Take an inexpensive CNC lathe from eBay for $1200. Inexpensive because the electronics don’t work. Add a powerful Centroid Acorn Controller (also not too expensive) and you’ve got the slick little lathe that Centroid uses to test their controls:
Just the basics, but they’re all there!
Inside the control cabinet…
Inside the control cabinet things are clean and simple. You can see the VFD for the spindle at the top left. There’s a Gecko G540 (black box top right) driving the steppers. The parallel cables makes the connection from the Acorn Controller (green board bottom center) super easy. And there’s a PC inside the little black box running the Acorn software.
Speaking of which, here’s a shot:
Centroid has been around a long time and has a good reputation for their controls, but the Acorn is newer. I had several folks ask me about it when I ran the CNC Controller Survey recently, but I hadn’t really dug into one at all.
I got the information for this article when Marty Escarcega, one of Centroid’s forum moderators, contacted me about giving some CNCCookbook information out to their audience. I’m always happy to share the content on our website provided there’s proper attribution, so the answer was, “Yes!”, of course.
Marty included a slick video that tells the story of this nifty lathe:
Video about Centroid’s Acorn controlled CNC lathe…
Lathes are great, BTW, and CNC Lathes are even better. If this machine had been available to me off the shelf at the time, I might very well have one today. The price is right for a home shop. Also, its size is perfect for my shop which is a touch cramped. Plus I like the toolroom approach with decent distance between centers and room for a tailstock.
I love PathPilot on my Tormach Slant Bed lathe, but this control has some pretty sweet features too:
- Conversational Programming
- G71 reveals a powerful dialect of G-Code, Fanuc compatible. I’ve been telling anyone that will listen to make their controls Fanuc compatible for a long time, but most don’t listen, LOL.
- Accurate repeatable homing via encoders connected to the home switches.
There’s probably a lot more, but that’s what I took away from the video. It was a great intro, and I’m hoping Centroid will send me an Acorn to play with. I’ve got several machines here I’d like to hook it up to, mostly my CNC Router. Yup, the Acorn is good for mills or lathes.
It’s not really a fair comparison to put this little guy against Tormach’s lathe. The Tormach is in a different class as it is bigger, heavier, and more rigid. Plus, it’s got an awesome gang tooling and sweet 8 station turret as well.
If you’re into DIY CNC Machines, have a look at the Acorn control. Hopefully I can provide even more insight in the not too distant future.
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Bob is responsible for the development and implementation of the popular G-Wizard CNC Software. Bob is also the founder of CNCCookbook, the largest CNC-related blog on the Internet.
Actually you can easily build your own non-powered lathe mechanism and add stepper motors to make it a CNC based lathe. It is not all that complex. By treating the rotary axis as if it were a flat platen you don’t even have to account for things being round versus flat.
Looks like we have another Linuxcnc based product (they seem to be using a beaglebone with machinekit on it). It’s cool but their pricing is a bit steep. You need to upgrade to a Pro version to get the conversational, for example and you need a PC (windows 10 only) to drive it. It adds up to a significant amount. I just built a Linuxcnc controller for less than 200 bucks, no license fees, no upgrade cost. Default UI for Linuxcnc is not very polished but it’s functional and capable. One of these days we will have a super intuitive UI for Linuxcnc just like pathpilot.
No, I don’t believe it is LinuxCNC.
If you look at their documentation here:
They say the hardware is a breakout board for a beaglebone black or green which Machinekit (which is a fork of Linuxcnc) has ready images for. I am not certain but it is very likely that they didn’t just write it from scratch. Ready to be proven wrong, though.
They have features that LinuxCNC doesn’t have, such as full Fanuc g-code dialect. If they added it, then it’ll be in the LinuxCNC open source. But it isn’t.
Centroid has been around a long time. This is their code.
I run G71,G72,G73, as a remap G-code on LinuxCNC. The code is there, just not fully implemented as yet. It gives me the feel of LinuxCNC as well. But, with that said, it does look like a nice, solid controller. I will stick though with my Mesas, G203V’s and LinuCNC
Again, fantastic presentation.
You always come through with meaning and fascinating material.
Keep up your hard work.
(A longtime subscriber.)
The beauty of Acorn is that the hardware AND software come from the same manufacturer. The software being run is based on the same software used on Centroid’s OAK and All in One DC motion controllers.
Firmware on Beaglebone Green is of their design and further, needs no user intervention. The GUI (CNC12) is based on Windows 10, so the user does not need to be familiar with Linux. (I understand it is a Linux variant, previoius versions of their software were based on version of Linux OS, so they have experience with that OS)
Centroid also provides a Wizard with drop downs for configuring the I/O. The board also supports up to 400Khz step frequency. True spindle encoder built on the board, 0-10VDC analog for spindle motor control. It supports industry standard G Code. It does work well with the free version of the software provided and the user can upgrade at any time. It has a built in PLC. The DB25 on the current version of Acorn now has the ability to have its pins assigned. It allows an upgrade path for users who previously used PC parallel ports.
Certainly there are many choices for motion control, Acorn is another offering for users to consider. For me the fact that its hardware and software from the same manufacturer intrigued me. They know Industrial CNC motion control, they’ve been doing it for over 30 years. Acorn has only been out since August 2017 and based on user input, the hardware has already been updated and the next software release is to have much more support for router users. That shows committment on the part of Centroid to evolve the product.
The support on the user forums has been great, from both other users and the Centroid Support: team.http://centroidcncforum.com/viewforum.php?f=60
There are many videos on YouTube showing Acorn in use and how to setup. I created quite few basic videos for the new user to help get folks started.
More info on Centroid Acorn can be found here:
Its a great time to be into CNC, for both DIY CNC folks, Students learning motion control and OEM’s looking to provide options for their customers. So many options to choose from.
Marty, I have an Ameritech CNC lathe with a HUSY control. The unit is still working, but can I change to an Acorn unit?