New machine build - FLA Saturn 2 4 x 4


Mick S
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1 hour ago, Mark J said:

Wow, Mick, that thing is huge compared to what I've seen in the retail stores.

Yes, it is. I'm retired from selling industrial CNC machinery, which is why Carl approached me about helping him select a CNC router. This particular model is built with components that would be interchangeable on machines costing ten or twenty times as much. It is much heavier and faster than any of the other machines I'm aware of in its price range, yet the machine with electronics cost less than the Powermatic or Axiom models you might see in Woodcraft.

Carl does not like to cut corners on equipment.

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18 hours ago, difalkner said:

That looks great, Mick!  I sure wish I had room for a 4x4.  Can't wait to see this progress through the stages.

David

David - I noticed in one of your posts that you're running Mach4. Maybe this question needs a different thread, but how did you decide on M4 over M3? 

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Several reasons, Mick.  I am a geek, have been a geek forever it seems, and have occasionally 'fallen' for the latest greatest. :o  In this case, Mach3 is older and no longer being developed, may be at EOL before long and for all I know and not supported in a year or two.  I weighed the pros and cons of going with the newer but not yet fully developed Mach4, according to some, even though Mach3 has worked for 10's of thousands, if not 100's of thousands of people through the years.  And I'm aware there are many scripts and add-ons for Mach3 and much more support from other users.  It seems like once a month there's a new release of Mach4 although the 6 month old version I'm running is working just fine, so I'm several releases behind.

The things I read where people said, 'Mach4 doesn't do a particular routine as well as Mach3' or 'doing this in Mach3 is easier than in Mach4' at first gave me cause for concern until I realized most of those were specific tasks or routines that wouldn't apply to me, at least not in the foreseeable future.  So far Mach4 has performed to my expectations and has not gotten in the way of completing a task.

One drawback I have that may have been resolved is that I can't control my spindle through the software.  I still turn it on manually, set the speed manually, and turn it off manually.  I have all the hardware in place to communicate with the VFD but don't have the script for Mach4 to accomplish controlling it with code.  It's easy in Mach3; there are several available scripts.  But I haven't checked in at least a year to see if one is available - it might be for all I know.  I've grown accustomed to pushing the buttons on the VFD.  I guess if it bothered me enough I'd go out and search for that script or try to write one but it's just not a biggie to me.

David

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Yep, I went through the same thought process and ultimately decided to go with Mach3. I think in the long run M4 will be supported with more scripts and screensets, but I didn't feel like trying to troubleshoot the newer software. I've heard others comment about the spindle on/off and speed control issues in M4. That was a major reason for me.

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39 minutes ago, wdwerker said:

Oh yea, anything done to MDF needs dust collection !  Is there a way to build a shoe out of clear anti static material so you can see the bit?

I read the heading and thought " no it's Saturn V, they never built the Saturn II "  Space and sci-fi was an obsession back in the day. 

They do make clear plastic "brushes", but in my experience the swirling dust covers them up and you really can't see much anyway. Most of the time listening to the cutting action is a better indicator of whether you need to make adjustments on the fly.

I've almost typed Saturn V every time I post something on the router.

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  • 4 weeks later...

It's been a few weeks since I updated this build because I was having some problems with the rack & pinion drive units. Circles weren't circles, no matter what I adjusted in the Mach3 controller software or in the hardware. These drives are a newer version of the FineLine Automation (the manufacturer of the router) drives that were used on the original Saturn. They're very close, but not quite ready for prime time, IMO. Nate was gracious enough to refund us the full value of the drives so we could get the CNC Router Parts drives which his are patterned after. Cost less than $200 to swap all 3 drives and I'm happy to report they are spot on. We're now holding +/- 0.0013" consistently on our circles. Backlash is less than we can measure with very good equipment. (Carl ran the Stanford physics dept's metal shop before retiring. he's got good stuff!)

5a55262329e33_IMG_345312.thumb.jpg.3b04173bf1d3e955535fcada83122a86.jpg

5a55263199945_IMG_345512.thumb.jpg.091a720014fd6df3edab198a1f404622.jpg

Now I can't wait to start on projects!

 

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5 minutes ago, Chet said:

What is up first?  Got any ideas yet.

Yep. I'm teaching a CNC for woodworking class at the local college starting next week. I have 4 beginner projects to prototype for the class, a slot mortiser, table saw sled with miter insert, a table saw dovetail sled and a box joint jig. Carl has a fancy cutting board to cut. Then I'm going to play with making some forms for bent lamination projects.

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7 minutes ago, Chet said:

I have a Morris Chair slated here real soon and I can see were a CNC would be nice for knocking out the forms for the bent laminations.

I don't know that i'd do the whole form but the first layer for sure. Stacking and indexing to make sure they are all lined up seems like it'd be a pain. I'm going to be starting on my forms this week/weekend it's not something i'm looking forward to.

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5 hours ago, Mick S said:

It's been a few weeks since I updated this build because I was having some problems with the rack & pinion drive units. Circles weren't circles, no matter what I adjusted in the Mach3 controller software or in the hardware. These drives are a newer version of the FineLine Automation (the manufacturer of the router) drives that were used on the original Saturn. They're very close, but not quite ready for prime time, IMO. Nate was gracious enough to refund us the full value of the drives so we could get the CNC Router Parts drives which his are patterned after. Cost less than $200 to swap all 3 drives and I'm happy to report they are spot on. We're now holding +/- 0.0013" consistently on our circles. Backlash is less than we can measure with very good equipment. (Carl ran the Stanford physics dept's metal shop before retiring. he's got good stuff!)

5a55262329e33_IMG_345312.thumb.jpg.3b04173bf1d3e955535fcada83122a86.jpg

5a55263199945_IMG_345512.thumb.jpg.091a720014fd6df3edab198a1f404622.jpg

Now I can't wait to start on projects!

 

What test did you do for the circles, Mick?  I have drawn some circles, squares, and rectangles in Fusion 360 and used those.  I need to do it again, though.  Lately when I do an inlay the outside of the inlay is correct but the pocket is a few thousandths shy and the inlay won't fit.  I've just been going back into F360 and adding 0.005" to the cavity but I shouldn't have to do that.

David

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1 minute ago, difalkner said:

What test did you do for the circles, Mick?

I did circles of 4", 6" 8" and 10" diameters. I drew and toolpathed them in both VCarve Pro and EnRoute using a couple of different posts for each. We used a Starrett caliper to measure all but the 10". We also did rectangles and squares and measured those - spot on for our purposes - 5/10,000". 

I have not used Fusion 360 for inlays. Most CAD/CAM software that has an inlay feature will ask for an offset gap to allow the proper fit. Sounds like you're doing it manually.

These CRP drives are really nice. After installing them I ran the auto step calibration in Mach3. 

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Yes, I'm doing it manually but it's easy enough to do an offset of 0.010" to 0.015" for the inlay piece.  That's still a fairly tight inlay unless it's Abalone for a guitar and allows for glue.  This cross, for instance, fit perfectly with minimum tweaking

5a557974c506f_010-Maplecrossinlaid.thumb.JPG.71bd785a3d0fd9a59da0870b2c089c41.JPG

I haven't tried to correct it but really need to because I have some more intricate inlay work to do.

David

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The nice thing about the inlay feature in EnRoute and others is that it automatically compensates for the gap radii as long as you're using the same tool for both male and female. The cross sitting on the cutting board looks like it has sharp corners. I'm assuming that you manually sand or round them somehow. VCarve and EnRoute put the matching radius on the male outside corners based on your tool diameter plus the offset gap.

I normally set my gap to .008" depending on the material and purpose. 

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