DIY CNC: Kickoff

CNC machines have fascinated me for a long time and I've already built two prototypes. The first one was loosely based on a tutorial series by buildyourcnc. Unfortunately the tutorial series is no longer visible on this site. It was a fairly simple machine, but the incremental process of putting it together with simple tools was very interesting. The machine I've built was never finished and I gave up for more than 10 years.

Two years ago, I stumbled over the stepper motors and the driver board from the first machine and I decided to give it a go. This time my goal was to build a simple machine without expectations for high accuracy nor speed. I just wanted to try out a new software toolchain with Fusion360 at its center. 10 years ago, that kind of integrated CAD/CAM software was out of reach for an amateur. With Fusion360 being free for hobbyists, there was no more reason to not jump into the CNC rabbit-hole.

It took me two weeks to smash the hardware together and do all the wiring. The driver board is connected via a parallel port to an old PC running LinuxCNC. The machine works OK and I was able to learn how to use a CNC router, but the balance seemed off between this modern Fusion360 and that good old LinuxCNC and of course my outdated driver board.

I quickly realised, that I wanted a bigger and stiffer machine, better drivers, stronger stepper motors and I wanted to get rid of LinuxCNC. It took me almost a year of researching the internet and evaluating lots of options and I finally decided to go again the cheap way, but this time with a lot of engineering behind. The plan for the machine is entirely done in Fusion360 and completely parametrized. A preview of the planned machine rounds up this post. See You next time where I'll describe some design choices.