Maker BLOG

My Makermade CNC Adventure: Building the Final Sled

If you have your Z-Axis set up and the calibration step went well, you shouldn’t have any problems cutting the final sled. I ended up getting a prototype of the new MakerMade sled in the mail, so I used that, and it was so nice to have it all ready to go. I just had to add a few holes for the bolts that hold the router into place. The sled doesn’t come with those holes pre-drilled because not everyone uses the same router. I had kind of improvised with my temporary sled, I’d used a tabletop round, and gone with a smaller size than recommended because I liked the idea of a more compact sled. I’d also put my weights in a different position. Once I got this sled set up, though, I realized that some of the problems I’d been having up to that point were because of my sled. Everything moved so much more smoothly once I had a perfectly balanced sled, and I think the larger size helped stabilize movement, too. In the Maslow forum, you’ll see that people use all kinds of things for weights. You might think that anything goes, and that’s true, to

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My Makermade CNC Adventure: Calibration

MAKING ALL THE MISTAKES SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO Up until the point of calibration, I had a few misadventures but mostly things went pretty smoothly. This is where it got bumpier. In the online assembly instructions on the Maslow forum, Step 6 was “attach sled to frame” and Step 7 was “calibrate”. So I started the calibration process with my sled attached to the frame. As I extended the chain across the frame to measure the distance between motors, the position of my sled became more and more precarious until it was hanging in the air. This seemed clearly wrong, but I couldn’t find anything specifically saying to remove the sled from the chains. It wasn’t until a few steps later that it became clear I’d need to not only detach the sled, but basically dis-assemble the whole chain/ pulley/ elastic cord setup that I’d just assembled, and then a few steps later redo it all. I’m not given to foul language, but I HATE re-doing something I just did. I’m all about the adventure of learning new things, but the second time around it’s not an adventure anymore, it’s just drudgery. I found it really difficult to detach

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My Makermade CNC Adventure: Installing the Z-Axis

MAKING ALL THE MISTAKES SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO Adding the Z Axis had its challenges, and reliable Z Axis operation continues to be an issue for many Maslow users. While I was in the thick of setting it up, it felt like I’d never get it to work, but after working through a lot of what turned out to be user errors, and a few bugs in design, I have it working pretty reliably. Maker Made is prototyping a Z Axis solution that will cut through the remaining issues and make it rock solid. I’m super excited to try that out when it’s ready! The most important thing to know about the Z Axis is that you don’t want to Maslow without it. When I first calibrated my machine and tried to cut out the final sled, I was following an online assembly guide that has you add the Z Axis AFTER calibration and cutting the final sled. So I tried to cut the final sled without a Z Axis. Meaning that every time there was a change in bit depth, I had to: pause the cut walk from my computer to my frame setup turn the router off

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My Makermade CNC Adventure: Building the Temporary Sled

I’ve never used a router, so this part was a bit of a challenge. I didn’t know how to add the bit, for one thing, and there were a surprising dearth of Youtube videos showing how to do it, at least for this particular router. I watched a lot of reviews of the Ridgid router, and some of them showed a little bit of how to use it, but there were still a lot of gaps. After a couple of hours of watching videos, and in general putting it off, I decided I just needed to plunge in and do it. I figured out how to put a bit in, clamped my wood to the work bench- with blocks underneath so I didn’t accidentally route a hole in the work surface, donned some safety goggles and flipped the “on” switch. I was surprised and fascinated by how smoothly the router carved away the wood, and how relatively easy it was to control. My finished product was a bit wobbly looking, but I was disproportionately proud of it. Usually for the temporary sled you only need to carve a hole in the middle, but the wood round I bought so I

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My Makermade CNC Adventure: Adding the Electronics

I was a little apprehensive about setting up the electronics for the Maslow. I’ve been an occasional reader of Make magazine, I’d heard the term Arduino, but I’d never seen one in person. I like to make things, but that’s mostly been rough woodworking, fiber related, or graphic design- nothing with electronics or chips of any sort. But the Maslow designers really made the process easy. I sat down at my kitchen table, laid out all the parts, and was done in about half an hour. I had a few hiccups, like not realizing I was supposed to open a program once I’d downloaded it, so I tried to make sure the instructions I wrote for the manual spell out details like that. Tools Needed Power Drill Screwdrivers Safety goggles Computer or tablet Internet connection Materials List Part #1 AC Power Cable Part #2 Arduino with Heat Shield Part #4 DC Power Supply Part #9 USB Cable Part #10 Flash Drive (optional) Part #11 X and Y Motor Cables Part #12 X and Y Motor Mounts Part #13 X and Y Motors Hardware Bag #5 Hardware Bag #6 STEP 1: CONNECT THE MOTORS X and Y motor cables, as well

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My Makermade CNC Adventure: Building The Frame

One of the things that makes the. Maslow CNC so affordable is that each user builds their own frame. Maslow users are tinkerers, and variations on the frame are endless. Two users, dlang and MadGrizzle, did a lot of testing and weeding through ideas and developed the default frame. It’s a great frame to start with. Bar, one of the original Maslow developers, also came up with a version of the default frame that bolts together, rather than using glue and screws. I decided to go with the bolt together frame, because I like the idea that of being able to disassemble the frame a little more easily if I want to move it, and because it worked better with the 2x4s I already had on hand. You can read the build instructions I wrote for the default frame here. The bolt together version of these instructions will come out soon. I headed to Home Depot and got the bolts I needed, along with a couple of 2x4s to round out what I already had. I felt a little self conscious at Home Depot- on a weekday morning it feels like everyone else in the lumber department is a legit construction

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My Makermade CNC Adventure: What’s In Those Hardware Bags?

After I did the last post, we got a lot of questions about those mysterious little hardware bags. They’re just labeled 1-8, and yes, it can be hard to know what’s what! This is exactly why it’s so great that MakerMade has given me this assignment. I’m seeing everything with the eyes of a novice and the things that are confusing to you are confusing to me too! I sat down, combed through the instructions, and through process of elimination, and deductive reasoning, sorted it all out. It took me awhile, and now that’s something that nobody else will ever have to suffer through! I’ve even identified a few components that are no longer needed, and made some suggestions for components to add. So here’s what’s what in the hardware bags: *for a downloadable PDF click here 1.0_WhatsInYourKit  Bag #1 Hardware for attaching the chains to the frame Bag #2 Bungee cords and hardware for attaching the cords to the frame Bag #3 Hardware for attaching the bolts to the sled Bag #4 Multiple uses Bag #5 Hardware for attaching the motors to the motor mounts Bag #6 Hardware for attaching the Arduino to the frame Bag #7 Hardware for attaching

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My MakerMade CNC Adventure: Unboxing

Hi, I’m Rachel! I joined the MakerMade team about a month ago as a designer. I quickly decided that to turn out great, user friendly designs, I’d need to learn more about how the MakerMade CNC Kit works. I talked it over with the MakerMade team and they agreed that it would be awesome if I could take each project all the way through from design to gcode to cut and build. So they sent me a kit! Some of my goals are to: create designs that account for the size of the bit and other physical constraints create Gcode that’s as efficient as possible- no 3 day cutting odysseys create full tutorials with pictures of each and every project in our library add to the body of knowledge about CNC to make it accessible to an even wider audience I’ve always loved to make things, before “maker” was a thing. I have that stubborn “I can do that myself” outlook, whether it’s building garden beds and chicken coops, or refining my own beeswax. But for the past few years most of my “making” has been on the screen. I’m thrilled for this opportunity to bring my designs from pixel

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Choosing the Best Router Bit for Your CNC Project

When it comes to successful CNC cutting, choosing the best router bit for your project is similar to choosing the best tires to put on a car.  There are situations when summer tread will work great, but you’d never want to get stuck in a blizzard with them on.  For a sportscar, you might upgrade to a high-performance tire, but that would be overboard if you’re just hauling lumber in the back of a truck. The same thing applies to choosing the right router bits- what you’re planning to do with them tells you everything about which ones you’ll need.  To make sure you’re choosing the best router bit for your project (and not buying race tires for boulevard cruising), we’ve created a handy, easy-to-follow table of bit types, and a short description of each:   Downcut Spiral Bits are best used for thinner materials, or when a high-quality cut finish is required on the top surface of cut parts.  The trade-off for this cleaner cut is that waste material (sawdust, etc) is pushed down into the machine bed rather than being lifted out, the way it is with an upcut spiral. Downward spiral tools often require reduced cutting speeds because

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