Feb 262014

I got the 660 mounted. The amount of run out (or lack there of) when compared to the default knock off Dremel is amazing. I fought that thing so much, I came into the DeWalt with that same expectation. I put the end mill in the spindle and it was straight. I mean, really really straight. There is probably some sort of runout there, but none that I can see on human visual investigation.

 Posted by at 10:34 pm
Feb 252014

The DW660 mounts are now cut. After learning a valuable lesson about not having stray pieces of wood near the wheels which bogged down the machine during a pass (not sure how it missed it the first couple of passes) sent my machine off by about an inch. I could not figure out what happened at first as it was under one of the Y MakerSlides. All I could see was that my cut was all wrong and I had a Darth moment… NOOOOOooooooo. Once I stopped the machine and started looking at the goofed up cut, I started thinking that is must have lost it’s count some how. My only reason for even thinking this is was because I had read of something somewhere on this board a while back. So class… lesson here? Reading build logs is very beneficial. Learn from others goofs, even if it is in the midst of your own goof.

So, I reset further down the cutting board, and sent the file again. It took it on like a champ. I was quite pleased with the results too. Tonight I will try to drill the holes and get it mounted.


 Posted by at 7:31 pm
Feb 232014

Hopefully this means the end of two sided carpet tape and spring clamps. I have now made six of these. The first came out awesome, but the following 3 were cut too shallow. I finished these with a drill sander. So, I had one which was pristine, and 3 which were a bit wonky. Regardless though, I had 4 hold downs, and that was enough to hold the work with 4 points. So, I decided to make a couple more with the new hold downs. These came out beautifully. I noticed another difference between the hold down and the clamp experiences, and that is how solid the hold downs made everything. I mean, this makes sense as CNC is all about precision, and if you have your work area floating about, it is not going to come out right. Period. What I am learning is that really small spaces / differences / things just slightly askew, are not really small at all. These things result in some pretty big issues. So, I guess my focus needs to be learning how to measure, move, and position thing exactly where I want them, then how to line up the machine to start exactly where I want it to.

 Posted by at 4:59 am
Feb 222014

I got my base boards ready for fun time. Holes, holes, and more holes. I wonder how many of these it would take to fill the Albert Hall. Hmmm.

Shown work flow is LibreCad; CamBam; Universal GCode Sender; Mill

 Posted by at 10:22 pm
Feb 142014

Well, after a lot of work, and a lot of frustration (which comes from learning tons of new stuff (actually a good thing once you get through it ;0) ), I have the Shapeoko cutting. The bolt is meandering so to speak.This is the Hello World for cutting. The wiki suggested doing an initial, I chose to do my full name so I had something to put on my desk at work. Also, it suggested doing a pocket cut of the initial. Probably bad form for jumping out of the crib too fast, but I wanted to try pocketed Island cut. I used the NASA lettering as my guide. While this is great for some letters, I am not too keen on the K, but I can not blame the machine for that. I only blame the font. Anyhoo, This is the first cut off my Shapeoko. I am more than pleased. It was an odd experience. While it was running was watching with amazement at how precise it was. But the most common phrases while watching the cut were “but what about the..” , or “but there’s still a…” and then “Oh… I see”. Now I can focus on just making stuff. High on the priority list is cutting out my own upgrades. You know build a machine to build a machine.
So, here is the the video of my first cut. I know I know… yet another first cut video, but hey, I am a proud new parent, so I wanna hoot and holler for a while. 😀
I faded out the audio so you didn’t have to hear the whine the whole time.

 Posted by at 4:13 am
Feb 132014

I have not done much more to the machine itself as I have been fighting the work flow. I have been trying various things for about 3 or 4 weeks, but I have basically stopped down to get a handle on it as this is a kind of important bit of the puzzle. I have been trying to find a tool chain that is as close to free as possible (The Shapeoko was an expensive bit of kit)(relatively speaking).

Many people jump into InkScape and start going. Being a software snob (something I need to get over. I get it). Like most things, I do not want a surface understanding about what is going on, I want to grok with a fullness. I don’t remember how, but I accidentally found Draftsight. I have spent a lot of time trying to come up to speed on it. The idea was Draftsight for design into MakerCam for Cam and G-Code production then mill. The problem I had was that everything I was designing was initially getting scaled up by 6 and a half times. I finally found out that upon install Draftsight defaults to imperial even though I had specified millimeters (something not mentioned in any of their tutorials btw). I found that I could change the default to an ISO template so numbers started to make more sense. I exported an svg on my design and took this into MakerCam. Things then started to get stupid again. This is the cam software that the Shapeoko people recommend to get yourself going. Perhaps this is just fine if you are going to InkScape then to MakerCam, but I have not had it work all the way through without something going really wrong (from weird numbers, crazy decimals, crashes when zooming, no undos…). So, I have decided to stay as far away from it as possible. Free is not worth that much frustration

I then downloaded FreeMill (a free little cam app that comes with Visual CadCam 2014) and started to fight with that as it has been said to be a pretty good CAM app. I tried and tried and tried to get it to see my drawings as a “part”. The short story here is that it does not do 2.5D, only 3D. So, I am keeping that in my back pocket for when I need 3D. So onwards…

This week I decided that my time was more valuable, so I ditched the idea of not trying any of the paid software options. If it will do the job, and I save a year not having to fight all the little work arounds, then I am all for it. I downloaded CamBam. It is a $150 CAM program that has a LOT of really nice features in it (scope is coming from MakerCam). I get 40 uses fully featured before it clamps down to 500 lines of G-Code. A use is considered starting/closing the program. So, I have had it open for a couple of days. I will eventually need to throw down some money, so be it as long as it works and works well. The nice thing is that it is geared toward a range of people types, so it will do, 2D, 2.5D, 3D, engraving, and most recently added PCB. PCBs are one of the reasons I wanted the mill, so at $150 is not a bad price (especially seeing what some cams can cost). Snow days are great for getting all sorts of things done. My target is one of my left over Pinewood Derby blocks. It is essentially the mill version of Hello world. They recommend that you cut out the initial of your first name. I chose to make a pocketed Island of my whole name with a little square around it. I just have to get up the balls to actually go do it. Seeing how this thing has just taken off for reasons I do not yet understand, frightens me. The idea of a robot running off with a very fast moving cutting device attached to it…myeah. The sucker is strong too. When it wants to go somewhere I am not going to be stopping it. Only a reset, or cutting the power will do it. I have a mushroom safety switch that I will be wiring into this eventually for such a thing.

 Posted by at 5:05 pm