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- Stepper Motors: 200 steps/rev
- Resolution: 0.0005”
- Leadscrews: 1/2", 10 threads/in, single-start
- Construction is Baltic Birch plywood, aluminum angle rails, V-groove bearings, and acme leadscrews
- CNC Control Software: Mach3
- CAM Program available: F-Engrave, CamBam
- CNC Dummies for Routers - This Old Tony
- CNC Basics 2 - This Old Tony
- VCarve Pro Introduction
- How To Use A Mach3 CNC Router
- True up the router/mount
- Replace leadscrews that are wobbly
- Replace aluminum rails and V-groove bearings with linear rod and bushings
- For the Y axis occasional skewing, maybe add another motor driver and arrange them in master/slave setup
- Build drawers into carts for bits and some shelves for materials.
- Create enclosure around machine to contain dust
- Replace limit switches and re-enable them
- Have two switches on the Y axis so that it can align both Y motors at the same time
- Carve slots for aluminum track to use for clamping materials
- Upgrade computer with one that can run VCarve Pro and other design software
- Upgrade control software to Mach4 or something nicer
- Vacuum attachment and boot made by Nick S
Machine Setup Procedure
- Have your GCode file already made using your software of choice. We generally use VCarve Pro.
- Have your material ready and sized to fit on the machine you are using.
- Have your tool(s) for the cut(s) you are running.
- Have your safety glasses and hearing protection.
- Power On
- Examine machine. Clean off bearings if dirty. Vacuum up excessive dust. If keyboard is dusty be sure to vacuum it out or turn upside and shake.
- Turn on main power strip
- Turn on computer
- Open Mach3 program on desktop (if it does not open automatically) to operate machine
- Load File and Machine Alignment
- Open a Gcode file (various extensions are: .gcode, .txt, .gc, .ngc, and so on). You should see a preview and the text of the code so you can check if it's the right one.
- Click on the red RESET button on the screen to enable the motion control. If it doesn't stop flashing, check that the big red button on the machine itself is raised and not pressed.
- Insert your tool into the spindle securely.
- Make sure your material is aligned and clamp it or tape it securely in place. If you try to move it while clamped and it shifts at all, it is not secure enough.
- Use the arrow keys and the PageUp and PageDown keys to move the the end of the tool to the corner or center of your material. Know where your design's reference point/origin/XY Datum is supposed to be.
- While in that position, hit the “Zero” button for the X, Y, and Z axis to set the reference point. From this point on, Mach3 will remember that reference point.
- Start The Cut
- Prepare for the worst! Slow the Feedrate down to 20-40% so you can watch the beginning of the cut. If something goes wrong you have more reaction time.
- Turn on the spindle using the power button. Adjust the speed on the dial if desired.
- Hit the green "Cycle Start" button and let it go.
- Stay by the machine while it is running. Do not leave the machine unattended. If nobody is watching it and it crashes, it could do a lot of damage to the machine.
- If doing heavy cutting, use the vacuum to collect the dust before it covers everything around the machine.
- After the cut
- Vacuum up the dust from the cut. Clean up on top of the machine, under the machine, the floor, and anywhere else dust went.
- Remove your material and any screws or clamps from the bed, leaving it completely clear.
- Remove the tool from the spindle and store it appropriately.
- Power off the machine either using the Start menu or just turning off the power strip.
- If something is wrong with the machine, say something! Things don't magically get fixed by walking away from them.
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