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  1. #1

    Help a Newb Build an 8x4 Machine ????

    Hi All,

    I’m new here, given myself a 2 week crash course with a 3018, done 4 jobs, now ready to build a decent size machine. I only learn by ‘doing’, so in the deep end suits me fine.

    I have in my workshop an 8x4 welded steel table, I use it for all sorts, the idea is for the CNC machine to be suspended from the roof when not in use, and lowered onto the steel table when I need it.
    I will make the CNC frame height adjustable from the steel table, so I can raise or lower it depending on the height of the work piece.

    I’m planning on mostly using it for cutting wood. For example, my next job is to build 2 pairs of Oak Gates, 85mm thick, 1750 wide, and big curved top rails, usually id cut this out on the bandsaw, hand plane, belt sander.. but it’d be a lot easier if I could spit these out on a CNC..
    I also want to be able to load 6x6, 8x8, 10x10 etc Oak Beams for shaping, cutting mortise and tenons, engrave, etc..

    I’d also like to use it for Laser’ing stuff.. And cutting metal, mostly Alu, possible steel sheet too if I can?!

    I have a bunch of questions.. If you’ll humour me..

    1. Control Box/Board
    Iv had a look and only seen really cheap eBay stuff or really expensive.
    Can I run a £20 GRBL(or similar) board with a big machine? I’m not entirely clear on the drivers, breakout boards, etc, and what board they work with, and what steppers I’d need.
    The computer side of things is where I really struggle. Been using Onshape CAD. Tried MeshCam, don’t like. Using Easle CAM now. Used GRBL Goode sender or whatever it is. Also DLd UGS but could get it to load my file. I’m looking for simple, idiot proof, no bells or whistles.

    2. With target of machinable area of 8x4, I’m hoping a 1500mm leadscrew will be ok for the gantry. I’m assuming 2700-2800mm is to long for an unsupported leadscrew, or is it possible? How fat would it need to be not to defect and/or whip? What’s the alternative, rack and pinion?

    3. What’s the best type of linear motion rails? I’ll probably be going eBay for these, Round SBR20 or SBR25, or, HGR Series 20-25mm?

    Any help would be very much appreciated, try to hide your laughter ????

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2004

    Re: Help a Newb Build an 8x4 Machine ????

    I've never seen a setup like you describe, where the CNC parts hang from the ceiling until you want to use them. It sounds like you'd have problems getting everything to work right each time you did that. Maybe if there were solid bolted connections that were repeatable you could make it work, but it seems that if I had a rig like that I'd probably tend to leave it in place rather than go through all the trouble of re-connecting everything each time.

    It also seems that for the sort of projects you're talking about, conventional woodworking equipment like tablesaws, bandsaws and chisels, etc. would be faster and work better than CNC. Remember that with a router table, you can only work on one side at a time, but for putting tenons on beams you want them positioned end-up. With fancy engraving and carving, you're more in the realm of where CNC router save you time.

    All the GRBL setups I've seen have been low-powered, suitable for smaller machines perhaps, but nothing as large as the one you're proposing.

    Take a look at DeskProto for simple, powerful CAM intended for non-machinists.

    Lots of machines use ball screws over an 8 foot span, but they tend to be fat ones. However, rack and pinion is a viable alternative.

    The HGR type of rails, with a basically square shape, are vastly superior to the round rail type.

    Only the most solid CNC routers can do an effective job on aluminum, and none of them cut steel well.

    Laser cutters are entirely different machines that only superficially resemble CNC routers. Most importantly, they are totally enclosed with eye-safe material and won't fire until the doors are closed and it's safe to do so. I know there are videos of people who strap a laser onto their CNC machines, but people do lots of stupid stuff on the internet.
    Andrew Werby

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2013

    Re: Help a Newb Build an 8x4 Machine ????

    I use a cnc router for my mortise joints and they are absolutely perfect. Nothing compares. Also use it for anything that needs to be repeated or is round. It gets used in my Joinery business about as much as my spindle molder.

    Totally agree with the last post. It took me a whole bunch of work including a whole new Z assy before I could be honest and say I can mill alloy properly. Especially accurately as it does not have a +/- 0.25mm tolerance that timber does.

    I say build it. And you will see for yourself it's not the best idea to dismantle and raise. But..... do build it. And lots of help here when you get stuck.

    Oh. And I use a very cheap breakout board and apart from the lack of about another 3 or so inputs can't fault it. B

    Sent from my SM-N970F using Tapatalk

  4. #4

    Re: Help a Newb Build an 8x4 Machine ????

    Quote Originally Posted by awerby View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by boydage View Post
    Thank you both, much appreciated.
    I can assure you it will be firmly fixed each and every time I come to use it. My workshop is a reasonable size but I can not afford an 8x4 area to be solely for this machine. I’m confident in making it firm, thats one thing I’m not worried about.

    You’re right, Andrew, I probably could do my Gates job quicker and cheaper by hand factoring in the costs and time to build the machine, but I only need to build the CNC once, I’ll find more and more uses for it.
    I probably wouldn’t do things like tenons, I have an old Wadkin Spindle Moulder with a custom fitted Axminster sliding table, custom made spindle and rebate block with flush top, so I can smash out a 5inch wide tenon in seconds.
    Id like to get away from doing site work and do more workshop work, my knees are fu bar’d.. I have a ton of ideas I want to machine, so it’s definitely worth the initial setup. designed a shelving system which I could smash out 8x4 sheets of components in an hour rather than days on the bandsaw + sander, less time, less consumables, less dust, less wastage, more profit.
    I’ll probably CNC my old Myford Lathe too after this project..lol

    So, just to clear up a simple thing, is Breakout board and Control board the same thing?

    Which Board do you use Boydage?

    I need to decide on what size steppers I need, and drivers, etc. Obviously there is variables that dictate the specs, is there a calculator online somewhere or a document on how to workout what I need?

    Do Rack and Pinion systems use the same Steppers as Leadscrews?

    Thanks chaps

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2004

    Re: Help a Newb Build an 8x4 Machine ????

    That does sound like the right tool for tenons, but I agree, you'll probably find a lot of uses for your CNC once you get going with it - so much so that you won't be boosting it up to the ceiling too often.

    No, a breakout board is just one component of a controller, which can consist of one or multiple circuit boards. All it does is give you terminals for your logic functions. Actually doing things with the signals and outputs is the function of the controller, which can host the drives, generate analog signals to control the VFD, use logic signals from software commands to do work like triggering relays, and similar things. The BOB is just a pass-through.

    To choose your steppers, figure out how much torque you'll need at what speeds, and look up the torque/speed curve of the motor to see what it will deliver. Don't just go by the holding torque (the most common number you'll see advertised) since that's measured when it's standing still, but torque falls off rapidly as the motors go faster. Make sure that the voltage required won't kill your drives; this usually favors motors with less inductance.

    Yes, R&P systems can use the same steppers,as ball or leadscrews, but they may need to go faster or provide more torque at a given speed, depending on how the threads and teeth compare.. If you're going with R&P you need to figure out a way to preload the pinion against the rack, that's the main mechanical problem they face.
    Andrew Werby

  6. #6

    Re: Help a Newb Build an 8x4 Machine ????

    Hi Andrew, thanks for taking the time to reply. Iv done a few more evenings of reading/youtubing, there is so many variables I don’t know where to start in spec’ing the components, so many articles and videos are contradictory of each other it’s hard to know who to listen too.
    I’m yet to find a proper guide in working out all these variables. More reading required.. unless someone fancies telling me what I need..lol

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2004

    Re: Help a Newb Build an 8x4 Machine ????

    The smaller and more specific your question, the more likely you are to get a useful answer.
    Andrew Werby

  8. #8

    Re: Help a Newb Build an 8x4 Machine ????

    Hi Andrew, I shall bare that in mind.
    Iv decided to scrap the adjustable hight mounting method I had planned, and decided to make end plates for the gantry to be adjustable. I’m designing it to have 250mm Z axis travel, so I’ll be able to machine 8x8” beams and be able to get all the way down to base board, and still have room to adjust up or down.

    Iv been trying to workout Ballscrew sizes. I’d like to use Non Captive steppers, Idea being the stepper is fixed to Y axis gantry plate, ball screw clamped tight at each end.. but, I can’t find any steppers big enough, or fast enough, or that have the correct ball screw internals.
    I’m thinking 25mm ball screws for the Y axis, if they whip, I’ll just have to go slower. The cost gets to crazy to go bigger.

  9. #9

    Re: Help a Newb Build an 8x4 Machine ????

    I need to workout the following..Ball Screw Pitch, Stepper Motor Spec, Drivers Spec..

    How do I work this out? Is there a guide somewhere on how to equate the variables?

    Considering the Ball screws are going to be 2600-2700mm long, am I better off with a 10mmPR pitch, rather than a 5mm pitch? ie spin the shaft half the speed to achieve same travel.
    Would this affect accuracy? If so, how much? Negligible amount or considerable?

    Also, I’m now going to make it fully welded steel construction. I want the rigidity/accuracy.
    On the fence whether to get a auto tool change Spindle, or maybe just upgrade to one in the future. Will have to see how my budget stretches.

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