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711man Tue 23 December 2008 00:45

Now has AC SERVOs #111 – Georgetown, TX
Hi Gerald and others on the board.

Since this is my first post, it will be longer than future post. So please allow the long post this time.

First I want to say, Thank You Gerald for designing the MM, and for making the plans available for those seeking to build a CNC. I also want to say, Thank You to the other contributors that have paved, and are paving the way for the new builders to make their build process easier.

I have as many before me, been reading the forum anonymously without chiming in. The main reason is to gain the knowledge needed to make informed build decisions regarding the MM. And the other obvious reason is to keep useless chatter off the Forum.

My build process began last week when I ordered the laser cut and folded parts from Joe. I figured it would be better to purchase a kit from Joe and to benefit from his work than to have them cut and folded on my own. His kit will save me time, frustration, and certainly money. Thanks Joe!

With the parts from Joe and a steel order I will begin my build with the 10. Base Table. Since Gerald has placed all the build information in a logical manner on the Forum, I plan to follow his lead sequence; 10. Base Table, 20. Gantry, 30.Car, and so on, and so on to finish the project. Well, it looks logical to me!!

My MM will have a nominal table dimension of ~50X120 inches and a Z-height of ~10 inches. My plan is to build the machine using the standard configuration seen many times on the site. I have also chosen to grind the rails instead of ordering prebuilt. I donít see a clear advantage of purchased rails over ground rails, so ground rails it will be.

Iíll keep you guys up to date with lots of pictures as I move forward.

Thanks in advance for the help I know you guys will give.


Kobus_Joubert Tue 23 December 2008 02:20

Welcome BillT....I am sure you will have a good time in building this machine..

Gerald D Tue 23 December 2008 03:24

Welcome Bill!

Don't know whether the numbers are a logical order . . . . . :)

Seriously though, I would suggest you start with the smaller stuff and fill your workshop at the end. However, if you do start on the big stuff, that is going to commit you to finishing the project! :D

jhiggins7 Tue 23 December 2008 07:14

Welcome Bill.

For other members of the Forum, Georgetown and Round Rock are both near Austin, Texas and only about 10 miles apart. Bill E-Mailed me yesterday (this is the first I knew of him) and we, like some others on the Forum, will be trying to help each other.

I'm starting with the Control Box and Bill is starting with the table. So our builds are kind of complementary.


711man Fri 06 February 2009 09:31

2 Attachment(s)
Hi Guys,

I just wanted to update my build thread and to let you guys know that build progress for my steel frame is underway; much slower than I care for though.

As you guys know from JHiggins7 Round Rock build thread, John and I traveled to Houston together to pick up our steel. The guys at Triple-S steel are great people, but they botched both our orders. In the end, both John and I saved a little money making the trip. Beyond the small amount of money saved though, I had the opportunity to meet and to spend some time with a talented MM builder nearby. John, thanks in advance for the help youíll provide during my build.

I spent several hours last Saturday cleaning the filthy oil from the rectangular and square tubing. What a mess that stuff is to work with, but once cleaned it really is nice material. Later, I attached a metal cutting blade to my DeWalt miter saw to make some very clean precise trim cuts on the gantry tubing. Making such modification to the saw Iím sure will make most wood worker cringe. But, sometimes youíve got to work with the tools available. Anyway, itís done.

I also drug out my plasma cutter to begin cutting the steel needed for the frame.
(side note) I donít have much time under my belt working with the plasma cutter. I purchased it for a personal project but the pipe fitter I hired didnít like it. So he finished the cutting portion of the project with a cutting torch and my new Hypertherm 600 sat in the box waiting for a new project. The new project is the MM.

Below is the modified DeWalt. I attached a little scatter shield behind the blade to prevent the hot sparks from imbedding the saw base. Itís ugly but it works.

And the second picture is that of a cut across the 3-inch channel from the plasma cutter. As you can see, there is a nice clean cut all the way through the steel. It looks like my cut speed is a little slow, however.

vishnu Fri 06 February 2009 11:02

Hi Bill,

Thats a nice clean cut. Dont feel you are late take your own sweet time all of have felt the same. Good going :)



jhiggins7 Fri 06 February 2009 20:53

Hey Bill,

Glad to see your post. I was wondering how you were doing.

Nice cuts on the tube and channel.

I guess the Hypertherm wouldn't have any problem with the C8 13.75 lb. channel either, right?

Anyway, glad to see your making progress.


711man Sat 07 February 2009 10:19

The Powermax 600 has a cutting capacity of 5/8Ē. Iím sure the cut in the thick web of the 8Ē channel will be a little ugly and require more finishing. But no doubt the 600 will do the job.

711man Sun 19 April 2009 06:35

Some steel progress made
3 Attachment(s)
Hi guys,

Itís time to check in with the group and to share progress and a few photos.

My work status has changed recently where I now travel more than ever. Unfortunately work progress on the MM has been reduced to a crawl.

The steel frame is beginning to take shape. The cutting surface is 12 x 6 feet, so the table is a little unwieldy at 14.0 x 7.25 feet, 4270 x 2250 mm. The weight of the table has grown to 1075 lbs or approximately 489 kilos.

The size and weight of the table prohibit the upside down build. So itís extremely important to keep the steel as square as possible during the upright build.

A few observations from the photos:
Final welds are not complete.
A temporary cable and turnbuckle across the diagonal is used to square the frame.
Roller wheels are temporary installed to facilitate easy movement of the frame during the initial setup.

Construction notes:
The long ĎXí axis frames were built on saw horses atop each other in mirror image. Then they were separated and the footplates were tack welded in place. Afterwards, the footplates were split to separate the frames.

Once the frame and the X-Rails were temporarily built, roller supports were used to roll the cross bearers in place.

Tack welds will remain in place till the upper table and frame are finally squared together.

p.s. sorry for the filthy shop

hennie Sun 19 April 2009 08:30

Bill there is no excuse for a clean workshop its where it all happens.:)

jhiggins7 Mon 20 April 2009 07:47

Hey Bill,

Great progress!:) Good to see it!:)


711man Mon 21 September 2009 08:03

Finally, construction resumed
Hi again, Gerald and the board.

Iíve had to take some time away for my MechMate construction because of work demands. The dreadful heat wave this summer has kept me away from the shop, too. So Iíve not touched the MM since June. This last weekend I restarted the project however, and the MM construction is back underway.

Iíve chosen to use the ďBWCĒ V-track for this project, frankly because I could not come up with an accurate way to cut and grind the very long and heavy 14 foot main rails. Setting up the V-track system is not easy either. A complete discussion for this is found elsewhere on the board, so there is no need to discuss my method here.

But I would like to say for all those reading, the V-track system does not save time or money. The V-track system requires match drilling the track to the angle every three inches. For my main rails alone itís approximately 120 holes. Much care must be taken to get the V-track assembled accurately so that the top of the track does not look like waves across the ocean. Iím happy with the way my track assembly turned out and to have another milestone of the project completed. Both tracks are arrow straight and parallel. Photos will follow soon after the gantry is built.

vanja.ivancic Mon 21 September 2009 10:15

Hi BillT
I have bought driled v-guides from Pacific Bearings. I am not sure in quality of this gudes
bbut I have payed about 600 € for guides + wheels + bushings + transport from Germany to Italy.

711man Wed 30 September 2009 09:44

More work done
2 Attachment(s)
Greetings from the worst welder in the world.

Hi all! Itís time to post some photos to the project thread.

You will notice the main assembly of the Gantry and the Y-Car is complete except for finish and painting. I am very happy with the way they turned out, with the exception of my welding, of course.

For a couple of weeks I was a little unsure how to assemble the long Gantry tubes of 7-1/2 feet; and to keep them straight, square and parallel during the weld process. Then I recalled Doug Fordís post, (#2 where Doug says, ďa table saw makes an excellent platform for holding the gantry tubes in the same plane.Ē Doug was right. After I placed the tubes on the saw table, squared them and clamped them down, I was able to walk around the table 360 degrees without disturbing the tubes and the clamped weldments. I also used the table saw table to assemble and square the Y-Car. The table saw worked great and made the welding process much easier. Thanks Doug!!

All eight wheels, four for the Gantry and four for the Y-Car sit square on the tracks. The gantry with a moderate push, a push that on would use for a small child on a swing, rolls smoothly from one end to the other.

The next phase is to disassemble the table and to paint the cross bearers and main beams. Additional stringers are required to strengthen the sub-frame, so I will add the steel, cap off the ends of the main beams, and then clean and paint the assembly. Still, there is much to do.

Thanks for the continuing support guysÖ.

jhiggins7 Wed 30 September 2009 12:08

Looking good, Bill.:)

711man Mon 01 February 2010 17:16

More work complete
Hi guys,

No! I have not fallen from the face of the earth. Just have to work many hours out of town lately, so there is not much time for the MM.

I just wanted to post a small progress report and to say the build is still underway, though it is slow.

The controller is ready and checkout complete.
Drivers have been ordered and are in transit.
Racks and spur gears have been ordered and are in transit.
The software, Mach3, Vectric Vcarve Pro, and Vectric Cut3D have been ordered.
Drive cables are being sized and prepared.

The final major hurdle to complete is the Z-slide assembly. That work is in progress as well.

Looking forward to getting my serial number soon!!

jhiggins7 Mon 01 February 2010 18:35


Great to hear from you. I was wondering how you were doing.

So when you say the Controller is "complete" but the drivers are "in transit," I don't understand. Have you actually "turned" a motor?

Anyhow, it sounds as though your MechMate is coming together. Can't wait to add your MechMate to the Builder's Log.:)

And, hey, let's see some pictures.

711man Tue 02 February 2010 05:27

Hi John,

Good to hear from you again, too.

I wish there were more time to do the leg work, to source the parts and to build the controller myself. Unfortunately, my free time is short. In order to move the project along I decided this time to have the controller professionally built by a guy that is familiar with, and knows quite well the Mach3 / Gecho drive setup. He built the controller to drive the motors I selected, to interface with a pendant controller, and to interface with a Z-touch off tool position indicator.

The controller and motors received bench testing, the same as Gerald suggest with the kitchen table method. The controller was interfaced with another machine to test the jogging pendant and the Z-touch off tool. All is well with them. So I know all the hardware works fine.

Now left to do is to load the Mach3 on my laptop. I have freshly rebuilt the operating system on the laptop drive to insure Mach3 will operate smoothly. After Mach3 is loaded we will bench test again all the hardware and cabling at my friends shop using my computer to insure everything still works well. We will functionally test again all the drivers, stop switches, emergency stop switches, pendant controller, and Z-touch off controller, etc. After checkout everything will be reassembled to my MM and finish construction will continue.

I expect most everything will arrive within 7 to 10 days. From there I will be taking a couple of weeks away from work to finish the MM.

John, you are welcome over anytime. It would be nice to have you over for the final check out and first cut.

riesvantwisk Tue 02 February 2010 06:54


you might want to search the machsupport forum and look/ask around if your laptop works. I personally couldn't get Mach3 to work on a laptop (Dell) but other don't have problems with it, apparently it depends a bit on the brandt and additional drivers/registry changes. Your guy might know about it.


711man Wed 03 February 2010 04:40


Thanks for the heads-up about the laptops. I have a desktop model waiting in stand by just in case the laptop does not work. Both are HP's though.

Planning to visit your country, Ecuador, in May for a little R&R. Looking forward to seeing the beautiful sights and the people.


Sergio-k Wed 03 February 2010 05:04


I'm using also a Laptop (3GHz, Pentium 4, with 1GB Ram and a built in Parallel Port) and i followed these instructions from Mach3 and i didn't had any trouble so far.

Might works for you too !!


711man Wed 03 February 2010 11:33

Guys, thanks again for your comments.

I looked over the Artsoft website again and found the following. Perhaps it will be best to use a Desktop PC keeping in mind the restrictions listed on the website. It's always best to minimize problems where known.

"Desktop PC (if using the Mach3 Parallel Port Driver - laptops are not supported because the power saving features of the chipsets disrupt the pulse stream, PCMCIA and USB parallel adaptors will *not* work.)"

711man Fri 02 April 2010 09:31

This MechMate cuts easily
1 Attachment(s)
I know this is not much, but I just wanted to toss up a photo to the build folder to show there is progress on this MM. The photo is of a tail stiffener for an experimental aircraft. The part had to be remade because the part from the manufacture was not sized to print. So what better test of the MM to see if it can punch out a small aluminum part. Needless to say, the part, the 'FIRST' part made for my MM fits my friends airplane perfectly.

Some quick history on what has transpired since the last update.

1) A few changes are ongoing with the steel work. It is 99% but not quite final, so the steel remains unpainted.
2) Changes were made to the 'Z' assembly design because the larger router motor needed more standoff clearance from the 'Z' slide rollers.
3) Final cabling of the machine is in progress. Home switches and EM stop switches are being assembled in their final locations.

General note...
I tried to use a couple of desktop computers to run Mach, but there was no communication with the controller, despite perfect communication with a parallel printer. After a frustrating weekend, late on a Sunday evening I attached my old HP laptop and communication perfect. Finally, the computer and the controller were talking.

Painting and finish details will follow soon.

jhiggins7 Fri 02 April 2010 09:49

So Bill, does this mean your MechMate is CUTTING! And Aluminum too, for a FIRST CUT. Congratulations.:) That's just wonderful.

Show us more.

riesvantwisk Fri 02 April 2010 09:50

Originally Posted by 711man View Post
"Desktop PC (if using the Mach3 Parallel Port Driver - laptops are not supported because the power saving features of the chipsets disrupt the pulse stream, PCMCIA and USB parallel adaptors will *not* work.)"
The same goes for DesktopPC's most, if not all PC's nowdays have something called a SMI (Systems Management Interrupt). the SMI get's called every now and then to do management tasks. This can be turning fans on, measure temperatures and what not. The nice thing is that this is build into the CPU and not a separate chip (cheap), the bad thing is it's build into the CPU and not a separate chip (more expensive).

The problem with SMI is that it will stop ALL processes running inside a computer and put the CPU into a special mode to do these task then continues.

This horribly messes up real time responses, the so called hard real time threads. EMC solves the problem by supplying a tool that can disable SMI (at your own risc of burning down your house) Mach (as far as I know) solves this by saying to get a fast enough CPU so you don't notice it.
In practice the you don't notice the SMI when running Mach3 if your CPU is fast enough. However when you connect a scope you will notice that EMC puts out a more constant pulse train then Mach3 can do.

I personally couldn't get Mach3 running on my Dell laptop it just freezes. With EMC I had problems to get ubuntu to work smoothly. bads of both worlds :D
However I could patch and run a Debian kernel with RTAI and EMC later on and there are no jitter problems anymore.

Conclusion, also be careful with Desktop PC's, they also run a SMI much like what a laptop can do, it's just that a laptop can do it more aggressively and even changes CPU frequency during runtime.


711man Fri 02 April 2010 13:23

John, Yes, the MM certainly is cutting parts. I cut some air at first and didn't make too many mistakes. Then I cut some foam and made a few more mistakes. And now I'm learning how to cut aluminum. All the passes I'll be making on the aluminum will be 'cut through' passes. So finding the right feed and depth control is important. Hey, it's a learning curve that you all have learned before me.

Gerald D Fri 02 April 2010 14:01

Well done Bill!

KenC Fri 02 April 2010 20:09

Brilliant! Welcome to the club bill!

domino11 Fri 02 April 2010 22:16

We need to see some logos now then. :)

MetalHead Sat 03 April 2010 06:08

Congrats !!! Let me know if you need logo's !!!!

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