Step 24: Electronics

Unfortunately building a controller is outside the scope of this Instructable. However the stepper motors used by this machine are very low current, and are unipolar, meaning that there are a wide range of DIY and commercial controllers available.

Other projects which could control this machine include:

- Makerbot Electronics http://store.makerbot.com/electronics/assembled-electronics.html
  You would need the motherboard and three driver boards, which totals about $205

- GRBL http://www.contraptor.org/grbl-gcode-interpreter
  This is an open-source gcode interpreter.

- MakeYourBot Controller based on EMC2 http://makeyourbot.org/electronics-and-software

- Anything based on the ULN2003. A google search will bring up tons of information.

There's even an official Arduino example which demonstrates how to control stepper motors. One day hopefully soon I will make a low-cost controller to suit the low-cost nature of this machine.

One example of a controller which I've built, and which is controlling the machine in the video, is here:

<p>Nice looking piece of kit !</p><p>:)</p><p>Would like to make one....</p><p>Thanks</p>
Thanks for Entries
<p>HI! this instructable tells nothing about the software you used and how to get the machine in to play. will you kindly help me out. my mail id is aspurnliar@gmail.com. help me out pls.</p>
just to give you another idea on this project I dont know if you use fiberglass at all but something that would take more time but still be very cheap and add a huge amount of strength to your foam core would be to go over all of your foam core either in epoxy resin you can spray it over all of the foam parts and test the strength. Epoxy is pretty strong on its own you can do some test to see how strong it would make the foam core. Or a longer process and make it even stronger would be to fiberglass and resin the foam it will make it very strong and you could easily use a dremel or something for your cnc cutter rather then using a marker or something light, you would probably have to put a metal base on it though to give it some weight to not move around.<br><br>I may try this project as i have time and If I do I will be testing how just the resin holds up to save time and energy because fiberglassing these parts would be annoying but worth themoney savings over buying all wood or metal pieces and having to cut them and all that.<br><br>Good job!
That's very interesting. I have experimented a bit with making composites by laminating aluminum sheet on to foamcore (which makes great shelves by the way) but I haven't yet experimented with epoxy. If you do decide to try it out please let me know how it works! And if you have any questions while building the machine just shoot me a line.
<p>I have used cardboard boxes to make snake cages before, and they really hold up extremely well. It was a working alternative to wooden cages that couldn't hold up to the boa's learning that he could just flex his muscles and basically press on the box and eventually distort the window frame or some other area and get out. Reinforcing the cage then finding the snake had gotten out again, sometimes without any damage tot he cage at all, was a problem.. A Houdini snake makes for an interesting conversation piece for a new guest! (...found in the tub behind the shower curtain for instance by new girl friend...:-). Point being, the cardboard was easy to work with and design, then when you have it the way you want it, you use the resin to saturate the cardboard and the structural design inherent of the material becomes resilient to flexing and distortion and ultimately kept you from tripping over Houdini on the way to the bathroom in the middle of the night! </p>
<p>Oops, just wanted to add to the other ideas of structurally suitable alternatives to the foam core...it takes a lot of resin to saturate, not fill the cardboard to the extent that it needs to be that it is still fairly costly in time and investment and the end result is not all that eye appealing and would have to be further worked into what you could just do without all the extra effort with the foam core, it just might be more rigid than foam and could serve as a component for the higher stress areas. I didn't want to give the impression that I just suddenly wanted to reminisce on an old memory about snakes in a thread about a CNC machine! </p>
Your composite sounds like homemade &quot;Dibond.&quot; I believe it's made from an aluminum, polystyrene sandwich. What thickness aluminum do you use? At $180 US for a 4' x 8' sheet, I think I might be inclined to try your method for some of my art projects.
That does look pretty similar to what I made. I can't remember the exact thicknesses that I used, but I believe it was around 1/32&quot; on the side under compression and much thinner on the side under tension. I was building shelves so it was clear which side would be stretched and which would be compressed. The reason for the thicker material on the compression (for shelves, the top) side is because it will buckle if it's too thin. To laminate them I used paper-based double-stick tape but I think that a large sheet of transfer adhesive will work just as well. Good luck with your art projects!
Wondering why you would want to even mess with foam core due to the fact the price difference between that and MDF is negligible per inch/foot. Is it simply due to the ability to do without a table saw/etc.. <br><br>I am only asking because I am using the outline to design a wood laser engraver for smaller areas. I am assuming the benefits of the MDF as far as a more rigid material per price would be more beneficial.<br><br>Great Instructable and excellent play by play!
This is great! I think I'm going to use this concept to make a laser cutter that I desperately need! So if I were to do that I wouldn't need the Z axis. In that case, all I wouldn't have to buy would be the third stepper motor and the 3rd steel axle am i correct? I will most likely buy everything at once so i dont want to mess up the order.
Yeah. but you might want it if you want to upgrade it later on. You would also need a different substance for the foam core, it would be too light and not accurate enough<br><br>What laser are you going to use? How powerful will it be?
Hmm most likely just a generic 445nm 1 watt blue led. And what material would you recommend? I'm trying to keep this as cheap as possible.
led? Do you mean laser?<br><br>Hmm, you should try plywood, it might work, just get the same thickness as the foamcore
ah yeah laser. sorry my bad. And thanks ill give it a shot
Make sure to tell me the results, I am thinking of making a 3d printer using this design
Alright no problem. Unfortunatly if i do decide to build it it wouldn't be until next year because I'm thinking of making this my senior project!!
Well then I guess I will have to experiment it myself:)<br><br>I was looking at another design, it used snap on segments, and you could use a router or the like to build it<br>Link: http://mtm.cba.mit.edu/machines/mtm_snap-lock/index.html<br>It is also smaller, it could be put on a desktop
would this work for the foamcore CNC?:<br>https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-wire-an-arduino-based-3-axis-CNC-machine/<br>If not, what would?
Yep, or any 3d cnc board will work
Could you make it a plastic extruder with a hot melt glue gun and make it a 3d printer?
I was thinking the same thing!<br><br>I found this repstrap that uses a hot glue gun instead of abs: http://reprap.org/wiki/FTIStrap
A great solution to uneven and possibly inaccurate cuts would be to cut this foam-core with a cnc machine. ^_^
Amazing<br>I have to make this!<br>Have you tried a extruder to a 3d printing machine? Then it would be a very low cost 3d printer
I've extruded ketchup and pudding with the machine, but never anything serious like plastic. If the weight of the extruder were kept down, like how the Ultimaker guys do it with a &quot;Bowden cable&quot;, it might work.
you could try a soldering iron?<br>
I'm not sure there would be enough stability and durability in your model to successfully hold not only the weight of a plastic extruder+hot end, but maintain a high enough degree of accuracy. But as a food extruder, why not? You should make potato paste to extrude little figures and such for deep frying.
is it for foam core or is it mad of foam core?
Look at it, it is foam core
I guess that implies to your username. <br>:)
you could probably cut foam core with it lol
Foamcore? Wow We use that in my sign shop a lot never thought to make a CNC machine with it. If you want something that can support more weight and have better durability and stability I recommend using Sintra boards, you can get them fairly easily, little pricier but it'll hold up a lot better than foamcore in the long run.<br><br>Sintra is just a bit tougher to cut but can be cut using a razor blade, that's how we go about it unless we're using a 10ft x 10ft board with 6mil then we use a power saw of some sort.
Do you use DiBond in your sign shop? You can easily fabricate many structures from it. Take out a slot from one skin on the table saw and then bend at the slot.
For the aluminum shaft could we use wooden dowels instead? That would bring the cost down extremely
I don't see why not as long as the dowels are straight and have a consistent diameter which fits inside the nylon bushings. Your idea would significantly reduce the cost of the machine - for the price of 1/2&quot; wooden dowels it's certainly worth a try.
Thanks, when i build this, i will try that out
I've only quickly run through this and am liking what I see, although my lovely wife might object to me taking over the kitchen table with another project (we really need to move somewhere with a garage lol) but I have one teeny tiny issue with it and I'm sure yours wouldn't be alone in this and that I wouldn't be the only one thinking it either.<br><br>Where's the metric measurements?<br><br>I understand that imperial is still the incumbent in America but a far greater proportion of the planet has moved onto the metric system to the extent that my kids only know imperial as the system that Grandad talks about. Personally I find it to be an easier and more accurate system but that can be attributed to it being my first language so to speak.
Any CAD program will convert dimensions to and from both systems of measurment.
Is that a mac i see in the video... Any chance you could post info about the software you use? I'm having trouble finding a suitable osx application for my own projects. Nice work dude!
Look up reprap, try the software they use
the axis is diffffffffffffffffffficult to make. nice tible
Awesome project! I enjoyed reading your clear instructables directions and watching your movie. Your project makes low cost CNC accessible to everyone. I'll have to try building my own foamcore CNC machine this weekend! ; )
I just read an article on Kerdi-Board ... basically reinforced foam board. In the article they were using to build a tub surround using 2-in. thick for framing. Might be a bit expensive for a small project but if you were using leftovers from something bigger?<br>They've got a site. I've not been there. schluterkerdiboard.com.
mmmmmmmmmmmm motor on a stick
hey i love the cnc machine and i am going to biuld it i was wondering if insted of steper motors could you use the lego robotics motors and use the brain to control it ?
I don't see any reason why not. I don't know anything about those motors, though, but if they spin and you can adapt them to the 1/2&quot; shafts on the machine (or use different shafts) the machine should move. It requires very little torque. Please let me know how it goes if you do give those motors a try.
I remember when i first saw pictures of this project, I was stunned at the audacity of it. Then my brain turned over and I saw a chance to come up with something really really silly. This project inspired me to consider doing an X/Y hot-wire foam cutter. I had seen one retrofitted from printer parts that an at-home engineer would use to cut out wing spars for his RC work. It would slide pieces of foam back and forth over a roller, while the wire slid back and forth on the X axis. <br><br>What would you say to trying to recreate this general project as a foamcore-based hot-wire foam cutter? You could submit it to reprap.org as RepCRap, the self-REPlicating Cutting RAPid prototyper, capable of producing just as many of its own parts as a Mendel and much simpler, it would be the first open-source pun project.<br><br>Or, you know, you could just pretend you never read this.

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