View Full Version : Cutty Shark I

02-22-2005, 06:52 AM
Okay Guys. Its time to get busy. Since I first knew that I had to have a CNC router just a mere few weeks ago (Thanks CNC Zone) I have gobbled up as many different designs as I possibly could from here and elsewhere on the web.
I also took note of the items that I have on hand and developed a design that I want to use for my initial setup. Design has changed several times even after buying some of the materials that won't be needed now. I can see that it might pay to get the design down on paper first. :)
I make blade guards for tablesaws. The guards are called Shark Guards. Ergo the play on words with the name of this machine.
Anyway, the Cutty Shark I will mainly be for cutting polycarbonate and thin aluminum sheet. I have the basic frame parts already, so these dimensions are what I am hoping for. X axis = approximately 36". Y- axis = approx. 20". Y axis = maybe 4" or 5".
I'll add more details a little later on. Here are a couple of images to get started with. Comments and suggestions are absolutely welcome and the sooner the better. :)

02-22-2005, 09:59 AM
Looking at your drawing, do you really need the two top interior bearings? I would think the on the top the upper vertical bearing and outer horizontal bearing will work to hold it from moving side to side then on the bottom the lower vertical bearing is the only one needed to keep the gantry from upper movement.


02-22-2005, 10:40 AM
You are probably right. This is most likely too many bearings. It would actually be 10 bearings per side with this setup. :)

I wanted to make each side of the gantry sorta stand alone on its own without falling off if the gantry weren't there. My thinking is that this may actually reduce any chance of racking. Therefore, I think the top three are a must for starters.
The gantry will be pretty heavy itself. All the parts are some nice steel that I had on hand. The 2" x 2" x 44 7/8" tubing is nearly 3/16" thick and the flat bar is 3/16" x 4" x 44 7/8". The end angle iron is 3" x 3" x 1/4" x 24 5/8".
I was thinking because of this, there would be very little chance that the router would want to lift the gantry anyway, so I might get away with just some delrin. This could be mounted and adjusted a little easier than the bearings.
I bought 100 bearings on Ebay. I have about twenty peices of 3/4" x 3/4" x 4' aluminum square tube and some brass rod on hand already. This was another reason for overkill in the drawing. ;)
I have a mini-mill, mini-lathe and 4"x6" bandsaw to make the build much easier. :)

Some other details of this build that I have bought are the Xylotex (http://www.homeshopcnc.com/page3.html) driver board. Three 270 oz. steppers from Home Shop CNC. (http://www.homeshopcnc.com/page3.html)
A 24 volt power supply, assorted bearings, shaft couplings, fan, bushings switches and what not from Surplus center (http://www.surpluscenter.com/item.asp?UID=2005022209231413&item=15-1183&catname=electric).

I bought some 5/8" 8 acme rod and 6 square brass nuts from Mcmaster Carr.

I haven't yet bought the license to run Mach 2, but that should be the last thing major that I'll purchase. I managed to pick up a couple of double bearinged 12" long new THK rails on Ebay for the z axis.
The basic design is one that I should evenually be able to retrofit THK rails on for the other two axes if I am able to find any deals on them.
I'll be makin my own contoller box out of aluminum. I'll powder coat it when done. Any suggestions for initil switches lights bells and whistles for the box?
Thats it for now. More updates soon. :) More thoughts and suggestions are welcome.

02-22-2005, 10:47 AM
Here is my idea for ya-

02-23-2005, 05:02 AM
Thanks for a peek at that bearing design. It looks good and simple. I like simple and good. :) I have had this 4" zinc plated flat bar laying around for a long time. At least I have managed to cut it into shorter pieces now. I wanted to see how straight I could get it mounted, so I put one side together last night. It came out great. Its as straight as my T-square in both directions. I will use it for starters. I should have the frame complete this evening and will add some more photo's then. It feels good to start building it already, rather than just spending money and amassing parts. :)
After lifting the frame and track assembly for just one side, I am starting to think that this thing may weigh nearly as much as some of these smaller MDF rigs. ;)

MDF and I do NOT see eye to eye. If thats all there was to cut in the world, My tablesaw would be on the curb.

02-23-2005, 09:08 PM
Here's the next installment. I was able to get all my holes drilled for the 5/16" carriage bolts that hold the frame together. They also hold the rails on. Everything came out as square as I can measure. I had it leveled up in the picure and the frame is dead level. The rails tightened up great as well too. I am a happy camper at this point.
I had originally intended for the machine to sit on this stationary table in the corner of my shop. Now I know that it has to be on casters. All sides of the machine will need to be accessible at times. Plus a steel framed base with casters will actually have less of a footprint.
I ordered 4 casters from the Surplus Center (http://www.surpluscenter.com/item.asp?UID=2005022320012542&item=1-2525&catname=trailer). They had what looks like a great deal on them.
Here are a couple of photo's so that ya'll know it did happen. :)

02-25-2005, 10:59 PM
I have just a little more progress to report. I worked on my all in one control panel this afternoon. Got a good start on it. I'll get it all together soon. I have a micro motherboard that will go in here. The fan on the bottom of the power supply is nearly as big as the big fan in the photo. Don't think I'll need to move quite that much air. I have two smaller normal size fans that I'll stick in there somewhere.
I will need to put a filter on the outside somewhere as well. Perhaps on the back. I won't be cutting ANY MDF with this thing. ;) No fine dust. I use a dust collector in my shop too, so that will help. I will be hooking up a dust port for the router as well.
The box is .063 aluminum and 3/4" square aluminum tubing. All drilled and tapped with 10-24 screws. Could have used rivets, but just wasn't that sure I wouldn't need to take it back apart. Thought about powder coating it, but now that its going together.... :)
The dimensions are 18" wide x 15" tall and 12" deep. Should be plenty of space in there. Thats it for now.

02-28-2005, 09:30 PM
Todays update is a little more done on the control panel.
I found out that when I sand blasted the front panel on one side only, that it cups the panel. Like the glass beads actually stretched that side. Wow! Learn something new every day. :)
I reckon I'll have to blast the inside of this panel too.

I found some hammertone paint in a charcoal color that looks nice. I think I'll use this on the whole machine. Control panel and all.

I never thought I was going to get the computer part to work. This is my fourth mother board. The others were just spares from older computers. I could not get the bios to load. Guess those are bad. I picked up this computer monitor at a repair shop. They normally throw these little things out. I think it will do for this.
I want to try out Turbo CNC first. Got it loaded and I'll run with that first. I think its capable of doing what I want done.

What type of controls, switches and leds would ya'll suggest for the control side of the panel. I have the 3 axis Xylotex board. I just have the normal stuff for the computer side. I want to wire the big power supply up using an old socket from another power supply. Then I'll have a detachable cable. Both power cables will then plug into a surge protector with a switch.

Thanks for looking and suggestions are always welcome.

03-05-2005, 08:41 PM
Todays update is short, but a little progress. I have worked a little more refining the control panel. It will sit on a shelf about 8" higher than the bottom bracing on the cart in the pics. I may put the little monitor down there as well. It would be tilted to be seen from a standing position. Keyboard will be covered with a big ziplock bag or maybe some press and seal. That stuffs pretty neat. :)
Anyway, here's the pics of the cart after I got the bottom welded up. The legs are some sort of overhead door track that I picked up. The bottom frame is just part of an old bed frame. I got these nice casters from Surplus center for $4.95 each. These are very good casters with a 200 + weight limit each. Nice rubber tires. These are made in Australia. :cool:

03-09-2005, 07:58 AM
Well, I didn't wait.
I have been working on the control panel and had some computer problems, switch failures, new power supply short on the computer, wire routing issues, designing on the fly setbacks.
All in all, just about what I expected. :)
Anyway, I could not resist the urge to test the motors. All was going wll and my son was repositioning the motor and touched one of the untapped center wires on the x axis to the controllers case. This must have knocked a smoke seal loose, because my Xylotex board spilled some out. :( He felt bad about it, but it wasn't his fault. I should have tapped up those wires anyway.
The good news is that everything else seemed to be working fine in Turbo CNCjog mode.
I have possed another question on the Gecko drive forum here. I will send this board back home for possible fixing, but I was wondering if I should buy a second board as backup.
My motors are rated at 2.8 am bipolar, so this is just a little high for the Xylotex anyway.
I'm not sure what all I need to go with the Gecko's instead.
Any input would be appeciated.

03-09-2005, 09:34 AM
A Xylotex (and Geckos as well) will die instantly if a motor wire is disconnected with power applied, or from any short of the motor power wires. Jeff @ Xylotex will repair it for a reasonable price. If you're careful, you shouldn't need a spare. If you think you'll need a spare, is 1 spare enough? :)

03-09-2005, 10:58 AM
I may just wait on an upgrade to the Gecko's. I'm sure I will want to go that route eventually.
I have contacted Jeff and am awaiting some info.
I think at the stage that I'm at, a second board would be the way to go.
If I screw up again, :), time won't be a factor. When I upgrade, I'm sure there are many guys that would like to have the drivers at a reduced cost. Assuming I don't blow them again. :(
I went through all the research it took for a niovice to get this hooked up and running just to let a stupid mistake set me back. Well, I won't make the same mistake again. ;)

GUYS, cover your unused wires! See, now I can finally contribute some useful information to the Forum. :)

03-09-2005, 11:59 AM
Lee, the Xylotex will work great with your steppers. That's the setup that I'm using and have been very pleased.

I have two boards, I managed to blow them both up at different times. All my fault. Once I figured out what to do I haven't had a problem in over a year.

Nice thread and thanks for sharing the design details.

03-09-2005, 12:02 PM
I wonder if the Rutex boards will also die instantly....hmmmmmm wonder what their circuitry really looks like....

03-09-2005, 01:44 PM
Gecko has new drives coming out soon that are nearly invincible... G204.

03-09-2005, 02:17 PM
Well thats certainly the kind that I will be needing in the future. ;)
I did place another order for a second Xylo board today. As I said, it was all working (jogging) fine. Everything is setup in the panel for them already anyway.
I am over that real bad feeling in the gut already. I will try my best to keep Murphy out of my control box in the future. Now, on to the easy stuff. The machine (he said while crossing his fingers). :)
Thanks Guys. Ya'll are a tremendous help and a good influence.

03-14-2005, 04:46 AM
I made a little progress. I worked some on the bearings for the x axis. I cut the sides out of 3/4" aluminum. This is just what I had on hand that was bg enough, hopefully. I also managed to turn the ends on the x lead screw and get it in place.
I used 3/4" aluminum bar for the top bearing holders and square tube for the guides on the sides. 3" angle held it together.
I made a bunch of brass bushings to fit the bearings and they run nicely in the channels I milled (cut) out for them. I can see just from testing these on the rails that my initial design had far too many bearings. I figured it probably did. Its generally easier to remove elements of a design than to re-engineer to accept more later. Still easy to do with the holders I used. I doubt that there will be any racking. These outer guides are 10" apart. The weight bearing rollers are 8" apart. That part felt good to get done. :)
In the process, my backup Xylotex board came in. I will indeed wait to do the motor turning test now.
Check out some of the photo's. Its starting to look like something. :)

03-16-2005, 09:10 PM
Today's update shows a little progress. I got the gantry up and running somewhat. I addedd some adjustment possibilty on both sides of the bearing holders and gantry uprights. I will need just a little to preload the side bearings.
I have figured out also that I need some x bracing on the legs. Making this an all in one cart type CNC router has its drawbacks, but seem to be few so far. I will have to have screw adjustable feet for when the machine is in use. Have to level it up to use it. I guess this is normal with any of them though.
Anyway, here are some pics to check out. I am making headway. :)

03-17-2005, 04:33 AM
You are making great progress! Building a lot faster than I am.. At this rate you'll be done next month ;)
Out of curiosity: I noticed your gantry base consists of two seperate L-angles. Doesn't the gantry skew if you hold one leg and push the other? If so, you might want to fill up the room between the angles with a plate or something?


03-17-2005, 08:51 AM
Thanks John.
The Gantry really doesn't try to skew yet. I was planning on adding a plate in the center to catch the drive nuts. There are two cap screws on each end of the angle. It is fairly solid. We will see if this will be sufficient. I may need to add some 4" flat steel to the outer portions of the angles just to insure that it stays square.

I have another question. Duh! :)
I am planning on simply putting the motors on in a direct drive configuration with Lovejoy spider couplings. The rod I am using is 5/8" 8 acme thread. I have two square brass nuts for each axis that I will kinda preload. Will I have enough torque this way? I know this will keep the speed up, but only if the motors can turn the thing. At any rate, I think I will test this x axis before I finish the rest of the build. Make sure my ducks are in a row.
Do any of you guys think this kind of stuff is fun? I am having a blast, even with some minor setbacks. :)

03-17-2005, 09:04 AM
You have to be careful with larger diameter screws. As the diameter gets bigger, the torque required just to spin them goes up fast!!

03-17-2005, 09:17 AM
I think you will have plenty thrust. I run my current router at 1:1 gear ratio on a 4mm pitch leadscrew. 8tpi is rougly 3mm pitch. My steppers are weaker than yours, so you shouldn't have a problem. Instead of a flex coupler I used two pulleys and a belt, keeps the stepper inside the machine and allows to alter the gearing if need be.


03-20-2005, 05:17 PM
Thanks Guys.
I did get a little more done on my gantry. I redid the bolts that hold my bearings in. I had them threaded into a tapped hole in the aluminum angle. A couple were not dead center with the brass bushings, so I bored a larger hole in alignment with the bushings. I then used longer bolts and nuts. This was the right thing to do. Now the gantry will roll the entire length of the x axis with just a slight push. Kinda like a roller skate. :)
It is amazing now how well it glides being as heavy as it is.
I also have the drive carriage mounted. I had bought some square brass nuts to use, but these really seem to have too much slop for my liking. I have some delrin and will try that. I did get a makeshift tap made out of some of the 5/8"-8 acme rod.
No pics yet.
I was reading a thread somewhere at CNC zone the other day and a fella was looking for some connectors that could be used repeatably for the motors.
I think I have found what I will use. They are the four wire Hoppy connectors used for hooking up the lights on a trailer. About three bucks each at a local auto parts store. Don't think these are available outside the US. I think Germany had better connectors. I had a popup camper while over there and for the life of me, can't recall the connector type. :(
Anyway, I think these will fill the bill for my needs. Pics will come a little later.

03-22-2005, 09:27 PM
Just another small update. Been busy, but not with the router. Well, not very much.
I made a drawing that kinda shows the design to this point of the ganty bearings and such. I am somewhat proud and glad that it works so well. We'll see how it does undder power. :)
I was working on getting the lead screw ends turned down. I was also figuring out the motor mount.
I was able to install a manual crank on the lonely end of the lead screw. I think this may just come in handy. I had bought two of these for another project from McMaster Carr. They were about $5 each. Just pot metal, but look great powder coated. :)
Anyway, here's how she sits currently.

I am editing this illustration. Can't see too much as a JPG. I am including a link to a Flash image. It can be manipulated a little better.
Flash File. (http://www.leestyron.com/images/cutty1.swf)

03-23-2005, 10:36 PM
A little more this evening. Here are a couple of pics and a Flash video of the first powered movement of the gntry. Okay, not powered by the stepper, but still moving right along. No sound with this. It is also rather large.

For those that may nly have woodworking tools, I show the last two pics. Forget that these are mounted in a Mini mill. They could be in a drill press. I used a Forstner bit and a brad point bit to mill out the aluminum block for the motor mount. Aluminum can be done with woodworking tools. I also cut up the 3/4" plates on a Ryobi BT3100 tablesaw with the stock blade. It works really well. Judicious use of candle wax is suggested to give very smooth cuts.

Video. (http://www.leestyron.com/images/gantrygo.swf)

03-24-2005, 07:08 PM
Interesting to know a forester bit will cut ally.

Could'nt have been a standard blade in your table saw was it !!

03-24-2005, 08:03 PM
The Forsner bit needs to be sharp and preferably NOT Tin coated like the one I am using. This coating doesn't work the best for aluminum. You have to take it easy with it, but it will shave off foil thickness chips.
The blade in the tablesaw is the one that comes with the Ryobi BT3100. It is made by Freud and is a 10" 36 or 40 tooth carbide tipped thin kerf blade. Nothing special about it. You have to go a little slower than with wood, but it cut it nearly as clean as the mill did. I satuate the cut line with candle wax.
Of course I had a top quality blade guard with dust collection on it, but thats another story.
I don't think they sell these BT's over in your neck of the woods anymore, but it is one amazing saw. Dirt cheap too. They nearly pay you to take one. ;)
If anyone is interested in just what this little saw can do, Google a search for BT3Central and check out Sam's site. Its where I hang my hat. :rainfro:

03-24-2005, 10:28 PM
What are these Ryobi power tools like, I do see them now and again over here but generally thought they were not very good, maybe I am wrong.

03-24-2005, 10:59 PM
Cutting *some* aluminum can be done with woodworking tools. There are many grades of aluminum and some are soft and gummy and are a pain to cut even with "proper" tools. The harder grades fare better though the -T6 temper grades get pretty hard.

I've always had low expectations of Ryobi myself, staying with Makita and Milwaukee and Porter-Cable.

Last year I needed a small buffer to wax and polish my truck and I ran across a Ryobi 6" RO duffer kit complete with case for $20. I figured at that price it was disposable if I at least got one good detailing out of it.

As it turns out it's really pretty decent, more than adequate power decent size and ballance, really nothing to complain about. So it seems that at least some of the Ryobi products aren't bad.

Pete C.

03-25-2005, 09:14 PM
The aluminum that I use mostly is 6061. This isn't real soft, but not the hardest either. I don't recall what the temper was on the 3/4" plate. If I was going to be cutting a lot of plate, I might look into a specila blade, but this blade did do a fine job.
As for Ryobi tools, I really have mixed feelings about them. They have good and bad products. The BT tablesaws are standout as far as design and cost go. It's a bunch of saw for $299. High precision that you do not find with many of the lower end tablesaws. I am on my second one, because my Father in Law had to have mine after he seen what it is capable of.
Anyway, I have had to return a couple of Ryobi tools. They simply were not up to par. Bad designs. This was a biscuit joiner and a 16" scroll saw. The other Ryobi tool that I do own is the 9" bandsaw. BS901.
It is small, but don't let its size fool ya. It is a little work horse. It cuts any grade aluminum that I have tried. Bimetal blade, of course. So.....two absolutely great tools and two returns. About a 50-50 shot as to it being a keeper. :)
No more progress on the router yet. Sometime soon, with a little luck.

03-25-2005, 09:33 PM
6061 and 6082-T6 machine very well, and are the standard used in most aircraft that I work on in my day job. Very good quality ally.
6063 is great for tube easy bent and won't snap/break when bent like 6082 but is a bit soft for machining.

03-28-2005, 03:08 AM
Here is a question. This one should be simple. After contemplating over and over about the lead screws, I decided to order ball screws for the remaining y and z axes. I chose 5/8" screws with a 13/64" screw lead. Now my x axis is 5/8 8 thread. These are similar in rotational distance, I think. How would I allow for the differences of the screws on a particular axis? Is this something I might set in Mach 2?

Next question. I ordered these ball screws from Mcmaster Carr. Why was this particular size so much cheaper than all the rest? Is this just a larger used size?
Catalog page 960. Part number 5966K26 and the ball nut is 5966K16.
Thanks in advance for a little enlightenment. :)

03-28-2005, 07:24 AM
Here is a question. This one should be simple. After contemplating over and over about the lead screws, I decided to order ball screws for the remaining y and z axes. I chose 5/8" screws with a 13/64" screw lead. Now my x axis is 5/8 8 thread. These are similar in rotational distance, I think. How would I allow for the differences of the screws on a particular axis? Is this something I might set in Mach 2?

Yes, just set it in the software. Each axis can use different screws, if you like.

Why was this particular size so much cheaper than all the rest? Is this just a larger used size?

Yes again.

03-31-2005, 09:25 AM
Thanks. I went ahead and ordered the other ball screw and nut from Mcmaster Carr for my x axis. These look to be nice units for the price. I might as well make them all three the same since its much more efficient. I was worried about the wear on the brass nuts anyway. They may have worked well, but I wouldn't want to have to switch this all out later if there was a problem.

Now these ball screws and nuts are made by Thompson. They come seperately of course. Are there any particulars to watch out for when installing the nut on the screw? I sure don't want to drop the ball(s). :)
They have a cardboard tube holding the balls in place now. Do I simply and extremely cautiously thread one in while pushing the tube out the other side with the screw?
Thanks in advance. :)

03-31-2005, 09:52 AM
Lee, here is what I have done.

Note: The balls will fall out if you aren't careful!

I had the ends of my ball screws turned down for bearings and coupler attachments. This diameter fit perfectly inside the cardboard tube that came with the nut.
I cut the plastic tie and carefully placed the tube and nut over the end of the ballscrew.

I held the assembly vertical and the nut more or less just threaded itself onto the screw. The tube just pushed right out the top.

Hold your hand on the screw below the nut so it doesn't spin down and fall off the bottom.

It's very easy.

03-31-2005, 10:38 AM
Thanks Trent. That sounds about like how I imagined it should go. Confirmation is appreciated. You mean the weight of the nut will spin down the ball screw without having to turn it by hand?
Well, that is efficient. :)

04-08-2005, 08:16 PM
Well, just another small update.
I now have the machine back to where it was before I ordered the ball screws. I have the ball screw milled for the x axis. Man! That is some tough steel. ;) It was all my little mini lathe could do to get it milled down right. I did use carbide cutters, but I think this was actually more than what is recommended to be cutting with a ML. Only four more turnings in hardened rod, though. It will handle that.
What I had to do was to adjust everything tighter than normal to keep the carriage from moving out of the way instead of cutting.
I had anothet ML that I sold to my Father in Law. I had that one tuned already, but never really did much to this one. I can see that I will have to work on it some. Just a little too lucy goosy. I normally just cut brass with it, so I hadn't seen a problem with that.

I have also decided to make my Y axis similar to the X. Two tracks. You see one in the photo's above. I am making an identical one for the front of the gantry.
I think this might yeild the best results. I will be using a PC 690 router in the Z. There seems to be enough roon for everything. I have some small THK rails for the Z axis.
The only diffeence other than the distance apart between the X and Y will be that the ball screw will be on one side only. That hopefully shouldn't present a problem.
Does anyone foresee any problem with my Z axis ball screw and motor being in the center between the two Y tracks? Off to one side if looking straight on from the long end of the X. Most of the ones I have looked at are behind the router near the Y lead screw.
If I get a chance, I will draw up a little something to help visualize my intent.
Thanks for looking Guys.
Hopefully have another update soon.

04-14-2005, 07:18 AM
Here are a couple of photo's of the build so far. These show some progress with the front rail and the trollies for the Y axis. The router will of course, be inside these rails and the Z axis movement will be on the right side as you look at it in these pics.

One drawback I see is that access to bit changing won't be a easy. Doable certainly, but not optimal. I think that the rigidity of the Y will be worth the trade off though. Since the machine is so small, it is easy enough to reach it from any side.

I will have to add two plates. One on either side of the Gantry to catch the lead screw for the Y axis. There simply wasn't room between the rails for both the Z and the Y drive line.
I am using 3/4" aluminum plate for the base of the Z and it will have an ear at the top rear of this plate that will catch the ball nut.

I used adjustable Delrin pads under the rails for the X axis. This seems to be a good soloution to keep it from lifting so far. I will use this same technique on the Y axis trolly.

From the looks of the way everything is working out so far, I should see about a 22" by 36" capability with the Cutty Shark 1. :)
Thanks for looking and thoughts, warnings and comments are always welcome.

04-14-2005, 10:56 AM
Is there anyway you could make a sort of quick release clamp so you could remove the whole router when changing bits.

04-14-2005, 07:21 PM
Well Duh! Heck yes I can. :)
Thats how I have used it since I bought it. Its upside down in my router table and it mounts with a quick rel;ease. Thanks for the idea. I might have hit on it myself later on, but you most likely saved me a lot of work. :)

I almost decided to raise the gantry some as well as widen it. I would only have had to replace the two sides, but there was a whole bunch of precision drilling and tapping that went into those already.

There is always the Cutty Shark 2. :)
Thanks again for the idea.

04-15-2005, 03:35 AM
Lee, do you think using a grinder as the cutting tool, together with the lathe to spin the rod would have been useful?


04-15-2005, 08:10 AM
Hi John. If it is a lathe mounted grinder, it would probably work okay. My motor drive end had to be turned to 1/2" and 1/4". The lazy end had to be 1/2" and 3/8".
I had to use smooth jaws in the chuck.
I imagine if you had a good grinder mounted on a decent wood lathe, you could turn these hardened shafts on it.
For a mini lathe though, it really needs to be tuned up first.
Once I found out, it went okay, but slow. :)

04-20-2005, 07:59 PM
Here's the next installment. A few photo's of the Z axis so far. I still need to make a quick release mount with a cam lock for the PC router. That should be easy compaired to all the precision drilling and tapping that went on for THK rails. :) It was .....um....fun? :rolleyes:
These two axes work just as smoothly now as the X. I am pleased so far. I will need a retainer or spacer bar on this side of the Z axis after I get the router clamp in. This will keep the four outer bearings loaded and square.
I have some 3/8" steel angle that I will attach all the ball nuts to. I actually had four nuts on hand that are the same size and thread as the ball nuts. This will make retaining them a breeze. I currently have some aluminum block mounted on the X. This will be replaced by the steel angle. Much thinner and more rigid.
The drive for the Y will be on the back side of the Z on the taller plate. I will also need another plate on either end of the gantry.
I have determined that since I will mostly be cutting lexan with this, I will also build a vacuum clamping system for it. Shouldn't be too difficult.
Anyone know what the correct name is for those spring loaded ball valves that are used on a lot of the clamping tables?
Know where I can find them?
Thats all for now, I reckon. It is coming along.....:)

04-20-2005, 08:34 PM
Vacumn table is a must, I have been cutting lexan and it gets sucked up in the middle, also the cuttings get underneath and that also holds it up from the table.
Looking at building one myself, I wonder could you use the spring loaded balls that are used for cubboard door latches.

04-21-2005, 04:12 AM
For a temporary solution, how about double sided carpet tape?

04-21-2005, 06:19 AM
Sounds like a good idea, have you tried it?

04-21-2005, 06:39 AM
No, but I've heard it mentioned for that sort of thing a bit in my surfings.
check this http://www.cnczone.com/forums/showthread.php?t=6001&page=1
Screwfix do a heavy duty double sided tape (Quote# 39599) for fixing floor tiles for ~£9
for 50mm X 50m. Looks like it could be handy stuff to have to hand.

04-21-2005, 08:01 AM
That double sided tape is similar to what I use now. I use 3 small drops of hot glue. There is cleanup after each part is milled. It doesn't take long, but its a step that I would like to eliminate.
Another problem with the tape is the plastic protective wrap that is on polycarbonate. This can release prematurely when I use the hot glue. I imagine it could do the same with the tape. Another issue with the tape is when do you replace it? After each use? That could get a little costly. Use it four times. Will it release on you early from being used too often?
The parts that I am milling will cost about $7 or $8 bucks each just for the material. Sure don't want many scrap parts. :)
Now the vacuum table that I am thinking about will cost very little. With a $10 venturi pump from Harbor Freight being the heart of it. I already have one that I used on my trucks AC conversion.
The next part would be the sacrificial MDF table top. With a few fittings attached to the bottom of the table, I should be able to pull about 30 pounds of vacuum on a part. The parts will have clamps or locators around the perimeter of the stock, so the vacuum need only hold it down flat. With some hose and a few valves from the Surplus Center, the whole thing shouldn't cost more than about $50 tops.
I will make different zones. One zone will just smaller and the same shape as the parts I am cutting out. The next zone will expand this area to the right side and about half of the X's length. The other two would split the last half of the table into two more zones. If I am running my normal part, I need only use the one zone designed just for that. With larger or different shaped parts, I can use the other zones as needed and cover the opening with some rubber sheeting that I have. Even plastic wrap would seal it, I think. A shower curtain liner comes to mind as well.
I will draw up some plans of what I intend to use. That will make it a little more clear. This design won't even need the little spring plunger valve thingies. :)

04-21-2005, 09:55 AM

What cutters, speeds etc are you using when cutting polycarbonate, how much of a cut each time.

04-21-2005, 10:09 PM
I have been cutting the parts to within 1/4" or .5 cm on a bandsaw first. Then I use a Dewalt trim router with a 3/8" flush trim bit 2 fluted with a bearing. I attach two sides to a template with hot glue. I rout flush at 30,000 rpm. The thickness is 3/16" and I have used 1/4". I then go to the router table and round ovr. Then I pull the parts off the template and run two dados with a 3/16" straight cutter using jigs.
It takes some time to do a bunch. The hardest part is glueing all these parts together square.
Now with the CNC, I intend to make both sides and the top and front of these parts all out of one piece.
I will need to use a 90 degree cutter where the parts will fold on each other.
It will also cut out for the dust port so that I don't have drill out that part. I will have to change bits once. I will cut the 90 cuts in several first and then use the straight cutter for the rest. All in all, it should really make a much better product for me. I have played with doing this same design by hand, but it would take some kind of fancy jigs to accomplish it. :(
I think CNC is my friend. :)

05-06-2005, 08:13 AM
Man! I sure can run on. :D
Sorry about that. I will have some more photo's a little later this evening. I have been finishing up my Z axis. Hope to get to work on the remaining Y as well. Its coming along. I would like to take this time to make a suggestion to those that don't enjoy precision drilling and tapping. Run! Don't walk away from this thread. Nothing here but trouble for you. :wave:

There certainly is a lot of it. So far, I have the remnants of two small taps in holes that were intended to be cap screws. Non-critical areas though where I could drill another hole right beside the hardened scrap steel filled ones. Those 4 flute things are trouble. I am now only buying the two flute spiral cobalt taps. Don't think I'll break these suckers. Also, candle wax works wonders to lube these up for tapping aluminum.

More to come.
Thanks for looking.

05-06-2005, 09:12 PM
Okay, here's a few more photo's.
I am getting close, I think. With any luck, I will get to test drive it tomorrow evening.
I'll let ya'll know how it goes. :)
You know, this forum is for wood routers. I don't have much wood in this one. The bottom shelf will be plywood and I'm pretty sure I'll be using MDF for the deck. Does that count? ;)
I'm getting antzy.

05-06-2005, 10:29 PM
That's wood routers as in routing wood. Not what material they are made of. :)

05-07-2005, 11:43 AM
I am now only buying the two flute spiral cobalt taps. Don't think I'll break these suckers. Also, candle wax works wonders to lube these up for tapping aluminum.

Try WD-40 for aluminum, ATF for steel, and bacon fat for cast iron. Once you cannot easily turn the tap, back it out...I mean any little hang up when you can tell it isn't cutting freely. Use the largest handle you can muster, always a T handle so that you can keep the pressure equalized on both sides of the tap. FWIW, just a few guidlines that I have been taught over the years.

05-07-2005, 04:48 PM
"Don't think I'll break these suckers."
with misuse you can break anything, parrafin for aluminium which probably translates
to kerosine for aluminum ( in americun)
as to your router nice bit'o'kit i think it will perform well.

05-08-2005, 01:04 AM
parrafin for aluminium which probably translates
to kerosine for aluminum ( in americun

Don't know if you where joking or not, but parrafin is still regular old wax in this goofy U.S.

05-08-2005, 07:43 AM
Thanks for the feedback Guys.
I was doing 90% of the threading with a cordless drill. I know that this method is prone to breaking taps, but the spiral type seem to do a better job than the four flute anyway. Anything as large as 1/4-20 or 6mm are tapped by hand though.
I have been using the wax to drill or tap aluminum with good results.
I use Mobil 1 for steel. Haven't done much cast iron, and what I have done is raw. I'll give WD40 a squirt in the future. Gotta be easier to clean up. :)
I did accomplish just a little more yesterday. Things never go as planned. I spent a lot of time with my control panel and setting up the motors and Mach 2. Come to find out, some of the prblems I was experiencing with this initially was with the cordless keyboard I was using. It was cutting out even with brand new batteries. No matter. It was well used when I replaced it on my desktop.
I hope to have some more photo's this PM.

05-08-2005, 08:18 AM
Don't know if you where joking or not, but parrafin is still regular old wax in this goofy U.S.

I believe he meant that kerosene is called parrafin in the U.K. He was talking about using Kerosene.

05-09-2005, 10:55 PM
Well, almost there now. The only thing standing between me and the completed Cutty Shark 1 is a piece of MDF.
Everything else is set to go. I have to put the control box under the router as well as the monitor. I have already ran all three motors and got them tweaked pretty good on the table. :)
I am sure this will need to be done some more.

I will also need to install home and limit switches. I have them, just haven't read up on it yet. I'll make sure to set the soft limits though. Also need an emergency stop real bad. I have a switch on the control panel for the Zylotex and another for the PS and a third for the fans. Can one of these three toggles be used in case of emergency? Will it hurt the Zylo to kill the power?

I did run into a problem with a cordless keyboard while jogging the motors. I'm glad it happened on the table and not while they were hooked up. My Z motor kept on jogging and jogging after I had released the key. It wouldn't take anymore input from the keyboard. I wound up hitting the reset because I had time to think about it.
Anyway, I'll finish her up tomorrow for testing purposes at least.
Here are some more photo's. :banana:

05-09-2005, 11:48 PM
There are things in life that just dont go very well together. Swimming with concrete blocks chained to your ankles. Driving while blind. Skiing in the dark. And, of course, wireless CNC control. You'd be better off scratching that whole scheme now, before something gets trashed. Just my humble opinion. Looks great!

05-10-2005, 12:11 AM
Thanks Halfnutz. Lesson learned. :)
The wireless stuff is in the trash. Keyboards are way too cheap to be screwing around with an old one that I had already replaced on my computer.
I have absolutely learned a bunch with this project and I ain't done learnin yet. Not by a long shot. Still just crawling actually. ;)

05-10-2005, 12:59 AM
So have I, I'm new to this stuff myself, Thats why its so fun I geusse, theres so much to learn.

05-10-2005, 03:44 AM
I have the same linksys wireless on my cnc and works good for me, i use it to keep an eye on the machine while its cutting with pcanywhere, have not had a problem yet.

05-10-2005, 05:04 AM
It's the wireless keyboard and mouse that I got rid of. I still have it networked to the house with the wireless linksys. I only thought that was more of a convenience than anything else. It never even occured to me that I could keep an eye on it using a house access point. It never really occured to me that it could run by itself without me watching. Wow. That's cool. :wee: You see, I do still have a lot to learn.

05-19-2005, 05:31 AM
Just to update a little. I have the router finished somewhat. All is built. I am installing the Homers and limits now. I did build an detatchable dust collection sheild for it. It seems to work pretty good. This part was a must. So far, it has only cut out the Roadrunner from Mach 3's program. I am evaluating Sheet Cam and think it looks and works well with Mach3.
My problem has been with regard to getting the switches to actuate or get Mach 3 to acknowledge actuation.
I have the 3 axis Xylotex and installed according to Jeff's schematics on the site. I wired the three homes in parallel. Normally closed. I used some regular old 10k resistors from Radio Shack. How many Ohms is that? 10,000?
I have my home switches on x and y at zero and set the software limits .5" ast there at the actual limits at -0.5". On my z however, the home is at about 4 with the actual top of z set in software limits at +4.5 or so.
There is a little room for fluctuation here. Z unlike x and y has no physical limit switch and x and y are in series. Any help on this would be appreciated.
Photo's will soon follow.
Thanks for looking. Man this stuff is fun. :)

05-19-2005, 08:00 AM
There is your problem, you have the NC switches wired in parallel. Therefore, the circuit NEVER is seen as open! Wire the switches in series and things will begin to happen.
To wire in parallel, they would have to be NO, which I don't recommend for a safety switch such as this, because if a wire were to break or come loose the circuit would never close and you would loose this vital operation.

05-19-2005, 10:14 AM
Thanks for your help, Bubba. It seemed a little odd to me to call it parallel. Here is the link to the PDF with the schematic for the Homers.
It says its parallel to each other, but its not really, I don't think. They each are actually a separate circuit using a different input pin.
The limit switches are in series because both are on the same pin and linked common to the NC contact on the next. Then to gound.
These always have 5 volts on them. This is where the resistor comes into play. When closed they are getting 5 volts through the resistor and ground. This is low. When open they aren't getting the ground. This would then be HIGH?
If I have used the wrong resistors, then these won't be within tolerances that will activate a high or low difference enough to register. I am not any good at all with electronics, but if I'm having a problem with these, I would think the resistors is where its at.
Anymore input? High or low at this point would really help. :D

05-19-2005, 01:50 PM
OK, IF you wired the home switches as shown (with the resistor between the switch and the connector), AND you have setup Mach3 to point to the appropriate pins, it should work.
I do not use Machx so I am shooting in the dark here. You not only have to tell my controller program the pin numbers, but whether they are active high or active low. Also unless the board or the software handle it, pin 11 is inverted to the rest of the pins.
Maybe somebody more familar with Mach can jump in here.

05-19-2005, 09:22 PM
Thanks again, Bubba. I think that I do have them setup right. In config inputs on Mach 3, when I flip the switch one way or the other makes no difference. The only thing I can tell different when I switch them is an led in the Mach 3 diagnostics page switches to yellow.
Is anyone using both Mach X and a Xylotex drive? I realize this isn't where this should be posted here to get the most traffic, but it is a log of my build. I have been logging all my issues and solutions here so I might as well continue. I also asked this on the Mach Yahoo Group without an answer yet. I think its time to hit up Jeff and the Xylotex group.
Thanks again.

05-15-2006, 10:24 AM
Way past time for a final update on this one. My machine is complete. I have finally overcome all the software learning curves.
I have had the Cutty Shark runing for about three months now.
I get good results with it. I love the thing. :)
The problem I was having with my switches turned out to be a connector issue. I was using the piggy back snap lock type on some and they just weren't getting good contact. As soon as I replaced them, all was okay.
I didn't use a vacuum table. This machine is dedicated to cutting three parts all at once. It has cam cl;amps holding the parts in place. If I want to cut something else, I pull the whole MDF table top off and install another.
I did manage to get a touch screen monitor for it. I like it and I am working on a screen in Mach 3 that has just the stuff I need and bigger buttons for the touch screen.
I am already gathering parts for my next project. I will be converting an X2 mill over to CNC and replacing the screws with ball screws.
I will start another log on it.
Here is the final pic.

05-15-2006, 12:27 PM
Nice pic of the monitor.....

05-15-2006, 07:18 PM
LeeWay, how much would you charge to make up one of those router holders for me? I love the quick release design!

05-15-2006, 08:42 PM
LeeWay, how much would you charge to make up one of those router holders for me? I love the quick release design!
Cansir, I'm really not setup to do that stuff yet. I can mill thin aluminum with the router, but I wouldn't want to try thick stuff. I did make a one off the old fashioned way. Lots of work. It does, however work extremely well. I'll bet there are guys on here with a CNC'ed mill that will make it for you. I am in the process of converting my mill and if I were done, I'd gladly make it for you. All I really used was a bandsaw and an edge belt sander to get the profile. Drilling them was the easy part.

Viper, you take after my own heart. I like seeing pics too. :cool:
Here is a link to a photo.

Here is a video clip that is rather large. Just to hear the steppers. These are running at 60 IPM. Don't even click the link if you are on dialup. It's a flash file and took me about 20 seconds on DSL.


I have another photo's of the parts for my mill that I won on Ebay. I am liking these. :cheers:


05-16-2006, 01:02 PM
Cansir, I'm really not setup to do that stuff yet. I can mill thin aluminum with the router, but I wouldn't want to try thick stuff. I did make a one off the old fashioned way. Lots of work. It does, however work extremely well. I'll bet there are guys on here with a CNC'ed mill that will make it for you. I am in the process of converting my mill and if I were done, I'd gladly make it for you. All I really used was a bandsaw and an edge belt sander to get the profile. Drilling them was the easy part.
Well, I have a bandsaw and a belt sander so I guess I'll go down the "lot's of hard work road" once again. :) So where can a person buy the cam-clamp thingies (y'know - the blue lever do-hickies in your photo's) ?


05-16-2006, 01:28 PM

05-16-2006, 06:13 PM
Thanks for the link LeeWay! Much appreciated!

06-19-2006, 06:50 AM
A little more progress.


07-28-2006, 10:46 AM
Okay, Guys.
I have had to use a belt drive on the x axis after I found out that the little Lovejoy coupling just wasn't beefy enough and also allowed too much backlash. The belt and geras are because once I installed a solid coupler I made of brass, I had some issues with the motor alignment to the screw. I turned these screws myself and they aere not perfect. Belt and cogs should take care of this issue and let me speed it back up some.
The pulleys I got are 14 teeth on the motor side and 21 teeth on the screw side. Isn't this a 1 to 1.5 ratio?
I currently have the motor set to 8000 steps per inch. Would the new configuration be like 12,000 SPI? It just can't be that simple can it? :eek:

07-28-2006, 03:21 PM
To answer my own question, yes, it is that simple. That is the right amount of steps for the gears I used and the ratio of 1 to 1.5.

10-01-2007, 08:07 AM
Thought you might be interested in an upgrade I was forced to make this past week. I was having some computer issues with the case I built. I have had another complete drive system sitting here waiting until I get time to finish my plasma cutter. You can see that thread here.
Here is an image of the basic machine controller and a closeup of the Gecko's.


I was really amazed at the difference between the two control systems. I was getting 50 IPM with the Xylotex and I can go over 300 IPM with the Gecko's. Wow! What a difference. 28VDC with the Xylotex and 62vdc with the Gecko 201's. These are direct drive.

I bought three 203v's yesterday as a backup. I did figure out what was messing me up on the first computer. It was a bad ram chip. I replaced the bad one and it is good to go now as well. After seeing the gecko's in action, I am probably going to sell the original as a plug and play setup. Computer, PS, Xylotex 3 axis driver, fans, case, motors and all wiring. The ram chip is the only thing that has ever failed on it the way it is setup, so I am pretty confident that it would make a good starter system for someone and save quite a bit of time and frustration. You may eventually see it on Ebay. If someone here is interested, just make an offer.

01-07-2008, 01:40 PM
A little video update. Had the video for a little while now, but just finally uploaded it to YouTube.


04-23-2008, 09:03 AM
I can't seem to edit the last post. That video link went dead.
Here is the new link.
<object width="425" height="355"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/iSeBz-YqLb4&hl=en"></param><param name="wmode" value="transparent"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/iSeBz-YqLb4&hl=en" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="425" height="355"></embed></object>