3K is really pretty steep for you
I'm new to this forum and looking for insight from the folks in the know.
My wife is looking for a PC controlled CNC quilter. I've priced them all over the spectrum and the most inexpensive setup is PCQuilter at over $3K. This is more then I'd like to spend so I am looking for a DIY alternative.
My wife already has her frame and machine. Based on what I've seen reviewing the PC Quilter, the system is a simply 2X CNC device that has manual speed control, leaving the sewing machine to control the stitch speed. They recommend a manual speed control for the actual sewing machine with a simple relay they turns the machine on. The speed control part is nothing more then a variable resister and on /off relay. Pretty basic stuff.
I've looked around at CNC sites and reviewed a few forums here, and now have a few questions that I hope can be easily answered by this knowledgeable group of enthusiasts.
How difficult and cost effective would it be fabricate a 2 Axis CNC platform that can be controlled by one of the many free Windows/Linux/Ubuntu based CAD programs.
I'd need the system to be able to move a 30lb machine. The frame already has a carriage system on roller bearings so I'd like to retrofit it with the necessary components.
I'm really not looking to do anything fancier then input an image into a standard CNC file format and then control the 2 axis platform to "trace" it out much like the old school HP plotters. Manual SW controlled stepper motor/servo speed settings would be fine.. no need for variable speeds.
I would like to be able to back track along the image line path in case a problem occurred so I could repair the problem and then continue on...
Is this a difficult endeavor? I'm handy with hardware and SW, but have not delved into the CNC world yet. I have mechanical /electrical eng background but have not programmed in a few years. With the technology I've seen at places like Probotix the process seems relatively straightforward.
Am I deluding myself?
Any and all insights & hints / tips would be greatly appreciated. Sources for HW & SW as well as hardware & software recommendations also would be helpful.
TIA and Kindest Regards,
Tony (Just trying to make the wife happy) Cooper
Last edited by Tony Cooper; 05-14-2012 at 02:56 AM. Reason: corrected english syntax / clarification
3K is really pretty steep for you
Look at the attached spreadsheet .CSV file for my CNC quilting machine parts list. It's almost up to date. It will give you an idea what to expect for costs. I would say that I am in to this about $1800 to $2000. This is above and beyond the basic quilting sewing machine and its frame with roller carriage, quilt mounting rollers, etc.
The software (wizards) required to control the quilter from a pattern is not trivial. There are problems associated with a quilter that are not like those problems that occur with CNC machining. Check out Machsupport Forum - Index for the base CNC control software on which the Quilting motion control wizards (application software) rides.
This should get you started. Also, you should review this thread to see how others have approached the problem.
Last edited by WindRidge; 05-16-2012 at 08:47 PM. Reason: Added the attachment as a .TXT file
Hi Tony we all like to keep our wife happy sorry that I have not been on this site for some time, you said that your wife already has a quilting frame and machine the machine will need to have at least a 9 inch harp minimum which is a good start, depending on what frame you have but most can be converted retaining most of your present setup
and what software you already have, and how elaborate your wife wants her quilts.
I converted my wife's quilting frame which I built some years back,with a lot of hours and about $1200 Australian, I found a gecko 540 to be the most serviceable and reliably, mach3 which runs using windows, and 2 stepper motors.you can pick up a older desk top computer ( if you don't have one around laying already ) very cheaply it is not advisable to use this computer for any other purpose and DO NOT connect it to the internet. they are most of the expense. the soft ware Is of course extra , If you would like some pictures of the conversion I would send them to you
I have developed a QBASIC program to be used for experimentation in CNC technology using old step motors salvaged from 5.25 inch floppy drives.
If you can afford a not to fast machine and not having a cute workscreen it might be possible to adapt it to control high power step motors. In fact there are a number of sources for either new or salvaged motors and power amplifiers are not a big deal. There are even a number of integrated circuits that will do the job and can easily be adapted to be controlled by a desktop PC using the LPT port.
Without giving it too much thought I would suggest a 425 oz-in (size NEMA 23 for about $100.00 USD) and commercial amplifier with capacity for up to three motors (also for about $100.00 USD). The transmission can be a 1/2 inch screw (ACME thread is preferable). The trick here is to have a good nut (loose enough but with no or little freeplay). That nut most be mechanically linked to the axis to be controlled.
Most step motors come in 200 steps per revolutions. Take that into account to select the proper screws. That is also important for the amplifiers in case you want to microstep them. As a matter of personal opinion I would keep the electronics as simple as possible using pulley ratios other that 1:1 but that would depend on the actual speed I need for the machine.
I would couple the motors directly using flexible couplers (hard springs could prove to be good enough) to the aforementioned screws but that is likely to be difficult so think about using toothed pulleys (timing pulleys).
Additional components would be the bearings to support the screws.
This is my first post and I hope it is not to long to fit here.
Anyway if you are interested, or anyone for that matter, please contact me.
I will post one of my QBASIC programs in the near future. I am sure more than one will find use for it.
Happy holidays for all.
Bbmnet: I am on my iPhone right now, but would you mind PM'ing me?
My mother wants a digital quilter, she already owns a longarm and the table.
However I would be willing to build another table if its required etc. I am new to this whole CNC thing and quilting, but i wanted to do this for her 50th birthday if possible. I have about 6 months to complete the project.
I purchased the computer, Mach3, and have some cad/cam software.
I just need help with the motors, controller card, etc.
I was planning on going with geko drives and controllers nema23 stepper motors?
Any advice on a build that won't cost me thousands would be appreciated!
Hi Akcnc welcome aboard
You won't go to far wrong using Mach3 and Gecko G540 In my opinion the best. admittedly the Gecko has the ability to run 4 steppers which is not a bad thing it is like having two spare drivers on the shelf , if you blow one driver it can be a simple job just changing the position of the blown one and you are back on the air in 10 minutes, is dearer than most but worth every dime and then some,I use nema 23 motors again more expensive but they really do the job well,I use timing belts and gears on both the X and Y axis, easier by far and more than adequate for a quilting frame, but what i have done just recently was to drive the X axis front and back and it has made a tremendous improvement, My wife's sewing machine is only a brother pq1500 with a 9 inch throat ,a long arm is more desirable,one question that is most important is, is your mums long arm fitted with some form of cruise control, If you would like some photos of the conversion I have done to my wife's quilting frame, send me your Email address
Thanks for the response.
Her machine has a brand new external regulator that hasn't been hooked up. So that would be her cruise control?
Her machine is a 9" as well. Its a Pfaff grand, on an illusion base I believe. Or something like that. It's a 10' table.
It sounds like your Mum has the basis How can I help you, I can send you some photos of my conversion, if it would be of any help,
programing is not my strong point,but any of the mechanicals I would be only to happy to assist with, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. to have it ready in time may be challenge, depending on what free time you are prepared to put in. but before you start, a few facts with a 9 inch mid arm, doing a normal size quilt quilt she will only be able to achieve a 4 inch pattern by the time she gets to the end bottom of her quilt, and it will take a bit of learning on her part.so she must know in advance that there will be a learning curve,you don't want to put in a the time and money building it to sit on her machine and never be used. that being said if you still want to go ahead, I would love to assist.