Hey everyone, it’s Andy here. Over the past few years, we’ve welcomed many thousands of CNC users into our community. Of course, with any electro-mechanical machine, some degree of troubleshooting is to be expected.
For the first year and a half since the launch of the LongMill, I had taken on the large majority of troubleshooting from customers directly through email. This was an excellent experience for me as it opened my eyes to observe almost all of the issues that were possible, as well as giving me the chance to learn and communicate with customers better. Even to this day, I am regularly checking on customer tickets and working with our support team to tackle new or more complicated support issues, although it’s typically no longer my day-to-day role.
What has been interesting to see over this period of time has been not just how we collect data and information about issues over time, but also our understanding of the human nature of users when it comes to identifying and troubleshooting issues.
One of the things we’ve come to recognize is that there are a number of misconceptions to address in terms of troubleshooting the LongMill. This article covers some of my personal recommendations for helping you troubleshoot issues on your LongMill.
Tip 1: Listen and look at your machine carefully
Simply listening and looking at what your machine is doing can help a lot in identifying problems. Is the machine making a weird sound? Do you hear the motors stalling? Is the machine stopping and starting irregularly? Is there a component that is slipping? Making a close observation can help identify the cause of an issue.
It’s important to note that the large majority of issues for the LongMill are mechanical. This means that for most issues, you can physically, hear, or feel issues. A few extra tips for this tip:
- Jog your machine manually on each axis and check for smooth motion. I recommend running at the highest speed for each axis as stalling is more likely at higher speeds
- Run your project in the air. Look for any irregularities and odd behavior.
- Try turning lead screws and moving your gantries by hand. This can help identify looseness or binding.
Tip 2: Most issues are simple issues
The large majority of issues are caused by something simple. Always start with simple fixes first before trying something more drastic. This will save you time and give you statistically the best chance in fixing your issue.
99% of issues that our users have can be found in the Common Issues and Fixes section of our resources. I encourage everyone to read through it carefully as it covers everything that we know that may help you solve your issues. This section is updated regularly with new issues and fixes when they are found.
From my experience, users often have a tendency to jump to the conclusion that if they run into an issue, it’s a rare, complicated, or unknown issue. Sort of like being a…LongMill hypochondriac? This means that many people try to troubleshoot their issues in the wrong place and become frustrated with the machine, rather than checking the most simple reasons for issues. For example, you’d be surprised at how many people reach out to us because their machine won’t work at all because they just never turned on the machine in the first place.
Tip 3: Mechanical and electrical issues happen randomly. Software issues happen exactly the same way over and over again.
The main differentiator between a mechanical and electrical issue versus a software issue is that mechanical and electrical issues seemly happen at random and software issues happen the same way over and over again.
While mechanical and electrical issues can be caused over time by loose fasteners and connectors, wear and tear, and power fluctuations which can happen seemly randomly, software works in a series of exact pieces of code that is rigidly defined. While double-checking firmware settings and reinstalling gSender can help eliminate those as being the issue, if your issue seems random, it’s more likely to be a mechanical issue and updating or reinstalling gSender will not help.
I sometimes joke to Chris that many users use gSender as a scapegoat, as many pin their issues on gSender when they aren’t sure what’s going on. I suspect it’s because its easy to blame something that people don’t feel as comfortable with (aka the software). Sometimes it feels like gSender is messing something up randomly, however, the reality is that the vast majority of issues come from something mechanical.
If you are running into issues with gSender, additional help and documentation can be found here: https://resources.sienci.com/view/gs-feedback/.
Tip 4: Static and EMF cannot cause a machine to lose steps
It is a common misconception that static and EMF can cause a machine to stall or lose steps. The main symptom of static and EMF is a complete disconnect between your machine and CNC. Issues caused by static and EMF will likely cause your machine to disconnect or stop completely. Additionally to note, due to the high draw of tools such as routers and dust collectors, its easy to mistake brown-outs for static and EMF, even though they are completely separate problems.
If your machine is losing position or steps randomly, it’s best to check out the mechanics of the machine first, as static and EMF does not cause the machine to lose its position. Use the process of elimination by turning on and off different tools and dust collectors in your shop while running your machine to identify the culprit.
Tip 5: Let us help you
Don’t forget that our technical support team is here to help answer any questions and help tackle technical issues. Sending us a message with detailed information, videos, and photos of your issue through our Contact Us page.
When you send a ticket, you’re talking to:
- One of our team members or engineers who designed a certain part of the machine
- Someone with hundreds, if not thousands of hours of CNC experience
- The whole technical support team, as tickets and information can be shared between all members
We also use tickets to collect data and improve the quality of our products and make adjustments to our resources.
Reaching out directly to our technical support team is typically the fastest and most reliable way to solve technical issues.
A note from Jason Kent, our Customer Support Manager
Provide as much information as possible. Information such as recent changes or updates made to the machine or software is useful to include. When reaching out for customer support, please add images or videos relevant to the issue. While family photos are cute, images of the issue help us to diagnose your problem faster.
Tip 1) Observe the mechanics of your machine carefully, such as the sound and the movement, as mechanical issues are the most common in LongMills.
Tip 2) It’s statistically more likely that an issue is caused by something simple. Always troubleshoot by checking basic things first. Troubleshooting guides in our Resources contain fixes for 99% of issues around the LongMill and are regularly updated.
Tip 3) Understand that if the problem happens randomly, it’s most likely a mechanical or electrical issue. Software does not cause random problems.
Tip 4) Static and EMF does not cause stalling or missing steps. Static and EMF causes the machine disconnects or to stop completely.
Tip 5) Don’t forget to reach out to us directly! We can help too!