Posts Tagged 3018 CNC

Monthly Image: Digital Machinist 14.4 Cover

I ain’t getting richer, but I did get mah pitcher onna cover of th’ Digital Machinist:

Digital Machinist Cover DM14.4 - Winter 2019
Digital Machinist Cover DM14.4 – Winter 2019

I just caught George Bulliss in a weak moment. [grin]

It’s the diamond drag holder on the CNC 3018-Pro, before the XL axis extension hackage., with the probe camera stuck to the left side.

You can say you knew me before …

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Homage Tektronix Circuit Computer: Colored Scales

Although the original Tektronix Circuit Computer had relentlessly monochrome scales, a dash of color added a festive holiday look:

Tek CC - Pilot V5 - color test overview
Tek CC – Pilot V5 – color test overview

Well, OK, that’s excessive.

The intent was to see how the pens behaved, with an eye toward accenting general-purpose circular slide rule scales with a few colored characters.

The green pen shows how I built the arrows by drawing a line through vertical arrow characters:

Tek CC - Pilot V5 - plain paper - letters
Tek CC – Pilot V5 – plain paper – letters

I like blue ink entirely too much, having used a blue pen as my daily writer for most of my adult life:

Tek CC - Pilot V5 - plain paper - red blue
Tek CC – Pilot V5 – plain paper – red blue

Red ink for “backwards” scales and suchlike would work well, even if it’s too vivid for the tick marks:

Tek CC - Pilot V5 - plain paper - red green
Tek CC – Pilot V5 – plain paper – red green

Those are all on unlaminated plain paper, with plenty of room for improvement.

Seeing as how I’d be doing all the “tool changes” manually, optimizing the plotting sequence would be mandatory: one pen change per color per deck!

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CNC 3018XL: Pen Variations

Cheap 1 mm pens produce scratchy lines:

CNC 3018 - Cheap pen - plain paper
CNC 3018 – Cheap pen – plain paper

More expensive 0.5 mm Pilot Precise V5RT pens produce well-filled lines:

CNC 3018 - Pilot V5RT - plain paper
CNC 3018 – Pilot V5RT – plain paper

Both of those are on plain paper. Better paper would surely improve the results, while moving the cheap pen further into sow’s ear territory.

For reference, the cheap pens use a collet holder:

CNC3018 - Collet pen holder - assembled
CNC3018 – Collet pen holder – assembled

The Pilot V5RT pens use a custom holder:

Pilot V5RT holder - installed
Pilot V5RT holder – installed

A 3D printer really simplifies making things!

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CNC 3018XL: Adding Run-Hold Switches

Although the bCNC GUI has conspicuous Run / Hold buttons, it’s easier to poke a physical switch when you really really need a pause in the action or have finished a (manual) tool change. Rather than the separate button box I built for the frameless MPCNC, I designed a chunky switch holder for the CNC 3018XL’s gantry plate:

CNC 3018-Pro - Run Hold Switches - installed
CNC 3018-Pro – Run Hold Switches – installed

The original 15 mm screws were just slightly too short, so those are 20 mm stainless SHCS with washers.

The switches come from a long-ago surplus deal and have internal green and red LEDs. Their transparent cap shows what might be white plastic underneath:

CNC 3018-Pro - Run Hold Switches - top unlit
CNC 3018-Pro – Run Hold Switches – top unlit

I think you could pry the cap off and tuck a printed legend inside, but appropriate coloration should suffice:

CNC 3018-Pro - Run Hold Switches - lit
CNC 3018-Pro – Run Hold Switches – lit

Making yellow from red and green LEDs always seems like magic; in these buttons, red + green produces a creamy white. Separately, the light looks like what you get from red & green LEDs.

The solid model shows off the recesses around the LED caps, making their tops flush with the surface to prevent inadvertent pokery:

Run Hold Switch Mount - Slic3r
Run Hold Switch Mount – Slic3r

The smaller square holes through the block may require a bit of filing, particularly in the slightly rounded corners common to 3D printing, to get a firm press fit on the switch body. The model now has slightly larger holes which may require a dab of epoxy.

A multi-pack of RepRap-style printer wiring produced the cable, intended for a stepper motor and complete with a 4-pin Dupont socket housing installed on one end. I chopped the housing down to three pins, tucked the fourth wire into a single-pin housing, and plugged them into the CAMtool V3.3 board:

CNC 3018-Pro - Run Hold Switches - CAMtool V3.3 header
CNC 3018-Pro – Run Hold Switches – CAMtool V3.3 header

The CAMtool schematic matches the default GRBL pinout, which comes as no surprise:

CAMtool schematic - Start Hold pinout
CAMtool schematic – Start Hold pinout

The color code, such as it is:

  • Black = common
  • Red = +5 V
  • Green = Run / Start (to match the LED)
  • Blue = Hold (because it’s the only color left)

The cable goes into 4 mm spiral wrap for protection & neatness, with the end hot-melt glued into the block:

CNC 3018-Pro - Run Hold Switches - bottom
CNC 3018-Pro – Run Hold Switches – bottom

The model now includes the wiring channel between the two switches, which is so obviously necessary I can’t imagine why I didn’t include it. The recess on the top edge clears the leadscrew sticking slightly out of the gantry plate.

The LEDs require ballast resistors: 120 Ω for red and 100 Ω for green, producing about 15 mA in each LED. Those are 1/8 W film resistors; I briefly considered SMD resistors, but came to my senses just in time.

A layer of black duct tape finishes the bottom sufficiently for my simple needs.

Note: the CAMtool board doesn’t have enough +5 V pins, so add a row of +5 V pins just below the standard header. If you’ve been following along, you needed them when you installed the home switches:

3018 CNC CAMTool - Endstop power mod
3018 CNC CAMTool – Endstop power mod

A doodle giving relevant dimensions and layouts:

Run Hold Switch Mount - Layout Doodles
Run Hold Switch Mount – Layout Doodles

I originally planned to mount the switches on the other gantry plate and sketched them accordingly, but (fortunately) realized the stepper motor was in the way before actually printing anything.

The OpenSCAD source code as a GitHub Gist:

It seems bCNC doesn’t update its “Restart Spindle” message after a tool change when you poke the green button (instead of the GUI button), but that’s definitely in the nature of fine tuning.

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CNC 3018XL: Rotating the Axes

After extending the CNC 3018-Pro platform to 340 mm along the Y axis, I tweaked the Spirograph demo to work with 8-1/2×11 paper:

Spirograph - 3018XL Platform - Portrait Mode
Spirograph – 3018XL Platform – Portrait Mode

Yeah, a Portrait mode plot kinda squinches the annotations into the corners.

Rotating the coordinates to put the X axis along the length of the new platform is, of course, a simple matter of mathematics, but it’s just a whole lot easier to rearrange the hardware to make the answer come out right without fancy reprogramming.

The first step is to affix an MBI-style endstop switch to the left end of the gantry upright:

3018XL - endstop - left gantry
3018XL – endstop – left gantry

The gantry carriage sits at the 1 mm pulloff position, with the switch lever just kissing the (fixed) lower carriage plate. As before, good double-sticky foam tape holds everything in place.

The probe camera hovers just over the switch and the Pilot V5RT pen holder is ready for action.

Shut down the Raspberry Pi and turn off the power!

At the CAMtool V3.3 board:

  • Swap the X and Y motor cables
  • Move the former Y endstop switch to the X axis input
  • Plug the new endstop switch into the Y axis input, routing its cable across the top of the gantry
  • Abandon the former X axis switch and its cable in place

Modify the GRBL configuration:

  • $3=4 – +Y home @ gantry left, +X home @ frame front
  • $130=338 – X axis travel along new frame
  • $131=299 – Y axis travel across gantry

Tweak the bCNC config similarly, if that’s what you’re into.

Verify the new home position!

I reset the G54 coordinate system to put XY = 0 at the (new!) center of the platform, redefined G28 as the “park” position at the (new!) home pulloff position, and set G30 as the “tool change” position at the -X -Y (front right) corner of the platform, with bCNC icons to simplify moving to those points.

And then It Just Worked™:

3018XL - rotated axes
3018XL – rotated axes

The Spirograph patterns definitely look better in landscape mode:

Spirograph - 3018XL Platform - Landscape Mode
Spirograph – 3018XL Platform – Landscape Mode

I eventually turned the whole machine 90° clockwise to align the axes with the monitor, because I couldn’t handle having the X axis move front-to-back on the table and left-to-right on the screen.

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Raspberry Pi: Adding a PIXEL Desktop Launcher

The Raspberry Pi’s Raspbian PIXEL Desktop UI (not to be confused with the Google Pixel phone) descends from LXDE, with all the advantages & disadvantages that entails. One nuisance seems to be the inability to create a launcher for a non-standard program.

The stock task bar (or whatever it’s called) has a few useful launchers and you can add a launcher for a program installed through the usual Add/Remove Software function, as shown by the VLC icon:

LXDE launcher icons
LXDE launcher icons

Adding a bCNC launcher requires a bit of legerdemain, because it’s not found in the RPi repositories. Instead, install bCNC according to its directions:

… install various pre-requisites as needed …
pip2 install --upgrade git+https://github.com/vlachoudis/bCNC 

Which is also how you upgrade to the latest & greatest version, as needed.

You then launch bCNC from inside a terminal:

python2 -m bCNC

The installation includes all the bits & pieces required to create a launcher; they’re just not in the right places.

So put them there:

sudo cp ./.local/lib/python2.7/site-packages/bCNC/bCNC.png /usr/share/icons/
sudo cp .local/lib/python2.7/site-packages/bCNC/bCNC.desktop /usr/share/applications/bCNC.desktop

The bCNC.desktop file looks like this:

[Desktop Entry]
Version=1.0
Type=Application
Name=bCNC
Comment=bCNC Controller
Exec=bCNC
Icon=bCNC.png
Path=
Terminal=true
StartupNotify=false
Name[en_US]=bCNC

Set Terminal=false if you don’t want a separate terminal window and don’t care about any of the messages bCNC writes to the console during its execution. However, those messages may provide the only hint about happened as bCNC falls off the rails.

With all that in place, it turns out LXDE creates a user-specific panel configuration file only when you change the default system panel configuration. Add a VLC launcher to create the local ~/.config/lxpanel/LXDE-pi/panels/panel file.

With that ball rolled, then add the bCNC launcher:

nano .config/lxpanel/LXDE-pi/panels/panel
… add this stanza …
Plugin {
  type=launchbar
  Config {
    Button {
      id=bCNC.desktop
    }
  }
}

Log out, log back in again, and the bCNC icon should appear:

LXDE launcher icons - additions
LXDE launcher icons – additions

Click it and away you go:

bCNC - Running from LXDE Launcher
bCNC – Running from LXDE Launcher

At least you (and I) will start closer to the goal when something else changes …

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Homage Tektronix Circuit Computer: Paper Matters

To judge from the dislodged pigment grains, the original Tektronix Circuit Computer probably used then-new laser printing on good-quality paper, laminated between plastic sheets:

Tek CC - OEM
Tek CC – OEM

A Pilot Precise V5RT cartridge on plain paper (20 lb 98 white), also laminated, looks pretty good:

Tek CC - V5RT green - 20 lb plain paper
Tek CC – V5RT green – 20 lb plain paper

But a black V5RT pen on HP Glossy Presentation Paper (44 lb, 160 g/m²), also laminated, is spectacular:

Tek CC - V5RT black - glossy presentation paper
Tek CC – V5RT black – glossy presentation paper

The glossy Presentation paper is hard enough to keep the pen ball from sinking in, producing much finer lines. In round numbers:

  • 0.2 mm – Tek laser-printed (?) original
  • 0.3 mm – green V5RT on plain paper
  • 0.2 mm – black V5RT on glossy Presentation paper

The CNC 3018XL plotted / drew everything at 2400 mm/min = 40 mm/s, with minimal wobbulation in the lines and none worth mentioning in the characters.

The pen ball sometimes pulls a dot of ink off the glossy paper as it rises at the end of a stroke; perhaps matte paper would produce more traction on the ink.

You can see small blobs at the end of some strokes, but the fancy paper prevents most of the bleeding visible in the previous tests. Pilot V5 pens definitely dislike card stock.

The results looks great in person without magnification, so maybe none of that matters.

The pix come from the Pixel 3a camera in its microscope adapter.

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