Why isn’t my USB to Serial cable working?

Simply plugging in the device may not always work. You may need to download the drivers for the hardware from our website prior to installing the device.

Otherwise, please contact Support.

Why can I send programs and read/write from the Haas Floppy Emulator, but I can’t save programs back to it?

Answer: Here are some steps to look into taking for this issue.

  • Does the Haas say FLOPPY DONE when you attempted to save a file to the Floppy Connect?
  • IF YES, then do an F4 command on the Haas and select EDIT to view the DIR (Directory) of the floppy emulator.
  • Is the program that you were trying to save shown in the DIR?
  • If YES, then before you remove the USB flash drive from the emulator, push the round RES button on the front of the emulator
  • Wait for a moment until all the LEDs stop flashing
  • After the flashing LEDs stop, then remove the USB flash drive
  • Take the USB stick to your PC to confirm the files have saved on the drive

Does Predator Flex Hardware work in Windows 7?

Predator Flex Hardware does NOT work under Windows 7 or 8 due to the lack of support for drivers from the manufacturer. The hardware may fit inside of a PC, but known issues have been found in the reliability of communication to the CNC, as well as instances of blue screens.

We also do not recommend running the hardware in a newer PC due to lost functionality in performance and protocol support.

An upgrade is available from SFA to move towards FLEXN or FLEXW hardware, which is supported by Windows 7 and 8 and uses a network connection and network protocols instead of a dedicated ISA/PCI card on the motherboard to communicate with your FLEXN/FLEXW hardware.

Shop Floor Automations has the hardware for wireless and wired solutions on the shop floor, as well as solutions that work with the MTConnect Protocol and can connect multiple ways. Be sure to contact us for more information on what hardware is best for you, depending on your setup!

Why does the Wireless Connect unit show only 2 red LEDs for the wireless signal strength?

If your Wireless Connect unit only shows 2 red LEDs for the wireless signal strength, the wireless receiver on the device is receiving a weak signal from the wireless access point.

We recommend using an external antenna or moving the antenna to a better location. The optimal location for any wireless device is going to involve having a direct line of sight from the antenna to the access point you intend to communicate with.

Can my CNC machines communicate with a wireless hub?

Yes. If you want to achieve CNC machine communication with a wireless hub, there are a variety of ways you can connect your machines wirelessly.

After selecting appropriate hardware, our technicians come onsite to install it or will walk you through how to install it over a remote/phone session.

Using the most current RS232 and networking technology with thoroughly tested equipment encourages a process that will withstand the difficult environments of a machine shop floor.

How can I troubleshoot my CNC that is not communicating?

There are several steps to verify if a CNC is communicating, or if it is a CNC that is not communicating. You will first want to verify the RS232 cable is connected to each device securely. There maybe two ports on the controller or appear to be a port on the front of the unit, however, this may not be connected inside the machine. CNC communication troubleshooting can be time-consuming and frustrating, so we recommend following these hints below:

You will first want to verify the RS232 cable is connected to each device securely. There maybe two ports on the controller or appear to be a port on the front of the unit, however, this may not be connected inside the machine. CNC communication troubleshooting can be time-consuming and frustrating, so we recommend following these hints below:

Hint 1:
Verify the information is coming out of the communication port by placing an RS232 mini tester directly on the back of the computer, sending a file from the CNC control, and viewing the status of the tester. This device should show RD or TD activity when the control is sending to the computer. If you do not have this tester, you can contact SFA and purchase this valuable tool, as it will save time and identify if the CNC controller or PC is failing.

Hint 2:
Make sure you are on the correct port on the back of the computer. Remove any switchboxes, adapters, misc. cables and try connecting directly to the computer serial RS232 port. If there is only one port, verify the COM port number in the device manager and match your software to this port. There maybe be various RS232 communications on your PC and you’re unaware of this port. If there are various ports, try moving the cable to the other ports.

Hint 3:
Verify the voltages on the cable are within the RS232 limits. If you are running an Ethernet cable as a serial cable, you may run into serious reliability issues. Ethernet cable (CAT5/6) cable is designed for networking computers and should not be substituted for RS232 cable to interface to a CNC control. You want to adhere to the machine tool builder’s specifications and not damage the port due to improper grounding or shielding. SFA does not sell or recommend Ethernet cable as RS232 as this normally will void warranties and damage equipment.

Note: SFA’s RS232 cable uses 8 wires, 3 levels of shielding, and has been proven to handle cable runs over 200+ feet. If you need a lengthier connection, consult our Account Executives for wireless or Ethernet solutions.

How do I get rid of buffer overflow errors on my CNC machine?

For CNC buffer overflow errors, the process of disabling your ‘FIFO-buffer’ when using the PC’s standard COM ports depends on the version of Windows you are using.

In Windows NT 4:

  • Go to the Control Panel. If ‘Ports’ is available, double-click on it.
  • Choose the port in question
  • Press ‘Settings,’
  • Press ‘Advanced,’
  • Uncheck ‘Fifo enable.’

In Windows 95-98 (all versions):

  • Go to the Control Panel and open ‘System’
  • Find the port under ‘Serial ports’
  • Press ‘Properties’
  • Press ‘Advanced’
  • Uncheck ‘Fifo enable’
  • Reboot your PC after these changes

In Windows 7, 8, and 8.1:

  • Go to the Control Panel
  • Open the Device Manager
  • Press the ‘+’ button next to ‘Ports (COM & LPT)’
  • Right-click on the COM port you wish to change
  • Choose ‘Properties’
  • Click on the tab at the top that says ‘Port Settings’
  • Press the ‘Advanced Settings’ button
  • This will prompt you with a window with FIFO settings
  • Uncheck the box at the top and FIFO will be disabled on your device
  • Reboot your PC after these changes

If this does not help, your cable might be too long, or it may be placed next to a power cable, creating a lot of noise.

For the Wired and Wireless Connect units from SFA, you will need to alter the FIFO setting using the proprietary software used to handle the drivers for your product. If you have one of these devices, then you will need to first run NPort Windows driver manager.

Once it starts, select the desired port, click ‘Setting,’ choose the ‘Advanced Settings’ tab, then set ‘FIFO’ to disabled.

Can I use the floppy disk emulator to connect to my network?

No, because the RJ45 port on the front of the unit is designed for future functionality and is currently inactive. Currently, the only method to load the device is via the USB stick. We do, however, provide solutions for interfacing between a CNC control and network storage.

What kind of USB flash drives can be used with a floppy drive emulator on my CNC?

You must use a stick that is 2GB or smaller in the floppy drive emulator. The flash drives must be formatted as “FAT” or “FAT-16.” 32-bit FAT (“FAT-32”) will NOT work with the floppy emulator.

How do I use the RS232 mini tester from SFA?

Shop Floor Automations recommends a DB25 RS232 mini tester with every hardware order. We terminate our RS232 cabling with RJ45 connectors and have different adapters to tailor to each installation. Depending on your machine, you may require different pinouts on the adapters.

To test the correct pin-out in the cabling:

  • Connect the cable to the PC, Hub, or switchbox.
  • At the other end of the cabling, where the control would normally plug in, connect the tester. Without the tester plugged in the machine, you should see have “RD” lit and “TD” unlit.
  • For most applications, the other lights do not matter. If you plug the tester into the CNC machine control, you should then see “TD” lit.

If you have any variation of this, your machine will not communicate properly.