Official CNC router Help and Suggestions thread - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 269 Old 04-09-2014, 12:44 AM - Thread Starter
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I have been researching CNC machines as I want one play around with, maybe make a few speakers etc, or just have some fun with it. I keep comming accross the CAMaster Cobra series, they seem like a great quality product and I am currently thinking of getting one of them. But, just want to know if anyone here uses a CNC or if you have any suggestions for one?

Cheers.


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post #2 of 269 Old 04-09-2014, 06:23 AM
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Hey Dave,

I made a thread about a month or so back regarding CNC users but didn't get any interest. frown.gif

Are you looking for a full sized table - 4x8 or larger? I've done about a year's worth of research and playing/tinkering to date. I started with a small desktop probotix unit to learn the CAD and CAM software. I've since moved on to a Shopbot Alpha 48x96 table and couldn't be happier. I had considered MANY options from building my own to various commercial setups. The support on the shopbot forum (http://www.talkshopbot.com/forum/index.php) and even their own customer service is second to none if that is of value to you. I also learned a whole bunch from the great bunch of guys at CNCzone.

The CAMaster series are also very nice and popular and seem to have great support. Are you looking to buy a new unit or hoping to pick up a nice used machine?

If you are thinking of building your own I'd recommend going with a kit unless you've got a lot of engineering background. I've found some VERY nice kits from the guys at CNCrouterparts. They were more than willing to chat and answer any questions I had on several occasions.

Some options and choices to consider:

-Cutting/Table area - What are the largest items you plan to build? How much space do you have available?
-Table/Gantry construction type - aluminum vs. metal vs wood (hobbyist)
-Requirements for cutting speed - this will drive the motor/stepper/servo choices you will use
-Use of a standard router or industrial spindle - How often will you be cutting and at what speeds?
-hold down setup - VERY important. Clamps vs. screws vs vacuum hold down
-Electrical requirements - Do you have 120/240V available? 1 or 3 phase?

I'd be happy to help so post any questions you may have. smile.gif


Andrew
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post #3 of 269 Old 04-09-2014, 06:38 AM
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Have you guys done any research on renting or paying for cnc cut parts? And what about 3-axis machines for making complicated horns?

-Mike Bentz
~It's all about compromise~
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post #4 of 269 Old 04-09-2014, 07:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MBentz View Post

Have you guys done any research on renting or paying for cnc cut parts? And what about 3-axis machines for making complicated horns?

Mike,

Your typical CNC router for cutting wood/aluminum will be 3 or 4 axis in an X/Y/Z configuration. This gives you direction control in the left/right, forward//back, and up/down planes. Many of the larger routers will have 2 X motors (otherwise known as A or X') to help speeds and control the gantry. What you are describing is tilting of the Z car to perform angled cuts and is quite rare to find on a configuration like this. Many simply make jigs to cut the angles or just set up a table saw to run the pieces through. Another option is to use an angled bit (such a 45 degree v-bit) to accomplish this as well.

Admittedly I haven't done a lot of research on renting/paying but I would gladly rent out my machine for a day or weekend to anyone interested in doing so. Typically you will find there would be fees to cover 1) Design of a particular part or assembly as well as the toolpaths involved, 2) Machining costs (which would include labor and machine usage) and 3) Raw materials.

Hope this helps.

Andrew


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post #5 of 269 Old 04-09-2014, 08:24 AM
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I've been looking at the General iCarver and the Rockler CNC Shark. Any experience with those Gorilla? Are they good value. I've also considered just going with a manual router copy carver.
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post #6 of 269 Old 04-09-2014, 08:26 AM
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MBentz I see you are near Chicago check out www.techshop.ws you can use some pretty high tech gear there there is a few of them around the country
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post #7 of 269 Old 04-09-2014, 08:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tuxedocivic View Post

I've been looking at the General iCarver and the Rockler CNC Shark. Any experience with those Gorilla? Are they good value. I've also considered just going with a manual router copy carver.

Both of those are popular options, but IMO there are better values out there. Of course the most inexpensive method is to build your own, but short of that someone like Probotix offers some awesome value. In the sizes of the machines you mentioned, check out the Meteor and the comet. The guy I sold mine to uses it for production duty so they aren't toys. smile.gif

http://probotix.com/FireBall_Meteor_cnc_router/
http://probotix.com/FireBall_Comet_cnc_router/

I chose probotix for my first machine because of the user community and unlimited support by the vendor. I wound up buying mine used on craigslist but was still entitled to the same support. On that note - there are often machines that come up for same on ebay and CL so you can save quite a bit of coin by searching.

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MBentz I see you are near Chicago check out www.techshop.ws you can use some pretty high tech gear there there is a few of them around the country

Very cool, thanks for posting! Looks like they use shopbots as well. smile.gif Depending on how much it would get used, this may be the cheapest option for many.


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post #8 of 269 Old 04-09-2014, 08:48 AM
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You're right, those look like good value.
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post #9 of 269 Old 04-09-2014, 08:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gorilla83 View Post

Hey Dave,

I made a thread about a month or so back regarding CNC users but didn't get any interest. frown.gif

I'd be happy to help so post any questions you may have. smile.gif


Andrew

Link to thread??
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post #10 of 269 Old 04-09-2014, 08:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tuxedocivic View Post

You're right, those look like good value.

Many of their units (including those linked) even come with a PC and the router/cutting tool, and some software. I started with the Fireball V90 which is their smallest unit (and cheapest) but it will still cut the same items, just a little slower and with smaller pieces. It was plenty to get me to learn the software though and it even uses the same cutter as the larger units. smile.gif I was able to buy, use for 3-4 months, and sell at only about a ~100 dollar loss.
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Link to thread??

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1521400/any-cnc-users-owners-out-there/0_100


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post #11 of 269 Old 04-09-2014, 08:58 AM
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BTW for anyone seriously considering something like this, here are the main items you will need to budget/plan for:

1) The machine itself (duh!) smile.gif including table, stand(s), motor/electronics, and router/spindle
2) CAD software for drawing - I use and love sketchup and it's free (optional)
3) CAM software for creating toolpaths - I HIGHLY recommend the vectric products like Cut2d or Vcarve Pro. You can download these for free in trial form and access tutorials.
4) Bits/Collets depending on what materials you would like to cut
5) Some of the larger machines require 240V so if you're going full size this is likely to require electrical upgrades in your space (optional)
6) Control software - Ranges from free for units like EMC2 to not too expensive like Mach3 (175 per license). Some units have their own proprietary control software which is normally included.
7) A PC with basic functionality for control software.


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post #12 of 269 Old 04-09-2014, 09:12 AM
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Gorilla I think that Hurco scared everyone off. I just sold my 2 Hurco 3 axis mills and plan to build some kind of router. I am doing a drawing no of a sub box and plan to go to the local tech shop to try it out to see if I really want to go down this road.
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post #13 of 269 Old 04-09-2014, 09:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Stogie View Post

Gorilla I think that Hurco scared everyone off. I just sold my 2 Hurco 3 axis mills and plan to build some kind of router. I am doing a drawing no of a sub box and plan to go to the local tech shop to try it out to see if I really want to go down this road.

If you decide you might be interested in buying or building a CNC wood router, my advise is to learn all you can about modeling and CAM/control software to make sure you will enjoy the type of work required. See my list above. smile.gif


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post #14 of 269 Old 04-09-2014, 10:34 AM
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I have owned a few CNC machines so I have an understanding of the software I made lots of things from metal for my business. I have not done wood and really don't know if I will get the return on my investment, I will likely only make speaker boxes with it but I do want to make some fancy shapes like facets, waveguides and curved things that a CNC router would be great at.
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post #15 of 269 Old 04-09-2014, 10:57 AM
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Gorilla, for 2 and 3 doesn't the icarver come with this? How much does that save?
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post #16 of 269 Old 04-09-2014, 11:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tuxedocivic View Post

Gorilla, for 2 and 3 doesn't the icarver come with this? How much does that save?

It does appear to come with ArtCAM express (150 dollars), but almost no units will come with a true CAD package. With that said, a LOT of drawing can be done directly in the toolpathing software (like artcam) but I find drawing in something like Solidworks or sketchup to be a lot faster. At 7999 for a relatively small table, as a hobbyist or small production I think you could save a bit more elsewhere.

If you're getting serious about this stuff, download a trial for either artcam or vectric v-carve. There are also tons of tutorials out there that will let you get your hands dirty very quickly. smile.gif


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post #17 of 269 Old 04-09-2014, 12:03 PM
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$8k? The big icarver is only $4500 last I checked. Still, sounds like a $150 doesn't make it worth it. The meteor looks like much better value.
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post #18 of 269 Old 04-09-2014, 01:06 PM
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Have you looked at Digirout? http://www.digirout.com/dr1500.html I've been happy with mine but I will say it was a bit of an ordeal getting it. Rick is pretty much a one man show and there was a time (after receiving my down payment) that he wasn't returning phone calls or e-mails to the point I thought I had been scammed but he really came through in the end. When he finally started communicating he kept me up to date pretty well and frequently wrote about some new lead screw or bearing or gear... I think he was re-designing the thing as he built it and improving it. I had ordered and paid the price of a kit but got a fully assembled gantry so all I had to do was to assemble the table and slide the thing onto it.

During setup Rick always either answered my call or called back within an hour or two so despite the initial appearance of being a scam I have to say I got really good after sale/delivery support. I opted for the high speed (3-phase) spindle over the options using a regular hand router mounted on it. I'm not sure how well the hand router option works but it might be ok.

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post #19 of 269 Old 04-09-2014, 05:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tuxedocivic View Post

$8k? The big icarver is only $4500 last I checked. Still, sounds like a $150 doesn't make it worth it. The meteor looks like much better value.

I was looking at the 24x36 model here:
http://www.generalcnc.ca/40_946_icarver

Is there another or smaller version maybe?
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Have you looked at Digirout? http://www.digirout.com/dr1500.html I've been happy with mine but I will say it was a bit of an ordeal getting it. Rick is pretty much a one man show and there was a time (after receiving my down payment) that he wasn't returning phone calls or e-mails to the point I thought I had been scammed but he really came through in the end. When he finally started communicating he kept me up to date pretty well and frequently wrote about some new lead screw or bearing or gear... I think he was re-designing the thing as he built it and improving it. I had ordered and paid the price of a kit but got a fully assembled gantry so all I had to do was to assemble the table and slide the thing onto it.

During setup Rick always either answered my call or called back within an hour or two so despite the initial appearance of being a scam I have to say I got really good after sale/delivery support. I opted for the high speed (3-phase) spindle over the options using a regular hand router mounted on it. I'm not sure how well the hand router option works but it might be ok.

mk

I always liked the looks and features of the digirout stuff, but I had heard the same in terms of customer service, etc. Maybe it was your post I was reading over at CNCzone? Glad it worked out for you! And definitely +1 on the 3 phase spindle if you have a choice. smile.gif


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post #20 of 269 Old 04-09-2014, 05:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gorilla83 View Post

Hey Dave,

I made a thread about a month or so back regarding CNC users but didn't get any interest. frown.gif

Are you looking for a full sized table - 4x8 or larger? I've done about a year's worth of research and playing/tinkering to date. I started with a small desktop probotix unit to learn the CAD and CAM software. I've since moved on to a Shopbot Alpha 48x96 table and couldn't be happier. I had considered MANY options from building my own to various commercial setups. The support on the shopbot forum (http://www.talkshopbot.com/forum/index.php) and even their own customer service is second to none if that is of value to you. I also learned a whole bunch from the great bunch of guys at CNCzone.

The CAMaster series are also very nice and popular and seem to have great support. Are you looking to buy a new unit or hoping to pick up a nice used machine?

If you are thinking of building your own I'd recommend going with a kit unless you've got a lot of engineering background. I've found some VERY nice kits from the guys at CNCrouterparts. They were more than willing to chat and answer any questions I had on several occasions.

Some options and choices to consider:

-Cutting/Table area - What are the largest items you plan to build? How much space do you have available?
-Table/Gantry construction type - aluminum vs. metal vs wood (hobbyist)
-Requirements for cutting speed - this will drive the motor/stepper/servo choices you will use
-Use of a standard router or industrial spindle - How often will you be cutting and at what speeds?
-hold down setup - VERY important. Clamps vs. screws vs vacuum hold down
-Electrical requirements - Do you have 120/240V available? 1 or 3 phase?

I'd be happy to help so post any questions you may have. smile.gif


Andrew
Hey Andrew,

Probably not looking full sized, but I do want to stay away from the hobby machines like Rockler etc, they are just not up to the task IMO. Power is a non issue, I have both 1 and 3 phase for 240. I just bought a a vacuum press setup with bags and accesories, plus vacuum clamps for about $3K. So clamping is all good. I prefer to have quality constructed machines and new is preferred (After service is essential). Speed really does not concern me as it is only for me to play around with, I am not planning on making a business out of this, but if some one wants something done I will be happy to help.

Well that is about it, I think.

Is there a link to the ShopBot machine?

I was looking at the Cobra CR-408 or the Stinger III.






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post #21 of 269 Old 04-09-2014, 05:18 PM
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Dave - Here is a link to the shopbot main page:

http://www.shopbottools.com/

They make tools for different sized applications starting with the Desktop and all the way up to very large custom sized machines as you will see. The majority of their tools are designed to run every day for several hour runs. They aren't your 150K 'big iron' 24 hour/day 4000lb manufacturing machines, but they will certainly be more than overkill for a hobbyist or a small production shop owner.

That is great you've got the electrical capacity to support a big boy setup. I would for sure recommend going with a spindle vs. a handheld router as they will last and run FAR longer and much quieter under operation. I can't say enough good things about Shopbot's support and the general user community. I bought my machine second hand and that never mattered - even mid day calls on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon with stupid newb questions. smile.gif

BTW if you've got the budget and looking for maybe a half sized footprint (48x48) check out the Alpha series 48-48.

If the shopbot units are a bit out of budget check out the probotix units I linked above for tux. It would be very hard to do better in that price range for a complete unit. Their support is also very good.


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post #22 of 269 Old 04-09-2014, 05:47 PM - Thread Starter
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You may have missed the edit in my last post, but I was looking at the CAMaster Stinger III or the Cobra CR-408. However I thought full-size was bigger than these units dimensions??? The ShopBot home page shows these sizes as full size.

The ShopBots look great as well, I don't really have a budget so to speak, but I did check out the Probotix links and just at a glance, they don't look as solid as the CAMaster or the ShopBots. I could be wrong though???

I will be mainly doing stuff only on weekends.


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post #23 of 269 Old 04-09-2014, 05:59 PM
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Quote:
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You may have missed the edit in my last post, but I was looking at the CAMaster Stinger III or the Cobra CR-408. However I thought full-size was bigger than these units dimensions??? The ShopBot home page shows these sizes as full size.

The ShopBots look great as well, I don't really have a budget so to speak, but I did check out the Probotix links and just at a glance, they don't look as solid as the CAMaster or the ShopBots. I could be wrong though???

I will be mainly doing stuff only on weekends.

Dave - you are right the probotix aren't quite as heavy duty as the other two brands mentioned, but would still be cool for weekend use. If your budget allows though, I would go for the shopbot or camaster. Both of those will hold resale value very well. I for one really like the shopbot control software and the many options and configurations available. I'd imagine the camaster would be nice as well.


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post #24 of 269 Old 04-09-2014, 07:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the help thus far. I am going to email ShopBot and see what they have to say. If I did go with the ShopBot, could I pick your brains about a few things?
You have the Shopbot Alpha 48x96? What do you use yours for?

Cheers Dave


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Couldn't pour water out of a boot with instructions on the heel.


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post #25 of 269 Old 04-09-2014, 07:40 PM
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Ya I was looking at this: http://www.kmstools.com/general-international-i-carver-15-x-20-cnc-carving-m-13283

But it seems that thing isn't nearly the same power/size as what you've recommended biggrin.gif
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post #26 of 269 Old 04-09-2014, 07:56 PM
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FWIW, consider the largest piece of material you want to cut and build/buy to that. I built my own 65"x100" CastCNC kit knowing full well that I wanted to cut 4x8 + 5x5. Don't underestimate speed if you plan on big 3d parts.
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post #27 of 269 Old 04-10-2014, 04:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by urapnes1 View Post

FWIW, consider the largest piece of material you want to cut and build/buy to that. I built my own 65"x100" CastCNC kit knowing full well that I wanted to cut 4x8 + 5x5. Don't underestimate speed if you plan on big 3d parts.

Would you care to share some of the details about the components you used? What about the software side of your setup?

More importantly, how much money do you have invested in your DIY CNC machine?
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post #28 of 269 Old 04-10-2014, 04:34 AM
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tuxedocivic Nanaimo has Makerspace opening up and they are thinking about getting a CNC machine if there is enough demand. Full membership is $40 a month.

https://makerspacenanaimo.org/
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post #29 of 269 Old 04-10-2014, 05:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JapanDave View Post

Thanks for the help thus far. I am going to email ShopBot and see what they have to say. If I did go with the ShopBot, could I pick your brains about a few things?
You have the Shopbot Alpha 48x96? What do you use yours for?

Cheers Dave

Absolutely I would be willing to help out, just let me know what questions you have. I have the previous generation PRT Alpha 48x96. I've had mine since only February and so far have made a bunch of items for the machine and setting it up (computer stand/shelves/vacuum pump enclosure/VFD stand). I have a bunch of other things drawn up including some subwoofer/speaker designs, but haven't had as much free time as I would have liked to cut them all yet. frown.gif Lots more in the plans though including furniture
Quote:
Originally Posted by tuxedocivic View Post

Ya I was looking at this: http://www.kmstools.com/general-international-i-carver-15-x-20-cnc-carving-m-13283

But it seems that thing isn't nearly the same power/size as what you've recommended biggrin.gif

Ah, that makes more sense! Ya, that is pricey for a 15x20 machine!


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post #30 of 269 Old 04-10-2014, 06:25 AM
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Gorilla83,

What is the "AVSForum" equivalent for CNC Routers?
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