Last Updated on the 8th April 07









Building the Mk1 machine
I remember seeing a few home built CNC machines on the web quite a few years back, and I thought "I got to build me one of those" . The rest as they say, is history.
When I started building the machine in early 2004, I didn't intend to have a web page about it, so this page has been put together by digging out old photos and casting my mind back to the days when I was doing quite a lot of head scratching, trying to figure out how to put a machine together.
Not being able to afford the luxury of new THK rails, ballscrews and the like, I began to poke around in likely looking places to find suitable bits and pieces from which to build my machine.
This was my first really useful find, liberated from a skip. It's a linear positioning stage complete with a 5mm pitch ballscrew assembly. The unit measures 600mm long, 250mm wide, with a travel of approximately 350mm. Perfect except for being a bit narrow. The unit was duely dismantled and made wider. Not having any suitable metal plate to extend the width of the unit, I resorted to using MDF. Not great, but that's what I had on hand.
In the picture you can see the newly widened Y axis. (Moving Table). You can also see the fixed gantry (X Axis), that carries the Z axis. The X axis is another member of the liberated skip items, and was a real gem. It's a belt driven carriage that rides on supported linear rails.
Each end of the X axis was supported on an MDF pillar. Again this was not the ideal material to build with, but then beggers can't be choosers. The X axis belt drive unit just seemed too nice in comparison with the rest of the machine.
The Z axis is a pretty simple affair. Made up from a couple of drilled aluminium plates, 2 THK rails, each 200mm in length, and one THK carriage on each rail. The motion is provided by a 5mm pitch ballscrew.
Untill now, all of the parts have been obtained for free. As a friend once put it, I had turned into a skip rat, but it was now time to dust off the credit card and buy some stepper motors, drives and a cutting spindle. The stepper motors were purchased from a surplus store and are pretty ordinary unipolar motors. Rated 1.3Amps @ 5.1Volts. The cutting spindle was a cheap 1/4" wood router.
The drivers were bought as kits that you build yourself and were just downright nasty. Not surprising as I'd bought the cheapest ones I could find, with a view to upgrading them if I ever managed to get the machine up and running.
So..... The motors were attached to each axis via toothed belts and pulleys. The drivers were built and wired to the parallel port of the PC that was to breathe life into the beast.
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