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Archive for the ‘CNC’ Category

Makerspace i3Detroit was the recent recipient of a free yet non-functioning CNC router. While out of commission when received, the device’s mechanical components and motors appeared to be in operational condition, plus it had a large work surface. The decision was made to get the CNC up and running for now, with the eventual goal of turning it into a plasma cutter.

First, they booted up its (Windows 95) computer and replaced a power supply on the controller. An adapter board for the controller was then built using info from this Arduino Forum post, allowing the router to be controlled with an Arduino Mega running grbl firmware

Although there is still some work to do, it can be seen happily jogging along in the video below, and appears well on its way to becoming a usable machine!

It’s easy to see that painting takes a lot of skill, but few really understand how much skill is involved like John Opsahl, who created the “If Then Paint” CNC canvas painting machine.

In order to produce the proper paint strokes, his device implements full six-axis brush control, moving not only in the X/Y/Z coordinate system, but rotating on three axes. Movement is handled by a modified version of Grbl running on an Arduino Mega.

If Then Paint also features the ability to change painting/art tools automatically, as well as a clever paint management system that turns a carousel of paint syringes. 

More info on the build can be found here, and check out a few examples of how it works in the videos below.

Jiri Praus enjoys using brass wire for his freeform sculptures, but isn’t a fan of making the same bends over again. To solve this problem, he designed a CNC machine to handle that task for him.

His device features a series of rollers to straighten out the wire, with a servo-driven puller that utilizes a roller normally used with a welding machine. A second servo then precisely bends the wire into shape, creating squares, hexagons and even springs under the control of an Arduino/CNC shield. 

You can see the project in action in the videos below, and if you want to build your own, the STL files for this mostly 3D-printed setup are up on GitHub.

Inventor Artist Darcy Whyte wanted a drawing robot that was light enough to carry around, and could quickly produce drawings. Naturally, he turned to an Arduino Uno, along with a CNC shield and a trio of A4988 stepper drivers. These control a NEMA 8 and two NEMA17 stepper motors in a gantry-style artistic setup.

The build is able to drag a marker across a page, apparently varying pressure applied with the z-axis, and thus how much ink is applied. In another mode, a pen can be used, which wobbles back and forth to create volume when needed. 

Both methods, as seen in the clips below, can sketch a very recognizable—though certainly distinct—portrait of Marilyn Monroe, or presumably whatever other image you choose to program in.

If you’ve been waiting for a new way to generate geometric art, then be sure to check out the Cycloid-O-Matic from InventorArtist Darcy Whyte.

This three-axis cycloid drawing machine is something of an update on the classic spirograph toy, but instead of (only) using an arrangement of gears, it incorporates stepper motors to create smooth curving patterns.

Control is accomplished via an Arduino Uno and GRBL shield, while a single motor rotates the paper in a circle on top of a lazy Susan. A pen is held above in a linkage system, actuated by two steppers that spin to move the linkages and draw in the X/Y plane.

Arduino boards running GRBL software have long been used for CNC machine control, but usually you need to choose between having a router or laser cutter. This project, however, is specifically designed to accommodate both with a modular carriage system.

Build-wise, it’s a fairly standard XYZ gantry CNC — with a frame made out of V-slot aluminum extrusions from OpenBuilds cut to length by a circular saw. The X and Y axes are controlled via NEMA 17 stepper motor and belt drive assemblies, while height adjustment is accomplished with a NEMA 23 motor and screw drive.

The electronics are all hidden away in a separate enclosure, including the Arduino Uno/CNC shield that serves as the brains of the operation and a cooling fan to keep the temperature inside in check. 

If you’ve been considering doing this type of build, this looks like a great place to start, and you can see a demos of it in laser and spindle modes in the videos below.

For an easy plotter design that you can build with only simple hand tools, be sure to check out this tiny project from Mr Innovative. The machine features a pair of stepper and lead screw assemblies to maneuver a pen in an X/Y plane, along with a clever string and servo setup to handle retraction.

An Arduino Nano and two L293D ICs mounted to a custom PCB are used to control the device, though a breadboard could certainly substitute for the PCB in a pinch. Drawings are translated into the proper format via Inkscape and Processing. 

More details on the miniature machine, including code, can be found in Mr Innovative’s write-up.

For an easy plotter design that you can build with only simple hand tools, be sure to check out this tiny project from Mr Innovative. The machine features a pair of stepper and lead screw assemblies to maneuver a pen in an X/Y plane, along with a clever string and servo setup to handle retraction.

An Arduino Nano and two L293D ICs mounted to a custom PCB are used to control the device, though a breadboard could certainly substitute for the PCB in a pinch. Drawings are translated into the proper format via Inkscape and Processing. 

More details on the miniature machine, including code, can be found in Mr Innovative’s write-up.

There is something fascinating about watching an autonomous machine. An automatic car wash, a soda vending machine that picks up the product behind a window, a plotter, or a robot like a CNC or 3D printer are all interesting to watch. Although [EngineerDog] bills Mug-O-Matic as a tiny CNC, we think it is more of a plotter for coffee mugs. It’s still fun to watch though, as you can see in the video below.

The design has about 60 printed parts and uses a Sharpie at the business end. It accepts gcode and can even emblazon your favorite mug with our own Jolly Wrencher, so you know we like it.

Of course, a Sharpie mark won’t stay on a mug forever, but the write up says you can bake the mug to make the markings permanent. At first, the project used a cheap Arduino Nano breakout board. However, that was set up to drive the servos with the Arduino’s power supply, so instead of board surgery there is now a custom PCB.

The resulting drawings are a little shaky, we aren’t sure if that’s from the way the device mounts on top of the mug or just the lever arm of the carriage the pen rides in. However, for a fun project it does a great job.

We couldn’t help but think about eggbots and the spherebot when we saw this. We also wondered if this could draw on glass that would later be etched with hydrofluoric acid or  Armour Etch.

We know, we know. Getting PCBs professionally fabricated anymore is so cheap and easy that making them in-house is increasingly becoming something of a lost art. Like developing your own film. Or even using a camera that has film, for that matter. But when you’re in Brazil and it takes months for shipments to arrive like [Robson Couto] is, sometimes you’re better off sticking with the old ways.

[Robson] writes in to tell us how he decided to buy a ~$150 CNC “engraver” kit from an import site, in hopes that it would allow him to prototype his designs without having to use breadboards all the time. The kit turned out to be decent, but with a series of modifications and a bit of trial and error, he’s improved the performance significantly and is now putting out some very nice looking boards.

The primary hardware issues [Robson] ran into were in the Z axis, as some poor component selections made the stock configuration wobble a bit too much. He replaced some flimsy standoffs as well as swapping in some bushings he salvaged from dead inkjet printers, and the movement got a lot tighter.

Despite the fact that the version of Grbl flashed onto the engraver’s cloned Arduino Uno supports Z leveling, it’s not actually enabled out of the box. [Robson] just needed to add some extra wiring to use the spindle’s bit as a probe on the copper clad board. He also went ahead and updated to the latest version of Grbl, as the one which ships with the machine is fairly old.

He wraps up the post by going through his software workflow on GNU/Linux, which is useful information even if you’ve taken the completely DIY route for your PCB mill. If you’d like to know more about the ins and outs of milling your own boards, check out this excellent primer by [Adil Malik].



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