[Blabber] CNCing the mini-mill / shop classes

Antonio diveblends at gmail.com
Thu May 30 23:59:40 UTC 2013

Definitely interested.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Nickolai Belakovski <nbelakovski at gmail.com>
Date: Thu, May 30, 2013 at 7:05 PM
Subject: [Blabber] CNCing the mini-mill / shop classes
To: Hack Manhattan! <blabber at list.hackmanhattan.com>

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

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

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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