After building another tower or two on the CNC router, I’ve finally had a chance to make some upgrades. In my last update, I mentioned that I needed to stiffen the bed and support it better. I ordered some aluminum extrusion, angle brackets, and T-nuts, and got to work!
With the help of my lovely wife, I loosened the screws mounting the support rails to one end of the router, clamped the bed to the front rail, pushed the support rails up against the bed. and tightened the screws again. I did this for each rail, adding two more for additional support (and better support distribution). With four support rails, the bed is nice and secure, and doesn’t bow at the edges. After adding the extra rails, I put angle brackets underneath the bed against the support rails and bed, and drilled a hole upwards through the bed. After countersinking the top of the hole 3/16″ or so, I ran a low profile screw through each hole, top to bottom, and secured it with a locking nut. After adding eight of these screws, the bed was much more secure, and wouldn’t bow upwards in the middle as it was pulled by warping wood.
I worked with the router like this for a while, and now I’ve gone and done the next upgrade. I purchased a Makita 1.25hp compact router to replace the no-torque spindle I had, and installed it!
I found a bracket on Thingiverse (http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:398695), and after modifying it slightly, I 3D printed it in black ABS at a medium infill (too low) for testing. It mostly worked, though I could only secure three of the four mounting screws, and I ended up cracking it along printed layers. During this time, the original designer of the bracket modified the model so that it fit my router properly, so I downloaded the new version. I changed the orientation of the print so the layers wouldn’t separate, and printed it again in white ABS (because it happened to be in my printer).
After a significant amount of cleaning (and cutting my fingers – I really should wear gloves), I had a new bracket to try! I dry fit it, and it turns out that in altering the model, the designer made the mounting screw insets shallower, so I had to drill them deeper so my screw heads would fit in them. After all that work, though, I put everything together and it fit much better than the previous bracket had. All four screws worked!
After one more tweak (recalibrating the X- and Y- motion), I’ll be putting the CNC router back into service. I do still have a couple more upgrades I’d like to make in the near future, though:
- I have a cable chain I’ve been 3D printing, and I’d like to install that at least along the X-axis. That’ll clean the wiring up nicely.
- At the same time, I’ll probably need to move the control electronics from the center of the X-axis to one end of the gantry. That’ll give me a couple more inches of vertical clearance under the gantry.
- I should probably add the emergency stop button and limit switches. You know, for safety.
- I’ll update the firmware at some point (it really does need it).
- Eventually, I do plan to run the machine with a Raspberry Pi so I can send files wirelessly.
As always, feel free to ask questions and share your adventures in the comments!