I have about 8 hours on my new setup and I’m really loving it so far. There is still a learning curve (again, sigh) but all of the mistakes so far have been my own. I think that I’m finally just about done messing about with my machine. I was thinking today that I have not put all of my upgrades in one post so I thought I would put them all here in case anyone wanted to follow the same route or for inspiration.
I purchased my machine 18 months ago so I started out with the old controller, 1000 by 1000 bed, NEMA 23 motors, wasteboard, Dewalt 611. The first thing I did was build a custom cabinet for the machine. It has a torsion box top, 4 drawers that hold my computer tower and all my various stuff related to the machine.
I then did the 30 minute mod with 1/8" aluminum bars above and below the Y Axis. I still have mod today because even with all the added weight of the new linear Z Axis and the 270 oz motor it is not sagging along the axis.
I was having an issue with my eccentric wheels backing off so I broke out the blue locktite but I felt it would make it more difficult to adjust the wheels later. So I flipped the eccentric washers around to the front side, I did not want them to move so I used CA glue and bonded the washer to the screw. A year later and it still is holding fine and the wheels are easy to adjust without loosening the nut.
Then I wanted to make the machine more rigid so I completely changed the bed based on @PhilJohnson build with my own little changes. I managed like 150 tapped holes in the 1/4" plate without breaking a tap. I pulled the mdf off, added twice the bracing that came with the machine then put down a 1/4" aluminum plate. I chopped up the original mdf bed and added in t slots to expand the hold down options. The t slots sit down 3/8" so I still have probably 2 more flattenings before I have to change the mdf out.
I had a bunch of left over 1/4" aluminum so I decided to raise my X Axis. Using the original plates as a guide I hand made new end plates. I don’t remember how tall the originals were but these are 7 1/2" tall. I now have 5 1/2" between the X Xaxis and the bed. While I was at it I added a total of 6 plates along the Y Axis to help raise and stiffen it up.
Then I changed out my Z Axis to a direct drive linear rail from Open Builds and reused the original motor.
I ran the machine for a while like this knowing I had to get away GRBL . I also knew if I was going to change out the electronics I might as well change out the motor as well so I could have real control of chip loads, etc. After some looking I decided on the MK 3/4 controller from Planet-CNC and a .8kw Chinese Spindle, plus 4 Leadshine DM442 motor drivers. I purchased a Controller, a output board and 2 opto idolaters from Planet-CNC and the Spindle/ VFD combo & drivers from Amazon. Then promptly got busy and let it sit for 7 or 8 months while I worked on other things. I finally got freed up and completely tore apart my machine and starting changing out parts. I was able to get my NEMA 3 enclosure for free from a job I was working on. It started out as a MCC for a big revolving door at a high rise main entrance. I stripped it and started installing all the goodies. I reused the original power supply for the drivers and everything else is new. The DIN rail ps is for the controller and the output board.
Once I had the machine apart I decided I didn’t want to do it again so I broke out the wishlist and things kinda snow balled.
I hated the original limit switches from day 1 so got 6 of the Crealtec Hall effect Switches (2 for each axis) and the controller board and I love them. I also changed out all of the wiring in the drag chain to shielded cable grounded on one end, more on that later.
I changed out the belts to the 9mm GT3’s again inspired by @PhilJohnson. The belts I purchased at Royal Supply, the idlers and pulleys I purchased at Openbuilds. I handmade the end clips from 1x1x1/8 aluminum angle.
I changed out the motors to 270oz 2.8a NEMA 23’s 1/4" dual shaft from Automation Technologies.
I came up with what I’ll call a interesting rig for my water cooling for the spindle. I didn’t want to use a PC cooling system for several reasons and I didn’t want to spend a grand on a purpose built CNC water cooler so I went McGuiver and came up with something that seems to scare people. I have a 5gl bucket of water feeding a 1/4hp Iwata aquarium pump, from the pump it feeds to a heater core for a car, then down to the spindle and back to the bucket. The heater core is tie wrapped to the front of a fan that is suspended under the bucket facing backwards so it helps cool the pump. The fan and pump are plugged into my old relay controller for the 611. The controller is triggered from the VFD to turn on when the VFD turns on.
I added a light ring under the Z Axis from Openbuilds that really helps light up the work. It is triggered from the 3rd relay on the Planet-CNC output board.
I had some real ugly problems with common mode noise coming from the spindle back feeding into the motion controller ultimately breaking my first output board (the 0-10 input to the VFD is on the output board). So I wound up purchasing a really fancy spindle cable from a company called Igus to go from the spindle to the VFD, to that I added ferrite chokes at both where the spindle goes into the VFD and at the 0-10 input on the output board. I installed a isolated ground bar by the VFD and everything is now grounded to that bar. I also came up with another rig to keep the spindle cable away from the low voltage signal cables.
I’m sure I’m forgetting something but I can’t think of it right now. My machine looks nothing like it started out as, it kinda looks like I left it in a bad part of town. But I’m routinely cutting at 80-100 IPM now with the best results I’ve ever had so I’m happy. I wrote this to share my journey and maybe inspiring someone. If you have a question please ask and I’ll do my best to answer.
What’s even better is that I was talking to the Mrs. a little awhile ago and she gave the blessing to buy a automatic tool changer for Christmas, I can’t wait till then😎.