Friday, 21 August 2015

CNC router up and running!

So.. I have a CNC router.. hurrah! It's been a long journey getting it together as (like most things) I haven't done it in the simplest way! A while back a conversation on twitter led a wonderful stranger to gift me a YOOCNC controller unit that he had upgraded his machine from.. I already had some really powerful nema23 steppers in stock and so I got to thinking about building a cnc! The first thing I wanted to do was convert the controller to work via usb (like most cnc controllers they run parallel ports) and also so I could use the opensource GRBL controller software to run my machine. So an arduino and some wiring later I had the controller moving 3 stepper motors on my desk!..

I spent a while considering and prototyping a CNC router but then found a dealer on ebay selling mechanical kits for a 30x40cm CNC.. the price was right so a bit later everything was here!

So the last few weeks I've been getting my head around a few needed subjects... my current toolchain to create the required Gcode that GRBL needs is to draw the object/paths in Inkscape and use the GCODETOOLS extension to create the code. It isn't intuative and has taken a lot of tinkering and experimenting but I'm getting there and have started to make a few items that are beyond just test cuts!

First up I got one of these HDMI screens from Adafruit (with some free vouchers she gave me but thats another story!) the screens are great but just come as a bare unit so I've drawn up and routed a screen surround which makes it more handle able and I'll get round to drawing and cutting some triangular legs for it at some point. This was an interesting exercise as I had to mill out an area to a depth and had to work out making the thin tool stepover etc all good learning.

Then next up I've made this desk tidy/tool holder .. it needs a few revisions but overall I'm very pleased with it! I'm probably still being quite cautious with my cutting feed and speed rates but even so it took around 13mins to cut all of this out of 6mm mdf... it would take me hours to do it manually!

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