LearnCNC Game

learnCNC

Do you want to learn how a CNC machine works, but don’t have access to one (yet)? One of our tipsters just informed us of this great project that was created by a team of students from the University of British Columbia, and it’s an interactive 3D learning system that teaches everything about CNC machining.

We downloaded the “game” and it’s pretty cool — you get to walk around a virtual workshop and can click on various things to learn about their functions. Alternatively, you can go just go through their lessons (that appear when you click on things) on the website. It’s a great summary to get your feet wet in the world of CNC machining.

Beyond how the machines themselves work, the website also goes into great detail about the various applications you can use CNC machining for and physics behind tooling design.

Even if you’ve had a brief introduction to CNC machining before, this site provides a great summary of most everything — it’ll be very handy if you’re hoping to use a school’s machine shop for personal projects…

[Thanks Chris!]

Tricky Repair of Power Driver for CNC Machine

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Designing and building something from scratch is one thing. But repairing fried electronics is a much different type of dark art. This video from [Mike's Electric Stuff] is from more than a year ago, but we didn’t think you’d mind since what he accomplishes in it is so impressive. He’s got a burnt out pick and place hybrid power module which isn’t going to fix itself.

The power module construction includes a part that has chip-on-board-style MOSFETs and the circuitry that goes with them enclosed in a black plastic housing. It’s kind of like a submodule was encapsulated using the same plastic as integrated circuits. After cracking it open it appears the bonding wire has burnt away. [Mike] connects a jumper wire to one of the board traces in order to use an external MOSFET. This is much easier said than done since the module substrate is ceramic designed to dissipate heat. We’re amused by his technique of melting the jumper into the plastic housing to protect it from the heat sink that goes over the package. In the end he gets his CNC running again. This may not be the best long-term fix but he just needed to continue running until a proper replacement part arrives.

Oh, one more thing: the Metcal vacuum desolderer he uses in the video… do want!

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A Six Part CNC Machine

CNC

CNC machines are impressive pieces of kit. We’re all for seeing the big, burly, impressive machines, but there’s something to be said about seeing how small they can get. [Jay] has what is probably the most minimal CNC plotter we’ve ever seen, built from only six 3D printed parts.

[Jay]‘s plotter is based on the Piccolo, an exceedingly small-scale CNC platform that can be built for $70 with laser-cut parts. This version, though, uses only six parts that can be downloaded from Thingiverse. Powered by an Arduino and two micro servos, this CNC plotter would be a great introduction to CNC for any robotics club or hackerspace tutorial series.

[Jay] has been doing some awesome work with CNC plotters; we saw his large format Plotterbot earlier this month, and his giant plotted HaD logo with HaD infill poster was a great submission to our Trinket contest.

Video of [Jay]‘s plotter in action available after the break.

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DIY CNC Rotary 4th Axis

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Here’s a great CNC hack that adds a ton of functionality, a DIY rotary 4th axis!

[Jim] had started this project over a year ago when he originally ordered the gearhead off eBay, but like many good intentions, sometimes projects just get pushed to the back burner until necessity forces action. That necessity was entering our Trinket Contest, and he decided to finish it off just so he could put a HaD logo on a piece of PVC for us!

Unfortunately it took him a bit too long, and he only finished it last week — but luckily he had a fallback plan, and submitted his CNC Etch a Sketch project instead, which won him a Trinket anyway!

The 4th axis uses a 276oz-in stepper motor which is directly coupled to a Harmonic Drive Systems 11:1 planetary gearhead. It’s extremely accurate, has minimal backlash, and by using a 10 microstepping Gecko stepper drive, [Jim] is getting about 61 steps per degree of rotation. Not bad for a home-made setup!

Check out his blog for a great write up on the project, and stick around after the break to see the 4th axis in action.

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One-night No Budget CNC Machine

low budget CNC machine

The Hackerspace Kraków in Poland hosts a weekly event on Fridays called NightHack. The idea is simple. It’s late Friday night, all the stores are closed — something needs to be hacked.

Just this past Friday night, they decided to try making a CNC machine using only what they had in the space. And gosh darn it, did they ever succeed! The build makes use of an Arduino Mega, broken Playstation 3 drives, a few spare L293D ICs, some hot glue, and wood. The resulting CNC machine is an awesome example of what can be done in a night with the right group of people working together.

It might not be powerful enough to do milling, but works quite well as a small CNC drawing plotter with its massive 5x5cm work area, with a resolution of 0.16mm. Next week they hope to modify it to allow for PCB drilling, which at the right feed rates, might just be possible!

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HHH: Delta CNC Mill

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[Dan] wrote in to show off the delta-bot CNC mill which he and some buddies got up and running over the course of about two weeks. The team from Mad Fellows — a hackerspace in Prescott, Arizona — put their heads together and managed to build the thing from mostly parts-on-hand. Would you believe they’re only out-of-pocket about $100 in new materials?

After a bit of modeling work they started scavenging for parts, recovering most of the acrylic stock from dead LCD monitors. But there are many parts like the stepper motors, precision rods, bearings, belts, and pulleys that can’t or shouldn’t be salvaged in order to end up with a reasonably solid machine tool. We like [Dan's] tip that the parts should be screwed together as gluing them would be problematic when it comes time to replace broken components.

You may be wondering about the strength of a delta-bot for milling. The purpose of the build is to make molds for investment casting. The lost-material (we don’t know if it’s wax or something else) is quite easy to machine and you can see in the clip after the jump that the mill does a great job. But they also did some tests on aluminum and apparently it’s not a problem.

The CNC version of HHH is over, so why are we posting this now? We messed up. [Dan] sent in a qualifying entry before the deadline and somehow we let it slip through the cracks. Sorry [Dan]! Better late than never — we’ll get a T-shirt in the mail right away.

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HHH: CNC Winners

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Congratulations to the winners of the first Hackaday Hackerspace Henchmen series. We asked hackerspace members to send us stories about CNC hacks. Here’s a roundup of the three winners:

[Rich] from the Connecticut Hackerspace gets the top spot having sent in the story of their desktop CNC mill hacks. He gets a $50 gift card to the parts vendor of his choosing.

[Barnaby] is also a winner for sharing the story of how they hacked a script to translate G-Code into the proprietary format accepted by the desktop CNC mill at rlab.

And [Tim's] submission showed how a movable storage base was built for the CNC carving machine at The Rabbit Hole.

We had hoped for more entries and planned to send out stickers to all and shirts to the top five. We’ll be sending both shirts and stickers to the three winners. We’re undecided as to whether we should continue the HHH program with a new theme. We’d love to hear what you think about it in the comments section.