This page is to show some of my journey from an assembler of neat stuff to a hobbyist CNC machinist. My equipment It all started with a 8 inch drill press with a XY table, Taig manual lathe, Lathemaster 8x14 manual lathe, and a 5 axis capable Baby Bee milling machine that is under going a 4 axis CNC conversion. The ball screws are on 3 axis now so I'm figuring out the electronics and various machine controlling programs, converting from graphic images to actual machine executable instructions.
Been busy working on Arduinos, Windmills and model trains. I am with a group of people who are building an HO scale model of the first train into Stony Plain. Specifically, I am working on an “O” scale model of an 1890’s track laying machine. There were some incredibly smart people back then. I am modifying my Arduino Rotary table with a better stepper motor and driver as well as using the Step Index 2.3 sketch. The article is in the Spring issue of Digital Machinist Magazine should be at various retailers in April 2019. I have made good progress using Gary Liming’s Step index Arduino program. The promise is there as I really would like to use for some projects that are coming due.
Watch for an Upcoming article in Digital Machinist magazine and how to convert your rotary table to Arduino control using a very simple sketch. To rotate the table to any position with the push of a button! Changing the number to index is also 1 change in the sketch. They are 2 wires between the Arduino and the activation button and two more that go to the stepper driver PCB, That it not counting the wires to and from the stepper driver PCB.
Thanks to Jim for his help coding C++ for my Arduino uno, I how have a working CNC rotary table that allows me to drill any number of divisions! It literally take seconds to be able to alter the codes to index any number and have it hold the rotary table at that position until I press a button. INCREDIBLE. More details will follow in the days ahead. This very basic program will drive any axis any amount. With this program, my 4" (100mm for metric folks), 72 to 1 geared rotary will rotate to any position and sit there until I press the button again. I have eased the setup by allowing a single line to be changed in the sketch that changes the number of divisions will post more details in the days ahead. Email me for the very simple sketch.
There is a dedicated group of hobbyist machinist group that meets in Edmonton, Alberta that I am a part of. One the members Jim Strong, has help guide me on this journey and it was him who encouraged me to build one. He had design a driver and circuit board assembly that could be easily made by someone. Main problem for me was the need to use a 486 computer! I never did get an old computer up and running in DOS. First let me say that I don't enjoy soldering! So I look for an easier (at least for me) and started with a DIY kit from HobbyCNC.com. This is seemed like a nice board but I occasional suffer from brain farts and fat fingers. A shorted wire killed the chip, luckily my friend, Jim Strong came to the rescue and repaired the PCB. During this time I went looking for a better way and wanted to start using LinuxCNC. (to get around using DOS)
I came across a controller board offered by SOC-Robotics.com and knew that it was a better solution so I got the MK5 5 axis motion controller. It worked right from the get go! life was good until I started building a new and improved(!) case for it. Fat fingers struck again and I shorted out 2 of the stepper driver PCBs. Nice thing about this arrangement is that I just removed the two damaged driver PCBs and I was back in business.
This board works great but still has the limitation of using the parallel port and parallel port computers are getting harder to find. Linux has its own set of particular and specific quirks that continue to torment me.
I haven't mastered LinuxCNC yet as the options that are given to me are using old computer again! I have yet to find a reliable computer for my Linux endeavour.