Shop Stuff: October 2010 Archives

New project - building my own CNC machine

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I am looking for used dot matrix printers. If you are in Winnipeg, I will pick them up. If you are kind enough to mail them, contact me ( and I'll provide an address.

I have started many projects. Some I have even managed to finish. Some have been put on hold, possibly indefinitely until such time as I figure out how to finish.

A few months ago, I started to build a plotter out of Lego with the NXT Mindstorm as the brains. The goal was to try and avoid a belt drive or screw drive mechanism and see if an articulating arm would be accurate enough. The mechanical engineering process was a learning curve, and the project has seen be cannibalized for other purposes.
This week, I have started building a CNC machine.

I am following the information found on these two sites, and will probably end up with a desk top model similar to the Linux based unit.

Progress so far is the cage that holds the router.

Z-axis looking up

I have mounted a Lego NXT motor to test the threaded rod. Here's a shot looking down - note the white messy plastic where the bolt passes through the lower plate. I used a small torch to heat a nut that was threaded to a bolt and then when the nut was screaming hot, I pressed it into the plexiglass.

Z-axis looking down

Also, plexiglass is great for lining up holes when you aren't very good at measuring things...

Seems to work pretty good!

BTW, I did run a brief test with the roto tool (Dremel - knockoff) resting in the cage, however, the rubber hose that joins the lego shaft to the bolt slipped off.