Birth of a 4-axis CNC machine #6: Y axis coming together...

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Blog entry by DS posted 02-23-2014 04:25 AM 2574 reads 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: Bet you thought I gave up on this... Part 6 of Birth of a 4-axis CNC machine series Part 7: Early Christmas... Motors and power and drivers -- oh my! »

Received the y axis THK rails yesterday—just in time for the weekend.

I was able to mount them and begin assembling the y axis carriage.
As soon as the rack and pinion arrives I’ll be able to make the motor mount box and start focusing on the z axis plate.

The y axis rack and pinion gears are stuck in Chicago almost a week already. Not sure what the hold up is.
The cable drag chains arrived today from the east coast with no issues.

The chains themselves came as three separate 1 meter lengths. Opening the links wasn’t nearly as difficult as reattaching them. After some trial and error and at least one broken link, I got the two sized chains that I need.

I bought some 1 1/2” x 1/16” aluminum angle to make the drag chain trays for both the x and y axis and should finish those this weekend. If so, I’ll update this post with more photos

In my recent shopping spree, (the money is blown already, btw) I was able to locate a used ISO 25 tool changing spindle, but it was still nearly $3600. That’s a little better than the new ones I’ve been finding for $13500 but both options are still outside my reach.


Added the y axis cable drag chain tray to the back of the gantry. Decided to hold off on the x axis tray until that rack and pinion is installed.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

13 comments so far

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10372 posts in 4291 days

#1 posted 02-23-2014 04:42 AM

Looks like you’re doing just fine!

Will be interesting to see how it develops and how it works!

Thank you.

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View oldnovice's profile


7380 posts in 3607 days

#2 posted 02-23-2014 07:40 AM

Doug, that chain looks a lot like a Kabelschlepp or Gortrac cable/hose carrier!
Is that a metal chain?

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View SPalm's profile


5325 posts in 4121 days

#3 posted 02-23-2014 12:28 PM

Yikes. It’s almost alive.
And you got your ATC. Wow.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View DS's profile


3045 posts in 2659 days

#4 posted 02-23-2014 01:35 PM

Steve, unfortunately no, I don’t have my atc. I found it, but don’t have that kind of scratch hanging around to buy it. (Still out of my reach)

At least now, I know what I can get one for and can try to plan for needing at least that much money to get one.

Hans, that is a fiber reinforced plastic drag chain. About $20 per meter.
Maybe now it is starting to look more like the machine I saw in my head all these years.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View Roger's profile


20965 posts in 3043 days

#5 posted 02-23-2014 01:56 PM

It’s coming to life

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View JL7's profile


8693 posts in 3204 days

#6 posted 02-23-2014 02:59 PM

Good to see you’re still making progress on the CNC! Looking forward to seeing it work…..Hang in there….

-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View eddie's profile


8565 posts in 2853 days

#7 posted 02-23-2014 04:01 PM

DS it getting closer to home ,looking good

-- Jesus Is Alright with me

View DIYaholic's profile


19750 posts in 2914 days

#8 posted 02-23-2014 04:04 PM

Perhaps you need to play & win the lottery….
Then the ATC wouldn’t be out of reach.
Plus, with all the extra money….
you can do all the things that the voices in your head tell you to do!!!

Ya know, you could have just made the cable carriers….
Of course you would need to use a completed CNC to build them!!!

Progress is looking good.
Carry on….

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

8615 posts in 2567 days

#9 posted 02-23-2014 07:00 PM


Love the progress you’ve made.

Can you please detail how you secured the plywood panels within the 80/20 frame?

What do you have in mind for a controller?

I used the G540 on my mill conversion and it works great. Now a days there are N23 steppers that are purpose built to match its voltage limits and ideal impedance (or is it reactance?)

Are you going to run it with Mach 3?

I’m using it on my mill and it’s actually a very powerful little program.

Watching with interest :^)

-- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

View DS's profile


3045 posts in 2659 days

#10 posted 02-23-2014 10:36 PM

Matt, here are some scraps that will show the joinery of the panels to 80/20. In addition to the rabbit in the panel I am using angle bored screws from the back side to attach the panels.

As for the controller I am most definately NOT using Mach 3. Nothing against it really, but I have lots of experience in programming embedded controllers and I will likely program my own controller using an off the shelf card.

You can view some of the controller candidates in my previous blogs. Netduino is still in the running, but the raspberry pi will also be evaluated.

My plan is to have a web server embedded onto the controller card that would use an HTML page to proffer the basic controls of the machine.
There would be no dedicated computer running Mach 3 or any other program to operate it. Just use whatever web browser enabled device and enter the IP address of the machine and it will pop up all the controls needed to operate it. The browser could be anywhere on the web. (Can you say Skype and remote operation?)

Mostly, my motivation regarding the controller is cost. An embedded control card costs about $70 and wouldn’t need an additional computer, or expensive software to run it. When I am done, I may make the firmware open source to allow others to use it on the cheap.

Anyway, I’m glad you found this blog and I hope to keep making it interesting.

Randy, I keep telling the clerk,”I want winning tickets this time!”, but they never listen.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

8615 posts in 2567 days

#11 posted 02-24-2014 01:49 AM

Whoa…. Your programming skill set is way beyond mine…. So rock on with the controller.

Mach made tuning the steppers a breeze, and has a pretty spiffy interface for hard and soft limits and work coordinate systems, etc…. So for a dubber like me it was a good way to go.

Watching with great interest :^)

-- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

View stefang's profile


16214 posts in 3573 days

#12 posted 02-26-2014 10:32 AM

Interesting, and way beyond my comprehension. Can’t wait to see it in action.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Dave's profile


11429 posts in 3079 days

#13 posted 02-26-2014 04:24 PM

“Transformers transform!”
Optimist Prime

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

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