Diagnosing a CNC router TB6560 Control Problem

After successfully Transporting my router setup to the NC Maker Faire (here’s my pics) a few weeks ago, I tried to again hook it up at home.  After the wires were hooked up, the X and Y axes worked well, but the Z axis jerked around unacceptably.  After swapping the axes on the TB6560 board, the problem followed the board’s Z axis.  Because of this, the three possibilities at this point seemed to be the board, the computer, or the actual parallel cable.

Below is a video of how my router was acting; note around 0:40 when I swapped the Y and Z axis and the problem followed the output on the board.

Maybe I should have checked the parallel cable first, but that seemed unlikely to be the source.  I did eventually successfully “ohm out” or check each wire for continuity with my voltmeter, so that was covered.  Sometimes it’s the simple things, so best to eliminate them first.  Instead I decided to do a fresh install of Windows and Mach3 (see my review).  This didn’t have much of an effect.

Zen Toolworks full router setupThe next cheapest thing that could have been a problem was the parallel port.  Although it didn’t turn out to be a problem with the port, I figured out how to use a PCI parallel port to run the TB6560 board, and posted about it here.  It’s probably useful to know how to do this, and I’m running with it now instead of the onboard one.

Finally it came down to the board.  It would be easy to jump on the control board to begin with since it seemed to be a problem with one of the axes, but besides the PC, this is the most expensive part of the control system.  Fortunately, Zen Toolworks was extremely helpful, and was able to help me get a new board, so things were back to normal in very short order.  I did hook the motor leads using ferrules (see this post) which should make it easier to take everything totally apart next time I decide to travel with this device.

Zen Toolworks claims that returns on the TB6560 board are rare, but when they are returned, the designer is local to them so things can be diagnosed on a board level.  If the customer damages something, their general policy is that there is a small charge for repairing it after examining the issue.  They’ve always treated me very well, so I would assume this would be the case with anyone else.  That being said, if you’ve got a board that you think is trashed, don’t throw it away, (or try to do something wacky like doing a DIY solder reflow) get it repaired!  Besides being good to get your board repaired, the feedback ZTW receives on this product should serve to make an already good board even better!

This piece of troubleshooting was obviously done after I’d had my router for a while, but check out this post for my original electrical setup, or this one for some troubleshooting that I did when initially setting up my ZTW 7×12!

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