Auxiliary lighting for Z axis DRO on mill

Discussion in 'Machine Modifications' started by Brian Rupnow, Jul 5, 2018.

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  1. Jul 5, 2018 #1

    Brian Rupnow

    Brian Rupnow

    Brian Rupnow

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    When I bought the DRO kit for my milling machine, I only bought scales for the X and Y axis, as the mill came with its own "built in" Z axis DRO. I have found out since that although the small Z axis digital scale on the front of my mill works very well, it is almost impossible to see clearly. Partly because of the adjacent window and partly because of my shop lighting. Since I have finished all of my project work for the moment, I decided now would be a good time to address this issue. I need a very small, easy to mount light that can shine light onto the dro and not in my eyes. I found an add for 12 volt lighted license plate bolts during a google search, and these seemed to be about perfect in size and mounting capability. My lighted license plate bolts arrived today. Aren't they cute little devils. I haven't tried them on a battery yet to see how bright they are, but the size is perfect for what I want to do. Tomorrow I will go over to Sayal Electronics and chase down a 12 volt dc output wall-wart and a small switch.
    [​IMG]
     
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  2. Jul 5, 2018 #2

    Brian Rupnow

    Brian Rupnow

    Brian Rupnow

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    I'm kind of getting the cart ahead of the horse here, but that's what happens when you post on multiple forums. Picture is worth a thousand words. This is a picture of my mill with the built in Z axis dro. You can see a small aluminum "ledge" that I have attached to the front of the mill, which was intended to reflect a bit of light up to the readout directly above it. (Didn't work.) I wanted a small 12 volt automotive bulb with one side shielded, mounted right in the middle of that aluminum ledge. I don't want it to shine in my eyes--only towards the readout. [​IMG]
     
  3. Jul 5, 2018 #3

    DJP

    DJP

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    I will be interested to see if you get reflections off the small glass screen of the Z DRO. I have the same issue with my mill. Large (old style) DROs for X and Y but a small Mitutoyo DRO for the Z axis. Ideally there should be light inside the display and higher contrast. Any light from outside can create a reflection making things worse. Polarized lenses from old sun glasses might help to tune away reflections if you can live with a green glow from the LEDs.

    Perhaps Busy Bee offers a repeater for this DRO with a bigger display. Sayal may even have a kit.
     
  4. Jul 5, 2018 #4

    Brian Rupnow

    Brian Rupnow

    Brian Rupnow

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    I went across town to Sayal Electronics this morning and bought a 12 volt output wall-wart, a single pole single throw toggle switch, four foot of heat-shrink tubing and some cable ties and stick on cable tie mounts for $22. I have tried the light on the wall wart and it lights up with no problem. The picture shows an aluminum mounting box for the light and switch, which bolts onto the existing "shelf" with four #40 shcs. The bottom portion of the light (pink) is flexible and will bend to fit into the containment box.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2018
  5. Jul 5, 2018 #5

    Brian Rupnow

    Brian Rupnow

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    My parts range in size from small to real damned small. I have to cut some holes in that shelf bracket attached to the front of my mill and then we'll try for an assembly shot.--Brian
    [​IMG]
     
  6. Jul 5, 2018 #6

    Brian Rupnow

    Brian Rupnow

    Brian Rupnow

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    Well, so far/so good. Everything fits together the way I wanted it to, the light is centered on the shelf in front of the read-out, and both light and switch fit into the housing I carved out. I have a bit of wiring to do and then we'll power up the light and see what happens.
    [​IMG]
     
  7. Jul 5, 2018 #7

    DJP

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    You have the option later but I might have placed the licence plate light above the DRO screen for better access to the chuck or collet. When I saw your first picture I assumed you would use both lamps, one on either side of the DRO screen but having a spare lamp is a good plan.
     
  8. Jul 5, 2018 #8

    Brian Rupnow

    Brian Rupnow

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    If the light was above the dro screen, I wouldn't be able to see the dro screen.
     
  9. Jul 6, 2018 #9

    DJP

    DJP

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    Y0u are right. This design is yours to suit your needs. The DROs including the small Z axis DRO on my mill are all higher that my eye level so I am thinking ahead to something similar. It is with interest that I am following your build. Thanks for sharing.
     
  10. Jul 6, 2018 #10

    Brian Rupnow

    Brian Rupnow

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    I think this is going to work just fine. The light makes a tremendous difference in the visibility of the digital read out scale. This isn't really a fair test because I didn't have all my shop lighting turned on and it's 9:15 in the evening here so it's darker than it would normally be in full daylight. I just couldn't wait, so everything is more or less jerry-rigged with an extension cord running to the wall wart. I think I will plug the hole in the end of the housing and put the hole out thru the side closest to the mill. I don't really want to see any wires when I finish hooking everything up.
    [​IMG]
     
  11. Jul 6, 2018 #11

    Brian Rupnow

    Brian Rupnow

    Brian Rupnow

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    I'm finished, and I would call this total success. These two pictures show the result. The only shop light that was turned on and off for the picture is the new light I just installed. You will notice that in either case I have good lighting on the piece I am milling or drilling. Now I will be able to see the DRO without taking my safety goggles off and squinting to read the numbers.-Total cost of this project has been less than $50.00--Brian
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  12. Jul 6, 2018 #12

    Brian Rupnow

    Brian Rupnow

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    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 24, 2018
  13. Jul 7, 2018 #13

    DJP

    DJP

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    The LED license plate lamp is a good choice as it is rugged and made of stainless steel. It seems too bright to me in your test pictures but that could be high contrast from a digital camera or it needs to be seen with full shop lights on. The task light is shaded so no effect on the DRO lighting. There was no mention in the specs if this LED can be dimmed. Running it at 9VDC might be interesting to reduce glare and balance intensity with the task light.

    Thanks again for the research and for sharing an implementation.
     

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