Cheap DIY Router Challenge !!!


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    Default Cheap DIY Router Challenge !!!

    Hey guys, I have an idea that may be a bit of fun and hopefully help a few people along the way.

    I propose a gentleman’s competition to design and construct the cheapest possible CNC woodworking router...EVER !!!

    Before this challenge gets off the ground there MUST be some ground rules.

    I also propose the rules are agreed upon by those that are willing and able to compete before "kick off"

    Here are some of my thoughts :

    The machine must comply to a set job size, obviously we are not talking full sheet machine, but it should be a usable machine, my thoughts are 500mmX by 300mmY and 60mm Z travel.

    If commercial components are used, the NEW price must be included in the total, eg "I have 3 AC servo's with drives/cabling just lying around so that doesn't count to the finish price" WRONG !

    If DIY electronics are used, the PCB layouts and BOM must be provided, along with the realistic pricing of somebody else copying the design. Remember the idea of this is for others to be able to replicate the design.

    Minimum Feedrates : these should be agreed upon from the get go, I don't think rapids really apply, but cutting feedrates have to be realistic, 1200mm/min for X and Y and 300mm/min for Z has my vote.

    Cheapest bottom line won't necessarily be the winner, if a design is $5.00 more than another and is clearly a far superior machine then the result should be obvious.

    Software/PC/Gcode creation is NOT part of this competition, the controller should be separate, this is a machine building competition, not a software one.

    Spindle should be included in the final costings.

    Any work done should either be reasonably achieved with limited tools, or a cost added to get somebody else to do the work. I know here in Australia, a carton of beer goes a long way, so that may be a good value to add to the bill...also some beer is better than others and affects the quality of work done

    Final tests : to be considered the machine should be subject to a set of tests, I am thinking something along the lines of a sample from V-Carve trial version, and possibly an inlay design created by somebody to test accuracy. Please know I have no affiliation with V-Carve.

    Finally this is a Gentleman's competition, I would suggest people speak up with their ideas and plans, and help others if possible, I'm not suggesting fifteen build logs in one thread but quick and to the point descriptions and limited photos should be encouraged.

    If this sounds like something you would like to have a go at, by all means speak up and join the fun.

    Choosing the winner : after all is said and done the winner should be chosen with a vote from all participants, and also I would imagine others will come up with new designs and improvements as time goes by so there could be a new winner every 6 or 12 months.

    Prize : The prize will be something that cannot be bought : the appreciation of your fellow forum members and the knowledge that you may have contributed to somebody being able to build a capable machine that may have otherwise failed in their endeavour.

    Lets hear from you, any suggestions for the rules, plans to have a go at the title, friendly sarcastic taunts etc.

    If any Mods notice this could this be a sticky ? Also is this the best location for the thread ?

    Cheers.

    Russell.

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  2. #2

    Default Re: Cheap DIY Router Challenge !!!

    This would be something to see! I'm on a couple of guitar building forums and they have build contest. They're always interesting and innovative.



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    Default Re: Cheap DIY Router Challenge !!!

    I was going to say that the time for a project like this has long since passed, with the proliferation of low cost machines on the market. Unfortunately, many people buy into these low cost machines, and quickly come to the conclusion that these machines are not nearly as capable as they thought they were.

    What I think would be a better project would be to come up with a high quality machine at a low cost, not just the lowest cost.
    Building the cheapest possible machine is a race to the bottom. Someone last week, on another forum, proposed is idea for the cheapest CNC machine. It was quickly ridiculed as being completely useless for any actual work, which it was.
    Quality costs money.
    But if you spend the money in the right places, and DIY much of the rest, you can get a much better machine than most that are currently on the market, for the same or less money.

    I also think that 1200mm/min is far too slow to be of much use. I'd want to see at least 3x that.

    I have some ideas, but can't even find the time to finish my own design that I've been working on for apparently almost 9 years now ?????

    Can you build a machine better than this one, for less money? That should be your goal.
    X6-2200L (3-axis) Woodworking / Metalworking CNC Router --OMIOCNC(Carving-CNC) -omiocnc.com

    Gerry

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    Default Re: Cheap DIY Router Challenge !!!

    Quote Originally Posted by epineh View Post
    Any work done should either be reasonably achieved with limited tools, or a cost added to get somebody else to do the work. I know here in Australia, a carton of beer goes a long way, so that may be a good value to add to the bill...also some beer is better than others and affects the quality of work done.
    I'm really interested in this topic Russell. I think you should consider the cost of acquiring tools in the analysis. I'm building a machine with almost identical specs to what you've suggested. One consideration is buying tools that are valuable for many projects vs. buying materials that reduce the number of tools that have to be purchased. Either way the cost of acquiring tools has to be factored into the solution when making a price comparison. Sorry but bartering with beer is a cheat. The cost for me to fly to beautiful Australia with a case of beer would be really, really high.

    Quote Originally Posted by epineh View Post
    I propose a gentleman’s competition to design and construct the cheapest possible CNC woodworking router...EVER !!!
    I think it's virtually guaranteed that Chinese components will be factored into the design. Personally I find that going all-out-DIY with home-made linear rails and drive components is more expensive than purchasing standard components on-line. In the end both approaches require tweaking to get the best result. Standard components will likely get better advice from a larger pool of experts. To that end it would be nice to know how to test components instead of relying on validation of the end product.

    A related issue is how much to spend on components up-front vs relying on the Chinese quality lottery. Just within the C7 quality category there are a dizzying array of options. For example, do you go with a "trusted" supplier at x2 the cost or with something where you may have to tweak or replace components to get a useable machine (end result is it may be cheaper to factor in the cost of re-work and replacement parts). Also, do you buy a package where some components may not be optimal or carefully select every component. The second option ramps cost up significantly. As Robert A. Heinlein writes in many of his books TANSTAAFL "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch".

    My reference project is this: DIY CNC Router Build; Fixed Gantry, Steel - Wade'O Design. My budget is laughably low because my project is being pursued as entertainment where the journey is as important as the destination. I want useable results but the money comes from the "vacation and entertainment" budget. Discussing a $10K hobby purchase would go nowhere real fast around here.



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    Default Re: Cheap DIY Router Challenge !!!

    Well the idea would be an entry level machine that people can copy, without the price tag of a (possibly) better machine.

    I've seen a lot of similar machines to the one you listed that while the mechanicals are usually reasonably good the electronics give junk a bad name, personally have rebuilt three of them after throwing anything electrical away, including the crud cable, cable chain etc.

    Did anybody mention after sales support ?

    I'd like to see that one machining steel, marble and stainless steel as its ad states, every machine I've seen with that capability is a LOT more substantial.

    1200mm/min isn't exactly fast, but it is enough to do work with, my router has been doing so quite happily for the last 8 years, yes more speed would be nice but as you say everything is at a cost.

    Maybe you are right and it isn't worth trying to compete with the cheap imports, but if you follow that logic all the way through then why bother getting one of those either, rather just buy the already cheap products made by others with these machines in the first place...but where is the fun in that ?

    My first machine is pretty ordinary compared to a lot of others, but it has done some serious work, probably more than it was ever intended to, and if I ever finish my next one, (I'm only 7 years into it so I have a while to catch you, lol) I will be sad to see it go.

    I just think there is still a need for an introductory machine people can build with a little effort and low cost that will be reasonably capable and not break the bank, it may not be the only machine they ever build or buy but at least they can learn something and not have to do the import gamble that seems to end badly for some.

    Cheers.

    Russell.



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    Default Re: Cheap DIY Router Challenge !!!

    Quote Originally Posted by ger21 View Post
    I have some ideas, but can't even find the time to finish my own design that I've been working on for apparently almost 9 years now ?????
    I've read so many of your threads and always wondered what happened in the "last chapter" for that machine.

    Quote Originally Posted by ger21 View Post
    Can you build a machine better than this one, for less money? That should be your goal.
    X6-2200L (3-axis) Woodworking / Metalworking CNC Router --OMIOCNC(Carving-CNC) -omiocnc.com
    My assumption is that these machines are constructed using lightweight aluminum materials because of cost of shipping ... so shipping is a major criteria in the design. Perhaps this is a weakness and potential area for reducing cost as a DIY project. With that thought in mind is it possible to make a more rigid machine using a fixed gantry torsion box MDF frame with strategically placed Baltic Birch? I'd suggest a steel frame instead but, in my case, the cost and fabrication skill goes out of reach.

    Last edited by volvox311; 03-27-2016 at 01:26 PM. Reason: typo. i need assistance :-)


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    Default Re: Cheap DIY Router Challenge !!!

    I have to agree with Ger21 there are tons of cheap macines out there from $200-300 like the Mostly printed CNC and plenty of chinese toys or machines with claims most of us can see are male cow excrement. A machine worth having on a budget that average person could build, would be a better goal I have trawled the web and looked at hundreds of machines and found nothing I wanted to build that I actually could so designed my own from scratch looking at the good the bad and indifferent for inspiriation. In the end I designed my machine to use the materials I had or could acquire at a reasonable price and that I could construct using the tools at my disposal i.e, don't fancy welding in a flat, I converted a mini mill and acquired a mini lathe so better equiped than a lot of begginners, and I have been building repairing 3d Printers, laser cutters/engravers etc for several years, I am aiming at a budget of £1000-£1500 which is cheap for a reasonable quality machine the Seig x1 conversion cost me less than £700 including buying machine new, and having used it for Acrylic, Aluminium and Steel is far more capable than most £700 machines available but limited in worksize. As for light machines for shipping my design is mainly aluminium but will not be light, by aiming for lightweight I think you introduce most of the problems that all the cheap machines out there already sufffer from before you start making the whole exercise pointless.



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    Default Re: Cheap DIY Router Challenge !!!

    Can you build a machine better than this one, for less money? That should be your goal.
    X6-2200L (3-axis) Woodworking / Metalworking CNC Router --OMIOCNC(Carving-CNC) -omiocnc.com
    Using my MD001 mill and valuing my time at $0 ? Possibly.
    Otherwise ? Highly unlikely.

    Anyone who says "It only goes together one way" has no imagination.


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    Default Re: Cheap DIY Router Challenge !!!

    Agree with ger21, like usually.
    We express different parts of the same answer, in different ways, mostly.

    I can build a very much better machine, for 1000$ more.
    So, is 3200$ realistic ?

    I think both Yes and no.
    Anyway, I wont do so.
    I build 15-25.000 - 150.000 machines.

    "Cheap" is not a goal.
    Worthwhile is a goal.

    I´m soon to do a router (first router).
    Full sheet.
    Pallets, probably.
    Horizontal, almost certain (much more profitable to the user).


    A 300$ machine, hot-short stepper kit drivers at 10$, nema 17 size steppers (10$), threaded-rod movement, skateboard-bearings-on-whatever ..
    Will move.
    Will engrave.
    Is not much of a cnc.

    As ger said, do better than omnio, only then are we cooking.
    The omnio looks pretty good, for what it is.

    Quote Originally Posted by ger21 View Post

    Can you build a machine better than this one, for less money? That should be your goal.
    X6-2200L (3-axis) Woodworking / Metalworking CNC Router --OMIOCNC(Carving-CNC) -omiocnc.com




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    Default Re: Cheap DIY Router Challenge !!!

    "Cheap" is one part of the equation; "easy" is the other. You can make a much cheaper machine from steel than from aluminum extrusions, for example. But the cost of the welder (not to mention the time spent learning how to use it effectively) is extra. Are we looking for designs that an experienced fabricator with a well-equipped machine shop can build, or something that Joe Average can make with nothing but a portable drill and a wrench? It's cheaper to roll your own electronics from scratch, but easier to buy a controller box pre-assembled. Which way are you going with this?

    Andrew Werby
    https://computersculpture.com/


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    Default Re: Cheap DIY Router Challenge !!!

    Well one can extend the argument further and say, I can build a machine for $250 or less in raw materials, and about $10 million in equipment. So then, did I build a $250 machine?

    Price/performance should be the criterion and maybe there should be two tiers - one under $500 maybe, and one $500 and up, materials. Labor would only entail outside work, even if for beer.

    The designs should be such that it can be built to plan. So it wouldn't be fair for someone to snipe 3 Adept actuators for $75, and just mount them XYZ. It would be difficult to recreate.

    I think the prize could be the winner offering the plans on the forum, with the design bearing his/her name. The Atienza CNC Router Plans... I kind of like that, and maybe others would their name inserted there as well.



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    Default Re: Cheap DIY Router Challenge !!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Louis_Cannell View Post
    As for light machines for shipping my design is mainly aluminium but will not be light, by aiming for lightweight I think you introduce most of the problems that all the cheap machines out there already sufffer from before you start making the whole exercise pointless.
    It seems we're in some sort of agreement that shipping weight should not be a major consideration because reduced weight often leads to less rigidity of the system. It seems that structural components of cheap machines are built to be shipped with minimal expense. Moving gantry architecture is a choice that relates to packaging volume: a major concern for inventory and shipping costs. These are weaknesses that a DIY project may be able to exploit by using cheaper, locally sourced, heavier more bulky materials and an architecture that uses those materials to better effect. DIY sweat equity and elapsed time have to be discounted to make this project worthwhile.

    AFAIK the rest of the components just don't represent any savings without impacting the product, price, or performance of the machine.

    The idea to use an existing product, like the X6-2200L, as a reference is a brilliant way to focus this discussion.



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    Default Re: Cheap DIY Router Challenge !!!

    You could probably squeeze 300x500mm moving bed under a cheap £50 bench pillar drill. Adding a stepper instead of wheel for z. Weld the chuck shaft into the spindle. Would give you a form of cnc.

    Either that or a delta bot style machine. Probably wouldn't be as good though.



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    Default Re: Cheap DIY Router Challenge !!!

    Some very good points mentioned indeed.

    A few of you have mentioned shipping costs for the finished machine, the idea was to end up with a set of plans that somebody that had a very tight budget could build themselves, not have to receive in the post.

    I was that person about ten years ago, with that tight budget so I built what I could, based on a few different designs from this forum and what I could source and do locally. If I was told the only way I could get into CNC was to spend 2-3 thousand dollars I would have shrugged my shoulders and done something else (some days I wish somebody DID say that to me !)

    Anyway I am going to have a crack at a design, it may take me twelve months but I am stubborn enough to give something a go. At the end of the day the cheapest/best/most practical option may still to buy an ebay special, keep the mechanicals and throw the rest away, then start from there.

    I just thought with the knowledge pool here we could come up with some innovative ideas for a cheap build, definitely wont be the prettiest machine on the block, but something that would work as an introductory machine for those that want to make something but don't know where to start.

    Think of it as a "first car" concept, you may get rid of it sooner or later but it did the job when you needed it to.

    Russell.



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    Default Re: Cheap DIY Router Challenge !!!

    Quote Originally Posted by epineh View Post
    A few of you have mentioned shipping costs for the finished machine, the idea was to end up with a set of plans that somebody that had a very tight budget could build themselves, not have to receive in the post.
    If you assume that low-cost Chinese machines are built relatively efficiently then making a better machine will require some strategy. Low sales volume, low cost, machinery that must be shipped over 10,000 kilometers to reach its market is going to have trade-offs in architecture and materials selection that don't apply to a DIY project where materials can be sourced locally. That's why I harp on shipping. Instead of paying for a machine composed of lightweight expensive materials, to optimize shipping, go for a DIY project with less expensive heavier materials.

    Quote Originally Posted by epineh View Post
    At the end of the day the cheapest/best/most practical option may still to buy an ebay special, keep the mechanicals and throw the rest away, then start from there.
    For my own project I've purchased the linear rails and drive components, sans nema motors, as a set with door-to-door shipping for US$250 all-in. I found a few nema 23 motors in a box of electronics in the basement. Not certain where I got them. Likely I will search for an electronics and spindle bundle as a complete set. You've mentioned electronics a couple of times. I'm interested in learning about your experience and guidance because this is exactly the next topic I need to research.



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    Default Re: Cheap DIY Router Challenge !!!

    Ah I get where you were going regarding shipping, and good point.

    That is a pretty good price for linear rails and ballscrews, would be a good starting point for a build like we are describing.

    I don't claim to be an expert on electronics, but when I first built a machine, drives were quite expensive so I decided on building my own, then compared steppers to servos in terms of drive complexity and servo drives (brushed DC) are significantly simpler and easier to build than stepper drives, so I built my own version of the Elm Chan servo.

    Now I am currently building a much nicer machine and will be using the same drive firmware, with new PCB's.

    Not sure if I'd recommend this approach for everybody, there are some great offerings in the stepper drive world for very reasonable cost.

    Cheers.

    Russell.



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    Default Re: Cheap DIY Router Challenge !!!

    So can I enter my already completed design DIY CNC Router Plans | BootstrapCNC or do I need to make another one? I like the idea of a set of criteria to meet, are you talking about the Bulls sign VCarve Project? And how complicated an inlay are we talking, would something like one of points from this project https://goo.gl/photos/N2iszRXVxPT39ZZn9 be good enough?

    The whole idea of starting another machine design sort of makes my head hurt, but it cold be fun.



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    Default Re: Cheap DIY Router Challenge !!!

    Quote Originally Posted by epineh View Post
    That is a pretty good price for linear rails and ballscrews, would be a good starting point for a build like we are describing.
    There's potential but I'm certain to experience the same disappointment as those who purchased inexpensive fully assembled machines. I'm just hoping to get sufficient quality by tweaking and not have to replace too much.

    An example of quality: the final fabrication was definitely not done using precision machinery. I suspect a dude with a hand held grinder chopping factory supplied rail and base to order and then de-burring with the same tool. The supported rail has perfect 150mm spaced mounting holes (measured using 0.001 dial calipers) but the overall length is only within 1mm and overall positioning within 0.25mm. I have to remember not to use these edges when placing components during assembly.

    This specific example is not terrible but does set the tone. Again, not necessarily a bad thing when buying at the extreme low end. Just need to be aware.

    So, I have to decide weather or not to ask for a discount for the not-to-spec components. Hard to do with an AliExpress supplier where they may not even speak English and a numbered company with no brand reputation to protect.

    Quote Originally Posted by epineh View Post
    ... pared steppers to servos in terms of drive complexity and servo drives (brushed DC) are significantly simpler and easier to build than stepper drives
    This is a topic where I have not done enough reading. Would like to learn more.

    Quote Originally Posted by epineh View Post
    I built my own version of the Elm Chan servo.
    Thanks for the tip. I'll look at this project more closely.



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    Default Re: Cheap DIY Router Challenge !!!

    Quote Originally Posted by grumpygeek View Post
    I like the idea of a set of criteria to meet, are you talking about the Bulls sign VCarve Project? And how complicated an inlay are we talking, would something like one of points from this project https://goo.gl/photos/N2iszRXVxPT39ZZn9 be good enough?
    I'd suggest something that requires precision and is useful in the workshop (i.e., common woodworking joints):



    Enclosed is my design and a jig for cutting the torsion box lap joints. The ribs are primed MDF with factory cut height (Lowes).

    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Cheap DIY Router Challenge !!!-gantry-png   Cheap DIY Router Challenge !!!-jig-png  
    Last edited by volvox311; 03-28-2016 at 11:48 AM. Reason: Added pictures.


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    Default Re: Cheap DIY Router Challenge !!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon.N.CNC View Post
    You could probably squeeze 300x500mm moving bed under a cheap £50 bench pillar drill. Adding a stepper instead of wheel for z. Weld the chuck shaft into the spindle. Would give you a form of cnc.

    Either that or a delta bot style machine. Probably wouldn't be as good though.
    Cheap drill press's seem to be wobbly to start with, but hey if ya wanna give it a go !

    Quote Originally Posted by grumpygeek View Post
    So can I enter my already completed design DIY CNC Router Plans | BootstrapCNC or do I need to make another one? I like the idea of a set of criteria to meet, are you talking about the Bulls sign VCarve Project? And how complicated an inlay are we talking, would something like one of points from this project https://goo.gl/photos/N2iszRXVxPT39ZZn9 be good enough?

    The whole idea of starting another machine design sort of makes my head hurt, but it cold be fun.
    I only had time for a quick look, will check it out in more detail later but that looks like the idea. Yeah the Bulls sign would be a good one, it is purely to show the machine is capable, the inlay is the same concept, though it could be as simple as some lettering as far as I'm concerned, and not everybody has Vcarve, so there might have to be some g-code sharing for a test.

    Remember I only suggested the "rules" as a guideline, nothing is set in concrete, if yourself or anybody has suggestions to improve them that would certainly be a good thing.

    I know what you mean about launching into another build, I am halfway through a not so cheap router build and a Mill retrofit, starting anything else is most likely a bad idea, but what’s the worst that could happen ? lol

    Quote Originally Posted by volvox311 View Post
    Enclosed is my design and a jig for cutting the torsion box lap joints. The ribs are primed MDF with factory cut height (Lowes).
    Looking at your design I see a common idea for a very cheap build, a moving table, this spaces the X axis bearings/skate bearings whatever so if they can be the ...erm cheaper variety if you know what I mean

    Also the classic timber/MDF/Hardwood Ply Torsion box is always a good way for cheap rigidity.

    Cheers.

    Russell.



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