$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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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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THP Entry: Etch-A-CNC

etchacncCNC machines have been around for decades, but only recently have small desktop routers, 3D printers, and laser cutters brought G code to the tabletop. Obviously, this is a teaching opportunity, and if you’re trying to get kids interested in the inner workings of machines that build things, you can’t begin with obtuse codes understood only by machines and CNC operators.

[johnyang] is building his own CNC controller based on something just about every kid is already familiar with: the Etch A Sketch. He’s retrofitted a small, travel size Etch A Sketch with an LCD, buttons, rotary encoders, and a Raspberry Pi to turn this primitive drawing toy into a machine that generates G code for a Shapeoko 2 CNC mill.

The user interface for this CNC controller is as similar to the Etch A Sketch as [johnyang] can make it – two rotary encoders draw a shape on the LCD, and G code is generated from the drawn shape. Adding a third dimension is a bit of a challenge – it looks like two buttons take care of the up and down movement of the spindle. Still, [johnyang] plans to add the definitive Etch A Sketch feature – holding it upside down and shaking it will reset the CNC to its original state.

There are a few videos of [johnyang]‘s progress. You can check those out below.

SpaceWrencherThe project featured in this post is an entry in The Hackaday Prize. Build something awesome and win a trip to space or hundreds of other prizes.

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Not Having The Room Isn’t A Good Reason To Not Have A CNC Router Anymore

PhlatPrinter CNC Machine

Typically, CNC Machines take up a larger footprint than that of the raw material it is cutting. The size of such a machine may have prevented interested makers/hackers from buying or building one for themselves. If you are one of those people then you’d be interested in [Fly3DMon's] series of CNC Router projects called PhlatPrinter.

A typical CNC Router has a bed that the work piece is mounted to and that work piece stays stationary. The tool then moves in 3 axes, removing material, leaving behind a finished part. The PhlatPrinter works more like a large format plotter, where the work piece is moved back and forth via rollers while the tool only moves in 2 directions. What this allows is a CNC Machine that takes up very little floor space when not in use that can handle any length of material!

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CNC 3020 Router gets a Power Supply Upgrade

CNC3020 Router power supply upgrade

We’ve covered these CNC 3020’s in the past. They are physically solid machines but the electronics offer some room for improvement. [Peter] is certainly no novice at working on these machines. He’s already fixed a failed power supply and he’s back at the upgrades, again focused on the power supply. This time he’s replacing the transformer-based one with a couple switching power supplies.

The stepper controllers and spindle speed circuit need both 48 and 24 VDC. [Peter] purchased two separate power supplies, one for each voltage required. Before installing the new supplies, the stock one had to be removed, along with the transformer. Even with the old parts removed, there was still not enough room for both new supplies to be installed inside the stock case. [Peter] decided that mounting them to the top of the case would be appropriate.

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Running Minecraft On Two Routers


[CNLohr] is no stranger to running Minecraft on some weird hardware. Earlier, he built this Linux powered microscope slide… thing to toggle LEDs with redstone levers in Minecraft. Figuring if Minecraft could run on an AVR, he decided to try the same thing on a router, a TP-LINK TL-WR841N to be specific. Like the microscope slide running Linux, this proved to be an easy task. [CNLohr] had another router he could run Minecraft on, and this one could also punch wood. There really was only one thing for him to do.

Like the microscope slide and the wireless router, [CNLohr]‘s CNC router is now running a Minecraft server. The phrase, “because it’s there” comes to mind. When connected to the CNC server, the player controls a snow golem (a snowman with a jack ‘o lantern head) with a carrot. Wherever the snow golem goes, the tool head follows, allowing him to carve objects in the world, and on a sheet of MDF secured in the CNC machine.

It’s certainly an odd build, but [CNLohr] was able to carve out a pixeley, blocky Hackaday logo with the snow golem controlled CNC machine. Code here, video below.

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Shapeoko 2 Mods: Dust Mitigation and Limit Switches



Not long ago the Shapeoko 2 came out. In case you missed it, the Shapeoko 2 is the 2nd generation bench-top CNC Router of the namesake. All axes roll on Makerslide and v-wheels. The X and Y axes are belt driven, power is transmitted to the Z axis by lead screw.

As with most products, there will be people who must hack, mod or upgrade their as-received item.  If you are a regular Hackaday reader, you are probably one of those people. And as one of those people, you would expect there have been a few individuals that have not left this machine alone.

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