. It's a G203V, V as in Vampire, Vampire as in unkillable.

We really do try.

Mariss

Mariss Freimanis
12-07-2006, 02:32 AM
"Mariss hasn't been living in a vacuum with only one product."

Ask yourself this: If Protobyte was a real company and not a pirate, why is it that after three years they still have only one product? Why has it not been improved and revised? Was it really so perfect after the very first cut? Why is their servodrive still in 'beta testing' after 3 long years? Maybe they are going for the Guinness Book of Records for the "longest drive in beta testing" honors.

We design, develop and revise our drives continuously. It doesn't mean what came before was flawed. Rather it means we always strive to improve on what we have. It is a continuous and on-going thing when you are proud of what you have and you wish to make it better to serve your customers.

They have faith in us and we try to repay that faith by turning out the very best and most improved product you can.

Just for fun, go to the Protobyte website. Hold down the left button of your mouse and highlight the page. Watch as the white-lettered "Geckodrive" appears on the white background. It is a placeholder and its purpose is to appear on Google linking back to Protobyte when 'geckodrive' is searched. The placeholder is empty now. It was not used in a nice way in the past. Just for fun, ask them why it's there in the first place.

Mariss

philbur
12-07-2006, 06:24 AM
Hi Richards,

I think you may have totally miss-represented the post. Firstly the post relates to the motor not the driver. Secondly the post does not say the stepper motor was a problem but just points out the fact that it was a stepper motor supplied by Tormach not one supplied by IH.

Regards
Phil

Ther complete post is copied below:

"I didn't mention this before but since IH is going out of business I wanted to mention it now.

Cncplastic's primary issue was with his z-axis stepper motor and he ripped into IH about it in this forum. I'm not sure if cncplastics knew this before his posts but when he gave me the stepper motor I was surprised to find out and mentioned to him it was a tormach stepper motor.

Since the stepper motor was tormach's I think it was unfair that IH took the blame for his biggest issue."


Dave,
Great post! Are you aware that the problems that CNCPlastic had with the Z-axis on the IH CNC kit was caused by a Tormach driver? (See the "Free Lathemaster Mill with IH CNC kit ... " thread for more information.

Richards
12-07-2006, 08:54 AM
Phil,
I apologize. I must have misread the post.

I was not aware that Tomach manufactured a stepper motor. So, is there a double problem, stepper drivers that have a dubious history (and tend to self-distruct when asked to carry more than 3-amps) and stepper motors that cause problems with the Z-axis?

(By the way, the Gecko G201, with heat sink, is rated at 7-amps - and according to a friend who has used those drivers extensively with Oriental Motor's PK299-F4.5 stepper at 6.5 amps, the G201 drivers work perfectly. Because that friend has a choice in drivers from Gecko, his newer CNC designs use the G202. He has stated that as soon as the G203 is available, he'll buy some for testing and then switch over when larger quantities are available. That particular friend does not live in the USA. He has stated that solid design and solid performance were the two main reasons that he uses Gecko products.)

-Mike

philbur
12-07-2006, 05:50 PM
Hi Richards,

You really should make sure you have the fish in the pan before you try to fry it. Tormach neither manufactures stepper motors nor stepper motor drivers. If you are going to claim the ethical high ground you really should try to research your subject further and take a less obviously biased approach to you analysis, otherwise the only credibility you will succeed in damaging will be you own. Subjective, anecdotal and hearsay opinions does little to further your crusade.

Regards
Phil



Phil,
I apologize. I must have misread the post.

I was not aware that Tomach manufactured a stepper motor. So, is there a double problem, stepper drivers that have a dubious history (and tend to self-distruct when asked to carry more than 3-amps) and stepper motors that cause problems with the Z-axis?

(By the way, the Gecko G201, with heat sink, is rated at 7-amps - and according to a friend who has used those drivers extensively with Oriental Motor's PK299-F4.5 stepper at 6.5 amps, the G201 drivers work perfectly. Because that friend has a choice in drivers from Gecko, his newer CNC designs use the G202. He has stated that as soon as the G203 is available, he'll buy some for testing and then switch over when larger quantities are available. That particular friend does not live in the USA. He has stated that solid design and solid performance were the two main reasons that he uses Gecko products.)

-Mike

Richards
12-07-2006, 07:58 PM
Phil,
Have I offended you? I hope not.

You want research, not "Subjective, anecdotal and hearsay opinions ... ". Okay, let's do the research together, starting with the easiest and then continuing to the more difficult. First, is there a problem with Protobyte stepper drivers? Do a search in the CNCZone on Protobyte and then report your findings. Second, is Mariss's Gecko products the preferred product (within the voltage and current limitations of the devices used)? Do a search on the CNCZone forums and see what experienced users recommend to 'newbies'. Report your findings. That's the easy part and most enjoyable part because it only requires a little reading.

Now let's check out the two companies involved, Protobyte and Geckodrive. I've only visited Protobyte's web site twice and haven't really dug deeply into it, but I am somewhat familiar with the Geckodrive web site. How about downloading the documentation for the G201, G210, G202, G212 drivers. Did you find it useful, clear, understandable? Now go to Yahoo Groups, join the Gecko group and look at the White Paper on stepper theory. Did you find it informative, enlightening? Go back to www.geckodrive.com and get the support telephone number. Give it a call. Did you get to talk to someone? Was it Mariss? Did he answer your questions fully? Go back to Yahoo and read the detailed questions and answers posted there. Were they full of fluff or were they full of details? Report your findings. Okay, that wasn't so bad was it? Now do the same for Protobyte. Tell me about their documentation. Forward on their papers on stepper theory. Let me know what their designer had to say, particularly about the reason he designed a drive that heats up the capacitor well beyond the cap's specs. He may also have a good reason for designing a drive that produces voltage fluctuations well beyond the ability of the components used in the design.

That's enough background work. Now let's get down to the work. Get and read "Why Protobyte ProDrive-2000 Drives Fail". Read it again. Now buy four Protobyte drives and four Gecko G201 drives. Run the tests yourself. Be fair and follow the methods exactly. Report your findings

Why am I asking you to do all of the work? Well, it's because I've already done enough tests on Gecko products to be totally supportive of Mariss and his products. During the thrity-plus years that I've designed, constructed, programmed, and installed process control computers, I've paid my dues and earned the right to comment. One thing that I learned fast, when I had to teach my customers how to operate the computers that I designed, was that keeping things light and simple kept them from getting that glazed look in their eyes. That is the main reason that I tend to be subjective, anecdotal and be a little fond of hearsay. Unlike me, most people don't find reading data sheets and test results that enjoyable.

Now to the specifics about why I am so outspoken in support for Mariss and his Gecko products. For more than a year, I've operated a test bench where I have literally torture tested his products, various stepper motors, various power supplies, and various aux. equipment. No one paid me to do it. I took the $3,000+ from my own piggy bank to fund the parts (4-G212, 1-G340, 1-G101, 1-G102, 12 stepper motors, 1-servo motor, 2-PMDX breakout boards, various toroid transformers, etc. etc. etc.) My intent was to prove to myself that if and when I ever built a CNC electronics package, that I had tested the common errors that people make when connecting electronics to manual devices. Even though I got careless a few times and saw sparks fly, not one Gecko product failed. I blew a few fuses. I stunk up the shop a time or two with electrical smoke, but not one Gecko product failed. Let me repeat that. NOT ONE GECKO PRODUCT FAILED.

Phil, I don't want to bore you death, nor put you to sleep. How about helping us all out. Read the information. Run the tests. Report on your findings.

NinerSevenTango
12-07-2006, 11:10 PM
Richards, would you care to elaborate on that?

Thanks,

--97T--

philbur
12-08-2006, 04:11 AM
Arrrrh now I see, so the fish you are actually trying to fry is Protobyte. Your last 4 or 5 posts make no mention of this. However you do make repeated attacks on Tormach. Now, suddenly your current post makes no mention of Tormach but switches to Protobyte. I had mistakenly though you where trying to wrestle Tormach into the frying pan. Sorry my mistake.

What has offended me is your claim to the high ground with respect to integrity and the inference that anybody that does not hold you view is in some way inferior. There seems to be little integrity in the spraying of mud with little concern for its direction.

The following quote from a previous post not only shows confused thinking it is extremely offensive to Tormach owners, at least this one:

.....................................Start Quote................................................
“In my world, as I suspect in all of our worlds, there is mostly black and white with almost no gray. In other words, we believe in absolutes. Situational ethics are for criminals to debate. In our world, something is either right or it is wrong.

Why then, do we make compromises when we buy equipment? Why do we look the other way, when we know that there is a LARGE gray area involved that needs to be settled? Why are we willing to make a buck or save a buck at someone else's expense, when we know that we would never accept that kind of conduct from our fellow workers? Is our integrity for sale? I sincerely hope not.

In one of my emails or possibly a phone call to Tormach, I stated very clearly, that when they offered their mill with Gecko drivers, I would be first in line to buy that mill. As much as I need a 'ready-to-use' mill, my integrity is not for sale. Please note, this is not a comment on Greg or on Tormach, they have a right to use what ever products they choose. At one time I was under the assumption that Greg was very closely connected to Protobyte. That seems to be an error on my part. If I am mistaken, then I offer my sincere apologies to Greg - not for any affiiation with Protobyte, but for the fact that I assumed something without checking my facts.”
.....................................End Quote................................................

If you are going to make such claims then you will need to be prepared to defend yourself.

Regards
Phil

PS some additional random quotes:

“Since I haven't purchased anything from Greg, I can't comment of what his product do or don't do.” ….. this doesn’t appear to have stopped you.

"Believe it or not, I'm really not trying to knock Greg or anyone at Tormach"….. Ya right.

Oh and by the way, it kinda nonsense to request the reader to do the research to find the facts that substatiate your claims.



Phil,
Have I offended you? I hope not.

You want research, not "Subjective, anecdotal and hearsay opinions ... ". Okay, let's do the research together, starting with the easiest and then continuing to the more difficult. First, is there a problem with Protobyte stepper drivers? Do a search in the CNCZone on Protobyte and then report your findings. Second, is Mariss's Gecko products the preferred product (within the voltage and current limitations of the devices used)? Do a search on the CNCZone forums and see what experienced users recommend to 'newbies'. Report your findings. That's the easy part and most enjoyable part because it only requires a little reading.

Now let's check out the two companies involved, Protobyte and Geckodrive. I've only visited Protobyte's web site twice and haven't really dug deeply into it, but I am somewhat familiar with the Geckodrive web site. How about downloading the documentation for the G201, G210, G202, G212 drivers. Did you find it useful, clear, understandable? Now go to Yahoo Groups, join the Gecko group and look at the White Paper on stepper theory. Did you find it informative, enlightening? Go back to www.geckodrive.com and get the support telephone number. Give it a call. Did you get to talk to someone? Was it Mariss? Did he answer your questions fully? Go back to Yahoo and read the detailed questions and answers posted there. Were they full of fluff or were they full of details? Report your findings. Okay, that wasn't so bad was it? Now do the same for Protobyte. Tell me about their documentation. Forward on their papers on stepper theory. Let me know what their designer had to say, particularly about the reason he designed a drive that heats up the capacitor well beyond the cap's specs. He may also have a good reason for designing a drive that produces voltage fluctuations well beyond the ability of the components used in the design.

That's enough background work. Now let's get down to the work. Get and read "Why Protobyte ProDrive-2000 Drives Fail". Read it again. Now buy four Protobyte drives and four Gecko G201 drives. Run the tests yourself. Be fair and follow the methods exactly. Report your findings

Why am I asking you to do all of the work? Well, it's because I've already done enough tests on Gecko products to be totally supportive of Mariss and his products. During the thrity-plus years that I've designed, constructed, programmed, and installed process control computers, I've paid my dues and earned the right to comment. One thing that I learned fast, when I had to teach my customers how to operate the computers that I designed, was that keeping things light and simple kept them from getting that glazed look in their eyes. That is the main reason that I tend to be subjective, anecdotal and be a little fond of hearsay. Unlike me, most people don't find reading data sheets and test results that enjoyable.

Now to the specifics about why I am so outspoken in support for Mariss and his Gecko products. For more than a year, I've operated a test bench where I have literally torture tested his products, various stepper motors, various power supplies, and various aux. equipment. No one paid me to do it. I took the $3,000+ from my own piggy bank to fund the parts (4-G212, 1-G340, 1-G101, 1-G102, 12 stepper motors, 1-servo motor, 2-PMDX breakout boards, various toroid transformers, etc. etc. etc.) My intent was to prove to myself that if and when I ever built a CNC electronics package, that I had tested the common errors that people make when connecting electronics to manual devices. Even though I got careless a few times and saw sparks fly, not one Gecko product failed. I blew a few fuses. I stunk up the shop a time or two with electrical smoke, but not one Gecko product failed. Let me repeat that. NOT ONE GECKO PRODUCT FAILED.

Phil, I don't want to bore you death, nor put you to sleep. How about helping us all out. Read the information. Run the tests. Report on your findings.

Richards
12-08-2006, 09:17 AM
Phil,
Let's put it as plain as can be said. IF Protobyte manufacturers (A.) a stepper driver with dubious history (B.) a stepper driver whose components cannot withstand the heat and voltages generated by the drive AND if Tormach chooses to install Protobyte stepper drivers in their mill, then YOU, as the end customer are affected. YOU are the person that would receive better value if Gecko stepper drivers were used. YOU are the person who should be upset when compromises are acceptable. YOU are the person who needs to read and test and understand. It is YOUR machine that was delivered with Protobyte stepper drivers when vastly superior Gecko stepper drivers are available - and I'm not just writing about the G201, but the G202 and the G203. If YOU are satisfied that YOUR purchase gave you what you expected, then fine, enjoy your purchase. Personally, I think that YOU deserve better. If you want to know how your machine will function, YOU do the tests.

kimoyo
12-08-2006, 10:11 AM
I made the post RichardS and Philbur were referring to earlier. I don't know where or who manufactured Tormach's stepper motor but I do know that the stepper motor cncplastics was using has a tormach label on it and was being driven by a G201. To be clear, cncplastics said his issues/problems was with the stepper motor which happened to be on the z axis but the servo motors on the x and y axis were fine. I assume that IH was using Tormach's stepper motor on the z axis a few years ago before they switched to the current servo and before Tormach came out with their cnc mill.

I made that post because I feel cncplastic really ripped into IH because of an issue he said he had with a Tormach stepper motor. I don't know what the real problem was because I wasn't there.

I haven't received my kit yet but if I had a problem with one of my rutex drives (only using rutex as an example their drives should work great), IH would be the first ones I would call but ultimately rutex, as the supplier/manufacturer, would have to be held resonable (again just using rutex as an example).

Tormach made this post a while back in their forum


We have worked very hard during the development of the PCNC 1100 to quantify component quality and failure rates. The early prototypes, more than 3 years ago, were built with Gecko drives. We found a high failure rate and unacceptable engineering practices on the part of Gecko. It’s just one of several suppliers that didn’t make the grade. They’re not alone; we had to reject a famous brand VFD and several Chinese companies for similar reasons.

At some point IH switched to servo motors using gecko and rutex drivers and discontinued use of stepper motors (Tormach motors I assume). When I saw that post I thought maybe it was Tormach's stepper motor that just didn't make the grade and not the gecko drivers.

Trebleplink
12-08-2006, 11:19 AM
I just bought a new Smithy, Z axis linear slides, etc for $4400 delivered to my home shop. It is cnc ready, and it really is - nice NEMA 34 motor mounts, ground ballscrews, mounts for limit switches designed in, etc. I'm going with 1200 oz in steppers on all three axis, using Gecko 202s & Mach3.





It's a nice machine, but the price premium is high!

I suspect the next iteration past the Tormach will be a stepper + llinear slides machine like this one. I'll bet someone can do it a lot cheaper though. Perhaps Tormach will have a "premium" version of some kind for a few thousand more.

Best,

BW

dammachines
12-08-2006, 01:25 PM
I just bought a new Smithy, Z axis linear slides, etc for $4400 delivered to my home shop. It is cnc ready, and it really is - nice NEMA 34 motor mounts, ground ballscrews, mounts for limit switches designed in, etc. I'm going with 1200 oz in steppers on all three axis, using Gecko 202s & Mach3.

Is this one of the ones that was on Ebay? Or did you get one with the new spindle drive that has a max rpm of 4500? Did you get the 1240 or the 932 for that price?

Trebleplink
12-08-2006, 01:34 PM
This is the Ebay deal, a 1240, no spindle drive - 4 speed gearbox. I'll post some pix soon in the Smithy area.




Is this one of the ones that was on Ebay? Or did you get one with the new spindle drive that has a max rpm of 4500? Did you get the 1240 or the 932 for that price?

IndHobby
12-11-2006, 07:46 PM
Boy, ya’ll are like junk yard dogs looking for a fight.

First a little history here:

Point #1
A long time ago Gecko 201’s (I think) had some weird problem and it just required a little solder to fix. I remember because Mariss talked me through the fix and I did it on the kitchen table with him on the phone. I did a page on my site that stuck around for a while, but the problem was solved in the next rev, just a month or two. The world didn’t stop turning.

Point #2
I have sent some drivers back for post-mortems, and except for the one that smelled like burnt plastic (major mis-wire) they all came back with a clean bill of health. From my point of view it is easier to have them check them out them me deal with it.

Point #3
Yes, I used to buy steppers from Tormach. To be exact a few years ago back about the time he began the planning phase of his mill I used to deal his stepper motors. We spoke on the phone a time or two and discussed various business things.

I want you to have ABSOLUTE clarity on this. He was the vendor and I was his dealer.

Point #4
I have learned a whole lot about the business world since then. For those of you who believe in right and wrong I am refreshed by your optimism. Own a small business for awhile and you will learn something different. There are only shades of wrong.

If you do everything “right” your idea will be “borrowed”, if you do it wrong customers will kill you. If you do it expensive, someone will do it “on the cheap”, if you do it “on the cheap” you’re a cost cutting looser.

All shades of wrong.

Point #5
I think everybody should try being a small business owner for awhile. You will get to experience new things in life. You can be successful and yet too exhausted to enjoy it, or a failure and too dumb to fix it. And if you’re lucky, just that moment that you’re getting ahead and you realize it; someone will come by and kick you in the groin.

Because for every sale you make, the next one might be the guy who is going to copy you’re idea, and sell it for half the price.

This isn’t a reality show, there is no net, and you can lose everything and some.

On a lighter note; I am putting odds and ends in the estore and you might want to stop by and take a look.

NinerSevenTango
12-11-2006, 09:48 PM
Been there, done that, had 15 employees for 12 years. All I got now is a half dozen T-Shirts. But I'm glad I did it, and next time I won't make the same mistakes.

People should read your words, there's a lot of wisdom there, Aaron.

The exhaustion can probably take years off your life, though.

kochevnik
12-11-2006, 11:24 PM
Ditto here - I ran a computer business in the early nineties, we had 400 percent annual growth for 5 straight years, and then one day the big boys, IBM, Compaq, etc. cut their prices overnight by 40 percent and were selling retail for less than I could get my components. Put 70 percent of the small guys out of business in less than 6 months.

It was the most frustrating, exhilirating, difficult thing I've ever done. Took me years to recover. My condolences Aaron, I think you put up a good fight. I also concur about the shades of gray thing. Maybe 50 years ago a person had the luxury of toeing an absolute ethical line, but I don't know anyone who can do that now. They could do it then because they were so isolated - and so were their customers. I put out a good product at a great price and did my best never to steer anyone wrong. That's the best you can do nowadays.

If you've been thru this kind of experience, it's a lot like having someone close to you die. Some free advice - try to look at it in view of the fact that you did something that very very few people ever manage to pull off. And don't do ANYTHING rash in the next few years - just let it sink in and wash over you. There's no way to get proper perspective without the passage of time.

Best of luck - to Aaron and anyone else in a similar situation.

Richards
12-12-2006, 10:07 AM
When life is winding down, there are two questions that will be on my mind. 1. Did I love and respect my family to the point that nothing was more important in my life than they? 2. Was I honest in all my dealings?

Life is hard. Somewhere along the way our character will be revealed. Business can bring out both the good and the bad in our character. Just like many of you, I've had good years and bad years in business. Just like many of you, I've had business failures caused by someone's lack of ethics. Just like many of you, when the choice came to either forget ethics or close the doors, I chose to close the doors.