CNC router/mill Testing

Okay, my CNC has arrived and I am in the process of configuring it. The manual shows how to configure with Mach III but I want to use EMC2.

I went through each setting in the manual for Mach III and then went to the corresponding place in EMC2 and changed the setting. cnc manual.

The spindle works great but when I operate the steppers they are rough in one direction. Actually the Z axis only works in one direction. I’m pretty sure it’s the settings in EMC2. The defaults are probably different than the Mach III defaults and the machine prefers the Mach III defaults.

Also, when I received the machine the spindle shaft was bent. I was able to correct this by slapping it with a hammer. I suspect that this was caused during shipping. I have opened an investigation with the courier company. They said they will come and inspect it and also the packaging to see if they are at fault or not.

January 1st, 2011 update:

I found a better manual. CNC 6040 Router Engraver System Installation Manual

This manual is for a similar machine. It has EMC2 directions in it as well.

I followed the directions in this manual and here’s the outcome:

X) Moves both ways. Very rough in one direction.

Y) Moves both ways. Rough in one direction as well.

Z) Moves in one direction smoothly.

My controller is a little different than the one in the manual. Mine doesn’t seem to have limit/home switches.

I don’t think there is a problem with the bearings or anything mechanical. All the axis move very freely and smoothly. Also, if I move plug the Z motor into the X axis it works exactly like the X axis motor.

Still a little stumped.

Janyary 1st, 2001 Second Update:

I don’t believe there are any mechanical issues. The screws are really easy to turn in both directions. I am keeping one of the motors disengaged from the mechanical of the machine as to make sure I’m sure. Earlier when I had the motors running with EMC2, when I changed the motors around from axis to axis, any problems stayed with the axis (rather than moving around with the motor).

I grabbed one of backup computers that has Windows and installed Mach III. I then used the manual that came with the router (cnc manual) since it talks about Mack III.

I went through all the step and now I can’t move any motors at all.

I know the parallel port is working since I am able to press the panic button and that comes up in the Mach III software when I press it.

I try to press the “RESET” button and also make sure the manual jog is enabled. I then press the cursor keys and PgUp and PgDn keys. The X, Y and Z numbers on the screen change but the motors just sit there.

So I’m guessing that I still have something missing from the Mach III configuration since I can no longer move the steppers.

January 2nd (just after midnight of the 1st)

I received this message from cncZone user Lanthan:

Re: 6040 from China
Hi Darcy,

I use my 6040 (from the pics in your site I can confirm it is identical to the one you got) exclusively with EMC2/Axis, and it works perfectly.
Just get your hands on the configuration manual prepared by DIYCNC, launch stepconf and copy the settings.
Just in case, here is a link to my copy of that manual. CNC 6040 Router Engraver System Installation Manual-ebay

This manual looks just like one of the ones I already have (the software configuration portion that is).

I think I already tried all those settings since they look the same as one of the other manuals I have.

January 3rd update

Okay, after spending a lot of time fooling around with software (assuming the machine was manufactured okay) I finally started to look at the electrical. I knew the mechanical was sound.

I phoned Micheal Grant and he suggested changing the motors around a bit and the pin configuration and we were able to isolate the issue to one of the three stepper controllers. I then took a multimeter to start to verify the connections going from the breakout board to the controller and found a bad wire. Jackpot!

CNC Router, Milling, Engraving

I’ve been wanting to get a CNC mill or router since I started the laser project. I’ve done a lot of research and contemplation about what I want and need. Here’s a great article on CNC:

I’ve been borrowing my friend Guy’s (from the Ottawa Robotics group) a bit and I have other offers from guys like Micheal in Smiths Falls.

I initially thought of building one thinking it could save money. Micheal (also of Ottawa Robotics) was helpful in finding some parts online and with local suppliers. Guy has been successful at building one of his own.

I decided after shopping around that it might be a good idea to get a small one to start with. At least if I want to make one I can use the CNC mill to help. 🙂

Here’s what I’m looking at:

XYZ axis: 60x40x6.5cm
Driving Units: 1605 Ball Screws (20, 16, 13mm)
Machine Weight: 60KG

Here’s what the supplier quoted:

Power: 110V
Working area: 580mmX400mmX60mm
Max thickness of the material: 790mm (distance between Z axis and bottom of work station)
Work station: 750*480mm
Dimension: 900*650*450mm
6061 aluminum alloy + 6063 Industrial aluminum
Slide unit: X axis 20mm Chrome circular orbit, Y axis 16mm supporting rail, Z axis 13mm Chrome circular orbit
Stepper motor: New 2.8A two-phase 57 stepper motor
Drive unit: 1605 ball bearing linear + cased muff coupling
Spindle motor: C57 300W DC motor, used, from USA, super-low noise, speed 3000-9000, ER11 3.175 collet
Spindle accuracy: radial runout 0.03mm
Engraving accuracy: better than 0.04mm, has been tested
Resetting accuracy: better than 0.03mm
Idle load speed: 0-5000mm/min
Engraving speed: 0-2500mm/min
Control box (electrical): 3977 3-axis control box with the power supply + spindle speed regulator
Weight: 60KG

It comes with a spindle and spindle controller. I had the supplier strip all electrical so I will use my own. This saves on shipping and I was able to get it cheaper.

I realize that’s a pretty low powered spindle but I think it’s a great starting point for a hobby shmuck like me. 🙂

I may use my own steppers and controllers. I have already acquired all the parts and am starting assembly now. If I do that, I will take the electrical off this and use it with my Mantis project.

Here’s a video of the 6040.

Here’s another option:

CNC Laser Cutter construction

I decided to make a CNC laser cutter with some material handling capabilities for my model plane project.

Water Cooling

I have some surgical tubing for the water jacket (the CO2 laser tube is water cooled). It seems to brown the water and I don’t like that since it might accumulate some material in the water jacket. I realize I can clean the jacket with hydrochloric acid but I figure it’s a better idea to not have any material going through the system.

The laser itself has some nice white colored tubing on it to connect the various water jackets. I’m curious if anybody knows what it is so I can replace my surgical tubing with it.

Some of my friends are saying it’s silicon surgical tubing or fuel line from a motorcycle shop. I will check that out the next time I’m at the bike shop.

CNC Software

I went with EMC2 which runs under Linux. It is very easy to use. You need to download an ISO file from then burn a CD from the ISO. Boot from the CD and presto! You have a CNC controller running off the CD without affecting the host computer. I elected to install the Ubuntu Linux software with the EMC2 right onto the computer so that I could boot from the hard disk. This allowed me to run updates and such. It upgraded everything to the latest. This is a Ubuntu 8.04 LTS. I think they are working on getting the next one going which is Ubuntu 10.04 LTS. I will upgrade when I become aware that it is ready and it is stable enough.

My lab does not have any network cables running from my server room. So I installed a Wireless Bridge. I made if from an WRT54G v8 (Linksys router) by installing DD-WRT open source software onto it. I then configured it as a wireless bridge and had it join my network which has a higher end router (also running DD-WRT). Now I have 4 eithernet jacks to plug stuff into to have internet access in my lap. I can remotely access the lab computer across the network (this includes remote desktop and ssh).

EMC2 is pretty easy to configure and run. It didn’t take too much fiddling to get it programmed with all the parameters of my gantry system.

CNC Steppers, Controllers and Power

I initially started to build circuits to control stepper motors. I discovered that you can buy components that are not too expensive. I got a xylotec 4-Axis kit. It comes with 4 large steppers with double shafts, the 4 channel controller and a 24V power supply. The EMC2 software had this outfit listed so it was easy to get up and running. All I really had to do was tin all the wire ends and screw all the wires together. Apparently with this outfit, if you wire something wrong it fries. So I was extra careful. I’m very pleased with this system. It is very powerful and is quiet.


I made a gantry out of 1″ aluminum angle. I used the contraptor methodology of drilling holes and using nuts and bolts. I designed my own sliding elements to use ball bearings. I used yoyo bearings. I used XL timing belts and pulleys which don’t seem to have any back lash.

Also, I went through all the belts sizes and prices to find that 88″ belts were relatively inexpensive. I made a spreadsheet to compare every belt size to it’s price so I knew if I should buy belt by the foot or to a specific size. I eventually went with 88″ belts and decided to just pull the slack out. You can see how I did this in the pictures. You can also see the gantry detail and the Y-Axis truck detail. It runs pretty fast and smooth.