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Tools of the Trade If you have a question about what tools we use in creating our trucks here. Also discuss any tool experiences you have, the good the bad and the ugly! Hand tools to all out CNC machines!


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  #1  
Old 07-28-2011, 12:39 PM
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Default CNC Mill conversion... It's begun!

Well it has been a long time coming to start this thread. Over the next few weeks / month hopefully you'll see a bunch of parts turn into a working CNC mill.

Making your own CNC mill is a pretty daunting task. While there is a lot of information out there, its not very organised and you can easily get confused about the millions of options out there. Luckily for us, we were able to find a few extremely valuable resources early on to help with the learning curve. But hopefully I can reduce what took me months of research to a rough battle plan anyone could potentially follow.

http://www.cnczone.com/forums/index.php

We were after a medium size destop mill that can do aluminum all day without breaking a sweat. In the end we choose a King mill which is a rebrand like the Grizzly G0704.

Hossmachine.com sells DVD's with plans to convert that mill to CNC. The plans include multiple options from basic direct drive mounts, to belt drive and ball screw upgrade options. One really nice feature of his DVD's is he includes versions that require a lathe or not.

http://www.hossmachine.info/

One of the best places to get the motors and drivers for the machine is from Keling.com and CNC4PC.com. They were great to deal with...

http://www.kelinginc.net/

http://cnc4pc.com/

The parts we ordered was one of the stronger options from the Hoss's website:

Z axis - Nema 34 906oz
X axis - Nema 23 570oz
Y axis - Nema 23 570oz
A 4th axis - Nema 23 570oz

So whats that mean? Nema is the standard for the motors. Kinda like our RC motors naming system.(540, 380, etc.) So Nema 23 is a smaller class of motors, Maxing out at about 570oz, while Nema 34 is a much larger class, which starts at 600 oz and climbs to 1800oz or higher. The reason you have to go with 23's on the table is that a 34 is so big that it would sit higher then the table itself and get in the way.

To run these motors we ordered 5056 drivers. They are digital drivers matched to the 48v motors and power supply.

We ordered a 48v 12.5amp power supply to run the motor drivers, and a couple 5v 2amp power supplies to run the hardware side. Just like a regular RC car, the motors require a lot of power, but you still need a lighter power source to run the computer side of the boards that tell everything what to do.

So now we need a breakout board that will talk to the Mill and the computer thats running it. We chose the CNC4PC.com C35 breakout board. One of its coolest features is that it connects everything with network cables. It should make wiring the control box a lot nicer.

A nice option that we added is the CNC4PC C6 board that allows you to control the mill motor from the PC.

The last parts we needed to grab was some wire, quick connect plugs, micro switches, a stop switch. A computer that runs XP and has a parallel port, and lastly a spare computer case to house everything into.

Software:

This was and still is a frustration. To control the Mill Mach3 software is the obvious choice. Its 150us and has so much support that it only makes sense to use it.

http://www.machsupport.com/

The Cam software was a chore, but after trying a dozen different demo's it really seems like Vectric Cut2D (150us), and later Cut3D (300us) are good Cam choices. The price is reasonable, and the software is reasonably easy to use. The software can be upgraded later to include more options. Their software is mainly designed around making 2D and 3D signs, so it might be too limiting to build something too complicated. But most of the parts we intend to build for RC us aren't really that complicated. Have to start somewhere right?

http://www.vectric.com/

Cad is the other decision. Inkscape is a free vector graphics program that can get you up and running cutting 2D stuff easily. The only reasonably cheap cad software I have found is Turbocad (150us). Google Sketch is free and I have had a bit of success making a design and getting it into Cam software so I'll keep an eye on it. Only time will tell...

http://www.turbocad.com/TurboCAD/Tur...9/Default.aspx

There are plenty of other options out there to choose from but trying to keep a reasonable budget around the software is difficult. Its so easy to look at one and say gee that's nice only to see huge dollar signs when you check out the price. There just isn't a lot of decent choice in the hobby price market... I have been really trying to find the best bang I could get with a 500us total price point. Difficult when most of this software starts at 2000 and climbs indefinetinly...

On to the build:



Using Hoss's plans we are starting with a basic conversion. Direct drive on every axis using the stock lead screws to save money. Down the road we may convert to ball screws but it requires modifications to the Mill that we just aren't capable of doing at this point. One of the changes we made to Hoss's plans is we converted his plans to metric. The Mill itself is metric and it only made sence to us to continue that way. The other modification we made to the plans was to reduce the number of holes we need to drill into the Mill, so we'll re-use as many stock holes as we can even tho it adds to some of the mounts dimensions.

Pictures forthcoming:
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  #2  
Old 07-28-2011, 12:56 PM
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Subscribed.
Whats the size of the table, looks quite big. Have fun building and using your machine. But my biggest recommendation would be to go for ballscrews. They are so much nicer, lighter to turn, and waaay more precise. But I can also understand it would be a bit hard to make them fit and work.
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Old 07-28-2011, 01:20 PM
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First off thanks for doing this man! I am also about to start building my own production pieces and need all the info (realworld accounts)as I can get.
Have you ever had any classes on cad or machining? Are you computer geek no offence just asking LOL. I am ok on a computer and have never even seen a cnc program in person do you think it will be tough to learn this without training? I am looking for a place to get some training..
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Old 07-28-2011, 03:05 PM
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cool stuff OC

hope the conversion goes well for you

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Old 07-28-2011, 10:21 PM
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We have been plugging away at making parts when we can find the time and today we were able to get a lot done.

This is the size difference between Nema 23 and 34's!




Your standard XP machine, nothing special but I bumped up the ram and graphics card. Biggest thing is you need a parallel port.



This is the adaptor for the Z axis. I am rather proud of this piece, seeing as it was the first complicated part I ever made.





The X axis is mounted, still have to connect the 2 shafts:



Got the Z axis fitted as well:



This is the driver case, it will hang on the wall. I was able to get the main components mounted to the base plate. Tomorrow I plan on making the upper plate for the boards.









Still a long way to go...

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Old 07-29-2011, 04:20 AM
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Looking really good so far..
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Old 07-29-2011, 05:12 AM
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Looking good. The base mill looks quite a bit like mine, I looked up the table size it's pretty much the same size too

Looking forward to seeing it running
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Old 07-29-2011, 07:44 PM
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Got the Y axis done, which was a big deal since we have to have the handle back on it to keep using the mill manually. The large block of aluminum holds the 2 thrust bearings. First time I ever tried to use a 4 jaw with boring bars.



So far Y and Z have needed slight modifications from the plans since we have been making our own changes. But overall it's coming together slowly.
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Old 07-30-2011, 06:12 AM
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man I cant wait to see you put out some video!!
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Old 07-31-2011, 08:55 AM
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Got another chunk of work done. Ran out of time to take some pictures so I'll do that tonight.

X, Y and Z are all correctly spaced and connected to the lead screws.







The driver box is a lot further on. Fans, plugs, and switch holes are drilled. Still have to find a power switch for it, as well as a header for power distribution, and make the circuit board 2nd layer before we can start wiring it.





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Last edited by outcastrc : 08-01-2011 at 09:47 PM.
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Old 08-05-2011, 09:26 PM
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awesome!! It looks like all your research is going to pay off!
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Old 08-06-2011, 09:48 PM
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Got the 2nd level all done. There room for 4 boards on it. Almost time to start wiring...

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Old 09-01-2011, 11:03 AM
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Back from a good camping holiday. This week we are going to see if we can get it wired up and move for the first time under it's own power...
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Old 09-02-2011, 11:37 AM
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Got it mostly wired up last night. The driver box is now talking to the computer. The computer can see it and I was able to run some g-code, not that it went anywhere... The 12v power supplies still haven't arrived so I used a wallwart until they show up.



Here's a great toy for the mill. All the way from Russia! The LCD displays your information in real time.







We made up all the cat5 cables we'll need and today I'll start on wiring the drivers to the 48v power supply. I may even be able to get a motor moving under it's own power today using a temp harness... Once everything works I can continue to clean up the wiring.
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Old 09-02-2011, 12:50 PM
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Jealous.....
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