Wild TA-10

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Cutting-plotter-rahmann.jpg
Description Vinyl Cutting Plotter
Make Wild
Model TA-10
Category Mechanics
Operational Status Working
Super Users User:Justa, User:Quinor, User:3p1c
Received at
Acquisition Details Picked up from a college
Owner TechInc

Wild TA-10 Vinyl Cutting Plotter

Status

We figured out how to talk to it, use the DB9 to connect to it; 9600BPS 8n1 , hardware flowcontrol (rts/cts).
Wild ta-10.png

Refer to the documentation below about how to get the device to do it's work for you. Currently your options are:

  • Use a custom-built driver maintained by TechInc members (recommended and described below)
  • Use a specially prepared version of ps2edit that has a driver for 'ta10'; this will provide documented below
  • Use the 'EuroCut Basic 7' program under windows if you can find a valid license
  • Use the information in this document to write your own driver/application that sends commands directly.
  • In the near future we hope to have the ps2edit work lead to a CUPS-compatible postscript printer usable over network

The machine has some parts that have been fixed/restored to proper functionality. Note that the machine is a work of fine mechanic art and is not for [DAS GEFINGERPOKEN UND DAS MITTENGRABEN. IST NICHT FÜR GEWERKEN BEI DUMMKOPFEN.]

This means that you will need to be careful with it. Consult someone experienced with the machine if you are going to do something *special* that risks jamming the machine, putting undue force on parts, make dust/smoke/shrapnel, etc.

Please also take care of personal safety. The tool-arm does not have a soul nor eyes. It wont care that it smashed into your glasses while you were too close to it.

  • UPDATE*: We received a document from a kind person on the InterNetz who is in the possession of a Wild-TA10 as well. Accompanying that machine was a set of instructions relating to a TA2 model which has been scanned and turned into PDF and contains a wealth of information about the machine; relating to the use and care of it. The TA2 seems to be only a slightly different machine than the TA10 is.
  • UPDATE 2*: Another document has been obtained, this time it is a scan of the programming manual, describing the language one may use to communicate with the machine. Compared to the previous state of the art, many more things can now be controlled (such as disabling lifting the tool after each segment. Good bye, clicky noises!).

Project Box

There is a project-box related to this device. It contains a number of parts and accessories to the device. Including the cutter-head and adjustment-collar. Please return the pens and/or cutter-heads back to the project-box for safe storage. There is a significant risk of the tool-grippers breaking if a tool is left stored on the device when not in use. Since they are stiffly fixed to the tool-gripper, a simple bump against one of the tools might cause the tool-gripper to break (again).

Features

Tool head

The device has a tool-arm (grey) with a default solenoid-based toolhead attached to it (orange).

The toolhead has two metal clamps with thumbscrews to insert a tool into (typically a pen or a tangential cutting tool). These clamps are delicate and care should be taken to not put too much mechanical force on them. Especially sideways force will likely result in breakage; be careful! The toolhead has a set of work-lights below it that light up the work-surface. They can be switched on/off with a switch on the tool-arm. The tool-head has a set of knobs on it. The black ones allow you to push the tool down manually, the silver-ones allow you to 'unblock' a tool if it becomes jammed in some way. There is a power-connector between the two tool-clamps that carries current for accessories (FIXME: specs required)

The default tool-head can be either replaced or augmented; bolt-holes on the side of the tool-arm allow you to fix extra equipment to it. An internal DB9 interface (under orange plastic) allows you to create an interface between plotter and extra tools. The DB9 carries solenoid-signals, light-power, accessory-power and possibly more (FIXME: documentation needed). There is also a connector that seems to be meant for some thin-coax cable; possibly for sensing purposes.

Bed

The device features a large cutting bed made of a transparent material that lets the light through of the dimmable Tube-light array behind it. Please find the white dimmer-switch on the backside of the device. The bed seems to be fastened to the frame of the device with a series of spring-clamps which seem accessible for replacement/adjustment by accessing the inner space of the table by undoing the back-panels on the back of the table. When using markers with NONpermanent ink (aka: whiteboard markers), one can easily test a design first by drawing directly on the bed's surface. The bed is then easily cleaned with a damp cloth.

Tilting

Also on the backside is the tilt-lock handle for the table's angle. BE CAREFUL when pushing the articulated handle up; the weight of the table is considerable! The telescopic arm does have a spring inside to help carry some of the weight, however. Be ready to support weight and slowly unlock the handle until the table starts to move. Make sure to relock securely. Table can be put down until perfectly level and up until nearly upright. BE CAREFUL PUTTING IT TOO FAR UPRIGHT; the weight of the table is then all on one side; there is a risk of the device FALLING OVER FORWARDS.

Control Unit/Base

The whole table is supported by a hinge-assembly and a telescoping arm (see tilting, above), on a base-unit which houses the power-supply and the control-unit of the device. The control-unit consists of an small internal 19" controller-card rack which houses a number of user-replaceable cards. Some are obvious communication and servo-amplifier cards; others are less clear. Card-positions are listed on the inside of the hatch. On the other side are a series of fuses and an hour-of-service counter on the hatch that covers the Power-supply of the device.

Control Pendant

There is a control-pendant that's attached to the device by a cable and can be fixed to the side of the table by means of the magnet on the back of it. It provides step-precision control of the head, choosing the pen and setting a number of parameters of operation (window, origin, etc). Keeping the direction-control buttons for longer periods will increase the speed of the head.

Control buttons

The control-buttons on the edge of the table also allow for a number of the controls that are possible via the control pendant; as well as allowing you to switch the device on/off and such.

Layout and function:

Label Function
Power Turns the machine on
...
Manual stop When LED is lit, device will not accept movement commands

Material trough

On the left side, next to the cutting bed, there is a trough that allows rolls of base-material to be kept there; unrolling a section of it across the bed for cutting/plotting. There is a matching tool-holder that fits in this trough that houses pens suitable for the machine.


Tangential Cutting-head

There is a cutting-head accessory that came with this device. It's main function is as a servo/stepper actuated roto-knife that makes sure that the knife cuts in the direction of movement that the tool-arm is heading. This prevents the need for resorting to a swivel-knife that'd have less perfect cuts in designs with a lot of angles. The cutting-head comes with an adjustment-collar that allows for easier depth-control. Find and return both the cutting-head and the adjustment-collar to the project-box they are stored in. Since the cutting-head protrudes quite a lot from the tool-arm, there is a great risk of damaging the tool-clamp if the cutter-head is left stored in the device when not in use.

Manual

It is highly advisable to be first trained by one of the members already proficient in using the machine. The manual below, however, contains most of the knowledge required to operate the Wild plotter. Common sense still applies!

There is a project box usually lying on the base of the machine with a bunch of goods inside.

Preparation and turning on the machine

Make sure the power cable is plugged in. Make sure that the host PC is turned on and connected to the network and that the rs232 cable is connected to both the plotter and the host PC.

Turn on the table light (white knob on the back of the table). Remove any items that are in the way of lowering the table.

Unlock the red lever (handle folds, the lever unlocking/locking action is up/down) while holding the black horizontal handle and carefully lower the table. If the table appears to be stuck in the upright position despite red lever being unlocked, you can use a small amount of force to help it down. After lowering the table, lock its position with the red lever. If you fail to lower the table, also lock the red lever. Do not ever leave plotter with unlocked table. It's really heavy.

The machine can work with the table in any position, however it's most handy to use it with table fully down. If you use the machine with the table upright, make sure nothing blocks the path of the XY gantry.

Manual operation (buttons and remote on the cable)

Turn on the machine with a green button. The plotter will first calibrate itself. When it's done, a light on the red button will light up. The red light signifies manual mode, in this mode the plotter will not move except for when user presses buttons. It is a bad idea to have your hands around the machine when not in manual mode.

One can also press the manual button when plotter is running autonomously to stop it immediately.

    • Instructions below only work if the plotter is in manual mode.**

Pen 1/2 and Pen 3/4 buttons switch the active head. The head 1/2 is broken, so it's advisable to switch to head 3/4. If you are unsure, tap one and the other and see how plotter moves.

Set ref button has a dual function. If tapped once, the head will move to "home" position (which is bottom left corner, with the orientation same as lettering on the control panel). If tapped twice, it will set "home" position to the current position of the (active) head.

Remote's function is to manually move the head. Pen button raises/lowers the active tool. Arrows move the head around; very slowly. To accelerate faster, simultaneously hold the red central button. The orientation ("up" being actually up) is the same as the lettering on the control panel.

Inserting a tool

Drop a spring-loaded pen in the holder with the holder in the "up" position. Press the silver button on top of the holder and then screw the pen down with the thumbscrew. The silver button lowers the holder slightly so that after it's released, the pen doesn't touch the work surface.

Automatic operation (sending plots to the machine)

The machine connects to a host computer over rs232 port. You can either use the provided host (login to root@wild.ti from local network, ask board for password if you don't know it) or your own laptop with rs232 to usb adapter from the project box. If you do, please put the adapter back in the box when you are done!

Plotting procedure:

0) Generate the plotting commands (usually stored in a .wild file) from an svg file using the new driver. More detailed driver manual is available on github. Use the generated visualization file (vis.svg) to make sure the machine is doing what you want it to. Copy the resulting .wild file onto whichever host you are using to print.

1) Set the serial port into correct mode of operation with:

stty -F /dev/ttyS0 9600 crtscts

2) plot the resulting .wild wile with

cat <filename>.wild >/dev/ttyS0

You may want to use `screen` instead of barebone ssh to protect against losing network connection.

Web Interface

A web interface was deployed at http://wild.ti and its Github page is here. Start by uploading your svg image, then set the reference starting point manually on the plotter using the handheld device, we suggest marking "bounding box" option the very first time before proceeding, in order to see if the print will fit in your canvas. The white preview box will show a rectangle and the info box will give you the measures. Finally, click "upload" to start plotting. Mind that the machine will not run until the "manual" red button on the plotter is disabled.

Cutting head

Don't, unless you get special training or get explicit permission from the board. The board **will** get you.

Shutting down the machine

Turn off the machine (green button). Remove every loose object from the table and all tools from the toolhead. Unlock the table, move it all the way upright, lock it again. Turn off the light. It is unnecessary to unplug the machine, disconnect the rs232 cable or turn off the host PC.

Older manual (outdated)

plug in the power lead

hit the 'power on' button. make sure the 'manual stop' button is not pressed otherwise nothing will work

There is a PC acting as the machine host accessible through ssh at root@wild.ti . For the password (if you don't know it) ask Quinor/Justa. Alternatively, one can use their own machine and the rs232/usb adapter found in the project box. Webinterface may come in the future if a kind soul writes one.

Plotting procedure:

0) generate the commands (.wild file) from an SVG with the new driver. Alternatively one can write their own commands based on the software manual. The driver is also available on the wild.ti machine.

1) set the serial port into correct mode of operation with:

stty -F /dev/ttyS0 9600 crtscts

2) plot the resulting .wild wile with

cat <filename>.wild >/dev/ttyS0

Even older manual (also outdated)

Check the Serial port settings with

sudo stty -F /dev/ttyS0 -a

The settings should be 9600 8n1 with flow control on.

speed 9600 baud; rows 0; columns 0; line = 0;
intr = ^C; quit = ^\; erase = ^?; kill = ^H; eof = ^D; eol = <undef>; eol2 = <undef>; swtch =  <undef>; start = ^Q; stop = ^S; susp = ^Z; 
rprnt = ^R; werase = ^W; lnext = ^V; flush = ^O; min = 1; time = 5;
-parenb -parodd cs8 hupcl -cstopb cread clocal crtscts
ignbrk -brkint -ignpar -parmrk -inpck -istrip -inlcr -igncr -icrnl -ixon -ixoff -iuclc -ixany - imaxbel -iutf8
-opost -olcuc -ocrnl -onlcr -onocr -onlret -ofill -ofdel nl0 cr0 tab0 bs0 vt0 ff0
-isig -icanon -iexten -echo -echoe -echok -echonl -noflsh -xcase -tostop -echoprt -echoctl - echoke


the command to set these settings is

sudo stty -F /dev/ttyS0 9600 crtscts

Now, create the file you wish to 'plot' Save as postscript (.ps)

On the machine run

pstoedit -f ta10 <yourfile>.ps

this will output commands to the screen.

if you output to a file, this can be used to send all commands to the plotter in one go. the output file will also contain the 'initialisation' commands.

to print to the machine open a screen session

sudo screen /dev/ttyS0 9600,ctsrts

and paste in your commands

to exit press CTRL+A followed by K

UPDATE: works with echo command - as root, do

echo -e ":83\r\n:32\r\n:520,20:E3500\r\n\rP2\r\nU0,0\r\n:715\r\nU 0,0\r\nU 13424,0\r\nU 13424,10532\r\nU 0,10532\r\nU 0,0\r\nU 0,0\r\n" > /dev/ttyS0

UPDATE: pstoedit outputs wrong carriage returns

the file generated by pstoedit outputs \n, the plotter needs \r\n
cat test | perl -nwe '$_ =~ s/\n/\r\n/g; print $_;' > testRN

Plans

The current plan is to work on fixing a number of defects on the table and making a software-layer between the 'broken hpgl' of the device and 'the real world'. Part of this work will be done during Tinkering thurs/tuesdays.

See 'features' for some of the jobs that need to be carried out.

Protocol

The serial protocol used appears to be an HP-GL like language. We captured the follow commands from the Eurocut driver. This driver always sent the same commands first, probably some initialisation:

:83
:32
:520,20
:E3500
P2
U0,0
:715

Selecting the universal head in Eurocut changes the :5 command to

:5250,250

To select pen / tool number <x>

P<x>

To set the move speed:

:7<speed>  (1 - very slow, 50 - fast)

To move the pen in down position:

D 13140,6460

To move the pen in up position:

U 13140,6460

Example of instructions that work with the machine:

:83
:32
:520,20
:E3500
P1
U0,0
:715
U 0,0
U 13424,0
U 13424,10532
U 0,10532
U 0,0
U 0,0

This draws a simple square (see the commands starting with 'U'). The P1 command does the pen select (P2 for the other pen).

Resources

Software that lists these plotters explicitly as supported:

- SignTools 4 - an add-on for CorelDraw, Demo Version available

- Some references (eBay auctions et al) list HPGL (overview) as a way to talk to it. But often together with some interface box so this might not work for ours.


This program works with the plotter: - EuroCUT Basic 7 http://www.eurosystems.lu/index.dml?unten=software/EuroCUT_Basic-eng.htm&von=html

Software

The modified pstoedit can be found on the techinc github repo

https://github.com/techinc/ta10/

Hardware Teardown

Throughout the continuing efforts of trying to figure out how to drive the machine, the innards of the unit have been on several occasions.

In an effort to document what was found in a way that won't pollute this page with non-essential information for those using the machine, a page has been created to collect all the findings. Please find Wild TA-10 Innards.


Spare Blades

The space bought the current set of blades at this store. It was a box of single-sided 60 degree and 35 degree.

Technical Information

Plotting area double plottin head 1000 x 1210 mm
Plotting area quad plotting head 1000 x 1145 mm
MWK 977 x 1145 mm
Dimensions (W x D x H) 1580 x (1060 - 1830) x 780 mm
Weight 321 kg
Maximum speed 250 mm/s
Acceleration 2 m/s²
Resolution 0.01 mm
Addressable resolution 0.02 mm
Static repeatability ± 0.02 mm
Software-interface ASCII / binary
Basis Plotter Software (Calcomp plotting routines)

Hardware-interface RS 232C 9600 bps, 8,n,1 hardware flow control needs to be on, otherwise it will drop plotter commands.

The current cable has been hand-soldered to the following specification after it was clear someone had used a cable with borken rts/cts dsr/etc layout (inputs were listening to line-noise, outputs were talking to eachother) Note: the plotter acts as a DTE (Data Terminal Equipment); just like a PC/workstation does. Thus you need a fully wired Cross-cable

Name DB9 DB25 Name
Receive data (RX) 2 2 Transmit Data (TX)
Transmit data (TX) 3 3 Receive data (RX)
Data Terminal Ready (DTR) 4 6+8 Data Set Ready (DSR) + Carrier Detect (CD)
System Ground 5 7 System ground
Data Set Ready (DSR) + Carrier Detect (CD) 6+1 20 Data Terminal Ready
Request to Send (RTS) 7 5 Clear To Send (CTS)
Clear To Send (CTS) 8 4 Ready To Send (RTS)

|DB25

Output via a USB->Serial converter has not been successfully achieved yet but should in theory be possible.


Input-Buffer 512 Bytes
Mains connection 220V AC ± 10% optinal (100,115,125,200,235,250 VAC ±10%)50/60 Hz
Power consumption 660 VA without optional equipment

Interface

Need to look at which protocols we can use to communicate and the data format it uses to print/plot with


External Links to information

http://www.europlotter.com/europlotter/WILD_TA10_blades.html
http://www.mucad.com/cmsmultilanguage/index.php?page=wild-ta-10&hl=en
http://www.mucad-sky.com/id6.html

http://www.mucad.com/cmsmultilanguage/uploads/data/verbrauchsmaterial/Wild_UWK_Englisch.pdf - external cutting heads you can buy
http://www.mucad-sky.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderpictures/ta100s100bxldataspec.jpg
http://www.gis-tec.com/english/e_plotterblades_wild_ta2.htm