PDA

View Full Version : epilog problem I could really use some help



Jonathan Noble
08-15-2014, 9:44 PM
Hello folks I have a problem with my machine thatís really cutting into production. I was hoping somewhere within the hive mind known as sawmill creek engravers forum I could find an answer. Hereís all I know and if anyone could help with a possible solution it would be really really fantastic.


Iíve talked with tech support 3 or 4 times so far and continue to have the problem I will continue working with them and Iíve spent many hours reading old posts and searching the forum for answer with no luck yet.


The machine is an epilog legend helix 36ext


when I use the machine two things happen


the x axis randomly jumps location ie. if Iím cutting a row of circles somewhere along the line it just cuts over a random amount and continues cutting as if it hadnít which means now everything is out of alignment. This happens erratically every day and often enough that the machine is barely usable.


also occasionally the carriage head will take off out of no where at a frightening speed and smash against the side of the machine.


Sometimes these two things happen in conjunction sometimes separately.


What I have done already:


I have cleaned the linear encoder and reader as per tech instructions. (though this machine gets x axis location from rotary encoder in axis motor)
I flipped the cable connecting linear encoder
I then replaced that cable and linear encoder with new ones
I replaced the x axis motor
I tried flipping the cable that runs from the x axis motor to mother board
Iíve run the machine with only itself on the circuit and no other electronics on around it and through a power cleaner with also shows voltage and amperage and it is getting the correct voltage
the erratic behaviour continues seemingly completely at random.
It has also happened occasionally when the machine was just starting and no computer was connected to it.


often i have to end cutting for the day and then itíll work again the following day until it becomes erratic after a short period of cutting and I have to stop again.


If anyone has any suggestions it would really help me out as this has been ongoing and a very frustrating experience.

Chris J Anderson
08-16-2014, 1:28 AM
Not sure if your laser has the same features, or if you are printing from a stored job in the laser but...

our Epilog Helix does random wierd stuff sometimes if we try to run a job that has been saved into memory on the laser.

It never does this if we print a new job to the laser normally.

So we dont use the on board memory any more, its way too risky.

Hope you find the issue, I know how frustrating it can be.

Cheers,
chris

Mike Audleman
08-16-2014, 2:30 AM
The skipping I had a similar thing happening with a stepper project I was builting off an arduino. Ended up being a loose setscrew on the drive pulley which allowed it to slip a part revolution until it was cinch up again.

Not familiar with the Eplog internal mechanics but does it use a timing belt? If so, check for missing teeth on both the belt and the pulleys. And check for possible debris in or on the belt(s). Also check the set screws where the drive pulley mounts on the motor. Is it slipping?

But given the other weird take off and run issue, sounds like a possible memory issue, controller board or motor driver. Maybe a cold or cracked solder joint on the motor driver?

Kev Williams
08-16-2014, 12:39 PM
My Gravo LS900 has developed a similar problem, which started when I tried to run the machine using the new driver that came with my Gravo 7 software. It started when trying to run some vector passes. The machine would either go someplace then move at about 1 inch per day, or it would do the Whheeeeee-SLAM thing. My problem is that even though I don't use that driver any more, whenever I send a job to the laser using Gravostyle, no matter what it is, once that's done, then the machine refuses to run a vector pass. Rasters fine, but won't vector... It either does the creepy-crawl thing, or the whee-slam thing. And it won't vector from Gravo whatsoever, ever. But after running a raster job from Gravo, it won't vector using Corel either. I then have to delete the printer, then re-install it and reload the driver. Then all is well

The funny thing is, I can run the machine indefinitely from Corel without issue. It's only when it receives a job from Gravostyle does it mess up.

My rep and his crew at NH CS say the firmware upgrade from the Gravo 7 corrupted my controller software, and short of replacing a board in the controller (about $1300) I'm stuck with the problem. Been living with it for over a year, and it's second nature now to just unload and reload the driver after running a job from Gravo...

Not much help, sorry!

Jonathan Noble
08-16-2014, 1:10 PM
Thanks for the input so far! I never print from memory so it's definitely not that. I will check for cold/cracked solder connections and have checked the pulley's and other mechanical do dads as much as I can not being an expert in that sort of thing I may have missed something I will look that over again.

David Somers
08-16-2014, 2:48 PM
Kev,

So if I am following you correctly. You have a Gravo machine that you use Gravo supplied software with. The company believes that their upgraded Gravo software and its associated Gravo firmware update toasted your Gravo hardware and that their way of dealing with it is to say that life is tough, man up? Seriously? For some reason that grates on me. ?

Sorry Jonathan. That had nothing useful to do with your problem. That was just me saying "whaaaaaaaa???!!!!" <grin>

Dave

Michael Hunter
08-17-2014, 5:50 AM
My Epilog did something similar when the X motor failed.

Bill George
08-17-2014, 9:06 AM
FYI My son does building automation control. He had re-written the control program and then down loaded to a Flash (USB) drive and then installed in the controller. At random times it would crash. They checked everything wires, connections, replaced parts and so on.
Finally a call to mfg, who suggested another software reload. Turned out the old Flash drive had corrupted the file, not enough so it would not load or run... but crash at random times.

You might also check to see if you are getting interference from RF or radio signals or EMI from welding machines, or other machines in the area putting a spike on the power going into the machine. You can not see these on a voltmeter or amp meter.

Dan Hintz
08-17-2014, 10:54 AM
Turned out the old Flash drive had corrupted the file, not enough so it would not load or run... but crash at random times.

Sounds like the company did a really poor job at programming their firmware loader... any proper loader should verify the code before and after loading.

Bill George
08-17-2014, 12:41 PM
Sounds like the company did a really poor job at programming their firmware loader... any proper loader should verify the code before and after loading.

Dan that brings up an interesting Question. How many times can a USB or flash drive be written to, and what happens to the old data?

I know on a "real" hard drive when you erase, your just erasing the Index to the file, and the file could be scattered all over the hard drive. The more the file gets fragmented the slower the access to that file. On hard drives you can either de-fragment the device or if you really don't care about the data it can be re-formatted.
My son just copied the program file to the USB drive, and when it loading into the controller not sure if there is any bit checking or not?

Jamie Bourland
08-17-2014, 1:20 PM
I don't know if you can have circuits or circuit board exposed while laser is running but I have narrowed down search for defective circuitry in computers using a Freeze Spray. Doesn't really allow me to fix anything but it shows me what to replace, like entire motherboard.

http://www.mcmelectronics.com/product/CHEMTRONICS-ES1550-/58-17235

I like to keep Contact Cleaner spray on hand as well. One type is mainly for grease and such, the other is for oxides (corrosion.)
http://electronics.mcmelectronics.com/search?w=contact%20cleaner%20spray
When I am away from my classroom for Xmas vacation, enough corrosion builds up on my monitor cable connectors that when I return the signal can't get through; no video.
The anti-oxide spray (25%) fixes this problem.

Dan Hintz
08-17-2014, 7:45 PM
Dan that brings up an interesting Question. How many times can a USB or flash drive be written to, and what happens to the old data?

I know on a "real" hard drive when you erase, your just erasing the Index to the file, and the file could be scattered all over the hard drive. The more the file gets fragmented the slower the access to that file. On hard drives you can either de-fragment the device or if you really don't care about the data it can be re-formatted.
My son just copied the program file to the USB drive, and when it loading into the controller not sure if there is any bit checking or not?

Depends upon the quality of the flash chip, as well as the technology (NAND, NOR, etc.)... but it is typically rated in millions of write cycles. Wear leveling (either via software or built-in hardware) can extend the apparent lifetime significantly. Even high-quality chips have bad sectors, but the bad sector table hides this from the user. Wear leveling tends to leave old files on the flash, just "hidden", similar to a spinning platter drive. There should be CRC/bit-checking done by the flash hardware as well as any driver software.

Fragmenting mean very little on a flash drive... access speed is so significant, and there is no need to take into account physical parameters like how long it will take for the platter with the desired data to spin back into position. But the limited write lifetime of flash is also why you don't (and shouldn't) defragment flash drives. For purists who feel the need to defragment, it's best to copy all data off of the flash, wipe the flash, then write it all back again.

Mike Audleman
08-18-2014, 11:17 AM
Dan that brings up an interesting Question. How many times can a USB or flash drive be written to, and what happens to the old data?


Old data moves to Miami where it wears speedos that are too small and blue blocker sunglasses that are way to big. You can usually spot it driving 10 under the speed limit in the fast lane with a blinker thats been going for at least 5 miles.

In all reality, flash memory has a life span. It does wear out. The memory can only be written to a set number of times before failure. This is one reason its not a bad idea to leave files on it and not constantly erase them and only erase them when its actually needed. If you constantly erase them, it reuses the same locations time after time and the same directory entries. This wears certain areas more than the rest of the drive.

I leave files on mine until it begins to get full. Then I quick format it and let start all over again.

Dan Hintz
08-18-2014, 11:50 AM
This is one reason its not a bad idea to leave files on it and not constantly erase them and only erase them when its actually needed. If you constantly erase them, it reuses the same locations time after time and the same directory entries. This wears certain areas more than the rest of the drive.

I leave files on mine until it begins to get full. Then I quick format it and let start all over again.

This is incorrect... the control hardware for flash drives have wear leveling built in for all but the crappiest of drives.

Mike Audleman
08-18-2014, 12:17 PM
This is incorrect... the control hardware for flash drives have wear leveling built in for all but the crappiest of drives.

Not all but some do, yes. Higher quality ones do. But this is not a guarantee and I am unaware of any way to tell if yours does or does not have wear leveling firmware short of looking at the firmware. At least no way the common user could tell. I don't have the article handy but someone did a review, 2013 or maybe 2012, where it showed less than half did bitwise wear leveling on the chips.

Thing is, its easy just to leave the files on the drive and only delete when full. It costs nothing and distributes the writes across all the cells. Then you know.

Bill George
08-18-2014, 1:52 PM
The user also has no way to know if the flash drive as wear leveling or not? I guess what I was trying to say here is flash or USB drives could be the cause of a corrupted file. The only real way to find out is use a new flash drive and try reloading the program or file.

Jonathan Noble
08-21-2014, 12:47 PM
Thanks for the replies and help.Well I found what was going wrong and I figured I might as well post it just in case someone else has a similar problem and this might be helpful. After a lot of trial and error I put a power cleaner on the circuit which showed amperage and voltage. I was running the exhaust fan and the laser on the same circuit and it was running about 15.3 amps. In Canada standard home circuits are run off 15 amp breakers. So I was running a little over max power but not enough to trip the breaker. Well I think what was happening is the draw was too much and it was creating brown outs as time went on from the extra resistance created as the wires heated up. Then the following day when everything had cooled off (ie the internal home wiring) it worked again until it heated up and then erratic problems started again. Thatís my hypothesis though Iím not an electrician so I could be wrong. However this is what I know for certain:
I had erratic x axis behaviour and had the laser and exhaust on the same circuit. Even though technically there was enough power to handle it when I put them on separate circuits the problem ceased. Well that was a very frustrating couple weeks but itís fantastic having the machine up and running consistently.

Uma Duffy
08-21-2014, 1:26 PM
We had the same issues with our 35 mini it is a perplexing problem to say the least. if you know everything is up tp par with your machine physically. you have to reinstall the drivers make sure to delete all versions beforehand (very important). it took us three tries to get it clean then we discarded the cat cables and went with patch cables. i said cables because of our network and interface with other lasers. i know it solved the same epilog problem for us.

Mark Ross
08-21-2014, 5:19 PM
Johnathan,

I believe your diagnoses may be spot on. We have two 36 EXT's and each one is on their own dedicated 20 amp circuit. We had a similar problem in the past and have not had it occur since we did this.

Rangarajan Saravana kumar
08-23-2014, 4:45 AM
Hi,

Earlier we had some erratic behaviour in X axis and found that , the rod which carries the air hose, touch the x board seated on the flying optics and caused so many
issues. After that we placed an thick foam tape between then its all ok

hope this helps

regards