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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DAGU: The Standalone CNC Controller


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


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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