First DIY CNC Club Meeting

Today marked the first monthly meeting of The DIY CNC Club at Milwaukee Makerspace.  Ron Bean and Tom Gondek, the creators of the router, guided members and guests through the use of CamBam CAD software to generate G-code and Mach3 software to operate and control the router.  The day before, Tom and Mike tested the machine’s ability to cut aluminum.  On Sunday, Rich created a decorative wooden sign and Brant began making plastic shapes for a project enclosure. As Ron pointed out, in less than 24 hours we had worked in three different materials: wood, metal, and plastic.

Several items were also crossed off our wish list.  Two emergency stop buttons were added to the front of the machine and wired together in series.  Hitting either one stops all motion in the X, Y, and Z planes and pauses the program.  We also built a relay-controlled receptacle box that when wired into the CNC computer, will be able to stop the spindle so hitting the E-stop will kill all motion in all axes and the router.  For some reason the pins we’re using on the parallel port are only producing 1.6 volts instead of the 3 or 5 we expected and the relays won’t turn on.  All in all, a very productive weekend.

Screeching Cat Railing

CNC Cutout of screeching cat inserted into porch railing

Recently we completely re-built our aging 2nd story porch. During the process I took the opportunity to add a little flair courtesy of the makerspace’s CNC Router. The idea was to place an emblem into the railing of the porch as decoration. After thinking about the emblem I’d want I decided that I’d never be happy with just one, so I incorporated spring hinges (look carefully below the cat in the photo) that allow me to pull back and replace the emblem at will with ease. With that done the only thing to do was decide on the first emblem. I decided on seasonal/occasion emblems.

Rich showed me a great site with free CNC artwork, some of which was Halloween themed. I downloaded that artwork, selected the screeching cat and had the CNC router cut the cat out of a 2′x2′ plywood. I installed the cat as part of the porch railing as you can see in the photo.  I’m now looking to round up a turkey for Thanksgiving, a snow man for winter, etc.

During the design process TomG had the bright idea to shine a light through the cutout. So I took a high brightness LED out of a malfunctioning flashlight and attached it to some sheet metal on a malleable aluminium boom. The result is that I now have a screeching cat projected down onto the sidewalk below. (It’s too dim for me to capture on camera)

I’m really looking forward to cutting out more shapes on the CNC Router!

Squeegee Update

Squeegee

I’m making progress on my DIY squeegee project. For a little background, I have this 6 foot long piece of rubber, which is the same material used in squeegees for screen printing, but I need wooden handles to put the rubber into. So with the help of of some other members, I’m figuring out how to do it.

Brant helped me determine that the band-saw is a good machine for cutting the rubber. I had previously tried a utility knife, but that didn’t work. Ron and Rich filled me in on how to use a router table, and I was able to cut a groove into a piece of wood I picked up this week. The rubber fits perfectly, so the next step is to drill some holes and put in some t-bolts to hold it all together.

I’d also like to do a bit of sanding and maybe varnish the wood. I figure they might as well look good, right?

I think this project really shows the strength of the Makerspace. I’ve had this rubber for two years, but never got around to making any squeegees. I came up with a few really hacky ideas on how to do it, but now at the space, with the right tools, and the right people, it’s all coming together.

Mechanized Cylindrical Sign Build for Parade Joy (Update 1)

The Milwaukee Makerspace has agreed to participate in one of Milwaukee’s finest traditions, the “South Shore Frolics Parade”.

The “South Shore Frolics” formerly known as the “South Shore Water Frolics” is a Bay View institution. The current celebration of summer & joy starts on Saturday July 16th at 11:00 in the morning with a parade leading to South Shore Park, after which there is a festival and a variety of activities including fireworks for the remainder of the weekend. The Frolics is an event that I have participated in as long as I have been alive, and it is a very integral part of my summer. Of course I was thrilled when the Makerspace agreed that this was a worthwhile use of our time and talents.

Our goal for Milwaukee Makerspace’s representation in the parade is to produce some electric vehicles, ride some previously produced power wheels racers, as well as present a unique parade float. 

Thus far the main work was completed by Tom Gralewicz who re-powered the Makerspace’s “pots of gold” (two electric vehciles that have a parade heritage) with new motor controllers. Now that we have two functioning platforms, we of course wanted to turn one of them into an 8′ mechanized cylindrical sign. (that will resemble a beverage container) 

The build on that commenced last evening. Here are some photographs from the madness & joy:

 

 

 

 

 

Matt N. always measures twice and cuts once. 

 

I don’t know how many times these guys measured, but they always made the right cut!

 

Here the team cuts the circular bases that will anchor the piece. In the background, there is a serious discussion about logicstics…or something. 

 

Matt G. shows us the pride that comes with making.

 

Kevin B. tests out the fit and finish of the first circular support on the vehicle platform.

So far so good! I can’t wait to see how this comes together!

Come and see us at the South Shore Frolics Parade!
Saturday July 16th, 2011
Parade starts at KK & Lincoln at 11:00am
Joy will be had by all!
If you consider yourself a Milwaukee Maker, you are welcome to walk the parade rout with us & represent making in Milwaukee!