With a lot of hard work from Ed H. and Steve P. our 4′ x 8′ CNC router has achieved a milestone, instead of the X axis sitting on the ground it has taken a leap up and is now mounted, ready for the Y and Z axis to be mounted to it along with the electronics and motion control.
Hey, we got something new! It’s a Silhouette Cameo, which I like to refer to as a “Desktop CNC Cutting Machine”, though you can call it a vinyl cutter if you like. (It can also cut paper and fabric.)
I personally own one of these, and get a lot of use out of it, and I got sick and tired of hauling it back and forth to the space, so after posting a message on our email list to see if anyone else wanted to chip in and get one, we got one. In fact, there was so much interest we also got a bunch of vinyl, and spare blades and cutting mats.
This is my on-going project at the Milwaukee Makerspace. It is a 3D extruded plastic printer with about 1 cuft build envelope. I want to print life-size human skulls (among other things) from CT scan data. The printer is made mostly from salvaged parts and materials so the cost has been very low. When it’s finished it will have a heated 12″x12″ bed (13″x13″ if I can find an aluminum plate that big) and dual extruder so it can print in two colors.
I have learned a lot on this project- some things that work and others that don’t work so well, and how to use a milling machine to drill holes precisely and square the ends of the 8020 extrusion pieces used to build up the frame of the machine.
I could not have done any of this without access to the people, materials, and tools at Milwaukee Makerspace. Every time I go there to do some work on this project someone says something that gives me new ideas for improvements to the design. I frequently find materials and parts left for me on the machine’s cart by other members who know what I’m trying to do. If you have a project idea find your local Makerspace and get busy- there is nothing that will get your creative juices flowing like being around a bunch of people with similar interests and different skills and experience!
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.
We had quite a night at the space! Thursday is “Builder’s Night Out” when we are open to the public, and if you want a tour, want to meet the members, or have a project you need help on, bring it down. Last night we helped Gary work on a project for his BarCamp session on Rubik’s Cubes. (And let me tell you, using PVC on the belt grinder creates a white dust the likes of which you’ve never seen before!)
Team Kegbot (also known as Kevin, Jason, and Adam) did a bunch of Arduino hacking, and made some progress. They may have also imbibed some of the malted beverages in the name of science.
I even got to contribute to the Kegbot project when Jason asked for a 64×64 1-bit file of the Milwaukee Makerspace logo. Of course he then demanded a 48×48 logo. (I’m just glad he didn’t ask for a 32×32 or the dreaded 16×16!)
Brant spent a little time with the Mini-CNC Mill trying to cut a key out of a piece of plastic. I offered to try printing a key on the MakerBot, but he got it done with the mill. (Plastic seemed to lack the strength needed for the key though, and we may look at a stronger material next time.)
As for me? Besides helping out other folks, I managed to get a little quality time with the MakerBot, and printed a few more cookie cutter designs, which we should be testing this weekend. I did a little bit of web site updating as well, which is always an on-going effort.
And you know what happens next week Thursday? Builder’s Night Out! Yup, every Thursday… so come on down and hang out with us!