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  #1  
Old Sat 08 December 2007, 20:08
BHawthorne
Just call me: Brad
 
Wichita, KS
United States of America
10'x5' MechMate - Wichita, KS

Hi, I stumbled upon this site today and am interested in making my own MechMate. My interest is in cutting 4'x4' MDF and plexi sheeting. I have access to a waterjet that can cut up to 48"x48", a VMC, a manual engine lathe and a tig welder in shop. I can probably purchase the needed metal from a surplus yard in town. Is $2000 a budget I can shoot for with these things in mind?
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  #2  
Old Sun 09 December 2007, 01:56
BHawthorne
Just call me: Brad
 
Wichita, KS
United States of America
5'x5' MechMate - Wichita, KS

After spending the last few years digging around on CNC router sites I ran into this site. So far I'm very impressed with the potential of this design. My goal is (tentatively) to implement a 5'x5' router using the MechMate design. I'm currently a Manufacturing Engineering Technology major at Butler Community College, so I have about 2 years of CNC experience now with CNC lathe, VMC, HMC and waterjet. I also have some welding experience in shop. (I'd rather some of the other students do better welding for me though). Hopefully, the equipment I have access to in school will help keep this project price down.

So far I've purchased for the project:
4 Geckodrive G203V (on sale yea)
A PMDX-122
nForce6100 M-ATA Motherboard (on sale)
AMD X2 3600+ Brisbane (on sale)
512MB DDR2 (had sitting around)
20GB HD (had sitting around)

My plan is to integrate a cheep nForce6100 X2 system with a 17" LCD in as the controller machine. I already have that computer running and in a temporary case.

Immediate questions that come to mind:
1) The Vexta PK series steppers seem pretty expensive compared to used or NOS Vexta PH series steppers. Anything keeping me from using PH series steppers bought on eBay? If they're ok, which specific PH steppers would you reccomend? I see a few PH299 Vexta steppers on eBay. Are those anything like the PK299 that are mentioned repeatedly in the forums?
2) To power the Geckos what power supply would you recommend? Would the PMDX-135-8020 or PMDX-135-5020 work? Do I need to hold off on this till I figure out what steppers I'm using, or can I go ahead with that purchase?

Last edited by BHawthorne; Sun 09 December 2007 at 02:03..
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  #3  
Old Sun 09 December 2007, 09:48
Art
Just call me: Art #2
 
Lancaster,Texas
United States of America
Estamated prices

Here are some estamated prices.
Mach3 lisence $157
steppers Oriental Motors 640 with gear reduction $257 ea 4 needed
5' Vrails Superior Bearing 4 needed $50 ea
V roller set Superior Bearing $189
Laser cut parts for gantry $400 You can download DFX file and cut your own-free
3 axis controler $1500 pre built. No idea how much if you chase down the parts.
misc nuts, bolts, wiring etc $300
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  #4  
Old Sun 09 December 2007, 11:56
Richards
Just call me: Mike
 
South Jordan, UT
United States of America
Avoid the PH motors. I have four PH299 motors on the shelf that are almost worthless. Compared to the square PK style motors, the PH motors run really rough with less torque. They will someday be used in a project that requires constant speed, but on a CNC machine that requires smooth operation at all speeds, they should NOT be used.

I have a PMDX-135-8020 as part of the power supply on my test bench. I highly recommend it. You will need to add a toroidal transformer (voltage will depend on the motors that you select).

If you have access to computer grade capacitors of the proper voltage and the proper capacitance, you can build your power supply with three items:
1. Toroidal transformer.
2. Bridge rectifier.
3. Computer grade capacitor.
Right now I have four power supplies within eyesight. One has the PMDX-135-8020 device and the other three are homemade with the three items that I've listed. So far, all four power supplies work equally well. But, that being said, I still recommend the PMDX-135 unit. For most people, building a control unit for their CNC machine is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. By buying, rather than building, as much as you can, you'll have fewer things to troubleshoot if problems arise.
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  #5  
Old Sun 09 December 2007, 15:09
BHawthorne
Just call me: Brad
 
Wichita, KS
United States of America
Quote:
Originally Posted by Art View Post
steppers Oriental Motors 640 with gear reduction $257 ea 4 needed
Looks like this will be my major stumbling block for meeting the $2000 budget. I guess I can hold out on these and keep a sharp eye on eBay. Maybe someone around here has an extra 1 or 2 I could pickup.

Last edited by BHawthorne; Sun 09 December 2007 at 15:20..
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  #6  
Old Sun 09 December 2007, 15:53
Richards
Just call me: Mike
 
South Jordan, UT
United States of America
I usually figure at least $2,000 for the control box. Stepper motors are about $1,000 of that cost and the other electronics would easily cost the other $1,000. Buying a ready-to-run machine would cost the better part of $15,000 so spending about $5,000 to build a Mechmate with controller would not be out of line.

I would also recommend that you stay away from EBay or any other 'used' source. Unless you know exactly what you're buying and unless the seller can guarantee that the parts are 'new', you're just going to get someone else's junk. I have a whole storage shed full of 'slightly use' electronics that I wouldn't give away - much less try to sell. Unfortunately, it seems that most people selling 'slightly used' stuff on EBay are the same type of people who would guarantee that the piece-of-junk automobile that they're trying to sell was only driven by grandma to and from church.
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  #7  
Old Sun 09 December 2007, 16:05
BHawthorne
Just call me: Brad
 
Wichita, KS
United States of America
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richards View Post
I usually figure at least $2,000 for the control box.
By controller box, you mean the computer right?

I'm figuring I can waterjet a decent box, add an industrial keyboard for $200 and slap in a 17" LCD I have sitting around and the $150 computer I built already for the controller and be done with that. Building computers are a no-brainer for me and dirt cheap.

Sure, a turn-key machine would run $15k easy, but then again I'm not here for turn-key.

Ok, schemed up the motors. Brother is gonna buy 2 and parents will buy 2 for xmas presents. Relatives are good for something I guess...lol.

Last edited by BHawthorne; Sun 09 December 2007 at 16:15..
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  #8  
Old Sun 09 December 2007, 16:38
Richards
Just call me: Mike
 
South Jordan, UT
United States of America
The controller box that I'm talking about is separate from the computer. The controller box houses the break-out-board, the power supply and the stepper drivers. A good 'box' from a place like www.factorymation.com might cost about $250 with shipping. The DIN terminal blocks used for wiring convenience might cost another $100. The break-out-board will cost about $100. The power supply will cost $100 to $200. The stepper drivers will cost about $600. The various switches, contactors, etc. will easily cost another $100. Painting or plating the box will cost something. Anyway that I look at it, the controller box is a significant item on the expense list, BUT it is the heart of the machine. No matter how good the mechanicals are, each axis has to move exactly as it is commanded to move. Without reliable electronics, the machine will just sit there.
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  #9  
Old Sun 09 December 2007, 16:43
BHawthorne
Just call me: Brad
 
Wichita, KS
United States of America
A small update on parts purchases. I had been looking at undustrial keyboards and trackballs for awhile for use with the controller computer. I've settled on 2 items from dsi-usa.com:



TY1000 - Compact Metal Industrial Keyboard $89: http://www.notestation.com/ty1000.htm
Optical Metal Trackball Module $160: http://www.notestation.com/kb-dmb-5001.htm

I'll be using an old Samsung 172X 17" LCD I have as the screen for the controller. I'm thinking I'll use some scrap plexi as a cover over the screen to "industrialize" that LCD for the controller box. Now just to pick up an e-stop and a few buttons and that should finish out my controller computer purchases. I guess I can start designing the case sides in FeatureCAM in the next few days.

Last edited by BHawthorne; Sun 09 December 2007 at 16:53..
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  #10  
Old Sun 09 December 2007, 17:13
BHawthorne
Just call me: Brad
 
Wichita, KS
United States of America
Thoughts on manual jog pendants...

Anyone have any practical experience using usb game controllers as manual jog pendants with Mach3? I was digging around in my cable box (aka big-box-o-crap) and found these 2 usb gaming pads rolled up in the box. Has anyone used either of these? One is a Thrustmaster Fusion and the other is a Gravis Gamepad Pro. Both are USB controllers.


Last edited by BHawthorne; Sun 09 December 2007 at 17:17..
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  #11  
Old Sun 09 December 2007, 18:16
BHawthorne
Just call me: Brad
 
Wichita, KS
United States of America
Ah ok, wasn't sure. I've already got the 4 G203V and the PMDX-122 purchased.

I've got a thread started on build progress at:
http://www.mechmate.com/forums/showthread.php?t=537
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  #12  
Old Sun 09 December 2007, 18:23
BHawthorne
Just call me: Brad
 
Wichita, KS
United States of America
For my first year of MET schooling I was in a Haas lab, so I'm pretty much a fan of the Haas controller layout. I'm planning on building my controller to be like the Haas layout but use a 17" LCD and the industrial keyboard and trackball I purchased above.

Haas Controller: http://www.haascnc.com/flash/Control/HaasControl.asp
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  #13  
Old Sun 09 December 2007, 18:37
smreish
Just call me: Sean - #5, 28, 58 and others
 
Orlando, Florida
United States of America
Mike,
I purchased my 20" x 30" x 8" Wegman NEMA 4 box from AD Products in Cleveland. 183.00 with shipping and interior panel. Amazing deal - good old school people to deal with on phone. They drop ship from Buffalo. I will post pics of the almost finished box later in the week. Just a few connectors to go and it's ready to be 'rung' out.

Brad....I started with a budget of 6200.00 2 months ago and I am at 5300.00 starting from scratch including computer and Mach3 license. Almost done except for the olflex belden flexible motor cables. I might break the bank though...I have a line on a recently rebuilt Penske 3HP spindle. I have already purchased a porter cable 7518 router and base from K2CNC, but I might just go for it now...instead of waiting.
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  #14  
Old Sun 09 December 2007, 18:47
BHawthorne
Just call me: Brad
 
Wichita, KS
United States of America
Quote:
Originally Posted by smreish View Post
Brad....I started with a budget of 6200.00 2 months ago and I am at 5300.00 starting from scratch including computer and Mach3 license. Almost done except for the olflex belden flexible motor cables. I might break the bank though...I have a line on a recently rebuilt Penske 3HP spindle. I have already purchased a porter cable 7518 router and base from K2CNC, but I might just go for it now...instead of waiting.
I have more student money in January so I should be good for around $5k or so all said and done. I might have to get a bit "innovative" on a few items though.
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  #15  
Old Sun 09 December 2007, 18:49
WTI
Just call me: James
 
Detroit (Michigan)
United States of America
I like that keyboard, but it is missing the ALT,DEL,FUNCTION,CTRL keys! Looks like it might be better suited for public use where you would want to prevent a user from breaking out of a running process.
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  #16  
Old Sun 09 December 2007, 19:16
BHawthorne
Just call me: Brad
 
Wichita, KS
United States of America
Quote:
Originally Posted by WTI View Post
I like that keyboard, but it is missing the ALT,DEL,FUNCTION,CTRL keys! Looks like it might be better suited for public use where you would want to prevent a user from breaking out of a running process.
Oops, you're right. I guess I'll have to see how well it works or keymap those to less used keys on the board. Home, End, Page Up/Down might find themselves being remapped to control, alt, del, etc.. My bet is these were designed for kiosks. For a brushed stainless waterproof keyboard the price was good at least.

Last edited by BHawthorne; Sun 09 December 2007 at 19:21..
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  #17  
Old Sun 09 December 2007, 20:21
WTI
Just call me: James
 
Detroit (Michigan)
United States of America
Quote:
Originally Posted by BHawthorne View Post
Thoughts on manual jog pendants...

Anyone have any practical experience using usb game controllers as manual jog pendants with Mach3? I was digging around in my cable box (aka big-box-o-crap) and found these 2 usb gaming pads rolled up in the box. Has anyone used either of these? One is a Thrustmaster Fusion and the other is a Gravis Gamepad Pro. Both are USB controllers.
On the Mach group, they love this for a Pendant:

http://www.contourdesign.com/shuttlepro/


The keycaps come off and you can insert labels. It has inner and outer "jog wheels". About $69 on Ebay.

Special drivers are at: http://www.machsupport.com/artsoft/plugin.htm
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  #18  
Old Sun 09 December 2007, 20:32
BHawthorne
Just call me: Brad
 
Wichita, KS
United States of America
Quote:
Originally Posted by WTI View Post
On the Mach group, they love this for a Pendant:

http://www.contourdesign.com/shuttlepro/


The keycaps come off and you can insert labels. It has inner and outer "jog wheels". About $69 on Ebay.

Special drivers are at: http://www.machsupport.com/artsoft/plugin.htm


Wow, that thing looks nice. That Shuttle Xpress looks like it would encorporate good into the computer controller box for the manual jog to augment the trackball.

Last edited by BHawthorne; Sun 09 December 2007 at 20:35..
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  #19  
Old Sun 09 December 2007, 23:00
BHawthorne
Just call me: Brad
 
Wichita, KS
United States of America
My latest impulse buys on eBay:



Found a merchant on eBay selling some switches and picked up:
2 Red & 2 Green 30mm Pushbuttons 10A/660VAC $19
1 40mm Red Mushroom E-Stop 6A/250VAC $7.33

I hope people don't mind the format I'm doing this thread in. It's to keep me straight on what I've been researching out more than anything. I'm a very visual learner, hence the pictures.

Last edited by BHawthorne; Sun 09 December 2007 at 23:04..
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  #20  
Old Mon 10 December 2007, 05:05
Richards
Just call me: Mike
 
South Jordan, UT
United States of America
Brad,
The price is good, but the current ratings on those switches might be too low, depending on where you place them. Some of us place the E-Stop switch in series with the main disconnect (meaning that it has to carry the full electrical load) and others place it so that it controls the contactor's self-latching relay (meaning that it would only have to handle the current being drawn by the contactor's coil). The same goes for the momentary switches. Your's should work fine if they are used in the contactor's coil circuit (or on other auxiliary circuits).
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  #21  
Old Mon 10 December 2007, 06:09
BHawthorne
Just call me: Brad
 
Wichita, KS
United States of America
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richards View Post
Brad,
The price is good, but the current ratings on those switches might be too low, depending on where you place them. Some of us place the E-Stop switch in series with the main disconnect (meaning that it has to carry the full electrical load) and others place it so that it controls the contactor's self-latching relay (meaning that it would only have to handle the current being drawn by the contactor's coil). The same goes for the momentary switches. Your's should work fine if they are used in the contactor's coil circuit (or on other auxiliary circuits).
I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to electronics wiring, so your input has been pretty valuable. When I get ready to work on the wiring of the power supply/motor controller box I'm going to need some guidance.

Last edited by BHawthorne; Mon 10 December 2007 at 06:21..
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  #22  
Old Mon 10 December 2007, 06:12
BHawthorne
Just call me: Brad
 
Wichita, KS
United States of America
I got bored this morning and whipped up a tentative design for my control computer front case layout in Adobe Illustrator. Making it in illustrator will allow me to export out the panel as a dxf and I can import that into FeatureCAM for cutting on the Waterjet Pro at school. Here is a pic of it. Everything is 1:1 scale for the items I currently have measurements on and should have proper clearance for mounting. I've got good measurements for the panel on the analog panel meter, but will need input on which one to buy for the variable speed router I've yet to decide on. I'm still in limbo on the keyboard and trackball measurements until they arrive. I figured I'd name the controller HC-V100 for Hawthorne Controller Version 1.00.


Last edited by BHawthorne; Mon 10 December 2007 at 06:25..
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  #23  
Old Mon 10 December 2007, 11:27
Charlie
Just call me: Charlie
 
UT
United States of America
Just remember "innovative" will cost more not less.
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  #24  
Old Mon 10 December 2007, 11:53
BHawthorne
Just call me: Brad
 
Wichita, KS
United States of America
Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie View Post
Just remember "innovative" will cost more not less.
True enough.
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  #25  
Old Mon 10 December 2007, 11:59
BHawthorne
Just call me: Brad
 
Wichita, KS
United States of America
I'd like to thank everyone so far that have posted to help me and PM me. There is so much to read, and I'm still reading up on it all. Thanks for having patience with me so far. I appreciate the help.
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  #26  
Old Mon 10 December 2007, 13:45
BHawthorne
Just call me: Brad
 
Wichita, KS
United States of America
Priorities List (Week 1 Dec 9-15):
1) Print out Part1 - Part5.pdf on HP Color LaserJet. Organize in a 3-ring binder.
2) Finish reading the rest of the forum.
3) Complete rest of purchases for controller computer and Power/Control Box.
4) Read up on setting up as "kitchen table simulator" to work out kinks.
5) Import "Lasercut" DXF files into FeatureCAM in preperation to be cut on Waterjet Pro.
6) Go to "The Yard" (www.yardstore.com) and look in thier surplus/seconds metal yard for needed stock size availability/pricing.
7) Check Spirit Aerospace Surplus (surplussales.spiritaero.com) Friday for same availability/pricing.

Last edited by BHawthorne; Mon 10 December 2007 at 14:05..
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  #27  
Old Mon 10 December 2007, 18:21
Bill McGuire
Just call me: Bill
 
Weiser, Idaho
United States of America
Brad...
Just want to welcome you to the forum...
Bill
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  #28  
Old Mon 10 December 2007, 20:31
BHawthorne
Just call me: Brad
 
Wichita, KS
United States of America
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill McGuire View Post
Brad...
Just want to welcome you to the forum...
Bill
Thanks!

Short status update on equipment and shop availability:
I got the go-ahead from the from the college department head that I can build it all in shop and use it as a portfolio addition to make me more marketable for my MET degree. That's good imho. Also got the best welder in the program to commit to doing all the welding for it, based on me bartering some CAM layout projects with him. All in all I'm pretty happy and excited about the whole thing atm.

Small background on me:
I'm current 35 years old and in the process of re-training for a mid-life career change. Before I started on the MET degree, my previous career was print media pre-press for 10 years, so I'm an expert in most pre-press/print media/page layout apps. My main reasoning for the change is that when it comes to career titles, the difference between "Production Artist" and "Manufacturing Engineer" is more than just industry mindset. Prepress is not that well a paying job, and Wichita, KS (where I'm born and raised) is a prime location for aerospace manufacturing jobs. It's called the "Air Capital of the World" for a reason. All the big players have plants here. It was a no-brainer for me. Make more money, do a simular job in a manufacturing plant, add a 3rd dimention to my design knowledge and learn the required CAD/CAM apps. So far the 2D vector design tricks I know from my previous career have been invaluable in my "learning-curve" for CAD/CAM apps.

If anyone needs any 2D vector layout in AI, EPS or PDF don't hesatate to PM me. In school, I have lab access to Catia V5R17, SolidWorks, MasterCAM X and FeatureCAM 14.1. I can also help with those apps too, although my knowledge is a bit more basic. I'm not bashful when it comes to helping out others in a skill I know.

Last edited by BHawthorne; Mon 10 December 2007 at 20:51..
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  #29  
Old Tue 11 December 2007, 11:23
Greg J
Just call me: Greg #13
 
Hagerman, New Mexico
United States of America
Quote:
Originally Posted by BHawthorne View Post
Small background on me:
I'm current 35 years old and in the process of re-training for a mid-life career change.
I hope 35 is not mid-life.

Welcome Brad.
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  #30  
Old Tue 11 December 2007, 11:49
WTI
Just call me: James
 
Detroit (Michigan)
United States of America
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg J View Post
I hope 35 is not mid-life.

Welcome Brad.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_expectancy

Pretty close !
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