Devoted computer?

As the title says. I am wondering about a dedicated computer to run the cnc. I am currently using a lap top and do not like having it near. When i have it in another room and use the usb cable. I am having to run back and forth to home the bit.

Has anyone setup a cheap/ older desktop around their machine? if so how did you handle dust management?
I was looking into somehting like this since it should meet all of the specs needed for around $170

I just wanted some feedback on any ideas for a set up to accomodate a small tower and screen.

This is the current set up. I added the two layers of plywood under the machine after my trouble shooting thread.

My current thought is to box in the lower section of the table where the Controller box is. Add a small fan and filter, then pop the tower in there.

Nice setup.

I am running Universal Gcode sender from a 4GB RAM windows 7 PC that is around 10 years old. The computer is not internet connected. Once a month I unplug the PC and use a brushed vacuum attachment to clean bulk out of the case then blow out the remainder with low pressure air with a moisture/oil filter on the air line. The two things I always try to clean up immediately are MDF dust and metal waste.

The PC I use is a mid-sized tower, so there is lots of airflow when operating and plenty of room to clean things out. That is the one thing I can think of for a smaller form factor - they are packed tight inside the chassis with minimal room for airflow.

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Thank you for the insight. I will absolutely need to make a plan to keep it cleaned out. I like the idea of less restriction and more monitoring.

I bought a higher end PC for design work in V-Carve, Fusion360 and a little Easel. 16 GB RAM and Win10/64. This PC stays on my desk, and is for design only. An older, slower PC is used to drive the X-carve via UGCS or Easel. The machine hooked to the CNC can be an old clunker

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Thank you. I will be doing anything intensive on my photo editing computer. This would literally be to run the x carve. Thank you for the help. I suppose even what i found is a bit overkill for just running the g-code. I did not know about UGS, so thank you two for that.

I use a MINIX NEO Z83-4 Pro for running the machine.

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I use a 10 year old laptop as my CNC controller using bCNC, works great. Since it was a dedicated CNC controller machine, I installed Lubuntu Linux on it. Lubuntu works fine on old machines and you can still get updates and leave it connected to your LAN or internet while carving.

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I use a raspberry pi like computer to run my x-carve, but then I have my own python g-code sender program. I do the design on easel or other software, then copy the file onto the dedicated computer and run the command sequence to start the carve. It works well for my needs. The little computer can output hdmi or vga to a monitor, and I can use a usb keyboard to control it.

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Dedicated raspberry pi, bCNC as g-code sender, g-code files over the network.

At $30, with negligent consumption, fanless, tiny enough to be hidden safe from dust, and strong enough to run a g-code sender, you can’t beat this setup. If it breaks, throw it away, put the microSD in a new one and start where you left. I’ve been running this setup for 4 years now. I never bother to shut the RPi down.


I use an 11-year old Mac Mini sitting right next to my machine. I use Easel for most of my carving. Dust is not a problem if you have a sufficient dust collector.

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I’ve been buying 100 dollar refurbished desktop computers for my other CNC router which uses Mach3. I have an old Toshiba laptop for the x carve and the UGS. They do eventually succumb to dust inhalation.

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Thanks for all of the suggestions! I was overthinking the power I would need. Not sure why I was thinking the design and carve had to be the same computer. I ended up texting a few friends and tracked down this old AIO from a friend for $50. Ordered a new ssd and will go from there.

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I design on my new 2019 13" MB Pro, then carve on my ancient Mac Mini. Fun times!

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My local Fry’s has that same model or ones like it on sale almost every month for $99. I have it mounted under my X-Carve top. I put the whole thing on a rolling tabletop and mounted it under that. I got a couple pieces of wood for the monitor to make it a movable screen, a wireless USB adapter for the internet and got a cheap waterproof keyboard. Works perfect for me. Everything is plugged into an old rugged surge protector and i just plug in the one plug. if i need to move the carving station, i unplug it and move it across the shop.

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I agree with several other users here. If you are only ever going to be using the Easel software, it is strictly internet based, and an old Windows 98 computer could probably do the job. You could get by with using a Chromebook or similar “ultrabook” as long as you’ve got a USB slot. No reason to spend a lot of money if you’re only ever going to use Easel.

Now then… if you’re planning on getting VCarve, Autodesk software, or some other dedicated software that runs off of your computer and NOT solely off of the internet, that’s a different story. While I haven’t looked at the pc specs for VCarve and similar, typically modeling programs run best off of a computer that has a cpu with lots of cores and threads, and of course lots of RAM!

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I had not considered looking for an AIO computer. Great idea to save some space!

Well just make sure it works. I actually ended up going with a different computer. The AIO had a few issues. I was able to find a normal old desktop for free. I would always go with what is in budget and solid.

This is actually the setup i went with today.
Version 1:

Then realized I shouldn’t have to look down at the screen. I’m already in a tight space. Moved the screen.
Version 2:

just picked up a wireless mouse and keyboard on my way home.

Thanks again everyone.

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@Jarrett I’d recommend the Raspberry Pi as well. I have a Pi and a 7” touchscreen running my rig. I’m all in at about $150 and I can keep my nice computer out of the dust and garage. I’m using CNCjs and I’m a fan. I 3D printed a new front end for my X-Controller to house the whole thing and it boots to kiosk so it’s just like having a dedicated screen on the X-Controller. I added a GPIO shutdown and hard reset button for the Pi to protect it. I’ll upload the STL files to thingiverse sometime this weekend. Pics below.

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