Scrapy CNC

13,476

193

44

Introduction: Scrapy CNC

About: Hi from Latvia. My hobbies are all around building stuff – starting from fun electronics projects till building home for my family.

I am 38 year old guy from Latvia. Since my childhood I have been DIY hobbyist. My father worked with electronics and eventually it become my interest too. I new how to work with soldering iron before I knew how to pronounce the word – ok, ok just kidding :) Nowadays I work in software development and my hobbies are all around building stuff – starting from fun electronics projects with my oldest son and ending up with building home for my family.

This is my first Instructable - please do not judge me too hard!

And I am sorry for my english - it is not my native language and some words can be misplaced!

How it all started - one day my wife found nice looking handmade wooden clock for sale in Facebook marketplace. According to her, it would fit in our interior perfectly. Once I so this piece of art, I suddenly realized – it is time to build my own CNC engraving machine. I will be honest with you – my decision did not please my wife. It meant I will disappear in my man’s cave for unknown amount of time and she might not get desired wooden clock at the end :)


I have been looking into DIY CNC before but I did not got enough reasons to make one for myself. This time I quickly made list of requirements for machine I am about to build:

1) As cheap as possible

2) As much surplus and locally available parts as possible

First - I was about to build CNC just to prove myself (and to my wife) I can do it. So I did not intend to spend huge amounts of money for solid, long-lasting and expensive parts. Second - I hate to wait for parts, especially if those are weeks or months. I have had times I lost interest in project while parts were on their way to me. So, I decided I will not order anything what takes longer than one week to reach me.

Step 1: Parts to Order

I watched tons of DIY CNC videos, read lot of articles and project started to form in my head. It has to be simple 3 axis CNC – frame made from MDF and wood, V shape DIY aluminum rails, compact Makita router as spindle. My plan were to drive X and Y axis with belts as it promised more speed (I do not like things to happen slowly). Will use ball screw on Z axis as I consider spindle will weight a lot.

First things first – I had to order parts I won’t get locally or those will be too expensive if bought locally.

I ended up with list of materials I need to order:

  1. 4x Stepper motors - 2 for X axis, 1 for Y axis and 1 for z axis)
  2. Motor drivers
  3. Belts and pulleys

I almost gave away my idea of building my CNC when I started browsing Ebay for stepper motors. Most of the deals did not fit one of my two criteria I have set up for myself. Majority of Steppers were too expensive or were available only with shipment from China – meaning long delivery time.

At the end I found a deal in UK, 3 pcs. NEMA 23 stepper motors at reasonable price. Seller had only 3 pcs. in stock and motors had only 1.1 Nm strength. After little argue with myself, I placed an order. My idea was – if torque will not be enough, I can play with gears, losing some speed but getting job done with weaker motors. And X axis could live with one motor while I wait for extra one from China.

3 PCS Nema23 23HS6430 3A 1.1Nm = 38.89 EUR

I decided to use TB6560 3A Stepper controllers – seem to be enough for stepper motors I ordered

3x TB6560 3A = 24.06 EUR

I also placed order for 5 meters of GT2 6mm timing belt, 20 teeth pulleys and some idler pulleys all in total 29,31 EUR

I will use simple Arduino UNO board to control stepper drivers. I have more than one laying around so I do not need to spend money on this part.

Step 2: Power Supply

Problem I stumbled upon – power supply. I needed 24v 10A power supply to run my CNC.

My first idea was to buy one, but when you try to find one at low price – you end up with nothing. Next idea was to build one from scratch – should not be a big problem for a guy who have grown up with soldering iron in his hand :) But then I recalled some long time ago seen Instructable telling “tale” about getting 24V from two computer PSUs linked in series. Back then I had some interesting discussion with my father on how safe it is to use such approach … now I thought – it is worth a try! And no parts needs to be purchased as I have more than one old computer PSU laying around in shed.

It was an quick build and only parts I had to purchase were two 5 Ohms resistors used as static load. Older computer PSU wont work without it. I even built state of art case. Few planks of floor laminate were perfect for this task :)

Total cost 4 EUR

Step 3: Frame

My idea was to use old furniture parts laying around in shed to build first version of CNC and then use it to carve parts for next version – using more solid materials.

The basis was made in form of table. I used MDF piece laying around, it was left over from shelf I built in my garage. I sawed longest edges at 45 degrees glued aluminum profiles on them and added metal legs bought from local Ikea at price 2 EUR per piece - total 8 EUR. As a result I got nice little table with dimensions of 100cm x 80cm

The whole Y axis gantry mechanism was made from old furniture parts again. As I had only very thin Particle Boards available, I glued extra layer on both – top and bottom side. I sawed longest edges at 45 degrees glued aluminum profiles on them – similar as I did with X axis. Intentionally I made Y axis quite high above X, that will allow me to place really thick wood blocks in to CNC.

I decided to go extremely simple with Y axis and to use 450mm drawer slides. I also used 50x50mm wood planks to get some distance between Y axis support and spindle holder - space was needed to install lead screw.

Initially I decided to try with 6mm standard lead screw. It worked fine with first tests but did not prove to be usable with higher loads and speed so I changed Y axis to belt as well.

Step 4: Spindle

My original plan was to use Makita router as spindle but in local market I stumbled upon clone called Bavaria - it was same size and look but 4 times cheaper than Makita one – price was 40 EUR. I decided to give it a try.

Small piece of MDF is used as holder basis and I used two pipe U bolts to hold router in position.

Step 5: Software

As total beginner in CNC world I was searching for something easy to use and free of charge. I read lots of articles and tried lots of software. Eventually I ended up using Estlcam V11 – it is free to test, and it can physically control CNC.

Using Estlcam also meant I can use Arduino Uno board to control my CNC.

So far I am satisfied with available functionality and have not searched for anything else as replacement.

Step 6: Results and Conclusions

I think it is worth mentioning I did not made any drawings or plans - the whole idea simply formed in my head and I made adjustments to my plan on the fly, depending on available materials or situation.

I did not used any special tools to build it - just regular tools you will find in any garage.

I did some movement tests during motor installation. But the very first test with pen made me truly happy. Device seemed to be working well and was surprisingly precise.

Next few hours I spent carving foam and at this point I realized I need to change Y axis to belt. Stepper motor was too weak to handle ball screw.

And guess what – at the end my wife got her wooden clock, even several :)

Mostly my CNC is busy making road signs and house names. First one I made for myself and since then I have been making them for lots of my friends and family.

Step 7: Extras

Additional features added by time:

1) Limit switches. There were some accidents (miscalculations). Luckily you can not do much damage if you are using belts - lots of noise and elevated heart rate is what you get when belt starts skipping pulleys teeth.

2) Cardboard protectors for X axis rails – prevent wood chips from getting in to bearings. Huge problem - especial if you do not have proper dust collector.

3) Dust collector. Since first real build on my CNC I understood - dust collector is must have. I made a quick DIY cyclone vacuum dust collector using 30 liter plastic barrel and vacuum cleaner.

Step 8: To Do

What I am planning to build version II this winter. I will make x axis lots longer. Now I need to move material several times when creating large signs - it is annoying and I need to be very precise when doing it.

Next version will be from thick plywood and most probably will get that extra motor on X axis.

I definitely need to make better dust collector!

And my latest thought was about adding laser head :)

Step 9: Encouragement

Total cost of my CNC project was below 200 EUR. I think supposed expense of project is one of those factors what stops some people from even considering building their own DIY CNC. So I hope my project will encourage them to do it!

CNC Contest 2020

Participated in the
CNC Contest 2020

Be the First to Share

    Recommendations

    • Space Contest

      Space Contest
    • Rocks, Gems, and Stones Speed Challenge

      Rocks, Gems, and Stones Speed Challenge
    • Lamps and Lighting Contest

      Lamps and Lighting Contest

    44 Comments

    0
    Steve Tyng
    Steve Tyng

    9 months ago

    Excellent work my friend. Great use of whatever you had laying around. For a better dust collector setup, check out the ones I came up with on my CNC builds. Again, great job!

    0
    Fik of the Borg
    Fik of the Borg

    1 year ago on Step 9

    Well done, man! Specially the part about "regular tools you will find in any garage" and "surplus and locally available parts" (there are too many instructables that require 3D printed parts, a bag of radioactive unobtanium, a Raspberry Pi and a touchscreen to blink a LED).
    And your fear of english seemed to only make you more careful and precise with your grammar (I know, my first language is not english)

    Pity about the lack of drawings ... but we all know the lure of the "from head to workbench without paper in between" school ;)

    I myself want to build a CNC (mainly for PCB making), but haven't go beyond the drawing on paper phase. I'm thinking in driving threaded rods instead of belts for added accuracy (the cost is speed and backlash) instead of belts.
    Question: What kind of accuracy do you get using belts, in steps per mm?

    "I will make x axis lots longer". Crazy idea: make the x axis on wheels. Like a harbor gantry, with open space below. That way you could engrave a table! Drawback: you would need a reasonably flat sorface to roll on.

    0
    ronanry
    ronanry

    Reply 1 year ago

    btw, I have a friend who got a friend who have a spare of unobtanium available, just call me ;)

    0
    Fik of the Borg
    Fik of the Borg

    Reply 1 year ago

    Excellent! I hope your friend has enough ratio of the Unobtanium-520 isotope (it's the one needed to blink a LED ha ha 😜 )

    0
    ronanry
    ronanry

    Reply 1 year ago

    As soon as he will be back in this present (I don't know where/when he is right now) I will sure ask him

    0
    Gatex
    Gatex

    Reply 1 year ago

    LOL

    0
    Gatex
    Gatex

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks!
    For smaller machine threaded rods will make more sense and as far as I know there are lots of ways how to deal with backlash problem.
    X axis on wheels - interesting idea but too exotic for my purpose :D
    These are settings I use in Estlcam:

    Estlcam_settings.PNG
    0
    Fik of the Borg
    Fik of the Borg

    Reply 1 year ago

    So, 39,7mm / 1600 ≈ 0,025mm per step. More than enough accuray, I would say! Thaks for the settings.
    About the "X axis on wheel" crazy idea ..I thought that as a semi-joke, but then my brain didn't stop and imagined interchangeable steel rails and belts (or rack and pinion) of different lenght according to the work. Almost didn't let me sleep last night.

    0
    Gatex
    Gatex

    Reply 1 year ago

    This is how a lot of great ideas have come into the world - in the sleep :)

    0
    RCs Stuff
    RCs Stuff

    1 year ago

    And I thought I was the only person who comes up with & starts making ''SOME THING'', but winds up putting it aside because an idea for another thing popped into their head. I'm 58 so I'm guessing you're somewhat younger than I am, however, when you started describing yourself, it seemed as if you were describing myself. I'd love to make my own CNC as well, however, I'm an old ''analog guy''. Since it seems as if CNCs (as well as so many other ''things'') can only be operated/controlled by some means of programable digital control setup, I immediately move on out of frustration. By the way, your way of describing yourself as a bit of scrounger (to paraphrase) to ''find'' the materials, parts, or components for your projects mirrors my way of doing things or how I use to do things. Due to health issues, I'm forced to think twice or maybe 5 times before dragging another something home or purchasing ??? (my basement & shed are full of STUFF for projects in my mind) for another project that's in my mind or made it as far as becoming ''another'' design drawn up on my drafting table. I'm VERY IMPRESSED by this CNC project you built with so many everyday items. VERY GOOD WORK, SIR......I'm going to save your project above for future reference. After all, I ''MIGHT TRY'' to figure out an Arduino just to learn about them (you have know idea how difficult it is for ''AN OLD ANALOG ONLY GUY'' to relearn ways to control whatever by means of digital based control circuitry).

    0
    Gatex
    Gatex

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks! You should not be afraid of electronics part of such project there is not much to be done and it is not difficult :) There are loads of cool explaining videos - here is one as example:

    0
    _someone_
    _someone_

    1 year ago

    I love how you titled it "crappy" while it was actually suoer neet. Good job mate!

    0
    Gatex
    Gatex

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks :) But it is called Scrappy - becouse of scrap materials used :)

    0
    ebjoew
    ebjoew

    1 year ago

    I like your style!

    0
    Gatex
    Gatex

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks!

    0
    cafersas21
    cafersas21

    Question 1 year ago on Introduction

    Did you post the blueprints for the project?

    0
    Gatex
    Gatex

    Answer 1 year ago

    Hi, I do not have any blueprints - I made device without them by simply doing and adjusting on fly :)

    0
    placukins
    placukins

    1 year ago on Step 9

    Malacis ! Labas bildes un labie skaidrojumi.
    Cik ilgi sieva gaida savu pulksteni?

    0
    Gatex
    Gatex

    Reply 1 year ago

    Paldies. Pulkstenis bija viens no pirmajiem darbiem, bildēs var redzēt ;)

    0
    DaleJ36
    DaleJ36

    1 year ago

    Thanks for sharing, I so want to get enough courage to try n build me one, when I get mu garage finally built!