Newbie Ebay Chinese 6040 CNC Router Review


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Thread: Ebay Chinese 6040 CNC Router Review

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    Default Ebay Chinese 6040 CNC Router Review

    About two months ago I decided to purchase one of the 6040 4 axis CNC Chinese routers off of Ebay, it is tan in color and has not manufacture or identifying trade marks on it. I did this mostly for the project aspect of it as well as for wanting to use it for a couple of projects. Overall the machine is fairly well built and solid. If I had to pick the weakest point of the machine I would have to say the aluminum slats for the table flex a little but not to a point of where it is really an issue. I have purchased a few extras that I have to install and those are home limit switches, a different motion controller along with Mach 4 software, it came with a "cracked" version of Mach 3. I have experience in programming/operating SMT pick and place machines and I have no experience with a CNC routers but the two types of machines software and functionality are similar enough in theory that the CNC is for the most part basically the same. There are little to no formal instructions with the CNC but the vendor or importer did answer and resolve any questions/issues I had, which were mostly software driver issues. Once I got the PC to communicate via the USB port with the controller and watched a few short videos on the Mach 3 software I ran a few tests and everything worked as expected. I have no complaints with accuracy or repeatability, which was the first thing I tested and as I stated I found no issues with either.

    I purchased a Dell desktop computer from ebay to use as a controller and went with the suggested configuration of 32 bit Windows 7, which was fairly inexpensive as well. One of the reason I chose to upgrade the motion controller was so that I could upgrade to Mach 4 which is compatible with Windows 10 OS and faster 64bit computer. As it is currently configured I have no issues with the Windows 7 or version of Mach 3 that was supplied with the machine. I am interested in possibly getting a faster computer to be able to better handle some of the CAD and CAM software I am using versus having to do that work on my laptop and transferring the finished gcode files. The motion controller and Mach 4 bundle added about another $350 to the price but again is not necessary.
    One of the first test projects I did was to create a chess pawn using the 4th rotary axis. I assumed I would be able to eaily find at the very least a good drawing of chess pieces on the internet but was quickly educated that there are not a lot of drawings suitable for just importing to a cad program and generating the gcode in order to cut one on a 4 axis mill. I did eventually come across some stl files that I converted to an autocad dxl file that gave me a starting point. The biggest challenge I have had so far in regards to the CNC is finding the software to create the gcode.

    I have autocad so creating dxl drawings or importing them was not really an issue for me. I also found a few free gcode generating programs for 2d work that I was able to run some tests with that worked well also. The challenge I found was finding inexpensive or free software to generate gcode for a 4th or rotary axis. I did find a some called gmax which I think was originally designed for 3d video game building applications but another company called CNC toolkit built an add on or macro that then handles the cnc gcode generating for 4 axis cnc mills. It does take a little time to figure out how to use the software. I found a couple of videos and written documentation on the internet of people demonstrating the software and I had to pay close attention to the details of those videos and once I successfully turned the chess pawn, I had a pretty good understanding of the various controls used in the gmax and cnc toolkit software. As I stated earlier this software was free and I was not necessarily looking for free but was hoping for at least fairly inexpensive for hobby purposes and now that I have used the software on two small projects I feel I am proficient enough in it to say that it does pretty much everything I need and I don't really have a need to trial any other software. The biggest challenge was finding the software for creating gcode and tootpaths that was actually designed for a 4th axis machine and then learn how to use it. I still have some things or functions that I need to figure out or become a little more efficient with but overall for my purposes investing any more time in researching other software probably won't add much benefit for me at this time.

    Newfangled Solutions is the creator of the Mach software and has excellent support for their product. I contacted them with a few questions I had with the Mach 3 that I got with the CNC and they helped me out knowing that it was most likely a boot legged version and prior to my interest in upgrading to their Mach 4, which they did not push or give me any sales pitch on. The motion controller I chose was PMDX along with the daughter board for the VFD control for my spindle.

    Overall I wrote this little review in hopes that it will offer some help to any other entry level or newbies to the CNC hobby along with some helpful information that may help them in their own ventures. I have no allegiance or obligations to any companies I mentioned but am thankful for their assistance in my project and believe they deserve mention for their great service/support. The Chinese machine I purchased I have to say is satisfactory for my needs, works as expected and does take an little R&D to figure out how to set up and run but with a little effort in researching on the internet and reading forums can be mastered. In the end I found that most of the challenges or issues I had, were ones that others had and there were solutions or tips published on the internet in either written documentation or videos.

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    Default Re: Ebay Chinese 6040 CNC Router Review

    Thanks for the post! I'm in the verge of pulling the trigger on one. Do you mind sharing which seller you picked it up from?



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    Default Re: Ebay Chinese 6040 CNC Router Review

    Thanks for posting! I'm also just starting out.

    I run that type of Mach 3 setup with the USB driver in Windows 10, and it's been working fine. I keep it disconnected from the network. And I wouldn't recommend installing any software beyond the basics for working with files, applications that don't add system services, that kind of thing.

    If I wanted to use one machine, I might stick with Windows 7, even. But I had a small passively-cooled PC, already running Windows 10, that was perfect for the shop.

    I would advise don't worry too much about the 4th axis for the time being. On CAM: you should get the hobby license for Fusion 360. As I understand, it can do most of what HSMWorks can do. I just like HSMWorks a lot because I've already worked with Solidworks.

    The flex in the bed is the same situation as on my OMIO X6. Set up a 3/4" or so table made out of MDF or HDPE that's clamped down at the widest possible extent on the aluminum. I had to make it in four operations (quadrants), moving the piece into the working area. Then cut or install t-track and you have a work surface analogous to what's used on the large routers. You can mill it perfectly flat, and have a much more accurate surface for working with thin materials.



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    Default Re: Ebay Chinese 6040 CNC Router Review

    I believe the name of the company i got mine from was called honestdentalshop.
    ​I have no real reason for choosing this vendor other than maybe price but the machine I researched a little and compared it to another style that has a black colored controller that appeared to maybe have had issues more so from reviews that I read. There are many vendors on ebay that sell the tan colored ones like the one I purchased but basically all offer the same thing. I have to state that I am a realist to some degree and I prepared to not have much support as I figured these were just importers of various products. However, I was satisfied with the resolutions to my software issues I had that the company provided. I communicated only through the ebay message page or email with the vendor and they did get me the necessary software needed to resolve my issues in a timely fashion. In regard to technical questions they are very limited and generally referred me to a few tutorial videos or there own written instructions and such for answers. Overall the internet in general supplied me a lot of information and I found the biggest challenges or things I had to learn was not about the cnc mill itself but rather the software needed to get the project from paper to the material on the mill bed so-to-speak. Once you are able to operate the cnc from the computer via the mach 3 or whatever you have for cnc controller software then rest is all really about how to use it via the various software options available for creating the projects you want to do. The only thing I don't really know at this point is what is the durability and longevity of these machines and I have not found any history of that on the net either so I guess I will find that out in time but as I stated, the machine to me looks well put together and of sturdy construction in general.

    Last edited by smav; 03-14-2018 at 01:58 PM.


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    Default Re: Ebay Chinese 6040 CNC Router Review

    Thanks for the advice. I was thinking about building a different bed and will be probably going along the lines you suggested. I did figure out and get fairly handy in short amount of time in using the 4th axis in regards to engraving on cylinders and turning simple objects like the chess pawn and now I am on to see if I can carve a knight, which is a horse head, for my next experiment. One other thing I would like to add for other new users is that it is a good idea, well for me anyway, to take notes on how you did things or set things up. I wrote some quick gcode programs for things like turning a dowel so that it is true to the rotary axis and spindle as well as one for planing a flat surface when you engrave or mill on it the depths are all equal. In the lines of gcode I added notes where I wanted to make sure I could easily identify the function or purpose for particular lines. For example, since the the size of a flat board will change from one project to the next or travel direction I mill in may change I add a short note to the line that dictates travel distance and direction. The program for those two particular tasks is only a few lines so they are easy to read and figure out but in some of the longer ones where there are several hundred or thousands of lines I added some notes for places I may want to change the depth (z axis) and such depending on material used.

    Also I have a running word doc with miscellaneous notes that I make in regards to machine configuration, setup and so on just for quick reference for mach 3 setting and such. As I stated before I had to do a little R&D on getting the drivers for the motion control board installed and I put some notes in that document in regards to the driver name and file locations and such in the event I transfer to a different computer or need for some other reason.

    I also took a few notes on the various software I trialed when searching for cam software as well as the steps on how I used in in regards to how I imported pictures, drawings and so on for converting to gcode. I found on the internet where someone made a simple flow chart of what is needed to take a drawing, picture or whatever from it's native configuration to a gcode file, which made it pretty simple to figure out how to get from point a to b. One of the first items I experimented with was a logo I had in a JPEG format and engraved that on a board and once I found the flow chart it gave me clear direction in the process and the type of software I was needing to locate in order to accomplish my task. There are also some online gcode generators for doing such things as converting text to gcode for flat surfaces as well as cylinders on the a axis.

    I agree with the keeping it simple in regards to the software installed as while I was testing or trialing various cad and gcode generating software my desktop got kind of cluttered up with stuff I tried and then disregarded for one reason or another. Also I figured out right away to stay on top of your data files like your gcode, dfx drawings, JPEG and so on that you use for your projects. mach 3 has a folder for example labeled "GCODE" and I had some save there, in mydocuments and other places and then realized I better get on top of being consistent in keeping them organized and in one location or folder. This makes managing them much easier. This kind of came to light for me when I had to convert some dfx files to an older revision for the version of autocad I have and I couldn't find the version I needed once I converted the newer version to an earlier one. Same for gcode as well as you can save them as text, nc and so on, you may not see the file you want if your windows explorer window has the selection under file name set to be looking for a particular file extension. If it is set to txt and you are looking for a gcode file you saved as a tap file it won't show up. Anyway I appreciate the feedback and hope my trial and error feedback helps others as well. Again there is a lot of value in taking notes as you figure things as well as keeping in mind there is a lot of information out there on the internet if you are willing to do some simple searches you will be able to learn a lot from others who much more knowledgeable than I am.



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    Default Re: Ebay Chinese 6040 CNC Router Review

    UPDATE TO UPGRADING TO SMART BOB AND MACH 4---a few days back I started on the project of swapping out the OEM motion controller with a PMDX-414 and PMDX-407 controller for the vfd/spindle. In short if you have one of these Chinese machines such as found on ebay that comes with the Mach 3 you really will gain nothing from doing this upgrade, time and money investment in my opinion is not really worth it. The version of Mach 3 my machine came with does everything that I ever needed and I was not able to identify any limitations for a 4 axis mill.the mach 4 does not have all of the options or features the Mach 3 version has installed or enabled righ out of the box. It is however capable but you have to program them in yourself. One example is keyboard inputs for machine control, mach 4 basically only has the x,y,z movements programmed in for the keyboard short cut keys and everything else you will have to add in the configuration tab. There also is virtually no information or helpful videos out on the web, other than maybe what newfangled solutions has on there site, for mach 4 so you are basically cutting a new path with the limited information that NFS supplies on their sight. I also noticed that some of there documentation appears to be written on the basis of an older version of mach 4 than what I purchase as I noticed screen shot examples in their manual differ slightly from mine. Overall I believe for a new user the Mach 3 is much more intuitive for a user than the mach 4 as well as has much more information in general published out on the web by users on it.

    Now to step in to the PMDX cards that I installed. A little resume quip here, I used to work as a manufacturing/process engineer for a company that builds class three CCAs for the aerospace and military and was also a certified J-Standard instructor. The PMDX cards I got were built well in regards to soldering and smt standards but so is the Chinese OEM card. The OEM card actually is a little larger as it contains the circuit for controlling the vfd as well, which for the $38 that the PDMX vfd control card cost, I would not waste my time on building a separate card and just integrate it in to the motion control card like the OEM. Also the PMDX card is a little thinner and basically smaller than the OEM card which in this case does not really need to be as the equipment that it will most likely go in will not be required to adhere to strict size or weight criteria such as aircraft. Also I would invest in some comformal coating do to the fact that these machines will probably be in or around dusty environments as well handled and installed by people who are most likely not primarily electronic technicians. I really received no support from several email requests sent to PDMX in regards to a spindle speed/vfd issue I had asked questions on. I did receive one response to a question on the wiring but that was it. I did a little research, after the fact, on other cards and if I were to do this again would probably go with a different supplier. I by no means want to appear to critical of any company or person but being in the service business myself, I know what is acceptable if I sell a product, I don't except excuses only good service. Basically if I had an issue I resolved it myself based off of my experience in working with VFD's, motors and circuit cards and got nothing from the internet as there is little to none out there.
    Over all the mach 3 and OEM board were very stable and did not appear to have real glitches, bugs or otherwise hang up or crash. I have several of those occurrences with this new configuration in part to include: coms loss to controller, mach 4 screen program tab could not be selected after I clicked on the tool path tab to check something on it and the PDMX-407 Aout (speed command to AVI on vfd) is not capable of achieving 0 volts dc and maintains about .353 vdc on a 0-10 volt reference which would equate to about 826 rpm on the spindle if the spindle was not turned off. The card does out put the fwd run command so this is more of a nuisance than an issue but the OEM card does out put 0 vdc when off. One last item is the PDMX is susceptible to noise and knowing how basically all of these CNC controllers are built with vfds and such should not be.

    Anyway hope this info is helpful and again in short if you have one of these machines and you have figured out how to run it and it satisfies your needs I would not worry or feel at all compelled to "upgrade" it.



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    Default Re: Ebay Chinese 6040 CNC Router Review

    PMDX's support is usually the best there is. I wonder if some messages didn't get through?

    Gerry

    UCCNC 2017 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2017.html

    Mach3 2010 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2010.html

    JointCAM - CNC Dovetails & Box Joints
    http://www.g-forcecnc.com/jointcam.html

    (Note: The opinions expressed in this post are my own and are not necessarily those of CNCzone and its management)


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    Default Re: Ebay Chinese 6040 CNC Router Review

    Quote Originally Posted by ger21 View Post
    PMDX's support is usually the best there is. I wonder if some messages didn't get through?

    Not sure but the one response I did get in regards to wiring was not very expedient. Subsequent emails that I have sent I just replied to the email I got the response from.
    On another note, on Saturday I requested from the vendor i purchased the cnc from if they could get me the vfd parameter list in English and it was in my inbox this morning.



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    Default Re: Ebay Chinese 6040 CNC Router Review

    One more update: I got everything up and running with the smart bob/mach 4 configuration. A couple of tid-bits on mach 4 that I came across was that it lacks the function or DROs to scale an axis and under keyboard configuration you are pretty limited in functions that you can map to the keyboard. I found a video that explained how to map all the other functions like e-stop and so on to the keyboard out side of the keyboard configuration page. Also I did figure out the script for adding the axis scale DRO's to the screen as they had in mach 3. As I stated previously, if you have one these Chinese machines running on mach 3 and you have found no real limitations or issues for what you are doing I would not invest the time and money in upgrading.



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