Review Update: Delta 16" VS Lathe - PM/Jet VFD Info (long)

Page 1 of 2  
This post contains updates and corrections to information presented in my original Delta 46-756 lathe review.
The VFD controller information, in particular, is relevant to Powermatic and Jet EVS owners as well, since it turns out they all come from the same factory as the Delta units. Primary differences lie in the varying degrees of eloquence in implementing the units into the final product.
Don't care? Don't own one? Stop here... Otherwise, on with the show...
This has not been Block and Wrecker's week. It _has_ been faulty spreadsheet engineering/bean counter week. A combination of Router and Lathe failures have left me annoyed at the ongoing downward spiral of US manufacturing, engineering and support. It's mostly a mess useless marketing and bean-counting morons...
Since the PC890 series router was recalled due to shorting motor windings, and they resisted mailing a replacement, I had to drive 40 miles across a very crowded and unpleasant city to exchange the US assembled router body for a new "improved" Mexican assembled unit at a factory outlet. The replacement was new, and is an almost identical unit, with the same imported parts - Now with Imported Labor. Only the armature seems different. Let us hope that the words "pressure impregnated windings" were mentioned in a conference room somewhere along the way.
But the piθce de rιsistance was the failure of the new lathe, which prompted a long, twisted journey into the bowels of B&D customer service and various Tinglish VFD spec/programming manuals.
Turns out there exists in this lathe an intermittent condition which causes the lathe to go into runaway mode, whereby the spindle speed jumps to maximum programmed AC drive Master Frequency and the stop button refuses to respond. Only by flipping the BRS (Big Red Switch, a distant relative of the BOS which existed on the original IBM PCs) are you able to shut-off power and stop the unit. It is an interesting experience to have a 12" segmented vessel unexpectedly whiz up to 3000 RPM - especially when the stop button doesn't respond.
Did it consistently for two days, so I got online and discovered the wretched abortion known as ServiceNet. This has got to be the worst online ordering system I have ever used. Additionally, the newly converted PDF parts layouts suffered a severe loss of resolution. Glad I downloaded my older stuff before the Big Sellout. I then discover the needed part is on backorder until January 16, 2007.
And that the replacement sells for $772.39 !!! Holy Guano, Batman - I hope you get a reach-around with that!
So I call support and talk to the "engineer" who states that the mysterious "F" which is constantly displayed represents a fault condition, and that I need a new VFD controller due to the runaway condition - shucks, they saw this exact same problem just a few days ago. Their computer shows it to be backordered till, you guessed it, Jan 16, 2007. Bought a lathe to do Christmas gifts, but it won't work properly until after the New Year. Hmmm....
Being insatiably curious about such things, I asked who OEM'd the controller and got an evasive/unknowing answer to the effect that, "parts come from all over the world, and there is no one nameable manufacturer of the VFD." Wrong answer, dude. Been in the electronics business for many years, and I know that is utter BS.
Lest you fear that this is to digress into a spate of vendor bashing, there is actually some useful information contained below - at least for those who are interested in such things.
Spurred on by the conflicting/bogus information received, further research revealed that not only is there a nameable manufacturer of the VFD, but that it is the same company that produces a broad line of industrial controllers, as well as the VFD's installed on Powermatic and Jet lathes. And that company is Delta Electronics of Taiwan. Absolutely no relation to B&D/Delta Machinery, however.
I also learned that I can buy a non-DeltaWW OEM controller for $235. Or an almost identical Powermatic controller for $335. Not $772.39.
Of course, you'd have to spend 10 minutes programming the registers to match the Delta defaults and swap the plastic door. Damned, that works out to well over $500 an hour. Where do I sign up...
The Delta VFD controller, as well as the PM/Jet, are VFD-S series controllers. Mostly standard, off the shelf products. For example, the unit used on the Delta is based on the VFD015S21A/B controller. The OEM version has a custom plastic door and a few pre-programmed registers which make it non-standard - Unfortunately. The controller is much more capable than it is allowed to be by the Delta register settings. (For those who are unaware, the VFD is a microprocessor controlled power switch, and contains non-volatile memory locations which can be programmed with static values to enable/disable certain built in functions of the basic unit. Among these features are frequency/current/voltage readouts, and externally mounted speed/start/stop/fwd/rev controls.
Jet and PM utilize these functions, Delta does not. If these functions had not been locked out, an add-on box with heavy duty switches & controls, a digital speed readout and mode indicators, etc. could be built and retrofitted DIY for about $20. As it is, you would have to connect the controller to a computer with an RS-485 port and appropriate software, and rewrite the relevant registers. And that naively assumes that they have not set a passcode to protect the registers from being written to. Admittedly, the unenlightened could really make a mess in there, but I consider it a loss (for me) to not have easy access to the registers and various mode displays available. Unfortunately, any attempt to do this would most assuredly void the warranty, and this I can relate to. Motor damage, controller damage, and personal injury could result from improper settings. However, the minute the warranty expires, that sucker's getting modded for external switches - unless I get fed up waiting 3 months for a VFD and dump the whole thing back in the original vendor's lap.
It also turns out that the mysterious "F" display represents the Frequency of the AC Drive Master Clock, which is then used to set the ultimate speed of the motor. It does not represent a Fault condition. Strangely enough, however, the runaway speed flaw has not presented a fault code. Go figure...
There is a programmable divisor that may be used to present alternate readouts based upon the AC Drive Master Frequency, but I am hazarding a guess that the speed indicator on the panel does not represent an accurate spindle RPM reading - which probably explains why PM and General use a separate RPM display and pickup module.
In conclusion, it is amazing how much more acceptable this lathe would have been in the market had Delta chosen to spend another $20-$50 in materials. I'm beginning to think these guys aren't particularly bright - particularly in the electronics arena.
Heavier machined toolrest/head/tail stock clamps, better controls (or the ability to add them), a Zero Phase reactor coil to the VFD output, and a TEFC motor would have rescued a product that is seemingly out of favor with vendors and customers alike. Comparing this unit against the Jet/General/PM is like night and day - but at a price. Since I paid far less than retail, the sum comes to just about $500, but had I been asked to pay $1800 - or more - I would have most likely passed it over in favor of the Jet 16" EVS w/ 2HP 3phase TEFC motor. As it is, I've only got a slight case of buyer's remorse - and that may diminish once the waranty expires and the shortcomings are corrected, at least in my tiny part of the world - courtesy of DIY.
FWIW
Add pictures here
βœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
DGG (in snipped-for-privacy@4ax.com) said:
| The Delta VFD controller, as well as the PM/Jet, are VFD-S series | controllers. Mostly standard, off the shelf products. For example, | the unit used on the Delta is based on the VFD015S21A/B controller. | The OEM version has a custom plastic door and a few pre-programmed | registers which make it non-standard - Unfortunately. The controller | is much more capable than it is allowed to be by the Delta register | settings. (For those who are unaware, the VFD is a microprocessor | controlled power switch, and contains non-volatile memory locations | which can be programmed with static values to enable/disable certain | built in functions of the basic unit. Among these features are | frequency/current/voltage readouts, and externally mounted | speed/start/stop/fwd/rev controls.
It's an extremely capable and flexible controller. I have one driving the spindle on my ShopBot. Did you get the manual containing all of the register/parameter info?
-- Morris Dovey DeSoto Solar DeSoto, Iowa USA http://www.iedu.com/DeSoto
Add pictures here
βœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Morris Dovey said:

Yep, sure did. Devoted an hour last night reading the 200 pages of mostly well presented and detailed info, and much of the time was spent shaking my head as to why Delta didn't utilize/allow to be utilized more of it's inherent features. (i.e.: They've set P2-00~04 and/or P4-04~08 to ignore all of the Multi-Function Inputs.) Or why, in spite of the harmonics present in the motor feed, they chose to run the brake resistor wires parallel to and through the same grommet as the motor supply wiring - which may be a source of erratic behavior.
Now I'm trying to figure out what I did with the old homebrew RS-232/RS-485 interface converter. Apparently haven't used it since December 17, 1987 - when it all became moot. It's probably ashes at this point. Found a box of old Heathkit computer main boards I need to toss, however. Now I get to paint siding. Big Sigh...
Greg G.
Add pictures here
βœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Morris Dovey said:

As an update, couldn't find the old DIY interface card, so I drug out the old IC data books and cobbled up a new one. Far fewer parts this time around, due to the more modern ASIC's available. Gotta love that misc. semiconductor junkbox that the ex-SWMBO wanted me to toss.
http://webpages.charter.net/videodoctor/images/RS485Interface.jpg
It took far longer to find the almost forgotten prototype stuff than to build the RS232/RS485 interface. Granted, it's not destined for retail distribution, but it satisfied my curiosity as to what's going on in the controller. At least I now have a dump of the internal register settings - few of which differ from the factory defaults.
Suddenly, a CNC lathe for turning segmented vessels is sounding like an interesting (and complex) project. One hand turned original, and a limited production run of signed, machine turned copies. That CNC hollowing rig is sure to be a bear to design.
These damned evil computers are now invading the woodshop... Is there no escape?!
FWIW
Add pictures here
βœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
DGG wrote:

I am surprised they have the nerve to put a price on it. Considering the fault could seriously injure somebody.
Your's will be under warranty won't it?
I recall you bought a display model. I guess it always worked properly at the store.
John
Add pictures here
βœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Eddie Munster said:

I certainly don't mind them listing prices on their decidedly unresponsive web site, my primary objection remains the excessive markup. Especially when Powermatic sells their nearly identical VFD for half the price. Which is what prompted me to explore who actually manufactured the thing.
B&D management has apparently spent far too much time under the hot sun while golfing Longboat Key. I fear they are now embracing the modern era "screw everything that walks" business philosophy that is making this country such a great place to live and work in these last 15 years. Pride, workmanship, and customer service have been supplanted by avarice and exploitation. But that's just my opinion.

Yes, but... I'll apparently lose 3 months of it while it sits idle waiting for the replacement. It _may_ not take that long. but I'm not going to hold my breath. New management doesn't exactly impress. Delta used to be pretty good with customer service, now it seems not so much. I fear they are beginning to rival Stanley on my growing "better off bankrupt" list of irresponsible US Corporations.
At this point, however, I'm beginning to suspect that it may not be a bad controller per se, but rather improper design/installation which leaves the unit subject to radiated EMI resulting in CPU confusion. It is too intermittent and doesn't seem to be heat related, which would be one of my first suspects for an intermittent condition, the other being a cold solder joint. (Used to repair Paragon Industrial controllers and Tektronix/Military test equipment.)

They never powered it up - it is a 220vac unit and they don't have outlets in the retail store. Mostly it sat around, shoved from one spot to another and being cursed by the store manager. His parting comment was, "Thanks for getting this thing out of here". Leaves one with a rather disconcerted feeling, especially considering that large, new empty spot in the wallet.
But I'm sure it will all work out in the end - one way or another.
FWIW
Add pictures here
βœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Let me get this straight because I just bought a jet 1014VS and drove all the way to Minnesota to get it. your saying that delta and jet products are from the same factory? So WMH is simply a company who puts their names on other peoples stuff? I also have had problems with the quality of my 1014 out of the box, but its been remedied. But it wasn't up to what I was told it would be initially. I'd give their customer service a 7.
Troy
DGG wrote:

Add pictures here
βœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I think he said that the VFD controller is from the same factory, and that both Jet and Delta buy it from that factory.
--
Sending unsolicited commercial e-mail to this account incurs a fee of
$500 per message, and acknowledges the legality of this contract.
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
βœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Troy said:

No, we are discussing the VFD - the electronic speed control module. The same electronic controller is used on the Delta/PM/Jet lathes. This doesn't apply to reeves drive lathes at all, and I believe yours uses a mechanical speed control system.

Well, they sort of all do this. It's a long story...

Welcome to the new millennium. ;-)
Add pictures here
βœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
mechanical? No, my speed is both electronically and mechanically variable. I set the initial pulley size and then a pot controls the speed within the set range from there.
Troy
DGG wrote:

Add pictures here
βœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Troy said:

OK - I didn't bother to look up your model number, but I believe that Jet Variable Frequency Drive units have model numbers ending with EVS. The DC motor versions, like the VS mini lathe do NOT use this VFD.
Now that I think about it, that is the lathe that I replaced with the Delta. Totally different animals. The 1014 uses a DC motor and PWM driver. The VFD controllers cost more than an entire Jet mini. ;-)
My bad...
Add pictures here
βœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
oh ok.. I was just wondering.... since your an et guy I've got a question for you. I've been wondering how difficult/costly it would be to add a digital readout to the unit. I realize this would have to be a interpolated reading since we're varing the speed analog instead of digitally as you are using. And of course what benefit would I truly gain other then it looks pretty. Yes I have a degree in electronics but I'm rusty as heck. My degree was focus'd more towards computer repair/engineering then the analog world, and I never did quite get the analog down. My X was just the opposite. She got the analog but never the digital... go figure.
Troy
DGG wrote:

Add pictures here
βœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
There's a few types out there, being sold to the hobby machine shop/hobby cnc people. Here's a link or two:
http://www.littlemachineshop.com/products/product_view.php?ProductID 84
http://cnc4pc.com/Index_Pulse_Card.htm
Jack
Troy wrote:

Add pictures here
βœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
OOPS, On the 2nd link, that type is used on a cnc converted machine using a computer for the readout.
Taunt wrote:

Add pictures here
βœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
interesting, thanks for the links.
Troy
Taunt wrote:

Add pictures here
βœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
: Let me get this straight because I just bought a jet 1014VS and drove : all the way to Minnesota to get it. : your saying that delta and jet products are from the same factory?
The original post was about a controller, but to partially answer your broader question: sort of.
Most non-industrial woodworking machines made today, including classical American companies like Delta, are made, or at least the heavier metal parts are made, overseas. Taiwan is still the major ocation, although mainland China and India are getting into the game. (For an example of the latter, I bought one of the last pairs of cast-iron legs for the Nova 3000 lathe to be imported into the US; they were cast in India).
Individual companies specify what they want, and the factories give them what they ask for. This includes design of the machines, but also things like uniformity of the cast iron, tolerances in size, etc.
It's not a bad thing, necessarily; you pay a lot less than if it were made in the US totally, is the argument.
    -- Andy Barss
Add pictures here
βœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Thu, 5 Oct 2006 19:42:31 +0000 (UTC), Andrew Barss

capable of and hope that you will accept it. You might be surprised at how "tolerant" companies become if it is a choice of having something to sell or not. If you think that chinese iron foundries have process capabilities that are even close to the best or even worst U.S. foundries you are kidding yourself.

I think the trend toward not allowing the end user to have the choice to be discriminating for 10-15% more is a bad thing. That is where we are heading and we are almost there.
Frank
I represent no one but myself.

Add pictures here
βœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
DGG wrote:

Is this something you can touch up? (shielding, ferrite beeds) If so you got nothing to lose, if it doesn't work, put it back how it was.
Add pictures here
βœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Eddie Munster said:

I'm working towards that very idea. I'm going to monitor/capture any hash on the lines with a scope to see what is there.
Turning a bowl with a Tektronix scope 2 feet away and wired to the lathe is probably not particularly good for the scope, however. ;-)
FWIW
Add pictures here
βœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Why? Used to troubleshoot inside shacks with 100,000 watt transmitters right next to mine. (of course mine was a Hameg....)
Add pictures here
βœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.