Questionable decisions made while making questionable things.

Spindle Motor

05 April 2018

The beautiful HSD spindle motor I ordered last week arrived today.

This work of art is made in Italy. It’s 4 kW (5.4 hp), has a maximum speed of 24,000 rpm, and has an automatic tool changer using ISO 30 tool holders. It’s also air-cooled (as opposed to water-cooled). It cost $5,623, and a pre-made power and signal cable cost $382!

This spindle really is overkill for for this router, but I decided to go for it anyway. The alternative I considered was a ~$2000 spindle motor with similar specs from Alibaba. It probably would have been better to go with that one, but I figured quality and support would be better from HSD.

Powering It

Unfortunately, the spindle is useless without power. It requires a VFD (variable frequency drive) to power it. It’s essentially a brushless motor, and so needs some electronics to create the right type of drive waveform, which controls the speed (and is in turn controllable by computer).

HSD recommended Delta Electronics, and their engineers recommended the VFD25AMS23ANSHA, which I ordered from Marshall Wolf Automation.

These drives are incredibly complex. Fortunately, I don’t think I need to worry too much about it once I figure out how to connect it and configure it for my setup. It has an RS-485 port for communication with the CNC controller.

This drive is considered a “high frequency” drive, because it operates up to 1500 Hz. This is necessary to take advantage of the high-speed HSD spindle.

It turns out, high-frequency drives are ITAR export controlled, and I had to sign a document stating that I was allowed under the regulations to possess this equipment, and that I would not pass it on to non-US citizens. I guess you can use them to make uranium centrifuges?

Helpful UPS

Actually receiving the spindle motor was a bit of an adventure. I missed the UPS driver (thanks to a series of delays at home). I called the UPS office to arrange to pick it up later that night, then asked if there was any way I could intercept the driver. The nice lady on the other end put me on hold for a bit, then came back and said he’s on his lunch break, so she can’t reach him right now, but he’s at the corner of Glenoaks and Herron. He went on lunch at 1:57 and has 30 minutes. Don’t bother him during lunch, but when he’s headed back to the truck, ask him for your package. His name is Greg.

I drove to the location, drove around the strip mall, couldn’t find the truck. Was about to give up, when I saw it pull out and turn to go in the opposite direction. Did a U-turn and chased him to his next stop. Said hello, asked for my package. He gave it to me without issue (they had messaged to let him know), and thanked me profusely for making the effort. I thanked him back for letting me.

And now I have a beautiful spindle motor but I can’t do anything with it until the VFD arrives next week.