Troubleshooting the Tormach Touch Probe

Fab Lab equipment needs the perfect touch

Michael LaVigne,

When we purchased the Tormach, a CNC/automated metal milling machine, one of the first tools we purchased was a passive touch-probe.  This allows the computer to automatically zero your part, find the center of holes, etc. - a huge time saver.  The problem is that it never worked properly. The touch-probe is designed to automatically detect your part or a vice, which are solid objects, and stop before bad things happen.  When the probe doesn't work, the machine doesn't recognize when it has touched the part and just keeps on moving.  It is like the new cars that can parallel park on their own - but doesn't properly sense when you are too close to the curb or another car - CRASH!

We fixed the damage to the probe from the crash (broken tip- they are designed to break way without hurting the machine or probe), but it has sat in its box for years because the computer didn't recognize it and using it in its current state would just break another tip.  We took advantage of the long Easter weekend and rectified this problem.  After opening up the probe, the problem was obvious - unstripped wire - these had shorted together and/or to the body of the probe.  

​This was done because there was no room in the touch-probe body for the full wire; only the small stripped portion of the wire, because when you assemble it, there is no room for the solder iron.  That's an easy fix!  The body of the touch-probe is aluminum, and our Bridgeport (manual milling machine) eats aluminum for breakfast. Five minutes later, the whole wire fit through the body of the touch-probe and we could fix wiring. 

​ you can see in the Soldered Image, the wire can now be pulled through for easier soldering. I decided not to use the existing via's and soldered directly to the large >pins for a better (and easier) connection. ​ ​

Reassemble and.... IT'S ALIVE! ​

​I'm very excited to work this awesome tool into the Tormach workflow to save time and improve accuracy.  Just shoot me an email if you want a demo of this cool old/new toy!