newb has some questions for those with running CNCs

Hi Everyone,

I’m seriously considering taking the plunge and building a CNC mill version. I’ve been running 3D printers and using laser cutters for a while, and a CNC mill is the next step for me. I’m also comfortable working with Arduinos. I’m pretty comfortable with the assembly after watching the videos, but this will be the largest and most complicated electronic thing I’ve built so I’m bit nervous.

I have some questions before I take the plunge, and I’m hoping those of you with up and running machines can answer them for me.

  1. What did you have difficulty with when you where setting the machine up?
  2. Did you enclose the Ramps board or leave it free air, or use the graphic controller or emergency stop in your assembly?
  3. What software are you using to design and to run the mill, and did you try other software? Estlcam seems adequate, but are there better options?
  4. If I wanted to do a 24 x 48 bed, what reinforcements would I need on the 48 inch side?

Thanks! I’m excited about this.

I think I will stay out of this one. More for everyone other than me.

Hi Corey,

I just finished my build and I’m just starting to use it. I suggest reading what you can on this web site, there is a lot of good information. Read through all the assembly information before you start. It gives you an idea of where you are going before you get there. Check out the “Build and things Built” section. Some people documented some of their build, and it will give you an idea of what you can expect.

I will say the kit is well worth it. One button to press, and you get everything you need less the printed parts, conduit and tool. If I had to hunt down parts, reorder stuff that wasn’t right, it would have taken me several more days and delays. Another advantage to getting your parts here, it’s easier for Ryan to help you with problems if he knows the parts your working with.

To answer your questions:

  1. I didn’t find anything difficult. It was challenging and I enjoyed the challenge. I spent a lot of time test fitting parts. I sanded and filed so everything fit without forcing things. Don’t be afraid to take things apart and do adjustments, it always goes back together faster the second or third time.

  2. I highly suggest and emergency stop to kill power to everything. Think Safety, get some eye and ear protection and keep your fingers away from the rotary tools. If things start going wrong, you want to have a button in reach to stop everything. My RAMPS board is not covered… yet. I plan to make an enclosure with my MPCNC. I’m kind of burned out on 3D printing right now :slight_smile:

  3. I’m using 123D for design, Estlcam, and Repetier. I have downloaded and tried Fusion 360. 123D and Estlcam have less of a learning curve, and they do everything I need it to do at this point.

  4. I built a 24"x24" with short legs, and this is plenty big for what I plan to do. Maybe someone who has built a larger one can answer your question.

Good luck with your build!

Thanks Dave. I’ve been over the videos a few times but there’s no teacher like experience.

Vicious1, can you address supports for the 48 inch side?

Depends on what you are using the machine for. Laser, no supports needed. Aluminum, 24"x48", probably not going to work very well at all.

I honestly can’t tell you if they are needed at 48" or not. I have never made anything very big. You can always add them if needed.

Definitely milling 3/4 plywood using an 1/8 or 1/4 end mill, which I do anticipate using the full size of the bed to do, and doing a small area (like 2cm x 10cm) of surface engraving on aluminum, maybe to a depth of a 2mm using a 1/16 square or tapered end mill.

Hey corey, i don’t have mine fully up and running yet but it’s at the “sharpie drawing” stage so i think i can probably add my answers to these to the pile

1. What did you have difficulty with when you were setting the machine up?
My main problem was actually calibrating my 3d printer to get the parts out right. Secondary problem was putting together the center hub but i’ve got the old version of that and i gather the unbelievable butt-ache that is the lock for the threaded rod for the z-axis is fixed now. what other problems… let’s see… figuring out how to route the wiring was an interesting exercise and i had to scratch design a few things for that. still got more to do there too.

2. Did you enclose the Ramps board or leave it free air, or use the graphic controller or emergency stop in your assembly?
I printed a case for the ramps because i don’t like having electronics out in the air, i got the graphics controller but i haven’t installed it yet but that will be getting cased too, and i guess an emstop button will be necessary at that point.

3. What software are you using to design and to run the mill, and did you try other software? Estlcam seems adequate, but are there better options?
designwise i use rhino because i know how to use rhino, then i put it through estlcam because that’s what got recommended and i’m gonna go with the guy who designed the machine on that one.

4. If I wanted to do a 24 x 48 bed, what reinforcements would I need on the 48 inch side?
honestly not sure, but because nothing ever touches the bottom of the rails cause of how the rollers are designed you could basically support the rails along the entire length if you wanted to, so throw a few of these on it or similar. no idea how these perform, i don’t need em

Mine is not fully functional at this point either (although it could be… i just lack time in the summer)

My build is 60" square. I have supported the mid way point on the exterior rails… That makes a huge difference in the rigidity of those axis. I would suggest adding supports as well on those longer axis. The concern is increasing the rigidity of the conduit on the internal X and Y rails, The new center design seems to increase rigidity a fair amount.

I printed a ramps case with a 80mm fan from thingiverse to keep it protected and cool.

Functional machine here with the spindle and 3dp at 24"x24".

  1. No difficulty in setup. Learning how to make the software work took some doing to get pcb’s right.

  2. Enclosed the power supply, ramps and graphic controller in order to keep cnc dust out.
    Also set up a raspberry pi using repetitive server so I didn’t have to plug the laptop in.
    Added main power switch as well as wiring up quick connects for the extruder so I can just unplug it.
    Added switches to change from thermocouple to resistor for cnc use.

    At this point I managed to brown out the regulators in the arduino and burned them both up. Ordered a replace,net from Amazon and hooked it up differently… I pulled the d1 diode from the Ramps board so the arduino isn’t powered by 12v any longer. I replaced the main regulator on the arduino and now power it from a separate 5v supply and left the USB q1 transistor?regulator Off the Arduino so that it would NOT power from USB. Then added an arduino switch to the same box everything else is inside. This makes each part of the system able to be powered separately and changing from cnc to 3dp is just securing the print head and plugging in 2 quick connects.

Next is a power switch for the pi.
E stop doesn’t seem necessary given the main power switch I added.

  1. I just use the software listed in the site with the addition of sprint layout for circuit design.

  2. Not sure.