The Internets: DIY CNC Machine Resources & More

A CNC Turning Center in the FAME Lab in the Le...

A CNC Turning Center in the FAME Lab in the Leonhard Building at Penn State. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When it comes to CNC machine resources there is nothing better than having the internet at your fingertips.  Whether you’re into DIY CNC, looking for used CNC machines and replacement parts, sharpening your g-code skills, or pondering the pursuit of a CNC hobby, you’ll find a wealth of valuable information.

If you’ve been following me for some time you know that there are a number of sites and locations I’ll periodically tout.  The Practical Machinist immediately comes to mind as a wonderful forum and valuable CNC machine resource for the machinist/operator and CNC hobbyist alike.  Another blog that I frequent, and which I’ve linked in the sidebar some time ago  is the CNC Cookbook blog.

The CNC Cookbook blog  posts are interesting, in-depth, and accessible to all CNC machine enthusiasts.  Bob Warfield covers a variety of topics from cookbooks on using his G-Wizard G-Code editor to advancements in 3-d printing.  With 20,000 and counting members you know you can’t go wrong by dropping in for a visit.

DIY CNC Machine Resources

Which brings me to mentioning a recent post/cookbook Mr. Warfield put together over at CNC Cookbook:

DIY CNC Cookbook: In-Depth Articles on Building CNC Machines, CNC Routers, and 3D Printers

This is the kind of resource you are going to want to take a look at especially if you are considering going the DIY CNC route and building your own.  Mr. Warfield has put together an in-depth cookbook covering all the angles.

G-Code Tutorials

Since I’m touting the expertise over at the CNC Cookbook I thought I’d mention they’ve also cooked up an extensive G-code tutorial and course.

As the man say’s, every machinist should know g-code, and that means you as well.  Jump on over and see what I’m shouting about!

CNC Cookbook: G-code Tutorial and Course

Your Turn

What about you?  Know of a great CNC machine related blog or resource and would like to share?  A favorite CNC internet stomping ground?  Let me know in the comments and I’ll be sure to share!

New to CNC Machining? Haas CNC Mill and Lathe Training Manuals

As part of the CNC machine community I often see threads in forums and  groups from fresh CNC upstarts.  These are young guys and gals just starting out in school, or an on-the-job training situation and they typically ask something along the lines of : “Hey, advice for someone new to CNC…”, or ” Help!  I need to understand this g-code…”.  I mention this not as something derogatory, but as something great!  These are persons with the drive and due-diligence to seek out help and advice from a knowledgeable community.  It’s also a sign of a person who is passionate about their learning and driven to excel!  Below I’ve jotted down some quick advice and linked some training manuals I came across.

DIY CNC: It’s An Attitude That Starts On Day One!

Computer Numerical Controls (CNC)To me, DIY CNC is not only about hobby CNC machining, or installing your replacement parts on that used CNC machine…it’s an attitude.  It’s a git-r-done, all-in, results driven attitude.  So you’re new to CNC, you’re taking courses at the local college, and you love what you are learning.  Are you hanging up your hat at the end of class and calling it a day?  No! You’re taking the extra step of immersing yourself in CNC machining.

So what does that mean?  You’re joining communities and forums and you’re asking questions.  You’re learning about the industry and machine operation: reading articles, watching training video’s, and devouring news related to CNC machining.  You’re finding out how CNC machine shops run their businesses.  You’re learning G code and M code before you even begin those classes!  You’re reading up on how to repair and replace parts on a CNC machine.  And as you gain the knowledge and the expertise YOU GIVE BACK to the community that helped and inspired you!

Haas CNC Mill and Lathe Training Manuals

Today I came across a couple of Haas training manuals from Productivity Inc.  I wasn’t particularly looking for Haas manuals, but hey, I like Haas so it doesn’t hurt.  If you’re a student, or someone looking to learn more, or even expand on what you already know, these manuals just may well come in handy.

Haas CNC Mill Programming:  This training manual is specific to programming a Haas CNC Mill.  A great resource for any student out there learning G and M code, or looking to get a head start.

Haas CNC Lathe Operator:  This training manual is specific to running a Haas CNC Lathe.  Another great resource for a student or anyone looking for a refresher.

Do you have suggestions or advice for those men and women new to the CNC machining industry?  If so, let them know in the comments!

DIY CNC: Using SketchUp

I’ve been thinking about DIY CNC for quite some time, and it seems the more I dig into it, the more interested I become.  The DIY/Maker movement is  fascinating, and once you start down the DIY rabbit hole you discover there is a whole world of useful and exciting possibilities out there.  One of the great things about DIY is the community and the sharing of knowledge, tips, and CNC hobby tutorials.  I was digging around over my lunch break the other day and started thinking about software.  Free software (free as in beer!).

Image viaSketchUp.com

Image viaSketchUp.com

Enter SketchUp (previously known as Google SketchUp).  The FREE download of SketchUp allows you to create 3-d images with a highly intuitive interface.  Think AutoCad but stripped down and simplified.  I’ve known about SketchUp for a time but never toyed around with it, though I began wondering if the DIY CNC hobby machinist might be able to put this piece of software to good use.  A bit more investigation revealed that with a bit of fortitude you most certainly can.

DIY CNC: SketchUp to CNC

This tutorial, while looking a little dated, will give you the general break down on how you can utilize SketchUp for your own DIY CNC machine projects.  A basic summary: You export your SketchUp file, which uses the same file type as Google Earth, and you upload it into another free software package: Blender.  Blender is a powerful, and free (free as in beer) 3-d creation software package which will then allow you to export your file in DXF or STL format.  According to the author, “Once created, these files can be loaded into MeshCam or CAMBAM Plus (or another similar program) and used to generate 3D G-code for your CNC.”

The article is a bit older, and looking at Blender.org leaves me to the conclusion that you no longer have to separately download the Python file.  DIY made somewhat simpler.

Now since we have the software down, tomorrow I’ll be digging into building your own CNC machine.  While we can often find good prices on used CNC machines and parts, some may be limited by financial and space constraints.  We’ll look at that tomorrow, in the meantime, how about you?  What software do you use for your DIY CNC projects?