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martin54
15-09-2012, 11:25 AM
Registered with the site about a month ago & just realised I hadn't introduced myself.
I'm Martin & I work part time as a signmaker, I have an engineering background having spent nearly 20 years in the Royal Navy which does come in handy on occasions still. As in any sort of business you are always looking at ways to produce as much as you can in house & one thing I had always fancied was either a cnc router or laser engraver. The high cost of these machines meant that it was not a realistic option for me at my stage of life until I read a series of posts on a signmaking forum I use by one of the regular contributors who had built himself a cnc router for under 600. Phill had bought a book & following the instructions in the book had made an MDF based machine with a table size of 4 foot by 2 foot.

That was all the encouragement I needed so having now purchased the book myself I will hopefully be building my own machine over the coming months. From the research I have done so far it is pretty clear that although you can build a machine that is very usable for the sort of thing I would like to do on a low budget as soon as you look at possible ways to improve things then it can suddenly become very expensive lol

WandrinAndy
15-09-2012, 11:56 AM
Welcome to a fellow Leedite. What's the title of the book Martin?

martin54
15-09-2012, 12:16 PM
The one by James Kelly, build your own cnc machine. Biggest problem I have at the moment is that for the actual book the shipping was more than the book so I bought the google play version to save money (lived in Scotland to long lol).

Great if I am at my flat but I am building the machine elsewhere & don't have internet connection there so have to take lots of notes lol

blackburn mark
15-09-2012, 06:40 PM
it can suddenly become very expensive lol

yea, its a real problem
if your running a small business though its probably worth spending the extra.... im sure it will earn its keep :)

TrickyCNC
15-09-2012, 10:07 PM
Hi Martin. welcome to DIYCNC :) I built mine out of MDF, so if you want any pointers, feel free to contact me :) Richard

martin54
16-09-2012, 02:19 AM
Richard, thanks for the offer, I know someone who has built the same book build machine & he lives quite close to me so hopefully will get lots of help from him, plus I am sure I will be asking questions on here as well.

Mark, although I wouldn't disagree with you generally I'm not actually sure that it will earn it's keep in my case but you never know. I don't generally get asked for any work that I would need it for or have to go to a trade supplier at the moment & at my stage in life & only working part time it is unlikely I am going to go on a major sales push to promote it as I would have done years ago if I had done it then.

TrickyCNC
16-09-2012, 08:56 AM
If you can put a few photo's of this other machine, we can perhaps suggest some improvements or different options. Or, it might be that it doesn't need improving :)

irving2008
16-09-2012, 10:01 AM
If you can put a few photo's of this other machine, we can perhaps suggest some improvements or different options. Or, it might be that it doesn't need improving :)

It the one described in this book: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1430224894 (http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1430224894/ref=s9_simh_gw_p14_d5_i2?pf_rd_m=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=0EYYDTMVDT813HPZAS1Z&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=317828027&pf_rd_i=468294)

6897

and on the site Build Your Own CNC Router, CNC Machine, or 3D Printer (http://buildyourcnc.com/)

TrickyCNC
16-09-2012, 10:23 AM
It the one described in this book: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1430224894 (http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1430224894/ref=s9_simh_gw_p14_d5_i2?pf_rd_m=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=0EYYDTMVDT813HPZAS1Z&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=317828027&pf_rd_i=468294)

6897

and on the site Build Your Own CNC Router, CNC Machine, or 3D Printer (http://buildyourcnc.com/)

Ah ... there might be a few easy upgrades then :)

best use the 1st built one as an example of what you are and are not happy with about it, and go from there.

martin54
16-09-2012, 03:07 PM
Yes that's the book I got & the one I was looking to use to build the machine, already know someone who has built this machine & that it worked so for me it is a good starting point, probably won't meet with some peoples approval but for me at least I know it can be done on a tight budget & it might be all that I ever need at the end of the day. If it isn't at least it will have given me something to keep me busy & should have taught me enough about cnc routers & their construction to have a much better idea what I need to do in order to build a machine that is suitable for anything I might need it for.
Although I won't be able to use all the parts again I should be able to make use of the most expensive parts like the electronics again so the actual wasted money if you want to look at it that way will be reasonably small.

TrickyCNC
16-09-2012, 03:20 PM
No problem with low budget here !like I said, scrutinse the one that is already built. If you are completely happy with it, then just build one the same

martin54
16-09-2012, 03:49 PM
The guy that built it is only a 20 min drive from me so I had already been to see him & talk about the machine before I bought the book, one of the reasons I felt this would be a good starting point was that I already had a lot of the materials needed for the construction so the initial cost would be quite low & I could make a start without having to outlay a lot of money. Did have to buy another sheet of MDF as some of the bit's I had were warped but that was down to me not storing them standing correctly. Sheet of 19mm was 14 squid so not a large outlay, have all the fastenings I will need plus the alluminium so I can do a fair bit & see how it goes before spending on more expensive items like electronics.
This is the actual machine that Phill built.

TrickyCNC
16-09-2012, 04:09 PM
That looks very tidy.

If it works well enough for what you are thinking of using it for, then keep it as is .

If you want it a bit 'stiffer' then some work to stop the bed sagging, or the gantry risers moving etc would be quite easy and cheap to improve.

good luck with it all :)

Rich

martin54
16-09-2012, 06:59 PM
Yes Phill has done a good job with the build & he has already made a couple of modifications of his own to it. He has fitted a Truss rod which he says helps well with the table sagging, he has altered the bearing block a little so he now has a way to make small adjustments which helps to remove the free play & he has fitted a super pid to the router to control spindle speed through mach3.
As for being able to do the sort of work I would like to do, well Phill has already used his machine for a few Sign related jobs with very good success so if I do happen to get any sign work I could use it for then it should be able to cope, obviously has some major limitations but for a first machine & a way to help learn the software & how to use it I think it should cover my needs very well. Time will tell lol

TrickyCNC
16-09-2012, 08:13 PM
what's the cutting area ? don't forget he can cut parts for your machine :)

martin54
16-09-2012, 09:34 PM
Can't remember the overall to be honest. It's a 4' x 2' table & I can remember him saying that max width was in the region of 18" (470mm) so length I am guessing will be somewhere around the 3' 6" mark or about a metre in new money lol.

Actually never thought about asking to get any parts cut, I'm building the same machine so just doing it the same or a similar way. Where would the fun be in getting someone else to manufacture the parts for you?? One of the main reasons for me doing this is to see if I can build a machine that is usable when it's finished so although I am grateful for any help or advice I would rather do all the work myself.

TrickyCNC
16-09-2012, 11:50 PM
There's a number of reasons to consider about using the access you have to the CNC.

the 1st is MDF is horrible stuff to work with ... I hate it ! LOL. (make a living with it, but hate it ! )

but,
you get to start using software to draw parts out and convert to gcode - you'll need to learn this before you can use your finished machine !

you will get accurate , straight, and square parts, and the holes will be neat and line up with other parts that have to fit together.

You can get a bit creative with the design. The Z for example, can be a complex part to make by hand. The router and Vac mount is easier to cut by CNC etc.

I'm just saying consider it, if you hadn't , that's all. Nothing wrong if , like you said, you want to get stuck in and make it all by hand.

I built mine by hand, but I thought I was going to use it to 're-build' itself, once it was running. Turned out to work just fine, so it's still as I 1st built it .

When I build the next one, I will definately use the 1st one to build the next.

There is still the 'fun' in doing that. It's sort of like using the tools you have available to you, or borrowing some that would make the job easier..
You could use a hand saw and bit and brace, through to a table saw and pillar drill, or all on a CNC machine ! you are still making it, but with tools at your disposal. Think of it like borrowing a jig saw (or router! )to cut some parts for instance.

do you have a start / finish date in mind ? As your mate has already build one, what about elctronics and motors ?

What software do you think you will use ? I use Linux, because it's free - and I like that philosophy :) It runs on a prety old and basic del pc I had lying around.

Rich

martin54
17-09-2012, 12:21 AM
Can see where your coming from but still like the idea of doing it myself & Phill has a business to run so time is money to him, I know him but wouldn't say well enough to start asking him to do stuff for me unless it was as one of his customers & then it could become expensive.
I have a pretty good range of tools that have built up over the years either through DIY projects or things that I needed for work so that's not a problem for me.
No start or finish dates in mind to be honest, it will take as long as it takes & I will get on with various bits as & when I can. I've looked about at electronics & motors & have a pretty good idea what I need from reading the book & reading various posts on internet forums like this one but haven't got round to sorting anything out yet as far as from where or who.
It will run on a windows based system, probably widows xp as I have quite a few licence keys for it & it is really all that is needed. For the actual machine then it is likely to be Mach3 which seems to be popular with people & there seems to be a lot of support & help available and at just over 100 squid for a full licence seems reasonably priced. Cam software I am unsure about at the moment, haven't had the chance to sit down & see what is available & what tutorials/support any of the software has. Design software is something I don't need to bother with, as a signmaker I have that base covered & the programs I use already will export dfx files which is all I believe they need to do so at least there is something that I don't need to sit down & try to learn from scratch lol.

TrickyCNC
17-09-2012, 12:33 AM
Have a look at vectric software. It's very well recommended by DIY cnc'ers and pros alike.

Vcarve pro is probably most popular and best for sign making and you can get a free demo of any of their software here
VCarve Pro (http://www.vectric.com/WebSite/Vectric/vcp/vcp_index.htm)

there are free programs such as inkscape and pycam that will generate v-carve profiles and g-code, if you can get your head around them :)

Like I said, you will need to use some kind of software to use your machine ... and it will be VERY frustrating if you get your machine ready to test, and no software to try it with !

Rich

martin54
17-09-2012, 10:44 AM
Have a look at vectric software. It's very well recommended by DIY cnc'ers and pros alike.

Vcarve pro is probably most popular and best for sign making and you can get a free demo of any of their software here
VCarve Pro (http://www.vectric.com/WebSite/Vectric/vcp/vcp_index.htm)

there are free programs such as inkscape and pycam that will generate v-carve profiles and g-code, if you can get your head around them :)

Like I said, you will need to use some kind of software to use your machine ... and it will be VERY frustrating if you get your machine ready to test, and no software to try it with !

Rich

Had a quick look at the link & to be honest vcarve pro looks to be a good program but I'm not in the market to spend that sort of money at the moment, in the future then maybe but for now I probably wouldn't get the benefit from it. Inkscape is a vector based program & I already have design software that I know how to use so would try to stick to that to save extra expense & the need to sit down & learn to use new software.
Think it is really just a cam program I need to convert dxf files to g code. Lazycam comes with mach3 but artsoft don't support it anymore so comes down to what sort of tutorials I can find for it & of course how easy it is to learn in the first place lol.

TrickyCNC
17-09-2012, 11:39 AM
it's the v-carve part that's important. It's wat makes the corners of the letters etc, sharp rather than rounded. I was thinking of inkscape for it's vcarve gcode output capability, just to convert to gcode, rather than use it do draw anything with. just import your DXF and output the gcode.I have another program that can do vcarving , also free - can't remember what it's called... I'll get back to you.generating

Musht
17-09-2012, 12:09 PM
Resources at the right price ;-)

http://www.cnc4free.org

F-Engrave supports V Carving free:

F-Engrave

(http://home.comcast.net/~sskroch/Fengrave/fengrave.html)

TrickyCNC
17-09-2012, 12:51 PM
f-engrave :) that's the other one I have :)