Extruded rail and 3D printed connectors form a proper laser engraver

3d-printed-laser-engraver

Fast and accurate is a good description of this laser engraver built by [Ragnar] and [Gunnar]. The’re planning to show it off at the Trondheim Maker Faire after the new year but they took it out in the wild for the PSTEREO Mini Maker Faire (also in Trondheim) this past August. The video below gives an overview of the build process and the engraver at work. But we also enjoyed reading the post about a few missteps in the early prototyping process. We call this one a proper laser engraver because it was purpose built from the ground-up. We still like seeing the engravers hacked from optical drives, but this really is a horse of a different color in comparison.

From the start they’re using familiar parts when it comes to CNC builds. The outer frame is made of extruded aluminum rail, with precision rod for the gantry to slide upon. Movement is facilitated with stepper motors and toothed belts, with all of the connecting and mounting parts fabricated on a 3D printer. The mistake made with an early (and unfortunately mostly assembled) prototype was that the Y axis was only driven on one side when it really needed to be driven on both. But filament is relatively cheap so a few tweaks to the design were able to fix this and get the production back on track.

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Magnetic CNC marble maze

magnetic-cnc-marble-maze

[Martin Raynsford] figured out a way to sneak some learning into a fun package. He did such a good job the test subjects didn’t even know they were teaching themselves just a tiny bit of CNC programming.

The apparatus above is a marble maze, but instead of building walls [Martin] simply etched a pattern on the playing field. The marble is a ball bearing which moves through the maze using a magnetic CNC gantry hidden underneath. Where does one get ball bearings of this size? If you’re [Martin] you scavenge them from your laser-cut Donkey Kong game.

He showed off the rig at the Maker Faire.  It takes simple commands as cardinal directions and units of movement. The ‘player’ (remember, they’re secretly learning something, not just playing a game) inputs a series of movements such as “N10,E10″ which are then pushed through a serial connection to the Arduino. It follows these commands, moving the hidden magnet which drags the ball bearing along with it. It’s simple, but watch the clip after the break and we think you’ll agree the sound of the stepper motors and the movement of the ball will be like crack for young minds.

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Camera gantry rides on garage door tracks

For as many garage and workshop videos we feature here on Hackaday, we’re surprised we haven’t seen this sooner.

[Todd] makes a bunch of videos in his garage shop, but using a tripod is a pain; he’s always tripping over his camera setup and it is just generally in the way all the time. His solution was to mount his camera to an overhead gantry, using the unused tracks for his garage door to move the camera around his workshop.

The build started with [Todd] taking his tripod and fabbing a mounting plate for it to be suspended in mid-air. This would leave the camera upside-down, so [Todd] also made a 90 degree bracket with a 1/4-20 bolt to hold the camera in position.

The actual gantry part of the build is fairly clever. First, [Todd] got a piece of square tubing the same length as the distance between his two garage door tracks. He made a truck that rides on six casters for this tube, then mounted this tube on garage door wheels.

The result allow [Todd] to move his camera anywhere within the footprint of his garage door tracks, including over his workbench and welding area. An ingeniously useful build that’s sure to provide a stable platform for his vlog-type thingies.

Vidia after the break.

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DIY laser cutter from non-DIY parts

[Jerry] missed the laser cutters he had been using at the local TechShop. It closed down and after seeing some hardware in a surplus store he decided to build a laser cutter to call his own. You won’t be disappointed by his build log. It’s got a ton of hi-res images and plenty of explanation.

Often, cost is the key consideration in these types of builds. [Jerry] spent a little more than average, but look what he got back out of it. This started as a CNC machine aimed at loading silicon wafers for a company making electron microscopes. It’s barely been used, and the light-duty specs will work just fine with a laser cutter as the gantry won’t be moving much weight or fighting the rotational force of a mill motor. He tore out the stock controllers and built his own, adding a q-switched 355nm Frequency Tripled DPSS laser along the way. We’re not quite sure what that means… but in laymen’s terms it’s an ultraviolet laser source. See the finished unit cutting out some Kapton in the clip after the break.

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CNC zen gardening

The Harford Hackerspace in Baltimore, Maryland just went public with the zen garden they built for the Red Bull Creation contest. It’s a CNC creation that will help ease your frustration with that DIY 3d printer that you just can’t seem to get calibrated correctly.

On the hardware side the base of the machine serves as a sandbox. Finding the correct grain size of the medium was one of the more difficult parts of the build. The stylus is driven along three axes using a gantry common in CNC builds. The pulleys and some brackets were 3d printed, with the remained of the brackets being laser cut from wood. The Bullduino commands the stylus via a stepper motor control board, and drives the LEDs via a bank of MOSFETs. Limiting switches were also included to ensure an error didn’t result in damage to the device.

After the break you can see a build montage put to one of the greatest 8-bit game soundtracks of all time. The one thing we wish they would have shown is the built-in leveling bar that is responsible for “erasing” the garden.

Update: The Harford Hackerspace members came through with a new video that shows the ‘erasing’ process. You’ll find it after the break.

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Why build a CNC mill when you can have a chess robot instead?

[Patrick McCabe] enjoys the challenge of playing chess against the computer but he wasn’t satisfied with the flat experience of on-screen gaming. No problem, he just built his own gantry-style chess robot that he can play against. Don’t be confused, he still doesn’t have to touch the pieces, but instead uses the dedicated control board seen on the left of the image above. The robotic arm that is mounted on a gantry takes care of moves for both players.

It’s a pretty normal CNC build, using four stepper motors to slide the moving bits along precision rod. An Arduino Mega drives the system, with a PC doing the heavy lifting using a program called My Robot Lab.

We certainly like it that [Patrick] spent a little bit of time making the cabinet and visible parts look nice. Chess is a civilized game and unfinished parts would be out-of-place. We didn’t see it in his writeup, but the one feature we’re really hoping he has implemented is the ability to have the robot automatically reset the board at the beginning of a game.

As you might have guess, you’ll find embedded video after the break.

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Bring the crane game home

Everyone’s familiar with the quarter gobbling crane games. More often than not there’s a child nearby begging a parent for more quarters so they can try their hand at the toy-snatching claw. [Marc.Cryan] put his quarters to a better use by building a home version of the crane game.

[Marc] installed a gantry in an archway of his house.  The crane trolley rides on this gantry and uses a spool to raise or lower the tether for the claw. Winning copious style-points, he used the case of an old mouse to form the claw. An Arduino controls the different motors in the system and a toy was repurposed to act as the controller. As you can see after the break, it’s more fun than the cinema-lobby version of the game and your kids can play with it for free.

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