Late 2018 Update…'cause I'm a Professional Crastinator:
Still plodding on. I need a USB-to-Serial (DB25) cable that works properly with the MDX-20 because it pre-dates USB. I can either buy the one made by Roland DG for $110, or build one for about $30. I found a couple of articles that show how to make your own, and that's my plan. I don't want to have to use a computer from 2000-2004 to make this work.
I still plan on using this for milling out PCBs (phenolic substrate of course - no FRP because I don't want COPD before I turn 43), and I'll use it until it no longer serves its purpose. I may still build my own PCB-specific CNC rig down the road should I have a need that the Roland can no longer fulfill.
I'll also have to build a sound-dampening enclosure for it. It's brain-meltingly loud. If I feel adventurous, I might replace the spindle entirely.
Still going Shapeoko 3 XL/XXL for the big CNC?
Maybe, maybe not. I've been reviewing the Momus CNC again (rev. 2.1) and there are a lot of things that I like about it. Some changes I'd make if I went Momus:
- Expand it to 24" x 24" or 30" x 30" because the stock 16" x 16" is just too small.
- Do a dual-Y axis drive with ballscrews instead of belts.
- Maybe change to linear bearings?
- Use Shapeoko 3-style controller/driver board instead of the antiquated controller + drivers the old plans recommend. The Panucatt Gradius M1 Pro GRBL board checks all my requirements.
- Frickin' lasers! Want this to be a laser engraver/cutter as well so I don't have to make room for a 2nd tool in my work area. (I may be moving my whole work setup into a 1.5 car garage next year, so space will be a premium.) Looking at modifying the mount of a J Tech Photronics 7W setup.
- Will probably start with the new 1.25HP Bosch VS Colt router, but I'd like a 1000W to 1500W air cooled spindle at some point. If it all works out, I may be able to forego the Colt and go right to the spindle.
It'll be fed G-Code by an inexpensive (less than $800) 15.6" to 21.5" all-in-one PC on an articulating arm. The whole shebang will be on a rolling cart. I plan on doing the same for the MDX machine as well.
Late night edit made in state of anxiety/insomnia/etc.:
I found something that might work. All I have to do is build the final platform. It seems like a it's maybe worth the cost to reduce the inconvenience. If anyone thinks this is a good idea, or if it's immensely foolish, I'm all ears. Curious to see what you guys might think.
Specs I'd go with: X = 700mm, Y (dual linear units) = 500mm, Z = 250mm (way taller than I want, but I can artificially shorten this with limiter switches; plus if I do a Momus style "tall-wall" enclosure, I can drop the Z axis a bit). It comes to $805 with this config. (It's about $150 more from the same vendor on eBay.)
Supposedly I can "customize" it, and I'll ask if I can get 2Nm/280oz-in or 3Nm/420oz-in steppers instead of the standard 1Nm/140oz-in steppers, as long as the cost isn't more than what it would cost me to just swap them out myself. If I have to do it myself I have a plan for the OEM ones.