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Author Topic: Zen CNC?  (Read 3498 times)

willasaywhat

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Zen CNC?
« on: June 02, 2012, 04:56:07 PM »
I was talking to Cope the other night about the Zen. Does anyone know if its ready to go? I don't know the first thing about how to use it, but I'd like to mill a board or two to get the hang of it. I think we were just waiting on the clamps to mount materials to the bed, but it looks like someone found a few and put them on the Zen. Anyways, just eager to get back on the Eagle bandwagon and make some boards. If anyone has any info, or can walk me through using the tool one night, that'd be awesome. I'll even throw in a piece of copper clad board. :)

ThantiK

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Re: Zen CNC?
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2012, 05:39:22 PM »
The clamps on the bed are "stolen" from the _actual_ mill.  They aren't the proper clamps for it, we were just kinda screwing around.


The mill works.  The touchoff block = win.  It's just a matter of generating the gcode, etc.


It might behoove us to make a waste board for it though.

Chorca

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Re: Zen CNC?
« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2012, 04:25:47 PM »
The touchoff block I created does work, and the milling action is good. As ThantiK said, we need some sort of program to generate GCode for it, it does have an image-to-gcode function, but it is rudimentary and cryptic.

Hold-downs are going to be needed. Otherwise, PCB milling should be fairly simple. A big task is to keep the board flat, so we may need to acquire clamps that will help keep the surface flat; the current ones tend to bow up the material.

Touch-off on PCB milling is simple, clip or hold the black lead to the PCB, and clip the red lead to the tool. Then click "home Axis" when Z is selected. It will slowly move down until it touches the board, then stop. Z is now homed, and clips can be removed.

If using the touch-off block on wood, home the X and Y axises, then set the copper block (with black lead plugged into the hole) onto the material to be cut. Clip the red lead to the tool, and click "Home Axis". After a successful home (small white roundel shows beside the Z axis DRO on the preview) click "Touch Off" and enter 0.5 into the box, click OK. This will shift your gcode down by exactly the height of the block. You are now ready to mill.

f00bard

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Re: Zen CNC?
« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2012, 04:49:02 PM »
Is it viable to add a vacuum table to the Zen?  I think DWoods said he had a vacuum pump he was going to bring in for lab use (for casting purposes in particular).
« Last Edit: June 04, 2012, 05:19:33 PM by f00bard »

Chorca

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Re: Zen CNC?
« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2012, 05:06:59 PM »
The zen does not have a lot of Z range, so if we want to continue using it as a small mill, that maybe difficult.

f00bard

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Re: Zen CNC?
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2012, 09:34:19 AM »
So the Zen is almost ready to mill PCBs.  I found this page talking about milling PCBs, and it covers a few of challenges that brings: http://www.millpcbs.com

In particular, check the pages under "Fixtures and Tooling": http://www.millpcbs.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=17&Itemid=46

Basically he's got an aluminum plate which is a level plane perpendicular to the spindle/tool.  There are index pins in the plate which match holes drilled in the PCB which are used to keep the PCB lined up when flipping over for a double sided design.  He's also using a sacrificial piece of FR4 under the workpiece.

johnbentcope

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Re: Zen CNC?
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2012, 05:52:32 PM »
Those alignment holes are awesome. I've been wondering how to register the board with a mill like we have.
I like colors.

ThantiK

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Re: Zen CNC?
« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2012, 04:22:54 AM »
Dave casey used a program which probed the copper and could generate the information needed to follow the contours of an unflat plane.  You wouldn't need to be terribly accurate with this method, as the software could correct for any deviations in board width, deformation, etc.


http://phk.freebsd.dk/CncPcb/
« Last Edit: July 26, 2012, 04:27:30 AM by ThantiK »

f00bard

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Re: Zen CNC?
« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2012, 10:32:55 PM »
There's renewed interest in the Zen.  Bumping this thread for Pat and Jean Carlos who both have asked about it in recent days.

Remaining work:

- PC to run it: we were using one machine, which then got stolen for something else.  Then I threw that machine PockyBum donated on it, but Chorca stole it for the big CNC.  Chorca mentioned that the older machines actually have lower latency to the parallel port which is important for this kind of work.  Maybe he can jump in and tell us more about that.

- Limit switches: needed on X and Y.  Chorca suggested double sided tape.  I'd like something screwed/bolted in, personally.  Just make it happen.  Alternative to the micro switches are these proximity switches from Zen Toolworks which they claim are more accurate/repeatable.

- Mounting for the board: discussed at length above.

- Software: Need to load linuxcnc on the computer.  From there it looks like it's just a script for Eagle to generate GCode.

Did I miss anything?

jank@

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Re: Zen CNC?
« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2012, 02:32:30 AM »
yea much much like abyss I also want to mill pcb and learn to cnc. I'm hoping anyone else wants to see about getting the zen up and going
as for the limit switches I'm willing to get them I don't know enough about cnc to make the sound decision but i guess I'd default to buying the zen toolworks proximity sensors if no one can shed any light on the matter. as for the pc and mounting I'm not sure, it'd be cool to get some collab going on it.

f00bard

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Re: Zen CNC?
« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2012, 09:11:58 AM »
I bought some Cherry micro switches at skycraft, but I dont know what state they're in.  Chorca has a few new Cherry micro switches for Reprap stuff I think he was going to use.  I don't know enough to validate the claims about the prox switches vs. micro switches, but would run with what we've got just to get things going.

jank@

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Re: Zen CNC?
« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2012, 10:15:23 AM »
Do you have the micro switches with you. personally are they at the lab? If their at the lab and can be found you wouldnt mind if anyone tried to see if they where good would you?

P47

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Re: Zen CNC?
« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2012, 04:22:04 PM »
I'd like to help create whatever the zen might need to cut a pcb. I'm getting closer to having to cut a pcb for myself and I'm probably going to use my engraving machine to do it. It has a spring loaded nozzle that once the depth is set it will float across the surface delivering a uniform cut. I'd like to see how this method works for pcb's and if it does then incorporate something like this onto the zen if possible. The other day while at the lab I took a look at the zen and the z axis collar has some spring to it. I was able to push up on the spindle and it would flex upwards a wee bit. This might be just what I would need to create a floating nozzle. More to come.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2012, 04:29:43 PM by P47 »