DIY 3D Tilt Sensor

tilt If you’re trying to detect the orientation of an object, sometimes you really don’t need a 6DOF gyro and accelerometer. Hell, if you only need to detect if an object is tilted, you can get a simple “ball in a tube” tilt sensor for pennies. [tamberg] liked this idea, but he required a tilt sensor that works in the X, Y, and Z axes. Expanding on the ‘ball in a tube’ construction of simple tilt sensors, he designed a laser cut 3D tilt sensor that does all the work of of a $30 IMU.

The basic design of this tilt sensor is pretty simple – just an octahedron with four nails serving as switch contacts at each vertex. An aluminum ball knocks around inside this contraption, closing the nail head switches depending on what orientation it’s in. Simple, and the three dimensional version of a ball in tube tilt sensor.

To get the tilt data to the outside world, [tamberg] is using an Adafruit Bluetooth module, with two of the nails in each corner connected to a pin. With just a little bit of code, this 3D tilt sensor becomes a six-way switch to control an RGB LED. Video of that below.

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$250; Pushing The Limit On Cheap (And Functional) CNC Machine Builds


$250 cnc machine - rotary tool

Cost is always a drawback and a hurdle when buying or building a CNC Machine, especially when building it just for fun or hobby. [Eric] was able to cobble together a working 3-axis rotary tool based machine for about $250, a few trips to the hardware store and a bunch of time.

The machine design is loosely based on this one he found on Instructables. [Eric] chose this style because he felt the boom supported tool would have been more stable and easier to build than a gantry style machine. Skate bearings, HDPE sliders and c-channel aluminum were used to support the XY table instead of traditional linear bearings and rails. All three axes are driven with stepper motors and 1/4″-20 threaded rods. The Harbor Freight dremel-style rotary tool helps keep the overall cost down.

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LinuxCNC Based Plasma Cutter Router

cnc plasma cutter

If a wood CNC router just isn’t enough for you, you’re going to need something a little bit more powerful. Relatively speaking, the next most affordable step up is a CNC plasma cutter. Mhmm… Plasma…


[Maker Works] of Ann Arbor decided it was time to add some serious metal working capabilities to their already impressive mech shop. The design is based on of  [JoesCNC], however they’ve opted for some seriously beefy servo motors, instead of steppers.

The frame is made out of 8020 aluminum extrusions, which certainly adds to the cost, but results in a very professionally built machine. X and Y axis’ make use of NEMA 34 Servo motors, driven by Granite Devices VSD-E servo drivers. The Z-axis uses a NEMA 23 with a Gecko 320X driver. To further increase the power of these guys, 10:1 reduction gearboxes are used on both the X and Y.

All in all the project cost approximately $8,000, though after lessons learned, they think they could redo it for around $6,000.

When they first started testing it, they were dismayed with how dirty the room got from the fine dust created by the plasma cutter — so they’ve upgraded to a water tray bed (2″ deep), which helps immensely. In fact, the part doesn’t even need to be fully submerged in water for it to cut down pretty much all of the dust. The water also helps prevent damage to the aluminum bed underneath.

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Building a Wood CNC Router From Scratch

home made cnc router

[David Taylor] needed a CNC router to do some more complex projects — so he did what any maker would do if they’re strapped for cash — make it from scratch!

The impressive part of this build is that it was built entirely in his workshop, using tools he already had. A chop saw, wood lathe, drill and a drill press, and finally a table saw — nothing fancy, but now with the CNC router he has a world of possibilities for projects! The mechanical parts he had to buy cost around $600, which isn’t too bad considering the size of the router. He lucked out though and managed to get the Y-axis and Z-axis track and carriages as free samples — hooray for company handouts!

The router is using an old computer loaded with LinuxCNC which is a great (and free!) software for use with CNC machines. It’s driving a cheap Chinese TB6560 motor controller which does the trick, though [David] wishes he went for something a bit better.

Some examples of the projects he’s already made using this baby include an awesome guitar amp, a wooden Mini-ATX computer case, and even a rather sleek wooden stereo with amp!

Did we mention it can even cut non-ferrous materials?

[via Reddit]

One-Off Kapton Solder Masks


With the proliferation of desktop routers, and a number of easy methods to create PCBs at home, there’s no reason anyone should ever have to buy a pre-made breakout board ever again. The traditional techniques only give you a copper layer, however, and if you want a somewhat more durable PCB, you’ll have figure out some way to create a solder mask on your homebrew PCBs. [Chris] figured Kapton tape would make a reasonable soldermask, and documented the process of creating one with a laser cutter over on the Projects site.

The solder mask itself is cut from a piece of Kapton tape, something that should be found in any reasonably well-stocked tinkerer’s toolbox. The software for [Chris]‘ laser cutter, a Universal Laser Systems model, already has a setting for mylar film that came in handy for the Kapton tape,

Of course, getting the correct shapes and dimensions for the laser to cut required a bit of fooling around in Eagle and Corel Draw. The area the laser should cut was taken from the tCream and tStop layers in Eagle with a 1 mil pullback from the edges of the pads. This was exported to an .EPS file, opened in Corel Draw, and turned into a line art drawing for the laser cutter.

The result is a fast and easy solder mask that should be very durable. While it’s probably not as durable as the UV curing paints used in real PCBs, Kapton will be more than sufficient for a few prototypes before spinning a real board.

CNC Plasma Cutter Build Presented In Excruciating Detail

Detailed CNC Plasma Cutter Build

If you have been wondering what it takes to build a CNC Plasma Cutter then get ready to look no further. [Desert Fabworks] has documented the trials and tribulations of their CNC Plasma Cutter build. Saying it is extremely detailed would be an understatement. They cover everything from choosing components to machine setup.

The group already had a CNC Plasma Cutter that they have outgrown. To justify the new purchase the replacement machine would have to have a few non-negotiable features: 4×8 ft cutting area, torch height control, water table, cutting up to 1/2″ steel and be easy to operate and maintain. For the frame and gantry, they settled on a Precision Plasma kit as they felt it was the best value that met their requirements. The electronics package was separate from the frame kit and was provided by CandCNC. Among other things, this package included the power supply, stepper motors, stepper drivers and the torch height controller. For the plasma cutter itself [Desert Fabworks] chose a Hypertherm Powermax65 which can cut up to an inch thick of mild steel and has swappable torches so the main unit can be used for both the CNC table and hand cuts.

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Adding Spindle Direction And Coolant Control To Your CNC Machine

CNC3020 spindle direction control and coolant system

[Peter] is back at it, again modding his CNC3020 router. This time he’s adding a coolant system and spindle direction control. If you have ever tried cutting plexiglass using a mill, router or even a band saw, then you know it is common for those plastic chips to melt together and form a crusty trail of goobers directly behind the cutting tool. Turning down the spindle speed helps a little but the intent of the coolant system is to eliminate the globular mess all together.

It appears the coolant flow is open loop, meaning the initial coolant reservoir is not replenished automatically. The coolant starts in a container and is moved via a pump through a silicone hose. At the end of the hose there is a nozzle mounted to the Z axis which points the coolant stream at the tool bit. The nozzle is plastic and made from a re-purposed and modified flux application container. [Peter] took advantage of the machine’s bed being made of slotted extruded aluminum. The bed catches the coolant which then travels down the channels to the front of the machine where it is collected in a custom made bin. The parts of this plexi bin were actually cut out using this machine! Gravity then drains the contents of this bin into another container residing at a lower altitude.

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