DIYDrones - CNC Project


DIYDrones - CNC Project

Well, it originated as a blog, and has grown into a DIYDrones attempt at creating a CNC machine.

This group is set up so that we can organize the activity.

For background, the original blog is located here:

Location: Cyber Space
Members: 178
Latest Activity: Sep 27, 2018

Discussion Forum

Progress on the Harp Fabricator

Started by Monroe King. Last reply by Monroe King Sep 29, 2017. 40 Replies


Need some help with the following for my designs. Telemetry, GPS, barometric leveling, altitude hold

Started by Bill Schonfelder Nov 10, 2015. 0 Replies

I have been using kk2.1 boards upgraded with stevis 1.9 firmware.The highest motor I have used is 800 kv with 30 amp simonk flashed firmware.I have created new styles of power distribution boards for…Continue

New CNC website

Started by John Hestness. Last reply by Ruwan Jan 26, 2014. 1 Reply

I found a CNC related website that seems like a good fit for the DIYdrones culture.  http://www.openbuilds.comContinue

Brainstorming Specifications.

Started by Ellison Chan. Last reply by chewdonkey Nov 27, 2013. 278 Replies

Setting this discussion up to gather up and brainstorm ideas.LIST OF EQUIPMENT AND MATERIALS UNDER CONSIDERATION:Motors/Controllers:…Continue

Comment Wall


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Comment by R. D. Starwalt on January 26, 2014 at 4:32pm

Ruwan, I am in the chassis painting/filling stage of the build - the worst part.

All the mechanics are constructed but the designer has an upgraded Z axis mod I want to employ before 'maiden cuts' are made. All the chassis side controls are wired with modular harnesses to allow removal for service/repair.

I've taken lots of photos but will not post a blog post until it is running and all trammed/aligned. I have changed positions in the company and much of my build/flying time has dropped.

-- Nature abhors a build blog that gets stalled --

You should see the redesign one fellow did on the Momus CNC group at CNCzone. He is getting great results but his medium is mostly wood products.


Comment by Ruwan on January 26, 2014 at 1:30pm

Does anyone own or read about Shapeoko 2 CNC machine? I've done some reading on it and looks promising. Capable of cutting aluminium as well. Hardware price is $299 w/o Electronics and some related hardware and $649 for the kit w/Electronics.

Comment by Gary McCray on May 28, 2013 at 9:53am

Hi Monroe,

Look here:

page 17 - really step - direction like the others, just stuck on one connector.

And their SDK makes it fairly easy to get the assorted outputs and inputs to do what you want too.

Comment by Gary McCray on May 27, 2013 at 9:42pm

Hi Monroe,

and their main site:

You can take a look at their Windows interface there too.

And they do have an inexpensive 8 axis controller now too.

Comment by Gary McCray on May 27, 2013 at 7:22pm

Love the CNC4Free site that CNC tool kit links to which is probably where you saw the Planet CNC reference, nice to get a qualitative review of the Planet CNC installation too.

It seems like it's quite possible that the Planet CNC solution could work for you.

I have BOB-CAD for my front end and except for a few annoying G-code incompatibilities it works pretty well.

Cutting those tiny little spiral wheels is about the most challenging thing I can imagine, I don't think a wood frame is going to work for you.

Comment by Gary McCray on May 27, 2013 at 6:12pm

Hi guys,

I am currently researching the assorted interface options that are feasible for our DIY community, trying to stick close to open source where possible and still end up with satisfactory value and utility.

The primary open source CNC program is Linux CNC.

But, I would like to run what I have found to be some of the more significant options past you and see what you thought of them and whether you had any other "solutions" to offer.

1. Windows PC running Mach 3 connected to parallel breakout board

2. Linux PC running LINUX CNC connected to parallel breakout board

 3. Windows PC running Planet CNC program connected to USB Planet CNC board

 4. Windows PC running Mach 3 connected to Dynomotion KFlop USB and Optional Kstep board.

The first one a Windows (desktop PC running Mach 3 and connected to a parallel breakout board) is certainly the most popular and widest spread.

I do own Mach 3 and although it works OK I don't like it because it relies on tricking Windows into running DOS, is completely incompatible with 64 bit mode and Windows really, really doesn't like to run real time software. I have had problems running steppers near their top speeds and using fine resolution microstepping. And Win 8 is worse. Mach 3 software is $150.00 but Art Fenerty does support it very well.

I also have a Probotix (Planet CNC USB) board that internally interprets GCodes and provides the primary runtime environment for the machining operation. You use the Windows machine to load, monitor and control the machining operation. It's Windows CNC program is not as feature laden as the current Mach3, but operationally it is adequate and less trouble prone, with plenty of speed to "keep up". The hardware is $100.00 to $200.00 and the software is $100.00.

The Linux CNC program has the advantage of being open source and although it runs through a parallel breakout box at least Linux is a lot happier with being a realtime operating system. Like the Planet CNC solution, the interface is not quite as fancy as Mach3, but the software is free and you only need a parallel breakout box. As near as I can tell there is no ability to run USB so most current laptops would be out of luck and a USB to parallel converter tends to slow things down and periodically compromise communication which generally does not work well for real time machining.

The last one is a more expensive option for running Mach 3 with a full fledged DSP based USB driven controller board which interprets the G codes directly. The only drawbacks to this one would be it would cost from $550.00 to $800.00 for the software and hardware.

Personally, I am planning on setting up my old stepper gantry system so that I can use it with either my Planet CNC setup or as a LInux - Parallel setup.

But I really would appreciate it if anybody with any other experience, feelings or solutions would respond here.

Possibly there is an actual product here, with the existence of the open source Linux CNC making a complete USB to Stepper drive CNC controller board that interpolates G Codes directly could get us the best of both worlds.

Comment by wilkomedic on May 27, 2013 at 4:21pm
Hi all has anyone considered the tron cnc machine ? I have downloaded the planes and am in the process of re enginering the plans to make it stronger for my needs. It's all laser cut then bolted in place total cost could be as low as $1000 au. What do you think?
Comment by R. D. Starwalt on May 27, 2013 at 6:04am

Every project/machine has limitations. Engineering is our attempt to manage the limitations.

Budgets and resources constrain most of us - no kidding. That extra decimal place in accuracy or precision could cause a project to double in price putting it out of reach for most of us.

I went with the Momus because the designer is actively involved and there is a very active group at CNC Zone. Just released Version 2.1 added Z axis thrust bearings to overcome a potential issue. The Momus probably won't be my last machine. The accuracy and precision will do for making the parts I intend to make.

The Momus is too big for many of our members. It will also top the scales well over 100 pounds when all assembled.

This subject is just like discussing multirotors. Of late I have advised newcomers to the hobby to go turn-key regarding kits (without RC electronics). If budget is not an object, I tell them what a RTF system will cost. Many do not have the space, tools, or experience to build one from scratch. On the other hand, they are able to follow instructions (well written instructions) and be successful.

CNC machines are the same IMHO. If we can develop a 'macro-kit' folk can assemble, we will have achieved an amazing goal.

The brushless drive idea has merit. There are several brushless drives setups for spindles now.


Comment by Gary McCray on May 26, 2013 at 7:47pm

Hi again Monroe,

The reality is that this isn't rocket science and the people in this community are imminently capable of producing a superior solution if they have a mind to.

There are plenty of inexpensive stepper controller boards out there and even some that support serious microstepping and encoder feedback.

At least some of those could be reasonably interfaced to a decent microcontroller board and their the field runs from Arduino through Linux and Android SBCs and even exotic SBCs with parallel processors.

I am thinking a Android / Java / Eclipse board with similar processor power and memory to the PX4 would have plenty of firepower.

Easy programming with Android and Java on the microcontroller end and Windows on the PC end could make a really interesting product possible and not an insurmountable programming task.

I think I might explore this a bit, G codes can be fun.

Comment by Gary McCray on May 26, 2013 at 7:04pm

I agree,

My little home made one is a Gantry type machine moves the head in all 3 axes and I agree that a better solution is probably to have a single axis table and a 2 axis head.

Don't stack quite as much misalignment that way and easier to keep rigid.

BTW a fairly decent source for those Hiwin Guideways is:

This is where I got mine originally and although they have gone a bit more upscale now they are easy to deal with.

I am a retired microcontroller engineer and I did a lot of consulting work that often  required me to fab everything from scratch so I have an OK machine shop including a nice Jet Bridgeport clone, and a pretty fair complement of sheet metal tools (shear, brake, punch, etc) as well as a nice MIG with a spool gun for aluminum, in addition to the ordinary stuff.

It's all stuck in an insulated cargo container now but fully operational if a bit crowded.


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