TouchDRO BlueTooth Adapter Board for iGaging Scales

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Those of you that follow the TouchDRO Users G+ community know that I've been working on a pre-made adapter board for iGaging scales. Today I finished testing the first batch of the boards and will ship them out to the people that ordered them. The intention of this post is to clarify what the board does and doesn't do, as well as provide some basic instructions how to set it up.

UPDATE Dec. 4, 2016 - For more detailed instructions on how to connect various scales to TouchDRO BlueTooth adapter for iGaging scales please see Connecting iGaging Scales to TouchDRO Controller post.

Overview

TouchDRO "iGaging" board is a self-contained adapter for iGaging DigiMag Remote DRO, iGaging EZ-View DRO Plus, AccuRemote and iGaging Absolute DRO+ scales*. It supports up to four scale inputs, directional tachometer input (A/B channels), and a touch probe input. The board is designed to be a self-contained unit that doesn't require any soldering. Moreover, the software detects the protocol automatically, so there is no settings to worry about either. Basically you will get a board that is fully built, programmed, tested, and ready to go. You will need to provide your own scales and a power supply (more on that below).

Important: there are two version of Absolute DRO scales. The older version, branded Absolute DRO, is not compatible since it uses a proprietary protocol. The supported version is branded Absolute DRO+ (Plus). The ones sold on Amazon currently are of the never variety, but to be safe, double check with the seller before placing the order

iGaging AbsoluteDRO (not supported) and AbsoluteDRO+ Reading Heads

Connections

TouchDRO iGaging Controller Pin Functions (click to enlarge)

Power supply

Power is supplied to the board via a standard 2.1mm power jack (same as is used by Arduino UNO and like), so any wall wart that can supply between 5V and 13V will work. The board draws very little current, so the mA rating is unimportant. If you can find one, I would recommend an old-school wall wart that has a heavy transformer in it, since it will provide isolation from the mains circuit and thus eliminate that ground loop.

Scale Inputs

The board has four scale inputs as seen in the picture. Each of the inputs has four lines: Vcc, Clock, Data, and Ground**. The scales are connected to the inputs using screw terminal blocks, so there is no soldering involved. Instead you simply cut and strip the cables. Better yet, I recommend replacing the stock cables with braid-shielded ones. In this case the shield needs to be tied to the ground on one side of the cable. Easy way to check is to see if there is continuity between connector shrouds on boths sides. If not, tie ground wire and the shielding together at the screw terminal. Otherwise leave the controller-facing side of the shielding disconnected. This way you get to keep the stock cables intact and will drastically reduce the interference from the shop noise.

Alternatively, if you want to avoid cutting the cables, you can purchase a set of Mini-USB or Micro-USB breakout boards (depending on the scales you have) and make an adapter.

It appears that different batches of iGaging scales come with different cables and wire colors. To ensure proper connection you will need to open up the reading head and check continuity between the wires and the test points on the PCB inside the head.

Keep in mind, the inputs are connected directly to the microcontroller's input pins, so the voltage should never exceed 3.6V (which shouldn't be a problem as long as the scales are powered from the board).

**Please note, silkscreen on the first batch of the boards is inaccurate: data and clock line as swapped. I will correct this problem in the next run.

Tachometer Input

Tachometer inputs can be connected to the 5-pin screw terminal block on the bottom of the board as shown in the picture. There are a few nuances to be aware of. First of all, the board is configured to accept two inputs by default (A and B). If only one input is provided, it has to be connected to the A line, and the reading will be inverted. This can be fixed either by a setting in the TouchDRO app ("Invert Reading" under the "Tachometer" section), or by adding a 5K Ohm resistor between the B line and Vcc to pull it up. Second, there are "open collector" (sometimes called "NPN") type tachometer setups. If you intend to use one, the inputs need to be pulled up to Vcc as well using 5 KOhm resistor(s).

Touch Probe Input/Tool Height Setter

A probe should be very simple to connect, since it's basically a switch that is either normally closed or normally open. One side of the probe should be connected to the probe input pin on the board, and the other should be connected to the supply voltage (Vcc). During the power-up cycle the board will query the state of the probe and set it as the "off" state.

Other Headers

On both sides of the MCU there are two unpopulated 8-pin headers, SV1 and SV3, that are currently unused. SV1 (on the left) is connected to pin 1.7 that is used for 21-bit clock output in the standard firmware. Since this version provides the clock directly to the relevant pins, P1.7 is currently inactive. The header on the right (SV3) is connected to four unused pins of the MCU but might be used at some point as a "Ready" line for Mitutoyo SPC protocol (once I add the support for it), or as a settings jumper.

Finally, there is an unpopulated 6-pin programming/UART header SV2 that can be connected to a LaunchPad in case the MCU needs to be reprogrammed, or for connecting a UART-to-USB adapter.

Grounding

In order to avoid ground loops, there should be a single reliable connection to the machine chassis, and scale frames should be isolated from the machine. Ideally the cables to the scales should be shielded and the shields tied to the ground as close to the common grounding point as possible. There are plenty ground points on the board. First of all, each screw terminal has a ground pin. Additionally, there is a ground pin the programming header, and there is access to four ground points on the SV3 header (the side closest to the edge of the board). Finally, the PCB mounting holes are tied to the ground plane as well and make a good place for a common ground point.

Status LEDs

The board has three LEDs:

  • Green - power
  • Amber - status
  • Blue - BlueTooth status

When the board is powered up the green LED should be lit solid immediately, indicating the the board is getting power. A few milliseconds later the board is going to go through a 2-second self-configuration routine during which it detects scale protocols and the touch probe state. During that stage the amber LED will blink rapidly. Once the detections is complete the LED will start blinking once per second.

Blue LED can be in one of three modes: When the board is not paired, the LED will blink twice per second. Once paired the blinking pattern will change to one brief pulse every 2 seconds. Finally, when the board is connected to the application, the LED will switch to two brief pulses every 2 seconds.

Summary

My main goal was to create an adapter that is easy to use for people without any electronics experience or don't have access to soldering equipment, etc. Although this is not strictly a plug-and-play solution, the board provides a good balance between flexibility and ease of use. I've performed a lot of testing under different conditions and the controller behaves very well in a high-noise environment. As is the case with most capacitive scales, interference can still enter the system. While the board will be able to cope with moderate amount of noise, there are some easy steps that can be taken to minimize interference picked up by the wiring by using shielded cables and avoiding ground loops.

64 comments :

  1. Replies
    1. Eric, Send me an email to yuriystoys at gmail dot com.
      The board costs $80 shipped within the USA.

      Delete
  2. Is an Arduino still required and if so, where does this interface go.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, this is the whole adapter. You plug in the scales, pair it with the phone and you're good to go.

      Delete
    2. How is the code updated and/or modified on this board? Can I use a similar code to that of Ryszard Malinowski? I've had great success with this version and like the ability to modify it as needed.

      Delete
    3. The board uses MSP430, Ryszard's sketch is written for Arduino, so no, the board will not run it.
      Programming pins are broken out, so you can re-flash the board (if you have a programmer for it).

      Delete
  3. Yuri,

    I Received your TouchDRO adaptor board and I'm very pleased with the ease of setup and operation. If anyone is interested, I'm using the AccuRemote (blue) scales and the pin out is as follows: Red: VCC, Green: Data, White: Clock, Black: Grnd. Thank you Yuri for making this project available to all of us that can't spend thousands for a DRO.

    Regards,
    Rod

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you Yuri,


    I received my board long time ago but didn't have time to connected to the scales and test it. Will update later on.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yuri,

    I purchased the board with the USB mini B breakouts that you offer for sale. The USB connectors do not match the AccuRemote connectors, which appear to be micro B.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Yuri, are you still planning to release the $55 TouchDRO Mixed Scale Controller Kit (unassembled)?
    BTW thank you for all your time and effort developing the TouchDRO Project.
    PSM

    ReplyDelete
  7. Yes. I'm waiting for the new batch of boards. The first batch had an issues...

    ReplyDelete
  8. I ordered the board - just a dumb question. Does d+ go to data and d- clock. I ordered some usb breakout boards and that is how they are labeled

    ReplyDelete
  9. Your Amazon link to the iGaging Absolute DRO+ takes you to the non-Plus version. In fact, I have had trouble finding the Plus version anywhere. Do you know why this might be?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Most of the scales you can buy now are Plus, but for some reason most sellers still use the old pictures.
      I got mine from Amazon, and it was a DRO+ version. To be sure I would verify with the seller. May be I just got lucky.
      With that said, I would skip the Absolute scales. When installed properly, DigiMag scales work very well, and Absolute don't give you enough improvement to justify the premium.

      Delete
  10. I would really like to order another board but your showing as out. Any idea when you have more in stock. I am getting a mill tomorrow and want to hook it up with touch DRO

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jeremy,
      I have 7 in stock. I re-enabled the button, but I don't know how long they will last. More will be coming next week.
      Thank you
      Yuriy

      Delete
  11. Yuri,

    Can you confirm these are compatible https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01G5SUZEG/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They probably won't work. Imaging changed the protocol on every version of Absolute DRO scales so far, so I'd expect that they changed it again.
      Thank you
      Yuriy

      Delete
    2. Thanks Yuri. I ordered the correct ones and will return these

      Delete
  12. Will it work with these ?
    https://www.timbecon.com.au/site-shop-accessories/machine-accessories/ez-view-pro-digital-read-out-scales-dro-s

    ReplyDelete
  13. Whoops .... sorry ..... I just noticed that I can expand the photo on that website and that it will work ..... will you post to AUstralia ? What would that cost me please ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No worries. I'm actually not sure if these will work yet. They seem to be very new and I haven't been able to test them yet. I haven't even found where they are sold in the states :(
      That said, I ship all over the world. The cost is about $35 for priority mail or around $15 for first class package. PayPal calculates the cost at the checkout automatically for each country.
      Thank you
      Yuriy

      Delete
    2. Does anyone have any update on the EZ View version of these scales, yet? I have been looking on Ebay and Amazon for the DigiMag and the Absolute versions, but no one seems to carry them anymore. Did both of the older models get discontinued and replaced with this new version?

      Just curious if any users have tried the new scales out, yet.

      Thanks!

      Delete
    3. I have a scale coming some time next week. Once I get a chance to play with it I will post my results.

      Delete
    4. Had some time to play with the scales. They use the same protocol as the old iGaging scales but slightly different timing. Boards that have firmware v1.33 (any boards sold after May or so) work very well with the EZ View scales. Older firmware has problems with drift though and the kit was all over the place for some reason.
      Bottom line you're OK with the current version of the iGaging TouchDRO board but hold off if you want the kit. I will try to figure out what's going on in a few weeks.

      Delete
  14. Yuri, When I plug the board in without any scales attached, should I not be unable to sync to the TouchDRO App? Does it need sclaes attached to complete the self test and turn on the BT?

    Thanks
    JohnR

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  15. My bad, Helps if I use a 5V DC walwart instead of a 5v AC one.

    JohnR

    ReplyDelete
  16. Is this the correct version that will work with this board?

    Look at this on eBay http://www.ebay.com/itm/130985726217

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hi yuriy I just purchased one of your touch dro bluetooth boards, and a set of igaging scales from the igaging store. The scales are the absolute dro plus. I have not been able to get them to work, and I was hoping you could give me some insight into my problem.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jesse,
      Can you describe the problem you are having?

      Delete
    2. I added a photo of the scales that I have to my profile maybe it can help

      Delete
    3. I was also wondering about the 5th wire it's a brown that goes to the req.

      Delete
    4. Jesse,
      Req. has to be grounded for the scales to start sending the readout.
      I ordered a copy of the scale and will post detailed instructions in a few days (once it arrives). You can get somewhat of an idea of what's involved from this post: http://www.yuriystoys.com/2015/12/connecting-igaging-absolute-scales-to.html, but it's for the older version and scratch-built controller (pre-made board doesn't need extra parts)

      Delete
    5. HI yuriy thank you for the help I landed the req. on the grnd and that seem to have fixed my problem

      Delete
  18. The scales don't do anything but I do have an ezview scale that works just fine. I have checked continuity on the wires to the read head and everything seems to be good. Then you move the scale and nothing happens.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hi!

    Does this board support Renishaw RGH22B30L00 1vpp (15pin dsub). I also have the converter from Yaskawa JZDP-D008-020. That appears to be some digital signal. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  20. six months later and still too confused to buy.

    For iGaging DRO you list:
    "Supports iGaging DigiMag, iGaging AbsoluteDRO Plus*, iGaging EZ-View DRO Plus, and AccuRemote scales"

    I purchased the iGaging DRO's a couple of years ago but they are not named on your list. I have the packaging in my hand.

    These have the same Item# as the Easy-View DRO except no +.

    i.e. Easy-View 35-706-P+ mine 35-706-P.

    These just have a 2" x 3" black readout.
    These are pictured in one of the replies.

    Now for some questions:

    How do you power the DROs?
    If using a USB breakout board do you put 3 volts to the 5 volt pin?

    damm I cannot remember my other questions.

    You reccomend shielded USB cables but not one of the sellers of USB cables ever mention shielding. So where do you get your USB cables from?

    Ralph

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ralph,
      I honestly don't know what the different is between P+ and P versions. Could be the same.
      The very first post on the home page goes over different connection schemes. The scales are not USB, they use USB cables, but the pin functions and protocol are way different.
      You should be fine with the stock cables. The board handles noise much better than the DIY controller, so unless your power supply is super "dirty" you should be fine.
      Regards
      Yuriy

      Delete
  21. OK... I am a Newbie. I want to add this board and two scales to my 7x14 China mini lathe. I can find the scales, shielded USB cables, wall wart power supply and use the Blue Tooth board from Yuriy offered on this site.

    Can someone show me how to mount the scales and the board to my lathe? This may sound simple, but I got the lathe to learn a bit about being a machinist and I am not there yet. FYI- I have a 3d printer, so I can print a housing for the board. Has any one got a design for a 3d printer that supports this project? I found some 3d printer brackets to use for the scales, but what already comes in the box may work. If someone can show me how to mount the scales ( I can provide pictures of my lathe) I would be happy to document everything, so we would have a completed project in one place, so others learn from my example.

    Yuriy- How do I order the board?

    Thanks,

    Brad in Seattle

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Brad,
      I think there are a few lathe projects in the "Gallery" section on the forum.
      You order a board from the TouchDRO Store (link on the top of this page). I'm not aware of any 3d printed enclosures for this board, unfortunately.

      Thank you
      Yuriy

      Delete
  22. So far all of my desktop testing with one scale is working fine!!

    Now I am trying a Tach, I have a IR sensor detecting the target on a wheel giving a pulse.

    I am turning rather slowly, will that affect the readout?

    I am seeing 120 360 480 rpm for the same wheel speed.

    Actually I slowed the speed in half and still seeing 120 rpm.

    I put a 5.8k resistor on B.

    Any ideas? Is there any discussions on the tack anywhere?

    Ralph


    ReplyDelete
  23. Now this is bad, I no longer can connect with bluetooth!

    I press Connect and it immediately disconnects.

    This was working this morning but now has just stopped connecting!

    This is with the iGaging connector board.

    Ralph

    ReplyDelete
  24. I cannot see the HC-05 device on my PC!!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Strange now it is working!! ta da!!

    I plugged in a DRO scale and it started working, strange but I'll take it.

    Ralph

    ReplyDelete
  26. Yuriy,

    Can I hook up this Sensor to the Tack input with a rare earth magnet glued on the spindle to pulse it for RPM detection?

    NJK-5002C Hall Effect Sensor Proximity Switch NPN 3-Wires Normally Open

    Thanks,
    Brad in Seattle

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Brad, I just got Tach to work with a IR sensor which just gives a pulse with the target. The Hall effect should work or you could just use a Reed switch http://www.ebay.com/itm/10-Reed-Switches-50-watt-OKI-ORD-2210-21mm-Magnetic-Switch-Normally-Open-/201840523258 and that would work.

      Ralph

      Delete
  27. I have iGaging EZ View scales. In anticipation that at some point I'll be replacing my micro-B/micro-B cables, and I've never seen that type of cable for sale, I'm interested in wiring both USB micro-B and USB-A breakout boards in parallel. I can't find an "ID" terminal on a USB3.0-A breakout board. Can you help me understand how that breakout board should be wired?

    Thanks for you terrific work!

    Jim

    ReplyDelete
  28. Jim, first find out if you need to "replace" the cables, the stock cables are working fine for me!!

    Can you post a link, or at least a picture of the USB3.0-A breakout board and also what exactly are you trying to do?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ralph. I've had a cable fail and had to get a replacement cable and reader from the supplier. My bigger concern, however, is with the longevity of the micro-b connectors. In general, my experience with them is that they're not highly reliable -- hence my interest in standard USB-A connectors. I'll PM you a photo of the USB3.0-A breakout board. Thanks!

      Delete
    2. No joy on the PM, but here's a link to the photo:

      https://pix.sfly.com/hbTZ7j

      Thanks again!

      Delete
    3. Jim, micro USB connectors are pretty close to bullet proof. I have a phone that has been plugged into a charger for 4 years daily and no issues with the connector.

      Delete
  29. I just finished setting up my TouchDRO iGaging board on my mill and cannot not Connect
    with bluetooth!!

    I tested at my desk and everything worked as expected.

    If you want to see the LEDs
    http://dor-things.biz/index.php/home/projects/workshop/clausing-8520-vertical-mill/dro/

    Seems like once at my desk I could not connect but cannot remember why or what I did.

    Ralph

    ReplyDelete
  30. Now what is the W axes using for increments?

    If I zero I get 1,2,3 one way and 396,395,394 the other?

    How do I change this to thous or mm?

    I am also having a hard time getting my head around zeroing all four axes at the same time instead of individually, I think I see how it will work just not what I expected!

    So far I am very pleased with TouchDRO and the iGaging board.

    Ralph

    ReplyDelete
  31. For the W Axis, what type of rotary encoder can I use?

    Can it accept an absolute type encoder?

    Cheers
    Mike

    ReplyDelete
  32. Mike,
    This board supports only iGaging-type scales right now. I'm working on a new firmware that will support quadrature encoders on the fifth axis, but that won't be done till at least mid June. The board (as it sits right now) has those pins already broken out, so it will be a simple re-flash to enable it.
    Regards
    Yuriy

    ReplyDelete
  33. Hi Yuri,
    I have these scales: https://www.amazon.com/Digital-Readout-Measure-Vertical-Bridgeport/dp/B00LOAXJJE/ref=pd_lpo_vtph_469_bs_t_2?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=X4RFTVJPBQV5XW6B4PNS

    They look like AccuRemote. Is this board for "iGaging" scales the right one?

    Regards,

    Adrian.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Adrian,
      The board will work, but chances are your scales come with Micro-B connectors. If that is the case, you should get the version with pre-installed connectors instead (third option in the store).

      Thank you
      Yuriy

      Delete
    2. Hi Yuriy, My scales have the Mini-B connectors :-(, do you do a board with Mini-B connectors, or will you do one? (I didn't see one in the store). If not then I guess the Mini-B breakout option is my only choice as I don't want to cut the wires.
      Regards,

      Adrian.

      Delete
    3. Adrian,
      I'm not planning to have a board with Mini-B connectors, so your best bet is to get one with breakout boards. They are pretty easy to solder, so it doesn't take much more time.
      Thank you
      Yuriy

      Delete
    4. OK no problem, I guess the breakout board solution gives me more flexibility when mounting it in a box, thanks for confirming.

      Delete
  34. Does anyone have a recommendation for a specific tachometer sensor that they have had success with. Appreciate the help.

    Thanks

    RJ

    ReplyDelete