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My name is Roland (Ron) Jeuch. I live in Lancaster, Pennsylvania for the past 35 years. My professional career as an electrical engineer included several years with RCA, followed by running the US branch of a German manufacturer of electronic organs. The past 22 years I owned a computer consulting business. While officially retired, I still maintain some software systems for clients.

Hobbies serve the purpose to add variety to life. The job can cause one’s mind to focus on a limited set of faculties.

Projects involving wood has been my hobby for decades and that is the reason for creating this site. I still recall building a large TV cabinet and drawer chests with a used 1930 vintage table saw and a $7 refurbished hand drill. And all that in one-car garage. However, for the past 35 years I had the luxury of a large basement, half of which is a shop. The equipment roster has been greatly expanded. There is table saw, a radial arm saw, a thickness planer and a 9-foot wall-mounted stoke sander. Cabinets and shelves host numerous hand tools and raw material.

I have had my eyes on a CNC router for years and finally decided to embark on building such a machine. What is a CNC router? The CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control. Such a router can machine parts based on drawings. The entire process starts with a drawing. The latter is then converted to tool paths and eventually into the codes that drive the motors.

I started with a kit which contained the structural pieces, the mechanical drive components and the electronics from a small company that can be found at http://buildyourcnc.com. I built the supporting table, added a computer and bought some applicable software.

 

Router-Main-View

The picture on the left shows most of the router’s structural parts. The gantry rides on aluminum angles via V-groove bearings (X-axis). The elevator, too, is guided between aluminum rails (Z-axis). Finally, the entire elevator moves back and forth across the gantry on the same arrangement of aluminum rails and V-groove bearings (Y-axis).

Stepper motors drive the three axis. The X and Y direction use chain drives while the Z direction employs a lead screw.

The router is not mounted in this view.

 

 

 

GantryYDriveOrig

The picture on the left show some of the details of the Y an Z rails and drives. The black hoses protect the motor and switch wires.

The chain drive, the aluminum rails and one of the V-groove bearings are clearly visible.

The protruding piece of plywood on the left is part of the dust collection, meant to hold the vacuum hose coming from the top. It will not be used after the redesign.

Electronics1

The basic table has a very sturdy laminated maple top and a compartment fro the computer and drive electronics. What is not visible, is a 5-inch high torsion box sitting atop the table surface which provides a flat and stable platform for the long X rails.

You can see the computer, the motor power supply and the three motor drivers. In addition, there is an interface board linking the computer’s parallel port to the drivers and the limit switches.

Monitor

The tool paths have been converted to so-called G-codes (contained in a simple text file). These codes are read by the software Mach3 and translated into the signals that the motor drivers expect.

There is much more to this software than just make the motors turn. Limit switches are being monitored and probes are inspected for zeroing the axis.

The monitor is a generous 24-inch model and is mounted on a pivoting arm attached to the shop wall.

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