Ancient TV Remote Becomes a CNC Pendant

DIY CNC Pendant

Needing a control pendant for his CNC machine, [Bob Davis] took to his scrap bin and started looking for parts. What he came up with is pretty cool — that’s a rather old Zenith TV remote providing the enclosure!

When building a homemade CNC machine, many people overlook one of the most handy components — the control pendant. On a commercial machine, they can get pretty pricey — on a homemade machine, most people just use the computer to control it, but if you’ve used a pendant before you know how handy they are for manual operations!

So what should you do? Well, you could make a second dedicated keyboard for your CNC machine (arguably not much of a hack, but rather clever) — or you could build a pendant from scratch like [Bob] did. It’s pretty simple; he’s using a 555 timer, a few momentary toggle switches, an LED, and plans to add a potentiometer in the future for speed control. It’s all housed in the old TV remote, and seems to do the trick just fine — take a look in the following video:

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The Pi CNC Controller

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Back in the olden days, the latest and greatest CNC machines had minicomputers bolted onto their frames, replete with paper tape readers and seven segment displays. For the home CNC machinist of today, these hulking electronic brains are replaced with something a little more modern – desktop computers with parallel ports. Having a box filled with computers and motor drivers is just too cool though, and this tiny Raspberry Pi CNC controller fits the bill quite nicely.

The controller uses a Raspberry Pi as the brains of the device, but there aren’t too many options out there for stepper motor control in Pi land. There are, however, dozens of CNC shields or the Arduino. The Pi AlaMode board is able to provide voltage level conversion between the CNC shield and the pi, and also has the nice bonus of a battery-backed real time clock.

With some proper connectors, lighted buttons, and a beautiful cable sleeving job, this Pi CNC controller would be well suited for any of the desktop CNC  or engraving builds we see from time to time.

 

CNC’d And Anodized Ti Engagement Rings

Ti

[Patrick] met someone, and then some stuff happened. Good for him. Because of this, [Patrick] found himself in need of a pair of engagement rings. With a friend, some titanium bar stock, and an awesome lathe, he turned out a few awesome rings and also managed to selectively anodize them with a subtle rainbow of colors.

RingsMaking a ring on a lathe is a relatively simple ordeal, but the two larger rings [Patrick] made (one was for a friend) featured some interesting patterns that aren’t easy to make without a good CNC setup. Luckily, this friend has an awesome CNC with a rotary fourth axis.

With the machining out of the way, [Patrick] then turned to anodization. This was done by constructing a simple power supply with a variac, four diodes, and a big honkin’ cap. He managed to get a good result with a sodium carbonate solution. He doesn’t have any good pictures of it, but by varying the voltage from 20 to 100 Volts, the color of the anodization will change from green, purple, to yellow, to blue.

Finally, A Desktop CNC Machine With A Real Spindle

spindle

While cheap hobby CNC mills and routers are great machines that allow you to build things a 3D printer just can’t handle, they do have their limitations. They’re usually powered by a Dremel or other rotary tool, so speed control of the spindle via Gcode is nigh impossible. They’re also usually built with a piece of plywood as the bed – cheap, but not high on repeatability. The Nomad CNC mill fixes these problems, and manages to look good and be pretty cheap, to boot.

Instead of using a Dremel or other rotary tool to cut materials, the Nomad team is using a brushless DC motor connected to a real spindle. With a few certain motors, this allows for closed loop control of the spindle;  Sending S4000 Gcode to the mill will spin the spindle at 4000 RPM, and S6000 runs the spindle at 6000 RPM, whether it’s going through foam or aluminum. This is something you just can’t do with the Dremel or DeWalt rotary tools found in most desktop mills and routers.

Along with a proper spindle, the Nomad also features homing switches, a tool length probe, and a few included fixtures that make two-sided machining – the kind you need it you’re going to machine a two-layer PCB – possible, and pretty simple, too. The softwares controlling the mill are Carbide Motion and MeshCAM, a pretty popular and well put together CNC controller. Of course the mill itself speaks Gcode, so it will work with open source CNC software.

It’s all a very slick and well put together package. Below you can find a video of the Nomad milling out a Hackaday logo.

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A Brilliant and Elegant CNC Pendant

pendant

[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

Quadcopter

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!

CNCdust-main2

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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