Should I build a big CNC router?

I know I would like to build a Computer Numeric Control  (CNC) router big enough to drop a sheet of ply in, but is it a good idea? It will take up a lot of my workshop space, and chew up a lot of time and money. It’ll allow me to makes some awesome large objects. Anyone want a kayak? It would be big enough to make small boat ribs etc. Storage boxes, and display panels, doll houses and 1/2 of the things in ikea. All doable. But am I going to do them? A lot of the CNC routers on the internet seem to get used to make more CNC routers. Thats fine by me, although a boat sounds more fun.

I’ve read about people who have purchased shopbot routers with the belief that they’ll form some kind of business around them, and some have successfully done so. It seems a bold choice to me, but as James Graham said.

He either fears his fate too much,
Or his deserts are small,
That dares not put it to the touch
To gain or lose it all.

Maybe now is the time to build a big CNC router.

PS. I’ve found a few places around that I can get stuff cut at. I’m going to test the waters out by doing a few projects on someone else’s CNC router first.

The Mini Mill is live

I picked up a 7×7 mill from Zen toolworks a while ago. I did the basic assembly and powered it up with an old 24v power supply. It moved, but locked up on the far X axis, and the far Y axis, and stalled with any high speed movement. At that point it all got boxed up for a house move, and stayed that way for a year. I’ve recently dragged it back out and thrown some more time at getting it setup.

I lined up the bottom frame using a machinist square. It was close enough that I could just shim out one corner with a piece of paper. The stepper motors  pull more power the faster they run. The old 2.5 amp 24V psu wasn’t providing  enough power as the acceleration kicked in. I’ve swapped it out for new 14.6 amp 24v psu. I still found some issues with the alignment of the anti-backlash nut on the Y axis. The problem with this is that you can’t easily access the anti-backlash nut. After a good look around the machine, and I decided to remove the 16 screws securing the back plate from the gantry. I could then access the mounting screws for the anti-backlash nut by loosening the  mounting screws and moving it to the far side of the Y axis. I could then tighten the mounting screws with the anti-backlash nut in the correct alignment.

Also, I got a video cam for my birthday, so here’s a time lapse of the job progress.

Quadcopter Update

Well, I’ve learnt the difference between ‘Acro’ mode and ‘Self Level’, and it only cost me one propeller.

This afternoon after work, the kids and I took the quadcopter to the local oval. It started out as a lot of fun, but I hadn’t realised that you can change the mode by stick input on the controller. Somehow I managed to knock it from Self Level mode (I need all the help I can get at the moment – I’m up to almost 6 minutes of flight time), into ‘Acro’ mode. I’m assuming ‘Acro’ is an abbreviation for Acrobatic, because it got very exciting after that. If you are expecting the quad to self level when you center the sticks, it takes a moment to realise that it isn’t happening. You don’t have a lot of moments available.

Here is how the construction has progressed. I’ve completed a bunch, and learnt that I have more to go. It’s flyable now (or it was before this afternoon’s adventure), but there is lots of room for improvement.

Successes:

Failures:

  • Install video cam
  • Install video TX

i’m not 100% sure what has gone wrong here. I wired the camera and the TX together using the supplied wiring harness and powered it up. The video TX blew and managed to ignite the heatshrink. I suspect its taken out the camera too. My best guesses are faulty wiring or faulty board. Without better diagnostic equipment, there isn’t much I can do about it. I’ll have to order replacements when funds allow.

To do:

  • Replace the rear props with some red ones. Its hard to maintain orientation with the yellow front and white rear. There isnt enough contrast. Also, I broke the white one. 🙂
  • Re-mount the KK2 and re-level it. It tore off two of four pieces of mounting tape in the impact.
  • ESC Calibration (electronic speed controllers)
  • Instal SimonK firmware on ESCs, I’m leaving this until I have a rainy day
  • build (anti)vibration isolation platform