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Thread: MountainCrafts Router/Plasma Build Thread

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    Default MountainCrafts Router/Plasma Build Thread

    Greeting gurus of all things CNC...

    Okay, so I've been dreaming of this for what seems to be over a decade.. Started drooling over a TorchMate kit way back.. And was there, that I first heard of the whole 3rd axis/router capability thing... This realization made things worse on me, of course...

    So, I'm taking the plunge.. full steam ahead... The construction industry has completely died here in rural NorCal, and I'm earning way below the poverty line now, with my credit destroyed.. I'm getting too old for that line of work, and pretty much hate it anyways, so this is as good an opportunity to go in a new direction as any...

    My goal is to eventually build a Heavy duty CNC Router table in it's own (very) little building, and also a CNC plasma table in it's own (very) little building...

    Seeing as I have need for a router table 'now'.. but a plasma table requires less 'oomph' and mass.. I've decided to first build a dual use table (I know, total PITA regarding dust management and sparks), that will eventually become a plasma table after I build a Monster High HorsePower Router Table later..(Thinking MechMate)

    So this table will start out as a router table, then be modded to be dual use, then later become plasma only...

    This one is a 4'x8' 3 axis Rack and Pinion system, mostly using cncrouterparts.com mechanics...

    I have purchased the 80/20 for all three axis, the cold rolled steel for the X and Y axis, and the cold rolled steel for the z axis should be in this monday..

    I have cut the x and y axis rails, and marked and center punched them to be drilled, soon as the weather gives me a break (I need to do it outdoors)... In the below pictures, I have the X rail bearing carriages held in place with clamps, and the 3060 gantry beam just sitting on top of them... They were taken last weekend..

    Since then, I have built a wooden 'assembly table' to be used temporarily while I build the top end and work out all the dimensions.. Once the thing is 'operating' and I have my dimensions nailed down, I will build a heavy duty base table from welded steel...

    I'm hoping I can make this wooden table rigid enough to perhaps use to mill my gantry end plate towers, and to also make my router motor mount and dust collection head... Maybe if I cut 'real slow'.... If not, I'll have to pay someone to make them I guess...

    I have built the basic wooden table base, and will post pictures of that later today....





    At this time, I am planning on 12" of Z travel, and NEMA 23 motors (4 motors, 3 axis)... Between now, and when I buy the motors, I'm hoping some of you can make me feel good about the choices I've made...

    I ordered a used PC (2.3Ghz intel duo with XP pro), that I am picking up tomorrow, and all the bearing carriages, plates, acme screw, nuts, thrust washers, etc. for the Z axis should be here in the next few days...

    I like Ahrens system, because it is easy to assemble, and can easily be upgraded from NEMA 23 to NEMA 34, which is what I plan to use on the final router table machine...

    I am interested in Vectrics Cut 3D, Cut 2D, and PhotoVcarve bundle.... I have Cinema 4D studio for creating 3D files, and also illustrator and photoshop for the 2D stuff... albeit all older versions... I can upgrade to a dedicated design software later (maybe Vcarve pro)... but I'd like to hear about the pros/cons of the various software options available to me...

    I'm hoping to have the top end operational by May1st, and the base table complete by June 1st.. and then the rest of the summer to work out the kinks...

    Looking forward to getting input from those who have traveled this road before me, so that I hopefully don't stumble too much or stray off the path...


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    I forgot to mention...

    I'M EXCITED AS HELL TO BE FINALLY DOING THIS!!!




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    First Question...

    I have an extra porter cable 690 router.... All I'd need is to order another base for it, and then I could use that to make a router mount and dust collector until later on when I can afford to buy a spindle..

    As I understand it, to mill aluminum or cut plastics, I need to run at speeds much slower than routers typically run at.. So I need to use a speed controller for the router.. but not all routers can use them..

    How do I know if the PC 690 router can use a speed controller? And can I use a cheapo one like they sell at harbor freight, or do I need to get something special?

    Thanks



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    Okay, here are some pictures of where I am as of today.

    Again, this wooden version of the table, is just a mock up/assembly jig... Once I have the top end worked out, I will begin building the 2x2x0.25 steel version of the base out in the shop (where the table will be initially used)...

    anyways, I need to pick up a couple sheets of 3/4 T&G for the material bed, so that I can square the thing out, and also add some plywood sheer bracing to stiffen the whole thing up.. But as is, it's only a quarter inch out of square measured diagonal to diagonal, and the rails are less than 1/8" out of parallel (within adjustment range)...








    The thing I'm most concerned about is if I will be totally unhappy using Ahrens NEMA 23 electric kit on a table this size.... But I'm not sure if I can swing going to NEMA 34 immediately...

    Anyone tell me what I can expect in the way of performance issues using the NEMA 23 system vs the 34?

    I'm thinking that for plasma, the 23's will be adequate, but for routing/milling????

    Last edited by Mountaincraft; 03-20-2011 at 07:42 PM.


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    I have a bit more than a week to decide on steppers/drivers/PS for this table.. And I'm clueless..

    cncrouterparts has a 380 oz NEMA23 system for $665... Keling has a 465 oz NEMA 34 package sans cables for $650... both use the gecko 540, and similar power supplies.. It'll cost $120 more on the motor mount systems for the NEMA 34...

    Keling has a 640 oz kit for $900, but I don't know anything about their drivers.. same with their 906 oz kit for $1000.. Both of those last two kits are getting hurtful on th money end..

    With Gecko drives, cncrouterparts NEMA 34 system will easily be over $1k before power supply...

    I'm not sure the NEMA23 will cut it, but I rally don't know how to know that ahead of time, other than to ask for help from those who do..

    This machine will be intended to make money with, not a hobby.. ie light commercial.... I can afford smaller mistakes in this build, but not big ones, like misjudging what I need for the motor package and having to buy it twice...

    Thanks,


    [URL="http://www.cnczone.com/forums/cnc_wood_router_project_log/124543-mountaincrafts_router_plasma_build_thread.html"][U]4' x 8' CNC Wood Router Project[/U][/URL]
    [U][URL="http://www.cnczone.com/forums/woodworking/135576-home_made_drum_sander.html"]Home Made Drum Sander Project[/URL][/U]


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    a few things,

    first the router. generally if the router does NOT have a built in speed control (ie. you cant adjust the speed on the router itself) AND it does NOT have a soft start feature (it spins up quickly instead of gradually). then you can use any speed controller you wish.


    now a couple of questions. why build two tables? if you are going to make the first one dual purpose for at least a little while, why not just make it dual purpose permanently? the only reason i can think of for having two separate machines is if you are going to be running both simultaneously and almost non stop. otherwise you can save a HUGE amount of money.

    also, if you are debating going to nema 34's you should just go there from the start. otherwise you are paying for motors and mounts twice. it may be a little more up front but it will be much cheaper in the long run.

    to figure out what motors and power supplys ect. you need you have to start with the motors. you need to figure out how much weight each motor will be moving then you can figure out how fast you want it to go, with that information you can calculate how much torque you need. that will tell you the power supply requirements.

    check out gecko's site and read all the info in the faq's. it should help you quite a bit along your way. it has a bunch of the formulas you need and other info.

    Gecko FAQ



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    Thanks for the response...

    That's good news on the router! I'd really like to be able to use the one I have laying around for now, as by the time I've got this thing up and running, I have a feeling I'll be way in the poor farm (I mean more so than I already am) and exhausted....

    As for the two tables question.. It will likely be a hassle changing back and forth between functions... Then there's the whole sawdust vs sparks thing...

    That being said, I reserve the right to change my mind if I'm totally happy with the one table doing both jobs, and find the hassle and dust management to be less of an issue than I have been led to believe... In fact, I'll be tickled pink...

    [URL="http://www.cnczone.com/forums/cnc_wood_router_project_log/124543-mountaincrafts_router_plasma_build_thread.html"][U]4' x 8' CNC Wood Router Project[/U][/URL]
    [U][URL="http://www.cnczone.com/forums/woodworking/135576-home_made_drum_sander.html"]Home Made Drum Sander Project[/URL][/U]


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    ACCKKK!

    My browser is too old for that FAQ page and it formats so badly I can't read it... and the java buttons don't work..

    I'm running MacOSX 10.3.9 and can't upgrade the browser without upgrading the OS, which is a waste on an old mac..

    Oh well, that PC will be here tomorrow, and the few sites this is an issue with, I can use that to read them... until I can afford an iPad anyways (which will be a considerable ways after this thing is up and running)... generally speaking, I don't want the machine PC being used for the web much if I can help it...

    [URL="http://www.cnczone.com/forums/cnc_wood_router_project_log/124543-mountaincrafts_router_plasma_build_thread.html"][U]4' x 8' CNC Wood Router Project[/U][/URL]
    [U][URL="http://www.cnczone.com/forums/woodworking/135576-home_made_drum_sander.html"]Home Made Drum Sander Project[/URL][/U]


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    Well! That solves 'that' issue! Very cool!
    Thanks..


    [URL="http://www.cnczone.com/forums/cnc_wood_router_project_log/124543-mountaincrafts_router_plasma_build_thread.html"][U]4' x 8' CNC Wood Router Project[/U][/URL]
    [U][URL="http://www.cnczone.com/forums/woodworking/135576-home_made_drum_sander.html"]Home Made Drum Sander Project[/URL][/U]


  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mountaincraft View Post
    First Question...

    I have an extra porter cable 690 router.... All I'd need is to order another base for it, and then I could use that to make a router mount and dust collector until later on when I can afford to buy a spindle..

    As I understand it, to mill aluminum or cut plastics, I need to run at speeds much slower than routers typically run at.. So I need to use a speed controller for the router.. but not all routers can use them..

    How do I know if the PC 690 router can use a speed controller? And can I use a cheapo one like they sell at harbor freight, or do I need to get something special?

    Thanks
    I have the PC 690 LR which has the variable speed already, but I don't know how slow it goes. If you have the variable speed version, it's not recommended to use a speed controller. If it's a single speed and doesn't have the "soft start" feature, then you can use a speed controller like the Harbor Freight or Rockler models:

    Harbor Freight Router Speed Control LINK

    Rockler Router Speed Control LINK



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    Quote Originally Posted by Mountaincraft View Post
    Thanks for the response...

    That's good news on the router! I'd really like to be able to use the one I have laying around for now, as by the time I've got this thing up and running, I have a feeling I'll be way in the poor farm (I mean more so than I already am) and exhausted....

    As for the two tables question.. It will likely be a hassle changing back and forth between functions... Then there's the whole sawdust vs sparks thing...

    That being said, I reserve the right to change my mind if I'm totally happy with the one table doing both jobs, and find the hassle and dust management to be less of an issue than I have been led to believe... In fact, I'll be tickled pink...

    have you checked out the plasma table area of this site?

    http://www.cnczone.com/forums/cnc_pl...rjet_machines/

    many people there run dual use machines. (that is what i am building). if you use dust collection while using the router. then you should be ok. it takes a little bit of clever design on the table working surface but nothing too hard. also you can mount the router and the plasma to the z axis permanently. (together at the same time) this way to change between the two you just have to tell the computer what you want to do. (which you have to do anyway) basically zero effort.



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    There is a significant performance between a typical router "speed control" and the Super PID. Following is a brief explanation from the CNC zone forum thread. To put it even more briefly: A typical router "speed control", which has no feedback control, does just that, it decreases current to the motor and the motor turns slower, and as there is less current, there is less torque for the router to be able to cut steadily. The Super PID, which has a closed loop feedback capability, senses load and add power to maintain a given RPM on the router.

    For the visual among you: First watch this video: [nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJdOAj0hei0&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL"]YouTube - Super-PID CNC open-loop spindle test[/nomedia]

    Then watch this video [toward the end]:[nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85L050QcsYI&feature=autoplay&list=ULf5hQXdzXgF0&index=4&playnext=1"]YouTube - Super-PID CNC 5000 to 30000 RPM PID[/nomedia]

    Fixed speed router; Generally 25000 RPM to 30000 RPM, (like Khalid said), very noisy, lots of heat, tool wear and bearing wear and will melt plastic when cutting etc and can burn woods too depending on speeds and feeds.

    Variable speed router OR any typical "speed control"; When you turn them "down" these just send less power to the router. So speeds are about 16000-30000 RPM range, and at lower speeds like 16000 there is very little torque. So if you are trying to use the lower speeds it will droop speed badly and have very little cutting power, or just stall, or speed will vary all over the place depending on cut depth etc. And under 16000 RPM you can pretty much forget about it, so you still get bad issues with melting plastic and aluminium melting onto the tool because you are forced to use too much RPM if you want to get any useful cutting power.

    Super-PID closed loop speed control; This has a infra-red speed sensor pointed at the router shaft, so it measures the exact RPM of the router at all times. Then it uses a high-speed math algorithm called P.I.D. to adjust the power sent to the router, to keep the router spinning at the RPM you wanted. And it has an accurate tacho so you can set a chosen RPM based on speeds/feeds tables as people need for professional production.

    So speed range is now 5000-30000 RPM, and you can get excellent power down to 9000-10000 RPM (used for most plastic and aluminum cutting etc) and even get significant amounts of usable power at the very low RPM range like 5000-9000 (where your router is almost silent!) that can be used to cut fussy materials like low-melt point plastics, fussy woods, and light cuts in materials for the purpose of getting good surface finish etc.

    The idea of the Super-PID was to offer some (most?) of the performance benefits of a VFD spindle setup, but at a lower cost and an simple task of just connecting it to your existing router setup.



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    I read through the first several pages of the super PID thread early this morning, and am totally sold on the product.. It's a no brainer IMO, and a must have....

    It's now on the list...

    [URL="http://www.cnczone.com/forums/cnc_wood_router_project_log/124543-mountaincrafts_router_plasma_build_thread.html"][U]4' x 8' CNC Wood Router Project[/U][/URL]
    [U][URL="http://www.cnczone.com/forums/woodworking/135576-home_made_drum_sander.html"]Home Made Drum Sander Project[/URL][/U]


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    Quote Originally Posted by Zygoat View Post
    many people there run dual use machines. (that is what i am building). if you use dust collection while using the router. then you should be ok. it takes a little bit of clever design on the table working surface but nothing too hard. also you can mount the router and the plasma to the z axis permanently. (together at the same time) this way to change between the two you just have to tell the computer what you want to do. (which you have to do anyway) basically zero effort.
    Do you have a link to a thread on your machine?

    I think for me, the most intimidating issue of a dual use machine, is the switching back and forth between a material bed for wood working, and a slat bed for plasma.. But over the last couple weeks, I think I have come up with a some what elegant solution to that problem...

    [URL="http://www.cnczone.com/forums/cnc_wood_router_project_log/124543-mountaincrafts_router_plasma_build_thread.html"][U]4' x 8' CNC Wood Router Project[/U][/URL]
    [U][URL="http://www.cnczone.com/forums/woodworking/135576-home_made_drum_sander.html"]Home Made Drum Sander Project[/URL][/U]


  16. #16
    Registered Zygoat's Avatar
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    Just slide a bed on top of the slats.

    My build

    http://www.cnczone.com/forums/diy-cn...ter_build.html



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    Got a bunch of goodies last night.. will probably be ordering a NEMA 34 mount to use instead of that NEMA 23 one...







    Also picked up a couple sheets of 3/4" T&G plywood to use as a material bed and bracing... Looking like there's a little break in the weather for a few hours, and I'm hoping I can cut it up and screw it down today...

    My plow broke yesterday, and I'm stuck at home for a few days, while I wait for the parts to arrive... so if the weather will cooperate a little, maybe I can move forward some...

    [URL="http://www.cnczone.com/forums/cnc_wood_router_project_log/124543-mountaincrafts_router_plasma_build_thread.html"][U]4' x 8' CNC Wood Router Project[/U][/URL]
    [U][URL="http://www.cnczone.com/forums/woodworking/135576-home_made_drum_sander.html"]Home Made Drum Sander Project[/URL][/U]


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    So this afternoon was fairly productive.. Got a couple things out of the way.. one of them I thought was a major hurdle to pass, but turned out to be easy... drilling the rails..

    I cut and installed the 3/4" T&G, squaring the table base as I went.. Then I dug out an old HF bench top drill press and made a drilling fence from a scrap of gal uni-strut on it to center the holes, and drilled out all the holes on the X Axis rails... I thought that was gonna be a total PITA, but the bits dug through the CRS like butter.. first 1/4", then 3/8"...

    Was gonna drill out the X rails too, but realized that since I've got a full 12' stick of 4" CRS flat bar on order for the Z axis, I should just wait for that, and use that along with one of the 3" pieces I already have cut and marked, and then I wouldn't need to make an adjusting jig to hold the two rails apart by exactly 1" like I would need if I used the two 3" rails I already cut.. as now, with a 4" and a 3", I have 7".. and will only need the same 1/2" bar adjusters I will make to adjust the rails on the other two axis...

    Besides, I poured a beer, and deep down I knew that the day was over when I did that..

    Anyways, I'm well on my way to being done with 'drilling holes'.. and so far, they've all come out 'perfect'...

    After aligning the rails with a tape measure and about every third bolt, the bearing carriages move like butter... Only one small imperfection on one rail I'll have to file down....

    Gonna build mock-up gantry end mounts out of plywood tomorrow or the next day, and then I can start on the Y axis and Z axis...

    Still gotta cut up and install some shear panels to stiffen up the table base in the Y direction too.... the table is less than 1/16" out of square measured diagonally, and the rails are less than 1/16" out of parallel.. pretty good considering I haven't even really atarted dialing it all in yet...

    Starting to feel like something now!







    Last edited by Mountaincraft; 03-23-2011 at 08:41 AM.
    [URL="http://www.cnczone.com/forums/cnc_wood_router_project_log/124543-mountaincrafts_router_plasma_build_thread.html"][U]4' x 8' CNC Wood Router Project[/U][/URL]
    [U][URL="http://www.cnczone.com/forums/woodworking/135576-home_made_drum_sander.html"]Home Made Drum Sander Project[/URL][/U]


  19. #19
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    I like that computer table. Did you weld it up yourself or buy it?

    CarveOne

    CarveOne
    http://www.carveonecncwoodcraft.com


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    I got it at IKEA in LA a long time ago... (20 yrs?)..

    Would be pretty easy to make though.. I can take more pics if you want...

    [URL="http://www.cnczone.com/forums/cnc_wood_router_project_log/124543-mountaincrafts_router_plasma_build_thread.html"][U]4' x 8' CNC Wood Router Project[/U][/URL]
    [U][URL="http://www.cnczone.com/forums/woodworking/135576-home_made_drum_sander.html"]Home Made Drum Sander Project[/URL][/U]


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