In summer, I went to Woodcraft and grabbed a bunch of blocks of wood to make x-mas presents for some friends. I already had an idea of what I was going to make from a project video I saw on Inventables’s site. I wanted to make Passive Amplifiers that would double as a desk nameplate. Rather than use the pre-made file from Easel, I wanted to do my own in Fusion360 to get more practice.
Before I had any time to work on this at all, I ended up buying the new beefier gantry makerslide. I also 3D printed an enclosure for my smoothieboard and an enclosure for my E-stop button, both from thingiverse.
Literally at this point, I’ve got enough extra makerslide, plates, belts, ACME screw and nut set and gears to build a Shapeoko 2 (missing bolts, nuts, washers, V wheels, bearings, or idler wheels). Leave a comment if you are interested in purchasing my extra parts.
I also had beefed up my gantry motor to a NEMA 23.
Processing the Blocks:
Once I had made the changes to my machine (a never-ending project in itself) I got to work on the passive speakers. I clamped my handheld belt sander upside down in my workmate bench (I do not condone this stupid behavior). I sanded down all the blocks until you could no longer see the bandsaw marks using 150 grit sand paper. I rolled the edges and ends to get nice rounded edges. This worked for the most part, but sometimes I got inconsistent results along the entire edge of the block which looked bad and wasn’t easy to fix.
After rough sanding, I hand-sanded the corners to remove the sharp point using 150 paper by hand, then used 220 paper on my orbital sander to remove the traces of the rougher sanding and smoothed out the overall faces. Due to time constraints (I was so busy that I waited until the last minute to do these) I went ahead and hit the blocks with Tung Oil every other day for about a week. This soaks in and if I had done it more would really bring out the luster int he wood. It smells a bit funny so I left the blocks in the garage to air out. Tung oil is good because it won’t combust spontaneously like a lot of oil-based stains. Heck, the guy that sold it to me said he never even wears gloves and has been using it 20+years. I wore gloves anyway.
After the blocks were processed and thoroughly tunged, I went about using Fusion 360 to design the passive amplifier element. Unlike the inspiration project, I wanted a continuous spiral as my cone. I created a block approximately the size of these blocks, then I created a spring. It took a long time to figure out exactly how to get the spring to have the features and be be the size I wanted. I then had to merge this with a cone shape to create a single solid body that was a helical cone shape. I put it on the block and performed a difference operation to remove the helical cone shape from the block. Then I added the slot for the phone. I used my and Jess’s phones as tests using a block of scrap 2×4 to find a width that fit both of them.
I can’t say this was intuitive. When I ran simulations of the cut, I kept having weird errors that would break an endmill in the real world. For instance, the bit would circle the perimeter of the helical cone step by step, leaving a huge plug of wood in the middle 40mm high to be cut from the side at the very end of the job. In order to remove this weirdness, I had to get creative with the cuts. Firstly I used a plunge cut to cut the very center of the cone out in several passes. As you can see in the image at the top of this article, there’s a bit of an error at the right side near the top of the helical cone. This is due to the lead-in of the plunge cut. In later iterations, I removed that stupid lead-in. I have no clue why it would generate paths that would defile the user’s design, but it does…
Then I used a contour cut to remove material for the slot and helical cone in multiple passes. The Fusion 360 simulator said it’d take about 5 minutes for the whole shebang, but it took about 3 times longer in reality. I’m not sure how to reconcile this.
So I intentionally went against my best judgment on this one. Looking for a cheap engraving bit, I ended up at Harbor Freight. I found a pack of 5 HSS router bits that included an engraver for $8. Since an engraver bit is usually taking a bit more light duty use than other bits, this was a good deal. Other bits were like $25 just for the engraver elsewhere! My mistake happened when I considered using the half-inch router bit as an endmill. I figured if I take off only 1.5mm at a time, then it couldn’t hurt to use this router bit slightly out of its specified application. So I went ahead.
Surprisingly, this worked beautifully for the first four blocks I milled. The last one had ragged edges though. Since I needed to make about 4 more, I went back and bought another Hazard Fraught bit set. This was enough to cut the bulk of the gifts I was making. I had another 2 blocks to mill, but I had a couple weeks to finish those while these first 8 were needed literally that night at a party.
After I milled them, I had Jess get one of her fancy fonts and make some SVGs of our friend’s names to engrave on the other face of the block so it could be used as a nameplate on their desks. This was easy to do in fusion in a new file. I simply created a block the size of the wood I was using, then imported the SVG onto the face of the block. The Z axis here is still setup so the tool comes from the top (ie. as if the block has been rotated so that the face is pointing upward). Simply go into CAM and do an engrave and it’s done. The results came out beautifully!
The problems started when I moved my CNC machine the garage form the office to avoid the dust. I used one of those half-inch bits and aligned everything and let ‘er rip. I was making a video when the failure happened…
I hit the E-stop immediately but it still screwed up stuff. The bit came loose and slipped down as the router continued to spin (likely screwing up my quarter-inch collet) The CNC kept moving for a short time as well until I could hit the E-stop. This caused the bit itself to break. Luckily no chunks of it came loose or flew off at the 22,000RPM I was running at, but it came close as the pics below show.
After this error, I went ahead and redesigned the toolpaths to use a proper 0.25″ endmill and tried cutting another block. I didn’t get to see the final result, BUt I’m pretty sure the lead-in screwed me on the first plunge cuts I did. I didn’t finish the part because like a genius I stuck the vacuum cleaner hose in the way of the Z cart and ended usp causing my X axis motor to skip a bunch of steps as it wedged the vacuum hose into the block. I’ve yet to revisit this. even this short amount of exposure to the incredibly fine wood dust made my nose clog up again(even wearing a respirator). I had to go back to work after new years and haven’t had a chance to revisit (or document) and projects until now.
It has been bout a year now since I last had a chance to play with my CNC machine, so I figured I’d give an update on the progress so far and what I’ve learned.
Firstly, I got the Dewalt 611 router and router mount. This is a huge upgrade from the no-name dremel knock-off I had. After test cutting just once with the old router, the brushes were shot. I sprung for a real tool instead of a toy. As a bonus, it makes the machine look nicer as well. In order to fit 1/8″ shank bits, I had to get a 1/8″ collet for the DW611. This wasn’t terribly expensive if you compare the cost to replacing all of my router bits with 1/4″ bits. I got all of this late summer 2015 and literally had only enough time to attach it all to my machine before life got crazy busy. I never even had a chance to test it until now.
I also recently got the Suck-It from kickstarter. This goes a LONG way into keeping dust to a minimum. A warning, however, I tightened the screw too tightly on my Suck-it and accidentally drove the bottom edge into one of my makerslide rails since I don’t have endstop switches. This promptly shattered the Suck-it acrylic into incredibly sharp shards. While you can purchase additional parts from the Suck-it website, I opted to make my own replacements from wood, which is a bit more forgiving.This also gave me a great chance to finally learn some CAD software.
While testing, I finally realized that the ACME screw inventables sent me last year as part of my upgrade kit is warped. It binds in a couple of places when I try to move the Z-axis up all the way. I thought that I could fix this by simply getting a stronger motor, so I ordered the NEMA 17 from inventables. This was stronger, but still couldn’t overcome the bend in the screw. The bend also causes the very tip of my bits to wobble ever so slightly. It is almost imperceptible, but makes a big difference when I mill multiple passes of the same shape or try to do PCBs.I contacted Inventables and Mo in customer service worked with me over a couple of weeks to get my Z working great. It turns out that Since I upgraded from Shapeoko1—> Shapeoko2–> Xcarve, I had the wrong spacers on my router mount. The ones I had were about 2mm too short. Mo helped me get the right length spacers (9.5mm long) and bolts(35mm). My short spacers and bolts were causing the ACME screw to bend back towards the gantry at a significant angle. When installing the new spacers, be sure not to use washers as this will also change the angle of the ACME screw. With the new spacers installed I can get all but 7mm of my Z axis working perfectly smoothly. Thanks Mo!
I also bought this clear tube for my suck-it vacuum mount. This was about 63mm in diameter, so I had to same the interior of the acrylic suck-it plate to fit the tube. I also cut it to about 9 or 10 inches in length. At this height, the tube is about the height of the router itself. This gives me more visibility to see what is going on with the business end of my router rather than the black coupling tube that the suck-it came with.
I wanted to learn a real CAD package since my FabAcademy training in 2014. I only had experience with Sketchup which, while very good for beginners, it doesn’t really follow the same kind of workflow as professional engineering CAD/CAM packages. I wanted to learn something along those lines. I had played with Creo, Solidworks, Antimony, and was looking into Rhino/Grasshopper when I saw Fusion 360. Autodesk has been going crazy buying and building awesome CAD/CAM tools for the hobby market as well as for industry. Fusion 360 is a complete engineering tool that can start with a 2D sketch or a 3D body and allow a user to create objects, render them realistically, stress test them with finite state analysis, and export 3D print or CNC toolpaths. Oh, and did I mention that it is free and has a very active community online as well? So I downloaded it and gave it a try. I am quite pleased with it in all respects!
Having no formal training, I opted to take some free online courses from Udemy.com. Check out my other posts concerning that. Of course, as with anything, beginning is the toughest part. It took me a couple of days to get the hang of the Fusion 360 workflow, but with all the great tutorials and videos online, it is easy to find answers to your questions. If not, you can post to Autodesk’s forum for help.
Moving on, I played with Fusion 360 starting with the 3D sculpt method at first to get some awesome organic shapes, then moved to learning the 2D sketch workflow. I measured my machine and aluminum rails of the Suck-it. I made quite a few mistakes along the way, and had to start over several times, but I finally figured out how to get what I wanted out of the software. It is still a bit buggy from time to time and crashed a few times when I tried to do certain things, but I think it was partially due to a bad design. I watched a couple videos and fixed my design and was able to create the toolpaths without further issue.
Fusion 360 can do 2D and 3D milling jobs with ease. There are a lot of options, but videos mentioned in my previous post cover most of what you need to know. I’m running a smoothieBoard on my machine and Fusion 360 has a CAM processor script designed for my board, so I simply select “Smoothie” from the dropdown menu when I go to export my design and I’m good to go.
Sending the job to the machine:
The main software people are using to send jobs to the smoothieboard is Pronterface, which is typically used for 3D printing. It’s all Gcode, so it doesn’t really matter, but for some reason, I didn’t like using a 3D printing software for CNC. Last year I tried using Universal G-code Sender with the smoothie and even played with coding in this ability, but life got too busy for me to continue, so I stuck with using Pronterface. What I like about Pronterface is the ability to create custom buttons. For example, I made buttons to zero the axes, reset the smoothieBoard after I hit the killswitch, etc. These prevent me from having to manually type the Gcode in the command window. I can even send smoothie console commands using these buttons.
You can also run the smoothieboard over ethernet. You can do so through pronterface or by using one of several web interfaces (meaning you can control your 3dprinter or CNC machines over the web). This is useful in my FabLab at work where we have a lot of 3D printers running on a 3D print server. You can run the smoothieboard on this as well. It can host several different web interfaces which I hope to go into later, but one of them is basically a webpage that looks just like pronterface.
I feel like I finally have a good workflow here. You can see my results here. I made replacements of the broken acrylic pieces of my suck-it dust boot that I made in Fusion 360. I used scrap wood, so it had quite a few drill holes going all the way through it already. I also did conventional only, and no climb milling which would have given a nicer finish. I used a 2-flute straight 1/8″ but as well, no spiral which would have also given me a cleaner result. Due to my learning curve, I did have to do some manual touch ups to the dimensions of the pocket which explains the nastiness in there you see.
Many designers use some kind of computer-aided design or CAD software to make 2D and 3D designs. A common one used by many people is Rhino (especially when used in conjunction with the Grasshopper plugin). Fusion 360 is a newer, easy to use, free complete CAD/CAM package. If you are going to learn any CAD software for practically any purpose (designing, engineering, fabrication, rendering realistic models, etc) it should be Fusion 360.
Fusion 360 is an Autodesk application that can do many useful things for designers. Whether you want to do something as simple as making cool looking 3D models to stress testing (finite element analysis) and even simulating the simple physics of designs and even milling them out or 3D printing them, Fusion 360 has you covered. It can also render realistic materials and surfaces and make animations of your working mechanical devices. Did I mention that it is free and there are tons of free online video tutorials and classes showing you how to use it with example projects? Oh, and so you aren’t reinventing the wheel (or other simple hardware) you can bring in models directly from McMaster-Carr who carry all sorts of nuts, bolts, gears, chains, etc. which can save you loads of time. This is my brain dump for getting started with Fusion 360 and using it with my CNC machine and my wife’s 3D printer.
Download Fusion 360 for free license. They have yearly licenses for hobbyist and I think even small business, or you can get a 3 year license for education.
Learning to use CAD:
At this point, there are two methodologies to use when creating parts in Fusion 360. If you have CAD experience already, you might be more comfortable drawing 2D parts then extruding them into 3D, etc. If this is you, then check out this free training class. The second methodology is sculpting. It begins with simple 3D shapes you can manipulate almost as if it were made of clay. This is great for 3D smooth shapes. Check out this great free training class for this methodology after taking the first section of this class. These two methodologies don’t replace one another, rather they compliment each other. You will eventually need both for complex designs, but start with whichever one is easiest for you so you can progress quicker. I personally love the “sculpting” mode.
Since on a CNC machine, the Z axis is the one you attach the router to, you will need to change the position of the Z axis in Fusion 360. Then set your preferences such that Z axis is the top axis. Within Fusion 360, click your name at the top right->Preferences. In the main window that pops up, about half way down, there is a “Top Axis” option that is set to Y, change this to Z and then “Apply” Now Z is the top axis like on your CNC machine. This will work for all NEW documents, but if you happen to have an older design or are importing someone else’s design, there’s a couple different ways to change the Z axis. The simplest method is to select the up-axis when you “setup the job” in Fusion 360. This is done when you are finished with your model design, and want to start creating the toolpaths.
Now, get into making some stuff. While Fusion 360 can do 2D and 3D designs and generate toolpaths for the CNC machine, there are lots of simpler (dumber) 2D workflows out there that are great such as Makercam.com or Easel from Inventables, etc. I’d use Fusion for more complicated 2D and 3D designs. For example, Easel won’t allow you to use a chamfer bit or V bit for engraving last I checked, but Fusion 360 will. This can make some amazing 2D designs.
You will notice that some of the videos tell you to delete certain lines in the generated Gcode from Fusion. This is mostly because it adds a “home” command and many DIY CNC machines don’t have homing switches. This command might tell your machine to go to the maximum extent of your machines to find the switches, but since you have no switches, it’ll end up messing up something. So many of the tutorials suggest removing the G28 (home) line from the Gcode Fusion 360 generates. If you have a smoothieboard controller, you should be fine to leave it in as long as you have set up your config files correctly.
How to set your origin to a different are of the design for milling. The best setup is one like the Othermill uses which ensures you never cut into your spoilboard. “Don’t spoil the spoilboard” is a great explanation of this method. I hope to make vids on how to in fusion 360 and real machine.
Can export to Othermill, or Smoothieboard, pocket NC, or other mill. Tons of options in the “Post Processing” menu.
You can simulate the milling process. When you do, the paths have different colors. A post on Autodesk’s forum cleared up what they mean:
Here’s my video of an example project I made. It is full of tips on stumbling blocks I came across.
A good friend of mine celebrated his birthday recently, and I wanted to make him somethingon a CNC machine as a gift. My friend brews beer and is an avid cyclist. In fact, his beer is on tap at the local bike shop. I Figured the best gift would be a customized bottle opener with a few symbols of his interest engraved into the handle.
First, I ordered the Bottle Opener kit from Inventables.com. I had seen the project online and assumed this kit included the raw parts I could CNC, but instead, the parts were already milled out. I just had to engrave them and apply a finish to the wood before screwing the wooden parts onto the steel plate.
My wife is great at graphics so I asked if she would draw up something nice for me. I wanted each wooden piece of the handle to have an image on both sides so my friend would be able to choose what he wanted the handles to display. My wife gave me 4 good designs to use: one of just my friends name, the other with the word “Brewmaster” a third with a bicycle with my friend’s initials embedded in the wheels, and finally a logo of the beer my friend brews for the bike shop. You can see some of those original images below.
I would need to mill a pocket in some scrap wood exactly the size of the wooden blanks of the bottle opener, stick the blanks into the pocket, and then mill out the designs. This was much tougher than I realized.
The DXF file template from inventables of a the original bottle opener was not the same size as the actual wood blanks, so I had to break out the calipers and scale everything up. Secondly, nothing about the wooden blanks was standard. Each one was a slightly different size and the holes for the screws were in different places.
The process is fairly simple. Take the SVG files of the designs, then import them in some CAM software which will also ask for the size of the endmill (drill bit thingy) and plan a path in XYZ coordinates to mill out the design in the SVG file. There’s lots of different software out there. A good (but slightly pricy) one is Vcarve. There are others out there as well including some free and open source tools. A good free one is Makercam. You can actually download makercam to your computer and use it like a regular program, even though it runs in your browser. Another very simple CAM software is Easel which is made by the people over at inventables. They have lots of projects you can download directly to Easel as well with full settings. I recommend you doublecheck feedrates, bit size and all that before actually using the designs though.
When I made the toolpaths for this design I used a 1/64th inch endmill to mill pockets for everything, including the text. I chose this bit because it was small enough to fit into all of the detailed parts of the designs. I used a pass depth of 0.1 inches, stepover of 0.0061 (which is about 39%). For my spindle speed, I set it to 12,000rpm with a feedrate and plunge rate both set at 1 inch/minute.
I placed a wooden blank in the pocket I had previously milled in the scrap board on the machine and began milling the “Brewmaster” design. It is important to note here that since milling the pocket in the scrap board, I never turned off the CNC machine. This allowed me to keep the same Zero position for my X and Y coordinates between each milling. If I changed this, then none of the designs would line up correctly with the wooden blanks. After the first design was milled I realized the design template from inventables was really wrong about where the holes for the screws had been drilled. So I scaled the design down and tried again. Luckily I bought 2 of the bottle opener kits, so I had extra parts to use in case of a disaster like this.
After about 5 hours of milling, everything was finished. I had to go in and manually clean up the edges of the cuts a little with a razor knife and sand paper. Then I rubbed on a few coats of linseed oil to protect the wood. Any food-safe finish can be used such as Mineral oil or Olive oil, but I happened to have linseed oil in the garage. I forgot to take pictures of the final product, but you can see what one of the blanks looks like. I did both sides of each wood blank, each with a different design so he could flip them around.
So for the last 7 years or so, Jess and I have considered purchasing a laser cutter. My personal goal is to have my own FabLab. I’m partially there with Jess’s KNK Zing vinyl cutter and my Shapeoko/Xcarve CNC machine. The two main missing components are a 3D printer and a laser cutter. Being a FabAcademy alum and running a FabLab at work, I am intimately aware that lasers are the most used (and arguably useful) machine. They are definitely the most fun to play with. They are also the easiest to make money with (It’s always easiest for me to justify big purchases with the expression “hobbies that pay”). For the past several decades, laser cutters or laser engravers have been used in trophy shops and all sorts of companies. You can use a laser cutter to make products to sell on Etsy (as many people do), make the most amazing personalized birthday and holiday gifts, prototypes of ideas you have, or just make cool stuff for yourself.
I recently saw a new laser cutter on the market and I held back for a while before making the decision to buy it. That may have been a mistake. The GlowForge is shaping up to be a great machine. I’ve followed it since September, when they were offering 50% discounts on all models. At the time of this article, they have raised the price to 40% off retail price. And, if you use this referral code, both you and I will get $100 off our orders! (In full discretion, I have had no contact with Glowforge, nor have I actually use the machine myself yet. I’m just really stoked with this machine and its potential. I do have a PhD in Computer/Electrical engineering with Computer Science background and I run an official node of the FabLab network that was started at MIT, so hopefully I’m not off base here… )
There are lots of cheap ( <$15k ) 40-watt laser cutters on the market such as some cheap Chinese ones from Alibaba, or Full Spectrum. So why go in on a Glowforge? Well quite simply, it is the best designed laser cutter for FabLab/Makerspace/Hackerspace use. Unlike others in the price range, you don’t need a 5 gallon bucket of distilled water and a fish pump to cool the laser tube (yes that’s a real thing some other models at these prices require and it is ridiculous). It breaks the paradigm of how users interact with a laser cutter. It is following some of the latest research on user interface and user experience in the field of computer science. Honestly, those are project I wish I could implement myself but didn’t have the time. It brings together lots of great solutions from these projects and crams it all into a single package.
Paradigm shift #1: Unlike traditional laser cutters, where you print to the machine like a printer on a network or connected to your computer, Glowforge can be printed from practically any location in the world. This is because the software is cloud-based. I used to be wary of this kinds of thing, but since Glowforge also promises to make a version of the software open source, you can implement it yourself if you want.
Paradigm shift #2: Glowforge allows you to easily position your designs on your material using a live camera view of the material. This is a godsend for those who are familiar with the waste of laser cutters. To be able to make sure a design will fit on a scrap piece of material, you have to do some measurements, hold your tongue just write when pushing the cut button, and hope you remembered to reset the origin (0,0 point) on the laser before cutting. Sometimes this can be very hard depending on what was originally cut out of the scrap you are using, you might have a weird shaped area and it can be very hard to find out if you can use it to cut a new part. There are some ideas being researched to handle this kind of situation and other tools you can purchase that are very expensive, but Glowforge has it built in. Being able to literally move my design on top of a video camera image of the material allows me to use as much material as possible without the risk of mis-cutting and having to toss that piece of material and grab a new one.
Another great feature is to simply draw on the material you want with a pen. The cameras will read your design, vectorize it, then the laser will frickin’ cut it exactly as you’ve drawn it. This is worthy of some type of award because it will save a lot of time for people. I constantly have students who would benefit from simply being able to draw their designs by hand and quickly cut a part out. Again, this feature somewhat comes from newer research into user interface design of laser cutters I’ve been keeping my eye on for some time now.
Paradigm shift 3: Glowforge uses dual cameras inside the cabinet to not only allow you to place your design on the material, but it can conform and auto focus even on non-level materials. The example on their web video mentions etching a design on a macbook, but this is sooo much more powerful and useful than just that. Many materials you want to laser, such as a 1/8″ piece of plywood, have a warp to them. If you focus your laser on the low part of the warp, then keep that measurement to cut the whole part, you can end up with edges that aren’t exactly as you had designed them, or edges that are weak due to the wood not ablating and instead burning. This is bad for a couple of reasons. One it can start small fires, but more commonly your edge is brittle and ashy. This changes the workable dimensions of your parts and sometimes makes them unusable.
Also, the cameras can detect materials you put in the machine. There are barcodes on the materials you buy from Glowforge, but you can make them yourself, which tell the machine what settings to use for engraving or cutting the material. Settings are different for plastics versus wood, etc. Even different densities of wood matter, so this is a great solution to the problem of figuring out what power and speed settings to set the laser to use.
And finally on this point, it seems there’s also some image recognition. Put your laptop in there and you it’ll detect it’s a macbook and know what settings to use to best etch it. It can even bring up possible designed others have submitted online for you to use if you want.
Paradigm shift 4: The firmware as well as a simplified version of the cloud software will be made open source. This is great because I can hack on it (as I would have done anyway, but at least now I have a much better starting point) . I’m certain a community of hackers/makers will be adding features, which is exciting since this machine is already starting with an impressive set of features.
Paradigm shift 4: On the Pro version of the machine, you can open the front and back to be able to cut material that is 20″wide, but infinitely long. This comes from two places, the vinyl cutting machines that are in the market (which can cut a certain width, but practically an infinite length of material from a spool), the Shaper and the awesome Shopbot Handibot (Shoutout to our friends and fellow Carolinian’s; thanks again for the help this past summer in Pittsburgh Salley!), which can do large designs piece-wise. The cameras on the Glowforge can help align the previously lasered portion with your design and make adjustments as needed. This is incredibly helpful for making sure the finished product comes out correctly.
Glowforge will also host a libray of other peoples’ designs you can choose from if you aren’t the artistic type. This is similar to Makerbot’s Thingiverse or Ultimaker’s YouMagine for 3D parts and Inventables’s project section for CNC projects and file, which can be imported into Easel (Inventables’s cloud-based CNC CAD/CAM software for their line of Shapeoko, Carvey, or X-carve machines).
Words of Negativity: For the specs of the machine, the 20″ wide cutting area is slightly awkward and a 24″ width seems more practical. Also, since the Glowforge isn’t out yet, I have to wait. I have to wait to see if it lives up to these expectations, and also wait to play with it myself.
All that being said, the Glowforge sale at this point is a presale. I won’t receive my machine until summer 2016 or later, but you have until the time it ships to cancel your order and get a full refund. I expect any bugs in the system will be worked out before I get mine and if not, then I’ll have a good excuse to play with it in more depth.
Disclaimer: The only affiliate link in this post is for the Glowforge. All other links supplied in this post are to simplify your internet browsing adventure.
whole machine Forgive this messy rant….
After obsessing over CNC machines for about 10 years, and having some misadventures from time to time designing my own hardware and software, I jumped at the chance to order the original Shapeoko CNC mill mechanical kit as soon as it came out. It took me a year to find time to put it all together. After it was assembled, I connected up my old HobbyCNCPro Motor driver board to it. This driver board is for Unipolar motors, so I searched for some that would work. I found these NEMA 17s from pololu <>
On a previous attempt at making a CNC machine, I used Mach 3, but this time I went with LinuxCNC. The main reason I wanted the machine was to mill PCBs. The workflow was EaglecAD–>pcb-Gcode–>autoleveller–>linuxCNC.<> I made a few really horrible PCBs with the machine before realizing it simply wasn’t the tool for the job. The gantry had way too much play. The eShapeoko community was constantly updating and improving on the designs, so I waited it out until the V2 came out before the obsession hit me again when I saw how they doubled the gantry slides to improve strength.
After a year of V2 being on the market, I searched forums for a conversion pack but none was to be found. So I spent a while trying to define the differences between the machines. In the end, I spent probably just as much as buying a whole new mechanical kit, but here’s my process.