Revisiting the 3020 CNC & General musings

Been a few months of non-tinkering really, Just had a heck of a time getting anything useful printing in the D9………..Finally solved that issue – combination of badly cut PTFE tube and poorly machined throat caused major under extrusion and, well, that combined with two kids, a wife working away often meant zero time to actually tinker……

Anyways, in that ‘why the hell shouldn’t I go buy something that ‘just works’..’

I saw the Snapmaker 2 on kickstarter and got the old braincells working,

I have at home currently several devices that are taking a bunch of space

So after seeing the kickstarter I Decided to try to sell the 3020 on Facebook marketplace 

After several dozen people “interested” and several hundred messages, I now fear for the future of the human race having any semblance of collective intelligence  and have decided to keep the 3020T

Revisiting my earlier adventures, The CNC, being a parallel port version won’t run on windows 10, nor will that little dongle thingy I purchased

So, I purchased a new little dongle thingy –

It’s a rather clever little GRBL shield Which doesn’t have any Driver chips bulit in! it just wiggles the relevant data lines of the DB25 port in the back of the CNC controller…..

It’s alive again!……now back to the fun of calibration and figuring just how to use it, whilst allocating my decreasing waking hours to having fun tinkering…….

Ramble over,

Chillipeppr, GRBL, JSON and CHROME

My little CNC Controller
My little CNC Controller

Real life’s taken over somewhat, with three kids (one 6 months, one 3.5 years, one, my wife, 38 😉 I rarely get time to learn how to use the equipment to actually cut stuff.

During a rare couple of hours free time, I decided to play about with GRBL

I figured I’d explain how I finally managed to get it going on my Arduino Duemilanove, with my Clone CNC Shield V4

Of course, as always, practically, nothing’s been done, the shield is sitting on the arduino, doing its shieldy stuff, there’s no motors or power connected, just a string of stuff coming out of the serial port! (so, it probably works, right?)

FIRST – use GOOGLE CHROME (wasted an hour on that one, couldn’t connect to JSON server!)

SECOND –  Download the pre-compiled HEX file – at the GRBL websit home page, scroll down a bit

Direct link – http://Grbl v0.9j Atmega328p 16mhz 115200baud with generic defaults (2015-07-17) (version 0.9J as of writing)

THIRD – Connect up your arduino and flash it with XLOADER – See instructions – HERE

Reset the Arduino

FOURTH – Download the JSON Serial server from Github – Home page Here

– unzip to somewhere nice (i’m on desktop!) and run the server, ensure to tick ‘allow firewall access

Note down which COM port your Arduino is connected to

FIFTH – Open up CHROME, type in http://localhost:8989

SIXTH – Type in the new window that appeared OPEN COM8 115200

(where COM8 is the com number of your serial / USB adaptor on the arduino)

Seventh – FIre up chillipeppr, Select GRBL

Voila, you’re talking, it all seems to automagically work!

Of course, there’ll be a way of automating  / adding a command line prompt to the JSON thingy so you don’t have to web into localhost first…..small steps eh!

On my travels, also discovered that it’s not trivial to get TinyG2 running on the Arduino Due – with the CNCshieldV4 that I Have  i’ve put that experiment off a little while

Next step, cutting stuff – ETA, 2016?

Copycats! – upcycling ikea tables for enclosure

Having two kids really means that you get almost Zero time to tinker, I can ponder many ideas, but often can’t carry them out in a reasonable time

Referring back to my post here – https://bleughbleugh.wordpress.com/2015/06/22/where-to-put-the-mill/

I’ve just googled someone that’s done just that!….

Sean's Ikea Lack Tables Enclosure
Sean’s Ikea Lack Tables Enclosure

http://3dprint.com/84409/ikea-3d-printer-enclosure/

Off to watch Mach 3 tutorial videos, mayaswell get some theory practice in!

TinyG, TinyG V2, Arduinos

Gonna be slow few weeks….

Some researching on alternate control methods for the CNC, avoiding totally the old school parallel port…

Well, today the parts have arrived, I’ll be assembling them soon,

Looks like it’s Very early days for TinyG V2 and the CNC shields along with the Arduino Due..

However, good news it does seem.

TinyG V2 is compatible with the RAMPS-FD and modified RAMPS 3D printer boards…and another board I’ve just discovered  – GAUPS – HERE

Those devices use  the standard Polulu style driver modules – that use the A4988 Stepper Driver from Allegro MicroSystems

My CNC Shield V3 device also uses those devices.

So, fingers crossed, it should be, worst case a simple pin-reconfiguration, probably something I can do in some spare time here

Software!, Another!!!!, CAM thoughts

The Actual, Physical CNC’ing is on hold for a few weeks whilst family come down to visit.

So, doing waaaaay too much research, i’ve narrowed down some software selections,

Here’s some thoughts on the CAM, which’ll probably go out of the window as I’ve still not decided on which CAD software to start putting time into to learn.

this CNC stuff is 90% preparation, design, bugger about. Turns out the fun, actually making physical stuff is only 10%! D’oh!

CAM software – stuff wot makes the toolpaths, in order of pricing

  • http://www.grzsoftware.com/ – Meshcam
    • easy to use
    • well priced – $250 USD (around $340 AUD at time of writing)
    • great for 3D, not so good for 2D

Here’s some other peoples thoughts

http://www.factorydaily.com/node/1223089 – quick compare of 3 CAM softwares

http://blog.cnccookbook.com/2014/01/20/results-from-the-2014-cnccookbook-cam-software-market-share-survey/ – Survey showing top used CAM softawre – Meshcam top, followed by CAMBAM for the hobby market!

CAM2014LowEnd

Annoying, 32 Bit, 64 Bit….More toys to buy?

Well, looks like i’m faced with a few more barriers to my lovely days of CNC’ing

Conventional CNC’s use parallel ports. None of my PC’s have those

complex CNC Driving software, currently is split into two main options.

  • Mach3
    • Needs windows 32 Bit. Ideally a Parallel port but can be used with a USB dongle
  • LinuxCNC
    • won’t work with a USB dongle, only a parallel port, or plugin card

My conundrum  –

All  PC’s in the house are 64 Bit,

I have an old Toshiba netbook, NB255-N250, it’s performance is somewhat lacking though with a CPU Mark score of just 290 and an out of the box windows performance rating of just 2.4 (memory jumped from 3.6 to 4.7 after chucking in a 2Gig stick of RAM from hard rubbish instead of the included 1Gig)

So, Time to look at other small, powerful PC’s to run the mill?

Doing a quick compare on CPU Benchmark suggests that the new, cheap intel Atom PC’s, using the Z3735F / Z3736F processors  can get a three fold performance improvement – in the range of 900 CPU Marks

Decisions….

I’ll probably re-install windows AGAIN on my Laptop, it has  a Core i5 M 430 processor which sits around the 2100 PC marks, mark, i’ll chuck windows 8.1 on it and suffer the potential grief of transferring my 64 bit licence to 32 bit, and limiting myself to just 4 Gig of RAM

Right now, i’ll manage with the Toshiba

TinyG – G2 – Arm Processors

Arduino Due 1 – Arduino Due 

Reading up in-depth more about Arduinos, CNC’s and ‘stuff’, I’ve found a superb product called TinyG

Reading further on the Synthetos website about the TinyG, I discovered a forked branch of the code that is called G2. It’s basically a TinyG Arm port that uses their G-Shield, which at the time of writing is, unfortunately sold out.

I’ve noted that the G Shield uses TI’s DRV8825 stepper drivers

Whilst Googling those parts, I discovered – This website that basically suggests that they’re pin compatible with the A4988 used in those cheap drivers I picked up. Main advantage of the G-Shield device is that it can do 1/32th of a microstep, so much finer resolution for the CNC. Given that i’ve trouble locating the spindle within roughly the 30×20 area of the CNC without smashing into the limits, I think i’ll manage with 1/16th for now

Oh, the picture.

The V2 sounded rather good, so, I picked up an Arduino Due also, my favourite cheap chinese webstore had a voucher for 10% off so I bagged this for just over $23 AUD

Grand total for my new Shield is now $44.59. and I have the option of standrd TinyG GRBL, or G2

I think i’m going to spend more time buggering about making the thing cut than actually cutting anything…..Still have the software to go yet

Finally, why I haven’t bought a Syntheos product.

I can see that the TinyG V8 board has been out a little while now, there’s headway being made to V9, even some reports of them out for testing. I’m on the wall right now and really happy learning, tinkering.  i’ll be jumping and buying a V9 when it’s released :-). V8 is a very well reviewed product so I can’t wait to see what V9 has to offer.

For those of you less into the electronics and general tinkering – highly recommend to get a V8, it’s almost plug and play with these cheap, chinese CNC’s

TinyG and G2 – an idea for the future!?

Have been reading up on control methods for the CNC (yep, too much reading, not enough actual do-ing),

Stumbled across something called GRBL, which to summise,is, “an arduino CNC controller”

There’s a shedload of websites regarding GRBL…..so……

I actually own various quantities of each of the following microcontroller boads that i’ve acquired over the years, a few more modern ones include

And, given my recent discovery of GRBL,and a penchant for hoarding un-used demo boards,

I’ve purchased one of these………

an arduino CNC Shield

SKU198457a(3) SKU198457aa

It’s a blatant clone of a couple of other shields out there, at under eight AUD though, it was worth a punt

it uses the standard Polulu style driver modules – that use the A4988 Stepper Driver from Allegro MicroSystems

I picked up five of them also….for just under $14 AUD, three for now, a fourth if I ever figure out 4 axis machining and a fifth as i’ll probably blow something up

a4988 2 A4988 1

so, for a grand sum of $13.81 Plus $7.63 = $21.44 delivered, I have a nice CNC Shield for my Arduino

Limit Switches & other stuff – Purchased, list of websites

Some pics of the two types of limit switch I picked up, 5 of each type for under $6AU delivered

limit switch 2 limit switch 3 Limit Switch 1

I’m also grateful to all of those websites out there that allow us to mispend minutes hours days weeks perusing endless pages of cheap tat.

Some of my favourites to date that i’ve spent waaaaay too much $$ on

http://www.dx.com – The original source of my additiction

http://www.banggood.com – The new favourite

http://www.tmart.com – a nice all-rounder site with some occasional good deals

http://www.lighttake.com – used a few times, not so much nowadays

http://www.focalprice.com – seems to have lost its way with pricing of late

http://www.buyincoins.com – has some ridiculous offers from time to time

http://www.icstation.com – so much i WANT from that site, yet don’t have the free $$ to buy 😛

and of course, now the ubiqutous http://www.ebay.com.au

oh, and whilst you’re there, check out http://www.ozbargain.com.au too

Where to put the CNC? – a cheap solution

Another night somewhat short on content….Lots of planning though.

Whilst on a trip to Ikea, I noted the Lack Coffee Table. I have one of these spare at home now we’re cleaning out the spare room

At 55cm x 55cm (Google metrification <> imperialisation link for you inches guysGoogle metrification <> imperialisation link for you imperial guys) this $7.99 (at time of writing) is the ideal sized throne upon which to sit my CNC.

Having roughly measured the CNC, it takes up roughly

  • 53cm in length fron back of stepper motor to the front
  • 42cm in width – from the back of the stepper motor to the far side
  • 41cm in height

Ikea Lack Table

An Ikea Lack table for those not familiar with paper masquerading as wooden furniture

An overly meandering perusal around the maze that seems to be Sweden’s least favourite furniture store can be enlightning. Not only are you kept alert looking for just the right part to do something with that it’s not supposed to, you’re also well fed. a Lack table, with some minor modifications can probably serve as an enclosure for the CNC!

I recon, stacking two tables and Bolting some see -thru plastic of some sort may do a cheap, temporary job until something better comes along?

Here’s a quick drawing my 3 year old knocked up, honest

MS Paint to the rescue
MS Paint to the rescue

Parallel Port Conundrums

Have spent a few days now reading up on solving the parallel port issue.

it really seems that Eight out of Ten CNC owners prefer Mach 3

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)

DB25 Parallel port
DB25 Parallel port

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 went the stingy route and picked up an ONTRON USB CNC Parallel convertor for just $34 AUD. My thought process was

  • 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
  • find the cheapest USB <> Parallel device I can
  • if Cheapest USB device doesn’t work, then find other options (Arduino CNC ShieldGRBL, etc)

The Device I purhcased……

USB Parallel convertor
USB Parallel convertor
Mach 3 compatible apparently
Mach 3 compatible apparently

It was shipped within 5 minutes of buying it (somehow I doubt the French are that efficient), Fingers crossed it arrives in the next two weeks like the auction said it would

Components, Circuit boards

So far, a list of things I’ve discovered

  • A rather large ‘old school’ torroidal transformer
    • HDB-200 – 200VA
    • JP-3163B – Stepper motor control board, 3 channel
      • Mine looks almost the same as the below one, it’s just missing the DB15 serial connector next to the parallel
      • JP-3163B Nice image
    • JP-1635A – Single Channel Stepper motor controller board
      • JP-1365A
      • TB6560AHQ – stepper motor controller chips
    • JP-1482 – Variable speed spindle driver
    • 57HD0401-15SB BiPolar Stepper motors
      • 57mm, so, NEMA 23 size
      • HD = 1.8°  Step Angle
      • 0 = Fuselage Length Code (57HD – M) – 0 in this case – 41mm shaft
      • 4 =
      • 01 =
      • N =
      • Can anyone read the text on this website? – it has more data

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 😛

Discovery of Internet Resources

It’s been fun getting back to my old routine and hitting up teh interwebs.

There’s a huge amount of resources out there

A few that I’ve discovered so far

And there’s quite a bit else out there too, I’ll try to keep this page up to date as I go along,

I’ve found that a quick Google for terms such as 3040, 3020, 6040 seems to bring up more webpages than you’d think.

There does seem to be quite a few different versions of this machine out there though, most look superficially similar, I’ll try to figure out what the differences are

Specifications

From the Auction, Specifications are as listed below. Certainly does seem quite impressive for the money.

Even more so considering I saved nearly $100 off the price!

  • 3020T triaxial engraving machine part parameters:
    • Shape dimension:550×400*350mm
    • Max.workpiece dimension:200mm*300mm<65mm
    • Work table dimension:200mm*300mm*15mm
    • Frame materials:aluminum alloy 6063 and 6061
    • Driving units X axis:1204 trapezoidal screws
    • Driving units Y axis:1204 trapezoidal screws
    • Driving units Z axis:1204 trapezoidal screws
    • Sliding units X axis:Dia.13mm chrome plate shafts
    • Sliding units Yaxis:Dia.16mm chrome plate shafts
    • Sliding units Z axis:Dia.12mm chrome plate shafts
    • Stepping motor type:57 two-phase 1.45A-2A
    • Spindle motor:200w dc motor,NEW
    • Principal axis collet:ER11/3.175 mm
    • Spindle speed:300 ~ 8000rpm/min (PWM stepless speed regulation)
    • Repeat accuracy:0.05mm
    • Empty line speed:0-2500mm/min (16 subdivided driving down)
    • Spindle precision:radial beat acuities 0.03 mm
    • Control unit:triaxial one-piece drive + ring variable power + PWM speed
    • Carving Instructions:G code/TAB files/nc file/NCC files
    • Communication interface:through parallel connection with computer
    • Software environment:Windows 2000 / xp
    • Carving speed:0-2000mm/min (different materials differ)
    • Machine weight:24KG

2 years Free warranty

  • High Precision Stepping motor makes engraving more precise .
  • Flexible coupling can be used for high torque transmission.
  • The chrome shafts is not easy to deform,suitable for long time use.
  • The reinforced and thickened machine body make transportation absolutely to be safer and longer life time.
  • Cover plates reducing pollution for the screws and shafts.
  • Spindle motor knob is useful for small positioning adjustment ,with steady and strong support structure.
  • Can engraving much more materials by spiral flute bits,such as metal,steel,MDF board,solid wood,composite board plywood,stone
  • Large 3D engraving in soft wood,MDF board,native wood,PVC,Acrylic we suggest use one or two spiral flute ball bits.
  • Emergency stop button enhance security
  • Can control the engraving more precise
  • Mach 3 software is simple and intelligent
  • Can be controlled by computer
  • More steady and strong equiped with aluminum alloy frame materials
  • Simple operation and installation
  • With four axis(rotary axis) and tailstock
  • Operating Voltage:AC110V or AC220V  50/60Hz(we also stock USA.UK.EU.AU.plugs and 110V-240V power version for the country all over the world.)
  • Control unit:2.5A stepping motor driver plus adjustable spindle speed controller
  • Computer connection:on board palrallel port
  • Command code:G code
  • Acceptable software:Mach3,EMC2
  • Protection:Emergency stop button

Unscrewing

Naked Power Close Up Too Close?

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.

Looks like there’s some googling to do tomorrow

Yet more unboxing

What's in here
What’s in here

Black thingy

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

Lots of bits
Nicely packaged

Layed out nicely on the dining room table

Parallel Port!
Parallel Port!

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.

Tools and Bits
Tools and Bits

Ah well, a cute little case full of Screws, bits and tools is always good for a cheer up

More unboxing…

Tad gutted at the 110v issue, however, lets keep going regardless. I’m liking the new CNC smell too much

Suspense is killing me
Suspense is killing me

These Guys sure wrap their stuff well, Plenty of foam

Not an inverter
Not an inverter

And, Brilliant. Never have seen a 110v inverter with a pointy, handley thing on it before

Not an inverter :-)
Not an inverter 🙂

Mislabelled box is proven to hold the 4th Axis of the machine – i’ll put more detail another time

Stepper Motor Markings
Stepper Motor Markings

A close-up of the first ‘part numbered’ part i’ve seen so far, A 57HD0401-15SB Stepper motor. 1.8 Degree Steps, 2.0 Amps rating and N1504 (whatever that means?)

I’ll list all the parts I come accross another time

More unboxing

Some more pictures….

Well packed so far
Well packed so far

Pulled out the smallest box to start with, this is exciting

Inverter
No Idea why I’d need an ‘inverter’

However, something a little ‘odd’ here, I’d ordered a 240V version of the CNC, could it be possible they’ve sent some other voltage?

IMG_20150619_205908
Uh-Oh…

Aaw, crap, this means I’m probably not going to be able to ‘play’ on the weekend

It’s arrived!

I’m rather impressed really, Twenty Five Kilograms rolled up  to the front door on Thursday. Just four days after purchasing…..

IMG_20150619_205702
The Box…….After being lugged into the dining room

I Purchased this CNC from An eBay 3020T CNC seller late one late night,

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!

Unboxing to come