Considering Milltronics control retrofit: questions


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  1. #1
    Member nmorong's Avatar
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    Default Considering Milltronics control retrofit: questions

    Hi,
    I'm considering a KFlop/Kanalog control retrofit for a 1995 Milltronics Partner 1 series H. This is a small VMC, not a knee mill. I probably know just enough to sound like I understand more than I actually do. I have a few questions I was hoping to ask before diving headfirst into this as a project. The machine is currently running, I'm just finding the old Centurion V controller limiting and glitchy. I considered just buying a Centroid control, but that's painfully expensive and I want to end up really understanding my machine and be capable of modifying it to suit my needs.

    The X, Y, and Z axes have AC brushless servo motors with resolvers feeding back into Emerson LX-1100 servo drives that produce a simulated quadrature encoder signal to the control (selectable 512/1024 lines/rev). The servo drives accept a +/- 10v analog control signal and operate in velocity mode.

    My main question is: Is there a potential problem (loss of accuracy) using the simulated encoder signal to feed position information to KFlop/Kanalog instead of a physical encoder mounted directly on the motor shaft? Would it be necessary to modify the motors to add an encoder, or would it be possible to increase machine accuracy by doing so? It will currently hold tolerances about +/-.001, and I would love to get this better, even at the expense of sacrificing speed if needed.

    Other questions: The spindle motor is also a servo motor with the same type of simulated encoder from the drive, and it drives the spindle using a belt. I will need to orient the spindle, both for boring head retract and eventually getting the tool changer working, but because of the belt I can't do this based on motor position. It currently orients by spinning the motor slowly until an air solenoid activated detent pops into place and locks the spindle. Is there a way to control the torque available to the motor while operating in velocity mode so the detent can actually stop the spindle, and turn off the motion command once it locks? Or must this drive be operating in torque mode? I have the manuals for the axis drives, but not for the spindle drive, so I am only assuming they are operating the same way.

    Finally, if I wanted to add a 4th/5th axis but have the controller configured to initialize either with or without the additional axes, is this easy to do? I would love to have a 4th/5th axis that I can take on or off as needed.

    Sorry for the wall of text, I hope I've at least managed to be clear if not concise.

    Thanks,
    -Nate

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    Member TomKerekes's Avatar
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    Default Re: Considering Milltronics control retrofit: questions

    Hi Nate,

    My main question is: Is there a potential problem (loss of accuracy) using the simulated encoder signal to feed position information to KFlop/Kanalog instead of a physical encoder mounted directly on the motor shaft? Would it be necessary to modify the motors to add an encoder, or would it be possible to increase machine accuracy by doing so? It will currently hold tolerances about +/-.001, and I would love to get this better, even at the expense of sacrificing speed if needed.
    The simulated resolvers should work but hard to say what the accuracy would be. Assuming the lead screw directly connected to the motor and 1024 counts per rev that would be 0.0002" resolution. But my experience with resolvers is that they may not be perfectly linear because of the high interpolation over a relatively large sine wave. Sometimes they have noise of several counts unlike an optical encoder. Adding encoders might improve accuracy and resolution if an encoder of more than 1024 counts/rev (256 cycles/rev) is fitted.


    The spindle motor is also a servo motor with the same type of simulated encoder from the drive, and it drives the spindle using a belt. I will need to orient the spindle, both for boring head retract and eventually getting the tool changer working, but because of the belt I can't do this based on motor position. It currently orients by spinning the motor slowly until an air solenoid activated detent pops into place and locks the spindle. Is there a way to control the torque available to the motor while operating in velocity mode so the detent can actually stop the spindle, and turn off the motion command once it locks? Or must this drive be operating in torque mode? I have the manuals for the axis drives, but not for the spindle drive, so I am only assuming they are operating the same way.
    Sorry but again hard to say for sure. I would expect that in velocity mode you could move slowly (possibly with reduced servo gains) while monitoring following error and soon as a significant error occurs stop and assume it is locked.


    Finally, if I wanted to add a 4th/5th axis but have the controller configured to initialize either with or without the additional axes, is this easy to do? I would love to have a 4th/5th axis that I can take on or off as needed.
    That should be possible.

    Regards
    TK http://dynomotion.com


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    Member nmorong's Avatar
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    Default Re: Considering Milltronics control retrofit: questions

    Thanks for the reply!

    The ballscrews are .200 inch pitch, coupled to the servo motors with a 1:1 timing belt. At 1024 counts per revolution, 1 inch of machine motion would be 5 revolutions, or 5120 encoder counts. So ~.0002" of machine motion per encoder pulse. But I thought a quadrature encoder effectively quadrupled the encoder counts per revolution, for ~.00005" of machine motion per pulse? Regardless, if better accuracy could be obtained by retrofitting encoders to the motors, I would rather do that. But it would be nice to get everything working, and then work on adding encoders. Is there such a thing as too high an encoder count, or should I use the highest I can find?

    With retrofit encoders, I would just ignore the simulated encoder signal from the servo drive and the retrofit encoder would connect to the control for position feedback. The resolver would remain in place and connected to the servo drive for commutation. Do you foresee any problem with this?

    For the spindle drive, maybe I should swap to a timing belt type drive and a newer servo drive. If everything would fit I would like to swap pulleys to drive spindle to the machines original 7500RPM anyway. It was retrofit with a 12.5HP motor with a max spindle speed of 4400 RPM. I don't need all the torque but 4400 RPM is painfully slow sometimes.

    -Nate



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    Default Re: Considering Milltronics control retrofit: questions

    Hi Nate,

    The ballscrews are .200 inch pitch, coupled to the servo motors with a 1:1 timing belt. At 1024 counts per revolution, 1 inch of machine motion would be 5 revolutions, or 5120 encoder counts. So ~.0002" of machine motion per encoder pulse. But I thought a quadrature encoder effectively quadrupled the encoder counts per revolution, for ~.00005" of machine motion per pulse?
    That could be correct. It depends on whether the number 1024 refers to quadrature transitions or quadrature cycles. When you say counts I think of transition counts. Normally cycles are referred to as cycles, or lines, or pulses. But unfortunately I don't think there is any standard terminology.

    Is there such a thing as too high an encoder count, or should I use the highest I can find?
    KFLOP has a maximum of 1 million quadrature transition counts per second (our new Kogna Controller supports 5M counts/sec) or 250K cycles per second. For example an encoder with 5000 lines (20,000 counts) there would be a max speed of:

    1,000,000 / 20,000 * 60 = 3000RPM

    Regards
    TK http://dynomotion.com


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    Default Re: Considering Milltronics control retrofit: questions

    Hi,
    those servos and drives are 28 years old. Do you think they will be reliable for the next ten or twenty years, long enough to justify the expense of the retrofit you are planning?
    As an excerise; say one of the servos blow up......can you buy a replacement?....and for how much?. How about replacement drives? How about if a resolver goes south....can you replace it?

    I pay $438USD for a 750W Delta servo kit (servo, AC drive and cables), a Taiwanese brand made in China. DMM, a Canadian brand made in China are very similar in terms of quality, performance
    and support. The point I'm making is that for around $400-$600 per axis you could get NEW servos and drives. That would free up the choice of controller and mean that in the event you need a new
    servo that one is readily and cheaply available.

    Craig



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    Default Re: Considering Milltronics control retrofit: questions

    Craig-

    That's kind of the point, I want to understand the system I have well enough that I can upgrade it with a new part when something breaks rather that try to repair or source obsolete parts. The axis drives and servos are working flawlessly, and for perspective, I have spent less than 6k on this machine in total. That includes purchase, gas towing it home, building stainless telescoping way covers for it, everything. KFlop/Kanalog (or maybe Kogna?) seems like it can be made to work with almost any parts I can source, which seems ideal to me.

    I am interested where in North America you're getting a 750w Delta servo kit for $438 though. I found the same kit for $350 shipped from China, but this isn't the type of thing I am going to trust some random Chinese seller on.

    Question for Tom if you see this: I see the Kogna controller is the same price as a Kflop+Kanalog, and can control the servo drives directly. Is everything basically the same between KFlop/Kogna as far as the C programs to get things working? The Kogna looks interesting, but without all the examples to guide me available for the KFlop it might be a steeper learning curve than I'm ready for.

    -Nate



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    Default Re: Considering Milltronics control retrofit: questions

    Hi Nate,

    I see the Kogna controller is the same price as a Kflop+Kanalog, and can control the servo drives directly. Is everything basically the same between KFlop/Kogna as far as the C programs to get things working?
    Yes Kogna is software and hardware compatible with KFLOP. The same C Programs for KFLOP will run without changes in Kogna.

    Regards
    TK http://dynomotion.com


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    Default Re: Considering Milltronics control retrofit: questions

    Hi,

    https://www.fasttobuy.com/flange-80m...er_p28084.html

    I have had repeated and multiple purchases from this company, either in Hong Kong or somewhere close, over four years. I have bought four 750W B2 servos in the last year alone at $438USD.
    Costs $154USD for three day Fedex to New Zealand, record is two days, twenty hours and fifty minutes, slowest is four days, eight hours.. All-in-all I'd say this company has
    my confidence, they have always responded promptly, have gotten in items at my request (I wanted a braked servo that they did not have, they got it direct from Delta and took three days).
    They may not always be the cheapest, but are close, and more importantly have my confidence to supply reliably and fairly.

    The motion controller you are looking at is required because the servos are analog. KFlop is one of very few motion controllers (LinuxCNC/Mesa, Galil, Masso, CSMIO/A etc) that can close the position loop.
    You could use a modern AC servo in velocity or torque modes which largely replace the existing servo and Emmerson drive and still have the KFlop close the position loop....OR.....
    .
    My suggestion is replace the servo and Emmerson drive with an AC servo (and matching drive) but in position mode. In this mode the servo is still PID loop controlled but the loop is closed by the drive rather than the motion
    controller. That in turn means that any of the cheaper and simpler open loop motion control/CNC software solutions would be perfectly viable and every bit as good.

    Craig



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    Default Re: Considering Milltronics control retrofit: questions

    Craig- A while ago I looked into and am not really interested in the open loop controllers. I want to end up with the most robust and customizable setup, not the simplest and cheapest. A major goal is to add a 4th and 5th axis, which is much easier if I can work with whatever I can find. I also need servo control for my spindle, replacing the (10kW?) spindle drive with something that closes the loop at the drive would probably make the Kogna look cheap in comparison.

    I kinda want to give the Dynomotion stuff a try. In my experience most stuff aimed at the hobby market is not as good as the professional stuff, while most professional stuff purposely limits you to sell you options/upgrades. The success that some people have had with Kflop retrofits on actual industrial machines, combined with seeing how much work Tom is putting into support makes me think it can get me the results I want, and upgrades are limited by my ability to figure it out rather than figuring out how to pay for it.

    Tom: I actually already have a Kflop board, but I think I’m leaning towards buying the Kogna for this project. I’ll find some other use for the Kflop. I need to find the time to plan the whole system and make a purchase list.

    -Nate



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    Default Re: Considering Milltronics control retrofit: questions

    Hi,
    a machine with closed loop servos but with an open loop motion control is every bit as good, and in some case better than a closed loop motion control.

    The bottom line with closed loop feedback is bandwidth. The higher the bandwidth the better the mo0tion of any servo and its response to a command.
    Modern AC servos, even the el-cheapo Chinese ones have (position) closed loop bandwidths of 200Hz to 500Hz, and the top tier Yaskawa's and siemens 1kHz and better.
    No closed loop motion control is going to match that.

    As an example I have an Allen Bradley AC servo from circa 2005. Included in the drive is a feed forward term to model the magnetic saturation of the servo. This means that less feedback need be used
    to linearize the servo resulting in greater bandwidth. This is possible because Allen Bradley have such detailed and intimate knowledge of their own servo that they characterize the magnetic saturation.
    No closed loop motion controller can match tha....not because they could not, but no user has the mathematical details of their servos magnetic properties. Without the intimate data you cannot make
    a feed forward correction. Thus the closed loop bandwidth of this servo will always be higher with this servo when the loop is closed by its matching servo drive than with any motion controller that closes the loop..

    Second issue that you might like to ponder is that all the best CNC machine manufacturers are going to distributed motion control using a bus like Ethercat, Profibus, CANOpen and others. Such trajectory planners,
    the central PC are not feedback types, the trajectory is planned, communicated to the servo drives and EACH servo drive is responsible for its own portion of the overall motion control effort and IS closed loop.
    It seems good enough for DMG Mori....then its probably good enough for me.

    You said at the beginning of this thread you wanted to understand the broad principles of the choices that you might make, then is a good example. Fully closed loop controllers were de-rigor back in the 80's and 90's,
    but they are steadily losing market share to open loop controllers (with closed loop servos) and distributed motion control (with closed loop servos). I would guess the market share has shrunk from 90% to something like 10%.
    Consider this statement 'fully closed loop motion controllers are old school'. Do you agree or disagree, and what would motivate someone to say such a thing?

    Craig



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    Default Re: Considering Milltronics control retrofit: questions

    I get your point, and maybe I would do more research and be more inclined to go that route if I were building a machine from the ground up. (And if budget wasn't an issue) As it is, inter-operability with old stuff is a big part of why I want closed loop motion control. I would like to get things up and running with my existing servos and drives before I spend a bunch of time and money trying to fix things that aren't broken. And while I haven't ruled out buying a servo/drive closed loop black box combo as a future replacement/upgrade, it certainly will not be part of this project.

    As much as I would like increased machine accuracy, what I have now meets my needs. I can't justify spending (much) money trying to improve it. The closed loop motion control can certainly be made to exceed the mechanical potential of the machine, can control my existing spindle drive, and when I find that great deal on pretty much any 4th/5th axis it can be made to run it.

    -Nate



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    Default Re: Considering Milltronics control retrofit: questions

    Hi,

    The closed loop motion control can certainly be made to exceed the mechanical potential of the machine, can control my existing spindle drive, and when I find that great deal on pretty much any 4th/5th axis it can be made to run it.
    Closed loop control of that sort is over and above what we have been talking about to date. That describes a linear scale attached to the axis and the position loop closed on that scale. This would accommodate
    a certain amount of backlash and any nonlinearity of the axis mechanicals. This is called 'load sensing'...and is the last word in CNC machine accuracy.

    Your existing machine does not have that, it has a resolver, which is by definition a rotary device and cannot therefore discriminate nonlinearity or backlash in the axis mechanicals. The vast majority of machines out there,
    both new and old are like that. Provided non-backlash ground C5 or C3 screws are used, as they invariably are in good machines, such a machine will handily produce results of 10um or better. Only machines which are designed and
    fitted with linear scales, and have the matching control equipment to take advantage of load sensing can get to 2um or so.

    I would agree that as your machine is not equipped for load sensing makes it a poor proposition for that sort of upgrade. Secondly, and as you point out, if you can get it to work at its potential, you'd have a very
    useful, and sufficiently accurate machine as it is.

    I think it useful to draw a distinction between 'closed loop servos' and 'fully closed loop servos'. I would agree that the commonly used terms are not precise and misunderstandings will occur.
    I summarise the most widely used understanding that a 'closed loop servo', is any servo that has either a rotary encoder or resolver, and that it used for feedback. The feedback can be applied
    to a feedback capable motion control, of which the KFlop is one, or can be applied to a closed loop drive. For reasons that I have already posted both are equivalent, and can only really be distinguished
    operationally by the closed loop bandwidth they can attain. I suspect overall matching AC servo drives have a slight edge......but there is not much in it.

    'Fully closed loop servos' are commonly thought of as those that can close the position loop using a linear scale. I prefer the term 'load sensing' as it is more precise and has a distinct meaning
    from 'closed loop servos' as above.

    Again it is widely understood that 'load sensing' can only be achieved by a 'fully closed loop controller' eg KFlop. This has been the situation for many years but in the last 15 to 20 years there is another
    alternative. I refer to AC servos that have two encoder inputs. The first is the regular rotary encoder necessary to enact Field Oriented Control, the principle on which AC servos operate, but
    additionally have another encoder input, typically a glass scale, that can be used to close the position loop. This obviates the need for a 'fully closed loop controller' and any of the many
    open loop controllers can therefore achieve exactly the same result.

    As an example, I use Delta B2 servos, which have just the usual one rotary encoder input, ie non-load sensing, but the Delta A2 servos have both a rotary encoder and an auxiliary encoder for a glass scale, ie load sensing.
    They cost about $75-$100 more than the same B2....but they have that extra feature. This video might be the best explanation of how it works. The relevant section is at the 53 minute mark.



    I have mentioned Delta only due to my familiarity with them but all the top tier servo manufacturers have load sensing models. As you might imagine they are more expensive. I myself decided against there use
    as I could still get very VERY good results with 'closed loop servos' (the definition above) and an open loop controller, Mach4, an Ethernet SmoothStepper motion board and Delta B2 servos. I run a trunnion
    fifth axis (pictured) using Mach4....an open loop controller....so any suggestion that you need a 'fully closed loop controller' for four/five axis is fallacious.

    As a matter of interest 'load sensing' is not new, but has been restricted in use due to cost. Optical stages often use LVDT (Linear Voltage Differential Transformers) as a feedback device. They are capable
    of sub micron accuracy over small ranges, say a 1mm or so. In semiconductor equipment a laser interferometer is used as the load sensing feedback device, with some of the best interferometers doing
    10nm or better.....yes that is nanometer!!! Either way the feedback is applied to a motion controller that can handle it OR applied to a servo drive with load sensing capability....with the later coming to dominate.

    Craig

    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Considering Milltronics control retrofit: questions-newmill3-jpg   Considering Milltronics control retrofit: questions-fifthaxisprogress14-jpg  


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    Default Re: Considering Milltronics control retrofit: questions

    I was referring to closed loop motion control as feedback from the motor to the controller as opposed to the type of open loop control that basically just issues commands to stepper motors (or servos with feedback only to the drive) without a (motor) position feedback to the control. I did not intend to imply that I thought it involved feedback on the actual table position to the controller. By "exceeding the mechanical potential of the machine", I meant that there is very little point to chasing accuracy upgrades on a machine past where factors like the backlash in the ball nut, runout in the spindle, thermal variation in my shop, and the quality of the tooling I'm willing to buy for it come into play. I don't claim to know the precise terminology for this stuff.

    I am aware that a 4th/5th axis can be done that way. But I don't want to build my own and what I'm likely to find used is older industrial stuff. Coolant and chip proofing seems like a PITA. Also part of the reason I'd rather leave the servos I have alone, everything is already wired with nicely coolant proofed conduit and I want to leave it alone.

    This discussion has gotten way off track. I just want a better control for the machine as it is right now, with maximum flexibility to change/add whatever I find for it later. If the Centurion V control didn't keep doing things like randomly crashing when I go to load a program, and a bunch of other software glitches random enough that I have little inclination to try to fix them, I would leave it entirely as is and wouldn't be looking to retrofit it at all.

    -Nate



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    Default Re: Considering Milltronics control retrofit: questions

    Hi,

    I just want a better control for the machine as it is right now, with maximum flexibility to change/add whatever I find for it later.
    Easy:
    1) LinuxCNC with Mesa motion board.....can use existing servos because LinuxCNC is realtime and can close the position loop

    2) Mach4 and Ethernet SmoothSteeper motion board
    3) UCCNC and UC300 motion board
    4) Centroid Acorn

    The choices 2), 3) and 4) would ALL necessitate changing your existing servos and drives to servo/drive combination that does its own position loop, ie all three are open loop type motion controls.

    Craig



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    Default Re: Considering Milltronics control retrofit: questions

    Is there some reason you would suggest I DON'T go with the Dynomotion retrofit? Because I looked into several of those options before starting this thread.

    -Nate



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    Default Re: Considering Milltronics control retrofit: questions

    Hi,

    Is there some reason you would suggest I DON'T go with the Dynomotion retrofit?
    Absolutely not. Dynomotion have been at this a long time and have solid results and I'm sure you will too.

    My premise for the suggestions that I have made is that your existing servos and drives are already old, and their ongoing reliability may prove problematic. If you think that is a possibility
    the replacing them now would result in you having secondhand components to sell and thereby defray the cost of new servos, but also open a few other choices re controller/software etc.

    The Emerson LX-1100 drives for instance, appeared to be in the region of $2000USD, at least that's what a quick scan of Ebay resulted in. If one, and only one, were to crap out then whatever cost
    you think you may have saved by retaining the original servos and drives could easily be rendered naught.

    Craig

    Last edited by joeavaerage; 12-10-2023 at 09:20 PM.


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    Default Re: Considering Milltronics control retrofit: questions

    Well the decision is made, I ordered a Kogna and Konnect board this morning. I still need to collect a ton of other stuff before I start tearing into the machine, and it probably won't happen until January. But if I didn't order it now it would probably arrive while I'm on vacation and be left sitting in the snow.

    Ultimately, I wanted to try the Dynomotion option because of my personal preferences. I don't mind paying for (good) hardware, I just hate paying for software. Not because I don't think the developer deserve to get paid, because there is usually some level of PITA for the end user either to monetize them, or to prevent piracy. (Can I have a duplicate spare controller without buying another software license?) I am old enough to remember buying software in a store on physical media in a box, and if I could still do that I might be less inclined to avoid paid software. LinuxCNC was interesting, but I am aware of an attempt to convert the exact same model VMC I have to LinuxCNC that ended in failure. Maybe I could have figured it out in their place, maybe not. Maybe being able to ask someone like Tom questions would have made the difference.

    I take your point about the servos and drives, but I'm not going to replace them now. I want to upgrade my machine incrementally, one step at a time. Ultimately, if I fail to get things working as it, I'm out ~1k and I can put the old control back. Once I have the controller working, then I probably will upgrade the servos and sell the old Emerson drives to try to recoup the cost. If one dies right now, I pull one of the spare I have out of storage and swap it in. I'm not new to keeping old stuff running, and part of keeping older machines running is the never ending hunting for and stashing away spare parts.

    -Nate



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    Default Re: Considering Milltronics control retrofit: questions

    Hi Nate,
    all-in-all you have reasoned it out and have a good plan.

    Many newcomers on this forum buy a secondhand machine cheap and try to retain the existing analogue servos necessitating a more expensive and complex full closed
    controller, thinking that is is still saving themselves money rather than buy modern AC servos.....only to find its way more complex than they imagined, and should a drive flake out
    they are screwed because there is no like for like replacement to be had.

    You have considered this, and have spares....all of which suggests you will succeed where others have not.

    Craig



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    Default Re: Considering Milltronics control retrofit: questions

    Hi Nate,

    Thanks for your insight. You have logical thinking and good communication skills so I have no doubt you will succeed. I think you lose nothing by utilizing the existing drives. Worst case you upgrade them which you would do anyways.

    Good luck.

    Regards
    TK http://dynomotion.com


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    Default Re: Considering Milltronics control retrofit: questions

    Thanks!

    Eventually I'll post a build thread and ask for feedback on my wiring plans once I get that far. Right now I'm still researching and trying to decide about a bunch of ancillary stuff.

    -Nate



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Considering Milltronics control retrofit: questions

Considering Milltronics control retrofit: questions