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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I have been looking into buying a cnc for sometime now. I have a background as a machinist so using cnc machines isn’t something new to me but purchasing one is. I have been looking recently at the Probotix, Avid and a Shapeoko. I know after reading several posts a lot of people aren’t fond of the Shapeoko and several people have given high praise to both Probotix and Avid. I don’t plan on making anything complex so I thought something more simple would be a better option. Signs, plaques, maybe some inlay work, are what I’m looking into as a steady go to. It will be slightly more then a hobby machine but not at the beginning. I’m slowly trying to build up a business for myself. So can anyone help out with some thoughts?

Also when looking at the Avid machines I’m lost as to what I actually need to buy. Are they good as far as providing additional information?

Thanks everyone!
 

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As I'm sure you have noticed there are an infinite number of options. It really depends on your budget and what your end goals really are. I have the Shark HD4 with extended bed and water cooled Spindle from Nextwave. I do all kinds of stuff with wood, plastic, aluminum and even records. I use V-Carve Pro. I'm starting to mess with Fusion 360 so I can do my own 3D designs.
 

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Welcome to the forum! Add your first name to your profile so we'll know what to call you and to clear the N/a in the side panel. Add your location, as well.

I hear nothing but good things about Avid. I went a different route and built my own starting with a frame from Fine Line Automation but I would be happy with an Avid machine.

Couple of questions - 1) how big do you want the machine to be, or what's your available space? 2) what power do you have available, specifically 240 single phase? 3) are you wanting to build or source components and wiring or are you looking for essentially plug and play? 4) will this be in a commercial shop or your home shop (I know you said starting out as a hobby)?

David
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Welcome to the forum! Add your first name to your profile so we'll know what to call you and to clear the N/a in the side panel. Add your location, as well.

I hear nothing but good things about Avid. I went a different route and built my own starting with a frame from Fine Line Automation but I would be happy with an Avid machine.

Couple of questions - 1) how big do you want the machine to be, or what's your available space? 2) what power do you have available, specifically 240 single phase? 3) are you wanting to build or source components and wiring or are you looking for essentially plug and play? 4) will this be in a commercial shop or your home shop (I know you said starting out as a hobby)?

David
Currently I am limited on space. I have space for a machine wit a foot print ~4’X4’. I have 220 wired already as well as 110. I would prefer single phase just because three phase is an additional pitb. I don’t really have a preference in terms of prebuilt or plug and play or even a kit. Honestly I am more interested in quality than brand name or popularity. If something happens to be popular and is a good machine I’ll go that route rather then some flashy machine that has endless bells and whistles but just looks pretty and isn’t really functional. This will be in a home shop environment for the time being. I hope this is helpful. Thanks for all the help!
 

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Most machines use 240v single phase to power the VFD if you're getting a spindle. The VFD creates 3 phase for the spindle. If you're going with a router then 120v is all you'll need. A footprint of 4x4 is fairly small, unless you're saying you have a footprint available for a 4x4 machine. Our 2x4 machine has a footprint of about 56" x 72" but that doesn't account for space around the machine to do work. Granted, it's larger than many other 2x4 machines but that gives you an idea.

David
 

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I have both -- a Probotix and an Avid Pro. The Probotix uses lead screws and that limits the speed. But it comes with everything you need to start making dust with only having to hook up the limit switches. It's a true plug and play set up including a computer and monitor with Linux loaded. I consider it a serious hobby machine. It paid for itself over 2 years of learning. It also let me get acquainted with the CNC world and whether I wanted to continue in it.

Then I got an Avid CNC Pro4848 complete kit. Granted, I had to assemble (I like to use the word build) it. But it worked. This is a rack and pinion machine and carves 4+ times faster than the Probotix. It's a nice set up and can make a lot of chips and dust. You have to provide the computer and can buy Mach 4 (mine was Mach 3) from them.

I use Vectric Aspire and can make files for both machines using it. I run both machines and throw a lot of chips out. I have an air cooled spindle on both. The difference is probably about $4k between a Probotix Nebula and the 4848Pro model. They both have support and are USA based. Avid is a bigger company than Probotix. What fits your situation and budget.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Most machines use 240v single phase to power the VFD if you're getting a spindle. The VFD creates 3 phase for the spindle. If you're going with a router then 120v is all you'll need. A footprint of 4x4 is fairly small, unless you're saying you have a footprint available for a 4x4 machine. Our 2x4 machine has a footprint of about 56" x 72" but that doesn't account for space around the machine to do work. Granted, it's larger than many other 2x4 machines but that gives you an idea.

David
If I need to I can rearrange my workspace to accommodate a larger overall machine footprint but as it is now 4’X4’ is that space I have available total.
 

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I've owned my Avid 4824 Pro for 4 years this month. Avid's kits are extremely well engineered, made with high quality parts, easy to assemble and they have great customer support. I bought the kit minus the spindle, vfd and related wiring. I added a 2.2kW water cooled spindle and Hitachi VFD. I built the base from 80-20 alum extrusion, more mass is better. The base has 4" heavy duty caster with screw out legs to raise the machine off the casters for extra rigidity.
It measures 5' 4" wide by 45" deep. The base is actually smaller but those dimensions are for stepper motors and other equipment on the ends. The only change I would make if building again; I would buy their air cooled spindle and controls which is simpler to install, get running and maintain. Other than 2 minor problems I created myself which Avid quickly corrected over the phone, it has run flawlessly for 4 years. After working for 42 years, my machine is strictly for hobby use, I don't need a job. I've machined wood, aluminum, soap stone, acrylic and diamond drag bit on glass.

The cnc has a dust collection shoe which was installed after this picture.
 

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Ross
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Welcome to the forum.
 

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I have been looking recently at the Probotix, Avid and a Shapeoko.
There's a HUGE difference between these machines, as none are even in the same class.

If you can afford it, an AVID Pro series machine is the way to go.

Imo, the Probotix is way too slow for what it costs. They probably limit the speed due to the lightweight gantry.

The ShapeOKO is an entry level hobby machine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Firstly I want to thank you all for the input. It looks like I might go with the avid. Still looking to see if there are any other options out there but that’s my top choice as of now. My next question is do only their spindles work in their machines or has anyone had kuck using a third party spindle? I only ask because I may have access to one for a fraction of the price.

Thanks again!!
 

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You can use third party spindles. Just make sure the specs are the same.

Btw, we still don't know your name so please go to your profile and add your first name and location. Use Account Settings in the top right of this page, then Edit Your Details.

David
 

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It's been said that you should buy your second machine first (if possible). Between Probotix and Avid, and if the difference in price is no problem, definitely go with Avid.

(Full disclosure, I own a Probotix Asteroid)

Ed
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I would like to go with a 2.2kw. The one I was looking at is a 1.5kw but looking at all the information online it seems a 2.2kw is the best way to go. I’m not opposed to getting a different size just so long as it’ll meet my needs/wants. I have seen some people say they built their machines with as much as a 4.4kw which I would think it complete overkill but hey if the price is right ��. I’m just finding it hard to sort through all the information. Does anyone have a favorite third party spindle/VFD that they use?
 

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I doubt you'll need a 4.4kW spindle and I also doubt the gantry on the machines you mentioned can handle the weight of one that large. I put a Chinese 3.0kW water cooled spindle (eBay purchase) on ours when I built it about 3 years ago and now have a bearing going out so I am replacing it with a 3.2kW spindle (from Automation Technologies). The current spindle weighs a little over 18 lbs. and the new one weighs just under 22 lbs.

The VFD I used is the Hitachi WJ200-022SF and it's been a very good VFD. A lot of people have used the Chinese VFD and spindle packages with great success but I chose to buy the Hitachi because it's a better unit, less electrical noise, and I can call Drives Warehouse in Dallas and talk to very knowledgeable folks about the VFD and its setup.

David
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I doubt you'll need a 4.4kW spindle and I also doubt the gantry on the machines you mentioned can handle the weight of one that large. I put a Chinese 3.0kW water cooled spindle (eBay purchase) on ours when I built it about 3 years ago and now have a bearing going out so I am replacing it with a 3.2kW spindle (from Automation Technologies). The current spindle weighs a little over 18 lbs. and the new one weighs just under 22 lbs.

The VFD I used is the Hitachi WJ200-022SF and it's been a very good VFD. A lot of people have used the Chinese VFD and spindle packages with great success but I chose to buy the Hitachi because it's a better unit, less electrical noise, and I can call Drives Warehouse in Dallas and talk to very knowledgeable folks about the VFD and its setup.

David
How difficult was it to setup the spindle and vfd along with the machine? Did you have to run wires disassemble anything? Or is it relatively straight forward?
 

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Granted the spindle from Avid is on the expensive side, it's my opinion that it is of a much better quality than the cheaper ones like you can get from Auto Tech. I've went thru two of them on the Probotix so far. Plus it's just a matter of plugging wires into the right ports. Avid has great instructions. Do you want to be a driver or mechanic? Of course, somebody like Gerry or David is a lot smarter than this old retired trucker. And we need some of those types to keep us "normal" people straight. lol
 

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How difficult was it to setup the spindle and vfd along with the machine? Did you have to run wires disassemble anything? Or is it relatively straight forward?
The setup on the VFD is a bit involved but that's the sweet part of buying the Hitachi - I called Drives Warehouse to verify my settings and it turned out I missed something. I got it running but they got it running more efficiently for me.

The spindle is fairly straight forward - 3 phase so three hot with one ground. If rotation is incorrect switch any two hot wires.

Like John said, getting the 'ready-to-use' version from Avid is a good choice but that wasn't in my budget and I knew I could do the setup, even though I missed a step.

David
 

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All VFD’s are not created equal. I have programmed a lot of Allen Bradley VFD’s and they are fairly easy with the book that comes with it. The other brand drives I have had to set up we’re not as easy. I would recommend buying one with good online and phone support.
 
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