Friday, November 4, 2022

CNC rebuild and upgrades

I finally got round to taking the CNC machine out of it's box and rebuilding it (after 7 years of being in storage). This happened over the space of a year - mostly because I got caught up trying to decide how I wanted to control the machine this time round. Previously I used LinuxCNC on an old PC, but I'd left that PC in the US when we moved back to the UK in 2012. I wanted to use a laptop so I didn't have to have a PC in the garage. I decided to try out one of the UCCNC ethernet controllers - which meant sorting out a power supply and box for all the electronic components.

I was pleasantly surprised that the machine rebuild went fine - there's definitely some more fine tuning to be done, but overall it still works well and I didn't have to replace any of the major parts. I did end up replacing the router, mostly because I wanted everything to be native 240v - I didn't like the idea of running a router from a transformer for long jobs.

Here's some in-progress photos:
I did add a few upgrades/changes during the rebuild. Something that was missing from the original setup were limit switches.  I found the Xylotex limit switch suggestion on the Solsylva site (this has been down for years, but the content is available on here). I 3d printed the limit switch mounts (3 different designs).

All the limit switches are wired in series using speaker cable.

The z-axis limit trigger is just a bit of Lego glued onto the z-axis lead nut...

These work really well and it means that I can automatically (and consistently) home the machine. Importantly, it also means that I don't have to worry about causing damage if I accidentally try to move outside of the machine limits (which I definitely did a few times when using it in the US).

I had to use a different mounting method for the Makita router. I found a few mounts on thingiverse that looked like they would 'almost' work - I ended up adapting this one for my setup (I extended and flattened the mounting point so I could attach it directly to the wood). This took a few iterations before it worked well - the detachable dust shoe (from the original designer) is a nice touch!

Now for some random makey makey pics.

First attempt at dust extraction - not ultimately useful, but the cut of the piece is quite pleasing.

Soundwave design for my eldest daughter (her favourite transformer).

Halftone map of the world for my mum's birthday. I used Jason Dorie's Halftoner program to create this (and the above soundwave image).

Finally, some dice boxes I'm still slowly working on.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Chunky Raised Planters

Well, it's been a while since I posted and quite a lot has happened in the interim.  We have re-patriated to the UK (from California), moved house 3 times, and had another kid - a boy this time!

The current house is fantastically unusual, has a good amount of outside space, and is in need of a lot of TLC - which is a perfect excuse to pick up new skills and knowledge.

After clearing out a very overgrown part of the garden, we found that we had a really good amount of space to grow things. So, we decided to put in some chunky raised planters.

These are made out of slightly smaller versions of railway sleepers (they were on offer at the local lumber yard) which came in lengths of 200mm x 100mm x 2400mm (yes - everything is metric now).

Here are a couple of shots of the 'finished' project.  I say "finished" as this was 2016 and there's plenty more that's been done since then.

There were a few 'exciting' moments during this process. The first was having the wood delivered.

It's daft but the moment that gave me the most satisfaction ended up being when I had to make a new plate for the hand router in order to chamfer the sides of the planters.

Adding a layer of plastic to the bed and then some gravel for drainage:

We were happy with the way the first two planters turned out so it was time to make some more.

Hey look! We found an old path under all the dirt!

We were quite late in the season getting these all together (mid-May, 2016), so it was lovely to see the plants flourish.  We had three courgette (zucchini) plants which provided a good amount of veg for the next few months. The beans and peas were great (kids loved running out and picking them). The carrots were a bit of a miss as were the tomatoes.  Cabbages were good and the Brussel sprouts were ready in time to be used for Christmas dinner!

Here's the little two helping to harvest the Brussel sprouts for Christmas dinner (2016).