[Blabber] CNCing the mini-mill / shop classes

Matthew Duepner matthewduepner14 at gmail.com
Thu May 30 23:21:18 UTC 2013

Sounds like a lot of money when you could but a rather large CNC mill for
the same cost.

On Thu, May 30, 2013 at 7:12 PM, Chris Stratton <cs07024 at gmail.com> wrote:

> Generally I think digital readouts would be a better compromise of
> capability, usability, and price than actual automation - especially for
> machines of this hobbyist nature where feeling force feedback can be
> important.
> I did temporary conversions once years ago, but only bolted them on to do
> a few complex shapes.
> On May 30, 2013 7:06 PM, "Nickolai Belakovski" <nbelakovski at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>> So we've been talking about a shop class on and off for a long time now
>> and nothing ever seems to come out of it. A main concern I've had is that
>> even though I've had some experience with mills, and could probably figure
>> out how to work the lathe well enough to teach people how to make a
>> turner's cube, if anybody wanted to make something a little bit more
>> complicated, I wouldn't be of much help.
>> So as I think about ways to make the shop more accessible I've been doing
>> research into what it would take to do a CNC conversion on the mini-mill.
>> CNC capability would enable the mill to do a much larger range of projects,
>> all for (roughly) the same 'training cost.' This is a popular mill, so a
>> number of tutorials and kits exist for doing the conversion. From my
>> research I estimate the cost to do so would be between 1000-2000 dollars.
>> I think it's a fairly involved project with lots of parts and so we
>> should have at least 2 people working on it. Ideally 3 or 4 so that more
>> people have the knowledge of how it all works. Here's essentially what we
>> need to do:
>> Mechanics - Replace the lead screws with higher precision components and
>> install mounts for the stepper motors. Kits exist to do this, I've seen one
>> for around $500 that replaces them with ball screws, which are pretty nice.
>> Electronics - Hook up stepper motors and controllers and things with
>> circuitboards and wires and such. This is the part I'm weakest on so if
>> someone would step up here that would be great.
>> Software - Get a computer hooked up to the machine running LinuxCNC,
>> which is free, open-source control software. Think of it as your
>> "Pronterface" or "Repetierhost" for all the 3D printer folks. We should
>> also load it with and learn/teach how to use PyCAM, which is kind of like
>> Slic3r in that it generates the G-code file for the machine.
>> I think this would be a great addition to our space and I hope that there
>> are some people out there who are willing to put in the time and effort to
>> help make it a reality. It's really not a whole lot of work given the
>> amount of information already available, but it will be a serious
>> commitment.
>> What does the group think? Do people like the idea? Are people interested
>> in being involved?
>> --
>> Nickolai Belakovski
>> Purdue University : Class of Dec. 2011
>> School of Aeronautics & Astronautics
>> Department of Mathematics
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