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  • Uber-Cheap 1610 CNC Mill (Engraver) ... "Rounter"

    This is part tool gloat, part review, and part looking for information.

    Anyway, I picked up one of those stupid-cheap ($230cdn) mini CNC mill/engravers from ebay. The primary intent is to learn how to run a CNC mill so I don't look the fool when I go to use the Tormach mills at work. We have 4 for the students to use... perks of working at a college. Not my department, but I make nice and they owe me. So, I don't really care if all I can mill with this little thing is foam, but I'm going to push to see what it can do anyway, of course.

    The machine is this:



    edit: the above "included milling cutters" are engraving bits. Simple single flute... basically pointed D bits. Needle-sharp points though.

    The box I made to put it in and, hopefully, contain the mess:



    Turned out okay. The far side has a couple of computer fans that pull air through an engine air filter element I bought for my van but never got around to installing. Time will tell if it's worth the effort.

    Review wise... the thing that was supposed to be "partially" assembled came in a nice box of well-packed little bits. Nearly everything had to be put together but there was decent documentation on a CD and it only took me a couple of hours. I ran up the included GrblControl software and it worked straight off, fully configured. It is actually more sturdy than I expected, but my expectations were quite low heading into this.

    My first oops, where I stalled the spindle motor with stupid CNC commands, end up popping the included 24vdc power brick. Dead-Dead, no coming back without disassembly, which I'll likely not bother doing. I switched over to an old 20vdc laptop brick I had laying about and am currently waiting for a 20A boost converter to arrive from China that will let me dial in whatever voltage I want. The mill is suppose to work up to 30vdc and that should give better spindle speeds anyway. Oh, I've got a salvage 56A/12vdc server power supply waiting for that boost converter to arrive.

    Learning how to use it has been... challenging. Pretty steep learning curve, even after figuring out 3D printing.

    I'm at the point now were I can write something in InkScape, export it to Fusion 360, convert it to Gcode, and run that Gcode through GrblControl to actually get it to do something. Yes, there's a lot of bits to learn in that particular tool-chain. Another chain, figured out tonight, is Fritzing PCB export, through FlatCAM to Gcode, and then through GrblControl. I couldn't figure out how to get the included CopperCAM software to generate anything useful so FlatCAM it is, though that one is not exactly the easiest program to get one's head wrapped around either.

    So, yeah, the tool-chains are in place, but all I've actually milled so far is paperboard. There are still a lot of blanks to fill in, but I'm having fun.

    Originally posted by Bob La Londe View Post
    ... I prefer to use a small ball end mill and mill the engraving instead. For thin brass name plates I'll make a hold down plate out of aluminum where its milled flat in place, and then holes are drilled and tapped to hold the edges of the plates down with button head machine screws. I can usually get close enough to do half a dozen (or more plates) in a setup. I usually mill (DEPENDING ON CHARACTER SIZE) about .003 inches deep with a .0625 ball end mill. If not all the letters show up as well as I would like I'll take a second pass at .006 inches deep. If the plates are very irregular or I am milling smaller characters I'll sometimes go to a smaller ball mill, but .0625 seems to work fairly well. Font and character spacing are also a factor.

    I do it with CNC of course. Speed and feed depends on the machine, but because of the shallow DOC you can run pretty fast even on a low speed spindle if you have a stub flute mill.

    I really like the 9 Stick fonts Mr Race developed for use with CamBam. They are true type fonts, but the second loop exactly overlaps the first. They will work with any software that uses the system fonts.
    Thanks for the mention of the stick fonts (in the other engraving thread... didn't want to hijack it). Downloaded now, but even just reading about them helps to make sense of the engraving process.

    So, I'm open to any insights you may have on mini-CNC milling or engraving. If anyone has been contemplating getting one of these things, I'll do my best to answer any questions you may have. Other than that, I'll come back and post some results, assuming I ever get any worthy of a picture.

    Wish me happy "Rountering"

    David...
    Last edited by fixerdave; 02-23-2018, 04:49 PM.
    http://fixerdave.blogspot.com/

  • #2
    Been seeing those pop up, and wondered how "good" they were. I've got an application at work they'd be great for with a bit of fiddling and re configuring the y axis, but I don't really want to put the time and effort into it anymore.

    Pretty cheap education for you to learn gcode and programming, and have around for rountering small parts. Nice looking case too. I need to make a case like that for my 3d printer.

    Comment


    • #3
      So here's a newbie question; What does all this software run on? A PC, Laptop, Tablet, Smart Phone? What OS, What Version?

      Comment


      • #4
        I have a small CNC router that was pretty cheap as well. Mine is maybe a half step above that one. I think its a 3020 for size. Mine came with a similarly lame spindle. I quickly made a mount for a small trim router that I just plug directly into the same power strip as the system and start manually.

        I use Fusion360 for some stuff now, but it does have a pretty steep learning curve. I mostly use it for more efficient 3D clearing. I still use the much simpler, but capable CamBam (not free though) everyday for basic job layout.

        I really admire your cabinet. Very nice looking, but I think you may want to modify it in the future to make it more accessible to load parts and change tools. Unless of course I am missing something. I like the work on the plastic bends. I have some nichrome wire on the wall to make a plastic bender, but I have never gotten around to it. Anyway, nice job. Really nice radius. Makes it look sharp.

        On my cheap router I found that it was not assembled all that square or straight. I only use it for a little wood work, and I machined a back plate out of MDF so each prject is mostly flat. I did become quite frustrated with the control system (YooCNC) when I first got it, but it worked adequately under Mach3 (it came with a cracked bootleg copy sadly). I have multiple Mach3 license so Upgraded the software, upgrade the control, and it runs like a skinny little wide receiver with linebackers closing in fast. I found it was a fun little machine, but the basic hardware is all that's left of the original. I may even get rid of some of that. I've been thinking about recutting all the flat pieces and rebuilding it on my surface plate to make it flat and square. All that would be left then would be the rails and screws. LOL. Don't get me wrong. I used it just like it came to make a few projects. I just made it better, and with what I know now I wouldn't buy another one. I would just build one.

        They are a fantastic learning tool though. My first CNC was a Taig 2019CRER which I still have... on a shelf.

        I think you bought yours for the right reason and with the right attitude. You WILL learn a lot from it.
        *** I always wanted a welding stinger that looked like the north end of a south bound chicken. Often my welds look like somebody pointed the wrong end of a chicken at the joint and squeezed until something came out. Might as well look the part.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by CCWKen View Post
          So here's a newbie question; What does all this software run on? A PC, Laptop, Tablet, Smart Phone? What OS, What Version?
          Typically a dedicated PC is used for running the machine software. Laptops are frowned upon because of the lower bus voltage (for some old controls) and because of their power management schemes that tend to flake on you. There are other control options. I currently have CNC machines running on Mach3 under Windows XP-Pro and W7Pro. I have run under Windows 98 as well. LinuxCNC is an alternative control program that runs under Linux. Ubuntu Linux is one of the more popular for that. There are also other PC based control programs. Mach3 and Mach4 (new version) are one of the most well known, but LinuxCNC is free and I believe open source. There is control software that will run on a Raspberry Pi and also stand alone controllers. Gerber I think is its own system as well, but I am not familiar with it. The OP may be better able to answer that.
          Last edited by Bob La Londe; 02-23-2018, 10:54 AM.
          *** I always wanted a welding stinger that looked like the north end of a south bound chicken. Often my welds look like somebody pointed the wrong end of a chicken at the joint and squeezed until something came out. Might as well look the part.

          Comment


          • #6
            Looking at the picture it appears that the motor is connected directly to an otherwise unsupported end of the lead screw. This will work "ok" if the support bearing at the other end is set up such that it prevents or atleast substantially reduces end play. The motor can not be counted on to do that as they inherently have some end play built into them. Some worse than others. On a slightly better machine the motor end of the screw will have a bearing or double bearing (sometimes matched ACBs) locked in position to the screw and a bearing carrier that prevents the screw from having any significant end play (backlash). Then the motor just drives the screw through a coupler that allows for some misalignment such as a helical flex coupler, oldham coupler or flex plate. The fact that yours has a rigid coupler make me think they may be counting on the motor to control end play.

            On one of my little machines I setup a double ACB bearing on the outboard end as there was no room to do so on the motor end. This may not have been as good, but it did effectively limit end play in the screw. I gave that machine to a friend who wanted it who has done absolutely nothing with it. Sadly. I don't know why. He built his first machine from the ground up. He knows how. Oh well.
            *** I always wanted a welding stinger that looked like the north end of a south bound chicken. Often my welds look like somebody pointed the wrong end of a chicken at the joint and squeezed until something came out. Might as well look the part.

            Comment


            • #7
              Would this machine be capable of engraving lettering in steel? Say 1/8" font?

              Comment


              • #8
                Interesting ,but I have no idea of the size of this thing. Could you set a coke can on it and post a picture. Also to much "gargan". power brick,boost converter incscape grbtcontrol flatcam coppercam.oh yes I forgot gcode and fusion 360,the only 2 things that I have heard of.Edwin Dirnbeck

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Edwin Dirnbeck View Post
                  Interesting ,but I have no idea of the size of this thing. Could you set a coke can on it and post a picture. Also to much "gargan". power brick,boost converter incscape grbtcontrol flatcam coppercam.oh yes I forgot gcode and fusion 360,the only 2 things that I have heard of.Edwin Dirnbeck
                  The type of motor used for the spindle doesn't often come much more than 1 1/4 inch in OD and has a plain nose bearing, I assume there are a couple of bearing races in the motor nose if it's expected to be used for engraving.
                  If you benefit from the Dunning-Kruger Effect you may not even know it ;-)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Dan Dubeau View Post
                    Been seeing those pop up, and wondered how "good" they were. I've got an application at work they'd be great for with a bit of fiddling and re configuring the y axis, but I don't really want to put the time and effort into it anymore.

                    Pretty cheap education for you to learn gcode and programming, and have around for rountering small parts. Nice looking case too. I need to make a case like that for my 3d printer.
                    Thanks for the case compliment. I figured it was going to be a home rather than shop thing, so I put a bit of effort into it. Sat there deciding between a nice salvaged oak tabletop or another salvaged SPF tabletop that was about 1 1/4" thick. Eventually decided to save the oak, then screwed up a cut on the SPF, went back to the oak, and discovered it was a really nice oak veneer. Sigh... whatever, built it with that anyway. Stopped caring at that point... probably should have put more thought into the glue-blocks at the bottom. Whatever.


                    Originally posted by CCWKen View Post
                    So here's a newbie question; What does all this software run on? A PC, Laptop, Tablet, Smart Phone? What OS, What Version?
                    This one in particular is running on an older (salvage) i5 laptop, Win10 (1709), 8Gb of RAM, a built-in Nvidia graphics card, and an SSD. Quick enough, even though the laptop reviews went in painful circles to say how nice the case was... very poor graphics performance considering the bits it has, but a solid build Quite funny to read actually. Performance in Fusion 360, by far the most demanding app, is entirely usable.

                    I typically use Linux for most things, but I'm using Fusion 360 and I was getting tired of swapping back a forth between machines. Thus, with this mill, I built up a full Win10 toolchain. Most of the apps work on multiple OS, but I"ve been around long enough to just use what I need... just an OS, don't really care. The only thing I lost by going to Win10 was the USB connection to my 3D printer... no way or how I could get Windows to let go and allow me to use Pronterface for printer control. Very annoying. Then again, Windows Paint is pretty cool now, with the Creators update. Having a 2D sticker wrap around a 3D model is fun to watch.


                    Originally posted by Bob La Londe View Post
                    I have a small CNC router that was pretty cheap as well. Mine is maybe a half step above that one. I think its a 3020 for size. Mine came with a similarly lame spindle. I quickly made a mount for a small trim router that I just plug directly into the same power strip as the system and start manually.

                    ...

                    I really admire your cabinet. Very nice looking, but I think you may want to modify it in the future to make it more accessible to load parts and change tools. Unless of course I am missing something. I like the work on the plastic bends. I have some nichrome wire on the wall to make a plastic bender, but I have never gotten around to it. Anyway, nice job. Really nice radius. Makes it look sharp.

                    ...

                    I think you bought yours for the right reason and with the right attitude. You WILL learn a lot from it.

                    Yeah, I keep bouncing back and forth... I could build a new spindle... No, just use the Tormach, I could make that stiffer... No, just use the Tormach. I mean, I naturally want to make it better, make tools for my tools, but I keep catching myself. I suppose I'll miss someday.

                    With the cabinet, the entire sheet of plex is bent in a U and just slides up and off. The intent is to put a handle on the top to make that easier. The mill itself is now on rubber feet that sit in blind holes in the base, so it can just get lifted out if I have to. What's missing is light. I think I'll mount a couple of 12vdc LED strips on either side. Old eyes don't like dark places where sharp things are spinning.

                    Oh, I made this elaborate jig to form the radius of the bend... just used a heat gun where I wanted it to bend. The jig was a waste of time as the plex didn't follow it. Next time, I'll just take a couple of boards with rounded edges, clamp the plex between, maybe offset the top back an inch or so, and then hit it with the gun until gravity starts to pull it down. It's 1/4" plex and that radius is just what it naturally does on a bend. Very nice to work actually. Oh, and I've wised up over the years. I made the plex top first, then just made the case to match the results of the bending. Much less stressful.

                    And, yes, the mill has already paid for itself in learning. It's a huge learning curve but I'm now at the point where it will actually do something. That's a good place to be. Those Tormach are not nearly as intimidating as they were a month ago.


                    Originally posted by Bob La Londe View Post
                    Looking at the picture it appears that the motor is connected directly to an otherwise unsupported end of the lead screw. ...
                    Yup. The odd thing is that I've been ordering China parts to build my own CNC rig for a while... steppers, lead screws, linear bearings, controller, pretty much everything. But, it's a big learning curve and when I saw this thing... well, I figured I was cheap enough to teach me how it shouldn't be built, if nothing else. Endplay support on the leadscrews being one thing... I hadn't thought of that, so thank you. Now I'll know where to look if I'm not happy with what the mill can do.


                    Originally posted by gzig5 View Post
                    Would this machine be capable of engraving lettering in steel? Say 1/8" font?
                    Don't know yet, but I'll find out soon enough. It says it can engrave aluminium and being the brochure claim, that's probably a "just barely" thing. But, I'm wondering what would happen if I spin up one of those cheap rotary tool diamond abrasive bits. My kid is at the age where he likes his name on things. So, yeah, I'm going to try stainless steel, even if it's just a fork handle.


                    Originally posted by Edwin Dirnbeck View Post
                    Interesting ,but I have no idea of the size of this thing. Could you set a coke can on it and post a picture. Also to much "gargan". power brick,boost converter incscape grbtcontrol flatcam coppercam.oh yes I forgot gcode and fusion 360,the only 2 things that I have heard of.Edwin Dirnbeck
                    The mill area is 160mm x 100mm x 45mm.

                    No coke can (now I'm craving one). Oddly enough, no cans of any beverages about right now. So, a few other random bits:



                    Quarter, roll of masking tape, solder roll, etc... Hope that helps.

                    David...
                    Last edited by fixerdave; 02-23-2018, 03:03 PM.
                    http://fixerdave.blogspot.com/

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Wow, that is smaller than I imagined. Looking forward to performance reports. I'd like to try CNC without having a big upfront investment. If I take to it, then a bigger more capable machine would make sense.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by fixerdave View Post
                        Thanks for the case compliment. I figured it was going to be a home rather than shop thing, so I put a bit of effort into it. Sat there deciding between a nice salvaged oak tabletop or another salvaged SPF tabletop that was about 1 1/4" thick. Eventually decided to save the oak, then screwed up a cut on the SPF, went back to the oak, and discovered it was a really nice oak veneer. Sigh... whatever, built it with that anyway. Stopped caring at that point... probably should have put more thought into the glue-blocks at the bottom. Whatever.




                        This one in particular is running on an older (salvage) i5 laptop, Win10 (1709), 8Gb of RAM, a built-in Nvidia graphics card, and an SSD. Quick enough, even though the laptop reviews went in painful circles to say how nice the case was... very poor graphics performance considering the bits it has, but a solid build Quite funny to read actually. Performance in Fusion 360, by far the most demanding app, is entirely usable.

                        I typically use Linux for most things, but I'm using Fusion 360 and I was getting tired of swapping back a forth between machines. Thus, with this mill, I built up a full Win10 toolchain. Most of the apps work on multiple OS, but I"ve been around long enough to just use what I need... just an OS, don't really care. The only thing I lost by going to Win10 was the USB connection to my 3D printer... no way or how I could get Windows to let go and allow me to use Pronterface for printer control. Very annoying. Then again, Windows Paint is pretty cool now, with the Creators update. Having a 2D sticker wrap around a 3D model is fun to watch.





                        Yeah, I keep bouncing back and forth... I could build a new spindle... No, just use the Tormach, I could make that stiffer... No, just use the Tormach. I mean, I naturally want to make it better, make tools for my tools, but I keep catching myself. I suppose I'll miss someday.

                        With the cabinet, the entire sheet of plex is bent in a U and just slides up and off. The intent is to put a handle on the top to make that easier. The mill itself is now on rubber feet that sit in blind holes in the base, so it can just get lifted out if I have to. What's missing is light. I think I'll mount a couple of 12vdc LED strips on either side. Old eyes don't like dark places where sharp things are spinning.

                        Oh, I made this elaborate jig to form the radius of the bend... just used a heat gun where I wanted it to bend. The jig was a waste of time as the plex didn't follow it. Next time, I'll just take a couple of boards with rounded edges, clamp the plex between, maybe offset the top back an inch or so, and then hit it with the gun until gravity starts to pull it down. It's 1/4" plex and that radius is just what it naturally does on a bend. Very nice to work actually. Oh, and I've wised up over the years. I made the plex top first, then just made the case to match the results of the bending. Much less stressful.

                        And, yes, the mill has already paid for itself in learning. It's a huge learning curve but I'm now at the point where it will actually do something. That's a good place to be. Those Tormach are not nearly as intimidating as they were a month ago.




                        Yup. The odd thing is that I've been ordering China parts to build my own CNC rig for a while... steppers, lead screws, linear bearings, controller, pretty much everything. But, it's a big learning curve and when I saw this thing... well, I figured I was cheap enough to teach me how it shouldn't be built, if nothing else. Endplay support on the leadscrews being one thing... I hadn't thought of that, so thank you. Now I'll know where to look if I'm not happy with what the mill can do.




                        Don't know yet, but I'll find out soon enough. It says it can engrave aluminium and being the brochure claim, that's probably a "just barely" thing. But, I'm wondering what would happen if I spin up one of those cheap rotary tool diamond abrasive bits. My kid is at the age where he likes his name on things. So, yeah, I'm going to try stainless steel, even if it's just a fork handle.




                        The mill area is 160mm x 100mm x 45mm.

                        No coke can (now I'm craving one). Oddly enough, no cans of any beverages about right now. So, a few other random bits:



                        Quarter, roll of masking tape, solder roll, etc... Hope that helps.

                        David...
                        Thanks for the photo

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by gzig5 View Post
                          Wow, that is smaller than I imagined. Looking forward to performance reports. I'd like to try CNC without having a big upfront investment. If I take to it, then a bigger more capable machine would make sense.
                          If you can do the manual machining and draw in a CAD program, you'll probably take to CNC without much difficulty. The CAM layer has about 4 basic operations and you can build on those as you need to.

                          I know a lot of guys build their CNC machines from scratch, but I really think a kit or prebuilt machine is a good way to get going. Now you don't have to worry about whether this stepper is compatible with that driver: you just have to connect the wires.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            This machine is an incredible bargain even considering its small size..... $240 CDN is $190 USD. I could use this with my 4 watt laser head to mark plastics.

                            Anybody got a link to sellers?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              DR,

                              https://www.ebay.com/itm/3-Axis-CNC-...kAAOSwyYFaQOSJ

                              $162, + $29 shipping. Cheapest I saw on Ebay. Search for CNC 1610, loads of them. It looks like the table (which they refer to as the 'countertop') measures 100mm x 180mm.

                              They're fairly honest about what you can expect from it:
                              Engraving Material Note
                              1.can engraving materials: wood, bamboo, plastic, paper, leather, bank card, rubber
                              2.can not engraving material: metal, stone, ceramic, shell, light-reflecting material,
                              transparent material

                              Cutting Material
                              It can only cut foam, paper, thin leather material.

                              Hopefully it'd withstand the cutting forces of a 4W laser

                              Ian
                              Last edited by Ian B; 02-24-2018, 12:35 PM.
                              All of the gear, no idea...

                              Comment

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