Tweaker makes a milling machine from a robot arm weighing two thousand kilograms

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In just a few months, a tweaker has made a computer-controlled milling machine from an old robot arm that weighs 2,000 kilograms. The robot arm previously functioned as a welding robot in a Eurostar train factory. It’s about a ABB IRB6400/2.4-200 from 1999.

The tinkerer transformed the robot arm into a computer-controlled milling machine for Styrofoam, can be read on The 2,000-kilogram device came with a controller, empty back-up batteries, and floppy drives. Also included was a document stating that the original user was the Eurostar train factory in Austria. There the device served as a welding robot.

At first, the robot arm did not start, writes the tinkerer. He enlisted the help of troubleshooting users of the ABB forum. The robot’s computer system had to be replaced, as did two backup batteries. Then the tweaker replaced the floppy drives with a USB stick with Robotware OS 3.1 on it. After the installation of that software, the robot started successfully and made its first movements. The creative tweaker was able to 3d print the motor mount for the spindle.

Replacing the floppy drives with a USB stick did not solve all the problems. Because the device comes from 1999, the internal memory is only 1.4 MB. That means that about 15,000 lines of code fit, says the tweaker. To get around that, he used an Arduino Mega microcontroller as an emulator for the robot’s S4C controller. In it he has created a Rapid2Serial application to be able to output any file size.

The tweaker plans to further convert the robot into a 3D printer in the future. The video shows that the robot is accurate to within 0.016mm with repeated movements. For the time being, the final result of the project is a full-size milled wheel from a skew.

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