These are fun times to be building a 3D carving machine. Carvey, which is a desktop CNC mill designed at Inventables, is in the middle of a very successful Kickstarter
. Making these machines carve wood, cut aluminium and build simple PCBs is what all the rage is about. This fills in the gap left by the DIY 3D printer. Honourable mention to the laser cutter of course, but that's a more ambitious DIY project.
I got my hands on the Inventables Shapeoko2 kit.
There are 3 versions of what you can buy :
- Mechanical kit (no electronics)
- Full kit (Mechanical kit plus the electronics)
- Full kit with upgrades (some fun and essential stuff added to the above)
Since it's difficult to get things shipped easily (sometimes) to India through the whole customs scene, I decided to get the complete kit with all the upgrades. It shipped in 2 huge boxes and it felt like it weighed a tonne. One box consisted of the full kit with the electronics and the other one consisted of the upgrades.
The first thing that you should do (which is also mentioned on the docs and the wiki) is check if you have everything in the kits. This is pretty important as there are plenty of small components that are essential. Inventables send an inventory along with the kit which comes in very handy or you can check out the wiki too.
This is a bit tedious, but it helped me understand what all components are in the kit. This is priceless when you are doing the subassemblies and need to rummage through the boxes to get the right component. Also, have I mentioned the naming on the plastic bags that
The next thing that I did was checked the electronics. It's a pain to have a faulty stepper once you have assembled it. So I wired up the steppers to the grbl shield and connected it to the Uno with the custom bootloader. You need the UniversalGcodeSender Java application which allows you to check all the axes. That's only one tiny bit of what this application can do but more on that later.
After I checked that everything was working as it should on the electronics end, I started following the http://docs.shapeoko.com guide. Following the guide step by step should get you through the entire process.
I started assembling the kit every evening after work and I dedicated half a day on Saturday to finish up the basic assembly to get things moving. Rohit Gupta was at hand on the last day and his experience with building Sketchy helped speed up the things.
I was hosting a meetup with Rohit on the same evening. Varun and Akshay (both of them have experience with 3D printers) turned up for the same and joined in on the efforts to get things ready in time for the meetup. After that it was pretty easy for the combined workforce to finish up the basic calibration and draw a square using simple Gcode commands :D !
To be very honest, I did struggle at a lot of places, but it wasn't anything that a bit of patience and some searching on the wiki didn't solve. There are also some pretty neat videos out there which explain some of the tricky bits. The docs have almost all the information that one might need and that should always be the first port of call when in doubt about something though.