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Topics - Mike

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For Sale/Wanted, Suppliers / FS RV1S - £100 Loughton Essex.
« on: October 21, 2019, 11:14:04 AM »
Part of a lot I picked up a while ago - RV1S base unit only with PSU box and PC. No frame,feeders,nozzles or PCB holders. I did have it running a while ago but it's just been sitting gathering dust since.
I have an RV4s so not likely to be very useful for parts & now want to clear the space, and I can't be arsed to set it up again to demo to a potential buyer, so prefer to go to someone already familiar with the machines as a spare. 
Collection only Loughton Essex

RV Software / The annoying screen-shift issue in RVPlace
« on: November 27, 2018, 07:44:57 PM »
One of the few actively buggy things in RVPlace is that the screen layout in the first screen will randomly get an offset when exiting from the Place screen.
This is only an issue for selecting/omitting parts, but can be really annoying if it happens during job setup. If you don't need to do component selection etc. you can get back to the place screen, and most other functions by waving the mouse around the menu area and you'll see the menu text appear through the corrupted image.

The fastest workaround is to load any other job file ( ignore errors about feeder mismatch), then reload the previous job.

Exiting and re-entering RVPlace also fixes it but you then have to wait while it re-homes the arm.

I'm assuming this is a common issue and not something peculiar to my machines - can anyone else confirm - would be interesting to know if anyone has never seen this, as this may point to a PC issue ( or a Place.DLL issue). 


RV Software / Notes on different versions of PLACE.DLL
« on: November 27, 2018, 07:32:12 PM »
There is an issue with place.dll. Basically, there are 2 versions..
The following extract courtesy Alex Wilkinson:

There are two versions of Place.dll that I am aware of: an older one dated 22/12/1999 size 1774k, and a newer one dated 12/9/2001 size 268k. Both have different issues, however the older, larger version seems to be more usable in most instances.

Place.dll, 268k version.
If you set the machine to ‘auto fid correct’ then the first component picked after the fid correction will fail because the head lingers longer than usual in the lowered pick position, and before it retracts with the part it commands the feeder to index, so the head retracts after the tape has started to move, therefore it loses the part.

Place.dll, 1774k version.
The issue above in the 268k version is resolved, however instead there are a whole load of other problems related to larger parts and multi-indexing.
If a part is too large to vision in a single shot, therefore requiring 2 or 4 images to be taken of it, then the feeder where it came from is sent one index command less than its set to (the first one is missing, not the last) regardless of the number of indexes setting in the software. You can only set a maximum of 3 indexes per part I think (larger numbers are accepted but treated as if 3). This means large parts that require more than 2 indexes (3-1) can’t be placed without multiple mispick errors each time. If the part came from a tray, then the machine always goes back to the same pocket to pick the part, even though its just taken the part from there. Picking from a vib feeder works ok as no indexes are involved.
Setting ‘force fixed’ in the CDF settings for a package will mean the machine only takes a single image of the part, even if its too big to vision properly. This does mean the indexes work correctly again for that package, but in reality is only really useful for parts that are only slightly too big for a single image vision normally.

Also if a part requiring 2 or 4 images fails vision analysis, the machine will go back and retry endlessly, ignoring the ‘number of retries’ setting, and without feeding at all as the first index command is missing and a vision failure only produces one index command.
My solution to this in most cases is to use a new design feeder controller board in the larger lane feeders, and then you can set (faster) multi indexes using the 4 spare dip switches on the feeder and the PC is then set to only send one index command for that part.


268k DLL version used for most jobs as this avoids all the problems with larger parts on tape or in trays. You just have to manually do the fiducials each run or accept the first part picked will be lost. For boards with just small parts where auto fid correct is useful then the 1774k DLL can be used.

RV Software / "Shift required too big"
« on: May 08, 2018, 12:10:27 PM »
Has anyone found a workaround for situations where RV place complains that corrections are too big so it refuses to place - having problems with large parts from passive feeders where pic location is a little inprecise.
I'd rather not use "no correction" as it won't detect mis-picks
I can't any obvious limit values anywhere

RV Hardware / Fixed camera lighting upgrade
« on: November 27, 2017, 08:49:31 PM »
I finally got round to upgrading the illuminator on the up-facing camera, and I'd highly reccommend it as it  makes it pretty much immune to ambuient light, and gives a clean image of an 0805 R with a threshold adjust range of 0 through to 60.

I used a ring of white LEDs, as these are way more efficient than red, so can run at 15mA for low heat and long life and still be super-bright.
I pulled the LEDs out of the old ring and fixed the new PCB on it for easy mounting. 
I stopped the lens down to minimum, and also reduced the shutter time ( My cam has a rotary switch on the back to set this - the cam I took off an RV1 didn't - may need a neutral density filter if not, or dim the leds down a bit).

I also made a new ring for the fid cam as it fitted inside the hole of the main PCB. I'll stick this over the existing illuminator to avoid disturbing the fid cam position.

I used a homebrew PCB - happy to share gerbers if anyone wants to get proper PCBs made - they are single sided.



For Sale/Wanted, Suppliers / RV Placer
« on: November 27, 2017, 12:51:47 PM »
My listing - if it doesn't sell I'll strip for parts

RV Hardware / Things to do when you first get an RV
« on: November 27, 2017, 03:30:08 AM »
Having just set up 3 machines that have been in storage for >5 years I thought I'd write down some notes, particularly for machines that have sat around for a long time.

In rough order of importance :

Back up the cal data from the PC ( \versatronics\rv\dat\rvdata.dat ) before anything else, ideally before moving the machine. The HD may be 20 years old so assume it will die at any moment.
If you can't take the PC, make sure you get the DSP card (ISA, D37 connector) and vision card ( PCI, HDD26 and BNC connectors).

DO NOT MOVE THE FID CAMERA. This will mess up calibration and we don't yet fully know how to recal, and it needs a special jig. Fid cam problems are likely to be bad phono plug connections or failure of the 9V supply which comes from the arm board.
All 3 machines had intermittant fid cam illuminators - looked like the wire had fractured near the illuminator. It may be possible to remove the illuminator with the camera in place. if not, just add a new ring of LEDs round the outside. 

Power up the PC on its own and run dsptest.exe ( in rv folder) and do "quick test" to test the DSP board.

Replace the head O-rings ( Polymax 8x1mm nitrile) and smear some silicone grease all around.

Check that all axes move freely ( XY will be quite stiff, but should be smooth). Apply some silicon grease to the rack if necessary.

If you are re-arranging hardware without the frame, be sure to include an emergency stop ( in series with mains supply to control box). If the head loses position it can inflict damage on itself and surrounding people/limbs rather quickly. Make sure the e-stop is not somewhere it will get accidentally leaned on.

Power up the PC but not the control box and run dsptest.exe ( in rv folder), and so "quick test"

Connect all cables ( D9 on arm, if present, is not used), and place arm in "park" position - second 'limb' pointing left-right, with head just to the left of the back left corner of the base.

Switch control box on, check for any obvious signs of smoke etc. Fid cam illuminator should come on.
RV1s: Fixed cam illuminator is powered from PC & should come on,
RV4s: illuminator is switched by the arm board so may not come on.

Run armtest.exe. This is mostly to test the serial ports are the right way round. Click "test vacuum" / "Test solenoid" - you should hear the vacuum/solenoid valves, if not, try swapping the D9's on the control box.
If there are serial problems it is sometimes necessary to power-cycle the PC to recover.

Once that works, Click "Run" - this will now show signals from the limit switches - only the first 3 and last 2 are meaningful - others may show junk.
Check that you see the signals- lift the head up/down, rotate the theta axis til the slot ring the encoder, and also lift it up ( this sensor sense both rotation index and head pressure for PCB height sensing) . The x/y switches will operate around the home position.

You need to run RVPlace and load a job file to get any further - if loading an existing file, it will usually complain about feeder allocation - just allocate arbitary feeders and parts for now to keep it happy.
The arm should go through its reset sequence, homing each axis. The first time you ever do this, have your finger on the  e-stop button, just in case.

Once up and running :

Check and tidy all wiring, ensure D Jackscrews on arm unit are tight as it vibrates a lot.
IDC Molex cons in  control unit can cause issues, as power is daisy chained between stepper boards - it's a good idea to re-wire in a star  configuration. At the very least check for any signs that the connectors to the stepper boards have got hot and replace if so.

Update the PC to Win98SE. This gives you useable USB for memory sticks and the joypad ( see other hardware stickies), you REALLY want the joypad. W98 also allows networking, but newer NASs may not talk to Win98. You can log in to Win7 machines though ( not tried later) so you ideally want to keep everything on a seperate, backed-up machine for when the old HD craps out.
From memory I think you can just copy over the versatronics folder, rather than reinstalling the software.

Feeders :
Replace all belts. On feeders with adjustment screws, back off all lanes to minimum tension.
Check all pins move freely ( if not you will see tape move back after feeding forward)  - if not, remove and clean the pins. DO NOT USE OIL as this will combine with paper tape dust to form a sticky mess.

RV Hardware / RV Placer
« on: November 25, 2017, 09:10:32 PM »
For historic interest only....
I picked up an RV placer along with three RV1s machines recently.
Unfortunately the disk on the PC had died so couldn't fire it up ( anyone got RV Placer software? )
It doesn't use vision but has some sort of optical sensor on an additional motor that can swing up to the nozzle - I think this is some sort of part-shadow sensing system. i have the manual but only mentions it in passing.
All the motion control is via  a board in the PSU box with two Hitachi Z80 processors and 8 full-bridge drivers. I think it connects to the PC parallel port, maybe also one or two COM ports.
At the top of the shaft is an odd assmbly containing 4 red LEDs and a sensor - not sure what this would be for - it does have the rotary index sensor as on later machines. I wonder if maybe it shines light down the shaft for fid sensing?

Open to offers to get it out of the way...

For Sale/Wanted, Suppliers / Free 8mm Feeders & vibs , Wolverhampton
« on: November 22, 2017, 05:53:46 PM »
Just got back from rescuing a load of RV kit, but some stuff was left once I'd filled the car.
About 5 or 6 10x8mm feeders and 3 vibs. Rather dusty but were in use up to a coupel of years ago - probably need a good clean and new belts. May also need the -ve supply mod - not investigated the kit I took yet.
I took all of the few small bits ( bars, cables) and am about to start sorting stuff out, but if anyone wants some 10x8s and can collect from Wolverhampton let me know & I'll let you have details.   

For Sale/Wanted, Suppliers / RV2s/parts
« on: November 04, 2017, 06:18:42 PM »
In a couple of weeks' time I'll be rescuing an RV1 and two RV2's that were headed for the scrapyard.
To avoid having to hire a van, I'm planning on leaving all the frames and cabinets - these will get scrapped.
If anyone particularly needs frame parts or covers let me know.

There's also about 3 dozen feeders.

I wasn't previously aware of the RV2 - from the pics it looks pretty much the same as the RV1 with no head cover, in different colours and has the connectors on the back instead of underneath.

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