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I am going to open this forum up with these questions to all of the Members (and visitors) who have CNC machines -

 

What kind of CNC machine do you have?

 

Was it a complete machine that you assembled or was it a kit or a scratch build?

 

Why did you that particular machine?

 

Also, please post pictures of your machine.

Edited by Chips N Dust

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Some other questions:

 

What were some of the challenges you ran into?

 

What would you have done differently?

 

What improvements or modifications would you like to do, or are doing?

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Wow you guys ask a lot of questions about CNCs.   What do you think this is a CNC Forum or something?

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What kind of CNC machine do you have?

I have 3 Next Wave Automation machines.   My first one is a CNC Shark Pro 24x24x5 Serial number is like 25 if I remember so it was one of the first pro machines they produced.  My second machine is a CNC Shark Pro HD1 24x24x7 and I bought it used.  My third one is a CNC Piranha FX 12x13x3 with Laser and 3D printer.

 

What it a complete machine that you assembled or was it a kit or a scratch build?  The Piranha is a fully assembled machine.  The other two are shipped in two parts, base and gantry.

 

Why did you that particular machine?  First one Big Boys Toy.   Second one would handle a larger 2 1/4 hp router.  Piranha to support Next Wave Kickstarter Program and Big Boys Toy

Edited by MEBCWD

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3 hours ago, schnewj said:

What were some of the challenges you ran into?

I did not have too bad a learning curve because I have a drafting background and have worked with computers quite a bit.  I have had jobs that required working with machines and did maintenance and repairs so what little assembly was required was nothing and alignment was no problem because it is similar to aligning other shop tools. I have always been a kind of hands on guy so I just did it.

4 hours ago, schnewj said:

What would you have done differently?

I do think it was a good that I started with the CNC Shark Pro because with it came knowledge of creative clamping solutions because of the MDF bed that it had.  If I had not run across the deal on the used HD1 I probably would have looked for a better built machine because the CNC Shark machines are definitely hobby machines with quite a few limitations. They are also built with quite a few plastic parts and that alone creates too much play in the structure.

 

4 hours ago, schnewj said:

What improvements or modifications would you like to do, or are doing?

The Shark Pro I have interlocking t-track rails to replace the MDF bed.  Really it's not a bad CNC, just limited by the trim router you have to use.

 

On the Shark HD1 I have replaced the 3/4" plastic thick router clamp that slipped all the time with a 1 1/4" thick aluminum clamp.  I replaced the original non-adjustable linear bearing with adjustable ones. I added several aluminum angles under the blue t-track bed to help tie it all together(the blue rails are not inter locking so those blue bed machines were notorious for clamping problems.  I moved the rails forward because the back of the table is wasted space and shifted one wide rail to the back so I could mount a shop built jig at the front so I could do inlays in the head stocks of guitars. Changed the bed mounting rails from the plastic one they used to aluminum angle and added 2 more mounting holes for a total of 4, they only had 2.  Added torsion beams under the machine so it was easier to level it and also to add support to the plastic base of the machine.  I replaced the plastic gantry plate with the aluminum upgrade.  Might of done something else to it.  I Know I should have bought a better machine for the second one, don't remind me.

 

The Piranha is a nice tight little machine but it is small and a bit harder to get use to. Only thing I have done for it is make some special clamps 

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What kind of Machine?

Probotix Nebula - put together by a small business here in the USA.  Quite simple and basic, actually.  It's the biggest bench top machine that I could find at the time.   It has a 38 x 50" + bed.

 

Complete or a build?

Totally assembled - ready to rock and roll right out of the crate .......... after hooking the controller, computer, and spindle up.

59546e937bc45_IMG_1911(3).thumb.JPG.ab3f589cd89f505ebad57910605a8f41.JPG

 

Why this machine?

I knew absolutely 0 about these machines.  I saw one work and said "I want one".  I was originally looking at Shopbots but on the advice of a college prof that teaches furniture design and has 3 of these I looked into them.  Probotix was 60% the price of Shopbot's only bench top model.  And almost twice the bed space.  Is it as heavy duty, I don't know.  But it came with it's own computer programmed in Linux already married to the controller.  It was truly a plug and play operation.  I can also call the person that built the machine for any trouble shooting and advice.  The support has been outstanding.  This was my retirement gift to me, so bigger was better.  I really could have gotten away with the Asteroid or Meteor with what I've made so far, which I'll probably get if I add a 2nd machine.  But I have the capability of putting a 2' x 4' piece of panel on and nest as many cuts that'll fit and set it off.  I consider this a "serious hobby machine"

 

Challenges?

Many!!!!! Especially for a stubborn old fart from the old school who still can't operate a smart phone.  It wasn't easy, but it was both fun and frustrating at times.  It can get addictive and very time consuming, especially the computer part.  I have also had the good fortune to be able to get help and advice from several people on a couple Forums.  There are truly some good people out there.  I probably use my machine and software less than 5% of what it's capable of.

 

Would I do it again?

Knowing what I do now, most definitely.  But I did have false expectations at first and really had second thoughts after getting into it.  It wasn't as simple as scanning a picture, feeding it material, pushing the on button, and waiting for the piece to pop out ready to be stained or painted.  Nope.  But it was too expensive a toy to just leave in the corner and have the wife say "I told you so" so I buckled down and started with simple text signs and advanced a little bit from there.  I've surprised most everybody that knows me so far, especially my daughter, who is a computer engineer.  

 

Any more questions, feel free to ask.

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These are pictures of my CNC machines.

CNC Shark Pro HD1.JPG

CNC Shark Pro.JPG

Piranha FX.JPG

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One of my biggest gripes, Mike, was Probotix not having a T-track bed available.  Shark and Piranha had it right there.  I got more dust on the controller box than you got in your whole shop.  I didn't get a dustboot right away, and just blew the chips and dust away at first.  Big Big Mistake.  How many s's are there in mess?

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44 minutes ago, honesttjohn said:

One of my biggest gripes, Mike, was Probotix not having a T-track bed available.  Shark and Piranha had it right there.  I got more dust on the controller box than you got in your whole shop.  I didn't get a dustboot right away, and just blew the chips and dust away at first.  Big Big Mistake.  How many s's are there in mess?

John if you look at the second picture you will notice the small fan clamp on the board or bed that blew the chips away originally.

The t-track bed that Next Wave started using first was the blue t-track rails and they did not lock together which was a clamping nightmare.  If the clamp was on one rail and the board was on another the rails would flex so much that the board would twist a little.  I added a bunch of angles underneath to tie it together.

100_1140.JPG

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That open style bed lends itself to doing large rotary jobs with the right fixturing and mounts. I like all the tilting tables you have developed.

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I do have Probotix' rotary axis attachment installed on my Meteor.  I take out the large bed section when I want/need to use it.  You can see the end of its rail in the jig photo above.  I have the motor/chuck mounted at the far/top end.  By extending the travel of my Y axis I can get the bit to within 1/2" or so of the chuck jaws.   The only rotary projects my students seem interested in making are tapered cylindrical legs.  My CNC has cut dozens of legs for the students this past semester or three.   I'm considering trying to make a cabriole leg on it if for no other reason than to show the students something more interesting than a taper. 

 

4D

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What kind of CNC machine do you have?

The frame is by Fine Line Automation (FLA) and is the prototype Saturn 2x4.  The gantry and cable chains came preset for tolerances and attached.  I worked closely with Nate, owner of FLA, for about 5 months while this was being developed (all via text, e-mail, and phone calls – we’ve never actually met in person).  We corresponded regularly on many of the details of his design so I knew what I was getting when it arrived and that some components were brand new to him, as well.

 

Was it a complete machine that you assembled or was it a kit or a scratch build?

I assembled it from the frame out, though I did disassemble some things on the frame and reassembled to my desired configuration and tolerance.  I designed the electronics, wiring schematic, sourced all components, and fabricated necessary mounting hardware.

 

Why did pick you that particular machine?

It is a very heavy, stout, and rigid frame weighing somewhere in the 450 pound range without steppers, spindle, etc.  I wanted the accuracy and repeatability that a rigid machine provides.

 

What were some of the challenges you ran into?

I’ve never built or run a CNC machine before.  I couldn’t find a suitable wiring schematic or complete list of parts needed to make this work, at least in the configuration I wanted.

 

What would you have done differently?

Not much – pretty satisfied with my choices and build.  I’d love to figure out how I can fit a 4x4 machine in our small shop!

 

What improvements or modifications would you like to do, or are doing?

The proximity sensors are in the path for destruction if an over-limit occurs.   Nate, owner of FLA, has redesigned these locations largely due to my input and a couple of others who got early Saturn machines.  Also, the mounting of the rack and pinion components need improvement and again, due to our feedback, Nate has improved these.

 

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What improvements or modifications would you like to do, or are doing?

 

The main complaint I have about the design of the CNCs made by Probotix is the design of their Z axis.  They have the bearings mounted on a bracket that slides on the X rail. The guide rails and bracket to hold them, Acme screw, stepper motor, router clamp and router all move up and down.  The bottom of the bracket holding it all together moves down behind the router bit and can bottom out on clamps before the bit gets through thick material if not careful.  

 

I've been working on a way to invert the way they have it, hopefully using mostly the same parts, but don't have a good solution yet.  My preference is that the lowest thing that moves down is the bottom 1/3 of the router/spindle used and of course the bit.  

 

On my CNC Shark only the router mount bracket and router move up and down on stationary guide rails. Far less weight to move up and down. 

 

I had to come up with a low profile bed clamp to keep below it, and have to be very careful when clamping anything down. 

 

4D

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I have been keeping a close eye on my setup also. I hope you come up with a good solution that a simple thinker like me can adapt to my machine.

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I can see a way to redo the Z axis but at this point if done right it would need a few new/revised parts.  Thinking about sending a drawing to Probotix to get their opinion on it.  I doubt they would be willing to retrofit all existing CNCs, but if they implement such a change on the ones they sell from now on I may just buy another. 

 

My idea also has the potential for a rear extension where some form of counterweight could be mounted/hung to offset/balance the front router/spindle load.  

 

4D

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19 hours ago, 4DThinker said:

What improvements or modifications would you like to do, or are doing?

 

The main complaint I have about the design of the CNCs made by Probotix is the design of their Z axis.  They have the bearings mounted on a bracket that slides on the X rail. The guide rails and bracket to hold them, Acme screw, stepper motor, router clamp and router all move up and down.  The bottom of the bracket holding it all together moves down behind the router bit and can bottom out on clamps before the bit gets through thick material if not careful.  

 

Do you have pictures of how the bracket looks when the Z axis is in the down working position?  It sounds like this would limit the cutting capacity on some jobs,

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1 hour ago, 4DThinker said:

I can see a way to redo the Z axis but at this point if done right it would need a few new/revised parts.  Thinking about sending a drawing to Probotix to get their opinion on it.  I doubt they would be willing to retrofit all existing CNCs, but if they implement such a change on the ones they sell from now on I may just buy another. 

 

My idea also has the potential for a rear extension where some form of counterweight could be mounted/hung to offset/balance the front router/spindle load.  

 

4D

They could use it on the new machines and offer an upgrade kit for sale to the existing customers.

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