It’s a great time to be a hobbyist. No matter how you feel about the Arduino/Raspberry Pi effect, the influx of general enthusiasm and demand it has created translates to better availability of components, a broader community, and loads of freely available knowledge. When people have access to knowledge and ideas, great things can happen. Tools that were once restricted to industrial use become open source, and the price of entry-level versions goes into a nosedive.
As we’ve seen over the last several years, the price of cheap 3D printers keeps falling while the bar of quality keeps rising. It’s happening with laser cutters and carving tools, too. Strolling through Microcenter a few weeks ago, I spotted a new toy on the back wall next to the 3D printers. It was LinkSprite’s desktop mini CNC. They didn’t have one out on display, but there were two of them in boxes on the shelf. And boy, those boxes were small. Laughably small. I wondered, could this adorable machine really be any good? To some, the $200 price tag suggests otherwise. To me, the price tag made it justifiable, especially considering that the next price point for a hobby CNC mill is at least twice as much. I took my phone out and stood there frantically looking for reviews, documentation, anything that was available. It seemed that the general, if sparse consensus is that this thing isn’t a total waste of money. Oh, and there’s a wiki.
According to LinkSprite’s wiki, this little machine will engrave wood, plastic, acrylic, PVC, and PCBs. It will specifically not engrave metal (PCB copper notwithstanding). I’m a bit leery of the chemicals used in the PCB etching process, so the idea of engraving them instead was especially tempting. I pulled the trigger.
Continue reading “Review: LinkSprite Mini CNC”
Cartesian 3D printers were the original. Then delta printers came along, and they were pretty cool too. Now, you can add tripteron printers to the mix. The tripteron is an odd mix of cartesian and delta. The system was invented at the robotics laboratory at Université Laval in Quebec, Canada. The team who created it say that it is “isotropic and fully decoupled, i.e. each of the actuators is controlling one Cartesian degree of freedom, independently from the others.” This means that driving the bot will be almost as simple as driving a standard X/Y/Z Cartesian printer. The corollary to that are of course delta robots, which follow a whole different set of kinematic rules.
A few people have experimented with tripteron printers over the years, but as far as we can see, no one has ever demonstrated a working model. Enter [Apsu], who showed up about a month ago. He started a post on the RepRap forums discussing his particular design. [Apsu] works fast, as he has now demonstrated a working prototype making prints. Sure they’re just calibration cubes, but this is a huge step forward.
[Apsu] admits that he still has a way to go in his research – especially improving the arm and joint implementation. However, he’s quite pleased that his creation has gone from a collection of parts to a new type 3D printer. We are too — and we can’t wait to see the next iteration!
Continue reading “Dawn of the Tripteron 3D Printer”
[Robottini] released plans for his robot, Cartesio, that is essentially an Arduino-controlled plotter made to create artwork. The good part about Cartesio is the low cost. [Robottini] claims it cost about $60 to produce.
The robot has an A3-size drawing bed and is practically the XY part of a 3D printer. In fact, most of the parts are 3D printed and the mechanical parts including M8 smooth rod. LM8UU bearings, and GT2 belts and pulleys. If you’ve built a 3D printer, those parts (or similar ones) should sound familiar.
The Arduino uses GRBL to drive the motors from GCODE. [Robottini] has three different workflows to produce drawings from applications like Inkscape. You can see some of the resulting images below.
We’ve covered GRBL before, and it is the heart of many motion control projects. If you’d rather draw on something less permanent, you might try this project.
Continue reading “Meet Cartesio, Robot Artist”
[Chris] liked Cartesian RepRap idea so much that he decided to design his master’s diploma project around it. Though it uses most of the same parts as the RepRap (even the PCBs), [Chris] has adapted it so it does milling rather than 3D printing. Most of the parts (such as the stepper motors) were harvested from old inkjet printers and typewriters. The thee-axis CNC machine can already etch and carve styrofoam at an impressively high resolution. To deal with all of the debris that comes with milling, a vacuum attachment (shown attached) was created. [Chris] is considering adapting it so it can work with wood and aluminum as well. Best of all, it uses standard G-code files, just like the RepRap. A publication by [Chris] on the project is also available through his website. No plans to release a kit have been announced yet, but we’ll wait and see. If any commenter knows of an open source CNC milling machine available as a kit, feel free to post a link to it below.