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Author Topic: BullDog CNC Router/Mill Build Project  (Read 32166 times)

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BullDog CNC Router/Mill Build Project
« on: October 15, 2013, 06:07:38 PM »
I have a metal fabrication business and have been wanting to get a CNC router / Mill for a long time. I have been doing research for a few months and spent sometime at a few trade shows looking everything over. I have a lot to learn when it comes to routers and mills, just a little different from plasma.

I decided to start out with a small bench top system and build it up as sort of a DIY project and see how it works and maybe expand to a larger table down the road.

My goal is to make this a multi-purpose machine if I can. I want to be able to make signs out of wood and plexi, machine parts out of aluminum, cut sheet goods like vinyl and cardboard for prototypes, and if I can attach an extruder and make a 3d printer out of the same machine....

So here goes I have been buying components as time and money allows and finally have enough to get started. I though I would post the build here and hopefully get some good advice along the way and share my trials and tribulations as I go.

So day one got the table from Precision Plasma assembled it and attached the Porter cable 7310 router. I'm waiting on my steppers and controller which I hope will be delivered soon.
Re: BullDog CNC Router/Mill Build Project
« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2013, 06:10:55 PM »
Got the Controller package and stepper motors in from CandCNC yesterday. I went with the BladeRunner Package. Its the same package I use on my CNC Plasma System and it has worked very well. About the only difference is that this one does not have torch height control.

The steppers are 300 oz - The router has a 2TPI screw for x and y, so the steps per inch is 4000. I use 50 for acceleration and can go 200 ipm or faster. The Z is 5 tpi, so the steps per inch is 10000. Acceleration 50 and velocity 100 or faster. With this setup I will have about 175 lb of cutting force on X and Y.

I was not expecting the steppers to be double shaft steppers. My plasma machine uses single shaft steppers. I did some reading online and from what I read no real difference some people suggested adding a thumb knob on the end to allow for some fine adjustment when the power is off.?

The case has two built in Aux power outlets. I will use one to plug my router into so that I can control it via the computer and the Mach3 interface.

This weekend I plan on installing the software from CandCNC as well as Mach3 and Sheetcam, getting everything plugged in and do some test movements to make sure the basics are working.
Re: BullDog CNC Router/Mill Build Project
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2013, 06:12:10 PM »
I have been slacking on updating the build progress. Had to squeeze in a little vacation while I could.

I was able to get all of the software installed and do some basic motion testing and configuration. I installed Mach3 for my machine control software which has custom screens from the bladerunner package. I also installed Sheetcam for 2d work. I use it all the time for plasma cutting so I though I would put it on this system since I'm familiar.

I also installed Aspire and Photo V Carve from Vectric which I plan to use for most of the routing and carving.

Program install was easy no problems. Powered up the the machine and was able to move it around the table using Mach3 No cutting yet.

Anyone have another programs they think I should have or could use. I want to eventually add a rotary axis. I'm still reading up on aspire and getting familiar with all it can do.

Next project is adding the home and limit switches along with some cable management to the machine.
Re: BullDog CNC Router/Mill Build Project
« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2013, 06:34:15 PM »
I suggest an index wheel and pointer on the back shaft of the steppers.  If you simply write down the index position for each axis when you zero out the axis you can easily get back there after collision, power off, or the next day.

Not to discourage you, I calculate 118 lbs of HOLDING force, which is at zero speed. Look at the torque curve for you motors at 400 rpm (200 ipm) and at the supply voltage you have, and I think it will be 25 to 30% of that.  Skimming a plasma torch over the surface without touching is a lot different than pushing a cutter through aluminum.
Re: BullDog CNC Router/Mill Build Project
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2013, 06:54:28 PM »
I figured that with the size of this machine I was going to have to take it very slow and my cut depth per pass was going to have to be pretty shallow.   

With plasma all of my cutting speeds and parameters for all of my materials some on a nice table and are easy to program.  I'm lost at this point on coming up with the feed rates for each of the bits and depth.  Do charts exist for that?
Re: BullDog CNC Router/Mill Build Project
« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2013, 07:07:51 PM »
Made some progress on the project and got the home and limit switches installed. I installed limits on both sides of the x and y and a home for the x and y.

I'm thinking of going back and adding a home for the Z at its highest point?? Not sure yet on that take any suggestions on that.

I found some new switches that I like better than the ones I used on the plasma system. They are a little bigger and have a snap action and a more positive and precise activation it seems.

I got a rotary unit that I plan on moving back and forth between the plasma and router that I plan on setting up on the "A" Axis and I need to install a home switch for that as well. Need to find a trick way to mount it on the rotary unit.

I got most of the cable management done with the Igus track I got of ebay and I mounted the Air system for the blow off nozzles for clearing the cut path. I plan on just plugging the system into the shop air and regulate it with the on off valve.

Had a few people suggest the nozzle system for doing aluminum. I don't plan on running any type of coolant system. I would like to keep it all dry if I can.

Its nice having the plasma machine in the shop. I needed some custom brackets and supports to mount things so a quick drawing threw some aluminum on the plasma table and made some bends and I had come custom brackets.

Next project in this build was to start building the cart that all this will mount to and on. My shop never has enough room so I have to keep this project mobile.
Re: BullDog CNC Router/Mill Build Project
« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2013, 10:34:09 PM »
I have been slacking on updating the build progress. Had to squeeze in a little vacation while I could.

I was able to get all of the software installed and do some basic motion testing and configuration. I installed Mach3 for my machine control software which has custom screens from the bladerunner package. I also installed Sheetcam for 2d work. I use it all the time for plasma cutting so I though I would put it on this system since I'm familiar.

I also installed Aspire and Photo V Carve from Vectric which I plan to use for most of the routing and carving.

Program install was easy no problems. Powered up the the machine and was able to move it around the table using Mach3 No cutting yet.

Anyone have another programs they think I should have or could use. I want to eventually add a rotary axis. I'm still reading up on aspire and getting familiar with all it can do.

Next project is adding the home and limit switches along with some cable management to the machine.
I'm not familiar with the custom screen set in your version of Mach. However, I am using the 2010 screen set on my router table which includes custom macros for tool changes. The next best thing to having an automatic tool changer! (I.E., just change tooling, and click once for the machine to measure the new tool length, and continue cutting!). As for software, it looks as though you are good to go for most routing projects. IF you also have a good CAD program for designing. If you are more familiar with working with just bitmap images, you may want to give MeshCAM Art a try. It's the software I use for all of my 3D carvings. Also CNC Wrapper is good for 4th axis work. Judging from the software alone, I wish that I had your kind of budget to work with. Right now, my router is down (bearings fell apart in my Porter Cable 892)- just don't have the funds for a replacement for the foreseeable future.
Re: BullDog CNC Router/Mill Build Project
« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2013, 08:46:43 PM »
I tend to do most of my CAD work in Drawplus its not really meant for that but its so simple and easy that I design a lot of parts in it, but that has all been for the plasma cutter.   I need to pick a decent CAD program and get it and learn it.  About 15 years ago I did a bunch of work for a former employer in Autocad but I'm way out of practice.  There are so many cad programs now and most a very expensive or the low price ones wont export in the formats I want.   Mainly I do not want to take the time to learn the software. 

I'm trying to keep the budget as low as possible but I tend to end up spending more than I want on these projects.    My head is spinning a little trying to learn all that goes into this.   But it was when I first started with the cnc plasma cutting.  One thing at a time though.