Originally Posted by JohnDean
Man don't stop there.
What was your first machine?
Why did you swap to this one?
What software are you using?
Sorry tools and machinery are my real hobby, er...addiction
I'm happy to talk more details - hopefully not derailing too much from the thread.
My first machine, a Probotix V90 12"x18" desktop, I picked up last summer mostly to learn the software and to get familiar with toolpathing and the overall process. It used a basic leadscrew design on all 3 axis, and a small Dewalt 1HP router with precision collets. It was really fun to get started, but as you can see from the size I was very limited to the size and speed of projects I could work on.
Honestly up until a few months ago I was 100% planning to build my own machine. I had done months of research and was very set on what I wanted to accomplish. I had spoken with a few local guys who had turned me onto the 'shopbot community' - a place much like AVS here where lots of learning can occur. From there I had come across a local custom kitchen shop that was selling my (future) machine. They had used it mainly for prototypes and such and was in very good condition with all the bells and whistles I wanted to ad. I wouldn't be able to build the machine for what I paid for it, and resale on a namebrand is always much better than a DIY version - much like the audio world. This hobby has become very rewarding, yet addicting, and I'm sure somewhere down the line I'll be upgrading again.
I'll have fun in the process though and have already lined up a few paying jobs to help some friends and local shops out.
More on my shopbot - It's a 4 axis machine with 2 NEMA34 motors on the X, and single motors on Y and Z. It uses rack and pinion motion control along with v-rails to glide everything along. The alpha systems use a closed loop feedback motor control system which keeps tabs on positioning and provides feedback constantly in the event of any missed steps. The table also has proximity switches on all corners that keep movement in check. My colombo spindle is switched on/off through the shopbot control box which is cool since it will shut it down automatically when the job is finished. The next step is integrate speed control from my Variable frequency drive into the shopbot control software. Speaking of - I use a Yaskawa V1000 VFD to power and control my spindle. It's a single phase input unit with 3 phase output with a continuous 5HP rating. It was a bear to comprehend all the wiring and programming, but well worth it.
Vacuum hold down - My machine came with a beast of a vac hold down pump - a 15HP, 3 phase, 400lb monster that generates close to 14-15" HG and 350+ cfm. Unfortunately even with a phase converter this thing would need a 90-100amp (single phase) line of it's own to power it which was well beyond my current means and my shop's capability. With a bit of research and help from the guys over at SB forum, I've decided to make my own enclosure housing a combination of 4 X 240V single phase pumps which are very popular and commonly used for this purpose. All said and done I should be left with 10+hg and 400+cfm hold down capability which should be far more than 'adequate' for holding down all but the tiniest pieces. As far as the actual vacuum plenum - it's separated into four individual, valved zones that can be opened/closed as hold down in needed in each 2x4 foot area. A vacuum gauge is used to provide indication of how much hold down power is being utilized.Software
CAD/CAM - I use Vectric Aspire 4.0 for the majority of my drawing and toolpathing. This software is AWESOME and is very easy to learn and use. Most of the tutorials are available on their site for free and the trial version can be downloaded which has full functionality minus the export capability to start cutting.
Control - My old machine used Mach3 control software. I found this package had a fairly steep learning curve, but it's cheap, has lots of tweaking ability with inputs/outputs, and is very effective overall. Another downside is you had to use a parallel port to control it which means you are stuck with an older XP based PC or something with an adapted control card. Ugh. My shopbot uses it's own proprietary software which is FAR easier to use and works very well, but obviously you are limited to running it with a shopbot control box. It also allows me to use a Windows 8 based PC with USB support - WIN! If I were to build my own machine now (which I may in the future), I would be using shopbot electronics for sure.
I'd be happy to share more with you guys for any interest you may have. I've got hundreds of hours of research in the last year or so.
Maybe we should start a new thread for CNC users or interest??