Gerber AR600 Retrofit

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ericbowman
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Gerber AR600 Retrofit

Post by ericbowman »

Hello,

I am the proud owner of a 1996 Gerber AR600 CNC router that I got a good deal on because the controller doesn't work correctly and because the spindle was removed. Rather than try to repair a 30 year old controller only to be forced to use Gerber's proprietary software I have decided to retrofit an acorn controller onto it.

I am much more mechanically inclined than electrically inclined so this project feels intimidating. I thought I'd post my build here and ask for help along the way.

The first adventure was getting it home. It's got a 9'x11' footprint and weights 2,500 lbs. I had to rent a trailer big enough to haul it and I don't have a fork lift so I very carefully unloaded it by hanging it from my shop ceiling and driving out from under it.

It barely fit on the largest trailer I could rent:
BringingItHome.jpg
I hung it from my ceiling with ratchet straps on one end and lifted it with an engine hoist on the other. Put jack stands underneath it and slowly lowered it.
Unloading.jpg
I set it on car dollies so I can move it around until I've cleared out space for it.
SafeOnGround.jpg
In my next post I'll share a little bit of info about the router.
ericbowman
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Re: Gerber AR600 Retrofit

Post by ericbowman »

The router has a 6' x 10' working area and is belt driven. Here are photos of one of the stepper motors.

In this photo you can see the rated power of the motor.
StepperWithPower.jpg
In this photo you can see the model number of the motor.
StepperWithModelNumber.jpg
Based on the power requirements of the motor I have purchased Gecko GR214V stepper drives to run it. I haven't wired them in yet, so if this was a bad choice please let me know!

I haven't been able to read these requirements on the other horizontal axis and the Z axis is much smaller. Is it safe to assume this machine uses the same motors for the x and y axis? If not I'll have to get pretty creative to get read the info on the other axis, it's really buried in there but if I have to do it I have to do it.

I bought a mophorn 4kw Spindle and VFD from amazon. I tried to do my research before buying anything but I am a rookie, so if I'm headed down a difficult path please let me know!

This is the original Controller:
OriginalController.jpg
This is the original power supply:
OriginalPowerSupply.jpg
My plan is to use the original box and power supply and simply replace the original controller with an acorn, three gecko controllers and the mophorn VFD. Does that seem like a good approach?

I've got my acorn controller and have bench tested it with no issues. Next I would like to wire up one axis on the router, but I haven't seen a 214 schematic on the page of wiring diagrams here. Can I use S14977.r4 but wire into ST1 and DR1 instead of the DB25 pins? Is it safe to wire in the motor without an emergency stop or limit switches at first? Is 14g wire a good choice for this application? Could I go smaller gauge?
martyscncgarage
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Re: Gerber AR600 Retrofit

Post by martyscncgarage »

Post a link to the drive manual. Always provide links so we don't have to go looking for them. It's being considerate.
Yes, keep the current power supply. Power it up check your DC voltage. The contactor next to the big blue capacitor is likely the "Estop" contactor. Check its coil voltage.

As you go along, always post a fresh report. F7 Utility, F7 Create report.

You would be doing well to test subsystems as you go. Continue posting picture and get a notepad for notes and sketches.
We'll do our best to help you along. Can you find any documentation on that machine like a schematic?

I hope your choice of spindle and VFD doesn't bite you. Sometimes the inexpensive ones create a lot of Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) But you won't know until you start testing. Always monitor your error logs for PC/MPU Resends as you go. Indicative usually of EMI, poor wiring practices, or bad ethernet cables (ALWAYS USE SHIELDED ETHERNET CABLES AND CONNECTORS) or PC with flakey ethernet port or outdated device drivers.

Looking forward to following your build. Remember, the more information you provide, the better suggestions you will get from the group.

Best of luck!
Marty
Reminder, for support please follow this post: viewtopic.php?f=20&t=383
We can't "SEE" what you see...
Mesa, AZ
ericbowman
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Re: Gerber AR600 Retrofit

Post by ericbowman »

What is a drive manual?
martyscncgarage
Posts: 9116
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Location: Mesa, AZ

Re: Gerber AR600 Retrofit

Post by martyscncgarage »

ericbowman wrote: Fri Nov 05, 2021 10:31 am What is a drive manual?
To your gecko stepper drives, same with your VFD manual if you have questions on it.
Reminder, for support please follow this post: viewtopic.php?f=20&t=383
We can't "SEE" what you see...
Mesa, AZ
ericbowman
Posts: 26
Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2021 5:57 pm
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Re: Gerber AR600 Retrofit

Post by ericbowman »

Thank you for the clarification.

Here is the gecko drive manual.

Right now I only have a printed manual for the VFD, but I'll work on getting a digital copy.

Any thoughts on what wire gauge to use and whether I can use the Gecko 201 wiring diagram for the Gecko 214?
martyscncgarage
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Re: Gerber AR600 Retrofit

Post by martyscncgarage »

1. You need to know what the current is on the stepper motor
2. You need to set that using the dipswitches on the drive per the manual
3. Follow each step carefully as laid out in the Geckodrive manual.

PLEASE TAKE AND POST PICTURES OF THE EXISTING CONTROL, The existing drives (Follow where the stepper motor wires connect) with close ups showing the terminals and any screen printing on the drives. Do this before wiring in a Geckodrive so we can get a look at what you are working with first.

THEN we will try:

Since this drive uses +5VDC for common, let's try connecting one drive to the Acorn header (not the DB25).
Connect +5VDC from the Acorn Power supply to the drive 5vdc terminal.
Connect Acorn STEP1 Terminal to the Drive Step terminal
Connect Acorn DIR1 Terminal to the Drive Dir terminal
Do not connect the Acorn ENA1 Terminal to the drive EN terminal at this time.

+Step motor Power Supply to CN1 Pin 5
-Step motor Power Supply to CN1 Pin 6
CN1,CN2, CN3, CN4 to the stepper motor, we want to see how the stepper motor wires are connected to the current drive first so you get this right)

I suggest going with 10uStep resolution, in the Wizard, you will set your steps/rev to 2000

Start with that and see how it goes. But DO post pictures of the existing control cabinet and close ups of the existing stepper drivers. (Follow the cables from the stepper motors to where they land, which will most likely be the stepper drivers. FIRST before taking anything apart or doing anything at all.

Marty
Reminder, for support please follow this post: viewtopic.php?f=20&t=383
We can't "SEE" what you see...
Mesa, AZ
ericbowman
Posts: 26
Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2021 5:57 pm
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CNC12: Yes
CNC11: No
CPU10 or CPU7: No
CNC Control System Serial Number: none

Re: Gerber AR600 Retrofit

Post by ericbowman »

The stepper motor is rated at 6.5 amps. (That's in one of the photos of the motor I posted)

There is a large control box pictures below:
MainControlBox.jpg
Inside that box there is a main control board:
MainControlBoard.jpg
and there is a power supply:
PowerSupply.jpg

Then there is a remote control box:
RemoteControlBox.jpg
with the following board inside:
RemoteControlBoard.jpg
I can see that three identical plugs go into the main control board in the top but those go directly to the motors themselves and do not go out to the remote control box.

There are no wiring diagrams or schematics for the original electronics, that is all proprietary to Gerber and I don't think they will ever release them.

There was a great document from Gecko that went step by step through connecting one of their drivers but now I can't find it. I'll look some more.
cnckeith
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Re: Gerber AR600 Retrofit

Post by cnckeith »

nice large format!
if you have the budget, this machines is dying for some new axis motors and drives for modern performance and reliability.
Need support? READ THIS POST first. http://centroidcncforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=60&t=1043
All Acorn Documentation is located here: viewtopic.php?f=60&t=3397
Answers to common questions: viewforum.php?f=63
and here viewforum.php?f=61
Gear we use but don't sell. https://www.centroidcnc.com/centroid_di ... _gear.html
martyscncgarage
Posts: 9116
Joined: Tue Mar 28, 2017 12:01 pm
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Location: Mesa, AZ

Re: Gerber AR600 Retrofit

Post by martyscncgarage »

cnckeith wrote: Fri Nov 05, 2021 1:42 pm nice large format!
if you have the budget, this machines is dying for some new axis motors and drives for modern performance and reliability.
I would have suggested that, but he already bought the Gecko Drives.
It may be easier for him to get it going with what he has given his limited experience with CNC Control work.
Reminder, for support please follow this post: viewtopic.php?f=20&t=383
We can't "SEE" what you see...
Mesa, AZ
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