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Auto edge finding and more
February 9, 2012
2:47 PM
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Rob
Upstate New York
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It’s a Harbor Freight mini-mill (Sieg X2).  It uses an Easy-CNC.com 4-axis “Mechatronics” controller board and a ballscrew kit from CNC Fusion.  It’s controlled by Mach3, which I like. But even so I’d like to give EMC a try one of these days.  I was using D2NC for my CAM program but I just switched to Cut2D.  I have another HF mini-mill that I was just starting to convert to CNC when I found this one for an unbelievable price.  A business built it for their prototype shop and then found it was too small for their needs.

It works very well but the table’s working area is only about 7.5 x 3.2-inches.  The X-axis is big enough but not the Y. So I can’t make a lot of things I’d like to. 

I just moved it from my garage to a new workshop in my basement that’s a lot warmer and more convenient to work in.  It came with a wooden enclosure and a top priority is to make a metal and Plexiglas one so I use coolant. I also want to add a one-shot oiler to it and a counterweight for the milling head. 

Sorry for the long delay.  Let me know if you have any more questions.

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David Sobel said:

Hi Rob

I would like to hear more about your cnc mini mill. I have a mini mill from Mico Mark and have been thinking of converting it to cnc. With the small repetitive cuts it will be making I think it will do fine and the cost of the conversion should be a lot less that a bigger mill, I would think.

David

December 27, 2011
1:09 PM
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David Sobel
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Hi Rob

I would like to hear more about your cnc mini mill. I have a mini mill from Mico Mark and have been thinking of converting it to cnc. With the small repetitive cuts it will be making I think it will do fine and the cost of the conversion should be a lot less that a bigger mill, I would think.

David

December 2, 2010
9:23 PM
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Rob
Upstate New York
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I haven't posted much to MachinistBlog lately because I've been busy in my workshop.  Now yard chores are done for the year I've been trying to get some projects done before my garage gets harder to heat or I get busy with holiday activites.

As you may know, I have a CNC mini-mill.  I managed to ruin my electronic edge finder and my mechanical one is much slower to use.  So I've been playing with Mach 3's “Auto probe” feature which can be used to automatically do the following:

  • Find Edges (and therefore corners)
  • Find Hole centers
  • Find Hole diameters

It can also be used to set the tool height.  It was super simple and quick to get it working and I'll be writing more about it shortly.  Making a touch plate or probe is the hardest part.  It's trivial if you're with wood or some other non-conductive material because basically all you need is a piece of metal with the probe wire attached.  But if you're working with metal then you need to make one that's electrically insulated.   

A probe for the the spindle needs to be very concentric to be accurate.  I put a quite a bit of time into making one, which included my first attempt at tool post grinding, and then I promptly ruined it.  I bent it because I forgot to attach the signal wire and the table didn't stop when the probe touched my work piece.  My next one will have the wire “semi-permanently” attached with a banana plug instead of an alligator clip.  But I've got to come up with some thing better for grinding before I make another one. 

BTW, nearly all the mistakes I make in my shop, especially the big ones, seem to happen after 9 PM when I'm tired.

I've also been continue to clean and re-organize my shop.  It has been taking me a lot of time to sort through things and decide what to keep and what to get rid of.  And to find a good place to put the things I'm going to keep, or to give away or sell the things I don't have room for. 

I've also spent experimenting with some of the Mach 3 wizards, many of which are not very intuitive.  I'll probably be writing about that later also. 

And finally, I've been putting my new welding skills to use.  A friend asked me to weld up a “rock hauler” for his farm tractor and I was pleased with how it turned out.

— Rob

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