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  • Build Your Own CNC Book

    Hi, All. I wanted to share a bit of good news with the folks here - I've got a book I've co-authored titled "Build Your Own CNC Machine" and it's coming out at the end of November 2009. Not sure if this will be of interest to many here, but I've had fun writing it, building the machine, and using it...

    I'll attach the cover and some pictures for you. Some more details:

    * It has a 2' x 4' tabletop workspace with about 1.5" of non-usable surface around the perimeter. So, you can realistically work on wood, aluminum, or plastic that fits within the 2'x4' boundary.

    * Depending on the router you choose to use (we use a laminate/hand router but it will support a full sized router), you can work on material up to about 7" tall, but the depth the router can cut down (on the z-axis) is dependent upon the surrounding area not impeding the up/down movement, so the depth of cut into super-thick material will really be limited to your bit depth/length as well as any material blocking the further downward movement.

    * The entire thing can be built for less than $800.00. Yes, $800.00US. While most 2'x4' comparable CNC machines are running $7000 and higher, this is a completely reliable and fully functional 3-axis CNC machine. The book provides plans for cutting, drilling, etc... all the parts from MDF (very rigid and strong) and my co-author (Patrick) and I provide parts #s and locations to get all the electronics. Chapters show you how to wire up everything as well as where to get the free software used to control the stepper motors.

    During the writing of this book, three separate machines were built - I built one, my dad built one, and my tech editor built one. All three are identical, working right now, and are very impressive to watch. I trim down the workpiece I want to carve/mill using my 4511 tablesaw and then move it to the CNC machine for the detail work.

    One of the reasons Patrick and I did this book was to make CNC technology available to a larger group of users - traditionally, these machines have been (and are) expensive to own and complicated to operate and repair. Well, when you build your own CNC machine, you know every part, how it all comes together, and you'll know how to fix it...

    It's not a RIDGID product but it will require a router, so maybe someone on these forums can recommend a good one. The book provides a website, discussion forum, videos, full color photos for downloading, etc... all to support readers of the book who want to build their own machine. We're hoping to hear from students, shop teachers, parents, and after-school groups who take on building their own CNC machine(s) and we'd love to see photos and videos of your machine and your designs.

    Again, the book is out in late November... if you have any other questions, let me know.

    I've moved it to my basement (it's made of MDF) but in the spring I plan on moving in back into my garage so I don't have to make so many trips from the garage (where my tools are) to my basement... argh.
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Re: Build Your Own CNC Book

    Have you got any example photos of the output? Not the machine, the finished piece?

    What interfaces it to the computer? I expect serial or parallel, but using microcontrollers, could be Ethernet or USB.

    What does the software run on? Unix or Windows?

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Build Your Own CNC Book

      Originally posted by Roadster280 View Post
      Have you got any example photos of the output? Not the machine, the finished piece?

      What interfaces it to the computer? I expect serial or parallel, but using microcontrollers, could be Ethernet or USB.

      What does the software run on? Unix or Windows?
      I'll hunt down some pictures of some "products" - but we're just getting our feet wet, so I don't have anything too impressive...

      Your other questions:

      * One of the machines is running on WinXP, other two on Vista. The software we talk about in the book (and show how to configure) is Mach3.

      * The interface is a simple and inexpensive breakout board that interfaces via a parallel port. There are USB boards, but the parallel boards seem to have a better rep for reliability and ease of use.

      * Three stepper motors are controlled via three stepper motor drivers... a power supply is also wired in. The electronics wiring wasn't difficult and we did a good job of providing as detailed instructions as we could for wiring it all up.

      it's loud - requires ear protection - eye protection is a given when you've got a router running at 20,000+ rpm. Some routers are quieter than others, but milling through any material is going to generate some noise.

      All in all, I'm having some serious fun with my machine... so is my dad and the tech editor. It was kinda cool to see two of these machines side by side.

      Will take some pics of various things made and post later.

      Jim

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Build Your Own CNC Book

        Okay, what you are seeing here:

        * A set of plate stands
        * carving of a cartoon dog
        * Sign for a small business
        * various circular stands for hot dishes
        * carving of some hand tools

        Another interesting item for you - Patrick, my co-author, also uses this machine to cut out MDF parts to build more CNC machines. He has this machine's design done up in CAD so its parts can be cut out...

        Jim
        Attached Files

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Build Your Own CNC Book

          Thanks for the reply.

          The electronics don't bother me at all, neither does the construction.

          The need for Windows would be the show stopper here for me. There is no way I'm going to go back to that daily nightmare just for a single function machine.

          Having looked at Mach3's website though, it seems as though the various Unix CNC packages could be adapted. What does the controller take as an input? Standards-based commands (gcode etc), or a propietary format?

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Build Your Own CNC Book

            It's G-Code... we went with hardware that could handle standard CNC requirements, nothing proprietary.

            As a matter of fact, my first test with the machine was manually entering G-code into Mach3 to mill a square into some plywood.

            Totally understand the anti-Windows opinion - I can deal with Ubuntu linux but not much else... this machine will work fine with linux and my co-author, Patrick, uses Linux mainly for most of his CNC work - I just use Windows because it's what I have on my PC.

            BTW - mach3 has a 100% free version you can download and use, but it does limit itself to 500 lines of G-code...

            Jim

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Build Your Own CNC Book

              I've been very interested in this for some time. I have come up with some plans of my own, but I do want to build somebody else's kit first to see what I do and do not like about it, and so that I can get my feet wet in integrating the steppers and controller. Mainly so that I can learn how to make an even 'better' (eye of the beholder) design. I like to redesign things more than I like to design them for the first time. Kind of a repairman's attitude. Eventually I'd love to build a model that sits on the wall like a panel saw and could machine a full 4'x8' sheet of material. This way I could make pretty much anything I like (jigs for motorcycle frames, a dune-buggy chassis, other machine tools...).

              Forgive me for asking if it is in your above post, but where will this book be sold? I would assume amazon for sure? I'd love to purchase the book so let me know, and I'll let you know what i think of it.

              Thanks a bunch! Very Excited!

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Build Your Own CNC Book

                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NdlSLxulPo

                It took me a bit to hunt down this video, but this video shows an amazing item milled using the machine this book shows you how to build. The machine you see in the video has some modifications, including t-rails installed on the worktop... the router base is slightly different (rounded) and the gantry sides have a slightly different shape than the original plans...

                But this is the DIY CNC machine that Patrick designed and that we cover in detail with the book.

                Hope you like the video - I'm not doing this level of work with mine yet... YET.

                Jim


                Last edited by techwriter; 11-10-2009, 11:13 AM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Build Your Own CNC Book

                  The book is out!

                  It may take a few days to a week for your local bookstore to get a copy, but I believe Amazon is now shipping it.

                  For anyone who takes on this project, I'd love to hear your feedback.

                  Jim
                  Attached Files

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Build Your Own CNC Book

                    looks interesting,
                    what is the normal cost to build the machine? as described in your book.
                    Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                    "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."
                    attributed to Samuel Johnson
                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                    PUBLIC NOTICE: Due to recent budget cuts, the rising cost of electricity, gas, and oil...plus the current state of the economy............the light at the end of the tunnel, has been turned off.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Build Your Own CNC Book

                      Hi, BHD.

                      Not counting the computer and software required to run the machine, the machine pictured, including all its motors, electronics, and nuts/bolts/etc can be built for around $700.

                      A comparable CNC machine that's sold to hobbyists/woodworkers runs around $4000 and up - the 2'x4' workspace machine that I was eyeing years ago runs around $7000.

                      Jim

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