HHH: Delta CNC Mill

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[Dan] wrote in to show off the delta-bot CNC mill which he and some buddies got up and running over the course of about two weeks. The team from Mad Fellows — a hackerspace in Prescott, Arizona — put their heads together and managed to build the thing from mostly parts-on-hand. Would you believe they’re only out-of-pocket about $100 in new materials?

After a bit of modeling work they started scavenging for parts, recovering most of the acrylic stock from dead LCD monitors. But there are many parts like the stepper motors, precision rods, bearings, belts, and pulleys that can’t or shouldn’t be salvaged in order to end up with a reasonably solid machine tool. We like [Dan's] tip that the parts should be screwed together as gluing them would be problematic when it comes time to replace broken components.

You may be wondering about the strength of a delta-bot for milling. The purpose of the build is to make molds for investment casting. The lost-material (we don’t know if it’s wax or something else) is quite easy to machine and you can see in the clip after the jump that the mill does a great job. But they also did some tests on aluminum and apparently it’s not a problem.

The CNC version of HHH is over, so why are we posting this now? We messed up. [Dan] sent in a qualifying entry before the deadline and somehow we let it slip through the cracks. Sorry [Dan]! Better late than never — we’ll get a T-shirt in the mail right away.

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HHH: CNC Winners

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Congratulations to the winners of the first Hackaday Hackerspace Henchmen series. We asked hackerspace members to send us stories about CNC hacks. Here’s a roundup of the three winners:

[Rich] from the Connecticut Hackerspace gets the top spot having sent in the story of their desktop CNC mill hacks. He gets a $50 gift card to the parts vendor of his choosing.

[Barnaby] is also a winner for sharing the story of how they hacked a script to translate G-Code into the proprietary format accepted by the desktop CNC mill at rlab.

And [Tim's] submission showed how a movable storage base was built for the CNC carving machine at The Rabbit Hole.

We had hoped for more entries and planned to send out stickers to all and shirts to the top five. We’ll be sending both shirts and stickers to the three winners. We’re undecided as to whether we should continue the HHH program with a new theme. We’d love to hear what you think about it in the comments section.

HHH: Sniffing Proprietary CNC to Hack in G-Code Support

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Here’s a beautiful desktop CNC mill which had one big drawback: it used a proprietary interface for driving it. To increase the flexibility of the tool it was hacked to work with G-Code.

The project is a Hackaday Hackerspace Henchmen submission from rLab, the Reading Hackspace in the UK. [Barnaby] explains the entire project after the break. The machine itself wasn’t altered, but a translator script was written in Python after capturing a bunch of packets and working out the protocol. This script listens for G-Code and does the translation into the type of commands the machine is expecting to receive.

If you know of a CNC hack from your own hackerspace send us the story for a chance to win some loot.

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HHH: PCB Mill from Connecticut Hackerspace

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The latest Hackaday Hackerspace Henchmen entry comes from [Bremster] and the Connecticut Hackerspace. He mentions that he’s been meaning to write about the PCB/engraving mill used at the hackerspace for some time, but it was the HHH program which motivated him to do so. Yay! That’s exactly what we envisioned with this and we hope there are more submissions which will encourage us to continue and expand the program.

We think this is a perfect CNC project for any hackerspace whose members are into electronics. It’s compact, and we find milling PCBs to be more desirable than chemically etching them; the tool should get quite a bit of use. This particular build uses x, y, and z axis hardware which was pulled separately from unknown machinery. Like any good hacking project, the fabrication process was so addictive that [Bremster] stayed at the space all night, breaking at 5am to shower and eat before heading to work.

It originally used a Dremel rotary tool but had too much play in the mounting mechanism. When they replaced it with the motor shown above they also machined an aluminum bracket that dramatically stabilizes the cutting bit. This results in clean PCBs, and they’ve even used it to make stamps for their hackerspace passports. There is an enclosure attached, which has been hinged to the right for the two images above.

Check out the demo video below, and get your own CNC submission in for the HHH program before the October 31st deadline.

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HHH: CNC Storage Base from The Rabbit Hole

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Remember when we announced the Hackaday Hackerspace Henchmen program and asked you to send in the best CNC hacks from your Hackerspace? Well so far this is the only entry, which puts [Mazz] in the top spot to take all the loot for himself. Send in your projects by 10/31/13 if you want a shot at stickers, shirts, and a parts vendor gift card.

What he sent in is a storage cabinet base built for his hackerspace — The Rabbit Hole in Rochester, Minnesota. The group managed to get their hands on a CarveWright CNC machine but didn’t have a spare bench to put it on. The thought of dropping a lot of cash into something wasn’t appealing to them. But as luck would have it, about the same time this arrived at the space one of the members spied a free filing cabinet curbside.

The cabinet was a vertical four-drawer unit. It was chopped in half, with the resulting two-drawer units bolted side-by-side to each other. From here a frame was built to support the cabinets, along with locking casters so that it’s easy to move around. The inaugural run with the new machine/cabinet combination was to mill a sign for the space:

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Hackaday Hackerspace Henchmen == Free Stuff for You

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Are you a member of your local Hackerspace? Do you want some free stuff? Then you need to become one of the Hackaday Hackerspace Henchmen.

Hackerspaces are amazing places full of smart people pulling off delightful hacks. But often the outside world doesn’t hear about them. When a member completes a project they show it to the other members, quenching the need to share the awesomeness and ridding them of the drive which normally prompts someone to publish a post about it. We want to see what you’ve been up to at your Hackerspace, and making it public will help in sharing ideas between Hackerspaces. Send us the details and we’ll thank you with some swag in return, and with a few special rewards for the most exception hacks. Keep reading for prize details and how this is all going to work.

[Read more...]

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