Friday, 25 May 2012

So far so good

I picked up the Zcorp this morning, a hot drive to Stoke and back and an even hotter struggle with the machine out of the transit van I hired and up the drive. The seller was extremely helpful and loaded me with lots of extras I did not expect like bags for the powder vacuum system, powder and even a cool old school American vacuum cleaner to use when cleaning the machine and another few dozen bags for that too. He also showed me how to make my own print heads from an off the shelf Canon one, a plastic vial and some epoxy. He told me the problem with the machine was that it did not power up, this is normally a nice kind of problem to solve because it is probably some element of the power supply. He had tried a few things (mainly replacing everything he had a spare for) and suggested a few more things to try.

When I took the back of the Zcorp I was a little surprised by how much electronics actually faced me. I guess I forgot that printing is a fairly complicated task made to look easy by custom electronics normally, it also has a lot of gizmos to control and was built in the 90's. I checked the transformer that he had just replaced and it was working and there was power to the PC power supply that runs a standard PC motherboard but it was not turning on. He suggested it might be the power switch but that worked fine too. I ended up taking a large ISA board out of the motherboard so I could get access to the pins that normally connect to the controls on the front of a normal PC. These had a little interface board plugged in which I also removed. Shorting the relevant pins (after finding the manual for the MB online) caused it to spring in to life, the PC part at least.

But why wasn't the switch doing its thing? The little interface board was connected by a ribbon cable to another board that seems to manage the power supplies and connects to the power switch. But the connection to this board was odd, there was one less pin on the board than there was holes on the ribbon connector, you could therefore put it in two possible positions. Some continuity testing made me think it had been put in the wrong position and I was right. Moving it by a hole connected the power switch to the same pins I shorted. Now it booted, did a funny dance with the bins and started beeping. Enough for one night I think!

It is pretty odd, the pins on the right are the ones the ribbon connects to, the pins in the middle are not even used. Not very clear at all.

I love the smell of ratchet straps in the morning (thank got for Lidl and there regular sales of them)

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