The problem with building automated systems is that it’s hard to look at any problem and not see it in terms of possible automation solutions. Come to think of it, that’s probably less of a bug and more of a feature, but it’s easy to go overboard and automate all the things, which quickly becomes counterproductive in terms of time and money.
If you’re clever, though, a tactical automation solution can increase your process efficiency without breaking the budget. That’s where [Christopher Helmke] seems to have landed with this two-axis add-on fixture for his CNC router. The rig is designed to solve the problem of the manual modification needed to turn off-the-shelf plastic crates into enclosures for his line of modular automation components, aspects of which we’ve featured before. The crates need holes drilled in them and cutouts created in their sides for displays and controls. It’s a job [Christopher] tackled before with a drill and a jigsaw, with predictable results.
To automate the job without going overboard, [Christopher] came up with a tilting turntable that fits under the bed of the CNC router and sticks through a hole in the spoil board. The turntable is a large, 3D printed herringbone gear driven by a stepper and pinion gear. A cheap bearing keeps costs down, while a quartet of planetary gears constrain the otherwise wobbly platform. The turntable also swivels 90 degrees on a herringbone sector gear; together, the setup adds pitch and roll axes to the machine that allow the spindle access to all five sides of the crates.
Was it worth the effort? Judging by the results in the video below, we’d say so, especially given the number of workpieces that [Christopher] has to process. Add in the budget-conscious construction that doesn’t sacrifice precision too much, and this one seems like a real automation win.
Continue reading “Adding Two Axes Makes CNC Router More Than The Sum Of Its Parts”
Conventional wisdom says that rigidity is the name of the game when it comes to machine tool performance. After all, there’s got to be a reason for CNC machines that need specialized rigging companies just to deliver them. But is there perhaps a way for the hobby machinist to cheat a little on that?
From the look of [Ryan]’s PocketNC spindle upgrade, it seems like the answer just might be yes. The PocketNC, a much-coveted five-axis CNC mill sized for the home shop, has a lot going for it, but as with most things, there are trade-offs. Chief among these is a lack of the usual huge, heavy castings used for CNC machines, which results in the tendency for the cutting tool to chatter or even stall out if you push the speeds and feeds too far. After a good intro to some of the important metrics of machining, such as “material removal rate,” the video below delves into how MRR affects chip load which in turn results in chatter.
The easy fix for chatter, of course, is to take smaller cuts. But [Ryan] decided to increase the spindle speed to take lighter cuts, but to do it really fast. The hardware for this includes a 3,500 KV high-torque brushless DC motor and a custom spindle attachment. The motor is connected to the spindle shaft using pulleys and a drive belt, and the shaft is supported with stout bearings that can be pre-loaded to fight backlash. The end result is three times the stock 10,000 RPM spindle speed, which lets [Ryan] see a 300% increase in cycle time on his PocketNC. And as a bonus, the whole thing requires no permanent modification to the machine and can be easily removed.
We think [Ryan] did a great job breaking this problem down to the essentials and hacking up a low-cost solution to the problem. Continue reading “Spindle Upgrade Makes PocketNC Faster And Smoother”
Who says you can’t teach an old robot new tricks? Nobody, actually. That saying is about dogs. But it applies to robots too, at least judging by the way this late-90s industrial beast was put to use in a way it was never intended: as a giant CNC router.
The machine in question is an ABB IRB6400, a six-axis, floor-mounted industrial machine that had a long career welding at a Eurorail factory in Austria before [Brian Brocken] made its acquaintance. He procured the non-working machine — no word on what he paid for it — and moved the 2-ton paperweight into his shop, itself a non-trivial endeavor. After a good scrubbing, [Brian] tried to get the machine started up. An error prevented the robot controller from booting; luckily, there’s a large community of ABB users, and [Brian] learned that one of the modules in the controller needed replacement.
After fixing that — and swapping out the controller’s long-dead backup batteries, plus replacing the original 1.44 MB floppy drive with a USB drive — he was able to bring the machine back to life. Unfortunately, the limited amount of internal memory made it difficult to use for anything complicated, so [Brian] came up with an application to stream coordinates to the controller over a serial port, allowing for unlimited operation. With that in place, plus a simple spindle mounted to the robot’s wrist with a 3D printed adapter, [Brian] was able to carve foam blocks into complex shapes. The video below shows everything from delivery to first chips — well, dust at least.
This build seems to be a significant escalation from [Brian]’s previous large-format CNC machine. He must have something interesting in mind, so stay tuned for details.
Continue reading “Retired Welding Robot Picks Up Side Hustle As CNC Router”
The old saying “you get what you pay for” is a cautionary cliché, but is directly contrary to several other common sayings. In the case of [Spikee]’s planned CNC machine build, he took the more adventurous idiom of “no risk, no reward” to heart when he purchased these spindles for the machine from AliExpress. While the delivered product seemed fine, there were some problems that needed investigations.
Upon delivery of the spindle, everything seemed to work correctly out-of-the-box. Even the variable frequency drive, which was programmed at the factory, was working properly. But at around 8000 rpm the machine would begin shaking. The suspected part causing the vibration was the tool holder, so after checking the machine’s runout and also using a specialized vibration sensor this was confirmed to be the case.
Luckily [Spikee] was able to get a refund on the tool holders since they were out of spec, but still has a quite capable spindle on his hands for an excellent price. Without some skills in troubleshooting he might have returned the entire machine unnecessarily. If you are looking for some other ideas in setting up an inexpensive CNC machine, you might also like to look at BLDC motors from a remote control vehicle.
An electronic leadscrew is an increasingly popular project for small and mid-sized lathes. They do away with the need to swap gears in and out to achieve the proper ratio between spindle speed and tool carriage translation, and that makes threading a snap. But well-designed electronic leadscrews, like this one from [Hobby Machinist], offer so much more than just easy threading.
The first thing that struck us about this build was the polished, professional look of it. The enclosure for the Nucleo-64 dev board sports a nice TFT display and an IP65-rated keyboard, as well as a beefy-looking jog wheel. The spindle speed is monitored by a 600 pulses-per-revolution optical encoder, and the lathe’s leadscrew is powered by a closed-loop NEMA 24 stepper. This combination allows for the basic threading operations, but the addition of a powered cross slide opens up a ton more functionality. Internal and external tapers are a few keypresses away, as are boring and turning and radius operations, both on the right and on the left. The video below shows radius-cutting operations combined to turn a sphere.
From [Hobby Machinist]’s to-do list, it looks like filleting and grooving will be added someday, as will a G-code parser and controller to make this into a bolt-on CNC controller. Inspiration for the build is said to have come in part from [Clough42]’s electronic leadscrew project from a few years back. Continue reading “Electronic Lead Screws – Not Just For Threading Anymore”
One thing’s for sure: after seeing [Roland Van Roy] build a vertical mill from industrial scrap, we’ve got to find a better quality industrial scrapyard to hang around.
The story of this build started, as many good shop stories do, at the lathe, which in this case was also a scrapyard build that we somehow managed to miss when it first posted. This lathe is decidedly different from the common “Gingery method” we’ve seen a few times, which relies on aluminum castings. Instead, [Roland] built his machine from plate stock, linear slides, and various cast-off bits of industrial machines.
To make his lathe yet more useful, [Roland] undertook this build, which consists of a gantry mounted over the bed of the lathe. The carriage translates left and right along the bed while the spindle, whose axis lines up perfectly with the center axis of the lathe, moves up and down. [Roland] added a platform and a clever vise to the lathe carriage; the lathe tool post and the tailstock are removed to make room for these mods, but can be added back quickly when needed. Digital calipers stand in for digital read-outs (DROs), with custom software running on a Picaxe and a homebrew controller taking care of spindle speed control.
[Roland] reports that the machine, weighing in at about 100 kg, exhibits a fair amount of vibration, which limits him to lighter cuts and softer materials. But it’s still an impressive build, and what really grabbed us was the wealth of tips and tricks we picked up. [Roland] used a ton of interesting methods to make sure everything stayed neat and square, such as the special jig he built for drilling holes in the T-slot extrusions to the use of cyanoacrylate glue for temporary fixturing.
Continue reading “Vertical Mill Completes Scrapyard Lathe Build”
Here at Hackaday, we pride ourselves on bringing you the freshest of hacks, preferably as soon as we find out about them. Thanks to the sheer volume of cool hacks out there, though, we do miss one occasionally, like this e-waste horizontal CNC mill that we just found out about.
Aptly called the “CDCNC” thanks to its reliance on cast-off CD drive mechanisms for its running gear, [Paul McClay]’s creation is a great case study on what you can do without buying almost any new parts. It’s also an object lesson in not getting caught in standard design paradigms. Where most CNC mills mount the spindle vertically, [Paul] tilted the whole thing 90 degrees so the spindle lies on its side. Moving it back and forth on a pair of CD drive mechanisms is far easier than fighting gravity for control, and as a bonus the X- and Y-axes have minimal loading too. The video below shows the mill in action, and it’s easy to see how the horizontal arrangement really helps make this junk bin build into something special.
We think [Paul] did a great job of thinking around the problem with this build, and we’re glad he took the time to tip us off. Apparently it was the upcoming CNC on the Desktop Hack Chat that moved him to let us know about this build. Here’s hoping he drops by for the chat and shares his experience with us.
Continue reading “Mini CNC Mill Goes Horizontal To Reuse CD Drives”