Is the Xmodem protocol something to consider when drip-feeding CNC programs?

Yes – leveraging the Xmodel protocol built in to your CNC with DNC software is the best protocol to use for error correction transfers.

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 RX 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 for $20, 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.

What is Mazatrol CMT?

Mazatrol is a proprietary conversational programming language that is standard on all Mazak mills and lathes. It is primarily used for 2 & 2 1/2 axis work and is especially popular for turning applications.

It has a different format than G-code programming and is supported by Predator DNC by using the Mazatrol link in your commands.

How does Predator DNC Software communicate to a network-based CNC?

Predator DNC supports FTP (File Transfer Protocol) as well as Windows Share (mapped drives) for communication to the CNC.

The advantage of using this connection is faster speed and ease of connection to the network. The machine will require configuration from your network administrator to provide IPs, drive letters, user and permission controls. Some corporate networks do not allow this equipment to be connected through FTP due to security issues and potential risk of viruses.

Furthermore, most operating systems on CNCs are out-dated running Windows 95, 98, Server 2000 or NT. Updates to the operating system are not permitted typically from the machine tool builder, unlike computers used in the office.

Due to issues such as these, Predator DNC software now also supports Secure DNC, which allows encrypted communication via only two TCP ports. It can also transmit not only main programs but also subprograms and library programs to the correct folders in your CNC working memory and/or hard drive. It supports operating systems as old as Windows 95 and has extremely minimal system requirements that essentially any Windows-based CNC can meet.

It is also worth noting that Predator DNC now supports Fanuc FOCAS communication, which can rapidly send programs directly in and out of Fanuc i-Series controls. This is done without any action needed at the CNC itself, unlike older Serial send/receive processes. Moreover, Predator DNC now also supports Ethernet-based communications for DMG Mori (formerly Mori Seiki) machines running MAPPS versions II, III, and IV. This, in a fashion very similar to Fanuc FOCAS, allows programs to be sent in and out of CNC controllers, over the network, without any operator input needed at the machine.

Why is Predator DNC Software showing a gray screen on startup?

If you see a gray screen when you open Predator DNC, you will need to map the location of your PXP file.

To do this, open the DNC in Administrator mode, (Start -> All Programs -> Predator DNC Administrator) choose “File”, and then “Open”. Now point to the location of your PXP file and click “Open” again.

Why can’t I change any settings in Predator DNC?

To make any changes in Predator DNC, you must open the program in “Administrator Mode”. Cancel any open connections, close the application, and then choose “Start” -> “All Programs” -> “Predator DNC Administrator”.

Why am I getting garbage data when I try to punch out to Predator DNC Software from the machine?

Most of the time, this is caused by having improper serial communication (RS232) parameters set.

Check to make sure your baud rate, parity, data bit, and stop bit within Predator DNC match the settings on your control.

The CNC program is sending in Predator DNC but I don’t see it at the control

When in doubt, leave the default settings. Check the physical connections to make sure everything is properly attached.

If you are unsure, call us for support at (619) 461-4000

Can I install an older Predator DNC version on my new Windows 7 machine?

No. The first Windows 7 version compatible of Predator DNC is Version 9. However, version 9 and version 10 are both compatible with Windows 8 and 8.1.

If you have an older version but would like to use Predator DNC on a Windows 7 machine, call us!

Can I upgrade and add more ports to my Predator DNC system?

Yes, numerous software upgrades are available from any level of Predator DNC Hardware. Upgrades depend on each type of hardware.

The Connect series of hardware from SFA is designed to add ports at any time and offers a very easy upgrade path. Contact us to ensure there are no issues.