Dan's Projects
From Sketches to R
CNC, Ham Radio, Antennas, Car Mounts, SDR, Tools, Reviews...
CNC Stuff
I wanted to build a CNC machine for years but was hesitant due to cost and complexity.  However, despite those fears I was able to construct one using drawer slides, some steppers ordered on ebay, and a lot of scrap wood from the local hardware store.  And I have to admit, this thing is really cool.

These DIY machines are not plug and play by any means, but if you're somebody that likes to tinker and feels somewhat comfortible with pretty standard tools you can build one of these.

I've put up several videos of the build process.  I had several starts and stops and changes of design as I moved along.  I'm sure this first build is lacking in many aspects but it's a great learning tool.

This was the first video - the gantry design - before I had any of the motors or other parts.  I was just sorta winging it at this point.  Actually, the whole project was just winged! 

(1)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1JX7JI47Uo0&list=UU3RIdlSCWn1w0Quh6zm6M1A&index=11

The second video here was the addition of longer drawer slides (Overstock.com had these 28 inchers for less than $20).  Also my stepper motors and driver board arrived from China - ordered on eBay.  The "kit" had the three motors, driver board, power supply, and a few other odds and ends.  Cost $175 that included shipping.

(2)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGgB0Q3nFjI&list=UU3RIdlSCWn1w0Quh6zm6M1A&index=9

The following video was just a progression of my tinkering...

(3)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pKzInAQ7Dc&list=UU3RIdlSCWn1w0Quh6zm6M1A&index=8

I wanted to try making my own couplers rather than buying them or just using fuel line rubber hose.  So I built these out of the coupler nuts from the hardware store.  They worked and were pretty strong but they transmitted a fair amount of flex and wobble to the whole assembly.  They were putting a little extra strain on the steppers and the whole thing in general so I took them off and went back to the gas line couplers.  As a note, use the 1/4" gas line rather than the 5/8" line (I used the 5/8" the first time).  Even when pinched down the 5/8" was too big and slid off the stepper motor shaft.

(4)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0sTrSkoDs0&list=UU3RIdlSCWn1w0Quh6zm6M1A&index=7

And then some success!  The thing actually was moving under its own power.  This was really cool.  I spent a lot of time just driving the gantry all over the place.

(5)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGYKe11JUVo&list=UU3RIdlSCWn1w0Quh6zm6M1A&index=6

This was the first actual cut that I was able to make.  I had all kinds of issues going on here; the inexpensive little rotary tool was wobbly, the plastic collet wasn't holding, my g-code input was wonky, the feed rates were set all wrong, the board wasn't held down well, etc....but seeing this thing work was very cool.

(6)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7uU5HLpbRKg&list=UU3RIdlSCWn1w0Quh6zm6M1A&index=4

So after messing around with the small rotary tool I decided to re-design the gantry to hold a 1/4" router.  I had just enough room to get a real router in there.  But it's all in there now.

(7)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hbo5Yy0POl0&list=UU3RIdlSCWn1w0Quh6zm6M1A&index=2

This was my first try at converting a regular digital Jpeg picture into g-code.  I used a program from SimpleCNC called SimpleArt.  It costs about $30 and is fun to play with.  I have a lot to learn but it was neat to see it working.  I've since moved on to positive cuts but haven't made any videos of that yet.  There are a few programs out there that do this that aren't expensive.  Another $30 program is Microcarve.

(8) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lim3rbd9DrQ&list=UU3RIdlSCWn1w0Quh6zm6M1A&index=1 

So this is where I am at the moment.  The machine is built and functioning.  I've gotten more comfortable with Mach3 and depth settings but it's taken some time.  Feel free to post questions or comments on any of the videos.  I always try to respond in a timely manner.  Thanks for taking a look.

Website Builder