Apr 2, 2010
Prototype #2: Final Model
This is the end result for build #2. Because of my limited amount of space, I designed it to be collapsible for ease of storage and transportation. But because of this setup it requires a 4 controllers and a 4 axis controller setup; 2 motors to power each end of the X axis. The bottom part of the legs can be removed by removing the two bolts on both ends. Overall it is about 3 feet cubic area by size.
It is not truly portable as I envisioned, more collapsible. It is slower than I hoped but precise (roughly 0.001" accurate). I had some alignment problems originally, was making skewed ovals instead of circles, but I was able to correct the problem. As my first CNC I completely built and designed, I was happy especially as I never had a game plan to go by. And because only 3 months prior I thought it was impossible to build your own CNC.
Prototype #2 took about 1.5 months to build and complete and about $1200 total in parts and materials (most of which salvaged from build #1). I fried a control board by accidentally crossing wires, so had to buy a new $200 board to replace it.
Learning the CAM (computer aided machining) programming can be the hard part especially if you are on your own. CAM can easily cost as much or more than the CNC as they are not cheap, but cheap and free/open-source ones can be found, though they may not do as much as retail CAM programs. Luckily I already knew basic CAD programming and am experienced in the computer field (my 1st career of 7 years was in the IT support field). Go to the CNC Zone forums for more info on the open source program alternatives if you can't find any retail software to play around with. I personally use RhinoCAD to do modelling, MasterCam X4 and sometimes RhinoCAM plugin for my CAM, and Mach4 to control the CNC.