Welcome to Our Community

Unlock hidden features. Sign Up for Free Today!

Lessons/problems learned from a commercial CNC router

Discussion in 'CNC Mills/Routers' started by Rural, Dec 5, 2014.

  1. Rural

    Rural Journeyman
    Builder

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2014
    Messages:
    42
    Likes Received:
    11
    So I dropped by the local woodworker's shop. He does a lot of work making little boxes, trophies, and signs, among other things. I knew that he had a small CNC router and was hoping he could cut some plates for an OX build I have on the go. He couldn't because his router was not in working order. So I looked it over and realized that a retrofit would be fairly straight-forward. So I wrote up what he would need and figured out what his out-of-pocket expense would be, at most $500. His eyes lit up at that since he had been quoted many thousands of dollars from a fellow that services this make of router and the manufacturer won't touch it.

    The router is a circa 2001 Camtech RM25. Leadscrews and built a lot stronger than an OX. It has a 3HP spindle on it. I've been learning a lot by looking it over.

    One lesson has been that having controls very near the router is necessary. This fellow's shop is set up so that his computers are in a room with filtered air, keeping the dust out. In the past, he did all his drafting work in that room, then sent the job to the router, walked to the router, did any necessary set up, zeroed it, and started the job. The router has a control pad right on the gantry. Can't say I'd put them on the gantry, but the point is that having controls on the router is very nice, almost a necessity.

    So this got me thinking about my OX build. The router will be in a room in our basement. I had been thinking of using Chilipeppr (and Raspberry Pi) to run it, so I could set up jobs and monitor them from upstairs. I could probably even start jobs from upstairs using a webcam to get everything in order, but that's a little dicey. In my case, I could just bring my notebook computer down to the shop with me, get the job set up and started, then monitor it from upstairs. Even so, I think controls on the router are very nearly a necessity.

    Has anyone given any thought to this problem? Anyone seen a solution?

    The 3D printer world has moved towards on-printer controls and having owned one for a couple of years, I see the value, even with my printer on my desktop right next to my computer, having dedicated controls would be nice.
     
  2. Hytech2k

    Hytech2k Master
    Builder

    Joined:
    May 6, 2014
    Messages:
    420
    Likes Received:
    285
    I have found using Mach 3 as my control software it's pretty much a necessity to have controls near the machine. You can use a xbox game controller for jogging and some other basic functions, but I still use a keyboard with a touchpad built in to click on various buttons to start certain subroutines. I have a flat screen monitor on one of those swivel mounts so when I get up from my desk to set a job up I just swivel the monitor so I can see what i'm doing from my machine. Also on the note of watching the machine remotely, it's a rather risky thing. I work from home and have 2 machines setup in an workshop with all my other woodworking equipment , I have one of those IP cams with pan and tilt so I can see every inch of my shop. I watch the action from a tablet when I come in for lunch, but most times when the machines are running i'm outside in the shop. There is a very real danger of fire using these machines, routers lock up and overheat due to bearings wearing out, dust collectors (Shop Vacs goto ShopBot forums and search) can catch fire when used for long periods of time, and electronics can malfunction... I have smoke detectors in my shop and my house is close enough to hear them should there be a problem. I have been running my machines for over 2 years now and i've had the router lock up twice, a main breakout board let the smoke out, and a Ridgid shop vac quit (replaced with a real dust collector). Be very careful using these IN your house, I have nothing to lose but my workshop, no loss of life there, but i'd never leave one unattended, even briefly in my house..... Safety should be paramount when using these machines.

    Here's an idea !!

    http://danielbauen.com/make/index.p...hine/cnc-milling-machine-computer-cart-stand/
     
    GrayUK likes this.
  3. Tweakie

    Tweakie OpenBuilds Team
    Staff Member Moderator Builder

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2014
    Messages:
    787
    Likes Received:
    290
    Wise words Hytech2k. :thumbsup:

    Tweakie.
     
  4. JustinTime

    JustinTime Master
    Builder

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2013
    Messages:
    771
    Likes Received:
    152
    Like Hytech2k I too don't leave my machine running unattended. I may go into the house for a sec or two but the door to the garage stays open.

    I don't get people having the computer in another room. I constantly loading new things to cut, set up the zero point and start the machine. Running back and forth will drive me crazy. I can jog from a number pad that is on the machine but once I jogged, I have to set the axis' to zero before I start and I can't do that from the remote. And then I start the machine and look if it behaves as I expect. If not I can hit the emergency stop button. If I have to start from another room by the time I'm at the machine it's too late. I use a wireless keyboard and mouse. The computer is under the machine and is mostly dust free. The monitor is on top and exposed but I haven't have problem with it so far (touch wood)!
     
  5. Hytech2k

    Hytech2k Master
    Builder

    Joined:
    May 6, 2014
    Messages:
    420
    Likes Received:
    285
    My shop is probably 500 feet from my house. I have a computer in my office at the house I use design signs, I have a laptop in the shop connected to a bridged wireless router so I can access the files on the PC in my office. I'll move over whatever i'm cutting that day, transfer them to a flash drive then plug the flash drive into the PC's running the machines... I can tweak the files on the fly from the laptop but the PC's that control my machines stay off the net.... I've been running the same desktops for over a year now, just pop the cover off and blow them out every few months....
     
  6. Rural

    Rural Journeyman
    Builder

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2014
    Messages:
    42
    Likes Received:
    11
    I take your points on safety to heart. Its a serious thing. Thanks for commenting on that.

    Mach 3's reliance on a parallel port just pains me. But having a pendant would be nice for some. For my needs, I don't think it makes sense, but for this wood-worker's shop, it might be the right way to go. He certainly has an old enough PC for it. Come to think of it... There's no reason his PC couldn't be moved right next to the machine for either running TgFX to talk to a TinyG or to run Mach 3 and talk to, say, a Geckodrive.

    Being an open source nerd, I haven't delved too deeply into Mach 3. If we decided to go the Mach 3 route, we'd need a Mach 3 license and our drivers. I'd probably go with a Geckodrive G540. So... $475 to get in the door. Sound about right? (On his very old CNC router, everything works, except a single driver.)
     
  7. GrayUK

    GrayUK Master
    Staff Member Moderator Builder

    Joined:
    May 5, 2014
    Messages:
    925
    Likes Received:
    214
    I reckon there should be a Computer/Screen stand design forthcoming from someone using a piece of Aluminium with a small stepper to raise and lower a small platform with the laptop on. Or computer and screen, or something similar.

    Gray
     
    Hytech2k likes this.
  8. Hytech2k

    Hytech2k Master
    Builder

    Joined:
    May 6, 2014
    Messages:
    420
    Likes Received:
    285
    Just abit of advice IMHO... You don't have to use the parallel port, I use a Ethernet Smoothstepper to run my machines, Mach communicates directly to the ESS through an Ethernet cable. Gives me the flexibility to put my PC 250 feet away if I like... I read alot about issues with parallel port versions and even the USB version. ESS and CAT6 cable good to go.... Just be careful with the Gecko 540, if it's a big machine running Nema 34's steppers I don't believe the 540 will do it. The other thing is, when the 540 has issues thats it, you have to replace the whole unit, whereas use separate drivers and just replace the one..... Just my opinion...
     
  9. Rural

    Rural Journeyman
    Builder

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2014
    Messages:
    42
    Likes Received:
    11
    Good catch, Hytech2k... Ya. 3.5 A on the 540. Enough to work, but there are better options.
     

Share This Page

  • About Us

    The OpenBuilds Team is dedicated helping you to Dream it - Build it - Share it! Collaborate on our forums and be sure to visit the Part Store for all your Building needs!
  • Like us on Facebook

  • Support Open Source FairShare Program!

    OpenBuilds FairShare Give Back Program provide resources to Open Source projects, developers and schools around the world. Invest in your future by helping others develop theirs!

    Donate to FairShare!