CNC Piranha Fx

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ALuomala
Posts: 136
Joined: Mon Feb 17, 2014 7:30 pm
Location: Alberta, Canada

Re: CNC Piranha Fx

Post by ALuomala » Sat May 21, 2016 11:04 pm

Here's a bit of an update (with a rant of sorts):

I haven't actually cut anything yet (of merit), so I can't really talk about overall performance, but I have had buyer's remorse more than a few times with this unit. I decided to take a more analytical approach to getting up to speed with this unit, versus what I did with the SO2 (i.e build it and dive right in, then wish I would have thought things through prior to building my monster). That has paid off somewhat, but there has been a big lull in my output as a result. Part of that is dissatisfaction with the unit, and also waiting for parts to arrive.

The good:
1)It is quite sturdy; I haven't put it through a load-test (just basic circle-square-lines stuff to play around), but I can see it being good enough for my purposes (mostly wood plaques, signs, etc).

2) The pendant makes life somewhat easier; Very easy to jog the machine around, but some of the menus/sub-menus are a little mystifying (see Documentation points in "The bad" below).

3) The modular approach to add-ons (via collet) is nice. This limits some things (3d printer max height, for example, but I haven't gone down that route, nor will I at this point). I bought a drag knife and pen-plotter from Rockcliff Machine, and they have worked well thus far.

4) Uses existing software (Vectric V-Carve, which is provided with Piranha purchase)

The bad:
1) Documentation is horrible. Some of the steps mentioned (for updating drivers, for example) are so wrong that they are embarrasing for all concerned. As an example, there used to be no PC/device interface (control panel); everything was done via the pendant. That was fine for some things, but they changed it so that there is now a PC interface (control panel), but they haven't changed their documentation to reflect that, so if you follow their documentation to try to update your pendant firmware, you can't because it is an EXE file that is the control panel software installation file (i.e the link on their website used to point to a file that you would upload to pendant via USB memory stick, but now it is a file that is installed on your PC). I caught on relatively quickly (slower than I should have, but much faster than others, so I've heard), but this product is being marketed toward the crowd that enjoys woodworking, but not neccesarily working with computers: the over 40 crowd (I'm 47, but fairly capable with computers and technology in general). I think they have one person working the help-desk/forum, and their website and forum are both fairly horrible (website is OK in general, but the forum is the worst I have dealt with in many years). There are very few people using the forum (not sure if that is due to the fact that it is horrible, or there have been very few people purchasing the Pirahna (a little from column A, a little from column B, I suspect), so it is like death to find any useful information. That said, there are a few knowledgable people that help, but they are ham-strung by crap forum.

2) Pricing/Value. I'm Canadian, so my prices may seem high to you Yanks, but that is the price we pay for living in our socialist utopia :roll: . But even relatively speaking, they are priced at a niche crowd; those that want a turn-key solution without knowing what's going on in the black-box. That's fine, but it is far from turn-key. I could expect a certain amount of pain from my DIY foray into the ShapeOko world, but not when you pay a premium (in hobbyist terms) for something. The add-ons tend to run to the very expensive side. Starting at the lower end items, it goes from "meh" to ridiculous: the dust shoe was the "meh". It ran about $150 (with shipping), which wasn't bad, all things considered, but it definitely could have been made for much cheaper by a DIY-minded individual, but it does what it advertises, and works well enough. The "ridiculous" was the touch plate. [Link to store here]. It cost me $150. It is a block of metal (.375 inch) with a hole in it and a banana clip and a lead with a magnet on it (nicer touch than my SO2 home brew touch plate that was a thin metal plate with alligator clips for attaching to collet and plate... Total cost: maybe $5). And, now we segue into my next point....

3) Being tied to proprietary add-ons: The touch plate only works if you register the product. So, one can't simply do what I did for my SO2 (i.e homebrew $5 touchplate) and plug it into the pendant. I kinda expected this from the 3D printer and laser module (both of which need to be registered to function), but for a touch-plate??!?! C'mon!!!!. I am actually hoping that I will be able to find a way to hook up my forthcoming (another point for below....) Piranha laser module to my SO2 at some point (I am POISON at electrical work, and don't want to kill myself, so I'm hoping someone out there has already done it to save my eyeballs/arduino/nerves from getting fried. But I'm not holding my breath...

4) This might only apply to Canucks, but there is no way for me to get anything (legally) from NextWaveAutomation in Canada unless I go through my local distributor, CanadianWoodworker. I ordered the laser module in the beginning of April and as of today (May 21st) it is "somewhere". Not sure where, but it's somewhere. Could be tied up at customs at the border. Could be in Timbuktu. But it most definitely isn't in my garage on my machine. And it's pricey: $1300 Cdn pricey.

5) Lack of limit switches: I can't speak with any real authority, but I presumed that limit switches of some form were standard on the more expensive CNC machines out there. This doesn't have any. Which makes me somewhat nervous, since I relied on them extensively on my SO2. I'm hoping that the machine retains 0,0/home at all times (powering machine on/off, etc), otherwise I am quite concerned how I will be able to swap out bits and add-ons (laser in particular) if I can't be certain that the machine will maintain position. I already have a Plan B (from my pre-limit switch days on my SO2), but I thought that that would be standard at this level of CNC.

Again, I haven't put the machine through it's paces yet, but I am stubborn enough to back a losing horse even though I may have a severe case of buyers remorse on my hands. Alternatively, I did take a chance on a smallish company that had a good idea (in theory) of having an all-in-one, all-singing, all-dancing machine that was modular and somewhat reasonably priced (compared to what exists in the hobbyist market). I'm just glad I didn't sell my SO2 to make room for this thing. I think the SO2 will still be used (especially for projects much too large to be created in the Piranha), but unfortunately more than I had banked on (and to that end, I am already in for $4,000 Cdn for my Piranha purchase once my laser module arrives).
ShapeOko2, serial ??
DW660 spindle;
Upgrades: 900mm X axis and 1000mm Y axis; ACME Z Axis; modified MDF wasteboard with t-slot
Primary usage: wood crafting (signs, plaques, and ultimately a CNC-made electric guitar)

ALuomala
Posts: 136
Joined: Mon Feb 17, 2014 7:30 pm
Location: Alberta, Canada

Re: CNC Piranha Fx

Post by ALuomala » Mon Jun 06, 2016 6:52 pm

An update, of sorts:

I would avoid this product line like the plague. I finally started cutting my first project (not overly complex, compared to ones I completed on my SO2), and the software paused the job about 20% in (about 10 minutes). Turned it off. Started it up and since the machine was already below my Z0 mark (i.e into the wood), it started moving (resuming the job) and plowed through my project somewhat before I was able to kill it again. Because I was already comitted in time/effort/material, I decided to try it again (same piece of wood) and it paused about 5% in. Conceding defeat, I compiled a list of issues I found whilst getting to this point in my endeavours.

I submitted my list of issues to their customer support email desk on the Thursday evening. Didn't hear back until Monday morning. Lovely. They recommended I install newer (presumably secret) software. Made things worse. Can't run my project at all. They even recommended not using the pendant in conjunction with the PC controller: that removes one of the key components of the machine (i.e one people pay good money to get).

I'm still waiting on my laser module (almost 8 weeks now, and between the distributor (CanadianWoodworker) and them, it is a game of pass-the-buck and blame the other guy on whose fault it is).

Wish I would have held off on this purchase, that's for sure. Might make a good boat anchor....

Allan
ShapeOko2, serial ??
DW660 spindle;
Upgrades: 900mm X axis and 1000mm Y axis; ACME Z Axis; modified MDF wasteboard with t-slot
Primary usage: wood crafting (signs, plaques, and ultimately a CNC-made electric guitar)

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