DIY CNC Drawing Bot Prototype

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I decided to publish here some DIY Projects that I (try to) do in my spare time, which isn’t very much unfortunately.

Please note, this specific tutorial is not meant to be a step by step tutorial, because there are not enough images or information to document it, this is only for getting information and ideas to build your own machine. This is only a first “tutorial”, next one will be better.

These days, everyone who loves technology, robotics and/or electronics is keeping an eye in the 3D printing and the CNC milling/routing machines. There are plenty of tutorials in the Internet explaining and teaching how to build your own CNC or 3D Printer in a cheap way.

I have plans to build my own CNC router and laser cutter/engraver, however I didn’t want to start spending money buying all the components before I tried to build a prototype. This would allowed me to try and see how an Arduino works and get me used to the programming language used by Arduino.

I did buy an Arduino with confidence, because I knew that even if I couldn’t do a CNC, I would at least keep and use the Arduino for other little fun projects, like this running lights I’ve done just for testing (this was also something that I really wanted to do some day), and I also bought 3 stepper motors needed for this project, more about this bellow.

So, now that I had an Arduino I just needed to gather the remaining hardware…
Based on several tutorials I saw online, I thought that using printers and flatbed scanners hardware parts would be a good approach as long as the motors were working.
I placed a free online advert asking for anyone that would had a printer or flatbed scanner, even faulty (because the motors could be working and that’s what I needed) and the result was, I got 3 printers and 3 flatbed scanners, the printers were All-in-One printers, and this means that all of them had scanners and the parts I was looking for.

A mess of plastics and disassembled printers and scanners

A mess of plastics and disassembled printers and scanners

After disassemble one scanner and one printer, I noted that the scanner was exactly what I was looking for, because it has more room to work and a flat surface, also it was easier to disassemble because it had less parts and plastics.

The three scanners that I had were all from different sizes, so I used the biggest one as the base, which would be my Y axis to move back and forward.
After removing all the scanner parts that I didn’t need, like the scanner lamp and other electronic parts like PCB boards etc, I tried to find a way to start building the X axis, which is the side, left and right moving axis. So I removed the motor from other scanner and fixed it on the “base scanner” as you can see on the picture.

Fixing the motor for the X axis

Fixing the motor for the X axis

 

As you can see from the image, I did put some brackets to hold the X axis and keep it higher than the motor gears.
Next, was one of my biggest challenges, try to keep it aligned and avoid it to tip over due to the heavy weight of the scanner that I was about to get on top to use as my Z (vertical) axis.

I used a small level to try and keep it leveled, however I wasn’t trying to make it very precise because, after all, this was only a prototype of parts that didn’t matched together, and was only for testing purposes. I used an old radio cassette player wheel on the back to avoid it tipping over and to do a sooth moving to the sides on the X axis.

Leveling and avoiding to tip over with cassette player wheel

Leveling and avoiding to tip over with cassette player wheel

The red wire that you see on the picture is a crocodile type wire, this is there only to keep the wheel in place while I was doing my measurements.
In this picture you also can see the motor belt already cut to size, you can see how I done it in next pictures.

After leveling and fixing the little wheel in place, I was trying to find something to hold the big heavier scanner in place, so I used a bit (very big bit indeed 🙂 of plastic from one of the printers that I disassembled previously. Then I fixed it to other scanner and to the part that would be working on the X axis (the plastic with the little wheel attached and the level on top on previous picture).

Doing the Z axis with a scanner and a bit of plastic from a printer

Doing the Z axis with a scanner and a bit of plastic from a printer

With just pure luck, this bit of plastic I used had a pretty good base at the bottom to keep all the wiring, stepper motor drivers and  the Arduino itself.

As I said earlier I had to cut the X axis belt to size, and I was scratching my head trying to find a solution on how to do it, I just didn’t wanna cut it before I had a solution. So I came up with a very good solution, to use wire terminals as you can see on the picture below.

Belt cut to size and hold with a wire terminal

Belt cut to size and hold with a wire terminal

 

Here we have all the hardware assembled.

 

All hardware assembled

All hardware assembled

Because Arduino can’t communicate with stepper motors I needed 3 stepper motor drivers, one for each motor, they are really cheap on the Internet.

Stepper motor driver

Stepper motor driver

 

I done al the wiring, connecting each motor to each stepper driver, and from there to the Arduino pins. The green PCB you see on the image is only for my power supply, to power the 24v stepper motors, this connects to the stepper driver and from there it goes to the motors. The Arduino itself is getting power from a USB port.

All the wiring done

All the wiring done

Here is the final product with a marker attached with tape just for testing. I found out that the tape it’s not a good idea to keep the pen in it’s place, so later I changed the marker to a permanent marker and I done a holder for it, as you can see on the video.

CNC Drawing Bot from 3 Scanners with a marker

CNC Drawing Bot from 3 Scanners with a marker

I also noted that the surface wasn’t leveled due to the “base scanner” not being flat at the interior base.
Besides this I was able to successfully draw my name as a test.  I was so happy! 🙂

Have a look at the video and leave your comment and projects!

 

Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

 

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