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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  • Thanks, Monroe!  Appreciate all the info you've provided.  Still hoping for people who have actually had experience with this 3020.  I've actually been emailing the guy in China, and he's dropped his price for the 3-axis one to $950 shipped.  So that's sounding like a good deal, for the kind of light work I want to do.

  • Sounds like good advice, Monroe. That Taig does look tempting, though is it at the top of my budget range.

  • Monroe, that Taig looks like a belt drive spindle.  How does it compare with the other direct drive type?  So the Taig is capable of milling billet aluminium?

  • I build my own cnc from MDF working on upgrading it (already having a chinese 1.5 kw water could spinel laying around motivates me to) At the moment i would not cnc aluminum whit my cnc probably could do aluminum engraving but that's it.

    For controller software (open source) have a look at linux cnc works superb !!


    LinuxCNC: an open source CNC machine controller. It can drive milling machines, lathes, 3d printers, laser cutters, plasma cutters, robot arms, hexap…
  • Developer

    Dany: The basics would be something like

    - Used computer with printer port hardware suitable for generating stepper motor pulses $250

    - CNC6040 kit $1300 (+ $700 shipping to Norway)

    - Gecodrive G540 4-axis stepper motor driver $300

    - Carbonite mill set from ebay $150

    - Emc2 control software FREE! (Linux, open source)

    - Vetric Cut2D + Cut3D software bundle $400 (there are some free alternatives, but nothing comes close to the quality and ease of use that the Vetric software has)

    This is what I started with.  Then you get into a never ending "upgrade" cycle with alignment systems, 4th axis, vacuum table, ventilation system etc. :)

  • Moderator

    any comments on this kickstarter project?

    Their website is up,

  • Oh, and just so you guys are aware, if you're just doing a few parts, you can save yourself a LOT of hassle, time, and money:

    And actually, even if something goes to production, these guys in volume might still work out really well.

    Learning to machine is about as hard as learning to program, except when things go wrong, you don't get compiler errors, you get broken parts, broken tools, and the machine can hurt, maim or even kill you.  For Realz.  Although I guess a good CNC machine should obviously cut down on the bodily harm since hopefully you're not too close.


  • Distributor

    What's the "total" price John to get us going with something like the 6040 and geckodrive motors?

  • Developer

    Talk about coincidence. I just came down from the "machine room" having cut a new equipment mount for a hexacopter, and there is a blog about cnc.

    Ellison, I have a Chinese CNC6040. The frame, stepper motors, and spindle are plenty good (at least on my kit), but the control electronics are not, so upgrades are necessary. I upgraded to a Geckodrive G540 motor controller, and it was like I had a completely new machine.

    With the water cooled spindle, wood, plastic and CF is child's play. Alu. and even harder metals is fully possible if you take your time.

    But be prepared for some intensive software and information research sessions followed by much trial and error. CNC'ing sometimes feels like programming with power tools. :)

  • Monroe, wish I could get one of those plotters shipped to me.  The shipping might cost as much as the desktop 3020 machine.

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