ShapeOko CNC Mill Progress Report – 021513

The mill kit, extended rails and the power supply arrived on Wednesday and I immediately started to assemble it.

The Maker Slide rails did not come tapped, and I was ready to send an email about it when I read in the directions that the standard kit does not come threaded. Ah well, good thing I have a tap and die set.

As of last night the mechanical portion of my CNC machine is 99% complete. I still have to hook up the belts for the drive system. I’m modifying the standard setup a little: I’m going to add some eyebolts to allow for easier belt tensioning. I also added a second stepper motor to the other end of the carriage to prevent racking, so I have to add a belt to that side.

Next up is the wiring. The wiring itself is not difficult, but managing the wires will be a challenge. I bought some photo detector limit switches and I need to figure out how to mount them. I think I have a plan that will prevent the mill from being able to crash into them. I’ll have to make some mounts and small “flags” to trip them. I also need to build a control panel and an enclosure for the electronics. I have a sheet of aluminum, and now I have a mill to cut out the holes for the switch gear!

A base plate with hold down screws is also on the menu and I can use the mill to position most of the holes for that too. It’s kind of a bootstrap process at this point – using the mill to manufacture parts for itself.

I have to hit Home Depot on Saturday to pickup a few more items and then it should be completed this weekend. Well, until I start doing more modifications.

Hopefully the GRBL Shield and Arduino will arrive today or Saturday so I can wire it up and start cutting. The tracking system says the package is in Minneapolis, so there is a chance.

Possible future modifications include:

  • Using two pieces of Maker Slide for the Y axis to add rigidity to the Z axis.
  • Repositioning the X axis stepper motors to move the drive belt to the outside. This allows about 1″ more Y travel and prevents crashing the carriage into the belts.
  • Replacing the Dremel tool with a trim router. I have a Rigid trim router and I think it will make a better tool head. The trim router is much heavier than the Dremel, so I think the double Y axis mod may be required for this change. Luckily it’s not an expensive mod.
  • Upgrade the Z axis drive screw.
  • Creating a laser engraving attachment.
  • Lengthening the Y axis travel. Just needs longer pieces of Maker Slide, some new end plates and a new belt.

With the longer X axis Maker Slide the working envelope is 38″ on the X axis, 7″ on the Y axis and about 4″ on the Z axis.

Photos later this evening.

Running total costs.

All ShapeOko CNC Mill Posts.

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