It seems to me like a lot of our community is interested in modifying their machine. With that in mind, and disregarding any possible issues of cost or technical difficulty (within reason), what do you wish your X Carve controller electronics, or the newer X Controller, could do but cannot? One thing that comes to my mind is monitoring motor temperatures with selectable max temperatures for automatic job pausing or shutdown.
Also, I’d imagine open or closed loop SuperPID-esque Dewalt speed control would be one of those things.
Along the same line of your temp meter how about a torque sensor…if a motor hits a certain tourque the x carve hits a certain tourque on a motor it stops. Big CNC machines have it
Along with the speed controller for the dewalt router, an on/off for dust collection would be nice.
On the physical side, i wish the USB was either moved to the back or had a duplicate port on the back. Also if the emergency stop could be located as an option on the front face so you could mount the whole enclosure to an underside of the table or on a pull out drawer.
X-Controller power switch on the front panel for the same reason.
Monitoring spindle output current is actually a perfectly effective technique for determining if the spindle is jammed or has run into a bolt, or even detecting a broken bit. The power output of the router motor can be determined by multiplying speed (rpm) and torque (ft. lb.) or by multiplying voltage and current. Industrial motor controllers often calculate rough torque estimates by monitoring current and assuming that the current is directly proportional to torque. A current sensing transformer (wired at 500:1 or 1000:1) could allow a very small load on the spindle power path to enable a microcontroller to monitor the power output of the spindle. Alarms could then be written to allow for job pause or system shutdown in the event that the output current increases or decreases sharply at an unexpected time.
The issue with that is determining “what is unexpected?” If the router mills through a material and reaches the outer edge of that material’s footprint and then exits the material to trace a path through the air, that may look very much like a broken bit. If the router does a “lead in” from air and ramps into a material (especially a hard one like aluminum) it will load the motor very quickly and might false trigger as well.
At the very least, it should be a very simple challenge to monitor that current so that an alarm shuts down the system in the event that the current exceeds a programmed maximum. The Dewalt is rated for 7 amps, so that could be a hard upper limit.
On the other hand, 7 amps is small enough that it’d be cheaper to simply integrate a circuit breaker. I think large CNCs have torque sensors because circuit breakers in the dozens of amps range are prohibitively expensive.
And on yet a third hand, a benefit of monitoring output current is that the system could respond almost instantly, while a circuit breaker would take upwards of several seconds to respond.
So yeah, I could see the benefit of monitoring spindle output current for safety reasons.
Drill routines" bit is to large…
It drives me crazy when companies do things like this. I am working on an adapter which will move the port to the rear with the rest of the ports.
Really like this idea Nathan. Working on a way to incorporate a circuit to monitor the current and protect the spindle.
Easy - control a 4th axis.
This would be a major feature upgrade. Really hope it happens one day
Support for all g-code operations. Coolant on/off, cutting arcs, etc.
Hold on now. I’m actually having trouble imagining what you’d need a fourth or fifth axis for. You guys have any examples for why that’d be useful?
The X-Controller already has Coolant On/Off built (M7/M8/M9).
Unfortunately, the Easel software does not take advantage of it.
However, I use the M7/M9 to control my laser. No need for any extra relays or switches.
Since I have to post process all my laser cutting anyway, its easy to take advantage of on the X-Controller.
The same analogy can be used to control a vacuum too (this is can done with a simple AUTO/ON/OFF circuit of switches tied to the spindle out instead).
This will never happen. You can’t speed control something that is already being speed controlled.
You will need a different cutting spindle.
EDIT: Clarified to say that Inventables will probably never make something for this. However see the SuperPID,
I am looking at building a stand alone control panel like the big machines where the VFD, pump control, estop, grbl controller, the computer, monitor, controls for enclosure lights and dust collection are all in one spot. Even coolant control if I do a liquid set up for metal cutting in the future. I would never expect the XController to run all of this it seems like the control unit would be about the size of a pc with all the abilities and features built on to run all that stuff. I am not sure how much I would want to rely on if I missed a line in the Gcode over just flipping a switch. I will never be operating it from inside the house only monitoring possibly via a hangout or cc camera. I would agree a 4th axis control would be awesome and about the only upgrade to what it does as is as something I would hope to see.
This is what I’m thinking about.