Dear Answer Man,
A couple of years ago we bought a Haas VF-1 vertical machining center. We have been using the disk drive to load programs, but would like to connect the machine directly to a PC instead. Is it possible to hook up the Haas directly to a standalone PC (Pentium) through the RS-232 port in order to send and receive programs? If so, do we need special software or hardware (i.e., modem or network)? Is there a specific computer program/application that must be used, or can we save the G-code programs in something like Microsoft Word?
Yes, you can connect your Haas machine to a standalone PC.
You will need an RS-232 cable with a 9-pin connector on one end and a 25-pin connector on the other. The cable will be configured as a null modem cable. These cables can be purchased at almost any electronics store, such as Radio Shack. They are also available off the shelf from Black Box Corp. (724-746-5500); the part number is BC00803.
No special hardware is needed, but you will need some form of communication software. An easy-to-use and affordable communications program, as well as general information about machine tool communication, is available online at www.dncsoftware.com. A quick search of the Internet will yield several others as well, such as eXtreme DNC and Predator. If you have a CAM system (Mastercam, Surfcam, GibbsCAM, etc.), you probably already have the program you need to communicate.
The only other thing you have to be aware of is that the communications settings in the Haas control and the PC must correspond. Settings 11, 12, 13, 14 and 37 in the Haas are important; they must match the PC software.
Sincerely, Answer Man