Monday, 9 March 2015

My CNC story (part 1)


This is the first part of a long story about my DIY CNC project. I hope many of you will find it interesting to read and will have the patience to follow the articles.

I have been actively busy with this CNC project for over 1.5 years now, in parallel with the V1-F1A and other DIY activities. I thought that making a CNC is a fairly easy task for an engineer, but I have to admit I underestimated the efforts. There were several unexpected issues involved which caused a halt or serious delay.

I started off with some reading ups and pre-study. I have electronic and computer science knowledge but no mechanical engineering, so the first step was to collect some ideas, look at what other people have done and try to learn from their mistakes. I knew the accuracies I needed, and I quickly realized that most DIY CNC are not suitable for my needs, at least not in theory. Once I was ready with the idea in my mind, I made some drawings, looked at different possibilities and tried out different ideas on paper and so on.

In the meantime, like so many others, I ordered a kind of a kit from an eBay seller whom I found reliable. The kit consisted of three stepper motors, a controller card and a power supply. This was what I thought, a major step forward because it allowed me to become a “spinner”. A “spinner” is a sort of derogatory nick name among CNC builders for a person who buys motors, controllers and power supply and starts spinning those motors… and NEVER stops being a spinner, never takes the next step, and mainly, NEVER becomes a “miller”. A “miller” is a person who have built his CNC and started milling, doing some useful stuff with it. So while seeing the motors spinning gives a real kick, becoming a “spinner” is a nightmare, not very encouraging.

Today I believe that those cheap Chinese kits are one reason why there are quite a few spinners among CNC builders. These kits can put you to a halt, caused by serious problems, which if you don’t have enough knowledge you will never be able to solve.

My advice is: don't ever buy those cheap kits if you plan to build a CNC unless you have all the time in the world AND the knowledge to fix every problem, because no doubt that you will end up with many problems or need to make serious compromises. In the end, I managed to fix all the issues and problems, but I ended up with a completely different CNC compared to the one I originally started off with, and it took time... a very long time.

Please continue with reading Part 2.


  1. Replies
    1. Hi, The CNC is not for sale. I made it for my own use.

  2. Hi,
    Really nice posts.
    Is it possible for you to provide a full list of specs and material that you used to make your cnc?

    1. I am sorry but I cannot provide that information since this is just a DIY project and I don't keep track of every information. The nearest specifications are in this post:

  3. I was a spinner for a long time. I eventually graduated to becoming a miller though.

    1. I felt it was a rewarding step to become a miller from a spinner. I guess you feel the same.