Thursday, January 31, 2013

CNC update

I hit a milestone with my CNC project tonight, I made my first cut!

Here's the current state of it configured for milling:

I'm using the Zen Toolworks 12x12 , F8 edition. The F8 edition has an extended Z-axis travel on the gantry, which is needed to be able to use the device for 3D printing. One thing I didn't realize initially were that: 1) configured as a milling machine, the spindle will not reach down to the bed, and 2) the extra Z axis travel does not benefit milling as much, because the gantry clearance is one of the limiting factors. The two possible approaches to address the first issues are to either re-work(ie invent your own) the spindle mount to lower it close to the bed, or to build an elevated platform as your new work area. I decided to do that because it reportedly reduces error due to frame torsional forces. I could always build a new mount and remove the table. The Zen is pretty flexible in that way, a good deal of the design can be up to you.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

CNC progress pic.

Just a quick shot of my cnc build in progress, I'll post more about it later. I had a slow start waiting for all the parts, I think I'll avoid ordering big stuff around Christmas next year.
Tonight I'm working on end stops and the y-axis of thr Zen Toolworks chassis.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Project - CNC/3D printing

While physical computing has captured my fancy the past few years, one thing that seems to have frustrated me is the physical construction for my projects. I have a degree in Mechanical Engineering, though I went into Software Engineering professionally, so that struck me as odd. I think I've grown accustomed, spoiled even, on the fantastic availability of free and low cost tools available in the software world. I'm used to having as powerful tools to develop software as a hobby as the professionals use. Not so with hardware. Things are getting better though.

I've decided to take it to the next level, and I'm investing in a small CNC that will also be capable of 3D printing. I'll document my progress on ByteCruft. (My robot project is not stalled, but I'm putting the CNC project first, since there's a long lead time with getting up to speed.) I currently know very little about milling beyond what I remember from school almost 20 years ago. I expect my progress to go faster than my typical  'epic' level project, since I'm focusing less on trying to do lot of design myself. I'm mostly cherry picking various kits and packages and making them work together.