Desktop CNC Mill


Build Links

I received a few referrals from a web site that I found useful early on my design phase: Cerebral Meltdown. This site attempts to catalog a lot of the DIY CNC machines that have build logs on the web. It's a great resource for getting some ideas on your build.

My Plog is the most up-to-date information on my CNC build. I hope you like it. If you want to see some more discussion of my build, be sure to check out my build thread at CNC Zone.

About the Project

For this summer's big project, I've decided to tackle a desktop CNC milling machine. I'm going to use my personal site to track progress and save documentation. So, hopefully, I can go back over everything and write up a complete instruction guide on how I built the machine.

Project goals:

- Learn about CNC technology, software, protocols, and practices
- Learn more about mechanical engineering and development
- Build a project that is a good demonstration piece, representative of my education and areas of interest
- Use as few pre-built modules/plans as possible (especially the electronics/controls)
- Provide myself with a new tool that will help me in my other hobbies (PCBs, robotic parts, etc)
- Provide myself with experience to develop more sophisticated CNC machines

I'm still researching a lot of areas, and there is a surprisingly large DIY CNC community on the web. Here are a few of my initial requirements:

- 3D CNC mill capable of traversing the material, as well as setting the tool depth
- Shall be accurate enough to perform PCB isolation routing for 0.1" components
- Should be accurate enough to perform PCB isolation routing for SMT components
- Shall be able to drill and edge-route material via computer control
- Should be able to perform general-purpose 3D sculpting
- Minimum material dimension shall be 15cm x 15cm (6"x6")
- Minimum vertical throw shall be 5cm (2")
- Should be able to control tool power and speed
- Shall have a minimum rigidity to enable cutting through PCB copper foil and fiber substrate
- Should be able to mill soft metals (aluminum, brass, etc)
- Shall have a modular tool mounting system for different tools (a Dremel-style rotary tool is the primary target)
- The final machine shall not use any off-the-shelf motor drivers/controllers (early stages may use stub controllers)
- The final machine should not use an off-the-shelf power supply (early stages will use a bench supply)
- The mill shall be operated by an on-board microcontroller (instead of requiring a full-time connection to a PC)
- All specifications, plans, materials lists/sources, and source code shall be released as open source