The following post, and follow-ups, will chronicle my reason for getting a Mikini, as well as my "start up" experience with the machine. This post is long, if you don't like that, don't read it! You have been WARNED!!!
Well, I ordered my machine on June 4th. I had been in contact with Phil many times since May 10 of this year. For the past 2+ years, I have been lusting for a "real" CNC, wanting a Tormach. To make sure this was something I really wanted to do and could do, though, I first bought a FireBall V90 CNC Router from Probotix.
Since that purchase, I have been talking with the original inventor of the V90 (John Hansford, he's starting a new business here: http://www.microcarve.com/) about CNC, developed a few parts for the Fireball (available here: MCPi - Nicknacks) and puttered around with that machine. Did a few jobs for people here on the zone, mostly for free, and nothing ever turned in to a real project that I could put on my website The reason bought that machine was to make sure I would be able to run a CNC machine. I know they are really "all the same" when you get down to it - you need to know CAD, be able to create CAM paths to make GCode, then process that through a controller to machine a part. My steps for each of those were:
Well, this exact same process will be used to move up from an MDF-framed machine to the Mikini...
In the mean time, I honed my CAM skills, and I offer a CAM service now, having programmed some code for an intake manifold being made to add a supercharger to Ford 302 and 351 motors for one of my friends's HAAS VM1 (http://hansatooling.com/), as well as many resin mold parts for several "to be announced" products in development by Sci-Fi Metropolis - their machine is a ShopSabre with a 48"x96" bed - nice big machine! I even created a post processor for that machine in BobCAD, as what was available didn't meet our needs, and I would rather learn to do something myself than rely on someone else (BobCAD offers free posts).
So, by this point, I was pretty sure I could handle all the software/programming parts of the puzzle. I have built my own computers since around 1994, I am a mechanical engineer in my "real life", I have worked in and around machine shops for a couple decades (I am a manufacturing engineer). I also found out I was getting a pretty sizeable bonus, so I was ready to pull the trigger on a Tormach... OR so I thought!
Once I knew I had the funding, I started my research in earnest. I compared machines from Tormach, Mikini, IH, Novakon, Syil, and Smithy. Here is the table I used to make my final purchase decision:
I wanted the Mikini, but didn't have much luck finding information on here about it. I think I was the one who got this forum added, as I did make an official request for it, and I also put several posts in to it so that at least some info would be here (it was blank for several weeks before I added some posts). I then followed up by talking to several owners of machines to make sure I was not making a bad choice. It was down to Tormach or Mikini at this point, and one of the people I talked to had one of each (HoweCNC on this forum). The main thing that steered me to Mikini is that it is a fully enclosed machine, it seems to be able to hold better tolerances than the Tormach (all the users love the accuracy of the Mikini), and they are "the little guy". That last one may not make sense, but I usually end up pulling for the underdog, and all things being equal, I want more competition out there not less, so my money went to Mikini! I do wish they had the user base (responses on the forum, experience, suggestions, help fixing things, etc.) of the Tormach, that is the only element I am so far not happy with (before I receive the machine)...
The machine was ready to ship to me on July 21, but due to my work travel schedule, and a late payment to me of the bonus that is funding purchase of the machine, I could not finalize payment until August 27. More work travel intervened, but the machine was finally picked up from Phil on September 9 (I contracted shipping through www.uship.com, $550 shipped door to door with 100% insurance coverage). They attemped to deliver to me on September 13, but they called as I was on my way to the airport, and they had not told me it was coming, so I was in no way ready to receive the machine. I spent two weeks in Europe with them leaving a message on my cell phone every day I was gone, but I didn't get any of those messages until I returned home (I turn my personal phone off in Europe, use my work cell...). SO, this Monday I gave them a call and scheduled delivery for today...
Right now I have a rented forklift in the driveway ($100 a day, no questions asked!!! WAAAAAAYYYYY Less than I was expecting...), waiting for RoadRunner to show up with my Mikini... I have the garage cleaned up in the corner it will live in, path for the forklift is ready, updates to this thread will be made in accordance with progress!
Mikini's IN THE HOUSE (well, the garage, but still...). Off to Chipotle for a celebratory lunch, then I'll post some pix...
Why not Novakon... Less Z height (VERY important for me, as I want to go 5-axis eventually), lighter overall weight (less rigidity), and I didn't get a "warm fuzzy" on their forums (I think their spindle is lower power too, probably 3 hp peak, where the Mikini is 3 hp continuous, 4 hp peak). Many people had little problems here and there, some had great service, some had poor service. That, and they're CANADIAN!!! (Ok, that's not so bad, but still!) ; )
I called and e-mailed Phil at Mikini at least 10 times, and had a response the same day in most cases (always by phone) or the next day in a few cases - NEVER longer than that. That was a HUGE + in my book... Also, the people that I spoke to all said the same with regards to contact to and from Mikini/Phil.
Did the shipper bust the door off and put that scuff on the front? Will they pay for repair? Were you pleased with Roadrunner? Did you use a "Ship it Now" quote? The price is right but I'm concerned about sustaining damage.
It broke in transit, I think the door latch vibrated open, and with further vibration the door broke off the hinges (the rivets failed). The bottom doors were not held shut in any way when it was crated at Mikini. I already suggested to Phil that they do wrap the lower doors closed to keep this from happening in the future, and he appreciate the feedback.
I am not worried about the door. I will rivet it back on myself. Not worth the hassel of going through the shipper and having to coordinate for them to come by the house, etc.
For uShip, I entered in the data for the shipment and put it up for bidding. It was won by this guy: bestpricedave08 - Stockton, California | Get Quotes for Transport - totally cheesy pic in his profile, but he had decent communication and a great price. He didn't do the followup as well as I would have liked (he was supposed to tell the shipper I would call when I was ready for the delivery, but apparently did not since they left me a message every day), but in the end the price was right and I got the machine. Phil quoted $1500 as his best deal for shipping, so I was about 1/3 of that. $1000 will buy a few endmills!
Got the machine wired up today. All axes moving well using the MPG (I need to build the computer for MACH3 control still). Spindle speed also ramped up and down...
Stupid question for anyone that bought the Mikini vise - how do you mount the damn thing?! It doesn't have tabs/ears to run a bolt in to a T-slot as I am used to, so does that mean I have to clamp it down?!