Birth of a 4-axis CNC machine

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Blog series by DS updated 06-23-2014 04:47 AM 12 parts 42715 reads 195 comments total

Part 1: T-slot comes home

10-25-2012 04:25 PM by DS | 20 comments »

I’ve been planning a 4-axis machine in my head for more than a decade now. Every time I go to put it on paper, I get another idea and end up trashing all my notes. I have a pretty good idea what I want and the materials I can acquire on the cheap will dictate most of what ends up becoming my completed machine. I want to be able to do 3 axis machining on a small basis, but also a 4th rotary axis for doing and carving on turnings and 3-D objects. I’ve found a lot of good c...

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Part 2: Putting it together - a start, anyways.

10-29-2012 06:48 PM by DS | 10 comments »

Well, as promised, here are some more pics of the process. Before; First thing I had to do was tap the end screw holes for the corner brackets. I could have used these with the t-slot connectors and not had to tap anything, but I wanted the brackets to do double-duty as end caps too. I didn’t have an appropriate tap, so I used my dremel tool to cut a groove across the threads of a screw, being careful to leave a good cutting edge on the leading edge of the threads. With a l...

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Part 3: How lovely are the feet!

11-21-2012 04:07 PM by DS | 58 comments »

Okay, so I finally had to spend some money on this project… I knew I needed a good foundation on this beast of a machine I am going to build, so I went about looking for a suitable set of leveler feet for it.What I decided on turned out to be fairly cost effective and appropriately substantial to handle the anticipated load I’m going to put on this thing. For $26.99 I found a set of four Billiard table legs on Amazon which looked like they would mount up perfectly to my mach...

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Part 4: Linear Rails - WOO HOO! - eBay doesn't totally suck after all.

03-21-2013 09:39 PM by DS | 14 comments »

Just won these on eBay! I’ll bet most of you gave up on this build!This will be for the main x-axis which will carry the gantry. There’s enough resources (read money) left to buy the A xis motor, gear head, chuck and tailstock.After that it’s back to the waiting-for-money game. :-( If only the clerk at the 7-eleven would stop selling me the LOSING lottery tickets this would go faster. Expected delivery March 27th(I feel like a proud Papa) ——...

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Part 5: Bet you thought I gave up on this...

01-31-2014 07:01 AM by DS | 12 comments »

I decided to widen the machine when I started planning for the y axis. I was going to have to cut down most rails anyway so I thought I’d rather have the extra capacity.Also, while I had the entire assembly tore down, I decided to add the maple panels into the frame to rigidize the entire assembly. It has really made a big difference. The y axis began with the guide bearings and some 2” angle.I threaded the ends on the 80/20 rails and secured them to the angle. The plan ...

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Part 6: Y axis coming together...

02-23-2014 04:25 AM by DS | 13 comments »

Received the y axis THK rails yesterday—just in time for the weekend. I was able to mount them and begin assembling the y axis carriage.As soon as the rack and pinion arrives I’ll be able to make the motor mount box and start focusing on the z axis plate. The y axis rack and pinion gears are stuck in Chicago almost a week already. Not sure what the hold up is.The cable drag chains arrived today from the east coast with no issues. The chains themselves came as thre...

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Part 7: Early Christmas... Motors and power and drivers -- oh my!

02-28-2014 03:44 AM by DS | 6 comments »

Looky what fell off of the ups truck in front of my house today! 1600oz micro stepper motors 7.8A drivers and power supplies…All good to go. The Y rack and pinion showed up earlier too Unfortunately, this is the end of the shopping spree for now.I’ll have to see how far I can go with what I have. ————————————————————Weekend update: Y axis motor...

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Part 8: Control box enclosure - the machine now has a key!

03-17-2014 07:44 AM by DS | 16 comments »

Now that I have all my power supplies drivers and controllers, all those electronics need a nice safe playground to hang out in away from the dusty environs that the machine will no doubt foster. At first I didn’t think I could get a box this nice. These water-tight Nema enclosures are big bucks!But, I found a guy on eBay with a reasonable asking price, ( his wife must’ve wanted to park her car in their garage again ), and I made an offer, sobbed out my poor man’s DIY cnc...

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Part 9: Control panel layout and wiring

04-22-2014 06:06 AM by DS | 6 comments »

You can’t tell, but, I’ve been puttering around with the control panel for a couple of weekends. I still need a few standoffs to mount the open circuit cards to the backplane, but everything else is bolted down. The motor control wiring from the drivers out to the machine takes a shielded four wire cable that costs less for 500 feet than for 100 feet. Weird how that works. I can get 500 feet for $55 but I only need 100 feet, which would cost me $69. I have no idea wha...

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Part 10: The F-150 gambit... Git er done!

05-11-2014 10:50 PM by DS | 10 comments »

Well, me, myself and I had a come to Jesus meeting and decided that if I wanted to get this machine built in my lifetime I was going to need to take drastic measures. When I add up all the parts and software I still need to complete the machine and begin producing amazing onlays, moldings and turnings, it came to nearly $7000! How was I going to do this at my current pace? Fact is, that I wasn’t going to finish anytime soon.So, I decided to sell my beautiful F-150 and use the mone...

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Part 11: Z-Axis comes together

05-27-2014 06:14 AM by DS | 17 comments »

Z-Axis ball screw assembly Z-Axis Plate preparation Z-Axis linear rails Z-Axis motor mount Coming together Still have to finish the ball screw to z plate attachment bracket but that should be quick work.

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Part 12: X axis build (again)

06-23-2014 04:47 AM by DS | 13 comments »

I put off assembling the x axis rack and pinion until I was able to purchase the rest of the parts. The y and z axis has to build on the x axis. I bought the linear rails a long time ago, so the y and z were built on top of this. Well, now that I am ready to finish the x axis, I had to remove the y and z from the gantry. The pinion gear assembly took a bit of work but they are finally ready. Due to the depth of the pinion gear and the mounted flanged bearing, I had to build o...

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