I’m going to tell my story and share my build. I’ve been wanting a 3D printer for a long while. Never was able to spend the time to figure them out to build my own and didn’t want to spend bucks on a commercial job. I’ve also been wanting a CNC router for quite a few years. Almost pulled the trigger on an X-Carve but the the Glowforge laser debuted. Got me sidetracked from some time. That is another story, but I lucked out and got an early pre-release so I was able to spend most of a year testing it out. My claim to fame is getting a gig showcasing the Glowforge at Bay Area Maker Faire 2017. What a kick. I met Angus from Maker’s Muse there and decided that I would watch all his videos and see what this 3D printing thing is capable of. So naturally I started watching Tom Sanladerer’s videos. Got impatient for the wait for the production Glowforge so I got a Prusa I3 MK2. Really was blown away at how I could make practical things to fix broken parts around the house. Added a Creality CR-10s to the stable. Having the laser and the 3D printers really allows me to make some neat things. Each has its strong points.
I never gave up on the CNC router thing and actually bought a tinyG and some steppers and messed around with the electronics and was thinking of a home built design. I wanted to understand the electronics and software first because that would be the biggest challenge for me.
I saw Tom Sanladerer’s short interview with Ryan at MRRF 2018 and knew that this was for me. I watched every YouTube on MPCNC I could find and read through the forum posts to get an understanding of how things went together. I had a few other projects to finish up but finally at the new year, I started printing the parts. Ordered the steppers and board from Ryan, sourced the rest as I could. Finally got all the parts I needed and with the help of my nephew and brother on one Saturday put the frame and Z axis up. It’s about 900mm x 900mm from side to side.
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I am not going to go into the problems that came up, they were minor. I can say that I wish I would have bought the wire harness too from Ryan. I had planned on rolling my own connectors, but my DuPont connector and crimper kit I ordered somehow got lost in shipping. So I did a lot of wire splicing and soldering. Amazing they all worked except for one pin that got pulled out of the end terminator for one of the end stops. I ended up putting the pin into the wrong slot of the 3 hole connector. Couldn’t figure out why my dual end stops were showing errors and there was some weird stuff when I tried to home. Got that taken care of. I mounted a pen and was off to figure out Estlcam. This isn’t trivial. I know may way around slicers and basic gcode and I use Onshape for 3D work, but breaking down things into operations is a bit more challenging. I’m still at a 2.0D level of CAM.
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I set up CNC.js and that makes things so much easier with my laptop to control everything. Did my first crowns and was pretty excited it all worked out well enough to make it recognizable. Was still working on my custom mount for a Craftsman multi-purpose rotary tool that I had which would also hold a pen and other such things. Fat sharpies are very forgiving.
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Got everything squared and the end stops tweaked for home and was ready for a good test. So I tried a couple designs that I traced with a pen and then went over with my Glowforge laser. The first with diagonals and circles demonstrates that the MPCNC is at least as accurate as my laser, if only off because I didn’t line up the design quite right.
The second crown test is even better. Lined everything up. The laser cut perfectly over the CNC-ed crown. The only error is slight runout from the pen mount.
So really just plugging things in and it works without any fiddling or anything.
Ryan’s design is solid. I still haven’t gotten it dirty. Ordered some endmills today from Ryan’s shop. I have a bunch of pink foam to practice on first. And am doing lots of sharpie art while I figure out Estlcam’s settings.