As with most writers for [HAD], I enjoy doing projects as much as I like writing about them. As a mechanical Engineer that writes for a blog mostly about electronics, a CNC router seemed like something I needed in my garage. Building a router like this requires a bit of expertise in both electronics and mechanics, so it seemed like a good challenge.
This router kit, made by Zen Toolworks, comes fairly complete frame-wise, but requires a lot of knowledge on the electrical side to get things running correctly. In order to make it look decent and work correctly, I had to rely on some zip-tie and basic diagnostic skills that I’ve honed as a former engineering Co-op and technician. Also, I had to figure out a way to cheaply stack everything in my garage as we park two cars there (the footprint is 14″ x 22″, so I consider that a success).
One of the bigger challenges that I still have to overcome with this project is learning “G-code” and how to use software to generate it. Although I’ve done some basic programming already, as seen in the video after the break, there’s still much to learn. I’d hope that having this tool around can lead to better projects as I won’t have to be restricted to simple milled lines and circles anymore.
As for my work as an engineer, it’s rare that I’m called upon to machine parts myself, however, having this background helps immensely when designing machinery. Additionally, working as a manufacturing engineer, nearly everything I deal with involves some sort of electronics, so having a basic understanding of this is really essential. I’d encourage anyone thinking about going into this field to learn as much as they can about electronics and how things work in general. [HAD] is a great source for this, so keep reading and submitting your hacks!
As a bonus, here’s another stop-motion video of everything going together: