Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Mill - First big project (In a long while.)

My friend Wolf came over last night... he wants to build a CNC machine from scratch. He wants to be able to cut foam with a hot wire... all under CNC control. He drew up the first couple of parts... one of which is a plate about 10x11 (254x279mm) inches made from 1/4 inch (6mm) aluminum.

The part as laid out in Aspire Software

When we laid it all out, we took into consideration the mill's maximum 11.5 inch movement in then Y-Axis... but we didn't account for the overall size of the sheet. So when we tried to move to the area for the outside cut, it would hit the mill. We had to make all the drill holes, then the inside cut.

For the outside, we had to cut the bottom, move the head forward, then cut the top. We learned to be more careful in laying out the parts... but we managed to get it all done in one evening.

Here it is on the milling machine... I have the inner-hole cutting file shown on the control computer. It worked flawlessly and finished the part nicely.

Wolf and the finished part.

We have several more to make... so we are feeling pretty good about the project so far!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

It's Alive! - After 6 years, the mill is back online.

It has been an eternity since I left St Louis to start my new life here in Texas. My milling machine was carefully packed in grease and sat for about 6 years in my old garage before I had the space and resources to get it down here to Kyle Texas.

I've been bringing the machine back slowly... doing it right.

When I first made the conversion to CNC back in 2001, I pieced it together as best I could... but there were a lot of things I wanted to do differently. This time... I took my time and worked out how to do each part properly. I want the machine to be capable of more than it was, I want it safer, accurate, and smarter. Right now it's better than it ever was... but I still need to add automatic home position, and error checking.

In the past, if a driver failed, I had to quickly hit the emergency stop, and figure out how to reset everything.  When I finish the new electronics, it will automatically stop and save it's position so I can make repairs and take off right where it stopped. (or one command line before that.)

But for now... I was making several weights for the iGlide when I noticed some were drilled improperly... instead of throwing them out... this was the perfect opportunity to test out the mill on some solid steel.

How did it do?

Take a look and see!

I think it's running very nicely.

Keep checking in... I'll be giving a tour of the workshop and showing all our additions and tools.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Milling machine Progress #2 - Getting the machine back online.

I bought a Dell Optiplex computer for $99 and wired up an interface for the milling machine. I also got the parts that I ordered in the last update... so real progress is being made.

Once I get the final axis wired up... I should be able to mill some parts. That could happen as early as tomorrow if I am up to it. Been working quite a bit lately... I may just want to take some time off to chill out. Guess I'll have to see how I feel in the morning.