My First CNC


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I found a couple of pictures of my first CNC machine and decided that I would put them up and also talk about it a little. This would have been done a long time ago if it weren’t for the fact that the laptop hard drive with all of my pictures on it abruptly died a while back. Luckily, I had some backed up that I had forgotten about until now.

Anyway, this is my first CNC machine, and it was built from the design found at www.buildyourcnc.com. There isn’t a whole lot that I can say about the design that hasn’t already been said, but I will say that it is pretty easy to make even with basic power tools.

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Lead Screw Problems

I made every mistake imaginable while learning to operate a CNC for the first time. One of the biggest problems I had was with losing steps. It took forever for me to figure out why it was happening too. As it turns out, you really don’t want to use a lead screw nut that is made out of the same material as the lead screw. I knew that it would wear out eventually, but I had no idea that it would cause the stepper motors to lose steps so often and so soon after being installed.

The problems were intermittent. It would work fine for maybe an hour and then spontaneously start losing steps. I would adjust some things and it would work again… for a while.

It was an easy fix though. All I had to do was switch over to a lead screw nut made out of plastic, and everything went well after that.

I made the lead screw nuts myself simply by drilling a hole slightly smaller than the lead screw through a piece of plastic. I then “screwed” the lead screw into the hole and used a power drill to quickly move the nut up and down along the lead screw to loosen it.

Driver Board Problems

A short time after I fixed the lead screw nut problem, the driver board decided it was time to give up on life. While the machine was cutting out a part, the X-axis randomly stopped working. I turned off the machine and found that it had blown a fuse. I turned the power back on to test the other two axes, and Y-axis fuse went out. Arrrrgh!

TheĀ  driver board was one that I had bought off of eBay. I really had no idea what to buy at the time, so I decided to get a kit which included everything. This kit was not designed for the abuse I had been putting it through and eventually called it quits. Because of the lead screw problem, I had the power turned up further than it really should have been in a effort to keep from losing steps.

I bought a new driver board from http://www.hobbycnc.com/ and put it together along with the power supply that they recommended. I have never once had any trouble with it.

Stepper Motors

The stepper motors in the picture below have 90-oz (I think) of holding torque. Sometime after that picture was taken I upgraded to 450-oz stepper motors.

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Router

You see that router in the picture. Don’t buy it because the bearings will give out on you and the added heat will cause it to melt on the inside. I have since learned not to buy things that have a rebate because they always seem to have a short life span.

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Some of the Stuff I’ve Made with this CNC

I might have had a lot of trouble with my first CNC, but I did manage to have some success with it. Here are some of things that it made when it did work. In the picture below, you can see an assortment of gears along with the parabola from the page How to make a Parabola with a CNC in the background.

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By far the most successful thing that I made with my first CNC though was my new one, Joe’s CNC 2006. Aside from a few simple, rectangular pieces cut with a table saw, all of the parts in this CNC were made with my old one.

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Because the www.buildyourcnc.com CNC design is smaller than Joe’s design, the pieces had to be cut out in sections. I then clamped those individual sections together on a large piece of MDF and used them as a pattern for my router in order to create one full part. You can see a couple of those parts in the picture below.

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