Good Hobby CNC Machine


I'm thinking seriously about getting a CNC.  Been browsing on Ebay.  Mostly these China made 3020 cnc machines are popping up, and they all seem to  be relatively well priced.  Just thought I'd get some opinions from members on any actual experience on these.  Also any recommendations on getting a hobby CNC machine in general would be greatly appreciated.  I'm planning on using the machine to make hub plates, motor mounts, etc.  I'd probably be milling aluminium and/or carbon fibre.



  1. (servo motors and controller)
  2. 3-axis Stepper Motor System based on DQ542MA, on Ebay
  3. 6-axis Stepper Motor System based on DQ542MA, on Ebay
  4. DC1 Servo Motor Controller, from Makerbot
  5. Servo Motor Encoder

05/26/2012:  After some discussion.  This blog is starting to look into building a CNC machine of our own.  Keep following to stay informed.  We're in the brainstorming stage at this point any input from users is welcomed.

05/27/2012: DIYDrones CNC Project group is created.  Let's move our activity to that group.

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  • Monroe, yes, it is light weight, but does OK on light cuts.  The problem is the light cuts take forever to make something!  But, with CNC... push a button and walk away...

    So how would you go about converting it?  Ballscrews and stepper motors right?  I've looked into , but not much beyond that.

  • Monroe, well in the beginning, of course I'm learning.  You may know that I've 3D printed my own multirotor frames (see my avatar).  Before that I used to just sandwich two plexiglass plates between Trex tailbooms to build my quads.  So, I'm thinking to go back to that kind of design, but do it in metal or carbon fibre.  That's the primary use  for it.  Second, I also print motor mounts in 3D plastic, but want to try CNCing some.

    Also, I'm looking for something with as large a z-axis travel I can get at the lowest price to do some CNC sculpting.  

    On the power supply side, would a PC switching PS provide enough power or do we need something capable of higher voltage too?

  • Yeah, in my first two houses I had to leave it in the garage, but on this house I disassembled it and brought it into the basement.  Much nicer.

    The problems with it are many.  3-in-1's have fundamental design flaws in that they try to be all things, so they have large compromises.  The milling head is too far from the table, for starters.  The milling column is too flexible.  Well really, everything is too flexible.  The screws have WAY too much backlash.  The slides are not accurate so I have trouble getting the slop out without making it so tight that they just won't move.  Overall, the steel it is made from is too soft.

    Everything about it is junk, but it works for farting around the house.  The lathe is not too bad, but the mill really only works for light cuts on aluminum.  Accuracy is really difficult because everything is moving a flexing and the screws are terrible...

  • Robert, that's a serious looking machine, with the need for some serious space investment.  I'd need to convert a room, in my house. ;-)  So why is is junk?  I know nothing about these things. 

  • I don't know a lot about those, but I'm curious.  I have one of these:

    It's pretty much a piece of junk, but it paid for itself in some simple parts I used to make.  I'd love to convert it to CNC, but it's probably not worthwhile.

    One thing you should know about machining, is that you should expect to spend as much again for tooling as you do for the machine.

  • O i c.... yes that is a problem. but a drill press is also cheap. think i paid $80. us dollars for it new from harbor freight = should of got one last year:)

  • Monroe, that one looks nice.  Comes with a PC too.  But even with the discount, beyond my budget.  I was looking to spend no more than under $1000 for a 3-axis, and $1200 for a 4-axis.

  • Hmm, by I have not building skills. ;-)

    Seriously, the reason I'm thinking CNC is that I don't have even a drill press to be able to make straight holes.  That's what I want the machine for.  I know how to put together the electronics, but my obstacle to building one is making the platform.

  • I would Recommend building your own..... It is so easy and 1/3 of the cost= :) and more parts for projects.

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