A Brilliant and Elegant CNC Pendant

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[Mike Douglas] has a small hobby CNC router, which works great — but you’re limited to controlling it from your PC. And unfortunately, there just aren’t pendants made for this consumer level stuff. Annoyed at having to reach over to use his keyboard all the time, he stumbled upon a simple, but brilliant solution: A dedicated USB 10-key pendant keypad.

These USB keypads are designed for laptops that don’t have full size keyboards. They can be had for a few dollars from China, and let you expand your keyboard possibilities… All [Mike] had to do was print off some stickers to put on the keys!

It’s easy to program new hot keys in Mach3  – and there you go! Why haven’t we thought of this before? While you’re at it, why not build a cyclonic dust separator for your CNC too — and if you’re having trouble clamping down work pieces, [Mike] has a pretty cool solution for that as well.

 

 

Building a Quadcopter with a CNC Mill and a 3D Printer

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Quadcopters are a ton of fun to play with, and even more fun to build. [Vegard] wrote in to tell us about his amazing custom DIY quadcopter frame that uses a commercial flight control system.

Building a quadcopter is the perfect project to embark upon if you want to test out your new CNC mill and 3D printer. The mechanical systems are fairly simple, yet result in something unbelievably rewarding. With a total build time of 30 hours (including Sketchup modeling), the project is very manageable for weekend hackers. [Vegard's] post includes his build log as well as some hard learned lessons. There are also tons of pictures of the build. Be sure to read to read the end of the post, [Vegard] discusses why to “never trust a quadcopter” and other very useful information. See it in action after the break.

While the project was a great success, it sadly only had about 25 hours of flight-time before a fatal bird-strike resulted in quite a bit of damage. Have any of your quadcopters had a tragic run-in with another flying object? Let us know in the comments.

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DIY CNC Dust Collection Really Sucks!

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CNC Routers are great. If you’ve ever used one you know this but you also know that they will cover the machine and everything around it with a layer of dust. It is certainly possible to use a shop vac to suck up the dust coming from the router, however, the only problem with that is the shop vac’s filter will clog with dust and lose suction, defeating the intent of your vac system.

CNCdust-assembled2[Mike Douglas] was ready to step up his CNC game and decided to make his own dust separator. This design is extremely simple and only uses a couple 5 gallon buckets, a few PVC fittings and pieces of wood. To keep the cost down and the style up, the accompanying ‘shop-vac’ is also made from 5 gallon bucket with a vacuum lid. The project is well documented so head over to his site and check out the build process.

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MRRF: ARM-Based CNC Controllers

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8-bit microcontrollers are the standard for RepRap electronics, but eventually something better must come along. There has been a great deal of progress with ARM-based solutions, and of course a few of these made a showing at the Midwest RepRap Festival.

First up is [Mark Cooper], creator of Smoothieboard, the ultimate RepRap and CNC controller. It’s an ARM Cortex-M3 microcontroller with Ethernet, SD card, and up to five stepper drivers. It had a Kickstarter late last year and has just finished shipping all the rewards to the backers. In our video interview, [Mark] goes over the functions of Smoothieboard and tells us about some upcoming projects: the upcoming Smoothiepanel will feature a graphic LCD, SD card, rotary encoder and buttons, all controlled over USB by the Smoothieboard.

Next up is [Charles] with a whole bunch of CNC capes for the Beaglebone. By far the most impressive board was a huge I/O expander, motor driver, and everything controller for a Beaglebone featuring – get this – three parallel port interfaces. This was a one-off board costing thousands of dollars, but [Charles] did show off a few smaller and more practical boards for Beaglebone CNC control. Here’s a link to [Charles]‘ capes.

Videos below.

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A Different Kind of CNC Workpiece Clamp

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[Mike Douglas] joined the world DIY CNC machining recently with a FireBall X90 CNC router. Instead of buying an expensive aluminum T-slot bed, he decided to try something we haven’t seen before…

His local hardware store sells aluminum bar clamps designed for clamping wood together — the best part? Only $10 each. What he’s done is added the bar clamps along the two sides of his bed, by adding plywood braces attached to the outside frame of the machine. He is losing a few inches of his usable bed area, but the added convenience of a quick clamping system is well worth it.

With the clamps in place, all he has to do is add two wooden braces (the black bars in the image above) to hold his work piece in place. This wouldn’t work very well for cutting metal, but this CNC router isn’t designed for that anyway.

Too bad he didn’t finish it sooner — it would have been a great entry for our recent Hackaday Hackerspace Henchmen CNC contest!

DAGU: The Standalone CNC Controller

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In terms of user interfaces, 3D printers are far, far beyond the usual CNC machine. It’s difficult to find a new, commercial 3D printer without some sort of display, set of buttons, and an SD card slot for loading G Code and running a printer. For CNC routers, though, you’re usually dealing with a parallel port interface connected to an old computer.

DAGU hopes to change that by providing a huge 240×128 LCD display, a bunch of buttons, and an SD card slot for loading G Code directly from an SD card. This is a fully functional controller, able to deliver 3.5 A to each stepper motor winding.

Right now DAGU is in the prototype stage, but already there are some really interesting features: the interface allows for a basic preview of the job before it begins, and should be somewhat affordable. At least as cheap as using an old computer for CNC control, anyway.

Video demo of the use and operation of DAGU below.

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The Ripper: A Different Kind of CNC Machine

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Here’s an awesome CNC build that crosses a standard CNC router… with a CNC machine capable of milling metal with ease. Introducing The Ripper. No, not Jack.

[Maximilan Mali] has been reading Hack a Day since he was a kid. A few years ago, he saw a guide on a DIY CNC build which inspired him to start designing The Ripper at the young age of 16. He’s 19 now (studying mechatronics in Austria), and raised enough money last summer to finally build his first prototype. It cost approximately 4000€ to build, which is pennies compared to a commercial machine of this caliber.

The machine has a bed size of just over a meter squared, with a Z height of 225mm. It’s also rigid enough to slice through aluminum at 850mm/s with ease! Take a look at the following video — we’re very impressed. Our favorite part is when he shows off its accuracy and repeatability by plunging a tool towards the screen of his very own iPhone.

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