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Thread: MountainCrafts Router/Plasma Build Thread

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    Default MountainCrafts Router/Plasma Build Thread

    Greeting gurus of all things CNC...

    Okay, so I've been dreaming of this for what seems to be over a decade.. Started drooling over a TorchMate kit way back.. And was there, that I first heard of the whole 3rd axis/router capability thing... This realization made things worse on me, of course...

    So, I'm taking the plunge.. full steam ahead... The construction industry has completely died here in rural NorCal, and I'm earning way below the poverty line now, with my credit destroyed.. I'm getting too old for that line of work, and pretty much hate it anyways, so this is as good an opportunity to go in a new direction as any...

    My goal is to eventually build a Heavy duty CNC Router table in it's own (very) little building, and also a CNC plasma table in it's own (very) little building...

    Seeing as I have need for a router table 'now'.. but a plasma table requires less 'oomph' and mass.. I've decided to first build a dual use table (I know, total PITA regarding dust management and sparks), that will eventually become a plasma table after I build a Monster High HorsePower Router Table later..(Thinking MechMate)

    So this table will start out as a router table, then be modded to be dual use, then later become plasma only...

    This one is a 4'x8' 3 axis Rack and Pinion system, mostly using cncrouterparts.com mechanics...

    I have purchased the 80/20 for all three axis, the cold rolled steel for the X and Y axis, and the cold rolled steel for the z axis should be in this monday..

    I have cut the x and y axis rails, and marked and center punched them to be drilled, soon as the weather gives me a break (I need to do it outdoors)... In the below pictures, I have the X rail bearing carriages held in place with clamps, and the 3060 gantry beam just sitting on top of them... They were taken last weekend..

    Since then, I have built a wooden 'assembly table' to be used temporarily while I build the top end and work out all the dimensions.. Once the thing is 'operating' and I have my dimensions nailed down, I will build a heavy duty base table from welded steel...

    I'm hoping I can make this wooden table rigid enough to perhaps use to mill my gantry end plate towers, and to also make my router motor mount and dust collection head... Maybe if I cut 'real slow'.... If not, I'll have to pay someone to make them I guess...

    I have built the basic wooden table base, and will post pictures of that later today....





    At this time, I am planning on 12" of Z travel, and NEMA 23 motors (4 motors, 3 axis)... Between now, and when I buy the motors, I'm hoping some of you can make me feel good about the choices I've made...

    I ordered a used PC (2.3Ghz intel duo with XP pro), that I am picking up tomorrow, and all the bearing carriages, plates, acme screw, nuts, thrust washers, etc. for the Z axis should be here in the next few days...

    I like Ahrens system, because it is easy to assemble, and can easily be upgraded from NEMA 23 to NEMA 34, which is what I plan to use on the final router table machine...

    I am interested in Vectrics Cut 3D, Cut 2D, and PhotoVcarve bundle.... I have Cinema 4D studio for creating 3D files, and also illustrator and photoshop for the 2D stuff... albeit all older versions... I can upgrade to a dedicated design software later (maybe Vcarve pro)... but I'd like to hear about the pros/cons of the various software options available to me...

    I'm hoping to have the top end operational by May1st, and the base table complete by June 1st.. and then the rest of the summer to work out the kinks...

    Looking forward to getting input from those who have traveled this road before me, so that I hopefully don't stumble too much or stray off the path...


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    I forgot to mention...

    I'M EXCITED AS HELL TO BE FINALLY DOING THIS!!!




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    First Question...

    I have an extra porter cable 690 router.... All I'd need is to order another base for it, and then I could use that to make a router mount and dust collector until later on when I can afford to buy a spindle..

    As I understand it, to mill aluminum or cut plastics, I need to run at speeds much slower than routers typically run at.. So I need to use a speed controller for the router.. but not all routers can use them..

    How do I know if the PC 690 router can use a speed controller? And can I use a cheapo one like they sell at harbor freight, or do I need to get something special?

    Thanks



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    Okay, here are some pictures of where I am as of today.

    Again, this wooden version of the table, is just a mock up/assembly jig... Once I have the top end worked out, I will begin building the 2x2x0.25 steel version of the base out in the shop (where the table will be initially used)...

    anyways, I need to pick up a couple sheets of 3/4 T&G for the material bed, so that I can square the thing out, and also add some plywood sheer bracing to stiffen the whole thing up.. But as is, it's only a quarter inch out of square measured diagonal to diagonal, and the rails are less than 1/8" out of parallel (within adjustment range)...








    The thing I'm most concerned about is if I will be totally unhappy using Ahrens NEMA 23 electric kit on a table this size.... But I'm not sure if I can swing going to NEMA 34 immediately...

    Anyone tell me what I can expect in the way of performance issues using the NEMA 23 system vs the 34?

    I'm thinking that for plasma, the 23's will be adequate, but for routing/milling????

    Last edited by Mountaincraft; 03-20-2011 at 07:42 PM.


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    I have a bit more than a week to decide on steppers/drivers/PS for this table.. And I'm clueless..

    cncrouterparts has a 380 oz NEMA23 system for $665... Keling has a 465 oz NEMA 34 package sans cables for $650... both use the gecko 540, and similar power supplies.. It'll cost $120 more on the motor mount systems for the NEMA 34...

    Keling has a 640 oz kit for $900, but I don't know anything about their drivers.. same with their 906 oz kit for $1000.. Both of those last two kits are getting hurtful on th money end..

    With Gecko drives, cncrouterparts NEMA 34 system will easily be over $1k before power supply...

    I'm not sure the NEMA23 will cut it, but I rally don't know how to know that ahead of time, other than to ask for help from those who do..

    This machine will be intended to make money with, not a hobby.. ie light commercial.... I can afford smaller mistakes in this build, but not big ones, like misjudging what I need for the motor package and having to buy it twice...

    Thanks,


    [URL="http://www.cnczone.com/forums/cnc_wood_router_project_log/124543-mountaincrafts_router_plasma_build_thread.html"][U]4' x 8' CNC Wood Router Project[/U][/URL]
    [U][URL="http://www.cnczone.com/forums/woodworking/135576-home_made_drum_sander.html"]Home Made Drum Sander Project[/URL][/U]


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    a few things,

    first the router. generally if the router does NOT have a built in speed control (ie. you cant adjust the speed on the router itself) AND it does NOT have a soft start feature (it spins up quickly instead of gradually). then you can use any speed controller you wish.


    now a couple of questions. why build two tables? if you are going to make the first one dual purpose for at least a little while, why not just make it dual purpose permanently? the only reason i can think of for having two separate machines is if you are going to be running both simultaneously and almost non stop. otherwise you can save a HUGE amount of money.

    also, if you are debating going to nema 34's you should just go there from the start. otherwise you are paying for motors and mounts twice. it may be a little more up front but it will be much cheaper in the long run.

    to figure out what motors and power supplys ect. you need you have to start with the motors. you need to figure out how much weight each motor will be moving then you can figure out how fast you want it to go, with that information you can calculate how much torque you need. that will tell you the power supply requirements.

    check out gecko's site and read all the info in the faq's. it should help you quite a bit along your way. it has a bunch of the formulas you need and other info.

    Gecko FAQ



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    Thanks for the response...

    That's good news on the router! I'd really like to be able to use the one I have laying around for now, as by the time I've got this thing up and running, I have a feeling I'll be way in the poor farm (I mean more so than I already am) and exhausted....

    As for the two tables question.. It will likely be a hassle changing back and forth between functions... Then there's the whole sawdust vs sparks thing...

    That being said, I reserve the right to change my mind if I'm totally happy with the one table doing both jobs, and find the hassle and dust management to be less of an issue than I have been led to believe... In fact, I'll be tickled pink...

    [URL="http://www.cnczone.com/forums/cnc_wood_router_project_log/124543-mountaincrafts_router_plasma_build_thread.html"][U]4' x 8' CNC Wood Router Project[/U][/URL]
    [U][URL="http://www.cnczone.com/forums/woodworking/135576-home_made_drum_sander.html"]Home Made Drum Sander Project[/URL][/U]


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    ACCKKK!

    My browser is too old for that FAQ page and it formats so badly I can't read it... and the java buttons don't work..

    I'm running MacOSX 10.3.9 and can't upgrade the browser without upgrading the OS, which is a waste on an old mac..

    Oh well, that PC will be here tomorrow, and the few sites this is an issue with, I can use that to read them... until I can afford an iPad anyways (which will be a considerable ways after this thing is up and running)... generally speaking, I don't want the machine PC being used for the web much if I can help it...

    [URL="http://www.cnczone.com/forums/cnc_wood_router_project_log/124543-mountaincrafts_router_plasma_build_thread.html"][U]4' x 8' CNC Wood Router Project[/U][/URL]
    [U][URL="http://www.cnczone.com/forums/woodworking/135576-home_made_drum_sander.html"]Home Made Drum Sander Project[/URL][/U]


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    Well! That solves 'that' issue! Very cool!
    Thanks..


    [URL="http://www.cnczone.com/forums/cnc_wood_router_project_log/124543-mountaincrafts_router_plasma_build_thread.html"][U]4' x 8' CNC Wood Router Project[/U][/URL]
    [U][URL="http://www.cnczone.com/forums/woodworking/135576-home_made_drum_sander.html"]Home Made Drum Sander Project[/URL][/U]


  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mountaincraft View Post
    First Question...

    I have an extra porter cable 690 router.... All I'd need is to order another base for it, and then I could use that to make a router mount and dust collector until later on when I can afford to buy a spindle..

    As I understand it, to mill aluminum or cut plastics, I need to run at speeds much slower than routers typically run at.. So I need to use a speed controller for the router.. but not all routers can use them..

    How do I know if the PC 690 router can use a speed controller? And can I use a cheapo one like they sell at harbor freight, or do I need to get something special?

    Thanks
    I have the PC 690 LR which has the variable speed already, but I don't know how slow it goes. If you have the variable speed version, it's not recommended to use a speed controller. If it's a single speed and doesn't have the "soft start" feature, then you can use a speed controller like the Harbor Freight or Rockler models:

    Harbor Freight Router Speed Control LINK

    Rockler Router Speed Control LINK



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    Quote Originally Posted by Mountaincraft View Post
    Thanks for the response...

    That's good news on the router! I'd really like to be able to use the one I have laying around for now, as by the time I've got this thing up and running, I have a feeling I'll be way in the poor farm (I mean more so than I already am) and exhausted....

    As for the two tables question.. It will likely be a hassle changing back and forth between functions... Then there's the whole sawdust vs sparks thing...

    That being said, I reserve the right to change my mind if I'm totally happy with the one table doing both jobs, and find the hassle and dust management to be less of an issue than I have been led to believe... In fact, I'll be tickled pink...

    have you checked out the plasma table area of this site?

    http://www.cnczone.com/forums/cnc_pl...rjet_machines/

    many people there run dual use machines. (that is what i am building). if you use dust collection while using the router. then you should be ok. it takes a little bit of clever design on the table working surface but nothing too hard. also you can mount the router and the plasma to the z axis permanently. (together at the same time) this way to change between the two you just have to tell the computer what you want to do. (which you have to do anyway) basically zero effort.



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MountainCrafts Router/Plasma Build Thread
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