Over the last few months, I have been busy playing with a number of IoT project ideas for use on my dad's farm in the Free State. As such, I thought it would be helpful to build a CNC machine so that I could easily prototype PCB boards for use in my creations. I built a Root 3 CNC machine. I like the design and completed a machine with an effective cutting size of around 800x1000 cm. There is only one problem. That is huge! What was I thinking? Luckily my dad is big into his carpentry, so he was more than happy to take it off my hands. My poor brother, on the other hand, ended up having to support the machine. He is not that happy!
The Beast :)
My 10 cents
The RootCNC is a really cool build. It's well documented and well designed. I did make some small changes. The side carriages are made from 10mm aluminium in place of plywood. I think this gives more rigidity. Furthermore, I originally used aluminium square tubing for the linear rails. Once you get past a certain size, there is just too much play. I opted rather for 3mm think steel square tubing. It may not be as perfect as the aluminium but it is way more rigid.
After spending hours trying to get the limit switches working, I left them non-functional. I find while using the machine you tend to position it manually anyway. I just take extra care with my measurements to ensure I do not run the machine into its max limits.
I find the machine cuts wood really well. The spindle is a 500-watt spindle from Banggood. In all honesty, I would probably opt for a 1000 watt if I had a redo. Its slightly underpowered at 500 watts. That being said you just have to cut slower. It does cut aluminium but you have to set it painfully slow.
All and all it was a good first attempt. It still has a few bugs that need to be worked out. I need to get back to the farm at some stage and sort them out.
What I should have built in the first place
Levelling the waste board
My 20 cents
This is the Sakul CNC which I pretty much used as is from Thingiverse. The build is also pretty easy. The parts use quite a bit of plastic so they do take a while to print. Assembly is a piece of cake. The only part I had a little trouble with was the Z axis. For some reason, once you put the bearings in over the rods it would bind up. I think the part may have warped a little bit during print. I tried to do a couple of PCBs using this machine. I had moderate success. The biggest issue was vibration from the spindle and the small amount of deflection caused by the rotating screws. I really prefer belts over the screws.
To get a PCB designed I used https://easyeda.com/ and then created the gcode files using http://flatcam.org. It took some playing around to figure out the directions so that the machine would move as expected.
Let's turn that into a hypercube
So I required a nice present for a bar mitzvah. One of my wife's friends has a very bright son who loves to come and tinker with my 3D printer. I thought while the CNC machine didn't turn out as I wished, I would convert it to a printer for him. I had enough parts laying around that it was easy to accomplish without having to go and source a bunch of things. The machine turned out pretty nice. The total build volume ended up in the region of 150mm X 150mm X 110mm. I also opted for a linear rail in the place of the usual smooth rod plus bearings. The rails are really nice. Smooth motion, rigid and really quiet. If I had to build a new printer from scratch I would definitely opt for using those rather. They are much more expensive but the results are pretty good.
Even though I haven't yet managed to get the results I wanted, I have one more trick up my sleeve. I want to convert my HyperCube Evolution to add a dremel extension tool and see if that results in any better PCBs. I'll keep you posted... (I am quite busy don't be in too much of a hurry!)
- Thingiverse. 2019. Sakul CNC v1.0. [ONLINE] Available at https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2709929. [Accessed 13 May 2019].
- Thingiverse. 2019. HyperCube Evolution. [ONLINE] Available at https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2254103. [Accessed 13 May 2019].
- Thingiverse. 2019. Hypercube EFusion. [ONLINE] https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3357649. [Accessed 13 May 2019].
- Root Cnc. 2019. Root3. [ONLINE] https://rootcnc.com/machines/root-3/. [Accessed 13 May 2019].