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  #31  
Old Thu 05 April 2007, 11:45
Gerald_D
Just call me:
 
Can you advise how I might start out with a simple DIY CNC table?:
It depends on your motives, skills and weaknesses. The MechMate project is primarily geared to someone wanting to earn income with a CNC router cutting shapes out of boards for clients - this implies someone who has space to build big. The size of a parking pay. Point of saying all this is that Mechmate is not for a hobbyist teenager in his bedroom - there are smaller CNC systems/plans/kits available. The technologies involved in building big or small are no different on the control or software side.

The actual table (the mechanical part) is low-tech stuff (at least to me). The mysteries and lessons are in the control system, up to the point where you get motors to turn on your command. Start by forming an understanding of all the building blocks, what each one does, and how it connects to the others.

If you are itching to build something as you learn, start here. Next thing to build is just a gantry. Leave the big table for very last.

What budget do I need?:
Somewhere near $4000 for building this big board cutting production machine. Maybe only half that for smaller machines that cut with lightweight tools and that you could fit on a desktop. But, you also need a lot of time and access to tools.

Your forum is so detailled where is a good starting point?:
You might have noticed that some forum thread titles now start with ** - these are the one's I consider to be essential reading. I have tried to keep the more informative threads at the top.

Has anyone applied this to a wood lathe holding a router with only an x and Z axis?:
Yes, this is often called an "indexer". The main thread for it is here. Use the Search function to search for indexer. I consider the indexer side to be a diversion from the main MechMate project - something for later....

My exposure to CNC is limited but am about to attend a control logics course, we have a few linear motion controlled converted grinders we use Rockwell electronics but the industrial stuff is V expensive I trust you have some home DIY tricks?:
My home DIY tricks are in the mechanicals, the easy part. The computer/software/control box side is actually fairly standard across thousands of CNC machines. The stuff we recommend that you use at this website is very mainstream, and it actually tends to the conservative, low-risk side. Probably more than enough excitement for a complete beginner, but we try to stick to the proven. There are a couple of other forums on these subjects which spend a lot of time on the exotic and I know they are totally confusing to a newbie - I was there myself about 3 years ago...
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  #32  
Old Thu 10 May 2007, 23:08
Frank Dixon
Just call me:
 
Ok, time for another newbie. I am interested in building a CNC Router for 5052-t3 Aluminum Sheet, Acrylic, Lexan (Plexiglass), and wood. I like the look of your MechMate and was wondering if it could be scaled for a 60" x 60" table. Also, was wondering what kind of price range building such a table would be. These are my basics for now, and I can guarantee there will be many more.
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  #33  
Old Mon 18 June 2007, 11:30
Marc Shlaes
Just call me: Marc
 
Cleveland, OH
United States of America
Send a message via Skype™ to Marc Shlaes
Group,

I didn't get any takers on a quick discussion so here goes...

As I look at wiring diagrams, I am somewhat handicapped for never having seen a CNC router operate.

The e-stop button's function is obvious. I also read the earlier discussions on the "pause" button. The limit switches are also somewhat obvious - designed to prevent 'over-travel' of movable components. What I really don't understand is how a specific job is actually started. That translates to a non-understanding of the function of the home switches. Are the axes manually jogged until the home switch is triggered and then the router knows where it is at all times? Is that how it works? If and when the router loses its bearings, the process is repeated? Every day? Every job? Only when something goes wrong? How are material edges located? Same way? Manual jogging or is the material typically loaded and clamped to a reference point? I am about to start ordering parts and I am leary of not knowing what I don't know. I am very mechanically inclined and an accomplished woodworker / cabinet maker. Just never seen a CNC system operate.

Gerald, should there be a thread in the General section on Mechmate Operation so that other total newbies can get a clue? I appreciate your thoughts. Feel free to move the content of this note to any thread you feel is appropriate.

(Oh, BTW - I do know that the thread I just posted to was a Power thread not a Control thread. I assume that is why the home/limit switches were not on Greg's drawing. Maybe they were... I'll study his drawing now that it is big enough to read.)

I hope the lightbulb in my head goes to full bright soon. Right this second, it is a little overloaded.

Thanks again!

Last edited by Marc Shlaes; Mon 18 June 2007 at 11:47..
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  #34  
Old Mon 18 June 2007, 12:15
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
Marc, would it help you if you realise that we havn't ever used a home or limit switch?

You seem to have the concern that you won't be able to drive the machine once you have built it. That is a completely back-to-front way of looking at CNC. YOU are the person in control with your computer and you make the machine dance to your tune. You build the machine according to what you want it to do for you. So, the starting point is to decide how you want to do the job.

An example; we mostly cut parts out of sheets. An early decision was that we will ignore the edges of the sheets - ie. all edges of finished components will be re-cut. A result of this approach is that precision homing is very seldom required. Therefore, if we have cut 500 pizza platters, we manually jog the router (with the keyboard cursor keys) until the center of the bit is over bottom left corner of the sheet of plywood, give or take 1/8", then press "Start". The next sheet gets laid at the same corner of the table and Start is pushed again (without any jogging of the router). Cheap labour does this all day. "Homing" within 1/8" was done only once.

Now, do you want to be doing anything more critical than pizza platters? Are your blanks that accurate? Why might you need exact to size blanks? These are the broad issues that need clearing in your head before you get cluttered with the minutae of wiring. (You will only wire for a day or two, but you will be shifting sheets/blanks nearly every day for a long time - which is more important? )
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  #35  
Old Mon 18 June 2007, 13:38
Marc Shlaes
Just call me: Marc
 
Cleveland, OH
United States of America
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That did help. I thought that the home switch(es) were used all the time to "calibrate" the router. I also cut things out of sheets and the exact size of the sheet isn't important all the time but - once in a while - it is. Like for instance if you are cutting / carving something on the other side of a piece where the first side is finished.

Like I said, I have never even seen one.

Maybe there happens to be another builder within, say, 3 hours drive from Cleveland, OH, US?

Anyone?
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  #36  
Old Mon 18 June 2007, 14:01
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
The trick for lining up front & back is to drill "registration" holes through the center of the workpiece (at the scrap edges) into the spoilboard, flip over and drive dowels through the holes.

Hang around the ShopBot forum for this sort of stuff.

Where a homing position is very useful, is when you have a power failure during a long cut and you need to find the original reference point again.

With Mach3, the limit switch and the home switch can be one and the same switch. If you are doing normal cutting the switch behaves as a limit switch - it trips the movement. However, when you are in Homing mode, then Mach3 finds the switch, zero's itself, and moves away from the switch again.
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  #37  
Old Mon 18 June 2007, 16:11
Marc Shlaes
Just call me: Marc
 
Cleveland, OH
United States of America
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This little bit was a gem. "With Mach3, the limit switch and the home switch can be one and the same switch." I didn't realized that. I was guessing but never asked.

Shows that there are no dumb questions.
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  #38  
Old Mon 18 June 2007, 22:17
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
Realise that all the limit/home switches are wired in series, and therefore Mach3 does not know which specific switch has been hit. However, Mach3 is clever enough to know what it was doing just before hitting a switch and can figure out which switch was hit. If you hear a bang while reversing your car, you know it is at the back.
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  #39  
Old Mon 18 June 2007, 22:51
paco
Just call me: Paco
 
Québec
Canada
Quote:
What budget do I need?:
Somewhere near $4000 for building this big board cutting production machine. Maybe only half that for smaller machines that cut with lightweight tools and that you could fit on a desktop. But, you also need a lot of time and access to tools.
I'd like more details on this one; what's included and do I get a Mechmate cap in the package? Seriously, maybe in some sort of logical section like frame, mechanics, electronics, misc...
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  #40  
Old Tue 19 June 2007, 08:46
Marc Shlaes
Just call me: Marc
 
Cleveland, OH
United States of America
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Gerald,

I thought I picked this up on some drawing earlier: "all the limit/home switches are wired in series". I thought I was nuts and just couldn't figure out the drawing. These little tidbits help a lot.

From your earlier post on "a backwards way of looking at things"... I actually am not the slightest bit worried about learning to drive the MM, nor building the mechanical parts correctly. I know I can get it done. I just don't understand any of the control aspects. Therefore, building the control / operational components just don't seem so "step-by-step" as the other aspects.

I know I can get it. Thanks for your patience.

Marc

P.S. I'm more partial to a MechMate travel / shop coffee cup with a spillproof lid!
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  #41  
Old Tue 19 June 2007, 11:18
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
Darn, the caps were going to be so easy - my neighbour is a CNC embroiderer and he owes me lots of favours.

Paco, I am trying to get a costing together that will make sense to someone outside of Cape Town. This actually means coming up with a shopping list that can be used in America. But I have to figure out if you guys buy screws and springs at the Home Depot, or at MacMaster Carr - that makes a huge difference on costing!
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  #42  
Old Tue 19 June 2007, 12:37
J.R. Hatcher
Just call me: J.R. #4
 
Wilmington, North Carolina
United States of America
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Gerald why not get everyone to contribute (keeps all the work off you). Maybe start a subject named Materials, under that have a thread named bolts. Example: Everyone cas see I'm from NC USA I buy my bolts from Agri Supply in Garner, NC, I pay around $1.70 per pound for any size bolt, nut, washer, in SAE or Metric.
Would something like this work? The first post could be a list of all bolts for a certain size machine, even if it's not the size I'm building it is easy to adjust.
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  #43  
Old Tue 19 June 2007, 13:14
Marc Shlaes
Just call me: Marc
 
Cleveland, OH
United States of America
Send a message via Skype™ to Marc Shlaes
J.R.,

That is one reason I created the spreadsheet. I figured that if everyone used it or something similar, we could all just post our updated versions periodically and all the purchasing alternatives are easily illustrated. People could cut and paste parts and suppliers and very quickly create their own "purchase orders". Questions about cost would take care of themselves.

Just my thoughts.

Regards,

Marc
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  #44  
Old Tue 19 June 2007, 14:02
Greg J
Just call me: Greg #13
 
Hagerman, New Mexico
United States of America
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc Shlaes View Post
Gerald,

I thought I picked this up on some drawing earlier: "all the limit/home switches are wired in series". I thought I was nuts and just couldn't figure out the drawing. These little tidbits help a lot.

From your earlier post on "a backwards way of looking at things"... I actually am not the slightest bit worried about learning to drive the MM, nor building the mechanical parts correctly. I know I can get it done. I just don't understand any of the control aspects. Therefore, building the control / operational components just don't seem so "step-by-step" as the other aspects.

I know I can get it. Thanks for your patience.

Marc

P.S. I'm more partial to a MechMate travel / shop coffee cup with a spillproof lid!

Marc,

I have never done this kind of controls either. It is do-able, but its not "step-by-step". I also don't think it can be a "step-by-step" process, since every table is different. Everyone has different requirements, cost constraints, capibilities, etc. The help from this forum is exceptional and if there is anything I can do to help, just ask. I think we are around the same point for the control box.

As for my schematics, I update with Gerald's corrections soon. Even with his corrections, I still have a thousand questions.

Good luck and most importantly, have fun.
Greg

P.S. - My vote is for hats and coffee mugs. Not the travel kind, I'm a traditionalist when it comes to coffee, just the good ole ceramic coffee cup.

Last edited by Greg J; Tue 19 June 2007 at 14:05..
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  #45  
Old Wed 25 July 2007, 15:49
extremecanvas
Just call me: canvas
 
baton rouge
United States of America
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gerald_D View Post
If the MechMate were restricted to four table lengths (X) and four gantry lengths (Y), it would appear that most of the market could be served by the following capabilities: (max board sizes)....

X dimension equals:
1850mm [6.1 ft]
2500mm [8.2 ft]
2800mm [9.2 ft]
3660mm [12 ft]
....or would a 3050mm [10 ft] be a more popular length?

Y dimension equals:
1250mm [4.1 ft]
1530mm [5 ft]
1850mm [6.1 ft]
2070mm [6.8 ft]

(The design allows for 50mm [2 in] extra travel beyond all edges of the above board sizes)
for the us the 10' ( 3050mm would be more popular. ) Our sheets come in 4x8 and 5x10
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  #46  
Old Mon 30 July 2007, 03:10
digger
Just call me: Milosh #113
 
Toronto
Canada
Hi Gerald,

This is great info.

I am still undecided about the size, should it be "squeezed" or normal size. Regarding my decision, if machine is regular size (4x8), how much of the room around machine you really need? My intention is to build it and use it in my single car garage which doesn't have to much of the width. How much of room around the machine you really need for normal operation and maintaining of Mechmate?

Beside that, I would like to express all compliments to Superior Bearing company. Quality of the product, way of communication really correspond to the their name - superior. This is my experience with them.

Milosh


Quote:
Originally Posted by Gerald_D View Post
What is the smallest MechMate off the plans? Well, I am very tempted to do a 1200mm [4ft] gantry on a 600mm [2ft] table for making signs at home. In this case I would call the gantry x and the table y.

That gantry would easily transfer to a 2400mm [8ft] table if I want to sell it. I think there comes a point where one considers shortening the table instead of the gantry, since 95% of the MechMate's "engineering" and sweat are in the gantry (and control box) and not in the table. Tables are almost consumable/disposable - unless you are heavily invested in vacuum holddown.
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  #47  
Old Mon 30 July 2007, 05:28
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
In the Y-direction (your 4'), the back of the y motors are 350 to 400mm [14 to 16"] outside the edges of the 4' wide board. ie across motors with gearboxes that is 48" + 16" + 16" = 80" at the widest points.

In the X-direction you just take the length of the main beams - the gantry does not run beyond that.

Now it depends how much you are willing to suck in your gut to squeeze past the gantry ends....
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  #48  
Old Mon 30 July 2007, 14:39
digger
Just call me: Milosh #113
 
Toronto
Canada
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gerald D View Post
In the Y-direction (your 4'), the back of the y motors are 350 to 400mm [14 to 16"] outside the edges of the 4' wide board. ie across motors with gearboxes that is 48" + 16" + 16" = 80" at the widest points.

In the X-direction you just take the length of the main beams - the gantry does not run beyond that.

Now it depends how much you are willing to suck in your gut to squeeze past the gantry ends....
Width of 80" is dimension I am looking for.

Milosh
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  #49  
Old Wed 19 September 2007, 02:52
astarguy
Just call me: astarguy
 
ciccinnati
United States of America
i just found this site and so far i think that this is the best over all so far. as for a table size i will be using a max of 48 inches and 48 inches the max z height that i would need is 3/4 inches but of course i will be using a bigger z axis just in case i want to do something other than the project i am working on now.
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  #50  
Old Sun 23 September 2007, 12:23
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
Printing out the drawings

Hi All,

I had a post on the forum before which suggested printing out two sets of drawings, but can't find it now. It went something like this:

Print two sets of drawings . . . . .

Set 1: Sorted by drawing number, bound and filed as the reference file. This file collects all the notes, prices, phone numbers, and this set never leaves your office. It is the clean set.

Set 2: Sorted by process code first, and then by number. ie. All the welding drawings will be together in a batch, all the drilling drawings will form a set, etc. You will probably scan the batch of drilling drawings and decide if your drill is big enough, or scan all the W (welding) drawings and decide if you want to get help with that. All the T(turning) drawings would probably go to a machinist. These drawings go to the shop - this is the dirty set. And then, when the parts come back, you refer to Set 1 to see where the parts fit in the bigger scheme of things.

Can anyone remember this post and which thread it was on?
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  #51  
Old Sat 06 October 2007, 15:31
Blackriver
Just call me: Nigel
 
Cape Town
South Africa
Big spindels and Other-Cams

Evening Gerald,
Wow, what a labour of love you have going here.
Im not sure if I should be starting a new thread with these questions so am just tacking it on here.
I was doing a bit of research into the 600k-+ machines when out the net you pop and put a new spin on what is possible.
I want to cut aluminium, 3mm to 12mm, on a 6m table, so have been advised that I should be running a 11Hp 4pole spindle. Is it possible to upgrade your Mech Mate to drive a beast of this size,also, with your rack and pinion being straight cut and having seen a helical cut rack on an American made model which to my mind should give you a better opperating system due to the number of teeth in contact with the rack at all times, would you at some time look at this as a modification, or do you see problems in regards to the variations in build quality that could cause uneven tracking due to slight diferences in measurements between the track and rack.
In awe of this site
Nigel
PS is there a GA of the whole layout some where
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  #52  
Old Sun 07 October 2007, 07:31
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackriver View Post
. . . . . .Is it possible to upgrade your Mech Mate to drive a beast of this size, . . . . .
Anything is possible, but I would rather not venture into this territory

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackriver View Post
. . . . also, with your rack and pinion being straight cut and having seen a helical cut rack on an American made model which to my mind should give you a better opperating system due to the number of teeth in contact with the rack at all times, would you at some time look at this as a modification, . . . .
Have looked at it briefly and discarded it because it isn't necessary for a router in this price class. Helical racks (and the mating helical pinions) are not that freely available, cost a lot more and introduce axial loads on the pinion which our current motors don't like.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackriver View Post
. . . .or do you see problems in regards to the variations in build quality that could cause uneven tracking due to slight diferences in measurements between the track and rack. . . . .
Sorry, don't understand this question??

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackriver View Post
. . . . is there a GA of the whole layout some where
The first page of TableJun07.pdf gives drawing 10 00 000 A - It is dimensionless because each builder determines their own dimenesions.
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  #53  
Old Wed 27 February 2008, 09:19
CAM Craft
Just call me: Sean D
 
Cape Town
South Africa
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gerald_D View Post
Board sizes in UK
Board sizes in Australia
more Australia

Valchromat coloured mdf sheet size 2500mm x 1250mm
Valchromat is 2500mm x 1850mm
MDF in SA varies from 1830 and 1860mm in width and 2750mm in length
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  #54  
Old Fri 14 March 2008, 07:22
smreish
Just call me: Sean - #5, 28, 58 and others
 
Orlando, Florida
United States of America
...and because I built a 5 x 10 table, I used 275' of cable.
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  #55  
Old Fri 14 March 2008, 07:29
domino11
Just call me: Heath
 
Cornwall, Ontario
Canada
Sean,
When you did your 5x10 how did you do the spoilboard and support board. Did you get stock in one piece or did you have to make it up out of 4x8s? I was wondering this because I cant get anything larger than 4x8s.

Heath.
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  #56  
Old Fri 14 March 2008, 11:43
smreish
Just call me: Sean - #5, 28, 58 and others
 
Orlando, Florida
United States of America
I am able to find 5x10 and 5x12 MDF easily here in the states.
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  #57  
Old Tue 18 March 2008, 07:34
Robert M
Just call me: Robert
 
Lac-Brome, Qc
Canada
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Heath,
You MUST search where else than those renovation centers. Call on some woodworking lumber/sheet goods yard/distributor, they have 4x10, 5x10 and 5x12 in MDF, PressWood, Plywood to name a few. I’m not acquainted with distributors and their channels for your Cornwall region? Sorry !!
Maybe try Robert Burry, Commonwealth Plywood, Weyerhaeuser, Goodfellow, Dragon Ply…to name a few of hand. I know they cover Ontario and other many other provinces, just not sure if they cover Cornwall ??

Good luck & let me know if I can be further assistance, I’ll look it up for you if you find nothing!!
Amicalement, Robert
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  #58  
Old Tue 18 March 2008, 08:37
domino11
Just call me: Heath
 
Cornwall, Ontario
Canada
Robert,
Thanks, I have not tried looking outside for larger sheets, but it seems that all the local distributors, yards and stores only stock 4x8 sheets. I might see if they could order in larger sheets. Would have to be a large order though.

Heath.
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  #59  
Old Tue 18 March 2008, 20:25
smreish
Just call me: Sean - #5, 28, 58 and others
 
Orlando, Florida
United States of America
Robert,
Another option is contact a local sign supplier that does sign work. You may find that they order in, and keep in stock for internal use, large oversized sheet goods. Most folks are helpful and will sell you a 1 off sheet for your use. I know this is the case with a few of the sign suppliers in florida. When I get in a bind for MDF, I call in a favor or two! Good luck.
Sean
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  #60  
Old Mon 19 May 2008, 09:10
jeep534
Just call me: archie
 
prichard, wv
United States of America
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gerald_D View Post
Aren't those "odd" sizes because of some metric systems creeping up on you? A 2.5 meter board, ripped down the center with a 5mm kerf will give you 2 boards 49.1" wide.....

20mm is slightly thicker than 3/4".....
18mm is popular in some metric countries, slightly thinner than 3/4"........
Actually 2X4's started out that way before "Milling" so after planing and rounding the edges you get a "nominal" 2X4 and a stud is 3" short of 8' to allow a 2X4 on top and bottom to give you an 8' high wall

archie =) =) =)
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