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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm going to gift myself one of the Probotix V90 mk2 CNCs. My annual Christmas gift/shop investment. I hopefully can get it with their new higher gantry sides, and beefier gantry beam. One of the reasons I want the higher gantry sides is so that I can do more 3D carving for thick furniture parts. The notoriously low Z clearance of the Probotix CNCs has meant any previous thick 3D furniture part carving was relegated to our old CNC Shark HD2.

My reason for posting this is about choosing an air cooled spindle over a router. For those of you that are using the air cooled spindle that probotix provides, what would you consider the strengths and weaknesses of them?

Was installing/configuring the spindle something you could have figured out yourself?
Does the spindle get warm/hot when running for a long period of time?
Was cabling for the spindle run through the cable chain when you bought your Probotix CNC with the spindle? How about the 220v power feed?
Does your linuxCNC install have spindle speed control that works via g-code S commands in .ngc files?

I have a feeling there are more questions I should ask. Feel free to offer up any advice/experience you may have using your spindle.

Thanks!
4D
 

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would water cooled run quieter????
 
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David - Machinist in wood
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Mix of water pump sounds and a spinning spindle or just the spinning spindle? I've never listened to one much less both side-by-side.
You can't hear my water pump or the cooling fan at all. The spindle is very quiet. Watch one of my videos and you'll almost hear the spindle :wink:

Ok, you can hear it but it is very quiet. The main drawback I've read about air cooled spindles is that they need to run at least 12k rpm to keep themselves cool, unless it's a very short run then you can run them down at 6k rpm should the need arise. The water cooled spindle is cool at any speed within its range.

A given on a spindle over a router is much better runout on the spindle shaft and collet assembly. It's been a while since I read the specs but most spindles are significantly tighter in tolerances than the best router. And the guys I've seen who run routers for long 3D cuts end up replacing them at least annually, some more often, some less.

If you need the link to hear the spindle, here's my YouTube channel - David Falkner Woodworking

David
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
No questions about the advantages of a Spindle over a router. Those are why I'm considering one. The precision/less runout will matter more for the furniture joinery I cut more than for the 3D carving of parts. Getting tenons to fit into mortises with just enough room for glue matters more than being off by an imperceptible .002" on the shape of a table leg before sanding.

I have a dewalt trim router and clamp that I can use on the new CNC. The $800 price on a spindle from Probotix is a hard hit on my conservative budget for this investment. If I can buy and install essentially the same spindle/VFD combo for under $400 then I'll go that route. I just have no idea what to expect toward getting control of it within linuxCNC.

4D
 

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When I built mine, I paid $300 for the combination of the 2.2 kw spindle and VFD (“genuine” Huanyang). I got mine on EBay from a seller that shipped from California. Mine is water cooled, but I just circulate coolant through it from a 5 gallon bucket (sealed with llid to keep out dust) using a cheap pond pump, no radiator. I have never felt any noticeable heat rise even during several hour runs.

Air cooled eliminates the complexity of running cooling lines, my only question about air cooled is where the air exits and whether it would interfere with a dust shoe.

I have no problem starting, stopping, or controlling speed under g-code control, my G540 has PWM as a built in function. Many VFDs can also be controlled via mod bus over a serial port. Do you know the details of what is inside the probotix controller and whether there is a pwm function or if modbus can be implemented? The VFD should be able to source the 10 volts that feeds into a PWM signal. I would think that this may have been discussed on probotix forums.

I know you have experience with probotix, but have you looked at what CNC Router Parts kit you could get for the same money? I believe it would be much stronger than even the improved probotix.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I've looked at what CNC Router Parts has to offer, but as I've already got a Probotix Meteor and oversee two Probotix CNCs where I work I'm going with another CNC from Probotix. I've just taken a good look at the backplate of my controller and there is a 3-pin VFD port with a VFD ADJ hole/pot next to it. I occasionally let students use my shop and keeping everything the same reduces confusion.

I've seen several VFD/Spindle "kits" from ebay, and Amazon even sells several variations. Probotix has what looks like good instructions for how to connect to and power up a VFD, and what setting to use with their CNC controllers. I'm guessing all the info I would need can be found on their wiki page.

I'd still like to hear from anyone who already uses an air cooled spindle from Probotix.

4D
 

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4D,

I got the air cooled spindle from Probotix. Comes all set up for your machine including the VFD (which isn't hard to set up). Just plug it all in. You just don't use the router ports. Make sure you get the Sunfar E300 VFD. Len's been switching over to them but make sure. You can buy them from the Tech whatever in Chicago for a couple hundred cheaper, but with Len's it's all set up for your machine and he handles any warranty issues. Mine has been been replaced once under warranty. Mine came with the 220 cord attached and wired - just needing the end plug put on. Ran a 220 line close to the machine - added the plug to fit the outlet. It comes all set up so even dummies like me can make dust.

The vacuum is louder than the spindle when running. It doesn't heat up or interfere with the dust shoe. Plus the VFD has a very wide range of RPMs.

I've run mine upwards of 20 hours a day during the holidays and think nothing of setting a 12 or 14 hour cut and let her go. For that size machine, I personally think air cooled is the way to go. Lot less hassle and trouble. Look at it as being a quieter fancy router. But you will have to get a set of your own wrenches for the collet and bit changing.

I'm interested in a machine with a higher gantry too. Let us know what you find out and if existing machines (my Nebula) can be retrofitted.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks HJ.

Did you get 1/4" and 1/2" collets with your spindle?
I'm surprised Probotix didn't include wrenches with it. I suspect I've got some that would work.
Help me understand how it is all wired up... a cable from the spindle goes to the VFD? The VFD plugs into the Unity controller? 220v feeds the VFD and NOT the spindle directly?

I don't currently have a 220v outlet in the room I want to put this new CNC, but my home electrical panel is in an adjacent utility room and the backside of the drywall in the shop room is exposed for easy access. I'll hire an electrician to add a new breaker and run the wire to a new 220v outlet if I decide to go with a spindle.

I still haven't heard back from Probotix about my desired features for the V90mk2. Holiday weekend now so I expect a reply Tuesday or later this week.

4D
 

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For those of you that are using the air cooled spindle that probotix provides, what would you consider the strengths and weaknesses of them?

Was installing/configuring the spindle something you could have figured out yourself?
Does the spindle get warm/hot when running for a long period of time?
Was cabling for the spindle run through the cable chain when you bought your Probotix CNC with the spindle? How about the 220v power feed?
Does your linuxCNC install have spindle speed control that works via g-code S commands in .ngc files?

I have a feeling there are more questions I should ask. Feel free to offer up any advice/experience you may have using your spindle.

Thanks!
4D
I bought their air cooled spindle; my install was in September. When they were building someone else's Nebula in the queue in front of mine, they actually gave me his when he wanted to change his order somehow. In any event, my Nebula is wired for both my Spindle & has a 110v outlet so I could use a router if I wanted to.

Installing the spindle was not difficult at all. I got it figured out with the help of my son, the mechanical engineer. You would have no problem at all. The problem I did have was that the illustrations in the Quick Start Guide did not match my unit. Instructions were not exactly correct. You could figure it out, but it did take a minute to think it through.

Yes, the spindle does get warm to touch after a long cut. I haven't paid any attention to that; it is air cooled, after all.

All cabling was in the cable chain. I didn't touch it.

The 220v power feed needs to go to the converter, which is located under the table on the Nebula. The power converter itself has a short pigtail; about 6'. Given the size of the Nebula, my pre-installed power service at the back of the table *barely* reaches, which is a frustration. I wasn't smart enough to ask about that prior to ordering this, my first CNC.

Hooking up the power converter was my big surprise: there is no off switch. I'm turning the unit on by throwing the breaker. No big deal, but not exactly convenient. I wish that there was a unified power center for the computer, control box & power converter. That's on my "I'll get to it someday if I'm incredibly bored" list. I also wish the electronic components were secured in a dust free environment under the Nebula table ... that's something I do intend to fix. In my spare time.

I have controlled spindle speed 2 ways: setting the default speed for each bit in Aspire, and then adjusting it using the slider bar or spindle speed buttons on the main control screen in Linux CNC.

So, I'm 3 months in with my spindle, and I would absolutely do the same purchase again today. Recommended.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks Henry!

Nice to know the spindle speed is controllable via Aspire settings. I have access to an industrial Multicam CNC with spindle and tool changer and am very familiar with controlling those features even though both are ignored when using my meteor running a router.

No OFF switch on the 220v VFD doesn't surprise me. Seems as though there should be a low power or sleep state when the controller/linuxCNC shuts down? Hard to cull any such features from the specs I can find online though.

Dust proofing we handle fairly well by taping filter material over the air intake of the PC and controller. I open them up and clean them out each semester. If the filter material has remained in place there is usually little to no sawdust inside the cases. We learned our lesson early though by killing a controller by letting it pack itself with sawdust.

4D
 

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Last I knew, this was the setup that Probotix was using: https://www.automationtechnologiesi...e/brand-new-2-2kw-air-cooled-spindle-and-vfd/

I have at least 3 machines with their vfd and air cooled spindles that I have set up for work and have not had any issues with then to date.

With my personal machine (not Probotix, but using Linuxcnc), I am using the air cooled spindle from the above link and a vfd from Automation Direct. I have run continuously down to 8000 rpm without any issues. I know people with water cooled spindles say they are quieter, but the noise comes from the cutter mostly anyway. Spindle temp has not been an issue either. You can also get the spindle wrenches from Probotix.

The last I knew, the Probotix spindle/vfd setup did not have a way to disconnect the power (220V) to the vfd, other than by disconnecting the cord. I personally did not like that so I installed a disconnect switch, this way it can be powered down when changing tools and also at the end of the day. The Unity controllers are setup already so that you have control of the spindle speed thru gcode and the slider in the software.

Another advantage of the spindle is that you have more vertical adjustment in the spindle mounting bracket, which can give you a little more height adjustment (which for you, 4D, would be good). Once you get a spindle, you will wonder why it took you so long.

Dave
 

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Mine is all manual - one of the earlier ones. The 220 hooks right into the VFD box. You could add your own longer cord if you needed to. The wires just plug in. It has it's own on/off button and a knob to turn to get your desired rpm settings. I have to turn the spindle on and off manually but about 10 minutes on the phone with Len had it all hook up right. It's just a matter of putting the right wires and plugs in the correct place. All I added was a plug end for the 220. Everything else was ready to go. All it takes is to forget to turn it on once (or in my case twice) when you hit go and it's ingrained in the back of your brain.

You can run your own 220 from the box if you got the extra breaker space.
 

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I had an air cooled spindle in one of my cnc’s and the sound it made was worse than a router. That was a kit I bought in USA which came with a Delta VFD, quite expensive. The reason I went with air cooled spindle was to avoid the hustle with the water pump.

Now I have a new cnc with a water cooled spindle and VFD both from China at half the cost. The difference is like day and night. There is no noise from either the spindle or water pump and the performance is amazing.

I will never recommend an air cooled spindle, for the money spent might as well get a water cooled spindle. On the other hand if your shop is noisy (perhaps with a vacuum system running) or if you don’t mind noise then air cooled spindle is fine.
 

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would water cooled run quieter????
Air cooled spindles are very quiet. I have a 3HP Columbo air cooled spindle on my 4x8 machine. I can talk in a quiet voice over the sound it makes. As for heating up, I have run the machine for a steady 7 hours during hot summer days and it never heated up. I would think the smaller hp air cooled spindles my not be able to run as long and hard as the commercial Columbo units but it will depend on the cutter size, depth of cut and material.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
All it takes is to forget to turn it on once (or in my case twice) when you hit go and it's ingrained in the back of your brain.
I'm in the habit of using the spindle toggle box in LinuxCNC to verify that the router is turned on before starting any job. That is after also learning how important it is the hard way. ;)

Since many students use the college CNCs it is never safe to assume a router is switched on when starting a job. Some don't shut down linuxCNC properly and it will let the router start to run. The easy fix is simply to turn the router off by its own switch. Of course the next person using that CNC assumes the routers are left with their switch in the ON position. Thus the practice to verify router control in linuxCNC before starting any job.

4D
 

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There is a .hal pin in Linuxcnc, I believe it is called "spindle in motion", that I tied to a relay out contact in the vfd that closes when the vfd is "at speed". This prevents the lowering of the Z axis until Linuxcnc sees that contact being closed. I could not depend on an operator to turn on the disconnect or vfd power before running a program. This works very well.

I tried to get Len to start doing that to all machines that used a vfd, but was not successful (as far as I know). You may ask him when you order your machine. It's not real difficult if you have some wiring and programming knowledge. I also put a "at speed" indicator on the operator interface.

Dave
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Very interesting Dave, and thanks for mentioning it. Glad to see another example of how "smart" LinuxCNC can be when a smart programmer gets ahold of it.

I do have some programming and wiring knowledge which has already come in handy as I learn more about how linuxCNC works.

4D
 

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You are welcome. All it takes is 2 more wires between vfd and parallel port, program setup in vfd and a little linuxcnc programming magic. I would be willing to share my linuxcnc changes, but you will need to make sure that you have enough parallel port pins. I have the second parallel port, so that wasn't an issue.

Happy New Year!

Dave
 
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