My latest CNC DIY - Video Uploaded
« on: July 06, 2012, 04:23:26 AM »
Update - Finally a video..... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0kb0iP5uhc

I think it is time to show you guys my latest DIY!

Background (skip it if you like):

I have three obsessions:  Recording gear, DIY CNC and woodwork. There are never enough hours in the day. I designed this machine 2 years ago and started to collect offcuts of the extrusion and other bits and pieces together, and then for a while, not much really happened.
Until this year. Six months ago I thought “this is getting ridiculous – I am getting nothing done”. So I took a more proactive approach to my hobbies. I started to frantically buy all the bits and pieces for the audio gear that this place has inspired me to build. And I decided that I had to finish my latest CNC so I can machine all of my panels (and eventually mic bodies).

Then a few months back I learned that my wife and daughter would be doing a little traveling, and I would have 10 whole days where I could do what I want. I decided that this was the deadline to have my machine finished. So until now, and to the slight detriment to marital harmony and other things I should really be doing, I have been spending any spare moment building and getting ready for what I have called my “CNC Extravaganza”.

The CNC Extravaganza has just started, and I think it is time to start sharing it with you guys.

By the end of next weekend I am hoping to have machined my first G9 panels, and with a bit of luck panels for some 9k, API and one bottle pres. And why not some 1176’s and LA2A’s as well. The boards are etched and the parts are waiting.

This is the CAD design as of two years ago. A lot of it is “tab and slot” laser cut steel construction. The gantry is fixed, which makes the thing a lot more rigid, which is important for machining metals. Many of the parts were salvaged from going in the bin (offcuts, the electrical cabinet, etc) and many were purchased from our favourite online auction house. If I use “cheap” as a description, it came from ebay.

I fully assembled all of the mechanical parts to check that everything works, and then pulled it apart for painting. I then made a pretty dodgy stand to hold the electrical cabinet and keep the thing mobile. Here it is after being painted. The X axis is assembled and all the rest is laid out (on my first woodworking CNC) waiting for the final assembly:

Here are some of the steel parts, most of which is for the carriage and Z axis:

Gantry Added along with the Y axis carriage:

Next was to assemble the Z axis, with energy chain and spindle. On the kind advice from Pete from grand master audio I decided to splash out on a mist coolant system. He also advised me on some tooling, of which I now have plenty ready to go. The spindle is a cheap 1.5KW, but I think I got lucky – it seems to spin nice and smoothly.

Close-up of the Z axis:

More wiring and fitting of servos, but still some tidying up to do:

X axis drive and limit switch:

Y axis drive:

And this brings me to now. The extravaganza has begun. What is left to do is wire up the electrical cabinet, do a little more tidying up of the wiring, and then it will be time to fire it up!

The next job to tackle:

And the back view as of this morning.

More photos and eventually some video's to come.

Cheers, and let’s get some more of you guys into CNC – it is almost as addictive as building audio gear!

« Last Edit: September 06, 2012, 10:13:42 PM by Timothytitus88 »


Re: My latest DIY - "CNC Extravaganza"
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2012, 04:25:27 AM »
Ribbon microphone services
Microphone blog


Re: My latest DIY - "CNC Extravaganza"
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2012, 10:56:16 AM »
Wow very nice,

I see another cnc router in one of those pics! Fun stuff. Who did your steel work? Its great..  I spent a good 2 years on my machine as well. It has evolved over time and wasnt thought out as yours! Cant wait to see it cut. What are you expecting to get in terms of rapids?



Re: My latest DIY - "CNC Extravaganza"
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2012, 02:53:55 AM »
Awesome. I'm speechless.

When I have money I buy gear. If there's any left I buy food.


Re: My latest DIY - "CNC Extravaganza"
« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2012, 12:39:52 PM »
Hi Guys,

Thanks for the kind words. Rapid speed.... We shall see! ( I am optimistic).

Time for an update.

I did not achieve as much today as I had hoped because of the lathe I picked up (see another post. it was HEAVY!)

But I got most of the control cabinet done.....

This pic is before going into the cabinet. Yep, still some tidying up to do, and that dodgy cabletied PSU on the left is temporary.

And into the cabinet, with the switches and indicators wired up.......

It is amazing how quickly a cabinet fills up. I thought there would be plenty of room. My control system friends would probably cringe.

Some of the switches and lights are unused for now - there are not enough lines in the parallel port, so eventually I will have to put another parallel port card in the PC. I bought one already, but it is so dodgy and I do not see it working (capacitors snapped off the board). Get what you pay for I guess.

It is alive!..........

Well sort of.

It is midnight. when I powered it up it tripped the RCD. Lucky I Found a matchbox to illuminate the way out of my workshop.

And then I remembered having a problem with a VSD tripping a RCD at work a couple of years ago (and I think it was the same brand), so I hope that I can sort that out. I have another VSD on my dust collector for my woodworking machines (it is a WEG), and that one does not trip the RCD, so worst case I swap them over and throw out the nice shiny new delta.

So the above pic is with the VSD breaker switched off.

Now I just need to sort out the VSD issue, finish drilling the gland plate, and then wire in the looms.

Tomorrow this thing is going to cut something!




Re: My latest DIY - "CNC Extravaganza"
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2012, 02:29:50 PM »
Thats some serious work. How have you done the cooling for the spindle? I have the same, which is waiting for the first routing jobs.


Re: My latest DIY - "CNC Extravaganza"
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2012, 10:04:59 AM »
Hey all,

Eric, I do the steel work my self. I can not weld, but the tab and slot construction makes sure that everything goes together OK. And once I grind all the evidence away, i get away with it.

Joshco..... I have the air cooled one.

SO today's update.... Not as much done as I had planned. The machine is finished and everything is operational. The VSD problem is sorted, and everything is working correctly. I am jogging around nicely. The next step is to tweak all of the settings (ill know the final rapid speed then), and then make some G code for it. I am sure that will take longer than I expect. But I am still optimistic for a G9 by the end of the week.




Re: My latest DIY - "CNC Extravaganza"
« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2012, 09:01:42 AM »
Tonight I am on top of the world!

Cut first time, better than I could have dreamed! Now to start CAD/CAM'ing something more useful.



Re: My latest CNC DIY - Success!
« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2012, 01:49:30 PM »


Re: My latest CNC DIY - Success!
« Reply #9 on: July 10, 2012, 09:14:27 PM »
So, so, cool...what are you using for coolant?


Re: My latest CNC DIY - Success!
« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2012, 09:29:25 AM »
Those stepper/servo controllers are pretty cool, a bit spendy but compared to ac servos not bad. From what I can tell the actual controller for the stepper is in the same place as the sensor? Also are you using Mach3 or LinuxCNC??(EMC) Very nice engraving, I would love to see it mill some aluminum.
I think we have a new source for front panels!!



Re: My latest CNC DIY - Success!
« Reply #11 on: July 12, 2012, 11:13:35 AM »
Hi all,

Eric, They are indeed cool motors. Everything is built in, the encoder and all of the electronics. I just give them 48v and the step and direction signals. I found out about them through my day job and have used them for doing scale models or prototypes of systems or mechanism that I am working out how to control. While they are stepper motors, they have encoders and have some kind of clever control inbuilt that makes them perform like servos. In my day job they are great because I can give them a velocity or torque set point in much the same way that you control large VSD's. At work, I am currently using them in a small model of something I am trying to work out how to control, and on the real thing the drives are 275kW.

So anyway, the guy that makes them is pretty friendly and good with support, so when I found out that he had incorporated step and direction control, I decided they were perfect for my machine. Yep they cost more than the ebay steppers and drives, but these ones are closed loop so I do not expect to suffer from missed steps like i did on the old machine.

Ptownkid, The coolant device is a "koolmist" which I bought from the US. It is a bit tricky to adjust, but I think it will get better when I put a check valve on it so the coolant does not flow back to the bottle. It was a bit of an impulse buy, and after I had bought it,I discovered a couple of others on the market, but I'm sure it will work out. Koolmist sell their own lube, but because of shipping costs, I found some locally in OZ.

Anyway, moving towards something audio........!

Last night I tried engraving a couple of things, but the tool paths were not ideal (lesson learned - join all of the little vectors!).

Here is a closeup of a non audio related thing I'm trying to engrave (part of a wedding gift for my brother in law)......

And I just did up a first audio panel......Not perfect. it only took half an hour. I now have a sample of anodized ali so Ill be engraving and cutting it tomorrow. It will be intersting to see how it turns out compared to the soft (welding grade?) aluminium offcuts that I have used to now (the above pictures just looks like brass because of the lighting).

If all goes well, I am going to try and profile the outside edges (cleanup) and put on a bevel around the outside as well.

Videos will come eventually, but I just need to find the best way and the time to get them uploaded somewhere.




First 500 panel! My latest CNC DIY
« Reply #12 on: July 13, 2012, 08:34:14 PM »
Morning all,

Well today is the last day of my CNC extravaganza. I will soon be reunited with my family.

Yesterday was good....

It will never end up being used. The font was not ideal for engraving. I think it will take a while to come up with a short list of the best (but not boring) fonts for engraving. What you can not see in this pic is that I profiled around the outside and the cut is nice and smooth (much nicer than the guillotine finish).

And I will come clean. I snapped a bit - see the divot under the infinity sign. I paused the machine to change the tool length slightly (the holes were not going all the way through) and then mach3 went a bit crazy when I tried to restart. But even after a restart and a new tool, it was bang on. Gotta love good homing switches.

So the task for today..... the ultimate goal. A G9 panel.




Re: G9 done! My latest CNC DIY
« Reply #13 on: July 14, 2012, 11:41:05 AM »
Evening all,

The CNC extravaganza has finished and I am happy to say that I achieved my goal, as the following pictures will show.

I decided to put a quick website together for my build, which can be found here... https://sites.google.com/site/industriart88/home

Doing the layout and tool path for the G9 took a bit longer than expected, but then to my surprise, it cut without a hitch.....

Action shots.....


And cleaned up....

I'm pretty happy with the detail.......

I just had to put some knobs on to see what it looked like......

So there it is. I must have voted for Pedro, because it would appear that my wildest dream finally came true.




Re: First 500 panel! My latest CNC DIY
« Reply #14 on: July 14, 2012, 03:50:59 PM »
Damn GOOD!!!


Re: First 500 panel! My latest CNC DIY
« Reply #15 on: July 15, 2012, 10:55:20 AM »

Absolutely outstanding work!

Would you care for estimate the rough cost of your setup? I'd love to get involved in this but have a feeling it may be prohibitively expensive for me.


Re: First 500 panel! My latest CNC DIY
« Reply #16 on: July 16, 2012, 02:09:18 AM »
Very, very nice indeed!

When I have money I buy gear. If there's any left I buy food.


Re: First 500 panel! My latest CNC DIY
« Reply #17 on: July 18, 2012, 06:54:04 AM »
Fantastic.... wish my first attempts had been that successful.... wasted lots of metal and broke lots of bits when I first started.

Methylated spirit is an excellent lubricant for engraving aluminium... also, search the net for "single line engraving fonts".... they engrave much quicker and often look better (and you can make them smaller).... you should be able to get some free to download ones.


sam system-d

Re: First 500 panel! My latest CNC DIY
« Reply #18 on: July 19, 2012, 10:59:32 PM »
 :o :o :o
I need something like this...
Je mets les pieds où je veux, et c'est souvent dans la gueule...


Re: First 500 panel! My latest CNC DIY
« Reply #19 on: July 20, 2012, 05:55:36 AM »
Hi Guys.

I was just finishing up a long reply, with breakdown of costs etc etc.... and then my browser disappeared. aaaarrrrggghhh!

So this one will not be as long.

On the issue of cost, I estimate that to build a machine like mine, and if you had to buy everything (but got hold of some bargains) it would cost around 5k. For me though I was able to get the aluminum extrusion as free offcuts, and lots of electrical gear salvaged from the trash where I used to work, so it did not cost anywhere near that much.

If you are interested, I will do a breakdown of costs when I am not so angry at this laptop.

There are places where you can save money, places where it is not worth trying to save money, and places where you just need to get lucky. For example, cheap ballscrews and linear bearings can be found, but you need to be a bit lucky with quality. I have found a good Chinese supplier that seems to be OK. In contrast, I bought some spare 16LU bearings from an Australian supplier and they are unusable. Also, I would never go back to open loop steppers again, so there is somewhere where I would not try to save.

But I will say this. The hobby of CNC could easily take up as much time and money as DIY audio so if you are just looking for quick cheap panels, forget it! If you are looking for the chemical free high that I experienced when my machine did not miss a beat for 1 hour and my G9 panel appear before my eyes, jump in!

I designed mine to do 19" panels, up to 8U high (not sure why) but if you only want to do 51x size stuff there are OK looking machines on ebay that can be had for around a grand, but then I would spend a bit upgrading the drives, possibly the spindle and home switches. but that will certainly start to add up. And do not forget to put $400 aside for some tooling and material to get started with.

Colin, yep I hear you on the single line fonts. I spent a while looking into those years ago with the woodworking machine, and particularly with the small stuff It will be the go. Back then the single line fonts were essential because I could not expect the machine to run for an hour without missing steps. It would come back to do the first letter in the sentence and it would be out of line. The EVO drives don't miss steps, so for my initial trials it was nice to be able to choose any type of font (like for my "G9 dirty" emblem.

And I will also be experimenting with Meths as a lube. The jury is out on whether the misting system was all that nessesary. I need to put some solenoid valves close to the actual unit so the fluid does not siphon back down to the bottle (need this for CNC use)