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View Full Version : CNC with $500 budget? Possible?



Gamble
08-24-2011, 03:45 PM
Is it possible to make a machine to do wood/foam/aluminum for around $500 with everything included (except software)?
Zen toolworks maybe? Any other budget kits out there? 7x7 would be good for a starting point for me. And I'm sure if I upgrade to 12x12 I won't need anything bigger than that.

acondit
08-24-2011, 03:47 PM
Depends on how big and well stocked your junk box is.

Alan

Gamble
08-24-2011, 03:50 PM
Any other recommendations?

Dman65
08-24-2011, 04:04 PM
You might want to take a look at Solsylva 10x9 (http://solsylva.com/cnc/10x9x4.shtml). I am currently building this. The materials to build the structure, bearings, and leadscrews will run about $200 depending on what type of leadscrews you go with. You will have to add the motor and electronics to that. You can probably get everything for around $500. I have been building one for about three weekends now, but if you are at all good with wood working you would finish it faster than me.

Gamble
08-24-2011, 04:27 PM
Cool however I SUCK with cutting wood. I can't make a straight cut to save my life. I gave away my table saw, not sure I'll get it back. I have a circular saw, jig saw and that is about it for the time being.

Mountaincraft
08-24-2011, 04:50 PM
Cool however I SUCK with cutting wood. I can't make a straight cut to save my life. I gave away my table saw, not sure I'll get it back. I have a circular saw, jig saw and that is about it for the time being.

Most of what needs to be cut for the solsylva plans can be done for you at your local home center when you buy the materials..

Once you get it operational, you can use the machine to make improved parts for itself...

Gamble
08-24-2011, 04:55 PM
See my other thread. I started to build one out of metal, I'm just wondering if at this point I should just buy something like the zen toolworks. I feel it's going to cost the same in the end or I'll get to a part that I can't figure out how to build.

vdoug
08-24-2011, 08:11 PM
i didnt document everything to a exact amount but this is what i got with softwear.plasma cutter.
cnc plasma $650 for driberif85 and cnczone good luck - YouTube

here it is in action:
circlecut.wmv - YouTube

louieatienza
08-24-2011, 09:17 PM
Maybe for wood and foam, but I don't know about aluminum. My original Solsylva 25 x 36 was able to cut aluminum, albeit rather slowly compared to how it should be cut. I think I spent over $600 initially, but upgraded the leadscrews and AB nuts and that tacked on another $200-250... What's nice about the Solsylva is that almost every cut is a straight crosscut (you can do this accurately with a circular saw and large speed square) and the manual has full size part templates that you can glue to your piece and cut out and drill.

Check out solsylva.com. My machine is actually in the gallery page, all the way at the bottom, along with a link to a YouTube video...

Mountaincraft
08-24-2011, 11:58 PM
This site is chock full of really nice solsylva machines... The fact that once built and operational, users cut upgrade parts on the machine is what makes it ideal for the 'budget' build.. What some people end up with 'down the road' are some pretty nice machines for the money...

And when I was looking into it, I was very impressed with how much time the guy (Steve if I remember.. or was it Kieth.. wait.. I think it was Dave.. LOL) devoted to answering questions... considering that all he is getting is a few bucks for the plans.. that was pretty impressive to me...

vtx1029
08-25-2011, 03:33 PM
Or maybe check out this http://www.cnczone.com/forums/diy-cnc_router_table_machines/134221-microcarve_mv2_plans_files.html

John's stuff is really nice. I have one of his A4 machines (had it way too long summer and vacations are getting in the way of my software savings plan :tired:)

Maybe he would sell you the parts you could not build. I know he sells the Z axis separately.

Gamble
08-25-2011, 03:52 PM
Or maybe check out this http://www.cnczone.com/forums/diy-cnc_router_table_machines/134221-microcarve_mv2_plans_files.html

John's stuff is really nice. I have one of his A4 machines (had it way too long summer and vacations are getting in the way of my software savings plan :tired:)

Maybe he would sell you the parts you could not build. I know he sells the Z axis separately.

It's a nice kit, but doesn't come with the motors like the zen kit does. Also he doesn't recommend it for aluminum.

Dman65
08-25-2011, 04:17 PM
I stink at wood as well. That is actually one of the reasons I am building a CNC router so it can cut the wood projects out for me and put in any holes I need to line things up. I am hoping to have my Solsylva 10x9 finished this weekend. I am up to the Z carriage assembly so I think I probably have another 3 hours of putting everything together and then about 12 of tuning it up lol.

Dman65
08-25-2011, 04:25 PM
It's a nice kit, but doesn't come with the motors like the zen kit does. Also he doesn't recommend it for aluminum.

I think the general consensus is that you need supported rails for cutting aluminum. Also, if working in wood is not your thing, I doubt getting the pockets cut into the MDF would be trivial. Of course you could always find someone locally to do that, but I don't know how much that would add to the build cost. Is the Zen recommended for cutting aluminum?

Gamble
08-25-2011, 04:33 PM
This is what he said when I asked about aluminum.

You can cut aluminum with end mill. The feed rate will be not as aggresive and a regular milling machine. I will say 1/8 cutting depth is managable.

louieatienza
08-26-2011, 12:31 AM
Here is the thread to the zen machine in regards to aluminum:

http://www.cnczone.com/forums/zen_toolworks_machines/120959-first_try_cutting_aluminum.html

vtx1029
08-26-2011, 09:49 AM
It's a nice kit, but doesn't come with the motors like the zen kit does. Also he doesn't recommend it for aluminum.

Cheaper isn't always better... I'll also say John also provides great support.

Both machines are similar in construction from a design stand point, one being made of MDF and aluminum the other made of PVC.

FWIW here's a couple of videos of one of john's machines cutting aluminum.

Microcarve A-10 CNC - YouTube

Microcarve A-10 CNC router - YouTube

jm82792
08-26-2011, 02:19 PM
I'm in the same boat and think spending the $10 on the plans mentioned is the best idea.
Crosscutting wood isn't bad and that's coming from a person who is poor at working with wood.
The nice part about those plans is there isn't any router work and it's just basic cutting.

beone
08-26-2011, 04:26 PM
look up the jgro and the joes 2000 or 2006

roy_okc
08-27-2011, 01:26 PM
Depending on how soon you're wanting to buy/build, there's an interesting project taking shape at Blog | Shapeoko | Precision by DefaultShapeoko | Precision by Default (http://www.shapeoko.com/blog). The target price, still to be confirmed, is $300 which, I believe, includes everything but software.

RomanLini
08-27-2011, 06:34 PM
Interesting project! :) I'm not sure about that target price though. Other companies are already making small machines and even the $500 mark leaves very little room for profit, if any.

Gamble
08-27-2011, 07:30 PM
That's cool, but I doubt it looks sturdy enough to do aluminum.

eford8
08-30-2011, 02:47 PM
Hey all, cool that you found my little project (shapeoko). You're right, the mill you see pictured is definitly not strong enough to do aluminum. It has some issues with the X and Z that make is too flimsy to handle anything hard. We're hoping the new can do aluminium, but don't want to promise anything.

As for the price, and making a profit, the cool part about the project is we're only trying to provide the plans to make one for $300, we're not trying to make any money on the deal, so margins aren't an issue :-)

Like I said on the blog, we're hoping to get as many people "into" CNC for the lowest price possible. I think $300 is doable, of the designs we've come up with, many of them are in the $350 range (that's everything: frame, rails, electronics, hardware, even a spindle). As for the software, we've been using a *free) open source stack for the last year and have had a great amount of success with it. So, no cost there. Of course, many people might end up using something like mach3 for the controller after they get used to the mill, but by providing (linking and giving instructions) for using the open source software, that's one less expense for someone who is just trying to get into the game.

If you want, I'd be glad to post updates to the project in this thread, but don't want to hijack it. So let me know.

BTW: The microcarve MV2 looks *awesome*! Great work.

jm82792
08-31-2011, 04:55 AM
At one time I thought a lot more money was needed but I think that $300 can actually get you into the door if you do it right. Realistically more money is needed, but don't we all(including myself) need a taste of it to become addicted?

RomanLini
08-31-2011, 06:31 AM
...
As for the price, and making a profit, the cool part about the project is we're only trying to provide the plans to make one for $300, we're not trying to make any money on the deal, so margins aren't an issue :-)

Like I said on the blog, we're hoping to get as many people "into" CNC for the lowest price possible. I think $300 is doable, of the designs we've come up with, many of them are in the $350 range (that's everything: frame, rails, electronics, hardware, even a spindle). As for the software, we've been using a *free) open source stack for the last year and have had a great amount of success with it. So, no cost there.
...

Thank you for clarifying that, and I apologise for the misunderstanding. For some reason I got the idea you were going to be selling machines for $300.

I wish you the best of luck with the open source project and hope it brings lots of new people into the CNC hobby. :)

beermkr
08-31-2011, 06:48 PM
I built the buildyourcnc.com machine.

Ebay NEMA23 motors - $62 delivered (166 oz/in)
Hobby CNC Pro 3 axis board - $85 (approx)
Plans and CD - $15 (the plans are downloadable on the website for free)
Materials - roughly $200 including bolts/washers/aluminum/cross dowels/drive hardware.
Harbor Freight trim router - $24
Wiring - $50 (approx)

I had an old dell computer and used EMC2 for control (free). Part generation was CamBam which was free for the first 40 uses (I paid the $150 at the end of the trial but honestly I used it for almost 4 months by just not shutting it down)

I think it came in at under $500 total and worked well enoght to cut out all the parts for the bigger machine I am using now. Plus I sold the mechanical structure for $150 (I kept the driver and motors)

Sourcing parts is one of the keys to low budget builds. I LOVE McMaster Carr and OnlineMetals.com

R/

jm82792
09-01-2011, 12:38 AM
I love sourcing parts too, ebay, amazon, and anywhere that ship USPS Priority to Hawaii :) (free shipping never applies :boxing: )
I am hoping to keep mine at, with acme screw for under $300.

beermkr
09-01-2011, 09:34 AM
I am hoping to keep mine at, with acme screw for under $300.

Good luck. Best, cheapest source for nuts and couplers is dumpstercnc.com and three axis' of parts will run you like $150 if you are going to use anti-backlash nuts and 1 start screws. More if you use multi start.

R/

jm82792
09-01-2011, 01:58 PM
That shows how much I know :o
I'll definitely go with cheap screws at first,
then go from there(I'm plain chicken to spend much money upfront without some form of results). I'm budgeted but if I get any form of decent results then I'll definitely want to upgrade since I'm wanting to get more accurate with a higher feedrate.
I've in the past gone over the top with projects and I end up with a bunch of parts. I am hoping to finish one of them when I finish this CNC machine :) (milling a through hole PCB breakout board for a MCU to complete a reef aquarium controller)

grumpygeek
09-01-2011, 02:25 PM
I built my first machine for just under $500, you can see a cost break down here: Rockcliff Mini Model D (http://grumpygeek.com/?page_id=9). The Rockcliff (http://rockcliffcnc.com/default.aspx) and some of the Solsyla (http://www.solsylva.com/) machines are fairly straight forward to build with basic tools. Just remember, you will always spend more then you plan too, and building cnc machine turns into a hobby/addiction for a lot of people, so be careful. ;)

louieatienza
09-01-2011, 07:09 PM
I built my first machine for just under $500, you can see a cost break down here: Rockcliff Mini Model D (http://grumpygeek.com/?page_id=9). The Rockcliff (http://rockcliffcnc.com/default.aspx) and some of the Solsyla (http://www.solsylva.com/) machines are fairly straight forward to build with basic tools. Just remember, you will always spend more then you plan too, and building cnc machine turns into a hobby/addiction for a lot of people, so be careful. ;)

LOL... actually having a CNC is like having a boat; you always find a way to spend money on it! Having it make you money back once in a while is nice however...

RomanLini
09-02-2011, 08:37 AM
That shows how much I know :o
I'll definitely go with cheap screws at first,
then go from there...


The OP was asking about a very small machine maybe 12" x12" I think, which is cheap for screws as you can just use threaded rod. That only gives slow movement but on a tiny machine it doesn't take long to get across the full travel. The good leverage of threaded rod also allows smaller cheaper motors, another benefit of tiny machines.

Once the machine gets larger you need screws with more lead (more distance per turn), then that needs more power and bigger motors, then the larger machine has heavier parts and needs more power, again bigger motors etc.