CNC router build #3: Electronic Package going together lickity split...

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Blog entry by Mainiac Matt posted 12-01-2017 08:42 PM 3474 reads 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Z-axis motor mount fabricated and installed. Part 3 of CNC router build series Part 4: Using a CNC to make a CNC... the bots are taking over! »

When I converted my bench top mill to CNC control, I used a really slick little unit called a Gecko-540, that combined the stepper motor drivers, a break out board (with limit switch and spindle signal hook ups) all in a box the size of a box of checks…

And all I did was mount it into a partitioned off area of my home build stand (wood construction) with a power supply.

And while this set up was very inexpensive, easy and totally adequate for a hobby shop, this router build has got to pass muster for commercial industrial use, so I had to plan out housing all the electronics in a NEMA cabinet with professional cable connectors (i.e. no electrical tape visible, etc…). And though I’ve done this once before for our first in-house machine build, laying out the wiring diagram and panel was VERY time consuming (you wouldn’t believe how many hundreds of options there are to sift through for every single little electrical component) .... especially for a gear head like me.

Enter the plug and play controller. $1,500 bucks was way more than I would spend on a home shop build, but when I added up everything that they pack into this little box (4 powerful stepper motor drivers, a 12 amp power supply, break out board, 4 NEMA 23 stepper motors, really nice cables made up with really nice connectors, limit switch connections all wired up, relays to control DC and spindle/router with via. the software, cooling fan, a really nice job on the panel layout, all wired up and pre-testes), the price of the individual components tallied up to just under their ready to go package. I’m REALLY impressed with their build quality. And if we ever decide to upgrade to a spindle with VFD, all we have to do is plug it in!

We also bought their proximity sensor set up, with high quality German no-contact sensors for home and limit switches, and again, professionally made up cables/connectors…

Here it is all laid out on the bench and wired up for testing… took less than an hour…

Springing for the CNC Router Parts plug and play was definitely worth it, and we were spinning the motor sin no time.

You’ll see on the bench, we are re-purposing the micro-PC with embedded Windows installation and touch screen that we purchased 3 years ago (it ran cut optimization software for the Tiger Stop system on the up-cut saws in our woodshop…..long story… sometimes you can’t teach old dogs new tricks).

Stay tuned for hashing out the final decision between Mach 3 and Mach 4 for the controller software package and getting that all set up…

Same bat time, same bat station :^)

-- Matt -- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

5 comments so far

View Jerry's profile


3312 posts in 2254 days

#1 posted 12-01-2017 09:46 PM

Matt, I’m just gobsmacked at your technical knowhow and ability. Building one of these has been a dream of mine for a long time, but I just don’t have the knowledge. I sure wish you would post a step by step tutorial on this build. I know that I for one would appreciate it greatly, and I’m sure the whole community would as well.

-- There are good ships and there are wood ships, the ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships and may they always be.

View oldnovice's profile


7516 posts in 3973 days

#2 posted 12-01-2017 10:32 PM

Outstanding Matt, it looks like your are on a productive path to another CNC.
It is sure nice that the building of a CNC, or other computer controlled machine, is getting to the semi-integrated stage as opposed to component stage.
I will certainly follow our progress!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

9400 posts in 2934 days

#3 posted 12-02-2017 01:17 AM

Hey Jerry,

I’ve been rather infatuated with CNC machines since the company I work for purchased a used CNC router a decade and a half ago. Unfortunately the typical jobs we cut at work are really, really basic, and don’t offer much opportunity to learn, so I figured that if I was really going to understand any of this, I needed to putter about and set up a little rig of my own, hence the bench top mill.

My responsibilities at work broadened about 3 years ago and we set up a little machine shop and made an improved clone of a 30 year old assembly machine that was worn out. So it’s learning by doing… Nothing really original, just copying existing designs and tweaking them hear and there. The basic design for this machine has been floating around in different forms on the router build forum a long time…. I’ve just adapted it to work with the recycled hardware I collect.

-- Matt -- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

View TheFridge's profile


10859 posts in 2092 days

#4 posted 12-02-2017 01:50 AM

You said “pre-testes”.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View casus2402's profile


1 post in 780 days

#5 posted 12-03-2017 07:41 AM

—Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.
here blog

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