The Division Master

A 4th axis CNC accessory for all rotary tables and dividing heads.

Tony Jeffree, well known to those of us who use Taig equipment, has produced a remarkable and useful accessory for those using rotary tables or dividing heads. The unit is a single axis controller which will run a stepper motor hooked up to your dividing head and allow effortless operation. Tony was kind enough to send me a unit to review, and it has lived up to all my expectations. There have been some design upgrades since I received my unit, see the Divisionmaster web page for the latest specifications and examples of use.

The unit Tony supplied is a control box a little larger than a VHS tape with an external power supply (comparable to those that you power your laptop computer with), and his optional stepper motor and cables. The unit will drive any stepper motor up to 2 amps/phase. The unit also comes with excellent instructions for operation as well as a tutorial on wiring stepper motors and handshaking with other controls.

The control box has a keypad with a 16 character LCD display, with 4 cursor keys, a 0-9 keypad, "stop" and "ok" keys. The keypad is flat, so there are less areas for chips and dirt to accumulate. There are 3 sockets, power, 6 pin DIN for the steper connection and a 9 pin I/O socket for connecting to other machine controls. The unit is turned on or off by unplugging the power cord.

The Divisionmaster has 5 modes of operation: Setup, Jog, Division, Degrees and Driver mode.
Setup is used to set all the operating parameters, motor size, voltage, etc. As well as the worm gear ratio of your particular dividing head. This is a useful variable as you could use any old worm gear you have laying around to make an excellent dividing head, without worrying whether or not the ratio makes useful divisions. In short the unit does not care if you use a 40 tooth gear or a 67 tooth gear. The setup parameters are saved between uses, so that once configured you can leave setup mode alone.
Jog Mode allows fine positioning of the unit so that you can select the point in the rotation that the operation starts at. Jog increments are between 1/100th of a degree to 10 degrees per jog.
Division mode allows you to use the unit like a standard dividing head - simply type in how many divisions between 1 and 999 that you wish to divide your work into.
Degrees mode allows you to specify in degrees how far the table will move from .001 degrees to 360.
Driver mode, which is selected at power up, allows you to connect the Divisionmaster to an external control which will send step and direction commands to the unit. This allows the unit to be used as a 4th axis by a CNC machine that has appropriate output.

I didn't test all the capabilities of the Divisionmaster, but limited it to the most simple operations: drilling a circle of holes, milling a polygon, milling a circular slot. I mounted my stepper to a Sherline rotary table, and screwed a Taig chuck down. The material was aluminum rod. The machine performed all operations flawlessly. Tony doesn't really talk about circular milling, but in order to cut a circular slot you must choose the degrees or division of the slot, then plunge into the work, move one step, then move back a step, plunge deeper, move one step and then back, until the slot is cut to full depth.

You can easily change your divisions/degrees without losing position, you can program a move of 10 degrees, then with a keystroke return to the enter function, enter a new setting then move that # of degrees. This makes complex milling of cams, etc quite easy.

For information on the Divisionmaster, see the Divisionmaster web page.

The control unit. Large easy to read buttons and a big LCD screen allw for ease of operation.

The 4 arrow keys allow easy stepping between various operations and parameters.

Milling a septagon on the face of an aluminum rod.
milling a circular slot. After each pass I pressed the "<" key to return to my start position, then the ">" to move the specified # of degrees (45 deg)
Drilling a hole circle, ten holes without thinking!

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