Thread: Automated Router table
14th Mar 2019, 09:24 PM #31
The JOB page stores up to 200 JOBS on the Micro SD card, These JOB files are used to save and recall the Fence and BIT positions for any routing JOBS that you may want to repeat in the future.
There are two edit lines L1 and L2, to edit a line you simply touch it, a screen key board opens and you can enter the details of the JOB like a name, the bit and timber used and so on. NOTE: Unfortunately you cannot go back and reedit a line, you have to retype it from the start. If you accidently touch a Line and open the keyboard, simply press CAN on the keyboard, if you make a mistake then just EXIT without saving.
NOTE: The SD card can be removed and all settings and JOBS can be saved to a PC.
JN1 is used to scroll through the JOB list, JN2 opens a Numeric Keypad and allows you to enter a JOB number directly. If you move past the last created JOB position you will be prompted to add a new JOB entry.
The saved Height and Fence positions are displayed separately below L2, these can be updated at any time to the current position of the Fence and / or Height (BIT) by pressing the corresponding yellow button situated below each display box value.
SET JOB will place the saved Height and Fence positions into the Auto Move function, when you EXIT the JOB screen, the Main screen will have the BIT and Fence buttons highlighted RED and the GO BUTTON will be flashing, press GO to automatically set the Fence and BIT to the saved JOB positions. You could use a number of JOB entries to create steps for complex routing jobs.
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15th Mar 2019, 10:37 AM #32
Finally the connections on the back of the RT Control unit.
1: Height control connector
2: Height DRO slide scale
3: Manual input Connector
4: Fence DRO slide scale
5: Fence control connector
6: 5 volt power input
7: Micro SD flash card. Holds Settings and JOB files and a firmware upgrade file if needed.
8: USB Keyboard. Used to command a program update from the SD card if required.
9: Limit and Home Sensor Input Socket.
FYI: The ARM H7 Micro Controller board is around $39.00 here in AU, it is a completely assembled board with the exception of two long connector plugs that need to be soldered in place along each edge. The ARM H7 Board and Touch screen are housed in a plastic case. The case, rear connectors shown above and the few resistors and components needed to connect the various micro switches and DRO scales to the micro are available from places like Jaycar.
15th Mar 2019, 12:38 PM #33
The idea for a Router Lift came about when a link was posted to some low cost Bearing Rails and bearing blocks, available in AU. I promptly ordered a couple to put aside for a rainy day. Once I had my hands on them I had the idea of using them as fence slide rails. Of course the idea of somehow driving the Fence came from the same drive method we discussed for the Lift, the now available at lower cost Screw and Ball nut drive.
Initially I was going to use the two iGaging DRO with small display heads that I had been using on the old table. I would simply show the position and use Rotary encoders and two direction switches to set the Router height and Fence position. Somewhere along the journey I decided that if I could find a way to Drive and Decode data from the DRO positional scale slides themselves, then by using a Micro controller I could automate the table with a little extra effort, apart from having to write the dam software to accomplish it.
The thing is, when you add stepper motors and bearing rails to drive the Router Lift and/or Fence using a few simple switches and encoders for fine adjustment, you have all the hardware in place to add to the Manual control switches, and simply connect a Micro Controller to fully automate the drives, having access to the Dro Scale slide positional data or some other low cost way to read position was the stumbling block which I overcame by finally interfacing and decoding the Scales to a Micro.
One of the most difficiult tasks at the start of this build was the question of how to automate the Fence. The Router Lift was always going to be a piece of cake compared to the fence. There was also the unknown concern with locking the Fence and Router lift in position, in other words, would the Stepper motor holding current be enough to lock the Fence in place, and especially the heavy router or spindle motor as it vibrates under cutting loads and force.
I initally tried to drive only one end of the fence thinking that a bearing rail on the other end would be enough. A silly idea if truth be known, the torque that a heavy 1M long lever (Fence) can exert on the pivot point (driven end) is enough to smash thick MDF end plates that connect the fence to the bearing rails. The flex from the thick MDF end plate allowed an easy 40 mm of movement at the opposite end of the fence. Making steel endplates would simply transfer the break point to other drive components, or even the cabinet itself.
The decision was made to add another $35 Stepper and a $30 screw drive to duplicate the driven end and drive the 2nd steppers in parallel to negate the need for another motor drive module. It turns out that having some easy flex in the end plates was beneficial to this design, reason being, it makes alignment of the fence with precision extreamly simple.
You only need to get the Fence driving components at each end in the ballpark, within a few mm will be fine, it's then only a matter of rotating one or both screw drives a small amount to true up the fence. These reduction screw drives allow extreamly fine adjustment and the flex in the MDF end plates takes care of the rest. This also means that if something horrible happened, like a stepper motor failing, there would be enough time to press the Emergency stop before breaking something, at most you'd crack an end plate, it takes me all of 10 minutes to make another if needed. End plate flex is completly eliminated once both ends of the Fence are bolted to their own screw drive, this fence is as solid as having it physically clamped to the table, it's impossible to move the Fence except under motor drive, once the fence reaches the requested position you're instantly ready to rout, no clips, no locks, no clamps, no screws, no locking knobs to tighten.
As stated above, our second concern with locking the Fence and Router were unfounded. At the start of this build I had to decide what to purchase before committing to the build, not having something to test made conjecture difficuilt. It transpires that the torque reduction afforded by the Screw Drives in conjunction with almost minimal holding current through the Stepper motors was unbelievable and they run almost cold with the low holding current I use, think hitting the router with a sledge hammer to get it to move, and it wouldn't be the movement from the screw drive it would be the mounting hardware breaking.
After 8 months or more of running, the parallel driven Fence stepper motors have not got out of sync, not even by one step, the reference marks I made on each coupling shaft are still in perfect alignment with each other.
And that is the brief story of how this Router table came to be. Although it's automated, it can still be built with just the simple manual control panel shown previously, no Micro controller needed, and you still have the stepper holding force for the router lift and/or Fence.
I will post a video of the Fence running with just the manual controls and another with the Micro automation. If you think the Micro is daunting, you can still build a low cost Router lift and add a fence later if desired. The Router Lift allows you to use a CNC Spindle motor and VFD with ease as the motor comes with mounting hardware, an equivalent plunge Router in price cannot even come close to a spindle motor in power, smoothness and quietness.
15th Mar 2019, 01:34 PM #34GOLD MEMBER
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Thanks Mike, the manual version I am about to build will have the linear rails for the fence to ride on and it will have a manual lock ala a table saw on one of those rails and hopefully it won't flex too much, if it does it will get a second lock on the other rail. The lift will use a lead screw and two vertical linear rails which will be fixed to the cabinet wall but I am having second thoughts on that. Plan A is to have the lead screw driven by a cogged (Gilmer) belt and the drive for the belt will have short spindle mounted to the top fixed part of the deck that will have some sort of handle to turn it. Turn the handle, belt turns and the other end turns the lead screw lifting or lowering the spindle/router. Latest costing for the lift mechanism components is getting a bit expensive at about $100. It sure beats paying $500 or so for a router lift no matter how you look at it.CHRIS
23rd Mar 2019, 10:35 AM #35
Due to other problems, I have not had a chance to do any videos or start on the Bearing rail Right angle jig, in the meantime I wanted to add the following information for anyone curious about the RT Controller:
Although this is a woodworking section I will post a link to the Development board using an ARM STM32 H7 Microcontroller that is at the heart of Nucleo-144 development board in my Automated Router Table controller. I'll also include links to a few displays. The development board comes completly assembled but needs a few solder bridges removed and two optional double row connectors need to be soldered in place, of course it also needs a case, Touch Screen display and connectors for the back of the case.
There is full documentation for pin connections and link information for download on the net should you want more information, these are not really needed to get the RT controller working as I will put together a pdf with those details. The program run enviroment Firmware is available free and you don't need any programmer or other hardware to load that into a new NUCLEO H7 board, The Developemnt board appears as a virtual drive under Windows 10, just drop the required *.bin file onto the drive and once it's copied over, simplly press the reset button on the board. The RT controller program (code) is loaded from either an SD card or via a free program loader under Windows. If there is any interest in the controller I can start a thread in the correct electronics section or prehaps just put it all in a pdf file. The thing is, you need some basic soldering skills to solder the back panel connections and board pins, and some hobby skills to mount and fit the H7-board and the Touch screen Display into a case. There are some other relativly low cost switches and components needed to complete the build, I can supply close up photos of the internal layout and components and a full circuit. For anyone used to playing around with Arduino kits this should be reltaivly straight forward, best of all, no programming skills or coding required.
Development Board around AU $40: https://au.element14.com/stmicroelec...-m7/dp/2776646
The display size can be 7" or 9", I find 7" to be a really good size to use on the Table, of course the 9" is also really nice but is more expensive, the displays need:
1. A SSD1963 display controller with a parallel interface (8080 format).
2. A touch controller (SPI interface).
3. 800 x 480 pixels (5”, 7", 8" or 9" versions).
There are some variations in the connector pinouts most are ok but it is worth checking against this PDF manual on page 13 - http://geoffg.net/Downloads/Micromit...s%20Manual.pdf
Example of 7" Display at around AU $64: https://www.ebay.com/itm/190869221518
There a number of 7" displays out there but the one listed plugs straight into an adaptor backpack board made for the Development board, the 9" needs another low cost pin adaptor board as the pin connections are different on the 9" display, the small adaptor board takes care of the pin conversion.
Example of 9" display US $56. Needs a $10 adaptor board available elsewhere.
9" TFT LCD Module Touch Display w/SSD1963 Controller Board for Arduino - selected options from the drop down lists as below.
Pin Header Connection-8080 Parallel Interface
Power Supply (Typ.)
Touch Panel(Attached by default)
9"Resistive Touch Panel with Controller
MicroSD Card Interface
Pin Header Connection
Shipping & Handling roughly US $27
23rd Mar 2019, 10:57 AM #36.
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Just caught up with this thread - great effort Mike and a clearly detailed explanation as well.
I'm not a significant router users but this thread has suddenly wet my appetite and looks like it might lengthened my todo list.
23rd Mar 2019, 03:10 PM #37Woodworking mechanic
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- Jan 2014
- Sydney Upper North Shore
Where to you get the TFT adaptor board for the nucleo board? I have tried Element4 and RS before without much luck.
23rd Mar 2019, 06:04 PM #38
Hi, sorry for the longish answer but I wanted to fill in some blanks for others who may view this thread at a later time.
I think you write your own code so I'm assuming that you're not using MM.Basic, so with this in mind, the usefulness of the backpack board for the Nucleo H7 is dependant on what programming environment you are using to write your code.
If you are using an ARM IDE using C then the backpack board is likely useless. The board was developed to run with the hard coded port and display pins and the C graphic hardware drivers that are imbedded in the MM.Basic language port to the Nucleo ARM H7 hardware. You would need to find drivers for the display from online communities if programming in C, the Touch screen display drivers in MM.BASIC are seriously fast and run in either 8 or 16 bit connection mode.
A bit of background for anyone who has not heard of MM.Basic. It was designed for Microchip PIC32 microcontrollers by Geoff Graham Geoff's Projects - The Micromite Official WEB Page. This is not some old style basic, it was written virtually from the ground up and uses structured programming styles with Functions and Procedures, strict declarations and is designed to let you quickly interface with IO pins and external hardware on the chosen Microchip controller in both simple and extremely complex ways. There are Kits available for the Microchip products as shown on the link above.
A forum member "matherp" on https://www.thebackshed.com/forum/forum_topics.asp?FID=16&PN=3 is responsible for porting the MM.BASIC environment across to the ARM NUCLEO H7 and has written a lot of additions and modifications to his MM.Basic port, all done in C. He also designed the Backpack, there is a link below to the gerbers for anyone wanting to get a board made, very little on the board needs populating as basically the battery backup for the H7 real time clock and some connectors are all I really used in my latest 9" display test bed build.
The main reason I used the Backpack board in my separate H7 micro testbed (used to easily design and develop all kinds of controllers) was to verify that the backpack works as intended with a 9" display. It saved me having to wire up an LCD IDE display connector pin to pin to the NUCLEO board which is what I did for my Router Table controller with 7" display. It's actually really simple to wire up pin to pin as every reserved pin connection is documented in the H7 MM.BASIC extension user manual. I have also documented every connection and Nucleo pin used in the RT controller software / hardware build. Note that wiring up an IDE connector and lead can be a problem with the 9" displays as lead length is critical, again the backpack board takes of this. The 7" display is fine with an IDE cable and that's what is used in the RT controller.
The RT controller I built uses 7" display, a small SD card reader module from Jaycar and a 3 volt coin battery holder for RTC backup inside the case on tiny piece of Vero board, so there is no need for a backpack board if you go that way.
FYI: The main adaptor board (backpack) is in this thread: https://www.thebackshed.com/forum/fo...700&PN=3&TPN=3, and the link to the gerbers is here: 16_042411_stm32h7V1.3.zip
I hope this makes sense.
26th Mar 2019, 05:54 PM #39
Before I begin, a word about the previous post: Unless you are writing you own Router control program, the post above is NOT applicable to this build, it's a hardware clarification with a different Router build using the same or similar Nucleo Development board.
Today I finally had an hour or so to start on the Right-angle JIG for the Fence, which actually replaces the typical mitre slot in a router table. In the process I realised another advantage of having the JIG indexed off the fence, not only does this mean that it NEVER gets out of alignment with the fence, regardless of Fence or table top position, but it has a great advantage when the fence is automated for cutting things like Box joints, Dovetails etc.
With these cuts, the Fence moves automatically for each joint, if you are using a mitre slot with a right angle fitting to clamp the workpiece against the JIG face, you now have to unclamp and move the work piece back against the fence each time the fence moves to the next joint position. With a Right angle JIG attached to the fence, the work piece moves with the fence, all you do is slide the JIG (work piece) across the bit and back to cut the slot, then press a button to automatically move the Fence to the next joint position and repeat.
I haven't had time to get much further because of Dads serious health state and I'll be tied up tomorrow as well, so likely the weekend before I get a photo of the JIG build process, at least it helps to take my mind off life's hard reality, if only for a short time.
27th Mar 2019, 07:23 PM #40
JIG construction progress (small)
Had an hour spare this morning and made some progress with the JIG.
Standard fence top has been swapped out for this new unpainted base plate that will hold a linear rail and two bearing blocks for guiding the Right-angle JIG.
A length of rectangle aluminium box section is fitted between the two bearing blocks ready to be attached to a right angle fitting (to be made) that will glide across the table at 90 deg to the fence and move/track with the fence.
The JIG face can be moved back to the edge of the table if needed, the face can travel far enough across the table to allow the workpiece to move past the largest router bit that would fit in the table.
27th Mar 2019, 07:30 PM #41Senior Member
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- Aldinga Beach
29th Mar 2019, 10:03 AM #42
Rough test JIG
Quickly put together Right-angle JIG to test for smoothness, mounting and any proglems with alignment and tracking.
There is nothing like having the first working JIG to phyically test and think about how to make the real thing. Turns out it runs as smooth as silk across the table, it tracks perfectly and the initial alignment takes seconds. I posted a quick video in an attempt to show just how free of friction this idea really is, pushing the jig hard down against the table makes no difference to the smoothness or friction across the table. If you look at the video you can see the base of the JIG is not touching the table, there is a thin Perspex plate on the rear underside of the base and this is the only contact point with the Table top, the only contact with the Fence is obviously the attachment points to the linear bearing rails.
BTW something that may not be obvious. The Linear rails and bearings allow the END of the JIG (the part closest to the front of the table) to pivot up about 25mm vertically off the table, so it's not some rigid device, however there is ZERO movement with respect to the 90 deg angle with the Fence.
As the final JIG will be used in may ways, I intend making the bottom of the next JIG sit around 50mm above the table. This allows it to be used over the full width of the JIG / Face plate when cutting things like automated box joints. The idea is to have a multi channel (T-SLOTs) aluminium face plate that can be moved to almost touch the Table and/or Fence for some jobs or raised up and/or out for others. The T-Slots allow for some simple clamping, but still allow traditional clamping to the face plate for other uses. If I find that I can't do this in one JIG then the timber part of JIG shown in the photos can be easily detached from the Fence Slide BOX mounting points and swapped out for a different Jig.
29th Mar 2019, 10:23 AM #43
FYI for anyone who has not seen an automated fence in use for box joints, hopefully you can now see why I want the Face of the JIG to be raised above the bit. The fence moves back with each cut of the joint and the mitre JIG in my table move with the fence so it travels across the bit for the width of the box side.
Note the effective Dust extraction (NOT) in both tables - There is not one speck of dust left on my table from this kind of routing.
Note they are using a Right-angle sled from the same company, they are held down against the table and against the fence by the operator, in some videos you will see people getting catches or movement with various tables, you can get friction and movement this way, especially if you happen to be a small female like my wife. I'm not a fan but if it works for you then great, however these jigs won't work with other types of routing jobs.
30th Mar 2019, 05:21 PM #44
After a lot of thought I realised that 95% of the time I'm not using large bits or timber, so I made a traditional small cutout in the JIG face to clear most of the small work. I fitted two short pieces of T-Track into the back of the movable JIG face, this allows me to raise the height of the entire face to clear any bit and especially when making various Box joint cuts across the full width of the JIG face.
Having that initial small bit clearance cutout in the JIG face means that using larger bits only requires the JIG face to raised a small amount for that cutout to clear the height/width difference between small and large bits. I no longer need to make the JIG face slide out from the fence, this is such a simple design now. It's got plenty of clamping area, there's absolutely is no flex of any kind in the JIG. I routed two wide spaced T-Slots with the old JIG, entered the desired Fence positions into the controller, I needed 10mm depth for the T-Slot so I told the Bit to go to 5 mm and then 10mm for a two pass cut, dam it 's nice.
Except for the movable face, the rest of the JIG still needs to trimmed, sanded and painted.
31st Mar 2019, 12:53 PM #45
Primed the timber and added photos of the JIG without the adjustable Face.
With this RA slide jig it makes no difference where you push the jig, you could push it from the top of the jig Face if you wanted, it cannot bind and will ALWAYS be 90 deg vertical to the table and always 90 deg to the front of the Fence. The only point of flex would be in the short thick vertical MDF side of the JIG where it attaches to the aluminium box section. In the last photo you may be able to make out TWO pieces of MDF used for that side connection to the fence and the rest of the JIG, there is now ZERO flex unless you apply enough force to bend the router bit shank. Although it may look like the outside foot of the JIG is not touching the table, it's an illusion as there is a 2mm thick piece of clear Perspex between the foot and the table, it's smooth slippery and fully supports the JIG and transfers downward forces to the table top.
Two thick MDF side pieces make a stepped connection to the bottom of the Jig and remove any flex from the connection to the Aluminium box section on the bearing blocks.
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