View Full Version : Home Built Router/Drag Diamond Engraver

10-31-2003, 04:22 PM
Howdy All,
I have found the CNCzone to be a very valuable asset to help me built my first router.

I'm still in the early stages but as a former "lurker" I enjoyed seeing other people’s projects in their progressive stages.

I started out with the hopes of keeping my machine inexpensive but precise and fast enough to do what I need it to do.
I do believe my goal is obtainable thanks to CNCzone.

My table is 4’X4’ with a usable area in the 36” X 40” range.

I was going to go with the design for the lineal bearings as seen in several posts using angle stock and skateboard bearing.

After I constructed one prototype using 1” angle iron I thought I would really like to have the bearings on all sides.
After realizing the fact I could surround the 1” rod (picture shows it hollow the final will be solid) with bearings and be able to adjust it.
Using nylon locking nuts seems to be great as it is totally adjustable in 8 places with no play at all!

Here is a picture of the table.

Sorry for the crappy pictures (cheap camera = cheap pictures :-)

I’ll update the pictures as I can.

Well I hope to get some work on it this weekend.


11-02-2003, 05:21 PM
This weekend I made the gantry which I should end up with a 6” Z height.
During this week I shall buy some 1” cold steel rolled rod and have thread tap in them so I can bolt the ends to the table and have my moving gantry.
I thinking of slots in the ends of the table to be able to micro ajust it and then tourqe well enough so there is no movement using large washers to increase the surface area.

If anyone haves any other thoughts on better way of attaching the rods to the table and still being able to micro ajust the rods please let me know.


11-02-2003, 05:59 PM
Looks great. Keep it up! Some folks use one of John Klienbauer's inventions to be able to adjust the rails as seen here:


Look at post #2


11-03-2003, 12:40 AM
Well, since he linked to a picture of my machine, let me tell you how to build the "mounting blocks."

Basically, cut out a square of your material -- I used MDF, but had a little problem with the threads stripping out under load.

Drill a large hole through the middle of the block, through which your shaft will pass.

Drill a hole in each of the 4 sides -- tap them, or use inserts if you wish. Thread in some short bolts.

Voila! You have a somewhat crude, but completely servicable 4-jaw chuck. Most importantly it works great, and makes alignment very simple, indeed.

-- Chuck Knight

P.S. That's 1" black iron gas pipe, and the MDF blocks are about 2" across.

11-03-2003, 12:56 AM
Thank you for the info balsaman/chuckknigh!

Does anyone have any idea what kind of power I’ll need to move this machine with enough speed and power to do production work.
I was thinking the “Shopbot” uses VEXTRA stepping motors with 660 oz/in also in the future I might want to build a new table in the 4’x8’ range and just bring my electronics over.

Can I get away with smaller (cheaper) motors?

For the Driver:
I wanted to use the Xylotex for the fact it’s cheap but with these larger motors they need more amps then the Xylotex can supply.
Anyone know of another driver that is inexpensive and will run over 2.5 amps per phase?

If I can use smaller motors then I could use the Xylotex.

Also can you use unipolar motors in a bipolor driver?

I’m basiclly trying to figure out what’s the best bang for the buck.

Any help would be welcomed!


11-03-2003, 01:09 PM


11-05-2003, 02:45 AM
I had all the rods tapped with 5/16” treads to be able to mount them on the ends as seen in the picture.
My concept is to not need a micro adjustment.
The bearings make the rods go naturally were they need to for the fact it’s surrounded by four sides.
Another nice factor is you can enlarge the holes where you mount the rods and tighten enough that it will NOT move (note the large washers).
I still need to mount the bearing to the Z axis but so far I’m impressed with the lack of play in the overall design.

After I setup the X and Y axis my 4 year old daughter made me give here gantry rides (see URL below ;-) She thought it was fun!

Till next update,

11-05-2003, 01:08 PM
That thing is bigger than it looks.

Nice job.


11-05-2003, 01:29 PM
Thanks Eric.
I'm a novice in the electronic realm.
When I look at their site I do not see anything about the PC interface.
If I have intuitive instructions I’m OK but I can’t find anything.
From what I read on CNCzone you need a breakout board.
Where do you acquire these and how would you hook it up?

I’m finding other boards do not have the support for the amps per phase I need as I’m looking for 600 oz/in motors.
What is the difference between the G201 and G210?

I wish they had a package deal for novices ;-)


11-05-2003, 05:52 PM
The instructions you get with the drives is the same one you download at geckodrive. You don't NEED a breakout board but it makes it a little easier. They also usually provide such things as inputs for limits and outputs for relays to switch your router and such.

I made my own. It's really just a parallel port plug-to-terminal strip affair with a few transistors for outputs and a bunch of pullup resistors for inputs. Total cost around $15.00


11-05-2003, 06:18 PM
Thanks for the reply.
Sounds easy and cheap (but your the electrician :-) I'm the graphic artist/Signmaker.

I contacted Camtronics and am trying to secure a package deal for motors (600 to 800 oz/in)/geckos/power supply/cables.

I hope his price will be acceptable because I won't need to learn as much now and the stuff you have taken many years to know so well.

I don't mind leaning as I have with all the other bits of the machine but if Camtronics works well then it's like the McDonalds of CNC get it fast and easy ;-)

My biggest fear is I buy the wrong stuff and end up with a half baked machine with lame performance.


I older I get the less I know.......Man do I feel old ;-)

11-16-2003, 10:52 PM
I’ve since primed and painted the MDF and recived my ACME rod (5/8”) and made my anti-backlash nuts.
I have also ordered a motion setup from MaxNC complete with servos, controller, power supply, couplers and limit switches (same as used on their Maxpath 42) which should be here tomorrow.
I’m waiting to receive the motors to measure for the ACME rod and to see what type of cuplars they send (keyhole or not) so I can have the ends machined for the rods to join the couplers and the end support bearings.
I hoping to be making chips in a week or so.
Then I 'll worry about dust extraction ;-)

11-16-2003, 11:58 PM


11-17-2003, 07:52 AM
Like the strong looking table,

I am between designs and don't know wether to go with - moving table for the x axis & a fixed gantry for y & z
or moving gantry like yours.

My concerns with the moving gantry is chance of fore and aft movement
i.e. if you pushed/pulled the gantry high up would there be any movement.

11-17-2003, 03:23 PM
So you decieded against the Camtronics servo system. Was the MaxNC better in your opinion?

11-17-2003, 03:39 PM
Well . . .I was trying to put together a deal with Camtronics but after a week of emails I didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere with Dan.
Please note that I'm NOT flaming Dan as I'm sure here is very busy and VERY qualified to help but I'm want to get a machine working a.s.a.p.

His deal was $1900. USD for 3 servos (600 oz/in - 900 rpm) power supply, geckos (I'm assuming), cables + Shipping

The MaxNC deal was $1356.00 USD with 3 servos (580 oz/in -1000 rpm) power supply, drivers, cables, couplers, limit switches and software (they say it's for their MaxNC) shipping included.

I just hope it what they say it is.

Looking at their MaxNC 42 it runs rapids of 240 ipm I can deal with that!

I'll keep you updated as the MaxNC stuff is going to be here today or tomorrow.

11-20-2003, 11:08 PM
I got the MaxNC servos . . . Big mistake.
They were 253 oz in servos NOT 580 oz/in as told.
The cables from the motors and encoders were 2' long!
They charged me $20.00 USD per limit switch that you can buy 4 of them @ Radio Shack for $3.50!
Funny but when I call them and spoke to the Sales lady all I got was YES! It was powerful enough, yes it will have long enough cables and yes it will have the home/limit switches (only half were sent).
I admit I was green as can be in the power/electronics end of this deal but after conveying the details of my machine I thought I could rely on a "professionals" opinion.
So, I installed the motors and I could realize that the no load 1000 rpm went to 0 with minimal load ;-)
My router is 5 lbs. and the Z axis is about 3 lbs. to lift and it was not going to happen.

Another factor that I was not told is the MaxNC is a “wave pulse” rather then “step and direction” so I could forget MACH2 which is what I wanted to run.
I tried to get Master5XP working but the pin config was all screwed up and giving me a “external estop requested” error.

I called them and told them that I’m shipping it back and was NOT going to pay a “restocking” fee.
I felt I told them my needs and all I got is….”Sure it will work great!”

Now I am back to Camtronics to see if I can get a 600 oz/in gecko setup complete with the nice control box he has and ready to plug and play.

Till then…..

11-21-2003, 12:04 AM
Mach2 can do the pwm method of controlling servos. It you haven't downloaded or read the manual on line do so because it is a good controller and changing everyday. I might suggest you consider waiting till Dec when when the Gecko/Mach2 combo is supposed to be out, and if I understand correctly it uses usb cables and is basically plug and play.


11-21-2003, 12:31 AM
Thanks for the reply Turmite,
I was told by Art from MACH2:
Quote: "Unfortunately, Mach2 will not drive MaxNC servo controllers. It is a step/dir controller only, the MaxNC's use wave drive. While Master5XP can drive wave drive with MaxNC , Mach1 and Mach2 cannot. I know of no software that can drive the MaxCL series".

THe MACH2/GECKO USB setup sounds great but I'm not sure I can hold out to Jan.
I'm like a Kid "I wanna make sawdust NOW" ;)

11-21-2003, 12:44 PM

You will have good results using the Camtronics system. This is where I started with my drill/mill conversion. I would say the only thing I do not like about the Camtronics box is the use of the Molex connectors for the motor and encoder plugs. If I move the controller box sometimes my connections disconnect! The plugs don't fit firmly in the controller box and thus can wiggle side to side.

Now when I built Dan's controller box, I got the KIT form. You are getting the complete unit. I'm sure he has all the proper tools to assemble the Molex connectors. I did not.

11-21-2003, 04:45 PM
I got that kit too from Dan at Camtronics. to fasten the little connectors to the wire I crimped them using a small needlenose pliers and then soldered the crimp. Also, on the servo motor connectors, I removed the female connectors from the red plastic plug and soldered each wire to the connector and then re-inserted the spring clip into the red plug, thus ensuring that the wires wouldn't have a bad connection and cause the motor to "runaway". When I get my lathe running, one of the first projects will be to make a housing for the encoder and plug to firmly hold the wire and protect the encoder from debris from cutting, lubricant and coolant.

11-21-2003, 06:32 PM
I don't have trouble with the connection between the wire and the plug. My problem is with the male and female plug. It will not hold strong. I now use 1/4 turn locking connectors on the controller boxs that I have made. http://www.homecnc.info/Pics/powerbox-front800.jpg
This box was for a CNCZone member.

11-27-2003, 02:18 AM
Howdy Guys,
Here is where I am as of today………

I saw some 600 oz/in Amtek servos on eBay and thought perhaps I should make up my own motion system.
I asked the person who was running the ad (which had great feedback) if he would be interested in making up a gecko driven servo system for me . . .he said he had a 4 week turn around. . . I declined.
He sent me to Dean at Axxus http://www.axxustech.com and I thought if I could let go the $1595.00 USD (plus servos) He’s asking I would do that but….It’s Christmas and I’ve got 5 kids and money can get tight.
So I then decided to wire the whole deal myself and save a few bucks.
When it’s all said and done I’ll post all the numbers as I know how valuable that can be for viewers wondering if this something they want to do.
I won’t have a fancy box to start with but I’ll be running 320 Geckos pushing three 1100 oz in Hathaway servos so it should be VERY powerful.
I also bought cables and a parallel interface from him as well to interface with the Geckos.

Geckos are on order.
2 48V 10 amp Powersupplies have been won on eBay.
They have ajustable voltage so I thought I run them together to get the higher volttage/amperage.

I did register MACH2 http://www.artofcnc.ca/ so I can play with it in its full version till the goodies arrive.
Art is like lightning with the support and I highly recommend his products as you won’t find anything in the ballpark for the money!

I still have connections to solder for the limit/home switches.

I’m only concerned about my acme 5/8 rod as its too small and it has some minor bends in the 4’ lengths and when I hooked up the MaxNC servos with no load it was ready to vibrated to the point of something falling off ;-)
I might need to upgrade to a larger rod like 1" or so.

Till next update!

11-27-2003, 03:30 PM
Hello Dasigntist,

Your machine looks similar to the one that I built earlier this year. Here are some of the problems comments that might help you:

From the picture it seems that you have 3/4" shaft on Y axis - my machine is 3' on Y side and I used the same shafts. However once I built it I've noticed that there is a significant flex on the Y line, even on the light cut (in the center area). Even though 3/4" looks strong enough it is not - unless it is supported. To fix this I added two aluminum bars on top and bottom of the gauntry and put some kind of slide made of delrin. That helped. I will try to get a picture of the assembly if you are interested. I also added a "L" shaped bar on the back of Y MDF to make it stronger. I still have some flex on the Z in some cases, will have to fix that.

Since you your machine has 4' wide Y axis you might have problems if you put a single drive for X. it might flex when you cut close to the Y=0 or Y=max. Parallel drive on the X axis would help. On my 3' Y axis I didn't notice that problem.

Acme screws - I am using 1" acme and problem with them is that the general purpose acme screw is far from being straight. I find the precision to be good for the woodworking. Problem is that on 4' lenght any spped over 50 IPM pushes the limits. After I installed a home-made delrin nuts it is a bit better but still 50IPM is the fastest reliable spped I can get on 4' X. on 3' Y I can get 60 IPM.

I am using Xylotex drive and stepper motors that I've purchased from Dan (camtronics) 262oz. Motors ratings are too high for bipolar paralel settings but I am happy with the bipolar series too.

last note - build a CNC from scratch is like buying an old car - there is always something you have to do on it. That is a problem or good thig - depends how you look at it.



11-27-2003, 04:19 PM
I saw some 600 oz/in Amtek servos on eBay and thought perhaps I should make up my own motion system.

Be careful with these motors. If this is the guy that has a ebay name of something with "CNC" in it, his servo motors have an encoder that is not 100% compatable with the Gecko drives. This means that the Gecko will not be able to power the encoder. They would require their own power source.

11-27-2003, 09:25 PM
I use the +5 volts from the step/dir common to power the encoders, since they draw over to 50 ma. max of the gecko.


11-27-2003, 09:54 PM
Howdy all,

I’m using 1” harden steel rod which seen OK but I’ll keep an eye on the flex.
I figured I’ll need to keep the rapid and federates down and then perhaps upgrade when I can spend the bucks for perhaps some high end screws.
I know now if I tried to go full speed I would watch my machine explode ;-)
As I see it I’ll upgrade the weakest link or links after I’m under power.

I’m going with 1100 oz/in Surplus Hathaway servos from Axxus with new Digital US encoders.
He knows I’m using 320 Geckos so hopfully it will be OK.

As always thank you for your input!

Happy Thanksgiving!

11-27-2003, 11:21 PM
Put limits on that bad boy. With 1100 oz-in motors a crash will tear it apart.


11-27-2003, 11:50 PM
Your reading my mind!
Those brutes will be on the floor still spinning if not contained as it eats the machine alive.
Limit/home switches will be done tonight with wire dangling.
I bought nice small one from Radio Shack 4 for 4.99 CAD in the normally closed position.
I’m trying to have everything that I can do done before the big boys get there next week.
The bummer is it will be about 10 days or more for the Geckos/power supply to arrive.

11-28-2003, 01:01 PM
why did you end up going with such big motors?

11-28-2003, 01:59 PM
More POWER!!!!!
(Insert the Tim the Tool Man GRUNT here!)

I was just going to do 600 oz/in Amtek servos but Dean at Axxsus offered me the 1100’s at the price of the 600’s.

I also am thinking in the future I will build a steel 4’X8’ machine and will bring the motors over for that.
The two things that I do not want to end up with is a machine that is underpowered and slow.
The power part is under control so now I need to deal with upgrading the acme as soon as Christmas is paid for ;-)

11-28-2003, 02:48 PM
Hey Dasignist have you considered a timing belt drive instead of the screws? I was going to use a precision ball screw but after talking with Mariss from Gecko I am going to use timing belts when I build my machine. I am upgrading my current machine which uses rack and pinion and I have run that one at 1000 ipm once just to see if it would do it. That was using full steps and a slow acceleration but it finally leveled out about the time it had to start ramping back down. I hope the timing belt system is as good or better than the rack and pinion because it has served me well.


11-28-2003, 04:14 PM
Hi Termite,
I have but I figure that I’ll try the path of least resistance first.
I’m sure I won’t keep my hands off the machine and will always be tweaking and upgrading it trying to make it faster.

I’ll keep an eye on your posts when you get started keep us informed.
I’d love to see photos of your machine.

11-28-2003, 10:02 PM
Hi Dasigntist,

could you post the link where you got your surplus servos?

Thanks alot.

11-28-2003, 10:20 PM
I got them from Dean at www.axxustech.com
Tell him James Brake sent you "oops" now you know who I am (lol).

12-06-2003, 02:41 PM
I’ve still waiting for everything (motors, geckos, power supplies and breakout board) to get here (I hate waiting)

Since I have so much time to think and look at my machine I decided to buy some linear slides off eBay.
And do the Z axis right.
I figured the Z axis is the weakest link and I’ll deal with it now rather then later.

I bought a small arc welder to do the welding myself (never welded before) so we shall see how that goes.
Most of the welds are just tack welds that don’t need to look good.

MaxNC charged me a 10% “restocking fee” to return the motion setup they sent me which was wrong!
That’s $140 bucks + shipping + customs charges – I got screwed out of about $350. USD because of salesperson feeding me B.S. – not feeling too good about that.

It looks like everything will be here next week so I can get it finished in a week or two after that (fingers crossed).

12-06-2003, 07:28 PM
that's an expensive lesson. I'm glad you did not get fed up and stop wanting to build your CNC machine.

12-06-2003, 07:28 PM
I will never buy anything from them. (MaxNC)


12-19-2003, 11:10 PM
Howdy all,
Installed the Z axis with my new linear slides and installed my 1100 oz/in servos with wiring routed to my control box.
Installed two 12 VDC fans, breakout board, Geckos 320’s and I am awaiting my 2 48V 10 amp power supplies to be deliverd next week.
I still need to install my relays for the shop vac and router to remotely turn them on via software (MACH2).
Home and limit switches are installed and some reinforcing welding on the Y axis done as well.

Updates and pictures to come. . . .

12-20-2003, 12:21 AM
Cool...nice job. You da man!


12-20-2003, 03:38 AM
She's looking great! The paint job is smart too - that's still on my to do list.

12-20-2003, 10:22 AM
Paint on a MDF machine is a must. Not just to stabilize the material, but it makes it look much more "unwoodlike". Many people thought my MDF machine was made of boiler plate when they looked at it. :)


12-20-2003, 11:26 AM
Nice clean look! And those motors - they're ready for anything!

12-21-2003, 07:25 PM

It's my first time ever on a message board...I hope I am doing this right.

I have been trying to get ideas for a CNC for quite some time now, since I need to make some parts out of 1/8" metal that require much more accuracy than my hand can give me.

How/where did you get those bearings for the linear slides?

Also, I'm looking to do this as cheaply as possible, but will take whatever time is needed to make it "professional". How much have you spent on yours thus far?

12-21-2003, 08:15 PM
Thanks all for the kind words!

I purchased the bearings from:

eBay user id :irvineman
100 for $13.95 USD

My total costs are as follows:

$27.90 Bearings (50)
$97.45 Linear slides (2 with 2 blocks each for the Z axis)
$17.50 Diamond Engraver tip
$175.00 2 48V 10 amp Power supplies

Canadian Tire:
$21.76 Nuts and bolts and steel angle iron (3')
$29.67 Blades and drill bit $29.67
$130. router bits
$45.00 screws

Radio Shack
Wire, Limit switches and wire looms.

Econo Lumber:
$30.23 4'x8' MDF 3/4" 1 sheeet

Aim Supply

Bolt Supply House
$97.35 Acme Rod 9'X 5/8" with 6 nuts.

Halco Metals

RPM Machining
$130.00 (tapping of 1" rods)

$200. router

Motors, encoders, wiring, breakout board and relays.

Grand Total:
$1806.63 CAD = $1389.71 USD

I might revise this later........

Any more questions please let me know.

12-31-2003, 02:22 AM
Everything is working great!

I get rapids of 120 ipm which I'm OK with but I will upgrade to high end ballscrews later and I'll go with a steel frame.

I just leveled the table with a .75 end mill and will add a .75" MDF board and use a keyhole bit to create a slot to use as a material hold down method (pictures to come)

I'm working on getting some single and multi line fonts for engraving.

My dust extraction deal is working great (pictures to come)

I'll do another update when I have some cool picture of some finished product to show.

A big THANK YOU to:
ART for his support with MACH2!
Dean at Axxus for the great deal on the setup!
Mariss at Gecko drivers for the AWESOME support.
CNCzone.com for all the helpful positive people!

01-15-2004, 02:18 PM
The first 3 thinks I've made........ spruce, hemlock and mdf.

All I need to do is make the web site that gos with the carved-signs.com sign!

I'm still working out the details of my graphic/text creation-conversation to g-code.

pack rat
01-15-2004, 03:18 PM
The signs look great. The time and effort are finnaly paying off. chris

01-24-2005, 01:53 AM
I'm still working out the details of my graphic/text creation-conversation to g-code.

Would you be willing to share what you have learned about this topic? this is mt area od interest, and am trying to figure out how to do it...



01-24-2005, 03:02 AM
I've learned to buy ball scews first as ACME threaded rod with good anti-backlash nuts is not good enough - Find them on eBay!
Buy a quality router.
Expect to spend MORE money on quality software then it cost to build the machine!
Good software can cost $4,000 USD for Artcam or $7,500 USD for the pro version.
Machine won't do jack without great software!
I'm thinking I've got $2,500 to 3,000 USD in my machine now without software.
Other then that, the machine now is V carving lettering Mahogany, Oak and Teak like butter.
I got what I wanted it now runs 230 imp on rapids and normal production I run it at 25 to 35 ipm for the feed rate in most woods.
I'm happy with it and it was a good experance.
Check out alll the information here and before you know it you got one!