View Full Version : Anyone do hobby CNC here?
12-02-2009, 05:30 PM
I'm going to (eventually) do hobby milling, and cnc looks like it would be interesting and fun (I'm a computer geek - I can't help it!). Has anyone here done a hobby-level CNC setup? Where do you start with software? What software do you use to generate the models, and then to turn from models to the tool paths and g-code? I'm quite familiar with 3-d modeling (previous life - 3-d animation is very similar to 3-d CAD) so doing the 3-d modeling is not a daunting task to me. The question is how to go from that to the actual CNC mill control?
)I'm looking for hobby-level, which means cheap to start with. Otherwise, I'll be looking for hobby-level divorce paperwork filing, too ;D) And I want to start by learning before I decide to start committing $$$.
12-02-2009, 08:37 PM
here is a good place to start:
ArtSoft USA - Home of Mach3 and LazyCam (http://www.artsoftcontrols.com/)
we use mach software for our cnc mini mill for engraving. I want to get more into it but haven't had the time. there are some good hobby resources on that site also.
12-03-2009, 10:45 AM
Cnc is my second favorite hobby. I retro'd a lathemaster benchtop mill (ZAY) with servo's controlled by gecko 320's and ran using the artsoft mach3 software. I replaced all the leadscrews with ball screws from mcmaster (not the best but cheap(er)) and the machine is pretty accurate within about .003. Not as accurate as a VMC but usable and plenty of fun. I use bobcad for my cad/cam software and unlike the pro's who bitch all the time about it, I find it quite friendly and fun to use. Guess I've never had a really good cad/cam package but I didn't pay multiple thousands for the software either. Works really well for me.
If you have any questions, let me know. CNC is fun but like building AK's use to be back when one could affort it, it will take up all of your time. Hope you have a nice comfortable shop to work in!
12-03-2009, 04:11 PM
I replaced all the leadscrews with ball screws
What are these "ball screws"?
12-04-2009, 06:28 PM
What are these "ball screws"?Basicly lead screws that are ether presision ground or rolled and ballnuts with resircalating ball bearings. http://school.mech.uwa.edu.au/~dwright/DANotes/threads/mechanics/recircBallBIG.jpeg
I am currently refitting my round column to 4 axis...
12-04-2009, 07:16 PM
Are they expensive? Where's a decent place to get them?
I might look into them for mine if they aren't too much.
I converted a Harbor Freight "X2" mini-mill. There are some pictures on my web site: Tools! (http://www.bacomatic.org/~dw/tool/tool.htm)
The mini-mill conversion was a project in itself, complicated by my own alterations. By the time you buy a mill, a ballscrew kit, a controller box, servos, and software, you're within spitting distance of buying one of the pre-done CNCs. I wanted to learn how it all went together and worked, and view my efforts as well for the time, but if all you want is to make parts, you might scout around for something already built.
12-21-2009, 03:17 PM
Has anyone used Alibre CAD/CAM software? I've been looking at their demo software, and the CAD part is extremely easy. The CAM part, though - well, let's just say that I have no way to know if their literature and claims are correct or more marketing BS.
12-29-2009, 01:53 PM
I've tried the demo version of Alibre software for the past several days, and it looks like a very good CAD package. The learning curve was fairly short (perhaps because I've done a lot of 3-D graphics in animation packages like Maya and Bryce). Just for the heck of it, I tried putting a set of Luger blueprints into Alibre. It was fairly easy. What was cool was the 'assembly' tool that lets you put things together. Not as sophisticated as CATIA or other very expensive high-end packages, but it does find interferences between parts and by using transparent or partially-transparent solids, you can see if the fit is what you wanted. It allows exports into a variety of formats like IGES and STL - and then can be read by VisualMill (which I also am testing the demo of). Right now, the price is rather right - it's under $200 for the basic package. I'm rather pleased with what I've discovered.
Now when my aunt's estate gets settled, I plan on getting a CNC mill and starting to try my hand at some real gunsmithing...