helping decide best router for my needs? - Router Forums
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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-30-2020, 12:47 PM Thread Starter
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Default helping decide best router for my needs?

Hi,

I'm new to the CNC community and shopping for my first CNC. I'm semi-retired and my goals for the machine are intricate artistic/design based profiles/carvings in 2.5d and potentially 3d as I learn more.

I'd like to be able to sell enough of my creations to pay for the machine and maybe a vacation or two a year after I learn my way around it and start producing, so efficiency is a factor.

Material will be hard and softwoods, with no anticipation of metal.

Size- I like the idea of 24x24, but would probably be fine with 13x24 unless I really loved the experience of CNC and wanted to get more ambitious.

My workshop is limited- it's the only available space in this city house, it's a converted bedroom, and it's on a 20amp circuit with 110 V outlets (that it doesn't share with other rooms).

My budget is around 5k.

At this point I've narrowed in on the Shark 2 and the smallest Probotix.

I like that the Shark 2 seems to be a larger company that sells to hobbyists and could have better support. It's a bit small, but they offer a 1.5kw 110v spindle that would be 'plug and play' with the system.

Conversely, the Probotix is better sized and has a tool length sensor option which I like. But its only spindle option is a 2.2kw, which would basically require me to have a 220V outlet added to the room (their rep suggested a step-up converter but for a 6 or 7 hour session that makes me uncomfortable).

I'm coming from experience in sketchup and would plan on using VCarve either way.

I want to use a spindle because noise is a real concern for me, and that, as well as reviews have pushed me away from options like the Sharpeoko or the Stepcraft (which has a spindle with a tiny 1/8" collet).

Does anyone have any advice that could help me make this choice?

Or tell me I'm overlooking something or another?

Or does anyone know of a 1.5kw spindle/VFD option that would be compatible with the Probotix without soldering wires like a Huanyang VFD would require? (I have no electrical experience and really want to go with options that are 'plug and play' for electronics).
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-30-2020, 12:58 PM
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Welcome to the forum, Jay! We do like photos so show us your shop (bedroom shop if that's what you're using), tools, projects, etc. whenever you're ready. What sort of woodworking are you planning with the CNC - plaques, signs, 3D carvings, etc.?

What support tools do you have for preparing the stock on the CNC? You'll need to be able to size the wood for projects or you'll end up with a lot of waste.

The issue on the smaller machines is their typical lack of rigidity and subsequently less than accurate repeatability. That means cuts need to be light, slow, and gone over multiple times and that's where the looseness in repeatability comes in; if you go over the same place 2 or 3 times the cut needs to be in the same place as the previous cut. If you're doing signs with large fonts then it may not be as much of a factor but if you're wanting to do delicate and tiny detail then you may not be pleased with the results.

I would take the 2.2kW spindle over the 1.5kW spindle for not only more power but to be able to use 1/2" shank bits in the ER20 collet of the larger spindle.

I understand some of the newer Shark machines are more rigid than earlier models and that maybe Probotix is a stiffer machine. Others will chime in soon with more info.

David
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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-30-2020, 01:11 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks David,

I'm inspired by ornate intricate designs - things like photography-based scan-to-CAD images that I modify, or designs like this imagery. I don't have specific ideas for 3d models- yet.

My previous woodworking has been with my jigsaw, jigs, handheld router, and basic hand tools.
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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-30-2020, 02:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfarms View Post
(their rep suggested a step-up converter but for a 6 or 7 hour session that makes me uncomfortable).
Many moons ago spent two years in Turkey. Had to use one of those 24/7/365. Had no issues with using it, nor did anyone we knew.

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.....Call me a craftsman, artisan, or artistic, and I will accept that. Call me an artist and you will likely get a quite rude comment in return. I am not a @#$%ing artist.

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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-30-2020, 04:17 PM Thread Starter
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Tbh looking at them, I could get a 220v outlet installed for barely more than a quality converter. But I'm seeing they are reliable.

But now I'm having second thoughts- is 5k just a no man's land of value to spend on a CNC router? David's comments about rigidity and going back through various options on the market are making me see how noticeable a difference there is between the build of a CAMASTER and a probotix for example. (I can't handle the headache of building a DIY that costs this much)

Is the smarter move just to buy a cheaper one, learn on it, and then decide if I ever want a professional device or not? Do people put out intricate designs with something like a shark or probotix? Is there no such thing as a machine that's 'light professional'/high end hobbyist?
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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-30-2020, 07:36 PM
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A Probotix is, in my opinion, a step or two above a Shark. I used mine for over 3 years (it paid for itself and then some) before adding the Avid. I still use it for text signs, prototypes, additional production, and as a backup. It's not a fast 3d carver. I went into this CNC thing knowing exactly nothing about CNC and the Probotix plug and play got me started and provided the "knowledge" to determine if I wanted to delve in further. Hence, the addition of the Avid for machine #2. Doing it this way can either cost you a little more if you like and grasp the experience - OR - save you some $$ if you decide it isn't for you.

Also, the people here are an invaluable source of information and are willing to help most anyone. Plus, they're a pretty darn nice group to associate with. Well...........most of them, anyway. lol
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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-30-2020, 07:54 PM
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Default Sharks

The Sharks come with all of the software that you will need until you decide to do your own 3D designing, at which time you can upgrade. Many other brands do not, which can add hundreds to the cost. VCarve, which is included, is a very popular CNC designing program with lots of support.
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 10-01-2020, 07:51 AM
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When we got our stinger it came with vcarve with option to upgrade to Aspire, which we did. Our stinger has a router but they may have spindles now.
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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 10-01-2020, 07:51 AM
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I am a die-hard Probotix fan. Have had a Comet for six years and in fact purchased it when Probotix was located in IL where I used to live. They invited me to tour their facility and see how they produce the machines. Probotix is a family run company and is now located in GA. Over the years I have had a few upgrades and additions to the Comet. I like the fact that I can call, message or email Len Shelton (the owner) and get a quick response.

With the exception of a limit switch, I have yet to have to replace any mechanical, electrical or electronic component that has failed. That is not to say I have not replaced parts that were damaged due to my carelessness or stupidity!

I use my Comet almost daily. I recently had Probotix install a Super-PID (speed control) to drive my P-C (or DeWalt) router. It has been a great addition to my machine.

Now that I am retired and doing more and more commission work, I am going to be purchasing another Probotix - this time a larger machine. I think I will also move to a 2.2kW spindle so I can use 1/2" dia. tools.

I am a fan of Vectric software and purchased Aspire when I bought the Comet. Yes, it added significantly to my initial investment but I think it was worth it given the power of the software, the quick learning curve and the support of Vectric.

What I think most people do not contemplate enough about is the cost of tooling. Unlike software, tooling gets dull and requires replacement! One can easily spend hundreds of dollars for a just a few cutters. There's nothing worse than losing an endmill (either because of dulling or breaking) during a long program and not having a backup!
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 10-01-2020, 07:58 AM
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I'd look at an AVID Desktop PRO machine. IMO, better than the Probotix and Shark.
It's worth the money to get a 240V outlet installed, imo.
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