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  1. #1
    I should be working! furyphoto's Avatar
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    Desktop CNC anyone?

    Does anyone have any experience with small desktop CNC routers?


    After getting some quotes on having my motor mount and some other parts milled, I could easily buy a complete mini CNC hobby router for the same cost or less.

    Like this 30x40 cm Ebay Chinese CNC Router which gets surprisingly good reviews, save for a few minor issues like replacing the motor cabling with higher quality wire.

    or this X-Carve from Inventables.com


    From all accounts it is possible to cut 10mm 6061 Aluminum with one of these small router/zip saw powered CNC's, you just have to take shallower slower passes than on a big machine shop CNC. I'm not that concerned if it takes 4 hours to mill a motor mount (or 10), I'll only be doing it once (in aluminum, I'll make test mock up's in mdf or particle board for a faster cut).

    I'm on the verge of buying one. I'm excited about all of the other little parts I could cut with it, gauge mounts, accessory tabs, component enclosures, terminal covers, etc. Not to mention parts and engraving for other projects.

    I am leaning towards the X-Carve for the possibility of using their Easel web based software for simple parts. You can also send code from standard CAD/CAM workflow to the machine, but the Easel software is super simple, and I can run it from my laptop via USB instead of having to find & buy a dedicated tower with a 2 decade old parallel port.
    (Sidebar Rant: I have always though CAD/CAM/ Parser/Code sender was a ridiculously over complicated workflow. It's 2015 cant we mill parts with one piece of software instead of 4? Also, it's not the 90's anymore what's with the parallell ports and the Windows XP or worse, the Fu$&ing Linux for all the home hobby stuff)

    If anyone has any experience with these mini mills, I would love to hear about it before I pull the trigger on one.
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    -Andrew

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    mail(at)andrewdoran.com

    My ElMoto Project "Electric Hurricane" - 1987 Honda CBR600 F1: Check out my Build ALBUM
    My ICE Cafe Racer Project "My Precious" - 1983 Honda CM400 Classic

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    We have a Stepcraft 300 in work here - decent bit of kit, very capable.
    We've only got the Dremel head for it though - and stepper would be a better job.

    The hardest part is getting accustomed to using Mach3 and your chosen g-code generator - oh, and don't discount the cost of milling bits, they ain't that cheap and they don't last that long. ;-)

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    Senior Member Podbuilder's Avatar
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    yep. I made parts for my larger CNC on my small CNC. Works fines.

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    I've used one of the little Roland CNCs before, but mostly for plastic. Seemed like it could handle 6061 if you keep the speed low make keep the chips down.

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    That X-carve looks pretty sweet. Definitely not very rigid though, but if you've got the time it could work with shallow passes.
    The Chinese one actually looks more rigid. It can be upgraded to work with your laptop using a breakout board called smoothstepper. It has usb or ethernet option. I think it's about $150 for the board.

    If you end up getting one I can give you some tips on cutting aluminum with a router. Use a single flute bit, coolant, etc..

    It's definitely possible, but you'll be there for a while. I'd suggest getting extra bits as well. Like a lot extra.

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    I should be working! furyphoto's Avatar
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    SO, Like 3 and half years later.....

    Ordered one of these on Black Friday


    In all fairness to me, I did start this thread before we moved, and I rebuilt and entire house by myself, so I've been a bit off the 'time for personal projects' thing for a bit. I'm looking forward to getting back to finally putting my bike on the road.

    The Shapeoko3 is a hobby grade desktop CNC. Runs on g-code, so it can accept instructions from a lot of different 3D software. I will be using a Makita palm router in mine, with 1/4 and 1/8 inch bits mostly. By all accounts it can handle aluminum fairly well for hobby projects. In fact, some folks are getting some down right gorgeous, pro looking stuff out of this machine. (check out this Vince guy https://www.instagram.com/vince.fab/ )

    I ordered the smallest version, which has a working area of 16"x16"x3" that will be sufficient for the parts I'm doing, and a bit of woodworking stuff around the house too. The largest is about 36" square working area.

    My machine hasn't arrived yet, so I am busy making a home for it by redesigning the layout of my entire shed, which I will start shuffling around next week. I really haven't organized any kind of workspace since the renovation, so this is a good motivator. My evenings this week have been busy drawing up some parts, and getting familiar with software.

    Here's my motor mount with the CNC toolpaths:





    There will be a learning curve, so I will be doing a bunch of test cuts with scrap wood, and simple shapes in 6061 Al until I get it sorted out. But I'm pretty excited about the whole thing. I just like to make shit!

    I am dreaming up all kinds of crap for this machine. I even have an ambitions cut planned , but it can wait until the bike is ready to roll, so I have a bit of time. This one will be 7075 T6 AL. I will need way more time with Fusion 360 before the part is even close to ready to be cut. I have to get the little lightning bolt pattern thingys from the left of the screen onto the sprocket, and I don't know how to do that yet!



    If anyone has experience, and can offer advice for someone new at this, I'm all ears. CHEERS!
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    -Andrew

    http://www.andrewdoran.com
    mail(at)andrewdoran.com

    My ElMoto Project "Electric Hurricane" - 1987 Honda CBR600 F1: Check out my Build ALBUM
    My ICE Cafe Racer Project "My Precious" - 1983 Honda CM400 Classic

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    Keep us appraised on your progress.

    One thing I learned from that Stepcraft unit above is that you really need a solution which can take the entire g-code script onboard at the start of the job rather than relying on the PC to provide the code execution line by line as the Stepcraft does - any interrupt on the USB and it drops steps which makes for significant issues on longer projects. We started looking into using an Arduino based 'server' to act as a g-code executor for it rather than relying on the USB but never really progressed from there and it's just been sitting unloved for a long time now.

  9. #8
    I should be working! furyphoto's Avatar
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    Here's a test cut of my motor mount. Plywood is not the best material for milling (especially a shabby old piece from behind the woodshed), but it will be strong enough for a mock-up on the frame. I have yet to try milling aluminum, so I will need a bit of practice before attacking the actual cut without breaking bits. In the meantime, I will likely fancy up the mount with some finer detail work in CAD.

    Last edited by furyphoto; 20 February 2019 at 0006.
    -Andrew

    http://www.andrewdoran.com
    mail(at)andrewdoran.com

    My ElMoto Project "Electric Hurricane" - 1987 Honda CBR600 F1: Check out my Build ALBUM
    My ICE Cafe Racer Project "My Precious" - 1983 Honda CM400 Classic

  10. #9
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    Hi
    just seen this so i would like to comment.
    First off plywood is very good to mill - i mill it basically all day long and have none of those "frizzles" like you. For that you have to get your parameters right and the right mill bits.
    Either straight or very little up-spiralling so it won`t pull the layers or cuts/fibers upwards. There is even bits with downwards spirals but i do not recomment them as chip extraction relies strongly on a very good dust collection. Otherwise your cut channels will get clogged and your bit breaks.

    Opposed to what been written above i do not recommend a solution that takes the whole g-code aboard. Most machines offering these have limited capabilities and once you start running 3.d files you run into problems. Some of the files i cut ran into 900 000 lines and most of all i want access and reliability in such situations. There are far bigger files out there so this isn`t even outstanding..
    But: Simply do not use either parallel board or usb solutions.
    Ethernet - like the "smoothstepper Ethernet" is the way to go. It takes the computing away from your pc as well as from your "mach" or whatever you are using and is not restricted in length of wire and not prone to signal loss like the other two options.

    I think i have some pics of plywood things i made in the "your other projects" threat. If interested.

    Milling aluminium is not that difficult either. Either go for shallow cuts but high speed/feed (bit needs to cut not grind) to keep forces to the machine at bay
    Or:
    and that is what i prefere -
    get a capable cam to do trochiodal milling. Look it up on y_tube it is far superior for hobby machines or "weaker" construction in general. Far superior for tool lasting too.
    Try ESTL Cam for this, It is cheap and does trochiodal milling.

    Pls excuse my english - i am not a native speaker...

    greets

    flo

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