Monday, June 10, 2013

Fine Tuning My Solsylva CNC Machine With New Upgrades

Now that the CNC enclosure is completed the task for today was to get my Solsylva CNC machine up and running again.  If you have not been following the blog in some time I will get you caught up now.  While I was in the process of building the enclosure for the CNC machine I was also planning new upgrades to the machine itself.  What I did was to make the machine taller by 3 1/2" to have more travel in the vertical axis.  This would allow for the cutting of thicker pieces.  I also modified how the top guide tubes were mounted to the horizontal 2 x 4's.  

In the original design the tubes were mounted using threaded rod that mounted to the guide tubes and then were slid into holes in the 2 x 4's and each hole then had a recessed pocket at the bottom side.  This made it more than just a little difficult to zero the table out so that you would end up with a flat surface to mill on.  

With my new modifications I kept the idea of the threaded rod for the guide tubes but made them longer.  5 1/2 inches long to be exact. This allowed me to add an additional nut to the under side of the pipe and eliminate the recessed pocket at the bottom of the 2 x 4's.  I then could rotate the second nut under the pipe to raise or lower it to adjust for a zero reading on the cutting table. Once the correct height has been reached I lock it down with a lower nut and lock washer on the bottom of the 2 x 4's.

Using this little gauge I was able to zero out the table top in what ever location that I wanted.  

Normally this gauge would be used on an all steel CNC machine.  But being as mine is mostly wood I added a little jumper wire so the when the cutting bit touched the spring loaded top button it would light up.  From Mach3 CNC software I then told the computer that at this point make the "Z" axis (the vertical axis) be a reading of 0.000.  I then moved the gauge to the next location I wanted to check and compared the difference in the reading from the computer.  With the additional nuts that I had installed it was only a matter of turning the nut clockwise or counter clockwise to raise or lower that portion of the upper tubes. The gantry (which rides on the guide tubes) also raises or lowers. After doing this process in a half dozen places on the table I am happy to say I now have a level table top. Or should I say have the gantry parallel to the table. This is done so that when you cut or engrave a part it will all be cut at the same depth no matter where the bit is cutting. 

These parts are the original leadscrew gantry arms that also needed to be modified for the improvements I made on the CNC machine.

These gantry arms attach to the leadscrews and move the gantry along the "X" axis on the machine when the leadscrews are rotated by the stepper in the rear of the machine.

 I increased the length of these arms by 3/8ths of an inch.  This had to be done because of the additional adjustment nut that I installed under the guide tubes ended up raising the gantry and the original parts no longer would mount to the machine.  Once these  parts were remade to the new size the machine was set up correctly and ready for use once again. 

Now with the computer desk along side it's just a matter of loading up the files of the parts that I want to cut on the CNC machine and make them.  I also did a sound check with the new enclosure.  I put a decibel meter to the machine. The sound level with the doors open and the router running full tilt the meter read 100 decibels.  With the doors closed the sound decreased to 87 decibels.  To put this into perspective an automobile reads 80 db at 25 feet away and 90 db for a motorcycle 30 feet away.  A diesel truck at 30 feet away will read 100 db.  So it a good thing to have the sound deadening foam in the new CNC machine.
  The last thing I need to do yet on the CNC machine is to make sure  that the gantry is aligned from side to side so that when you cut a square part it will be square when you put a gauge to it.  Just a matter of doing a few test cuts and tweaking the gantry so both sides match.  So I am very close to getting the machine dialed in once again. Like having an old friend back in the shop and ready to work at a moments notice.

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