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CNC Build #1 Build a CNC to learn about Motion Control and automation.

I have been producing videos on YouTube for a while now and have been reviewing several industrial controllers that are sold by RS-Components and Allied Electronics and several questions kept coming up. How do I control an external device, How do I wire a sensor etc., mostly related to motion control so I decided to create a series on just that. A CNC Router project is an ideal platform to showcase many of these principals as there all included and it also lends itself to other fun things too, for instance, designing and making boxes, panels and other items required for your projects and this means tools like DesignSpark Mechanical

I used DesignSpark Mechanical to design my table, the CNC Frame and several 3D printed parts required to complete the build like a clamp for the router, adapter for the Nema 23 Stepper motors and Calibration parts for testing, I will cover this design process in separate videos

So I approached RS-Components about this and they kindly helped out with much of the electronics which helped immensely to make this series a reality. Thanks RS, you’re awesome :)

To Clarify, I like to produce most of my content as video, sometimes I manage to keep it to a half hour or less but mostly it ends up closer to the hour. My thought on this is that I would rather have it long and not lose anything important from the content so I hope it will meet with your approval.

So, let’s get started

Here is the first few videos with additional notes to go with them, these cover

  • The concept,
  • Table design and build,
  • CNC construction
  • Electrical Wiring
  • Words of wisdom and an embarrassing Oops on my part regarding the Arduino UNO I used to run GRBL on... It’s HOT.

I have included all of these into several posts and they are related to getting me to a working CNC without going into much detail regarding how things work, that additional detailed content will be in follow up posts where I will take each topic in isolation and explain how it works, what is good or bad about it and I will use the CNC as the demonstration platform where it makes sense and additionally bench experiments to add more clarification.

For any substantial project, it needs a solid base to work on, without this the equipment will move around and compromise the accuracy of the project and safety of the work place. Choose wisly and construct well.

I used an existing Router table I used and built many years ago, the base of which was constructed of 4"x4" pine legs and very beefy rails, I simply removed the old top and replaced it with a partial torsion box to sit the router onto. I needed to do this as the existing base was far too small for the router and was not as flat as I needed it to be.

It is important to also make your base as FLAT as possible, it is not so important to have it perfectly level although this would help if it is, this is why I went the route of a torsion box, it maintains a very flat work surface and is structurally very ridgid. I started by designing it in DS Mechanical so I could derive measurements and get a sense of size and fit. here is the DS images from the design





 I will make the DS Mechanical file available some how, just have not figured the best way yet, all of the parts for the table where sourced from the local lumber store, all 3/4" plywood made from 2 * 8feet by 4feet sheets.

So now we have a table ready for our CNC to be built upon, in the next post I will take you through the build of the CNC Hardware using Openbuilds Aluminium extrusions and other hardware supplied by SNB Solutions here in Ontario, Canada. For those in other regions, you may want to google OpenBuilds or go to the OpenBuilds site 

I started my career in Industrial Electronics Engineering over 40 years ago, I am also a seasoned Software Architect working as a consultant with large companies and government agencies developing software for Healthcare, Online Reporting solutions and large scale high availability data management. My electronics experience is primarily in automation and control of manufacturing and the gas industry This experience has left me with a good sense of Privacy, Security and reliability from the hardware right through to the data storage in central data centers. My passion has always been electronics. I now make tutorial videos for my youtube channel thebreadboardca. ( ). I specialise in Industrial and Home Automation and Control and integration of heterogeneous systems, I love to figure out how to get all sorts of disparate things talking to each other using protocols like Modbus, MQTT etc. Getting a new product, Chip or other item, figuring out what can be done with it and then making a tutorial video is fun to me and I love to share what I learn.

1 Dec 2015, 20:26