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  1. #1
    I have started work on something which I believe will be a big help to the many people out there who want to get into building their own CNC mill / router.

    I am putting together a 3D CAD design for a router which will be able to be manufactured out of MDF and cheap materials to give people a starting point into this hobby or should I say obsession which some of us have!

    Why am I doing this? Let me explain...

    I am a time served BREL (British Rail) machinist with plenty of manual and CNC machining experience and always wanted a milling machine at home (like quite a few of us) so that I could 'make things!'. When I initially thought about building something I started hunting around the internet and it all seemed quite daunting and very complicated but the more I read and the more questions that I asked (especially on this forum!) the more I started to realize that it should not be too difficult to put something together. I began designing my machine which took about 2 weeks based around the help and advice that I had been given then 3 months later I had a finished working router.

    But, i had a slight advantage which made life a lot easier....

    I could do the drawings, I am a machinist by trade, I had a friend that had a manual bridgeport milling machine which i used to make a lot of my parts and I bought myself a lathe to make the rest. Oh and JohnS helped me out a bit.....!

    So I now want to come up with a complete design and full set of drawings so that it will be possible for more or less anyone to put together a basic cnc router with as little difficulty as possible. I will be making the first machines myself to prove the designs and will tweak them along the way to fine tune them before any drawings or designs are released. I want to be happy with them first!

    Also I will be prepared to either manufacture myself or get components made that people are struggling to make, not all the components but just the parts which will be difficult to make at home. How much will these cost? Not as much as you think! I am not here to earn a living from this just give people a chance to get started.

    The design so far consists of a 18mm and 25mm MDF frame construction, M12 leadscrews all round with M12 plastic leadscrew nuts, homemade linear guide system. Steppers to be decided but probably 23's. I have a bit more to do on the design and still yet to build a working model so if anyone has any 'sensible' suggestions then my ears are open, just remember though that the key to this is to keep the price down, we are not looking for accuracy just a starting point for people to get going in CNC machining.
    Last edited by HiltonSteve; 21-05-2010 at 05:59 PM.

  2. #2
    sOUNDS GOOD STEVE,
    WHAT ABOUT THE ELECTRONICS ? You need something better than the CaPs LoCk button on this freeking keyboard.
    Drivers seem to be the stumbling block to cost.

    The all in 1 Chinese boards are not for beginners, in fact I don't know who they are aimed at unless it's belling electric fires ?
    Roy's System 4 is a nice system but can't be called cheap for a start up MDF unit
    John S -

  3. #3
    I hear what you are saying about the electronics and I do not know of a really cheap way of putting together a stepper controller system either. But if you do go with do go with one of Roy's system 4 boards then you would be looking at about 260 with a power supply which is not over expensive and this could be used with a bigger/better machine later on if needed.

    Add on to this the cost of 3 steppers at 25-35 depending on where you get them from and what spec you want and you are up and running with the electronics for around 350.

    Would a newbie CNC builder think 350 is expensive for a stepper motor and controller solution? I don't know! Are there any newbie's out there to answer this one for us??

  4. #4
    Nice thread, From my own point of view, yes 350 is a huge amount of money. Maybe my own personal situation is clouding things. There must be other folks out there who are finding finances tight but they may think differently about finding a few hundred pounds.

    If I was to be totally honest with myself, I should walk away from CNC and take up stamp collecting. However I have never given up on a challenge yet and I do not intend to start now!! I have something like 50 a month to finance my build so its going to take a while!!

    I will say I was close to wrapping my hand in and calling it a day but there are a couple of guys here who have helped me make a start and unless they request anonymity I shall name them later.

    As to the electrics ... somewhere on this forum was a post by a guy who has a 3 axis machine running on a board he has built himself and sells it ready made or in kit form for around 60 ( http://www.planet-cnc.com ) I do not know enough about controllers etc to pass judgement here. So I do not know if it would be of use.

    There are plenty of plans on the web many of them using MDF and skate bearings etc but then they end up using threaded rod which seems to lead to more anguish than pleasure.

    If you can come up with something that is ' cheap ', can produce acceptable results and can enable guys to 'learn' then go for it.

    I for one will be watching developments.
    Tim G-C

    I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

    (attrib. Voltaire but written by Evelyn Beatrice Hall "The Friends of Voltaire" 1906)

  5. #5
    That Planet board is just the controller at 148 euros for the board and software, you still need drivers after that so basically the Planet board is virtually the same price as mach3.
    John S -

  6. #6
    Sorry John, I must have misunderstood the website, but he does state.

    "CNC motion controller is a link between personal computer and drivers for stepper motors. It uses USB port which is available on all modern computers and laptops. This is a complete (software/hardware) solution and it does NOT require any additional software (Mach3 is NOT needed)".

    I assumed it was a complete package.

    I will shut up in areas I have no experience.
    Last edited by Wobblybootie; 21-05-2010 at 12:16 PM. Reason: Misleading text.
    Tim G-C

    I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

    (attrib. Voltaire but written by Evelyn Beatrice Hall "The Friends of Voltaire" 1906)

  7. #7
    Don't apologise or you will never learn anything,
    it is confusing for a beginner to get all the building blocks of what is required into position.
    I'll post later tonight , busy at the moment the kettle is playing up and that Bastard Smoking Monkey has forgot all about the hobnobs.

    .
    John S -

  8. #8
    Sorry John, been a bit busy this week and not had chance to call in. I did pick up a packet of Hobnobs but ate them on the way to Anglesey yesterday. Don't worry though, Tesco's have plenty more...

    Had a good chat with John today on the phone about this project and as usual he has come up with quite few interesting idea's, mainly to help keep the cost down and still produce a reasonable quality machine. I will be looking into these a bit more over the next week before I go any further with the design as sourcing the right components at the right price can sometimes be a pain in the arse, but I am on it...

    Wobbly, I hear what you are saying regarding the cost of the drivers and we may be able to come up with another option to reduce the price. They may not have all features or be of the same quality as the ones which you can get from Zapp or DIYCNC but they may work well as a starting point. Not promising anything at this stage but watch this space...

    Just off down to B & Q to do a bit of component sourcing.

    Quick question - what size bed / work area do you think would be acceptable, I was thinking that a bed of 400 x 300 would be ok but I am open to suggestions. We don't want to go too big though as that could create more problems and start pushing the price up.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by HiltonSteve View Post
    Wobbly, I hear what you are saying regarding the cost of the drivers and we may be able to come up with another option to reduce the price. They may not have all features or be of the same quality as the ones which you can get from Zapp or DIYCNC but they may work well as a starting point. Not promising anything at this stage but watch this space...
    I do not want to sound ungrateful because I am not, I have the plans for a 1200 X 800 Gantry style machine and a 4' X 2' surface table to use as a base. I am not aiming to follow the plans to the letter and I may have to revise my own strategy. So I am open to all ideas, I know I have to walk (hobble) before I can run.

    I appear to have interest in a product I could put together and I cannot afford to ignore the chance of income.

    You can be sure of one thing ... I shall be following this thread closely and will make use of any and all the developments I can.
    Tim G-C

    I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

    (attrib. Voltaire but written by Evelyn Beatrice Hall "The Friends of Voltaire" 1906)

  10. How about making it modular in structure so it can be expanded say over the range, say, 400/600/800/1000 x 300/450/600/750. If it is rigid enough as a 1000x750 design it can be scaled as needed.

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