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  #1  
Old Tue 20 March 2007, 19:24
Ron Petersen
Just call me:
 
I am looking into getting a Hypertherm plasma cutter but don't know which one to get? Maybe the 1000 or 1250 with CNC interface (is the interface used)?
Anything else I need to know before I start on this project?
Thank You,
Ron Petersen
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  #2  
Old Tue 20 March 2007, 22:20
Gerald_D
Just call me:
 
Hi Ron, welcome to MechMate!

I don't think any of the regulars here have plasma experience, neither do I. Let's hope someone chips in with some words of wisdom.

Do you have any links to info on these "Hypertherm's"?
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  #3  
Old Tue 20 March 2007, 22:30
Ron Petersen
Just call me:
 
http://www.hypertherm.com/

Hypertherm is basically the best reliable plasma cutter out there and I am willing to spend the money for a bigger better kind.
Thanks,
Ron
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  #4  
Old Wed 21 March 2007, 10:55
phil bizley
Just call me:
 
Hi Ron.I have a couple of plasma cutters, A cebora 30 and a Cut 40 no name, they both cut very well.the cut 40 is an inverter type, light and powerful, and will sever 3/4 inch.The hypertherm is industry standard for cnc.i think the wiring for cnc thc etc is quite straight forward.Phil
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  #5  
Old Sat 18 August 2007, 18:21
Tom Caudle
Just call me: Tom
 
Texas
United States of America
(mostly copied from another thread.......GD)

I have personally built several machines (including "Florence") my first Servo/stepper/plasma/router table. I have helped hundreds others build machines and work through the electronics and software. I have been a fan of MACH (originally Master 5) since Art first introduced it over 5 years ago. All of our products are optimized for use with MACH.

I am an EE but spent the last 20 years in and around computers and networks. I moved out of the big city (Dallas TX) in 1998 and decided I wanted to cut decorative steel and wood and get out of driving 120 miles round trip and putting up with 63 whiney employees under me in the IT dept.

I built "Flo" and about 15 minutes into my first cuts realized I was never going to make money cutting steel without a working THC (Torch Height Controller) I couldn't afford anything on the market (in 2002) so I designed and built my own. Thus was born the original THC300 (analog THC) and the later MP1000-THC Digital THC.

We still have the steel cutting biz (and Flo) but it's become a "hobby" (we turn down most work) because our electronics line is become a 10 hr/day business!

I hate to lapse into marketing but I just announced a new line of modular plug together cards that cuts the amount of hand wiring in a controller with Gecko's to virtually nothing. The web site has full info.

I am happy to help anybody out that is interested in Home Shop CNC. My intense area of expertise is CNC plasma cutting but I have lots of experience with MACH, SheetCAM, Gecko's, Power supplies and controllers and starting to work with VCarve for the wood carving. We have an engraving machine and table top router and I do all of the "programming" for it and other machines in our shop.

So, if any of you want to know what it would take to make a MechMAte cut steel (with plasma) then fire away! If you need to know things about steppers and/or servo and the power needed fire away! We have shop machines that cut aluminum, wood and even a full sized Vertical Mill retro fitted with Big servo's.

I think a lot of the builders think THEY are the only ones that aren't electrical/electronic experts. Not so.

I can't tell you how many times a week I get a call that starts out:
"Well, I'm pretty good with mechanical stuff and I can build things out of wood and metal but I don't know much about electronics......."

I always tell them that they have skills and talents I don't have and I respect them for having the drive to step out and build a machine for themselves.

I invite anybody that wants to plug into another channel of builder info, to join my CandCNCSupport Yahoo Forum. It's open to all seekers of CNC knowledge ; not just our customers.

Any questions just drop me an email (address on the website). I try to answer all questions about CNC I feel qualified to answer


tomCAUDLE
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  #6  
Old Mon 20 August 2007, 08:13
Hugo Carradini
Just call me: Hugo
 
Pto. Ordaz
Venezuela
Hello Tom.
Welcome. It is nice to know that there is some one qualified that can help us go to a next step keeping the technical standards that characterize this great forum. My goal after I finish my MECHMATE is building a "Plasma cutter" MECHMATE and hope you can help me.
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  #7  
Old Wed 22 August 2007, 13:47
Tom Caudle
Just call me: Tom
 
Texas
United States of America
Thanks Hugo. We can make the MechMate into a very nice CNC plasma cutting machine. You will find, that is you build a 3 axis router design and have at least 200 IPM top speeds, you can easily add plasma and torch height control using MACH and hardware we sell. We have hundreds of home built plasma cutters out there cutting away!
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  #8  
Old Wed 05 September 2007, 20:27
Doug_Ford
Just call me: Doug #3
 
Conway (Arkansas)
United States of America
Alterations needed for Plasma Cutter

Mr. Caudle,

I know you've built a CNC plasma cutter and have offered to help us make one out of the Mechmate. I'm interested in your opinion on whether any alterations need to be made to the plan in order for a plasma cutter to work. Specifically, there are a couple of questions I have. 1) Is there enough clearance between the gantry and the table top? The reason I ask is because I've read that thinner sheetmetal will tend to curl up and if that happened, will the gantry clear the workpiece? 2) The commercial CNC plasma cutters I've seen have had a pan of water under the sheetmetal. Do we need something like that? If so, how deep should the pan be?

Thanks for your help.

Doug
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  #9  
Old Tue 11 September 2007, 22:04
Tom Caudle
Just call me: Tom
 
Texas
United States of America
Metal won't typically curl (warp) more than .5 to .75 inches. If you cut at the recommended feedrate it does not introduce a huge amount of heat. If you have at least 3 inches of Z travel you will be okay. I typically clamp the edges of thinner material (anything thinner than 10ga) to the grid and that keeps the worst of the flop out of the equation. A good THC will track warp up to 1" without a problem.

For thinner sheetmetal you can reduce warpage by using smaller tips and lower cut current. You don't need 60 or even 40 Amps to cut 16ga or thinner material. Less current, less heat, less heat less warpage.

The depth of the water is less of an issue (2 - 4 inches is fine) than it's proximity to the back of the metal. Deepertanks will allow you to run longer between cleaning out the slag (now THAt"S a pleasant chore!!) but it's just putting off the envidible.

A water tray is nice for several reasons. 1.) It quenches the hot smoking small pieces that fall out of the cuts. 2.) not having a pile of smoking fallout reduces the airborn smoke (and there is a LOT of smoke). 3.) It kills the spary of sparks that come out under the cut. If it's close enough to touch the back of the material it will significantly reduce warpage, smoke and discoloration in expensive metals.

The closer the tray is to the back of the metal the better it works.

A note here about plasma cutting: It's a very nasty, dirty business. You are vaporizing metal with a 30,000 deg plasma ball and blowing it out with 70 PSI air through a .035 orifice! The smoke is not just grease and impurities...it's vaporized metal (conductive) and will drift and settle onto any surface even 50 to 100 ft away. If it gets into a PC it will short out the boards.

While a water tray will help you still need to plan on some serious air flow. If you are in a shop where the volcanic fallout of the black plasma dust will be a problem think about a separate sealed room or a Poly tent and extraction blower.

As for working with the Mechmate:

I am currently looking at the plans so we can offer an optimized Package of the complete electronics like we do for other DIY builders. We are going to start a build of a basic table in a week or two and make it adaptable for both routing and plasma.

We already have existing plazma and router packages with steppers or servo's and integrated with our Digital Torch Height Control (MP1000)

Our new EZPlug modular series of plug and run cards makes building up the electronics a lot easier than point to point wiring and they all interface with Gecko's (Stepper OR Servo) and any of our PC interface controls.
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  #10  
Old Wed 12 September 2007, 20:33
Doug_Ford
Just call me: Doug #3
 
Conway (Arkansas)
United States of America
Thanks a million Tom. That's enough to get me started.
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  #11  
Old Mon 17 September 2007, 01:49
mountainhead
Just call me: Drew
 
Grass Valley, CA
United States of America
Tom,
I am interested in making a small CNC Plasma cutter for my home-hobby use. I was wondering if you could point me to a couple build threads or information. Some direction on parts would be great. I want to keep this cost to a minimum. I plan on cutting 3/8" and smaller plate. I will be making vehicle fabrication components for a buggy project. Thanks
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  #12  
Old Mon 17 September 2007, 15:39
mountainhead
Just call me: Drew
 
Grass Valley, CA
United States of America
Quote:
Originally Posted by phil bizley View Post
Hi Ron.I have a couple of plasma cutters, A cebora 30 and a Cut 40 no name, they both cut very well.the cut 40 is an inverter type, light and powerful, and will sever 3/4 inch.The hypertherm is industry standard for cnc.i think the wiring for cnc thc etc is quite straight forward.Phil
Phil, did you replace the torch on the Cut 40 with a pencil type? I have one of those plasma cutters and would like to convert it to CNC use. I would love some more info on your build.
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  #13  
Old Tue 18 September 2007, 17:34
Tom Caudle
Just call me: Tom
 
Texas
United States of America
The words "small" and plasma cutter don't often appear in the same sentence since plasma is a sheet/panel cutting process and on thin material is done at 200 + IPM. It's not hard to use most plasma systems with CNC. If the plasma uses a "contact" start (i.e. the tip has to touch the materail then be withdrawn to start an arc then it is not a good candidate for CNC. You need one that is self firing (will start an arc in the air). The smaller High Freq start units will work but you will have to be careful on your placement of wires and how things are gounded.

If you do not plan on using a Torch Height Controller you need to rig up a spring loaded torch holder and a Drag tip. The head will have to come down and mash the torch against the material and let it follow the up and down of the material. You have to maintain a constant gap at all times while the material buckles and warps and you are moving along at high feedrates. If you let the tip touch the material while it is cutting it shortens the consummable life.

I actuality plasma cutting with decent results is more difficult than routing. You need a specific sequences of events rather than just turning on the torch and starting to cut. The pierce needs to be done for a variable length of time based on the material thickness and the current setting of the plasma. Pierce too low and it blows back and clogs tips (average $4 to $7 each). If the tip clogs and the torch runs too long (2 - 3 sec) the electrode goes ($5 to $15)
Pierce too high and you don't get full penetration and the result is an "etching" rather than a cut.

The longer you pause for the pierce (after it penetrates) the bigger the pierce hole growing rapidly in diameter until it flames out. Most torches do not fire instantly when they are cold but faster when they are hot and purge air is running.

Unlike router code, the tool is a flame and the tip has to be positioned BEFORE you start the torch so it pierces at the right height.

With a drag tip you will fight it catching on upper slag and cutout areas. If you plan on more than occasional cutting you will find the investment in a THC to pay for itself in consummable costs and non-scrap cuts.

There is a plasma table build blog on CNC Zone and free plans from a member named Mlaws1172.
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  #14  
Old Wed 19 September 2007, 00:05
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
Tom, that was interesting reading - thanks!

You might be able to throw some light on the biggest problem I have when getting plasma'ed parts from vendors. . . . . the "kerf" is not perpendicular to the surface of the part. I realise that a buckled plate will give a skew kerf, but surely the plates can't buckle that much? Also, a damaged tip could cause the skewness, but the angle can change direction while going around a single part.

This unpredictability of the kerf angle is the thing that makes me say on all my day job drawings "Plasma cutting not accepted in lieu of the specified process" and the specified processes will be laser cutting for 12mm [0.5"] or thinner, and flame cutting for everything thicker than 12mm [0.5"].
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  #15  
Old Fri 21 September 2007, 18:30
Tom Caudle
Just call me: Tom
 
Texas
United States of America
The kerf angle is a function of a lot of variables. The age of the tip (nozzle). The more the hole is eroded (happens with normal cutting over time) the wider the plasma tail. The applied air pressure has some effect. The direction of cut changes which side the flair is on.

Imagine a rotating floppy cutting tool that is a reverse cone. The thicker the material the more pronounced the flair at the bottom. Then move the rotating flame. The front side has more flare than the back. The plasma flame really does rotate as it comes out of the tip.

Plasma is not a precision cutting process. If parts need to fit you have to consider laser, Oxy-acet or abrasive water jet. All of those have some flair but tiny compared to conventional plasma.

Even high definition plasma will have more flare than abrasive waterjet.

12mm does seem to be the magic spot where flair really starts to so up. Most often that thickness is cut with medium powered machines (< 100A) and that contributes to the flair as well. Much bigger than 200A and you have to cut submurged.

So it's not the plate buckling cause the issue. It's the spread of the plasma pattern the further it gets from the origin at the tip.

Bigger plasma's cut deeper before the spread starts. All plasma's have some level of flair. It's just the nature of the beast. Plasma cutters and the cutting process is fast and cheap (using compressed shop air) but it's far from precision.
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  #16  
Old Thu 29 November 2007, 21:59
plain ol Bill
Just call me: Bill
 
Olympia, WA
United States of America
Curious new guy

Hi folks - I caught mention of Mechmate on another forum about cnc plasma tables. I have not caught reference to plasma here so though I might as well ask and duck if you throw things at me . Anyone built a MechMate for plasma??
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  #17  
Old Thu 29 November 2007, 23:04
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
See this thread: http://www.mechmate.com/forums/showthread.php?t=428
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  #18  
Old Fri 30 November 2007, 17:21
plain ol Bill
Just call me: Bill
 
Olympia, WA
United States of America
Well it looks like my question above has been answered. I just had not looked in the right place to start with. Thanks for the redirect and putting me in the right place. Now to start doing my homework before I get started on a table.
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  #19  
Old Mon 17 December 2007, 18:20
rkrecak
Just call me: Bob
 
Big Bend, WI
United States of America
Converting To A Plasma Cutting Table

Tom, what kind of conversions do you recommend to the design of the table for plasma cutting? Thanks in advance,

Bob




Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Caudle View Post
(mostly copied from another thread.......GD)

I have personally built several machines (including "Florence") my first Servo/stepper/plasma/router table. I have helped hundreds others build machines and work through the electronics and software. I have been a fan of MACH (originally Master 5) since Art first introduced it over 5 years ago. All of our products are optimized for use with MACH.

I am an EE but spent the last 20 years in and around computers and networks. I moved out of the big city (Dallas TX) in 1998 and decided I wanted to cut decorative steel and wood and get out of driving 120 miles round trip and putting up with 63 whiney employees under me in the IT dept.

I built "Flo" and about 15 minutes into my first cuts realized I was never going to make money cutting steel without a working THC (Torch Height Controller) I couldn't afford anything on the market (in 2002) so I designed and built my own. Thus was born the original THC300 (analog THC) and the later MP1000-THC Digital THC.

We still have the steel cutting biz (and Flo) but it's become a "hobby" (we turn down most work) because our electronics line is become a 10 hr/day business!

I hate to lapse into marketing but I just announced a new line of modular plug together cards that cuts the amount of hand wiring in a controller with Gecko's to virtually nothing. The web site has full info.

I am happy to help anybody out that is interested in Home Shop CNC. My intense area of expertise is CNC plasma cutting but I have lots of experience with MACH, SheetCAM, Gecko's, Power supplies and controllers and starting to work with VCarve for the wood carving. We have an engraving machine and table top router and I do all of the "programming" for it and other machines in our shop.

So, if any of you want to know what it would take to make a MechMAte cut steel (with plasma) then fire away! If you need to know things about steppers and/or servo and the power needed fire away! We have shop machines that cut aluminum, wood and even a full sized Vertical Mill retro fitted with Big servo's.

I think a lot of the builders think THEY are the only ones that aren't electrical/electronic experts. Not so.

I can't tell you how many times a week I get a call that starts out:
"Well, I'm pretty good with mechanical stuff and I can build things out of wood and metal but I don't know much about electronics......."

I always tell them that they have skills and talents I don't have and I respect them for having the drive to step out and build a machine for themselves.

I invite anybody that wants to plug into another channel of builder info, to join my CandCNCSupport Yahoo Forum. It's open to all seekers of CNC knowledge ; not just our customers.

Any questions just drop me an email (address on the website). I try to answer all questions about CNC I feel qualified to answer


tomCAUDLE
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  #20  
Old Thu 13 March 2008, 08:04
alithameemvi
Just call me: ali
 
manama
Bahrain
I have succesfully build hypertherm plasma cnc using mach card,thc 300, hypertherm 1000, sheetcam software.
wow machine is functioning great.
ali
97339319451
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  #21  
Old Wed 23 April 2008, 08:54
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
A shy man from Spain sent me this mail:

Im a new Spanish reader of your work.
I love this forums and the serious it work.

Sorry, no post this in the forum because my english not is well and im not a teacher now.

My first question is about the weight of the x-axis (full mounted) Mechmate, not see it in the forum,
and the maximum speed with this configuration:
4x PK296-A2A-SG7.2
4x G203V
1x PMDX-122
1x ┐power supply with a 56V 300VA?

I intend to see if the speed is adequate for plasma and router in the same mechmate.

for plasma:
A good speed is between 15 m/min and 40 m/min.
I see it is over 50 and 200 ipm or more is good for work some materials.

for example:
12mm in 3050mm/m = (120 ipm) (Mild steel) (200VA)

If you see good, you can put this question corrected in the forum please.
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  #22  
Old Wed 23 April 2008, 10:34
Marc Shlaes
Just call me: Marc
 
Cleveland, OH
United States of America
Send a message via Skype™ to Marc Shlaes
Shy man from Spain,

Do not worry about your English. The day I can speak any other language as well as you, I will celebrate.

I have made 50 trips to Germany for business and I work very hard at my German and, trust me, your English is better than my German.

I, for one, greatly appreciate the international flavor of this forum.

Gracias!
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  #23  
Old Wed 23 April 2008, 12:18
Doug_Ford
Just call me: Doug #3
 
Conway (Arkansas)
United States of America
I agree with Marc. Also, there are several Spanish speakers on this forum that will probably be glad to translate like some of our French and Afrikaans speakers have done. It can't hurt to ask.

Did you answer his questions Gerald?
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  #24  
Old Wed 23 April 2008, 13:12
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
I was hoping that you would answer him Doug

Seriously, you have done some speed trials and know what a top jog speed can be (the plasma only runs at jog speeds and loads). I have never done full speed trials for jogging, and besides, I havn't run gearboxes.

I know that the gantry (with 15 kg spindle) weighs about 80kg [180 pounds]. With plasma that may be around 70kg
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  #25  
Old Thu 24 April 2008, 12:06
Doug_Ford
Just call me: Doug #3
 
Conway (Arkansas)
United States of America
Gerald: I was thinking I ought reply but didn't want to give him conflicting info if you had already answered.

Shy Guy in Spain: I have recently completed a MM using those exact parts but with a different power supply. My power supply puts out 35V and that's what I suggest you go with. It will allow you to wire the motors so that you can get more speed. A 56V supply will give more torque but less speed. Since you aren't pushing a cutting tool into wood, you won't need the torque. You didn't mention what size pinions you plan to use. I have 35 tooth pinions on the motor shafts. Most of the guys are using 30 tooth pinions. With the parts you listed (but substituting a 35V power supply and using 35 tooth pinions) my system jogs at 15.5 inches per second. According to my calculations, that is approximately 930 ipm. It is probably slightly faster than that because I started the stopwatch when the gantry was sitting still so it had to accelerate from a dead stop. I think you could add larger pinions and make it go even faster since you won't have a heavy router on the car. Also, my gantry tubes are 1/8" thick so performance might improve slightly if you were able to find and use thinner walled tube like Gerald recommends.

I hope that answers your questions.
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  #26  
Old Thu 24 April 2008, 12:49
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
Thanks Doug, nicely covered.
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  #27  
Old Thu 24 April 2008, 14:39
isladelobos
Just call me: Ros
 
Canary Islands
Spain
Send a message via MSN to isladelobos Send a message via Yahoo to isladelobos
Yes !!! many thanks, is very helpful.

, this is first shy post. helped, somewhat, by the translator of google, not to put much leg.
I think made my first MechMate router and then to test plasma.

Ok Doug, 930 ipm is more than I thought, is good news, thanks for your tests.

I see is very dificult put the plasma and the router in the same machine, by cleaning and Precision, I believe that by increasing the teeth of the gear is lost in precision.
the solution would be to change the gear, the drill and the kitchen table, each different material, let alone software settings.
It is possible to regulate speeds on the fly?


www.hypertherm.com
I see in the hypertherm web, for cut a 0.8mm (22GA) thickness, we need aprox.: 12700mm/m(500ipm). this is the smallest and possible, the most commonly used thickness.

And for cut 25mm (1inches) thickness, we need aprox.: 406mm/m(16ipm).
This with the plasma cutter model powermax1250 Price: $2,999.00

I join the group, especially for reading and learning.
again, thanks

Last edited by isladelobos; Thu 24 April 2008 at 14:42..
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  #28  
Old Thu 24 April 2008, 19:10
Doug_Ford
Just call me: Doug #3
 
Conway (Arkansas)
United States of America
Hey Ros,

Yes it is easy to change the speed using the software. I recommend Sheetcam which is designed to run both a router and a plasma cutter.

Good luck.
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  #29  
Old Thu 24 April 2008, 23:47
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
Ros,
Can I suggest that you use PK296-A2A-SG3.6 motors instead? This should give you:
- high speed for the plasma,
- and still a good cutting quality for wood.

Remember that some of us use "1.0" motors (no gearboxes) and still cut okay in wood. We cannot reach the high speeds because we have too little torque.
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  #30  
Old Fri 25 April 2008, 06:06
isladelobos
Just call me: Ros
 
Canary Islands
Spain
Send a message via MSN to isladelobos Send a message via Yahoo to isladelobos
Quote:
I know that the gantry (with 15 kg spindle) weighs about 80kg [180 pounds]. With plasma that may be around 70kg
Gerald, my question was, weight horizontal drag, on x-axis, sorry my english.
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