View Full Version : Pinnacle Auto Focus

William Johanson
02-10-2008, 3:51 PM
Hey guys, Anybody ever had any experience with a pinnacle m-30 auto focus repair. Yesterday I ran a plaque and when the head moved to the home position the plunger fell out of the auto focus assembly. I will call signwharehouse tomorrow, but I figured I would ask if anybody had any experience. I can't figure what holds the plunger in. It still seems like the spring inside the assembly is still functional but I can't figure how the plunger attaches. I don't think I am missing any parts but I guess I am not 100% sure. Thanks in advance,


Scott Challoner
02-10-2008, 5:59 PM
I'm not sure how similar our machines are. I believe Pinnacle is GCC also. I had to open up my auto focus switch a few months ago to make some repairs, but I can't seem to remember how the plunger was held in place. Unfortunately, when I put it back together, I used gorilla glue so it won't be very easy to open it up again. Have you cracked yours open? If you shake it does it sounds like there is something rattling around like an e-clip or snap ring of some kind? If you have opened it, maybe you can post a picture of the parts. That may jog a memory or two. It's really a pretty simple device. I think they are only $20 or so. You might want to buy an extra one anyway for emergencies. They do tend to take some abuse.
Sorry I couldn't be a little more help.

William Johanson
02-10-2008, 6:47 PM
No Rattling when I shake it. I will try to get some pics up, I am not sure how right now. I have tried to take it apart but can't figure out how. There is a cylindrical tube with a larger diameter cap on the top side that spins. I can pop off the cap but cannot break it down any further. The top still spins so it should come apart but I can't figure out how. I will work on the pics that will help describe what I am trying to say.



Scott Challoner
02-10-2008, 9:13 PM
Yeah, your housing is quite a bit different than mine. Mine is just molded plastic and I pryed the two halves apart.
Does it look like there used to be anything soldered to the gold end of that pin? If you can get it apart, it may just take a soldering iron to fix. If it wasn't soldered, it may be a press fit. In that case, you could just push it in with a little more force than it takes to compress the spring. In my past life, we used these types of pins in bed-of-nails test fixtures (for testing circuit boards). They are usually wire wrapped or soldered.

William Johanson
02-10-2008, 9:38 PM
There is some solder on the silver part just below the gold part but it does not look like the solder was broken at all. You can make out the solder bead towards the left side of the pic. I tried pushing it in but it doesn't seem to work. I will just have to call tomorrow. Thanks for the input,


Richard Rumancik
02-11-2008, 7:06 PM
I have the Mercury version of this product and have not used the autofocus for some time. I would suggest that you replace the probe instead of trying to repair it. If it fails to activate properly during an autofocus operation you will crash your machine which could cost you much more. (The table will be commanded to go up, but it won't detect the stop switch in the probe.)

I have found that autofocus is a very risky accessory. If you always do flat work, never engrave something unique like a "bowl" shaped object, or use a fixture, maybe you can avoid most problems. But in my opinion there are too many ways that it can go wrong, so I have stuck with using the measuring probes exclusively.

In some cases you have a setup (like a recessed bowl) and may have to use a manual probe focus due to space. If you happened to accidentally hit the "autofocus" button during this setup you may crash the sides of the bowl into your x-rail. I added a cover to the autofocus button, since it is between the "table up" and "table down" and easy to touch accidentally. (Your eyes are on the probe and your hand is on the control panel.) I also made a few other mods to allow me to "lock out" autofocus altogether but I eventually gave up on it.

In some cases it is necessary to lock the probe up out of the way so it doesn't get knocked during an operation. (Also this is required if using the rotary I believe). But if you forget to bring it back down and lock it into the proper "home" position, and then do an autofocus, bad things can happen when the workpiece can't find the probe.

I wish the designers would come up with an optical method of auto-focussing - better yet, optical with a digital readout on the control panel, so you can check for focus deviations over the workpiece.

Vicky Orsini
02-11-2008, 8:45 PM
It looks a bit like the one on my Explorer. I believe it is held in place by a very tiny set screw. I couldn't really tell you for certain, though, because I removed my auto focus plunger ages ago after it failed and I decided I would never, ever use it again. Manual focus is a simple thing to do.