Some of us may have been accused of living in Mom’s basement – [Benjamin] kicks it up a notch by keeping an industrial robot in his parent’s
attic shed loft.
[Benjamin] was tasked with stripping down some retired equipment at work. It turns out the “retired equipment” was three Cartesian robots from Adept Robotics. These are large industrial XYZ platforms capable of high speed movements (3000 IPM rapids!).
Getting from a decommissioned machine to a working CNC is never a simple path. In this case [Ben] was able to make the transition relatively easily. Each axis of the robot has a 400 Watt Yaskawa servo with a 65k encoder and brake. The original Adept servo amps and control system was still working, so he kept it. The controllers were new enough that they communicate over a daisy chained IEEE1394 (Firewire) link. That is relatively modern compared to some of the conversions we’ve seen in the past. The final piece of the puzzle was
G-code creation Translating common G-code to a format his machine could recognize. Ben chose MeshCAM for the task.
One problem [Ben] ran into was stuttering on the X-axis. The original machines only had a single sided drive system on the X-axis. Single side is fine for an assembly machine that doesn’t see any tool load. However for a CNC machine that will see spindle loads, a single side drive creates a twisting force which threatens to rack the entire frame. He used one of the drive systems from his spare robot to convert his main machine to a double-sided drive, eliminating the issue.
Continue reading “Turn a decommissioned robot into a CNC machine”
By the time you get to the point in a home CNC build where you’re adding control electronics you may be ready for the simplest means to an end possible. In that case, grab your Arduino and heat up that etching solution to make your own GRBL compatible shield.
This familiar footprint manages to contain everything you need for a three-axis machine. The purple boards slotted into the pairs of SIL headers are Pololu Stepper motor drivers. Going this route makes replacing a burnt out chip as easy as plugging in a new module. The terminal block in the center feeds the higher voltage rail necessary for driving the motors. The DIL header on the right breaks out all of the connections to the limiting switches (two for each axis), spindle and coolant control, as well as three buttons for pause, resume, and abort. There’s even a header for SPI making it easier to add custom hardware if necessary.
This is a dual-layer board which may not be ideal for your own fabrication process. [Bert Kruger] posted his Gerber files for download if you want to put in a small run with OSH Park or a similar service.
If you don’t mind ending up with oddly shaped 3D printed parts you can get your printer to sing to you. The exhibit shown above is doing just that. The Lulzbot is being driven specifically to produce a certain frequency of sound with its stepper motors. The results of a few different songs are what’s hanging on the wall to the right. You can hear it printing Bizet’s Carmen in the clip after the break.
[Rickard Dahlstrand] hacked together a Python script capable of parsing a MIDI file and outputting a G-code equivalent that will produce the frequencies and durations necessary to hear the audio on a stepper motor. As we mentioned, he uses a Lulzbot but the script appears to include setting for Cupcake, Thingomatic, Shapercube, and Ultimaker. The parser script as well as the example G-code files for a library of classical music can be downloaded from his repository.
Now if you’re looking for some other crazy CNC music ideas you can’t beat this wineglass music hack.
Continue reading “3D printing some sweet music”
Children of the information age are doomed to have the worst handwriting just for lack of use if nothing more. But some students at Olin College harnessed technology to find a solution to that problem. Meet Herald, a CNC machine that can produce beautiful calligraphy.
The machine uses a gantry to move the writing tip along the X and Y axes. The flexible-nib calligraphy pen is mounted on a sprocket which rotates the tip onto the writing surface, taking care of the third axis. The rig was beautifully rendered from their CAD drawings, then tweaked to ensure the smoothest motion possible before the quintet of Sophomores began the physical build.
The drive hardware is very simple yet it produces great results. It uses an Arduino along with three stepper motor drivers. There are also limiting switches to protect the hardware from runaway code. The software interface designed by the team lets the user cut and paste their text, and select a font, font size, alignment, etc. It then converts the text to G-code and pushes it to the Arduino where the GRBL package takes care of business.
Don’t miss the device in action, writing out a [Langston Hughes] work in the clip after the break.
Continue reading “Handwriting suck? Build a machine to do it for you”
[Tom] sent in a gigantic 3-axis router that he pieced together during a 2 week-long work experience placement. Looking at this picture showing a 12-inch ruler on the work area, we realized that this may be the largest CNC router we’ve seen on Hack A Day.
[Tom]’s employer gave him some obsolete axes, so piecing the mechanical components together was very easy. The only real problem was interfacing the CNC controller to a computer. This meant [Tom] had to convert G Code to the code used by the antiquated NSK axes. Where G Code defines arcs with a start point, end point, and radius, the NSK code defines arcs with a start point, end point, and another point along the arc. It’s a tricky bit of math, but [Tom] built some software that did this in Visual Basic.
Right now, [Tom] only has a pen tool attached to the router; you can check that in action after the break. We’re trying to imagine what we would do with a 4 m² work area; this could easily be used to make a giant reprap or other 3D printer.
Continue reading “Freakin’ huge CNC router”
As with most writers for [HAD], I enjoy doing projects as much as I like writing about them. As a mechanical Engineer that writes for a blog mostly about electronics, a CNC router seemed like something I needed in my garage. Building a router like this requires a bit of expertise in both electronics and mechanics, so it seemed like a good challenge.
This router kit, made by Zen Toolworks, comes fairly complete frame-wise, but requires a lot of knowledge on the electrical side to get things running correctly. In order to make it look decent and work correctly, I had to rely on some zip-tie and basic diagnostic skills that I’ve honed as a former engineering Co-op and technician. Also, I had to figure out a way to cheaply stack everything in my garage as we park two cars there (the footprint is 14″ x 22″, so I consider that a success).
One of the bigger challenges that I still have to overcome with this project is learning “G-code” and how to use software to generate it. Although I’ve done some basic programming already, as seen in the video after the break, there’s still much to learn. I’d hope that having this tool around can lead to better projects as I won’t have to be restricted to simple milled lines and circles anymore.
Continue reading “Building a CNC Router to Call My Own”
[Reza Naima] has been using an Arduino as the center of his CNC setup for quite some time now. It handles three stepper motors, limiting switches, e-stop, and spindle control. The sketch he’s using allows him to stream g-code to the popular prototyping platform, freeing him from needing a dedicated PC. It’s worked so well that he’s decided to clean up the code and develop a shield to help others get up and running. If you want to see his progress or lend a hand, check out the google group he started for the schematics, code, and forum discussions. There is already a CNC project for Arduino called Grbl but [Reza’s] approach uses the Arduino libraries in an effort to make the sketch more customizable for the average user.