Thread: where to start
OK so recently I bought a Book on how to build your own CNC machine having read on another forum about someone who had actually done it on a very low budget.
After buying the book & reading it I set about starting a build but also started to look around on the internet as a matter of further research & to try & source parts.
That was when I first came across some of the forums like this one & having read quite a few threads now with input by some people who obviously know what they are talking about it would appear that alot of people see these machines as a waste of time & money.
So the question really is where do you start with something like this?? For starters I wouldn't really know where to start designing a machine & what makes a good design & what doesn't so even if I some how managed to design something it may well be worse than the machine in the book lol. Secondly if you do get to the stage where you have a usable design how do you go about manufacturing it? From some of the posts I have read on here you need a machine to make a machine (chicken & egg) so how do you get round that one.
Kind of in an awkward situation now because I have made quite a bit of the book build machine & I thought things were going really well but now I am not so sure & don't know if I would be wasting my time finishing it off. If I don't finish it then I will have to completely rethink everything because the cost of building a machine is going to be far higher than I had at first thought.
???? what happened ?
I thought you were happy with the one your friend made ?
what ever else you have to decide, you need a budget . If you have loads of money spare, then you will build a very different machine, than if you need to do it on a shoe string.
Then you need to have a real good think about what you want it to be able to do, when it's built. What do you want to use it for ?
What are your skills ? woodworking ? welding ?
What tools do you have / can you get hold of ? wood/metal ?
what are your resorces ? do you have a free/cheap supply of something that would help with the build ?
lots of questions if you really want to think about it :)
Last edited by TrickyCNC; 18-09-2012 at 09:02 PM.
I was happy with the machine that Phill built which is why I bought the book & started to make it but then I found a couple of CNC forums on the net & started reading. Read quite a lot of posts where people said that they weren't a lot of use & were a waste of time & money. Things like them being to flimsy & problems with the rollerskate bearings etc etc.
Main reason for going down that road was that it was a very cheap machine to build & as I don't have a lot in the way of money it seemed like the best way to go but it doesn't really matter how cheap it is if it doesn't work properly lol. Chances are if I had started reading the forums before I started to build it I might not have bothered with it at all.
It was to cut Foam pvc, & composite board mainly but it would have been nice if it would also cut some woods & possibly acrylic, I knew that it wouldn't stand a chance with anything like Aluminium but I thought that might come latter if I got a better machine in the future.
I'm ambidextrous I can work with either wood or metal lol but the main problem when it comes to metal is that I don't have any tools that are really suitable or access to any so that's a bit of a non starter. Reasonably well kitted out for wood though because of the business I still run part time. Don't have any sort of cheap supply for any sort of materials to speak of, no one falling over themselves to give me stuff either.
Then I'd finish what you started. Yes, they arent the greatest machines in the world, but they do work if constructed well and, if nothing else, will get you up the learnng curve. And the Mk1 machine can be used to make the parts for Mk 2. I don't know the details in the book, but don't buy the motors/electronics without discussing it frst. Why? because these things change quickly, costs are coming down and its likely whats in the book is out of date already. Plus those parts are likely to migrate to Mk 2 so its wise to plan ahead to ensure a sensible investment, or at least know what the sunk cost will be if you choose not to migrate them.
The problem with the Internet is sorting the wheat from the chaff... yes, you'll find a lot of people who'll say those machines are rubbish, don't bother... but often they'll be people who've been 'in the business' for years, run machine shops with several jobs going at once, etc.. from their perspective they are right, but that doesnt change the fact that as a beginner's machine it serves a purpose. There are also those that disdain building anything you haven't designed yourself, on the grounds that unless you have done so how do you know it'll work? Again, there is some truth to that, understanding why something is the way it is is important, however my argument is that you can spend forever debating the finer points of layout and design. Build something, use it, learn its weaknesses and use that knowledge to develop better parts or design a better machine.
Any machine will cut anything given time and a very limited depth of cut. Yes, that machine wont cut aluminium the way a bigger/stronger machine will (actually it will, but you have to do it in very small cuts so it takes a long time and accuracy isn't great, but it will manufacture the parts for a Mk2 if thats what you want to do).
So go for it!
^^^^ yes, what he said ^^^^
you have seen my machine - made from wood ! it works well.
In fact the bearings let it down, and I'm going to make a set from angle and skate bearings to IMPROVE it.
have you seen the round rail thread ? where I defend wooden builds ? LOL
I asked if you were happy with your friends build for this very reason. if you are happy with what his can do, then yours will be at least as good.
If you want to put up photo's of your progresss so far, we can help, and suggest a few things to get the most out of the design.
If you fear getting a bashing from the wood haters on here, then send some pics to me by email, and I'll help.
the most important thing to do though would be to think /show share and research each part you make. including electrics and drive. Like I siad, it will be AT LEAST as good as your friends machine, so you know already 1ST HAND how it will work.
Irving mentioned those that have been in production shops and using top quality gear, might think it's rubbish (comparatively). But worse, for me are those that read such comments and repeat it blindly every time the work MDF shows up ! Thats the way the internet works unfortunately. Someone will read and repeat, whithout knowing 1ST HAND if it's true or not !.
Save from a sheet of wood, nearly everything you use to build your machine can be used again if you decide anything needs improving, so you have nothing to loose really.
So, let us know what you have done so far, and we can go from there :)
Thanks for the input guys, much appreciated, I had been thinking it might be best to just finish this one as it is pretty much done & the only thing that's really needed cost wise is the electronics & motors. Those I was going to get from diycnc as a complete kit, the system 4c with nema23 3nm motors. Reasoning for that was that it would save me the trouble of having to make a box to house everything & funny enough I found the link to this forum on Roys website.
do you have a link to the driver/motor kit ?
is your MDF bare, or have you painted it yet ?I
f it's bare, and already built, you can stiffen it considerable by drenching it in ronseal wood rot repairer(less than a £tenner) . It's basically an epoxy type resin that soaks into the wood , or in your case MDF, causing it to be more like a plastic composite, which is much more rigid after it has dried.
Like I said, let us know (with pics- would help) how far you have got, and we / I can have a look and make other suggestions like this , that might help improve things, very easily and cheaply :)
I have one the same as this
3Nm CNC Stepper driver Kit - 3 Axis for CNC. | eBay
which on first impressions is much better for less money ?.
Only had a quick look. I'll look better later when I've finished work.
ok, after a bit more poking about on that web site, my suspicions were confirmed in the spares section. The chip on the driver is the 6560, which is generally known to have issues.
I , personally, wouldn't use them even if they were a lot cheaper (which they should be). He has the kit at the same price as one using 542's, which are much better and respected drives for on a budget.
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