Garbage Can CNC Machine Build

Forget sourcing parts for your next project from some fancy neighborhood hardware store. If you really want to show your hacker chops, be like [HomoFaciens] and try a Dumpster dive for parts for a CNC machine build.

OK, we exaggerate a little – but only a little. Apart from the control electronics, almost everything in [HomoFacien]’s build could be found by the curb on bulk-waste pickup day. Particle board from a cast-off piece of flat-pack furniture, motors and gears from an old printer, and bits of steel strapping are all that’s needed for the frame of a serviceable CNC machine. This machine is even junkier than [HomoFacien]’s earlier build, which had a lot more store-bought parts. But the videos below show pretty impressive performance nonetheless.

Sure, this is a giant leap backwards for the state of the art in DIY CNC builds. but that’s the point – to show what can be accomplished with almost nothing, and that imagination and perseverance are more important for acceptable results than an expensive BOM.

With that in mind, we’re throwing down the gauntlet: can anyone build a CNC machine from cardboard and paperclips?

41 thoughts on “Garbage Can CNC Machine Build

  1. As far as I know, he’s just one guy with an Arnold Schwarzenegger voice. He’s made a number of CNCs like this, using junked parts. What I really like is his choice of cheap dc motors with optical encoders — I’ve done this too! Old inkjet printers are goldmines of high precision quadrature encoders. I much prefer this method of drive over steppers. I’ve done all three: steppers, rc servos and dc motor/optical encoder drives and the latter is way faster, quieter and the electronics really quite simple.

    Look for the article here on hackaday titled something like “Closed loop control for DC motors” . This was my inspiration for getting into CNC routers. Mine is here, made from framework of an old Dell Lexmark printer:

  2. An interesting challenge would be to use a junk-made machine like this to bootstrap your way to something more accurate. Use this to make parts for a more accurate machine, use that to make parts for a more accurate machine, and so on.

      1. But you miss out on the learning experience, what to tighten when, where too much friction can be bad, cutting speeds, figuring out distance steps and where resolution matters. You lose all that learning when you just ‘buy something better’

      2. Yes if you needed such a machine tool yesterday purchasing new standard components save time, but saving money is doubtful. Anyway I took this to be one person’s personal “junk yard wars” like challenge, recording it for the entertainment value & perhaps a bit of YouTube income

  3. next time, you try to use a car viper motors, high torque and good speed :) I’m one of those people who build things out of crap :) in many times it ends more expensive than buying stuff :D

    1. Your skills grow with each garbage machine. Once you know what devices are the best goldmines for good parts it can in fact save money. On the other hand, many of my readers can’t purchase electronics in an online shop in any country within 24h delivery. They simply have to use what they can get.
      In one of my next videos I will demonstrate how to turn a wiper motor into a strong stepper motor using an optical encoder.

  4. Why do none of these on-the-cheap dumpster-dive custom CNC builds use custom electronics? Electronics are the most expensive part to but by far. Motor drivers and a control board aren’t THAT hard to build yourself.

      1. I have noticed this too.
        In most of the builds i see featured on here, all use store bought electronics.
        are there any “e-waste” boards that can be used ? like the the ones from the printers themselves?
        I know with a lot of office grade printers there are sorters staplers and most have an actual OS built in.

          1. Now that’s a hack I want to see. Using old 5.25″ full height floppy drive electronics and motors to build a robot or CNC. The full height drives have some pretty powerful motors, flywheels, belt drives, and a 17 size (or close to it) stepper motor. There’s also some precision rails and the head carriage.

            Getting data back from it would be the real challenge. The drive has two I/O channels from the read/write heads. Some additional circuitry might be constructed to adapt other kids of sensors, with software at the other end interpreting the resulting data coming from the standard floppy drive connection.

            Single sided 5.25″ full height drives are still pretty worthless, unless one has an old computer that can only use single sided drives. Some models of single sided drives used the same PCBs as the double sided version, the only difference was a pressure pad was installed instead of the 2nd head. The 2nd head connector is still on the PCB.

            Power would be the problem since those big drives require 12 volts for the motors and 5 volts for all the rest.

            Has me wondering if the drive motors on those old belt driven drives have a tachometer, they have more than two wires. Setting the speed was done using a strobe lamp and a lable on the flywheel. The thin drives using a direct drive pancake motor with self adjusting RPM obsoleted the job of floppy drive speed calibrator.

    1. Because you can purchase an Arduino and the H bridges easily and so make a copy of my CNC. If my build was based on the electronics of printer model X from manufacturer Y you had to get one of these. Using a different printer model would mean you had to figure out how to use the electronics of that device – no job for a beginner.

      1. A lot of machines use a STK series driver for steppers. If you find a single in line pin chip that starts with STK, grab it. I absolutely love these drivers since they can drive some decently sized steppers, they require very little external circuitry, and some even support microstepping.

      2. I understand what you mean, but the thing is for all the CNC and 3D printers i see posted on here ,none have used “the whole” printer.
        All seam to rely on an Arduino or some such board.
        Now I look at this type of printer with all of it’s complexity and with it’s own OS that’s just begging to be replaced with a custom OS of say Linux / Android .
        And before you ask why I haven’t done it myself, well to be honest I haven’t the skill-set nor the time to invest on something like this.

  5. I feel I’m being mocked here.

    Also: doesn’t that look bad to you too? That putting the euro sign after the amount instead of before it. Why do so many euro countries do that? Weirdos.

      1. It’s funny, the swizz and austrians use the sign preceding the amount, although both having german languages.
        The english , irish, welsh, scots, dutch, latvians, and turks also. But the rest add it on at the end.
        To my eyes it just doesn’t look nice at the end though. Stylistically speaking

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