Friday, 13 April 2007

1st pics of my DIY CNC Router

-----computer controlled cutting machine!

The last month or so I've been gradually putting together my own CNC (Computer Numeric Control) router machine and last night I finally got to do some testing / cutting (though things didn't quite work out straight away)

I've wanted to explore CNC for a while, but even going the DIY route its not cheap to get into. I purchased a router kit from CNC Kits & Bits (wooden kit with a large travel area) and then got the driver boards and stepper motors from Routout CNC. Both of these companies are UK based - I'm sure there are options for people elsewhere in the world.

So, after building the machine, adjusting the bearings, fixing on the stepper motors and wiring them all up..... time to try to figure the Mach3 routing software (a pretty complex program) and how to get my circuit designs from Eagle into the required GCode for Mach3. The first attempts got things working a bit (along with also things going a bit out of control - I broke a router bit by rushing ahead without thinking -- moral -> go slow!). A program called PCB-Gcode, run from within Eagle is used to generate routing data (and also will provide drilling data -- auto drilling of all the pcb holes! No more hunching over the dremel drill).

Well, as you can see, I got the settings a bit wrong - routes were cut but I certainly need to tweak the PCB G-code settings some more. Once I'd returned home from the workshop I looked more at the software -- the router needs to do several passes over the board, routing out a little more each time it goes over and running at a very fine resolution. I could see where I'd gone wrong when I started figuring out the path viewer in Mach3. Hopefully I get to try the process out again today...


MikMo said...

Thats so nice. it must be really cool to avoid al the chemicals when making PCB's.

May i suggest a dust extraction system, especially if you are going to leave your laptop that close. All the little copper particles wil eventualy get in it an cause lots of trouble. But also for your own health

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