I’ve discovered now that CNC devices are fundementally, quite rudimentary.
During my five minutes of ‘wow’, giggling like a small schoolgirl whilst repeatedly jabbing the arrow keys (mixed in with some heavy page up / down banging too) whilst proudly exclaiming vociferously to a somewhat bemused missus at half ten at night “it’s moving”. I’ve, somewhat soberly come to the conclusion that ‘it’s all a bit naff, really.
CNC should be quite easy in theory – just draw ‘this’, tell motors to go ‘there’, done…
it’s not quite like that
Some immediate observations.
Co-Ordinates….That X,Y,Z stuff. I, at this time have no idea how what’s on the screen relates to what’s on the CNC bed.
Limit switches….There aren’t any on my machine, I need some to stop me wrecking the thing whilst learning
Speed (or lack of)….CNC’ing is going to be a looooooong process. Also, it’s a tad slower than anticipated
Software…..Mach3 is going to be ‘fun’, CAD is going to be ‘funner’, and not quite sure about the levels of amusedness involved in linking those two yet.
PC specifications. My ‘procured from hard rubbish Toshiba NB255 2010 1 Gig memory mini 10.1″ laptop really doesn’t cut the mustard. The CNC was making all sorts of odd grinding noises whilst running the GCode demo. This caused a little worry until my previous interweb searching memory kicked in and i’d remembered that someone had reported similar issues with a crappy PC. Swapped it for my normal laptop Asus G51Jx and it all went quite well.
USBCNC software from that ebay bloke works quite well, out of the box for my 3020T, your mileage may vary but I suspect it’ll help me get some of the basics downpat in a hurry
Mach 3 is a somewhat antiquated piece of software it seems, I’ll figure out if it’s really worth purchasing a copy or if I stick to the lower number of lines limit for Gcode, or, well, i’m not really sure (other software maybe?)
None of my computers have a parallel port. few, if any are running a 32 bit OS. and Prices of devices to convert the 25 pin Parallel port on the controller…(shown in the pic below)
are fairly high (though perfectly reasonable) compared to the price of the CNC mechanics.
There’s an absolute myriad of controllers, convertors, power-ers, drivers, thingies and other stuff that’s been developed, kickstarted, knocked up, and sold on a whim, too much choice really.
I have a machine that looks like it’ll work out of the box
That machine has a parallel port
it’ll be safer to use the machine as it was intended before attacking it further with a soldering iron and screwdriver
Given my penchant for un-necessary teardowns (developed at a young age after discovering screws in my parents VHS recorder, and discovering screwdrivers in my dad’s toolbox) it’s probably best to buy a tested working device
Seems there’s really no accurate information out there for this little thing. A good summary would be though ‘a bit crap’…..if you compare it to all the others available, every website suggests this is the lowest possible spec in its size. Maybe time for an upgrade 😛
It’s now the weekend, If I can’t have fun playing with the CNC, driving it electornicially in the manner it’s intended, I’ll have fun with the screwdriver instead.
11 Philips head screws later (yep, these Cheap CNC’s are really screwed up well)
Some things of note
The Stepper motor driver board is labelled JP3163-B, uses Toshiba TB6560AHQ drivers. Looks like it’s only a 3 channel board
There’s a smaller stepper driver board on the side labelled JP-1635A. This looks like it’s fulfilling the 4th Axis role. it’s probably not on the main PCB as most of these devices will only ever be sold as 3 Axis….why spend the extra few dollars on un-used components.
The Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) Spindle driving Board is labelled JP-1482
There’s a HUGE HDB-200 (200VA?) toroidal transformer in there. centre tapped 18-36V secondaries.
More unboxing. This time the power supply, another three of those 57HD0401-15SB steppers. two have large adaptor things on them, one has a smaller – must be the X,Y axis and the Z axis
Layed out nicely on the dining room table
I did get quite excited now, thought I’d be CNC’ing on the weekend IF the power supply was 240V as ordered. Well, it is. However, I did see a somewhat ominous DB25 style connector, a parallel port. That’s something that i’ve not seen on a computer for a while. annoyingly, none of the computers I own (don’t ask) seem have the pre-requisite hardware to drive this thing.
A quick Google suggests that it’s not gonna be that easy and more hardware’ll be required.
Ah well, a cute little case full of Screws, bits and tools is always good for a cheer up
it was the 15th June and the chaps at Ozbargain had become aware of a fantastic 20% flat discount off anything purchased from eBay offer.
Turned out that eBay had goofed somehow and globally enabled a discount code only intended to be released to select individuals back home in Blighty.
That discount code tipped me over the edge. I frantically rummaged around for my credit card details, my forgotten paypal account’s password and perused the behemoth auction site for something, anything, a bargain to acquire. I simply MUST save money (ironically by spending money)
I’ve always liked the thought of making stuff, have been ‘making’ vicariously through various websites over the years, finding little time to end the procrastination and actually, physically do something. This CNC, this 3020T I believe will allow me to grasp within my grubby mitts the ability to turn some lovingly crafted and digitally stored squiggly patterns, three dimensional wotzits, any old crap really. It’ll allow me to turn digital crap into actual, physical, holdy in your handy, crap.
Yep, that’s right, I’ll effectively be procrastinating no further, no longer filling hard drives with even more ones and zeros. This CNC, it’s an enabler, I’ll be contributing physically to the amount of detritus in my abode by converting those digitally stored files into three dimensional junk that I can store all over the house, thoroughly annoying the missus even more!