View Full Version : Sophomore Build - Starting the Joe CNC

11-05-2007, 05:35 PM
Hey everyone,

My friend, Tyler, and I are starting to gather materials and resources to build a Joe CNC. My school has a CNC so I should be able to cut out all of the parts using it.

They use MasterCam software, and I have all the parts CADed in .dwg format (Thanks to Joe!), but how do I convert them to tool paths (g-code) set the depth, and find what bit to use??

And can the bit be set so it cuts to the outside of the line.....because if I use a 1/4" bit and it cuts on the line.....wouldn't the part be 1/8" (the radius) shorter on all edges??

I am assuming that the bit cuts to the outside of the line...and that this is preprogrammed.

Just wondering if someone could clear that up for me and help me with the software aspect.

11-05-2007, 08:01 PM
A good Cam program should do that for you. I would think MasterCam can do it, but I can't tell you how. Never seen MasterCam. There is a MasterCam forum here though.

11-06-2007, 11:59 PM
So I am waiting for approval from my teacher to start to cut out the CNC.......I'm hoping he does in fact approve, he must be thinking "these kids are planning on building a CNC machine, they must be insane!"

After asking around I am comfortable on all the software aspects, and hope that all the parts will be cut out 2 weeks (being optimistic, it will most likely be 3 but lets shoot for 2) after approval. Seeing that we (Tyler, my group member, friend, and fellow CNCer..and I) are limited to one Marking Period to build a working CNC, time and accuracy are vital. We plan to first cut out the X-axis Torsion Box....and while one of us continues to cut out parts, the other will work on assembly.

So until approval of the project, I can only cross my fingers. Between now and then we will be gathering supplies (yay capital!.....looks like I'll be getting a job) But hopefully I will be able to get some pictures of the start of the build process up here in no time.


12-10-2007, 04:23 PM
Work has begun!

12-10-2007, 04:42 PM
Our build of the Joe CNC Model 2006 has begun after months of research, multiple failures of other CNC machines, and gathering of resources.

After the project was approved by the teacher, plans were made showing an actual picture of each part, a CAD picture with dimensions, and a picture of that part in the total build of the machine.

The first step was to cut the 4' x 8' sheets of MDF into 30" x 35" blanks that will fit on the school's CNC machine.

Next CAD files were uploaded to school computers. Using Mastercam, parts were laid out on blanks to provide the most efficiency. Toolpaths were generated. NC file was Posted.

Then we had to wait for our bit to arrive:
Brand: Antrax (from Use-Enco.com)
Type: Square-End End Mill
Diameter: 1/4"
Shank Diameter: 1/4"
Length: 2-3/4"
Cut Length: 3/4"
Material: Carbide
Coating: Titanium Nitride

The collet on the router was changed to a 1/4" collet and then the bit was chucked in. After some initial tests the cutting began. We decided to cut the X Axis Torsion Box first. First we cut out the X Axis Torsion Box Pipe Supports.

(4) X Axis Torsion Box Pipe Supports were cut out the first day of cutting. The bit failed to completely cut through the blank, most likely due to improper Zeroing of the Z, or a warp in the sacrificial board. The depth of cut was 1/2", the speed was 50 IPM, and the router was set to 21,000 RPM. The machine made an extremely high pitched sound. The parts were cut out, but rough edges had to be filed and lightly sanded (not on critical parts of the piece, just the inside contours).

(1) X Axis Torsion Box Pipe Support was cut out the second day of cutting. Cut depth was decreased to .18" with 3 passes and the RPM was decreased to 16,000. This allowed for faster cut speeds...80+ IPM.

(3) X Axis Torsion Box Pipe Supports were cut the third day of cutting. The bit went entirely through the blank resulting in clean cut parts. Using a shop-vac, dust particles were removed from the channels which allowed for a more quiet cut.

All of the X Axis Torsion Box Pipe Supports were completed. Tomorrow X Axis Long Run Braces will be cut. Then CNC End Support Pieces will be cut. I am hoping all parts for the X Axis Torsion Box will be completed by the end of the week.

(Student shown in photo is Tyler. He is my partner for this project)

12-10-2007, 05:18 PM
Looking very good guys, you are very well organized and know exactly what you want to accomplish, A fine example of students taking charge and not just getting by in school.

For the areas that did not cut all the way through, you can use a trim router with a flush bit to go around the edge, will be allot faster than a knife. Thats how i remove all my tabs.

Can you e-mail me your plans (your binder looks good) I would love to take a look at them, and maybe i can post in the yahoo files to help others out also.

So what does your teacher think of your little project?


12-10-2007, 06:12 PM
The plans have currently only been created for the X Axis Torsion Box. I will finish the plans and have them to you sometime tomorrow night, they should be quite helpful for all who wish to use them.

And the trim router with flush bit! is an excellent idea! As of our cut today, we no longer have the problem of excess material on the edges of parts, but maybe we just got lucky... Should the problem arise again, this will definitely be our course of action.

Our teacher seems to be interested in our grand "little project", however, as of now he is just sitting back and letting us do the project. Every now and then he will shoot us some advice, but other than that he doesn't say much. Whether this is because he doubts our project will be completed, he doubts it will work when completed, or some other reason... I do not know.

But everything is going as planned as of now, and we are meeting all of our goals and self-set deadlines. I will definitely send you the plans as soon as I finish them up.

12-11-2007, 12:16 AM
Looking good Spencer and Tyler. I am bettting your teacher is proud. you guys pick a great project . Take your time make sure you keep everything square, and you will have a great machinne to fight over :) Have you picked out your motors and controller ?

Another thing I was born to late for. first was Big Wheel. Dang how much fun are those things :) and CNC when I was in school O'well I will just have to be happy I have it in my Mid life crisis range ( can't afford Porche) .

Keep up the good work you have lots of fun and learning ahead :)


12-11-2007, 06:14 PM
Thanks Kent,

If everyone didn't all ready know, I'm Tyler, Spencer's partner in crime in this crazy hobby of building CNC machines.

Believe it or not, its been over a year since we first started designing and building our first machine, so a year later, we're three test machines down and plenty of parts UP. I have a 3 axis Hobby CNC driver with power supply and 304 oz./in. Keling steppers. I also have 1/2" - 10 ACME single start Dumpster leadnuts that will be used on our Joe. I also have acme threaded rod as well as 1/2" and 3/4" drill rod, however, the drill rod is only long enough for the gantry and the Z, and we will most likely need to purchase more ACME rod and gas pipe for the X axis.

12-11-2007, 06:25 PM
Today we started to cut out the X Axis Torsion Box Long Run Supports.

Preperation: First we ripped a piece of MDF to a blank that would fit two of the supports on it. We then cross cut it to the desired length on the radial arm saw. The blank was then placed on the CNC table and placed against a fence in the sacraficial board. This fence was made by lowering the bit into the sacraficial board and then moving the bit along the X and Y, allowing for a channel that was 1/4" wide and that was parallel with the movement of the router on the X and Y. We then cut 1/4" pieces of wood to fit into the channel to make the fence. The blank was then attached to the sacrificial board using screws.

Geometry: Using the CAD provided by Joe, I combined the X Axis Torsion Box Long Run Brace (1) with the X Axis Torsion Box Long Run Brace (2) creating one long part. I then split the geometry at the half point. The geometry was then divided into two files. The first file places the part that will be cut first 1" from the bottom of the blank. The second file places the second part that will be cut directly on the X-axis (our shorter axis that runs across the table..we did call it the Y until our teacher told us it was the X). This would allow us to align our pieces to the fence, zero the machine on the bottom left hand corner of the blank, cut the first part, mark a line at the end of the first cut, slide the blank down until the mark lines up with the origin, make the second cut.

We cut out the first part, but now we are not quite sure how to cut out the second part. Should I just draw a line at the end of the first cut (Look at picture) and then line that up with the origin? Or should I draw a line at the end of the first cut, measure down 1/8" to account for the radius of the bit, and then line that up with the origin? Or should I use a different method?

I just don't want the part to be too short....It can't be too long, because if it is there will be a gap of mdf between the two halfs and I will know. But if the tool paths run into eachother, then it could shorten the part.. Ideas?

Picture 1: Layout of Blank on sheet of MDF
Picture 2: Cross cutting MDF Blank to length
Picture 3: Blank placed on CNC table
Picture 4: Fence Channel
Picture 5: Fence Channel (2)
Picture 6: Fence Channel (3)
Picture 7: Cut Begins
Picture 8: Inside contours being cut
Picture 9: Inside contours being cut (2)
Picture 10: Outside contours being cut
Picture 11: Outside contours being cut (2)
Picture 12: Origin
Picture 13: Finished cut
Picture 14: Finished cut (2)
Picture 15: First half cut
Pitcure 16: Line drawn at end of cut
Picture 17: Geometry Split

12-11-2007, 09:27 PM
Draw a line at the end of the first part and align that with the origin for the second program. The toolpaths are relative to the center point of the bit such that the center of the bit is in line with mark at the end of the first program and the center of the bit is at the line when it's moved to the origin for the second program. No need to compensate for the diameter of the bit.

12-11-2007, 09:37 PM
Excellent! I will put it to the test tomorrow morning! You really don't get much sleep when CNCing...its too much fun!

12-11-2007, 10:04 PM
that it is, keep it a hobby though not a career, you will lose the interest of "fun" once you start doing it 12 hours a day day in and day out lol

12-12-2007, 02:50 AM
I'm looking forward to seeing progress on this build. keep us updated!

12-12-2007, 09:57 AM
Very nice work, guys!

I don't know about the rest of you, but I am very impressed at your ability and motivation.

Please keep us informed, Tyler and Spencer!


12-12-2007, 11:16 AM
that it is, keep it a hobby though not a career, you will lose the interest of "fun" once you start doing it 12 hours a day day in and day out lol

Unless you get to make cool stuff all the time. :)

12-12-2007, 03:54 PM
Today the second cut was made for the X Axis Torsion Box Long Run Braces. We already made the first cut so we just needed to reposition the blank and make the second cut.

Preperation: First we marked the line at the end of the first cut. They blank was then unscrewed from the sacrificial board so it could be repositioned. We lined up the mark from the end of the first cut with the origin and attached the blank to the board using screws.

Geometry: We opened the file that contained the CAD for the second part. I positioned the part (in MasterCam) so that it lined up with the first cut in terms of the X-Axis (Side to Side). The bottom of the second cut was placed directly on top of the X-Axis so that the machine would start cutting at (0,Y). We added toolpaths, preprocessed the file, and opened it in the Techno software.

Cutting: The cut went smoothly with less noise than usually. I bought 4 pairs of ear plugs which definitely made the cut more enjoyable for Tyler and I. The cut took around 15 minutes (most) at 60 IPM the first pass and 120 IPM for the second and third pass.

When the parts were finished cutting I lightly sanded the edges to clean up the parts. I then measured the center contour in the parts, and realized it was an 1/8" longer than the other contours:

Problem: When we had lined up the mark at the end of the first cut we didn't account for the radius of the end mill, which I had originally felt that we should have done. This resulted in the addition of the 1/8" to the part, making them an 1/8" too long. However, if all 4 of the X Axis Torsion Box Long Run Braces are 1/8" too big it wouldn't be a problem at all. Now the question is, should I re-cut the first (2) Long Run Braces, or should I cut the second (2) Long Run Braces with the extra 1/8" making the parts all equal?

After that we assembled the parts we had cut out so far: (8) Torsion Box Pipe Supports and (2) Long Run Braces. It looked really good! and the fit was perfect!

Any suggestions/ideas? Advice on whether to go with the 1/8" longer braces are cut out new ones? The total to cut out 2 long run braces is about 30 minutes...not too long.

Picture 1: Line drawn at end of first cut.
Picture 2: Visual of where the second cut will be before the part is moved.
Picture 3: Location of part during first cut.
Picture 4: Line extended on side of blank.
Picture 5: Mounting/Positioning of blank.
Picture 6: Position of blank.
Picture 7: Mark at end of first cut lined up with the origin.
Picture 8: Mark at end of first cut lined up with the origin (2).
Picture 9: CAD file being uploaded into software.
Picture 10: Completed X Axis Torsion Box Long Run Brace.
Picture 11: Completed X Axis Torsion Box Long Run Brace (2).
Picture 12: Assembled Parts.
Picture 13: Assembled Parts (2).
Picture 14: Assembled Parts (3).

12-12-2007, 04:06 PM
Like stated above, I believe the part has an added 1/8" to the center interior contour because the radius of the bit was not accounted for when repositioning of blank. Maybe that contour is just 1/8" wider??....I doubt it.

Here is a picture showing what the problem is:

I guess I will just recut both of the parts? Any opinions?

12-12-2007, 04:08 PM
I would cut the last two 1/8" longer also, this will not make a difference on the machine.

12-12-2007, 04:10 PM
Glad to see everyone wearing safety goggles.

12-12-2007, 04:12 PM
Alright, thats what I had originally decided because I didn't want to have to recut the blanks and waste MDF. And it really shouldn't affect anything...I would just need slightly longer rails I guess? I guess I'm just afraid to not have everything perfect so thats why I was going to recut them.

Wait! That means an extra 1/8" for my Y-Axis (front to back). AWESOME!

Question: How do you label your different axes (plural?)? Originally we called the front-to-back the X and the side-to-side the Y.....but our teacher told us it was the other way.

12-12-2007, 04:24 PM
Typically, the longest axis on a motion system is X.


12-12-2007, 04:28 PM
I can answer those questions, Spencer. The difference between the center-most cutout is 1/8" less than the other pockets, meaning our machine will theoretically have 1/8" less travel then before.

Think of a coordinate plane - left to right is X, up and down is Y. Looking at a rectangular machine from a shorter side, up and down is your Y, side to side is your X, however, I don't think it really matters as long as your Gcode isn't conufused with your machine controller.

12-12-2007, 04:37 PM
Actually you might be right, we can check tomorrow. Either way it shouldn't make a difference.

12-12-2007, 05:14 PM
I'd like apologize for not examining your pictures more closely before I advised you to put the center of the bit on the line. I hadn't realized that you drew the line at the end of the cut, not the end of the toolpath. You should have had your line drawn before you ran the first program such that the cut would overshoot the line by half the width of the tool (1/8" for a 1/4" tool) but the line would be representative of the end of the toolpath. If you had done that, aligning the line to the X0 of the second program would have worked fine. You can't trust that the kerf made by the tool will be exactly the size of the tool so using cuts as registration points probably isn't a good methodology.

12-12-2007, 05:20 PM
No need to apolegize at all! I wasn't too clear on where the line had been drawn, and that was a novice mistake on my part. But thanks for the help, your video on cutting this part out with the 15" CNC was my guideline for the whole process, so I couldn't have done it without you.

Wow, great point on the kerf of the tool! I definitely need to make that mark before hand.

12-13-2007, 09:21 AM
Hey Tyler and Spencer,
I am totally impressed with what you are doing and how you are approaching the whole Joe project. I am anxiously watching this thread to see how you make out and wishing you all the best. There are some amazingly talented people on this forum who I'm sure share my interest in your project and they are always there to help out if you get in a jam. I'm a relative newbie and I don't fall into the "amazingly talented people" category however, I just finished Joe's machine and I live nearby.......Horsham, Pa. If I can be of any help at all please do not hesitate to contact me.

You guys rock!


12-13-2007, 03:32 PM
First off I would like to thank everyone for the support, all of the advice, suggestions, and encouragement is a great help!!! We really appreciate it!

Today we cut out (2) more of the X Axis Torsion Box Long Run Braces. We intentionally made the same mistake we did before when repositioning the piece after the first cut, in order to insure that these parts were the same dimensions as the first ones that were cut.

Preparation: We positioned a blank on the table, attached it to the sacrificial board, loaded the toolpaths, and zeroed the machine.

Cutting: The two parts were then cut out and todays cuts went very smoothly. The first pass was around 70 ipm and then we bumped up the second two passes to 110+ ipm. This made for a cut time of about 12 minutes per cut, so overall to cut the parts and lightly sand them it took about half an hour.

After the toolpaths had been loaded and while it was cutting, I went to work on laying out parts and generating toolpaths for the other parts while Tyler watched the machine and adjusted feed rates. The school's computers are so limited so I'm not even able to access cnczone!!! It's horrible! Also, there is no way for me to open the .step files in MasterCam because an access code is required. Because of this I wasn't able to look how deep the pockets were for the CNC End Support Pieces. So I generated toolpaths for the Y Axis Gantry instead.

At the end of class we fitted all the parts together that we have cut so far! It was very exciting and looked great! I took lots of pictures so there are many angles to look at it from.

Picture 1: First cut.
Picture 2: Attaching blank for second cut.
Pitcures 3-9: Assembled X axis torsion box parts.

12-13-2007, 04:30 PM
Pockets for the end pieces are 0.25" just the outer pieces, the two inner pieces are all through.


12-13-2007, 09:22 PM
Thanks for all the positive support, everyone! As Spencer has all ready covered, more progress was made today on the X axis. Here is a video taken on tuesday showing the cutting action on some supports:

Attached is a little preview of a typical cnc building weekend for us...

12-13-2007, 10:05 PM
Hey guys, to help you out I have a few pieces of a kit here and you are more than welcome to them if you want them, This will be my contribution to your school project if your teacher will allow it, I know it will speed up your build quite abit. I can ship to you to your house.

I will take a picture of the parts i have that i can give you in a few minutes.


12-13-2007, 10:16 PM
Ok here is a picture, of the extra parts i have, i had to dip into one kit for some parts, when some members mess up a part or two of their build, i can send them spares.

12-13-2007, 10:48 PM
Wow, Joe! Thats incredibly kind of you!! Spencer and I both nearly fainted when we saw your last post! Everyone here at CNC zone has been so supportive and generous, and we truly appreciate everything that this community has all ready given us. Joe, your generosity amazes me - just the simple fact that not only did you draw up such a beautiful machine, but you have been here the whole time supporting it's builders and the CNC Zone community. As much as all of those parts would certainly help us and speed up our build process, we're going to have to pass on such a kind offer. While that would certainly put the CNC closer to completion and perfection, we've realized that building this machine is something we truly love doing, and even if our machine doesn't turn out perfectly, it will be worth the experience as students. For now, we'll see if we can't make it on our own steam for a bit - after all, we've been building CNC's for over a year now... whats a little more time and effort?

We'll make sure to keep everyone updated on the build. The way I figure it, it's only fair that we try and show how we do each and every step, as our way of giving something back to what everyone here has all ready given us.

12-13-2007, 11:05 PM
No problem, we are glad to help you in anyway you need, you are doing a great job, and I'm sure your machine will turn out great and run well for you, everyone who has built the machine and after a little tweaking has has the machine run good for them. The machine just about goes together by itself as you demonstrated with the X-Axis torsion box.

just ask here or e-mail me if you need to know any thing about the parts or anything else about the machine, i get auto response to this thread in my e-mail so i know when you post.

Also you can download the sketchup files i believe from the yahoo group and use the free google sketchup to see and measure them.


12-13-2007, 11:06 PM
I commend you on your determination on the machine any wanting to do it yourself, it is a gratifying feeling knowing you did it all yourself.

12-14-2007, 04:15 PM
First off I would like to truly thank Joe for that generous offer, and I apolegize that I must fail to accept it, but Joe has already contributed enormously to our machine. We would never even have this project if it wasn't for him.

Well, today Tyler wasn't feeling to well so he didn't come to school. Normally he will mount the blanks and zero the machine while I arrange parts and draw the toolpaths. Additionally, I usually have the toolpaths already completed prior to the day of cutting.

Today I started drawing up the toolpaths for the Y Axis Gantry and some parts of the Gantry Bottom Torsion Box. The toolpaths took a while, and I had some problems to fix. But eventually I completed the toolpaths with about 20 minutes left in class. I preprocessed the file and started cutting. I only finished the pockets of two of the parts before I had to shut down the machine because class was over...but I forgot to move the machine to its zero.. So when I shut off the machine it completely wiped the zero from tis memory.

Now I have to either start the cut over...or attempt to get the same zero. Any suggestions? It's only a small blank of MDF and not much cut time so I was leaning toward starting over.

Picture 1-4: Cutting pockets for Gantry

12-14-2007, 05:24 PM
I vote for starting it over.

12-14-2007, 07:44 PM
I'm impressed at how fast your project is going, Tyler and Spencer keep up the good work. I will be following your project.

12-15-2007, 12:57 AM
I would try to find center. I have mach3 and I can scroll through the code watching graphic of the cutting path. Stop at a place you can identify. Record the x-y values. Jog to that point on the MDF and set zeros. Then jog a negative x-y value recorded above. Set to zeros again. You are ready to cut.

Heres a hint that I do before cutting. Just before cutting, I start my router, while at zero,zero and cut a negative z about .010 inches deep. Just enough to mark my zero point, in case I have a problem like you are faced with right now. That's just me. Works best when my first bit is a veebit.

12-15-2007, 01:08 AM
One more reason for continuing. You only cut the lightning holes right? The outer boundary is the important feature. If the pockets aren't perfect, no hardship correct? They are hidden inside the structure. They don't have any interfaces that are important.

12-15-2007, 07:26 AM
Thats a good suggestion glider, anytime I was doing more complex long programs and I wasn't so familiar with mach3 or cnc I would punch a hole with the machine on xyz0. If I ever lost that place for any reason whatsoever or I had to start again later, I just put it at that hole and I was always within a few hundreds of an inch

12-15-2007, 09:19 AM
Thats what i do jog to known coords. then punch in the right numbers, then go to 0's.


12-15-2007, 10:33 PM
Thanks for the advice Glidergider and others! I will definitely try that, I'll set the bit in one of the corners of the pockets. Then I will zero it, and find the coordinates for that point in my CAM program, and then I will plug in the negative coordinates, tell the machine to go there, and then rezero.

Excellent! That sounds like a great solution. And even if I am off a few hundreths of an inch, like you said...I really only did the pockets and that should cause no problems.

12-16-2007, 11:35 PM
Great build guys keep up the great work. I,m sure there are many of us here that envy you as back when we were your ages all we had in shop class was a handsaw and a hammer.

12-17-2007, 03:12 PM
Today wasn't very productive and no cuts were made. It turns out the piece we were trying to cut out was too long for the machine, so I will have to break the CAD into two files.

Most of class I spent laying out parts and generating toolpaths. Towards the end of class I started to cut out the Gantry Veritcal Supports, but only the drilling was completed.

Tomorrow the Gantry Vertical Supports will be completed and while Tyler is watching the machine, I will continue to work on toolpaths for the End Support Pieces and hopefully we can begin to cut them or maybe finish them. We're running low on MDF, so we will probabably have to make a Home Depot run sometime this week.

12-19-2007, 03:43 PM
No progress was made Monday as our tech teacher was not in school, so we had a study hall instead. However, today was one of the most productive days we have had yet!

With the toolpaths already generated, today we were able to cut out the Y Axis Gantry Torsion Box Vertical Ribs and the Gantry Bottom Torsion Box Cross Pieces. After we had cut out the vertical ribs, we decided we would install our new 2 Spiral CMT Bit, that Joe recommended. We started to cut out the cross pieces and the horrible sound disappeared! On top of that we were able to increase our cut speeds to 150 IPM, and it has potential for so much more. THANK YOU JOE!! for showing us this bit! It is perfect and it will definitely speed up our project.

While the cross pieces were being cut out, I split the geometry for the Gantry Horizontal Ribs. I split the CAD at 20" and we will use aolshove's method (Thanks for the help aolshove! we appreciate it) for cutting out the part. I was able to split the geometry and generate toolpaths in record time! So by the end of class we were able to make the first cut....so now, correct me if I'm wrong, I draw a line from the current origin up 20 inches...and that is the point I will then line up with the origin when I reposition the blank?

Tomorrow we will finish the Gantry Horiztonal Ribs in the first 10 minutes of class, and that means the Y Axis Gantry (without the sides) is done! We will also try to cut out the End Support Pieces which would mean the X Axis is done as well. And finally we will attempt to cut out the Gantry Bottom Torsion Box Long Run Pieces, which would complete the gantry bottom.

With all of this done we need to do the following:

Skin X, Y Gantry, and Gantry Bottom Torsion boxes
Cut out Gantry sides
Cut out Z axis
Cut out HDPEWe will order the hdpe sometime this week. I would just like to thank everyone on the Zone for the excellent advice they have provided. It's a great help! and we really appreciate it!

Picture 1: Cutting out Gantry Vertical Ribs
Picture 2: Cutting out Gantry Vertical Ribs (2)
Picture 3: Changing bit
Picture 4: New CMT bit
Picture 5: Old POS Enco 4 flute endmill
Picture 6: Cutting out Bottom Torsion Box Cross Pieces (150 IPM!)
Picture 7: Cleaning up completed parts
Picture 8: Y Axis Gantry Torsion Box Vertical Ribs
Picture 9: Gantry Bottom Torsion Box Cross Pieces
Picture 10: Completed X Axis Torsion Box (hahah just kidding, our classmates thought they would lend a hand and help us construct the machine....it didn't quite work out, but it's the thought that counts)

12-19-2007, 04:05 PM
Can we skin the torsion boxes with 1/2" MDF? or does it cause clearance issues? Where do they sell 1/4" MDF?

12-19-2007, 04:29 PM
Can we skin the torsion boxes with 1/2" MDF? or does it cause clearance issues? Where do they sell 1/4" MDF?

You can use 1/2" MDF the only area you have to deal with is the X-Axis bearing adjustment box. but all you have to do is go ahead and make a 1/4" pocket on that one side to allow for clearance. very easy to do.


12-19-2007, 04:38 PM
Hey guys don't forget under my name on here is my yahoo, so if you have messaneger and need to chat or ask questions allot of times I'm on in the evenings.


12-20-2007, 12:56 AM
Can we skin the torsion boxes with 1/2" MDF? or does it cause clearance issues? Where do they sell 1/4" MDF?

Found the 1/4 MDF at Home Depot in the shelving section, 4x8 sheets. It has a vinyl coating on one side that can be easily stripped off. The side under the vinyl is not as smooth as the normal MDF surface, but that side can be turned inward on the boxes.

Don't let your 'friends' in class near any glue.


12-20-2007, 03:55 PM
Thanks guys. A ton of progress was made today on the gantry parts, but I assume Spencer will be on here soon with pictures...

12-20-2007, 06:55 PM
Today we finished cutting out the Y Axis Gantry Torsion Box Horizontal Ribs. With Joe's reccommended CMT bit we were flying! 150 IPM, no high pitched screaming noise, no chatter, it was perfect!

Well the cut was about 80% complete when the cutting noise stopped..Tyler and I were like "huh?". Then as the gantry moved away, thinking it was still cutting, we saw our bit sticking out of the workpiece!! What had happened was the bit had came out of the collet and the top chipped off. It was probably the result of not chucking it up high enough (but I do recall myself jamming it up in the collet pretty well), because it was certainly tight.

Anyway, only a little chipped off so we just chucked it up farther and continued cutting and thing were good again! We completed the Y AxiS Gantry Torsion Box Horizontal Ribs...and we were supposed to cut out the CNC Router End Supports next, but we lost a good amount of time on the bit problem, and I still had to split the toolpaths. So Tyler wanted to cut out the Z Axis Side Plates, so I started to generate toolpaths for that...we will cut them out tomorrow.

At the end of class we assembled the Y Axis Gantry and it looks great!

P.S. We used aolshoves method of drawing the lines, and lining things up! It worked perfectly! Thanks!

Picture 1: Making second cut for Y Axis Gantry Torsion Box Horizontal Ribs
Picture 2: Broken Bit
Picture 3: Broken Bit (2)
Picture 4: Comleted Y Axis Gantry Torsion Box Horizontal Ribs
Picture 5: Another picture of completed Y Axis Gantry Torsion Box Vertical Ribs
Picture 6: Another picture of completed Y Axis Bottom Torsion Box Cross Pieces
Picture 7: Assembled Gantry
Picture 8: Assembled Gantry (2)
Picture 9: Assembled Gantry (3)
Picture 10: Assembled Gantry (4)

12-20-2007, 07:08 PM
"With Joe's reccommended CMT bit we were flying! 150 IPM, no high pitched screaming noise, no chatter, it was perfect!"

I looked over the thread and did not find a reference to the bit, probaly over looked it. What is the full description of the bit and where did you get it?

Really good job guys, and I am getting answers for questions I didn't know to ask yet.


12-20-2007, 07:10 PM
CMT 2 flute upspiral I get mine from woodcraft, i have one local.


12-20-2007, 07:14 PM
(but I do recall myself jamming it up in the collet pretty well), because it was certainly tight.

Never bottom out the bit in the collet.It won't be able to tighten correctly, and the bit will come out. Always pull it back out an 1/8 or so before tightening, if it bottoms out.

12-20-2007, 07:44 PM
You guys are doing an awesome job with this project

Now when you guys are done with Joes CNC is your teacher going to require you make something with your CNC to receive a passing grade?

I sure wish we had a CNC to use in wood shop when I was in school
But I had to walk up hill both ways that may tell you how old I am LOL. :)


12-20-2007, 08:07 PM
Never bottom out the bit in the collet.It won't be able to tighten correctly, and the bit will come out. Always pull it back out an 1/8 or so before tightening, if it bottoms out.

Yeah, I made sure I didn't chuck it up all the way because it causes chatter in the bit... I just made sure it was snug in there...what I meant was it wasn't too loose, I definitely had the majority of the shank in the collet. But maybe I didn't leave enough space...yeah that was probably it, it probably got pushed up a little on the plunges or something, and then that caused it to bottom out.

12-20-2007, 08:13 PM
Now when you guys are done with Joes CNC is your teacher going to require you make something with your CNC to receive a passing grade?

Hmmmm, I wonder. He probably will want to see us cut something out..but I think just jogging the X, Y, and Z will be sufficient. But we will definitely want to cut something out as soon as we finish.

Our deadline is January 28th: its definitely going to be a rush...and we only have 16 working days left in class. I wish I could do the toolpaths at home, but I dont have the right software. If we finish all the parts by Friday, January 4th we should be able to assmble over the weekends.

How long does assmbly usually take, in terms of hours?

12-20-2007, 08:39 PM
Hmmmm, I wonder. He probably will want to see us cut something out..but I think just jogging the X, Y, and Z will be sufficient. But we will definitely want to cut something out as soon as we finish.

Our deadline is January 28th: its definitely going to be a rush...and we only have 16 working days left in class. I wish I could do the toolpaths at home, but I dont have the right software. If we finish all the parts by Friday, January 4th we should be able to assmble over the weekends.

How long does assmbly usually take, in terms of hours?

You guys have got your work cut out for you get it done it that time frame but I think you can do it.

I would have to say to get it in a rolling chassis with everything painted about 40 hours give or take.

Do you have your controller done yet? That took me some time because I did not want to make it go up in smoke.


12-20-2007, 08:44 PM
I would glue the torsion boxes, and take home for painting, and do the controller over the holidays.

12-20-2007, 09:05 PM
Do as much as you can outside of the classroom and prepare for work in front of him. It is a rush to do it in that amount of part time but for two people it is do-able. Don't waste a lot of time on painting, if I were you I would prime it, and that's it. THe rest is aesthetics and you really want to show your teacher that this thing can compete with the one your school spent a lot of money on. It will be also gratifying to see it running and have the ability to produce more joe06's and other similar machines with the machine you have now.

12-20-2007, 10:08 PM
So tomorrow in class we will finish the parts for the Y Axis Bottom Torsion Box. Which would mean we have all the parts for all of the torsion boxes, which we can take home over the holiday and glue up. Are the rails and hardware required for the glueing of parts?

We have a working controller (HobbyCNC 4 axis) / 3 steppers (Keling), the steppers just have to be tuned. We have a power supply, but I don't know if it supplies enough power. I'm well-rounded in CAD & CAM, but when it comes to electronics I have little knowledge so thats going to take a little more research.

I lost my binder that contains my plans (and unfortunatley my 2GB flash drive!!! that was a huge loss) , so I'm going to work on that tonight.

So heres my game plan: Tomorrow cut out the remaining Y Axis Bottom Torsion Parts, take home torsion box parts, prime parts, glue parts, paint completed assembly.

We still need to order all of our hardware: screws, bolts, rails and we also need HDPE. So we will probably order it tomorrow afternoon off of McMaster-Carr.

Did I miss anything? and is my order for construction correct, I believe I've seen some people prime first (but not edges that will be glued) and then assemble?

12-20-2007, 10:16 PM
Hey guys,

Yes, our controller is assembled correctly and even hooked up to my computer as we speak. The tuning issues have been mostly worked out and all three of our 300 oz./in. Keling steppers are humming along beautifully. I am using a 24v, 7 amp linear power supply - I will eventually build a much nicer one, but for now it is doing all right. Mach3 is up and running as well as EMC linux - I have it running in a daul-boot configuration on this computer.

As Spencer mentioned we still have a lot of parts to order, including all hardware and rails. We also need paint, which should not be a problem, and HDPE, which is a financial challenge but I think we can work it out.

12-20-2007, 10:46 PM
When you go to glue the X-Axis torsion box, I would make sure i have my Pipe rails 1st, because you will use them to help keep the box level while gluing, if you have not seen alot of people use straps and hold the pipes in place while you glue it.


12-21-2007, 06:33 AM
Hey guys,

HDPE, which is a financial challenge but I think we can work it out.


This where I got my HDPE they sell in smaller quantities and very fast shipping


12-21-2007, 06:59 AM

This where I got my HDPE they sell in smaller quantities and very fast shipping


Beautiful! Thanks for that link, those are great prices.

12-21-2007, 09:50 AM
Hey guys,
Like I mentioned before.....if you still need the ACME 1/2 - 10 single start drive screws, I have two six footers that you can have. I'll even deliver them to your school or home. Just let me know.

It seems to me that you might be under the gun a little bit with your timeframe. One thing that you might want to consider is having your primer tinted so that you can kind of kill two birds with one stone....sealing and aesthetics. Wow, two cliches in two sentences.....sorry about that.

Let me know how I can help.


12-21-2007, 05:04 PM
I also get my plastic online, from smallparts.com, it's only a dollar or two cheaper than tap but good too.

As reiterated by joe, try to do as little as possible finishing. It will take awhile to thoroughly finish the router and make it look perdy, but is not necessary to run the machine. I do believe however that at the very least priming will ensure longevity of the machine as moisture will creep into the edges of the mdf. Also you may want to set goals and a time line of what you see feasible to get done in particular days. Again with two people, the build shouldn't be hard. And if you run into any problems with assembly just post here, there are hundreds of photos of the machine you can use as reference if needed here at the zone.

12-21-2007, 06:05 PM
Hey guys do you have your bearing done for the rails yet?

If not I have extra that you are welcome to them free of charge just P.M. me a address and I will get them in the mail ASAP


12-21-2007, 10:52 PM
Tyler wasn't in school today because he was working in his shop at home to finish a project for his mom for Christmas. Without Tyler not as much was accomplished as I had to handle both the mounting of blanks and generating of toolpaths. Usually Tyler mounts the blanks and monitors the machine while it cuts as I generate the toolpaths, which allows us to finish multiple parts a day. But, without him I had to monitor the machine while the parts were cutting so I couldnt work on toolpaths, thus parts weren't being constantly cut.

Today I finished the toolpaths for the Z Axis Carriage Plates and began cutting them. These are my favorite parts, between the pockets, the shape, and the toolpaths it just adds up for a really neat looking part. After the parts were cut out I started working on spliting geometry for the Bottom Torsion Box Long Run Pieces and then began to cut...but in the rush I feel that I might have oriented the bit on the wrong side of the geometry? Maybe? I didn't have time to measure it, just a gut feeling I had...it doesn't really matter though, thats an easy fix if I did and the cut time was short.

I really appreciate everyones advice and suggestions! This project wouldn't be possible without you. Tyler and I are having a great time working on it, but it's a lot of work! But the end result will definitely be worth it.

Tomorrow Tyler and I will order HDPE, find the prices for all of the hardware online, make a lowe's run and see if we can find parts for cheaper and purchase another sheet of MDF for skinning, we will then order the parts online that we still need, finally we will skin the torsion boxes.

Some Quick Questions:
- For the bolts used to assemble the machine, should we use partially or fully threaded bolts?
-I've seen some comments about problems with the the U-Bolts, has a change be decided in terms of size? or should I stick with the ones Joe's plans originally call for?
- Is there a worklog you reccommend that we could refer to as a guideline for the glue up process of the torsion boxes? hyperlink?

Picture 1: Drilling of holes for Z Axis Carriage Side Plate
Picture 2: MasterCam
Picture 3: Cutting Z Axis Carriage Side Plates
Picture 4: Completed Z Axis Carriage Side Plates
Picture 5: Gantry Bottom Torsion Box Long Run and Gantry Bottom Torsion Box End Piece

12-22-2007, 06:11 AM
[Some Quick Questions:
- For the bolts used to assemble the machine, should we use partially or fully threaded bolts?

For the most part you can use partially threaded bolt but there will be sometimes when you are going to want a full thread but for the life of me I can not remember right now.

As for gluing the only think I can say is take your time and make sure that it is square and flat. Do you guys know how to check for square the easiest way is to measure from corner to corner on a angle and than the other way they both should be the same.


12-22-2007, 10:59 AM
Hey guys I put the bearing in the mail this morning they said 2 to 3 days so you should see them after Christmas.

I thought of one place you are going want full thread and that is the rail bearings.


12-24-2007, 06:11 PM
Thanks Rick the bearings will definitely speed up this build!

The past couple of days I've been preoccupied and haven't had much time to CNC. But after Christmas I will have to get right back to work or else we will fall behind. Tomorrow I am ordering all the remaining parts needed: Rails, Nuts/Bolts, HDPE, and all that good stuff.

For the rails: I went to Home Depot today, and brought one of my X Axis Torsion Box Pipe Supports with me. I couldn't find any drill rod, so I looked at the conduit just to check for size. The plans call for 1" rails, but I noticed the 1-1/4" rails were a perfect fit. What size should I use? What type of rails do you use?

The drill rod is really expensive, at least on McMaster. Would conduit work? or would it not because its hollow?

12-24-2007, 06:23 PM
Hey Spencer,

Conduit will work but it needs to be polished first, and we'll have to make sure it isn't all banged up etc.

Sorry this has been going a bit slowly lately guys, I have a crazy case of strep throat and I spent last night in the ER.

12-24-2007, 06:50 PM
The drill rod is really expensive, at least on McMaster. Would conduit work? or would it not because its hollow?[/QUOTE]

Spencer I do not know how well the conduit will hold up the wear and tear

Have you checked Enco Part #990-4044 3/4 water harded drill rod you only need 3 LF @ 1.97 each (5.91) that is if the price has not gone up.


12-24-2007, 07:02 PM
I wouldn't use conduit, it's not rigid/strong enough, get drill rod, it's not that expensive because you only need around 2 feet max if I can remember. How much does mcmaster charge for them?

12-24-2007, 07:19 PM
O/k I am little confused, What are looking to fit

For the rails: I went to Home Depot today, and brought one of my X Axis Torsion Box Pipe Supports with me. I couldn't find any drill rod, so I looked at the conduit just to check for size. The plans call for 1" rails, but I noticed the 1-1/4" rails were a perfect fit. What size should I use? What type of rails do you use?

If so you should use gas pipe I beleive. I used galvenized pipe . For the Z-axis you need drill rod ( they have it at Orchard supply house here and Home depot I believe)

Y axis also uses pipe . sand pipe ssmooth . The galvenised has worked great for me no sign of any rust .

Hope I did'nt confuse you . one of us is enough


12-24-2007, 07:43 PM
Gas pipe, galvanized or black, 3/4" x 36" Home depot

approx 6 dollars each Y-AXIS

Gas pipe, galvanized or black, 1" x 60" home depot approx 10 dollars each X-AXIS

Drill Rod Enco 9.39 http://www.use-enco.com/CGI/INSRIT?PARTPG=INSRAR2&PMAKA=409-0045&PMPXNO=944351 Z-AXIS

May be less cofused now At least I think I am :)

12-24-2007, 10:03 PM
Yes! Thank you, I don't know why I originally thought I would use drill rod for the X....that would be ridiculous and completely unnecessary (solid drill rod? for 60"?? I was out of it, drill rod has a standard size of 36" anyway). I'm not sure where I began to think that but I want to thank you guys for clearing that up.

12-25-2007, 07:37 PM
Merry Christmas to all!

I have been laying out the HDPE parts into the best arrangement. I think that I should be able to fit them all on a 24" x 24" sheet. Is it necessary to leave space between each cut, or can two parts share the same cut for adjacent sides?

What size sheet do you cut your parts on Joe? Any tips on cutting HDPE? Any thing I should be careful to avoid?

12-25-2007, 09:40 PM
Typically you will want to nest them together in such a manor that does two things: uses the least amount of material and provides sufficient space between so that they don't move on you around the last pass for that part. If you don't leave any space they will come loose and can chatter to the bit or worse. I leave around a 1/4" but have been known to do far less. For example I nested the new 4x4 parts as closely as possible on 2x4 sheets and had to run the parts paths so carefully spending twice as much time checking, slowing it down and holding parts gently as they broke free even with tabs.

HDPE is soft so you can cut it fast but its best to use propper tooling. A 1/4" solid carbide spiral bit will be nice, you can try an o-flute they will provide a better finish depending on the machine. Otherwise it will mill fairly easily. Be careful with your feeds and speeds, it tends to gum up the router bit a lot if you don't feed hard enough to eject the chips from the bit. Just play with it until you find a comfortable speed/feed. Have fun!

12-25-2007, 10:44 PM
Merry Christmas to all!

I have been laying out the HDPE parts into the best arrangement. I think that I should be able to fit them all on a 24" x 24" sheet. Is it necessary to leave space between each cut, or can two parts share the same cut for adjacent sides?

When I'm manually nesting parts, I usually separate them by the bit diameter + ~.03.

12-25-2007, 11:05 PM
Alright, I finished laying out the parts and I tried to leave at least 1/4" between cuts and for the most part I did. Some parts it is thinner, but usually its good.

The top left hand corner will be the space for me to test IPM/RPM/Depth of cuts. I don't have much space so I will have to learn quickly.

I just have to go back and double check to make sure I didn't miss any 3/4" parts, and to check that all the parts I placed on the sheet are in fact 3/4" parts.

Tomorrow I order the rest of the hardware for the machine!! And make a Home Depot run to pick up the galvanized pipe! Then I glue up the torsion boxes!!!!

I'm going to need a brad nailer for the torsion boxes. I already have my trusty old 25 gallon air compressor that I bought off a friend's neighbor for $50. What a steal!!! Any advice on brad nailers? I don't want to spend too much money on it, probably less than $50..What about a cheap harbor freight one?

12-26-2007, 05:29 AM
I would buy a porter-cable but that's just me. You could probably score one on ebay pretty cheap this time of year. I know woodcraft and rockler has sales on them this time too. Just spend a little cash to get a nice one, it will last longer, HF stuff is garbage, you get what you pay for.

12-26-2007, 08:18 AM
Unless you'll be using it to install moldings at some point down the road I'd recommend a narrow crown stapler. Staples hold much stronger than brad nails. And get one that shoots 1-1/4" or longer. Stanley Bostitch makes decent guns at a good price. I have the previous model to this one and have been using it regularly for over 10 years. When buying tools, always buy the best you can afford. If you but the cheapest, you'll usually end up buying another one and spending the same or more in the long run. The exception is if you know you'll very rarely be using it.

Stanley (http://tinyurl.com/2y3w2l)

12-26-2007, 12:50 PM
Alright, that looks like a nice one! What about the 2-in-1 stapler/nailers?

12-26-2007, 06:37 PM
Ger gave good advice. And with MDF staples will hold better (along with any material) than brad nails. All nails do is pin it in place barely, staples will be almost an extra hand. When building cabinetry I staple cabinets together all the time so that when I go to screw them finally the parts don't move. 2 in 1 staple/nailer? Haven't really seen them and if they are around I wouldn't imagine them being that good, not many "all in one" tools are that well made for each single function. But that's just my opinion. And stanley makes good nailers, I have a large brad finish nailer for doing crown/base, and portercable brad/staple/pin nailers, none of which have ever failed me or had to be serviced.

12-26-2007, 10:56 PM
Alright, that looks like a nice one! What about the 2-in-1 stapler/nailers?

I have a 2-in-1 brad nailer/stapler I got form Home Depot, it's a Stanley/Bostitch and it works great.

12-27-2007, 02:20 PM
Oops, I didn't staple, brad, or nail anything. Glue & clamps only.


12-27-2007, 07:57 PM
Yeah it looks like I might be doing the same thing as Gary.

I don't have enough money right now between raw materials and hardware to be spending money on a nailer. So it looks like I'll be gluing, and maybe hitting some brads in with a hammer? The good old fashioned way.

12-28-2007, 01:50 AM
oops again, just remember, I'm not a woodworker and don't have a clue. I got away with it (so far) because I was working from a Joe-cut kit, and the fit on everything was fabulous. I was using Titebond III, because I read somewhere that it gives a bit longer working time than T2. Anyway, I was able to make sure that I had a thin coat of glue on both sides of every mating surface - it also helps to have three (or more) hands.


12-28-2007, 01:59 AM
If done right, a glued seem can be stronger then the pieces of wood being held together. Just make sure to evenly spread the glue and clamp everything tight for a couple hours and you should be fine. -Adam

12-31-2007, 05:40 PM
Joe, I know you don't use your CMT bit for HDPE. But, do you think with adjustments it would be able to cut HDPE relatively well. I have the 1/4" 2 flute CMT bit and a 1/4" 4 flute end mill from Enco. Which would be better for the job?

Also, are there any substitutes for HDPE?

12-31-2007, 05:55 PM
I would use the CMT bit, and another hint, do not drill all the way through the material, just mark it 0.05" down, then take it to the drill press and drill the holes at the mark, and drill for the taps at the marks, If you drill all the way through the HDPE it has a tendency to stick to the bit and mar up the material.


12-31-2007, 06:21 PM
I do not see any progress with your build tick tick tick goes the clock LOL.

Specer are you still having fun? :rolleyes: :)


01-01-2008, 12:07 PM
We're getting there, rdh! Spencer and I return to school tomorrow, and I do believe we can finish all of or at least the bulk of the work for this machine before the month is over.

01-02-2008, 04:04 PM
Like Tyler said, we returned to school today, and I'm hoping we will not only finish the bulk of the machine but instead the entire thing.

Great progress today, despite some technical difficulties. Before the winter break I had generated the toolpaths for the remaining bottom torsion box pieces. I had attempted to cut them before but had accidentally oriented the bit on the wrong side of the geometry, a novice mistake that won't happen again. So today I repositioned the parts and made the first cut for the parts. We then moved the blank and made the second cut using aolshove's method.

We were able to finish the Gantry Bottom Torsion Box! So now we have completed:
- X Axis Torsion Box (without end support pieces)
- Y Axis Torsion Box
- Gantry Bottom Torsion Box
- Z Axis Carriage Left and Right Plates

So we have completed all of the torsion boxes, not including the skins...which should be some quick cuts on the table saw.

Whats left to cut (MDF):
- End Support Pieces (4 parts)
- Gantry Left and Right Side Pieces (4 parts)
- Z Axis Carriage Pieces (6 parts)

So really not much, thats probably a day of cutting for each. Then the only thing left is the HDPE parts. Hopefully the sheets will be in the mail tonight. Also, some of the hardware has already been purchased and we now have bearings thanks to rdhharm!!! We also must cut the aluminum L angle and drill the holes for that, it shouldn't be a problem. Supposing we recieve the HDPE by next Wednesday, I'm hoping all the parts are cut by Friday the 11th. Which leaves two full weeks of good working to complete the machine = 15 hours in class, up to 40 hours on weekends.

Picture 1: Bottom Torsion Box Long Run
Picture 2: Bottom Torsion Box Cross Pieces
Picture 3: Bottom Torsion Box End Pieces
Picture 4: Assembled Bottom Torsion Box
Picture 5: Assembled Bottom Torsion Box (2)
Picture 6: Parts List

01-02-2008, 04:37 PM
Looking good guys, just let us know if we can help in any way to help you meet your dead line.


01-02-2008, 06:04 PM
So I just went on McMaster to find out how much it will cost for the rest of the hardware needed for the machine. Sometimes I ordered excessive amounts of parts, but it doesn't hurt to have extra and we can always use them for the second machine we build. (If this machine works, it is fully intended to build a second Joe 2006 so we can each have one)

Well the total cost was around $145.63, thats including HDPE. Quite pricey, but the good thing is all of these materials can be reused should the machine fail.

I could have probably shopped around, but it seems it might be easier to just order all at once and save the hassle. Cost could be dropped significantly if the bolts were ordered partially threaded instead of fully threaded. I know the bearing slide bolts must be fully threaded, but which bolts exactly are those?

01-02-2008, 08:19 PM
I got all thread on every bolt, it's easier because you don't have to assume/guess. I also get it from boltdepot, you should shop around you can get better prices if you do at the same quality usually. I know you're both young but look at the $150 + (the rest of the machine) as an investment. The knowledge and skills gained from the build will be so valuable in the future. Not to mention you will not be able to find many machines in this class so cheap to build let alone buy. Look forward to the completion of your build!

01-02-2008, 10:11 PM
Remaining hardware, except for acme rod, has been ordered!!! We are hoping that all the MDF parts will be cut by Monday! and all HDPE parts cut by Wednesday! Thursday and Friday will be time to check to make sure all parts are accurate, and fix any mistakes.

01-02-2008, 10:38 PM
Parts have been ordered!!

01-03-2008, 08:44 AM
Parts have been ordered!!

These screen shots from http://www.mcmaster.com/ are great. They are going to help a lot of future builders. That's neat, all the parts and part numbers, referenced for the new builder.

01-03-2008, 11:14 AM
Did you get your dimensional plans done? I could post for other to benifit from them.


01-03-2008, 12:48 PM
This is how every build thread should go!

Excellent work, guys!


01-05-2008, 11:30 AM
Fantastic work, you guys. Just reading this thread leaves me tense...worrying if you will finish it before the deadline<g>!

Best of luck, and I have enjoyed following your progress. If only we had had this kind of 'shop' class in HS 40 years age...<g>


01-06-2008, 07:57 PM
I want to sincerely thank everyone for the help that you have provided. Whether you have donated parts or provided us with advice and suggestions, it has all been a great help and we couldn't have gotten this far without you guys.

Last week in tech wasn't very productive because on Thursday we had a lesson about the shaper, and on Friday we had a shaper test and then Tyler and I had to update our work logs. (We are both required to make separate work logs, it's unfortunate that he won't accept our thread as our work log.)

We finally have all of the hardware required for the rest of the build. Special thanks to Rick (Rdhharm) for the bearings and Joe (PhillyCyberJoe) for the acme rod, acme nuts, and allowing us to borrow the corner clamps!

Our deadline is the 25th so be prepared for the crazy, action-packed 19 days that remain. I'm hoping we can finish, however, I don't want to compromise the build by rushing.

Whats left to do:
-Finish cutting MDF Parts (13 parts left, not including skins)
-Cut HDPE Parts
-Fabricate Bearing Slides
-Glue, Paint, Assemble!

Today Tyler and I visited Joe (PhillyCyberJoe) and he showed us his machine! It was amazing and I was surprised by how fast it was moving, 200-250 ipm+!!! The machine was so quiet, so steady, and looked great! Joe gave us a tour of the machine, ran some G-Code, and answered all of our numerous questions...we had a lot! Joe did a wonderful job on the machine and I can only hope ours turns out as good as his. Thanks for having us over Joe and thanks for the tips!!!

Picture 1: Tyler (Closer) and I with Joe's (PhillyCyberJoe) Machine!!!
Picture 2: Hardware- Thanks again to Joe for the Acme Rod, Acme Nuts, and Clamps. And thanks to Rick for the Bearings. The remaining hardware is at Tyler's house, hopefully I can snap a picture of all the hardware together soon.

The clocks ticking! Time Left: 19 Days.

01-06-2008, 08:40 PM
I'm sure if you guys put your mind to it you will finish it to a point that will be very satisfactory to your teacher, and especially to your self.

Glad you were able to visit joe's machine and see it run, this will motivate you even more, not saying you are not now, because you are just be seeing your posts.


01-06-2008, 08:43 PM
Awesome guys.. glad cyber joe was so generous to share his machine with you. It's nice to see the community effort here, one of the remarkable things about this forum. Its a race to the finish line, don't be afraid to just prime it; you can always paint it later.. and you WILL get it dirty so don't feel as if it has to be all perdddy as everyone else makes it out to be. (including me) Seeing your school machine run, when you get this running in front of your teacher he should be amazed by your efforts. It will likely if supplied the right motors, screws and power run faster anyways.

01-06-2008, 09:46 PM
YOU GUYS ROCK! Thanks for the great build thread. You're just Sophomores. Two more years, then college. What are you going to study? Is it all right to ask that question? I'm thinking there is really no limits to two guys with your abilities and determination. Great communicators and ingenious junior engineers. If I may be so bold, I'll say it. Take some calculus, and all the physics math you can handle. When you get to college, you will have a great jump start on your peers. I'll shut up now.

I hope you enjoy after it's finished, half as much as I've enjoyed watching you build it. My other hobby is model airplanes. There's and old saying that building the airplane is half the fun. Flying it is almost let down.

For me and my CNC machine, if I don't cut something every single day, I feel like I've missed something.

01-06-2008, 10:19 PM
Thanks for the great advice, Dave! Today was indeed an awesome day, it was just great to be able to visit Joe, see a solidly built Joe in action, and receive some real life advice from a truly nice guy.

While I can't speak for Spencer, Dave, I know that I am currently looking to pursue my love for woodworking and continue taking woodworking classes. I am also considering getting a business degree, as I hope to one day make cabinets and furniture for a living.

01-06-2008, 10:26 PM
Thanks for all the support guys and I'm glad you like the work log! As for me Dave, I'm looking to go all the way to AP Calculus BC by the time I graduate with as many physics courses as I can take, as you said. In college I'm looking to major in some form of engineering, maybe mechanical or civil? There are so many branches I'm not sure which to choose. But I'm definitely looking into engineering or business.

And I do agree, building it is most of the fun for me! When we're done this machine, Tyler and I are going to build a second machine so we can each have one. Thanks for reading our log, I'll update it tomorrow when I get home. Stay Tuned!

01-06-2008, 11:06 PM
I am a mechanical engineer. I can say that while it is fun and all that, I think there is more potential in civil engineering. As a ME, I have had to hire civil guys to do foundations and such but I have never known a civil guy to have a need for a ME. Most of the civil guys I have dealt with are out on their own and doing well. The MEs I know on their own struggle. I think there is more of an ongoing market for civil then mechanical.

My opinion could be because the grass is always greener on the other side, though.

Good luck!


01-07-2008, 08:13 AM
Yes, I work for a civil Engineering and Land surveying company, even when the market is down (housing that is) we always seem to stay busy. For example here the city has a mandatory detention pond requirement, so a simple subdivision plat turns into a design plat, with hydrology and site plan layout/grading etc.

And Mxtras is correct, i can not remember the last time we hired a ME, we do not get involved in that aspect of any projects.


01-07-2008, 01:41 PM
So funny, that my love for airplanes swept me off the Civil Engineering tract and I sort of regret it. I'm a Civil Engineer by degree, but a Mechanical Engineer by profession. I did about 3 years in the Civil world, and loved it. I've been a mechanical engineer for the other 22 years. I look back at my brief experience in the Civil arena with regret that I didn't preserver. I was tempted by my love of airplanes and the extra money the new Mechanical guys get in a large aerospace firm.

You guys will do great no matter what you choose.

01-07-2008, 03:17 PM
We are all given great loves and talents. If you get to use both of these in your life long work then you are truly blessed.
This is roughly how I remember what someone else said in a quote. I feel there is nothing worse than having to work in a job that you hate doing. CAD CAM can be so much fun as it is so easy to achieve accuracy of complex shapes &countless repetitions. Learning the mind game that is required to design your own machines etc is an endless, interesting, and rewarding adventure.
To see two young people building a CNC machine from scratch and getting so excited is really great.

01-07-2008, 03:46 PM
Today I laid out the parts in MasterCAM and generated tool paths for the Z Axis Carriage Top Plate, Z Axis Carriage Bottom Plate, and the Router Holder Rear Plate. I posted the NC file and then opened it up on the CNC Router.

While Tyler managed the cut, I generated tool paths for the Gantry Left Inside and Outside Pieces. It was very easy CAD/CAM work so that took no time. Unfortunately, after the first parts were cut we were only able to mount the blank for the Gantry Left Inside and Outside Pieces, so they will have to be cut tomorrow.

After the Z Axis Carriage Top Plate, Z Axis Carriage Bottom Plate, and the Router Holder Rear Plate were cut out, I decided to fit them into the Z Axis Carriage Right and Left Plates. Upon putting the Top and Bottom Plates into the sides I realized I had a little problem. It turns out the Top and Bottom Plates are cut using 3/4" MDF? I thought the whole machine was cut using 1/2" MDF, but the good news is I already have the tool paths so they will only need slight modifications for the 3/4" MDF and also I had an extra sheet of 3/4" MDF lying in my garage! Tomorrow we will just have to re-cut those parts in the 3/4"; it shouldn't take more than 15 minutes tops.

Plan for Tomorrow:
- First cut out Gantry Left Inside and Outside Pieces because the blank is already mounted.
- Then afterwards the 3/4" blank (which is already cut down to size) will be mounted, tool paths modified, and the parts will be re-cut
- While the parts are being cut, 3 new blanks will be cut out of a 4' x 8' sheet of 1/2" MDF.
- While the blanks are being cut I will generate tool paths for the Right Gantry Left and Inside Pieces.

Scheduled to be Finished Tomorrow:
- Gantry Left Inside Piece
- Gantry Left Outside Piece
- Gantry Right Inside Piece
- Gantry Right Outside Piece
- Z Axis Carriage Top Plate
- Z Axis Carriage Bottom Plate

Parts Left to Cut:
- CNC Router End Supports
- Torsion Box Skins
- HDPE Parts

Picture 1: Cutting Router Holder Rear Plate, Z Axis Carriage Top and Bottom Plates
Picture 2: Cutting Router Holder Rear Plate, Z Axis Carriage Top and Bottom Plates (2)
Picture 3: Completed Router Holder Rear Plate, Top and Bottom Plates must be re-cut
Picture 4: Remaining Hardware!

01-07-2008, 05:26 PM
We will soon be cutting the 3/4" HDPE and 1/2" HDPE. I don't want to screw up so I'm trying to get it right the first time.

The Bit:
- CMT Brand
- 1/4" Diameter
- 1/4" Shank
- 1" Cut Depth
- 2-1/2" Length
- 2 Flute

- Porter and Cable Brand
- Electronic five-speed: 10,000; 13,000; 16,000; 19,000; 21,000 RPM

01-07-2008, 05:34 PM
don't forget my router mount is for the hitachi router, so the dia. of the PC router will be different.

01-07-2008, 05:49 PM
Oh, we will be following your directions and using the Hitachi Router listed in the plans. The above configuration is what we are currently using on the schools Techno-Isel Router. I was wondering which settings for IPM, RPM, and depth of cut should be used when we go to cut out the HDPE parts?

01-07-2008, 05:56 PM
email me i will send you some files that may help.


01-08-2008, 08:19 PM
Well last night I was sitting at my computer and I realized that I had a copy of MasterCAM X2, so if I download the post for the Techno machine, I should be able to do the toolpaths at home. Well I was really excited, and I generated the toolpaths, but when I opened the file in the Techno Interface it appeared to work until we started to run the file, and then there was some error and the interface closed. So I'm guessing I had the wrong post. I have a new post and I will try again tomorrow.

Today was a pretty productive day. When we first got in class we cut out the Gantry Left Inside Piece and the Gantry Left Outside Piece. After we cut those parts out we had to cut a 4' x 8' sheet of MDF into blanks. It would have been nice if we could have done this while the machine was cutting, but our teacher requires someone to always be at the machine (this is understandable) and cutting a 4' x 8' sheet is definitely easier with 2 people doing it.

After the blanks were done we quickly mounted one to the table. While Tyler was mounting I did some rapid CAMing and laid out the parts/generated tool paths for the Right Gantry Sides. We then cut out the Gantry Right Inside Piece and the Gantry Right Outside Piece. After this we mounted the 3/4" blank of MDF that was from my garage. While Tyler mounted this I adjusted the tool paths for the Z Axis Carriage Top Plate and the Z Axis Carriage Bottom Plate. I finished the tool paths and Tyler finished mounting the blank, but we were out of time for the day.

Completed Parts:
Gantry Right Inside Piece
Gantry Right Outside Piece
Gantry Left Inside Piece
Gantry Left Outside Piece

Z Axis Carriage Top Plate
Z Axis Carriage Bottom Plate
End Support Piece Rear
End Support Piece Front
(2) End Support Piece Inside

We are hoping to finish all the MDF parts by tomorrow, but we might have to continue on to Thursday. Our goal is to have all parts done by the weekend to allow us to prime and glue all the parts over the weekend.

Picture 1: Cutting Gantry Left Side Pieces
Picture 2: Cutting Gantry Left Side Pieces (2)
Picture 3: Completed Gantry Left Side Pieces
Picture 4: Completed Gantry Side Pieces

Time Left: 17 Days

01-08-2008, 08:31 PM
You guys are doing a mighty fine job keep up the great work your are getting real close to being done.
I for one can not wait to see this machine running.


Mike Stevenson
01-09-2008, 09:58 AM

01-09-2008, 03:01 PM
Thanks for the continued support, everyone! Today in class we made a lot of progress, and we're at the point where the machine is really starting to come together, and finally our dry fits actually look like a Joe 2006 machine!

Yesterday, Spencer and I mounted a 3/4" blank onto the cnc but didn't have time to cut the replacement parts for the Z axis sides. This morning, the toolpaths were generated by Spencer and we cut out the replacement parts. However, when we were cleaning up the cuts we ran into a small mishap and chipped off part of the MDF, so we may have to re-cut that part tomorrow, which shouldn't be a problem for us.

After fixing the Z axis sides, I mounted another blank onto the CNC and Spencer generated toolpaths for X axis end support pieces, and they were cut at 130 IPM with no problems. Finally, at the end of class, we got to assemble the X axis torsion box as well as the gantry sides with torsion box, and the machine really started to look like it's supposed to. Today was certainly a fun day, and it was awesome to see it start to come together.

I apologize we don't have any pictures, everything was done in high speed today and I didn't think to stop and snap any good shots of the action. Pictures will be taken tomorrow, however, and MDF parts could possibly be done as well, leaving us Friday to begin cutting HDPE.

Also, in the mail today came six half inch ID bearings for the leadscrews to turn in.

01-09-2008, 08:17 PM
Well Tyler covered today pretty well, so theres no need to repeat it. In addition to what he stated, I ran out to Home Depot and picked up 2 more 4' x 8' sheets of MDF primarily for skinning, but some will be used as blanks. I also picked up some 1-1/2" U-Bolts to replace the 2" U-Bolts I previously bought. While the plans call for 2" U-Bolts, Joe (PhillyCyberJoe) informed me that the 1-1/2" are a perfect fit, and after checking out some CAD files they will indeed fit much better.

Items that still need to be purchased:
Aluminum L Angle (or should I use steel?)
Hitachi Router
Power Supply (we own a power supply already, but a larger one will have to be built to achieve optimal performance from our motors)

Parts that still need to be cut:
(2) CNC Router Inside Support Pieces
(1) Z Axis Carriage Top Plate (Re-cut)
(2) Y Axis Gantry Horizontal Rib (Re-cut)
(2) Gantry Bottom Torsion Box Long Run Pieces (Re-cut)
(1) Z Axis Carriage Rear Plate
(1) Z Axis Carriage Front Plate
(2) Z Axis Carriage Rear Braces
Torsion Box Skins
HDPE Parts

It may sound like a lot, but all MDF parts (not including torsion box skins) should be cut by the end of class tomorrow. Skin will be cut while the HDPE parts are being cut out on the CNC router.

Jobs that still need to be done:
Finish Cutting Parts
Cut Bearing Slides
Prime Parts
Glue Parts
Assemble Machine
Install Electronics

It seems like there is a lot left to be done, but I feel pretty comfortable that the machine will be finished in time! Tyler and I are having a great time building the machine and we are learning a lot! I can't wait to see this monster up and running!!!

Time Left: 16 Days !!!!!!

P.S. I promise there will be lots of great pictures tomorrow.

01-09-2008, 08:37 PM
Grrrreat job Guys,

Steel or Aluminum angle will work it is not L angle both sides are the same size.If you can find old bed frame you can use that to stiffen Y axis the bed frame is heck to drill though. Steel is cheaper you have access to good equipment so should be easy to work with . I made template to make all the holes the same . Don't get in to much of a hurry and make mistake . easy to do . But I think between the two of you you will be mistake free and make your deadline .

good luck either way you guys are doing great


01-09-2008, 09:30 PM
I would use Aluminum angle because it is much easier to work with and if you go the right place it is not that much money. I bought mine from a local steel supplier that has new and used I bought a 5’ piece of new for 5 dollars.


01-10-2008, 05:44 PM
Thanks for all of the advice everyone!

Today we finished cutting the CNC Router End Support Pieces. I then generated toolpaths for a blank that has all the remaining MDF parts. We were able to cut half of this toolpath before we ran out of class time, due to shortened class periods. That cut can easily be finished at the start of class tomorrow.

While Tyler managed the machine, I decided I would start to do a dry assembly to check for fits/problems/etc. I assembled the X Axis Torsion Box with the end supports. Unfortunately, 4 of the parts being recut were parts to the Gantry Bottom Torsion Box and the Y Axis Gantry Torsion Box, so I couldn't assemble them.

But the machine looks great! and I can't wait to see it running!

Parts Cut Today:
(2) CNC Router End Support Pieces
(1) Z Axis Carriage Top Plate
(2) Gantry Bottom Torsion Box Long Run (1/2 cut)
(2) Y Axis Gantry Torsion Box Horizontal (1/2 cut)
(2) Z Axis Carriage Rear Braces (1/2 cut)
(1) Z Axis Carriage Front Plate (1/2 cut)
(1) Z Axis Carriage Rear Plate

Tomorrow we will finish all the MDF parts and probably only mount the HDPE. But with all the MDF parts cut we will at least be able to prime the parts this weekend.

Picture 1: Cutting CNC Router End Support Inside Pieces
Picture 2: Cutting CNC Router End Support Inside Pieces (2)
Picture 2: Cutting CNC Router End Support Inside Pieces (3)
Picture 3: AHHH! Assembly, Parts Everywhere!!!
Picture 4: Assembled X Axis Torsion Box
Picture 5: Assembled X Axis Torsion Box (2)

I ordered 12 corner clamps two days ago off of harbor freight, to help make assembly a little more accurate. But they have provided no package tracking, little feedback on the order status, and the only information I have recieved is that I will be recieve my products in 10-14 business days. I guess thats the sacrifice you have to make for such low cost tools...only $1.50 each, around $6.00 and up each everywhere else.

Time Left: 15 Days

01-10-2008, 06:03 PM
Almost there, now you can start seeing fruits of your labor.

How flat if your work table? if it if very flat then i would assemble the x-axis directly on top of it.


01-10-2008, 06:06 PM
just curious, these areas are not flush with each other?

01-10-2008, 06:10 PM
Yes, you're correct. Good catch.

When I generated the tool paths for some reason the default tool was set at a .5" diameter flat end mill, when it usually is set at .25" (which is what it's supposed to be). So those parts have an extra 1/4" on each contour/pocket because the machine oriented for the 1/2" bit.

I just changed the tool to 1/4" and reposted the file, so that will be a quick cut tomorrow after we finish cutting out that other blank. A really dumb slip up on my part, but it can be fixed.

01-10-2008, 09:10 PM
just curious, these areas are not flush with each other?

Joes just like a dad watching his baby come to life LOL!!!!!

But I saw the same thing


01-13-2008, 02:11 PM
On Friday, Tyler and I finished cutting all the MDF parts. We had to recut the Gantry Bottom Torsion Box Long Run Pieces and the Y Axis Gantry Horizontal Pieces, but that didn't take very long. Then we cut the parts out for the rest of the Z Axis Carriage. Which means all the MDF parts are done!!

Picture 1: Recutting Parts
Picture 2: Tyler working on the Techno Isel Machine
Picture 3: Spencer working on CAD/Toolpaths

01-13-2008, 02:23 PM
Friday after school we loaded the parts into my older brother's car and drove them back to my shop. I had to make two minor modifications/fixes.
1st: I drilled holes in the Gantry Bottom Torsion Box Cross Pieces so I could put threaded rod through the Gantry Bottom Torsion Box.
2nd: I had to fix the Gantry Bottom Long Run Pieces because we forgot the toolpath for the main hole where the leadscrew goes through. So I printed out a scale image of that section of the part, punched the center, and drilled. Easy fix.

I then laid out our complete Joe's CNC MDF Part Kit!! (Without the skins)

Last night I assembled the machine (dry fit without glue), cut and installed the 1/4-20 threaded rod (I'm going to have to buy some more because I ran out), and then today Tyler came over and we took some pictures of it! It looks great!

Picture 1: X Axis Torsion Box Dry Assembly
Picture 2-4: Gantry Dry Assembly
Picture 5-7: Z Axis Carriage Dry Assembly
Picture 8-15: Complete Dry Assembly

01-13-2008, 02:27 PM
looks good guys, you are almost there, nice photos

01-13-2008, 02:45 PM
Thanks, bp! I am currently at Spencer's house and we are just about to go and start priming all of the pieces. Once they are all primed and ready to rock I have some blue paint we might use for the machine. Pictures will ensue!

Mike Stevenson
01-13-2008, 04:55 PM
Great work you guys have done here. :D

01-13-2008, 06:34 PM
Excellent work so far Guys. Looks like a work of art rather than a machine.


01-13-2008, 07:48 PM
Thanks for the comments everyone!

Well today Tyler came over to my house and we spent a good long time working on the machine. I had done a dry assembly the night before, so Tyler and I moved it out to my driveway and took a lot of pictures.

Then it was time for everyones favorite part of the build....the priming and painting! We then took apart the machine, laid out a drop cloth, and set out the pieces. I then started taping off the parts and then Tyler would prime the part. We used Joe's (PhillyCyberJoe) recommended method of painting which uses a roller and some paint/sealant, as opposed to a spray on sealant followed by spray paint. On a previous machine Tyler and I had tried a 50/50 water/glue mixture to first seal the MDF, and then we used spray paint...well it wasn't very effective and everyone that walked in the garage had an instant headache (but Tyler and I wore respirators) So I definitely would recommend just going with the standard roller option.

We finished priming most of the parts, but it was only a rough paint job, so there is still work to be done. Later tonight I will dry fit the machine again, and go back and paint any parts that don't have primer on them (this way the glue joints will all be connected, so I don't have to worry about getting paint there)

Picture 1-2: Laying out parts
Picture 3: Taping parts
Picture 4-7: Painting
Picture 8-10: Painted Assembly of Z Axis Carriage and X Axis Torsion Box

01-14-2008, 05:29 PM
Today we mounted the 1/2" sheet of HDPE to the CNC table and then made our first cuts. It was the first time we had ever worked with the material, but everything was perfect. Using the settings specified by joe (80-100 ipm, 12,000-14,000 rpm, 1/8" depth cuts) we were able to make very clean cuts. We also found that we could increase the cut speed to around 140 ipm at certain parts in the cut.

We first cut the 1/2" parts which was no problem at all. We ran into some trouble with the lovejoy spider parts, as they were getting sucked up into the dust collection, and because there were no tabs, or whatever you want to call them, that connect the part to the stock, this resulted in the vibrations of the machine causing the finished part to vibrate into the bit which you can imagine wasn't very pleasant.

We then mounted the 3/4" sheet and cut out the bearing support blocks. The first 3 we cut we ran into the vibration problem, which resulted in the bit taking chunks out of the corners....but finally we found a method that worked to prevent this. So we have 3 perfect bearing support blocks, and 3 slightly damaged ones...but this should have no effect on their performance.

Tomorrow we will try to cut he rest of the HDPE parts, cut the torsion box skins, and we will glue up the CNC Router End Supports and Gantry Sides.

Picture 1: Cutting HDPE
Picture 2: HDPE shavings...I think this is exactly what we were looking for
Picture 3: Motor Support Walls
Picture 4: Bearing Support Blocks
Picture 5: Z Axis Anti Backlash Nut Side Supports
Picture 6: HDPE Parts

01-16-2008, 03:53 PM
So all of the parts, MDF and HDPE are done (except for skins). We finished cutting the HDPE today, it was really easy to cut and we were flying at 150 ipm. Also there were no more errors after we were able to get our hands on some double-sided tape. But for the future I will have to figure out how to make tabs in MasterCAM.

To Do:
-Cut Skins
-Cut/drill aluminum bearing slides
-Glue up torsion boxes
-Assemble and attach motors

It should be awesome and I'm hoping it will work!

Does anyone have any suggestions on gluing the torsion boxes? Anything to watch out for? Any tips/techniques?

Also, what is the best method for cutting the aluminum bearing slides? And how should we grind/file/cut the angle into a flat section where the bolts go?

Thanks for the support everyone! We will have more pictures tomorrow.

01-16-2008, 04:30 PM
Does anyone have any suggestions on gluing the torsion boxes? Anything to watch out for? Any tips/techniques?

Also, what is the best method for cutting the aluminum bearing slides? And how should we grind/file/cut the angle into a flat section where the bolts go?

Thanks for the support everyone! We will have more pictures tomorrow.

Glue the long runs of the X axis together on a flat surface... ensure they are flat and straight. Then build the perimeter ensuring the it is square and mating surfaces are flush. I used 4 right angle brackets to ensure squareness... then come back and fill in the feild and clamp on the pipes with bungees or strap clamps if you have them to ensure straightness.

Repeat for Gantry top and bottom

The best way to cut the flat sectio where the bolts go is to use a mill. The excact placement of the flat is not that critical nor is the depth, but the bolt holes need to be in the right place.

I actually used my CNC to make a second set for a freind (except the cuts to length). My first set was made using an x/y table in a drill press with a straight bit... it worked but I had to cut real slow to ensure the quill did not vibrate itself loose.

01-16-2008, 04:45 PM
as jdell42 said, flat surface, ensure it is sq. and make sure to clamp the pipe rails in place to make sure it is a straight run.

I'm sure the machine will work very well for you, you two have taken every precaution and did a great build so far.

(Always remember safety)


01-17-2008, 04:58 PM
The radial arm saw with fine carbine tipped blade worked great for me. I used it to cut the angled piece to size and also for making the flat part for the bolt holes.


01-17-2008, 05:14 PM
Thanks for the advice!

Today we started to glue parts. I was able to glue up the End Support Pieces, but then I ran out of clamps. I'm sure I could have probably glued up the Gantry Side Pieces too, but other kids in the class were using clamps...and I figured it was better to sufficiently clamp the End Support Pieces, rather than not use enough and run in to problems.

While I glued, Tyler cut some right angle triangle blocks, which we will put in the corners of the torsion boxes and clamp together, similar to the right angle clamps I purchased. The (12) harbor freight clamps I ordered have not yet arrived (10-14 day shipping!!), but the parts fit together so well I don't think they are very critical. We can definitely square this up easily as long as we have the rails in and clamp it correctly.

Tyler also ripped two 1/2" skins for the Y axis Gantry Torsion Box. He couldn't have cut them any better, it is a really tight fit that makes the whole box rigid without even adding a touch of glue. We have enough 1/2" MDF to skin the Gantry Torsion Box and the Gantry Bottom Torsion Box (With the modification to the skin)

We still need to get more material for the X Axis Torsion Box.

Everything is going well! I'm excited to see it up and running! Sorry for the lack of pictures, we've been working for the entire class period...and I haven't really taken the time to pull out the camera. I'll make sure I take tons of pictures tomorrow for you guys.

01-17-2008, 06:43 PM
Spencer and Tyler,
You guys are doing a great job. I have been watching this along with many others on the forums.
When I glued up may sides and ends, I aligned the 2 pieces with existing holes and bolts, then I got my 1/4" drill and drilled some extra holes. I used some of the bolts, nuts, and washers as clamps. You can save the clamps for the places where you have to have them and use bolts as clamps for these. Also, the bolts do a good job of clamping the center where you can't reach with most clamps.
Don't forget to use the pipes to help align everything when you glue up the torsion boxes.
You can't have too many clamps.

01-17-2008, 07:13 PM
I will definitely remember that tip when we glue up the sides. The picture is also a great reference so we will clamp in a similar way. I don't know if I have the belt clamps though, what could be used as a substitute?

Would bungee cords or something along the lines of that work?

01-17-2008, 08:19 PM
The main purpose of the belt clamps is to hold the pipes in their grooves.

01-17-2008, 09:11 PM
Echoing the comments of others good job. Important part here is to take your time and ensure squareness. You dont want to rush now.

01-22-2008, 05:44 PM
This weekend Tyler and I worked on gluing up the gantry sides. Also, I put a second coat of primer on the Y Axis Gantry Torsion Box.

Right now I am at Tyler's house and we are continuing to work on the machine. Currently we are working on gluing up the gantry bottom torsion box.

Picture 1: Router Holder w/ Side Supports (1)
Picture 2: Router Holder w/ Side Supports (2)
Picture 3: Gluing Gantry Side
Picture 4: Z Axis Carriage
Picture 5: Y Axis Gantry Torsion Box
Picture 6: McMaster Parts and cut HDPE Parts
Picture 7: Harbor Freight Corner Clamps
Picture 8: Clamped up Gantry Bottom Torsion Box

01-22-2008, 05:58 PM
Nice work guys, coming along nicely. A side note, you don't need to go crazy with all of those corner clamps, just make sure the parts go together nicely and flush, then later when you skin it use the skins to pin the whole box square. Check corner to corner to see if you have the same lengths, if not put a clamp on one corner to corner thats longer and adjust where needed. Or just use a framing square. I just literally glued, stapled and briefly clamped mine up and squared up perfectly after it was together. Otherwise it appears you will be cutting soon enough. When is your deadline?

01-22-2008, 07:33 PM
Yeah the corner clamps are probably a little superfluous, but they sure do make it easy to glue these up. Honestly, it took us a few minutes to glue up the torsion box, and it was one of the easiest glue ups I've ever done.

There are total of 27 clamps (I think) in this picture, but I guess that pretty much proves you can never have too many clamps. There is no way that this torsion box is not square.

01-22-2008, 07:41 PM
For giggles take a good tape measure, measure corner to corner and then opp corner to corner, see if you come out with the same measurements. Again this isn't a nasa space shuttle but you want to get as close as possible, and with 27 clamps I think it should be close!

01-22-2008, 09:27 PM
bp092, we measuredf rom corner to corner of the Gantry Bottom Torsion Box and the measurments were exactly the same. The clamps proved to be worth it. They were cheap (about $2.00 each), easy to use, and effective as we really didn't have to try hard at all to square it up...they did it for us. (Of course we still checked while it was gluing, to make any changes if needed)

So the machine is almost done. We're trying to get it done by Friday, or at least by the end of the weekend.

Z Axis Carriage: Completed
Y Axis Gantry Torsion Box: Completed
Y Axis Gantry Sides: Completed
Y Axis Gantry Bottom Torsion Box: Completed
X Axis Torsion Box: Needs to be skinned and glued
CNC End Supports: Completed
Bearing Slides: Need to be cut to length, drilled, and flattened
HDPE: Some parts need to be drilled, but most is tapped and done
Z Axis Rails: Need to be cut to length
Y Axis Rails: Complete
X Axis Rails: Need to be cut to length
Leadscrews: Need to be cut to length
Electronics: Motors work perfectly in Linux using Sherline CNC, but we are having problems getting them to work in Mach 3

So tomorrow we will glue and skin the X Axis Torsion Box. On Thursday I'm going to the middle school to work all day in their shop! I will complete the bearing slides and cut the rails and leadscrews to length. Then all that needs to be done is some drilling of the HDPE, then assembly! It's really coming together!

01-22-2008, 09:46 PM
There are total of 27 clamps (I think) in this picture, but I guess that pretty much proves you can never have too many clamps. There is no way that this torsion box is not square.

Spencer & Tyler,

Congratulations! In addition to your build you have managed to snap a rare picture of clamps in the middle of a feeding frenzy. :D Look at how they bite the wood. They're kind of a cross between a piranha and a pit bull. There's usually more than one and once they 'bite' their jaws lock.

Seriously, though, you two are doing a bang up job on your Joe'sCNC 2006 table. I've been watching your progress in silence until now, I just wanted to chime in and let you know I'm rooting for you, also.

Keep up the good work,

01-22-2008, 09:47 PM
Sounds great guys. Keep at it, the end is in site.
If you describe the problems you are having with Mach, I am sure someone will help.

01-23-2008, 07:02 PM
Thanks, guys!

Well, we have had problems in Mach for a long while now. We are using a hobbycnc board with 300 oz./in. Keling steppers connected to a 24v power supply, I believe it pulls 8 amps which is plenty for our motors.

On my computer I currently have EMC linux running alongside a dual-boot configurationm with Windows. In EMC, I do not know what the motor settings are but just jogging them they run beautifully - they are smooth, quiet, fast, and have decent torque. In mach3, it comes and goes. We've played with the settings for hours and hours and days and days but we can't seem to get it perfect. Sometimes, we will find a setting where the motors will jog perfectly. Then, upon releasing the key and jogging it another direction, the motor will decide to do what they usually do it mach - jitter, step irregularly, skip a lot of steps, and generally operate in a slow and jerky manner.

Any ideas, guys? Our leadscrew is 1/2" - 10tpi acme threaded rod, alongside 200 step per revolution motors - the easy math comes out to 2000 steps per inch. Any advice OTHER than "just play with it until you get it right"? We have tried that method with little success.

Thanks a ton! Spencer and I are working on the machine as I speak, I am stopping in on the computer to burn us a Grateful Dead CD to play while we work.

01-23-2008, 07:31 PM
the hobbycnc board should be set to 1/4 micro steps or to 1/8 micro steps, do you have another computer to try? make sure not to use a laptop, the reason is that the Parallel port has to output 5v. the HobbyCNC board does not like laptops, also neither did my gecko's.

01-23-2008, 07:33 PM
First, how fast is the PC? second, run Drivertest.exe in the Mach3 folder and see if the results are a clean flat horizontal line.

01-23-2008, 07:56 PM
First of all great job guys I've been reading along and this is pretty cool thread to watch. Secondly, I have had the same kind of problem with mach3 that you are, my motors and boards work fine with Kcam but mach3 is hit and miss. Hope you figure it out soon, if I stumble upon a solution I'll try to chime in.

01-23-2008, 09:48 PM
I had trouble with mine until I set the board to 1/2 steps. There is an issue with the chip used on the hobbyCNC board that needs this setting in some cases. I also turned off current reduction. Look at my thread here: http://www.cnczone.com/forums/showthread.php?t=43485&page=5
at post 56 and the link there. This may be some of what you are seeing. There is also a thread on the current reduction and some mods you can do posted by gacrwell here:
I must admit I never tried it. I am going to bump that thread and see if anyone else tried it.

01-23-2008, 10:31 PM
Thanks everyone,

Spencer and I played with the motors briefly. I believe we have the jumpers set to half stepping mode, with a jumper on J1, but not on J2 or J3. We changed the steps per inch setting in Mach3 to 4000. We also tried tweaking with the acceleration and inch per minute speed. At 50 IPM and 20 in./sec. acceleration, we got the motors to turn beautifully. We switched directions, they still turned beautifully. We switched directions again, and it was was back to the same old grinding, jittery jerky motion as before.

The computer is by no means a great PC but it should get the job done - the motors run well in EMC linux. It is a 2.1 GHz AMD Athlon 2800+ processor with 1 gig of RAM, and it is not a laptop and yes it has a proper serial port.

Any other ideas? Thanks for everyone's help so far!

01-23-2008, 10:44 PM
Well heres what I have to say in addition to that:

1) Because the motors are able to turn in Linux (EMC) perfectly, but not in Mach3 using XP this proves that its not due to any hardware problem...so the hardware is definitely fine.
2) This means some setting must be adjusted in Mach3. But why did the motor work perfectly the one time in Mach3, but then go back to its old ways?

What we are experiencing is a jittery, stuttering, movement when we spin the motors. It can be at 50 ipm and lower, but we get the same jittery movement no matter what. It's almost as if the motor only is recieving parts of the signal, and then it stops recieving them, and then it gets them again? I'm not sure? We have a video that I will upload soon showing the motors.

01-23-2008, 11:11 PM
Did you turn off current reduction on the board? I think that is pin 4.
When my machine was acting up it was usually right after a stop. If I paused long enough for the current reduction to occur the restart would be rough and the motors made a strange noise almost a grinding sound. If I kept the motors moving I had no issue.

01-23-2008, 11:38 PM
Here is a picture of our board...but we can not find a way to turn off the idle current reduction.

01-23-2008, 11:39 PM
Thanks Bob,

After reading your thread I tried to find how to turn off idle current reduction, but found that our board doesn't have a 4th jumper pin. We have the 4AUPC rev2 board, and Spencer and I have searched the board top to bottom with no findings. We have J1, J2, and J3 for each axis, but no J4.

01-23-2008, 11:53 PM
Here is a video of the motors turning.

01-24-2008, 12:05 AM
well to save time can you use emc2 for now? since you have a dual boot system.

thats the exact board i ran on my 06 for over a year in mach3 with no problems,

make a video of the drivetest.exe in the mach3 root directory.

what version of mach3 are you running?


01-24-2008, 07:36 AM
Take a look to see on the ports ==> the motor outputs sto see if you have active high or low.. reverse them as it appears the step and direction outputs are reversed causing the chop. They both should be set to off with red x's for all axis... but try swapping to see a difference.

Also try changing the step and direction pulse in motor tuning.. that helped me. Mine is on 5.

Also take a look at what frequency you are running mach at..25K or 35KHz and switch if all else fails above.

01-24-2008, 08:27 AM

I had similar bazaar problems with Mach3 on an Athalon of the same vintage.
It turned out to be a problem with power management on the board. Switching over from APCI to APM fixed this for me.

Check out the image attatched, if you jump to the Diagnostics tab and find that the 'Pulse Frequency' is jumping around all over the place, then you have a similar problem to me. This number should not vary more than about +-50 from what ever the driver is configured for. When mine was broken it jumped around by a few thousand.

I'm not in front of a Windows box so this is from memory, so use some imagination. :) To fix this, right-click 'My Computer' then pick 'properties' flip through the tabs and pick 'Device Manager'. Near the top is a group called computer and you should have listed 'ACPI compatible pc' right click this and choose re-install driver. You will be given a list, choose 'Generic APM machine'. You will be prompted to reboot. On the reboot, windows will re-install every driver on the system. But this fixed things for me.

Goodluck, hope this helps. If you need a better explanation just send a post and I'll write it down step by step tomorrow for you.


01-24-2008, 12:11 PM
Wow! Thanks, everyone! Reflow - you fixed on problem perfectly! I checked in diagnostics and found the pulse frequency to be jumping by tens of thousands, it was awful. I changed the computer to the generic machine mode and upon restarting, the motors ran beautifully after a bit of tweaking. Unfortunately, it wants me to re-activate windows, won't allow me to reinstall my PCI wireless internet card, leaving me with no internet, doesn't recognize my keyboard or anything else for that matter. I messed with the drivers a bit but its going to take a ton of work to put the computer back. So, I reverted back to the old machine and here I am back on the internet. That trick will work great for us but not on my personal computer - we need to get a machine specifically for the CNC anyways.

01-24-2008, 12:19 PM
Great work Tyler! I can't wait to see those running.

I managed to find a proxy on that wasn't blocked for our Middle School computers. I'm at the Middle School right now shadowing the tech teacher and just hanging out. I also was able to get some work done! I have cut the X Axis Torsion Box Rails and all the leadscrews to length!!! Tyler I'll call you when I'm done here.

I will post pictures later.

01-24-2008, 06:58 PM
Wow! Thanks, everyone! Reflow - you fixed on problem perfectly! I checked in diagnostics and found the pulse frequency to be jumping by tens of thousands, it was awful. I changed the computer to the generic machine mode and upon restarting, the motors ran beautifully after a bit of tweaking. Unfortunately, it wants me to re-activate windows, won't allow me to reinstall my PCI wireless internet card, leaving me with no internet, doesn't recognize my keyboard or anything else for that matter. I messed with the drivers a bit but its going to take a ton of work to put the computer back. So, I reverted back to the old machine and here I am back on the internet. That trick will work great for us but not on my personal computer - we need to get a machine specifically for the CNC anyways.

Glad to hear that fixed things up for you. That problem stumped me for ages. :confused:

I'll have a look tomorrow which machine type I flipped to, since I didn't have the driver problems you describe. On reboot my machine was able to re-install all the drivers for the system without hiccup and I didn't have any windows activation problems. The only hassle in APM mode is the machine doesn't actually shutdown, you get to that classic black screen with orange writing saying it is safe to turn off your pc.

One last thought, after you switch to APM in windows, try entering the BIOS on the reboot and turning off any ACPI options or switching to the APM mode in there.


01-25-2008, 06:53 PM
Tyler and I have been very busy and are working to get the machine finished as soon as possible.

Recently we worked on cutting the Bearing Slides for the Y and Z Axis. We used Bradtal's method of marking the parts, and it worked really well. First I cut the aluminum angle at my house using my miter saw, which worked surprisingly well. I then used a bench grinder to grind the edge of the angle flat for the mounting bolts. Then we marked, center punched, and drilled the holes. Then the bolts, washers, bearings, and nuts were installed. Finally we placed the Z Axis rails on them and they slid perfectly with contact on all of the bearings.

Picture 1: Stop block on Miter Saw
Picture 2: Cut Parts, Aluminum Shavings, Dimensioned Drawing
Picture 3: All purpose miter saw blade
Picture 4: Bearing Slides cut to length
Picture 5: Grinded bearing slides
Picture 6: Laying out bearing slides
Picture 7: Drilling Aluminum
Picture 8: Drilling Mount Holes
Picture 9: Completed Bearing Slide

01-25-2008, 06:57 PM
We then installed the rails and the bearings for the Y Axis and assembled the rest of the gantry. The Z Axis Carriage slid perfectly across the rails.

Pictures 1-3: Assembled Gantry

01-25-2008, 07:01 PM
Yesterday I went to the middle school which has the only remaining metal shop in my school district. I know the tech teacher there well, so he let me use his tools.

I marked the rails and then clamped them into the horizontal band saw. With a little oil the rails and leadscrew were cut quickly and easily.

Picture 1: Measuring Cut (Twice)
Picture 2: Cutting X Axis Rail
Picture 3: Cutting leadscrew
Picture 4: Cut X Axis Rails (There are two extras...one is an inch too long, one an inch too short......which I messed up earlier on in the build)

01-25-2008, 07:08 PM
We had cut the bearing slides for the Z Axis Carriage when we cut the oens for the X and Y. We then attached them to the Z Axis Bearing block. Next we put the vinyl tube and bearings on the U-Bolts and managed to fit them on the bearing block. We then slid the rails through and tightened the U-bolts for a snug fit. Finally we cut the ends of the U-Bolts using bolt cutters.

We also drilled/tapped the router holder and attached it to the Z Axis Carriage.

Picture 1: Installing U-Bolts
Picture 2: Cutting U-Bolts
Pictures 3-4: Attached Z Axis Carriage

01-25-2008, 07:14 PM
First we ripped the 4' x 8' of 1/2" MDF in half using the table saw. Tyler fed the sheet, I pushed it against the fence, and Tyler's Dad came out and helped support the outfeed. We then dry-fitted the X Axis Torsion Box with the rails and the skin. Next we laid out the the torsion box on the skin and got our clamps ready. We then glued, squared, and clamped the X Axis Torsion Box.

Picture 1: Ripping 4' x 8' sheet of 1/2" MDF
Picture 2: X Axis Torsion Box on the Skin
Picture 3-6: Gluing/Clamping X Axis Torsion Box
picture 7: My hand with a lot of glue on it. That glue sure does suck the moisture out of your skin.

01-25-2008, 07:22 PM
Building a CNC machine sure does drain you. Between the lack of sleep due to extensive working and the hard manual labor...this machine is a lot of work to build. To prevent exhaustion, Tyler and I make sure we drink lots of Game Fuel!!! Its more than just a soda, its fuel for CNC! (It's actually just regular soda and its horrible for you. 77 grams of sugar a bottle!) We basically live on this stuff. But when at last we are really tired, sometimes we have but no choice but to take a nap.

Picture 1: Game Fuel + CNC = Perfect Combination
Picture 2: Tyler sleeping on our dry-fitted X Axis Torsion Box! ( I thought this deserved a post of its own)

01-25-2008, 08:49 PM
haha you guys are awesome, wish I was that motivated when I Was your age, keep up the good work

01-25-2008, 09:02 PM
Guys the machine looks awesome but I will say that is the lumpy’s and bumpy’s X axis bed I have every seen LOL


01-25-2008, 09:11 PM
Building a CNC machine sure does drain you. Between the lack of sleep due to extensive working and the hard manual labor...this machine is a lot of work to build. To prevent exhaustion, Tyler and I make sure we drink lots of Game Fuel!!! Its more than just a soda, its fuel for CNC! (It's actually just regular soda and its horrible for you. 77 grams of sugar a bottle!) We basically live on this stuff. But when at last we are really tired, sometimes we have but no choice but to take a nap.

Picture 1: Game Fuel + CNC = Perfect Combination
Picture 2: Tyler sleeping on our dry-fitted X Axis Torsion Box! ( I thought this deserved a post of its own)

GREAT JOB GUY'S !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Really proud of you.


01-26-2008, 08:18 AM
Great work. You may be cutting before the weekend is out, at the rate you're going.

01-27-2008, 02:46 PM
Everything is starting to come together for our CNC. Last night Spencer slept over and we glued the second skin onto the X axis torsion box. This morning after Spencer left (he has a big school project to do this weekend) I routed the skins flush with the edge using a flush-trim bit in my router. We left a little excess on the ends so we could get it just perfect for the final part.

01-27-2008, 02:52 PM
It's looking good guys.

How are you doing time wise? What's the deadline date, refresh my memory, please. Hopefully you've got a least one more weekend before then. If so you should have it licked, no problem.

Keep up the good work,

01-27-2008, 04:30 PM
Thanks, HayTay. Well, our actual tech class ended last Friday, however, the machine isn't "due" for any grade, so at this point we are just working on it at my shop, and whenever its done its done.

I still have to purchase a cheap computer to use for this machine (that will set us back a bit!) and the Hitachi router.

01-27-2008, 04:51 PM
Great work flushing that end Tyler. Yeah Tyler is right, the machine was technically "due" last friday, but because Tyler and I are both in the Material Processing and Machine Programming 2 class, he said the project can carry over to our second class. But it should be done in a week, should we get the electronics/computer and finish assembling this.

scott wiggins
01-30-2008, 01:18 PM
Did you ever get the plans completed?

01-30-2008, 02:40 PM
Three days without a post. Wow, that's never happened before in this thread. You guys must be almost complete.

01-30-2008, 09:18 PM
It has been a while since are last post, but we definitely are getting close to finishing the machine.

Today Tyler and I drilled/tapped some HDPE parts and then assembled the rest of the machine. The hardest part was getting the rails into both CNC end supports. That required some persuasion from a rubber mallet, but in no time the machine was assembled. After some minor tweaking of the bearing blocks all three axies were rolling perfectly!!

Now all that left to do is mount the motors/leadscrews! And get our motors tuned and running in mach!

Lots of pictures!

01-30-2008, 09:34 PM
Sweet looking machine guys I can hear the router running and see the chips are a flying. :)


01-30-2008, 09:36 PM
Attached is a video of our machine sliding.

01-30-2008, 09:46 PM
You guys are doing great. Nice work!!.

Attached is a video of our machine sliding.

01-30-2008, 09:47 PM
Looks pretty smooth!.

Getting close...


01-30-2008, 09:51 PM
Cool video guys, nice photos 3eb background music, you are doing great work bet you're excited to play with it a bit.. your teacher will be impressed.

01-30-2008, 09:53 PM

01-30-2008, 10:39 PM
Great work guys.

01-31-2008, 12:47 PM
Great job guys! Liked the video. Sure is fun sliding the gantry back and forth, huh? I got my Y & Z axis sliding the other night and I was all excited and showed my wife. "Neat..." was all she said with no sense of enthusiasm. :)

Definitely want to see a video of it working when it's all complete.

Keep up the good work.


01-31-2008, 04:28 PM
Thanks for the support everyone! and thanks for staying to see this project to the end!

With some advice from Joe (PhillyCyberJoe) I was able to get the motors running on my computer. I just had to uninstall mach, reboot my computer, reinstall mach, reboot my computer, install a driver, and then reboot my computer one more time.

Then with a little tweaking, I had the motors running perfectly. Using Mach3 I had the settings as follows:
Steps Per: 2000
Velocity: 100 In/Min
Acceleration: 10 In/Sec

01-31-2008, 04:59 PM
Hey Guys,
Thanks for the kudos, but I am certain you would have figured it out.

Listen, one other thing you need to look at......you said that you have the motors set at 2000. That would be right if you were running with full steps. My guess is that if you are running the HobbyCNC board, you probably are running with 1/2, 1/4 or 1/8 steps. That would mean you have to multiply 2000 times either 2, 4, or 8 depending on the steps. So, in a nutshell it's:

200 (number of steps to go 360 degrees) *10 (TPI of your ACME rod)*the reciprocal of the microstep setting on your board.

Can't wait to see things happening!!

The "other" Joe

01-31-2008, 09:58 PM
Well, tonight we mounted the Z Axis Motors. We were able to get it moving up and down....but towards the top it would stall from increased tension. It's just going to require a little repositioning of the top bearing block/motor mount...but then it should be fine.

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01-31-2008, 10:28 PM
I just ordered my router off of amazon!

$123.12 + $4.00 One Day Shipping = Router at my house by Monday!

02-01-2008, 07:17 PM
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02-01-2008, 11:02 PM
I think maybe you meant to post this. :)

YouTube - Z Axis Turning

02-01-2008, 11:22 PM
Great job with the videos. The links you posted didn't work, but I did a search on youtube.com and found them. Plus I see that Greg has successfully embedded your video above. So all this technology is great. Here is my recent CNC movie. Maybe you've seen it already, and if so, sorry for the repeat.
YouTube - FunderBird, A CNC Cut, Fan Fold, Foam Park Flier

02-02-2008, 10:45 AM
I don't know how you guys embedded that, we tried everything.

Now for the latest update of the build. There is some good news and some horrible news.

The Good News: We were able to get the leadscrews and motor mounts attached the machine for the X/Y. They turn very easily by hand.
The Horrible News: We managed to fry two additional axes on our Hobby CNC Board, leaving us with only one remaining axis.

It's a shame that this had to happen when we were within days, maybe hours, of completing the machine. The build is going to have to be put on hold for at least a few months until Tyler and I can budget enough money for the project.

But we won't give up, this is our 4th attempt at building a machine. It sucks hobbyCNC doesn't make a six axis board (nuts).

02-02-2008, 11:51 AM
I don't know how you guys embedded that, we tried everything.

Now for the latest update of the build. There is some good news and some horrible news.

The Good News: We were able to get the leadscrews and motor mounts attached the machine for the X/Y. They turn very easily by hand.
The Horrible News: We managed to fry two additional axes on our Hobby CNC Board, leaving us with only one remaining axis.

It's a shame that this had to happen when we were within days, maybe hours, of completing the machine. The build is going to have to be put on hold for at least a few months until Tyler and I can budget enough money for the project.

But we won't give up, this is our 4th attempt at building a machine. It sucks hobbyCNC doesn't make a six axis board (nuts).

Sorry to hear you fried the board. It sounds like maybe you removed the motors wires while there was still a charge in the capacitor? Replacement parts are available and your board is possibly salvagable. Contact Hobbycnc for advise.


02-02-2008, 12:07 PM
Nope, the motors were never disconnected, and the wiring was all correct. I think we over-torqued them?

02-02-2008, 03:46 PM
You can't over torque the motors.. they will just stop spinning. Putting too many amps to the drivers will kill them. Did you check and adjust the vref for each axis?

02-02-2008, 03:52 PM
Nope, the motors were never disconnected, and the wiring was all correct. I think we over-torqued them?

How many volts does your power supply have and how many amps did you have it set for?


02-02-2008, 04:56 PM
Replacement driver chips are available from hobbyCNC for $15. If all you did was burn out the chip, you can replace them. Call hobbyCNC and he can help you diagnose the problem

02-02-2008, 05:54 PM
Well, I guess its the power supply then. I didn't buy the power supply, Tyler did...and I just assumed it would work. I guess its probably makes more sense to get two replacement chips over a whole new board....

But Tyler and I had originally planned to make two machines...the first being his, the second mine. So I was eventually going to have to buy a board/steppers. So I think I'm just going to buy the HobbyCNC 4 axis package...and build the power supply that comes with that.

But I'll working on getting full information for the settings of the board/ps that we currently have, to help diagnose the problem.

02-02-2008, 06:01 PM
Alright power supply =

Brand: Nemic Lambda
Model: EQS150-24
Volts/Amps: 100-120V ~ 3.7A

Tyler was handling the electronics. So I don't know the rating on the board or anything. Thats just what it says on the power supply.

02-04-2008, 05:50 PM
I suspect that there are enough folks watching this thread, just to see your remarkable progress, that figuring out the board problem can be done pretty quickly.

First off... I'm assuming that since you are saying that only two of the axes are broken, that the third axis still works?

If this is true, then it is not the power supply.

A little more info on exactly what happened when it stopped working might be helpful...

Worst case, the driver chip from HobbyCNC are $15 each and will get you over the hump of getting a machine operational...

Please don't feel tooo bad - I think most of us reading this have blown up chips at one time or another... during the course of learning about our (expensive) hobby.

Another thing you might try is swapping out the stepper motors with different axes... This might tell you if motors or drivers are bad...

Anyways - I've enjoyed reading about your progress. We're all behind you!



02-04-2008, 05:53 PM
BTW - from your post #207 - It looks like you have a board without power reduction (Jumper 4 is missing)... It would help us to help you if you took a multimeter between Ground and Testpoints 'X', 'Y' and 'Z' and posted the results... I will assume that the Z axis is the one that is still working.


02-04-2008, 10:57 PM
Hey all,
I'm really stumped about Spencer and Tyler's issue with their electronics. I live near those guys and had a chance to see how they are doing but my concern was to try to help them figure out what's going on with the controller.

We followed the instruction on the HobbyCNC directions for setting the proper VDC on the board to accommodate their stepper motors. Unfortunately, I helped them fry the last of their driver chips. Here are some details to help backfill the info that you already have.

We checked the voltage coming to the board and it was 23.97v which makes sense. The reading at the touchpad (TP) marked +5VDC actually read 5.2v which also makes sense. Now, when we tested the TP for Vref at X, Y and Z, they seemed to be WAY low at 145mV. However, it DID work at that voltage setting. Since all the other axes had blown the controller chips, I thought it might be due to this very low voltage. After following the instruction, we adjusted the potentiometers to what was suggested, which was .18 * motor amperage. That's when their last chip fried. God, I hate that smell!!!

Their specs on the steppers wasn't exactly clear from the information provided. Perhaps, the Vref was incorrectly set which finally did the last on in.

Hopefully, someone out there on the Zone might have a sense for what might be going on with their system. If additional info is needed, maybe Spencer and Tyler can provide that data. I feel bad that I couldn't help them out, in fact I guess I'm responsible for killing their last controller chip.

Any ideas?????


02-04-2008, 11:52 PM
I did a step by step thread on Rcgroups about the Hobbycnc board. Maybe soething in it will be helpful.



02-05-2008, 12:12 AM
For starters, I went to the HobbyCNC Yahoo group and downloaded (and attached) all the revalent docs regarding your board - which is the 4 Axis 4AUPC Rev 2 (from the pictures).

While we know the board used to work, before it stopped working, we can pretty well assume that everything is installed and adjusted properly.

The piece that WAS missing (and I got burnt on this one [no pun]) from your pictures is any sort of heatsink, and barring that, any sort of airflow over the stepper drivers.....

With a little math... 145mVolts per axis equates to roughly (145/.18=) 805mA.
So, a little more than 3/4 of an Amp, all the time (with no power reduction), through each of these drivers = some really, really hot chips
Which kinda means that you should be happy they ran as long as they did.

I would speculate that you are the victim of nothing more than a lack of heatsink & airflow. Just as an example, in my case, I got enthusiastic about running the board, and 'only' ran a fan on the drivers - it wasn't enough and I still blew a chip.

All of the folks on this board with successful, reliable setups, appear to have some sort of enclosure, with a heatsink and a fan, for their HobbyCNC board. I also attached the drawing I used for the heatsink I used off the Yahoo group.

When removing the driver chips that are already soldered in place, there is this stuff called 'solder wick' that really sucks off the solder that is already there, leaving a really clean hole.... As an alternative, you could also use a heat gun on the driver chips until the solder melts... you won't harm anything if you 'mask-off' the other components with cardboard and masking tape... Just use tweezers or long nose pliers to pull the whole chip once it's hot enough.

Hope this helps! & Good Luck



02-05-2008, 10:14 AM
There is also a device called a "solderpult" that looks like a large hypodermic. It is spring loaded and you load against the spring, melt the solder, and release the spring and it sucks the solder out. They used to be around $10. I have used these to unsolder multipin chips from boards and they work very well. You suck the solder out from back side of the board. Just put the intake over the pin.

02-05-2008, 01:13 PM
Oops! My apologies to the moderators and HobbyCNC. I did not realize that was copyright material!

Bruce (chair)

03-03-2008, 11:28 PM
It's been far too long without an update on the Zone for our Sophomore Build. So heres a quick update. We now have a complete controller/power supply with motors that is plug-and-play from Keling. We took the easy (but more expensive) way out on that one. As we figured the investment would pay off because we wouldn't have to worry as much about frying a chip.

So we have everything in terms of electronics. The controller is currently at Tyler's house.

As for the machine itself. All the leadscrews and motor mounts are mounted except for the X Axis. As soon as I finish the X, all that should be left to do is plug the motors in....and we should have 3 working Axes.

We are trying to get the motors mounted and the machine running by the end of this weekend, but with sports and school, the CNC has been hard to work on lately.

I will keep you all posted. Sorry if we've been off the radar for a while.

03-04-2008, 05:21 PM
Since you wanted to build two machines anyways... it sounds like you will also have two controllers.

If you still want to fix that HobbyCNC board and don't have the resources for soldering/desoldering, I'll replace the bad chips and test the board for you if you send it to me (then I'll send it back). I'm an EE and work around soldering equipment all day.

PM me if you're interrested. - Your project has really caught the attention of the whole group here, and we all want to see you succeed.



03-04-2008, 06:57 PM
You guys doing this was the reason that I decided to take the plunge. Have been following your build the whole way, even though this is the first time posting in here.

03-27-2008, 10:31 PM
Spencer and Tyler,
How is your machine?

03-28-2008, 08:00 AM
I was thinking the same thing...wondering how it was going. I miss the update from youse guys!


03-29-2008, 11:05 AM
hey guys,

To be honest spencer and I haven't worked on the machine in a while. A month or two ago i ponied up and bought this keling driver:

It came with no instructions on wiring, howevever. Also, I received Keling's new, blue controller, as opposed to the old white controller - but at the time of ordering, this controller was not available on the website - he notified me that it would be a different controller as they were back ordered on the normal white controller box.

Anyway, hopefully this weekend I can take a shot at getting the controller spinning some motors, then we will truly be in the home stretch of this project. First, however, we will still need to extend our motors and figure out the wiring for this controller. While it says it's "plug and play", there is no way for me to plug it in until the motors are wired to the plugs and that won't happen until I receive some sort of instructions.

We'll try to keep everyone updated.

- Tyler

03-31-2008, 09:44 PM
Good news! I was able to get the correct male/male parallel cable to Tyler today and he was able to get the motors up and running tonight. So we have 3 working motors.

The only things left to do are as follows:
- Extend the motors
- Tune the motors
- Mount the motors

- Mount the X-Axis Leadscrew
- Mount the Router

Of course there will be a lot more steps involved, but this is just the general outline of what must be done. There of course will be tweaks that will have to be made, but hopefully we can get it up and running this weekend.

In advance, I would like to sincerely thank everyone here on the Zone, you've been a great help. The support has been tremendous and its really motivated us and encouraged us a long the way. When we didn't know the answer, you guys were there to help us get through whatever the problem was. I hope everyone enjoyed staying tuned to our progress and I apolegize for the sudden and long period without activity when we were so close to finishing. But hopefully, this weekend all of your help and our hard work will pay off. We will keep you updated.

04-02-2008, 09:55 AM
You forgot one thing on your list below, the most important thing, the reason for building this machine. Make a note and add to your list:

- Explode with creative genius and cut designs, build stuff and have fun!

All us guys have missed your daily activities.


The only things left to do are as follows:
- Extend the motors
- Tune the motors
- Mount the motors

- Mount the X-Axis Leadscrew
- Mount the Router

05-11-2008, 10:59 PM
Hello everyone, it's been a while since I've updated but Tyler and I have both been busy.

But finally, now that my harder class are finished and lacrosse season is over, we have been able to work on the machine again. So with our new Keling Inc controller w/ keling motors we were good to go. We ran into a problem when we found out that the X leadscrew was too short, but we ordered a new screw and installed it this weekend. We also mounted the motors for the Z axis and the X axis.

Both the Z axis and the X axis are now turning and with the router hooked up we were able to mill out two parallel channels in a piece of scrap wood. We measured just to make sure, and they were indeed parallel. We also moved the machine 1" in Mach and then measured the cut from center to center of each radius and it was 1" exactly, so they are tuned correctly too. However there is one small problem, the motors move the opposite direction...so when it says -1.00 in Mach for the Z axis it actually went up 1" not down 1". How do I reverse this in Mach 3 to correct the problem? And also how to I do the same for the Emergency On/Off button, because that is reversed too as you have to twist and pull on it in order to shut the machine off (as opposed to just hitting it).

We would have hooked up the Y axis motor (and had a completed machine!!!!) but we ran into a problem. We drilled the holes for the motor support walls incorrectly so now the motor alignment is off. While it is in the correct plane, it is shifted over and up a little bit. So its not that the motor tilts, its just horizontally and laterally off. So we have a couple options....1) drill/mount the motor directly to the Gantry Side Support (which results in a loss of travel for the Y axis.. this would only be a temporary fix though), 2) make new sidewalls out of MDF or some other material, basically just redo them 3) we could try some modification to the one we already have, however, that would be extremely sketchy and probably wouldn't work too well.

Other than that the machine is almost done!!! And I already have some projects/orders from some people. My brother wants me to cut out his rugby team's logo to inlay in his beer pong table at his college...which would be a pretty intricate cut, but it would look awesome. That will definitely be one of my first projects.

Also, we are missing half of a lovejoy spider coupling...which we must find for the Y Axis to work. And there is also a lot of whip (not sure what the term is) in the X axis leadscrew, but thats a relatively easy fix...I'll just do what some of the other guys have done with the spring.

So to finish we need:
1) To find the coupling
2) To fix the motor alignment issue
3) Take out the whip in the X
4) Reverse the settings for each axis and the on/off
5) New paint job?

I'll keep you updated and get some videos up here soon.

So in order to complete the machien w

05-12-2008, 06:01 AM
However there is one small problem, the motors move the opposite direction...so when it says -1.00 in Mach for the Z axis it actually went up 1" not down 1". How do I reverse this in Mach 3 to correct the problem? And also how to I do the same for the Emergency On/Off button, because that is reversed too as you have to twist and pull on it in order to shut the machine off (as opposed to just hitting it).

4) Reverse the settings for each axis and the on/off

In Mach go to Config tab open the Homing/Limits tab and reverse is on the left.


05-12-2008, 07:17 AM
During final assembly of my Joe 4X4, my Y was moving in the opposite direction. I reversed it's direction in Mach3 by going into Config --> Ports and Pins --> Motor Outputs and then checking Dir LowActive.

PS, I hope that lacrosse season was successful!

06-05-2008, 10:48 PM
After months of research, gathering materials, building, and hard work our Sophomore Build of Joe's CNC Model 2006 is finally completed. I started to work on the machine again a couple of days ago and was able to get the Y working. After that Tyler and I worked together to fabricate a new spider coupling for the Z. With the completion of the spider, we were ready to go.

Yesterday afternoon we made our first cut! We cut out the roadrunner file, and it worked out well.

Today I thought I would play around with the machine a little. So I attempted to cut out a sign for my neighbor that said "Pepsi Spartans" on it. (What he and his co-workers call themselves). I was able to get 90% of the cut done when I decided to change the bit for the spartans text. Well, the bit dug into the wood and I had to stop the cut. Although, i was a little too late, as it had already gouged a big hole in the piece. However, tomorrow I will attempt to cut it out again...hopefully with better results.

Also, videos will be on youtube soon!!!!

I would like to take this time to specially thank:
- JoeCNC2006: Thank you for all of your help throughout our build and for providing us with these brilliant plans. None of us could have done it without you. Thanks for everything!
- PhillyCyberJoe: Thank you for all the wonderful advice and tips you provided us without throughout our build. Inviting us to come see your machine really motivated us to finish ours. Also, thanks for providing us with the leadscrews and acme nuts for the build!!! Finally I really want to truly thank you for taking time out of your schedule to help us with our build. You have to come see the finished machine now!
- Rdhharm: Your generous donation of bearings was a great help to our project! Thanks for everything Rick!
- calgrdnr, bp092, TCGliderguy, DeWalt58: You guys have all been a great help throughout the build! Providing us with information and assistance when we needed it and helping us find the solutions to those tricky problems. Also, your successful builds were very motivating.

Hope I didn't forget anyone. Overall thanks to everyone on the Zone here! You've been a huge help and we couldn't have done it without you.

Now all we have to do is:
- Surface the table
- Paint the Machine
- Minor Modifications
- Dust Collection
- Table

Theres still lots to do, so stay tuned.

06-08-2008, 07:21 PM
I stopped by Spencer's again today to continue playing with the CNC machine.

We currently are having software issues on the old laptop we are using as a controller. However, I have a computer I am working to reformat that will be used purely for the CNC machine. Also, I am in the process of building a pole barn wood shop outside my house - it will be done in a few weeks, and the CNC will be moving there, along with it's dust collector and whole shop of woodworking equipment.

I am going to begin construction of a wheel-around control center of sorts for the CNC machine soon. This will be a place for a computer, monitor, the controller, router bits, clamps, etc. to sit. The CNC will also probably be put on a mobile table.

06-16-2008, 11:23 PM
I decided I wanted to surface the table of the CNC, however, I feared that something might go wrong....so instead I mounted a large sheet of MDF to the table and surfaced it. That way my table is still flat/level/square it just isn't permanent.

I have been severely limited as to what I can do by the 250 G-Code limit on the Mach trial. Its not really a big deal because I can always break up the g-code files, but it is quite restrictive and limiting and also very annoying to have to worry about it....not to mention it makes creating toolpaths a much longer process. I have to try to get my hands on some good software, im using 5+ programs right now just to get a single g-code file.

Also, I have a problem because my machine has been skipping steps. Why does the machine skip steps? What can be done to prevent this from occuring? Because I run it at very low speeds so that I don't overwork the motors, and I keep the rails clean....so I don't really know what the cause of it would be?

06-17-2008, 12:55 AM
Define slow. How slow are you cutting when the motors skip. Next, what screws are you using, acme? What pitch and start? What diameter.

Next, what motors (in-oz) and what is your power supply in volts?

When you skip, how deep are your cuts, what diameter bit are you cutting with?
I think these answer will help us guys recommend some solutions.

I know that some of these questions could be answered by reviewing this thread, but I thought it would be more expedient if you refreshed us with the details.

06-17-2008, 01:06 AM
Howdy Spencer,

As implied by dave there is alot of possible that can cause you these
issues. When I first got mine up and running it was as simple as lubercating the screw with a white grease instead of a dry spray that was being recomended. also don't forget to tune your motors with Mach3.

These are just another set of possible. please provide the items Dave suggested and I am sure the guys here can help you .

Good luck Kent

06-17-2008, 03:05 AM
I saw the PEPSI sign and i think the cut quality is poor...:( Is their any racking issue, i also think u are loosing steps...

Just try to low the Acceleration and velocity setting in Mach3 and run the Gcode in CV mode...

06-17-2008, 08:12 AM
Thanks for the help so far guys! and yes, the pepsi sign was a disaster. It was the first cut and I didn't have the table surfaced and everything adjusted...(I thought it had all been adjusted at the time). But then I realized some of my bearings weren't making contact on the Y (Ahhh!). So I readjusted them and it's cutting slightly better.

Tonight I will do a complete tune-up of the machine, making sure everything is square and all adjustments are made correctly. And I'll try to get some tension adjustments on the X-Axis leadscrew. (There's a lot of whip on the X which is probably one of the main causes of my failure up to this point)

But I'll tune it up, give you guys the proper information, and we'll see if we can get the machine working correctly!

Thanks for the help so far everyone! I have finals today, so I won't be able to get the information up here too quickly, but I'll try to have it by tonight....with pictures and videos!!!!

06-17-2008, 10:10 AM
Define slow. How slow are you cutting when the motors skip. Next, what screws are you using, acme? What pitch and start? What diameter.

Next, what motors (in-oz) and what is your power supply in volts?

When you skip, how deep are your cuts, what diameter bit are you cutting with?
I think these answer will help us guys recommend some solutions.

10 tpi, 1/2" acme threaded rod, single start, running dumpster leadnuts, being turned by 425 oz./in. Keling stepper motors, driven by a 40v Keling controller package.

We are cutting with a 1/4", double fluted upspiral bit, and I can't tell you how deep the cuts are... I've only used Spencer's Gcode, but I trust he follows the rule of 1/8" steps (half the diameter of our bit) or 1/4" steps (the diameter of our bit).

06-17-2008, 11:09 AM
The depth of cut I have been doing has been no more than 1/8", I've been doing 1/16" lately though. However, the Pepsi was an 1/8"

06-17-2008, 08:25 PM
Well, I like everything about your hardware except the 10x1start acme. 40 volts is great, the steppers strong. Does your Keling drives have a set of dip switches on them to regulate micro-stepping and power? Mine do. Before I changed lead screws, I did some testing of the micro step settings. I think I reduced it to 1/8 or even 1/16 and got the best bang. Keep in mind, I don't use the 10x1 acme anymore, so I can't check my personal settings.

I might have a different Keling driver too. I think I got his cheapest driver.

So try some different settings on the driver. Don't forget to adjust the Mach3 Motor Tuning settings. I'm assuming you know all about the Mach3 motor tuning. Do you? Hope so. Let us know if you need a refresher. I'm also assuming you remember the math and how to set Mach3 using your 10x1, 200step/rotation, and the micro step settings. Wow, that was a mouthful. I'll bet you didn't even read that last sentence. I wouldn't blame you if you skipped it.

One final thought, you didn't say how fast you were driving your motors. Inches per minute is a good way to describe your feed rate.

Another method to improve your performance is to add a stepper damper.
Check out these two videos. http://www.cnczone.com/forums/showpost.php?p=259469&postcount=26

That thread has several videos in it that show big improvements in stepper speed.

Good luck tonight with your testing.

07-30-2008, 02:01 PM
Sorry to interrupt your thread but his inbox is full and this seems to be the last trace of him. Feel free to reply directly to 'rupps at truevine dot net' .


I made a note in my Palm Pilot a long time ago from a post you sent regarding your Hitachi KM12VC router. Do you still like it? I've heard the 1/2" collet is fidgity as about the only problem. I'm looking at one from Amazon ( http://tinyurl.com/5fntlt ) for $130. Any reason I shouldn't? Thanks.


07-30-2008, 02:52 PM
Hello Rance ,

I am not Hay Tay but I do own Hitachi M12VC, same router sans the plunge base. so if you don't need the plunge base you can get cheaper. But not a whole lot, the price you found is really good for that set up.

I am on my second one of these routers nice and quiet (Untill the bearings start to go) I cut alot of corian,I think the dust eats up the bearings. If anyone knows where to get the bearings please let me know.My second one is starting to make noise due to bearings.

A friend has a shopbot and he is using a bosch 2 horse varible that is nice and quiet also.

Good luck hope you don't mind that I gave my 2 cents


03-05-2009, 10:53 PM
Hey guys,

I know this thread hasn't been touched in a while but just thought I'd pop in and say this machine is still going strong!

I finally have my home shop all situated - we put in a pole barn last summer and only now do we have it fully insulated, drywalled, and set up. With a great sound system and propane heat out there, finally I've had some time for the CNC. Spencer has been over as well and we've done some test pieces, I will make sure to get some pictures up ASAP.

However, I do have some concerns over the X axis. And Y and Z are solid as a rock but the long stretch of leadscrew on the X is causing some nasty whip. We're using 1/2" 10 ACME threaded rod on a dumpster anti-backlash delrin nut.

The machine has some visible slop in it, and while it does fine cutting out a nice sign or some pretty letters, in terms of accuracy, the machine is horrible. It cuts a slow 15 IPM accurately, even running 300 oz./in. motors on a pretty dang nice controller. To me this just seems low. It also skips steps if you try to push it faster than 15 ipm or so, and by the end of the cut, may actually be 1/16"-1/8" inch off of where it should be.

Any tips to reduce whip? Also, should we consider remaking the motor mounts, as ours are sloppy?

Thanks a ton, everyone for your continued support!!

03-05-2009, 11:58 PM
Howdy Guys , glad to see your back . first off I would losen everything back up and get everything square. Is your X screw straight ? Did you install the spring on the end ( suggested by Jay) I belive some even put on 2 nuts on the Y cariage ( one each side ) When I had my 10tpi 1 start in I was able to get to 90+ without any whip, I cut most times at 75ipm.
when I first put together I used to put a drill on the screw and really get some speed and no whip to speak of. So I really suspect a bent/warp screw roll it on flat surface ie pool table ( clean it first :) ) if it woobles like a pool cue in a one table pool hall.. you can try straighten it ( some have done it so I have read.. I myself couldn't strighten a 6 footer so I ended up cutting it for my Y & Z ( 5 start )

If you can afford it go to the 5 start TPI on all axis . I cut at 120 ipm most times everyonce in awhile I ramp up to 150ipm (when i try to save time ) with no problems . I do rapids at 320 ipm it was by far the best 200 ? I spent on the machine.

good luck looking forward to some pictures Kent

03-07-2009, 12:05 PM
If you can afford it go to the 5 start TPI on all axis

I'll second that point (or even just start with a single rod for the long X axis)! You should post up some close up pictures of the motor mounts to give an idea of what you consider 'sloppy', you may save yourself an unneeded step if they are in fact sufficient.

Good luck with the fix!

02-24-2015, 11:33 AM
Just a bump to this thread... did the issues ever get resolved? Did a second machine ever get built?

Just curious...