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Discussion Starter #1
I would like to set up a cnc router not for production work just to have some fun and build projects.
I tried a few searches but did not come up with much information .
I am looking for a idea what is for sale(new) and is relatively trouble free.

Money wise I would like to be around $2,000
Any advise would be appreciated
 

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Ed,

Don't want to burst your bubble, but $2k isn't going to get you much. Plus, you have to figure the cost of your software, which adds substantially to the initial cost.

If you want to buy the parts, or a kit, you can save some $$, but that can also be a hassle trying to get it all set up and to work right. I bought my Probotix full assembled and set up ready to run, and have not regretted it since I'm not very mechanically inclined.

Which way are you leaning?

HJ
 

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Discussion Starter #3
John just trying to get some information. I could do a kit but would not want get involved with a modern style heathkit and sit down with a bag of parts and a soldering iron :laugh2:.
I guess I am fairly mechanical I put together a few computers in the 80's and a new engine in my model A a few years back.
I was more thinking about a factory set up but a decent kit would be possible for me. I could spend more money but am basically cheap and at this stage on my life I live on a fixed income (pension & ss)
I did a quick google search on the Probotix you suggested and could pop for the lower priced one but main goal is at this point is to get some information as I do not want to make any expensive mistakes.
 

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Ed,

Check your PMs

HJ
 

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Doug
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I could do a kit but would not want get involved with a modern style heathkit and sit down with a bag of parts and a soldering iron :laugh2:.
You're dating yourself....:wink: My heathkit trainer is still functioning today!

The good news is there are a lot of open source small routers out there for relatively cheap, but they are small, and that could be an issue. Chances are you might outgrow them quicker than you think. Inventables, X-Carve: Inventables Launches New Line of Workshop CNC Machines | Make: has a few machines, and in theory you could scale them up if you needed, but that could wind up costing more than buying bigger in the first place.

There are a lot of guys who have started building machines in their shops, who now do it full time. They have a pretty good customer base now, and a track record of quality and service. One that Comes to mind is Digital Wood Carver, but you are at 2x your budget for their machine. Digital Wood Carver Probotix also has a good reputation PROBOTIX PROBOTIX builds affordable CNC Router systems for business and hobby home user alike.

The next route is to look for used shopbots, there are a lot of them in the classifieds, but they tend to be bigger machines, 10 years old or older, and may need some work.

be prepared to do a lot of homework, research, and learn more than you can imagine while you prepare for your purchase. You'll have to plan for other essentials such as software, bits, maybe a CPU, etc above the machine price tag. If you're like me, your learning curve will be a little expensive as you make the little rookie mistakes getting to learn this new style of work.

In the end, it's fun and a new challenge.
 

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Ed,

You can get a bench model kit (not like the heathkits - which they don't make any more - you old codger) from CNCrouterparts.com or automationtechnologies.com or do the ready made (which I recommend) machine. Probotix comes ready to run right from the crate with Cut 2D , computer set up in Linux included. All you do is figure out how to get started (get hold of one of us) to save time. The other machines like Legacy and Shopbot are great machines but twice the money. If you go with one of the others besides Probotix, you will have to supply your own operating system as well, and software. Most of us use Vectric Vcarve or Aspire or Mach 3, which is now Mach 4. This all adds to the cost.

A lot of people have started out with Shark's and Piranah's but have very soon outgrown them. 4D and Scottart can tell you if they are worth the effort.

Now, a word of warning. Don't be naive like I was and expect to scan a picture, press "go", and expect a finished cut. There's some work, time, and firepit fuel involved, but can be quite fun and addictive.

HJ
 

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Ed,

not like the heathkits - which they don't make any more - you old codger

HJ
you say that like Ed is timely..
I still have my working AM/FM/SW/HAM/CB 20 band Heathkit radio...
 

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you say that like Ed is timely..
I still have my working AM/FM/SW/HAM/CB 20 band Heathkit radio...

Loved those Heathkits, Stick. Actually went looking for them a while back before I got the CNC for something to do --- gone by the wayside. Used to save all my pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters just to get my hands on one, back in the early 60's.


HJ
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Good to see most here are old enough to remember the heathkits ,not like when I go to the store and ask the clerk for a transistor battery and just get a blank stare.
Good information and some stuff to think about which is just what I was looking for I will have to roll this around in my head for a bit and figure which way to go.
 

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Ed,

Hit YouTube and watch some CNC vids. Bill Griggs has some good ones along with some others.

Legacy (even though their machines are too expensive) has some great tutorials

Go on Vectric.com and watch their tutorial videos and even download Vcarve or Aspire trial version and play around with it.

That'll give you some sort of an idea what you're in for............ then look at some of our albums and you can see what can be done with a little (ok a lot) of patience. I have trouble with that patience thing!!

HJ
 

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Bill,

You know the old saying "you get what you pay for"? I would have a tough time buying one of those cheapies, especially not knowing much about CNC's. Like you said - you have no experience with them. I would sure be hesitant - it's still a fair amount of money to let sit in the corner collecting dust when you can't make it work or decide it's too much effort to make it go - and be discouraged when you don't have to be.

Been keeping busy? Get your podcasts but haven't seen any new videos since the Ridgid sander one.

HJ
 

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Bill,

You know the old saying "you get what you pay for"? I would have a tough time buying one of those cheapies, especially not knowing much about CNC's. Like you said - you have no experience with them. I would sure be hesitant - it's still a fair amount of money to let sit in the corner collecting dust when you can't make it work or decide it's too much effort to make it go - and be discouraged when you don't have to be.

Been keeping busy? Get your podcasts but haven't seen any new videos since the Ridgid sander one.

HJ
Hi John,

I'm doing well thanks. I have been busy with two podcasts and several projects.

I just finished a CNC Milling machine and started on a StepCraft 2 600 router. So far it has been excellent. Beefy little machine.

Bill
 
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I think there is another thing to consider. While, John is right in "you get what you pay for", maybe what you get for the lower price is the right one for you to start with and learn on. Bill's example of the Stepcraft is a good one to discuss.

I have seen many hobbyist and some commercial shops with 4' x 8' and 4' x 4' bed machines that never use them more than 5% of the time after the first 2' of the X axis. On the other hand, most of the desk/benchtop units don't have the rigidity to run at the IPM (inches per minute) that the big ones can.

If you are determined to do 3D carving, I would want at least 200 ipm and I am not sure you can get there in your $2,000 budget even with a smaller bed. Speed needs rigidity and higher rated steppers.

I never saw Stepcraft before, so I just went to their site. It was funny to me that they mention German design, desk/benchtop CNC have been popular in German for at least 2 decades that I know of. My older (still running) CNC is a 2005 German design. Only downside with the German machines is that they don't really use g-code, but option for HPGL (Hewlett Packard Graphic Language) that is common in plotters and lasers. The prices are good and the pictures show good design practices. I could not find where they noted the stepper ratings or if the X had two steppers.

The Piranha is in your price range and a very good machine. Nice thing about it is that it comes fully assembled and with Vectic VCarve so you can start right away with available free projects. You may outgrow it, like John says, but I would be surprised if you couldn't readily resell it for 50% or more to put to the next one. Again, you may find it does just what you want. I've watched it do 3D at a wood show and it did a good job surprisingly quick.

Steve.
 

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Ed,

I would recommend downloading trial versions of Vectric software like John suggests and play with them.

I would also stay away from the smaller machines and start looking at 24" x 24" beds minimum because a small 12" x 12" bed is really limiting. I would also look for at least 5" Z axis height, remember the length of your bit takes up part of that height and can be very limiting.

The Next Wave Automation CNC Piranha is a well built tight little machine, includes Vectric software and fits your price range BUT I think you would soon be wishing you bought a bigger machine.

I own three Next Wave Automation machines, the CNC Piranha, an original CNC Shark Pro with MDF bed and a CNC Shark HD1. I do like the newer CNC Shark HD3 Extended Bed machines with 25" x 50" x 7" capacity.

That being said I would look around and see what is available from other companies. There are a lot of new companies offering some good machines for your money. If you build your own from a kit or individual parts you might be able to save even more money and have a great machine. I would lean toward Mach3/4 for operation because of all the documentation you can easily find for setup and operation. I have a friend that has a CNC that uses a lesser know controller that has little to no documentation and even the people that sold it to him can not hook up a touch plate to it. He wanted me to do it but without any documentation and no support from the software company I don't wan't to waste the time and sure don't want to damage his machine.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Interesting little tool its amazes me what can be done with a computer and a tool.
More interested in the standard cnc router operation.
The information at Vectric has been very helpful did not download the trial yet still reading the information there and have learned a lot.
I think I would prefer to go with a completely built machine vs a kit. I did see the Piranha as a possible as i only do hobby work no selling. I also was looking at the shark hd slimline but that is a big jump to about 4K. I have limited shop space so anything bigger then the shark or small probotix would require a larger shop and unless I have the winning lottery numbers that ain't going to happen anytime soon.
 

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If you are interested in getting a small machine I strongly suggest the V90-MK2 from Probotix: PROBOTIX V90 Mk2 CNC ROUTER
Like all their other models it comes completely assembled. It uses the same Unity controller their larger machines use. The open frame design and dual Y motors mean it is easy to add fixtures/jigs to the frame to hold work vertically or at any angle under the router. You can start with cut2D from vectric, then apply all you paid for it toward an upgrade later if needed.

If you decide on a larger machine later, then you can use the same controller and buy just a larger frame from Probotix. You can start with a small trim router, then move up to a full fledged spindle if you want. That trim router will still work fine on any of their machines though.

I started with a CNC Shark from Rockler, but the CNCs made by Nextwave Automation have a single Y motor running under the bed, and solid t-track bed. It means you can't easily do any vertical/angled work on them. I now have a Probotix Meteor and oversee two more CNCs from the same company where I work. My Shark still runs fine, but gets used rarely. They do come with a copy of VCarve Desktop I believe, which accounts for a big percentage of their price.

No matter which CNC you end up with, the software you use is more important. All work starts there. I've got access to Enroute 5, Rhino/RhinoCAM, and Aspire from Vectric. I use Aspire. Vcarve Pro is 95% of what Aspire is, but much cheaper. It leaves out 3D model creation. You can still toolpath and cut 3D models in Vcarve Pro though. They just need to come from someplace else.

4D
 

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I never saw Stepcraft before, so I just went to their site. It was funny to me that they mention German design, desk/benchtop CNC have been popular in German for at least 2 decades that I know of. My older (still running) CNC is a 2005 German design. Only downside with the German machines is that they don't really use g-code, but option for HPGL (Hewlett Packard Graphic Language) that is common in plotters and lasers. The prices are good and the pictures show good design practices. I could not find where they noted the stepper ratings or if the X had two steppers.


Steve.
Steve,

The Stepcraft can use UCCNC or Mach3 and it does run g-code not HPGL. The machine is not fast but it is accurate and very rigid.

The Y axis (you called X) has two leadscrews. One direct drive and the other through a pulley and belt slaved to the first.


Bill
 
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