A month ago when I started researching this I found tons of information and lots of videos on hobby cnc machines but very little that seemed to directly address milling panels for modules, rack gear or pedals with a desktop cnc. This thread is to document my learning process, share what I find successful and what I screw up, and hopefully get some advice on how to better run my machine.
The backstory to this is something surely many of us have thought, since I've got little else to do, I figured I'd finally wrap up some long suffering DIY projects. After designing my panels and getting a quote from FPE I realize "heck I could just buy a CNC for that much money" and so the rabbit hole opens before me.
After a lot of research, asking dumb questions on CNC reddits and forums, the usual hemming and hawing and all that I decided on a Next Wave SD100, 2w diode laser, touch plate and a 0.005" carving bit.
https://www.nextwaveautomation.com/shop ... p198998896
https://www.nextwaveautomation.com/shop ... p114869874
https://www.nextwaveautomation.com/shop ... p121064790
https://www.amanatool.com/45771-k-solid ... 1&fp=12841
The number one reason I went with this package is that I was eligible for employee pricing from one of the distributors which was a pretty great discount. None the less it still totaled up to quite a bit more than the FPE quote, but anyone reading this is SURELY familiar with a simple idea ballooning into a whole room full of synths.
The other reasons I went with this over some potentially cheaper options,
- the SD100 comes assembled, I just didn't feel like putting the machine together, I didn't want to screw something up, or have it work but have shitty alignment.
- The Next Wave products come with the Vectric Vcarve software, after messing with Fusion 360 and some open source software I really wanted a complete software/hardware package. Even being pretty good with vector graphics software I feel theres a pretty steep learning curve to most CAD software.
- Also, I don't have a lot of space so size definitely matters, the sd100s cutting area is plenty large enough for modular panels and pedals, and I think I should be able to do 19" rack panels by doing half then flipping it around and doing the other half.
I was also looking at k40 machines too but the ones that are about $300 aren't large enough to do a rack panel and the next size up is a lot more money and a very large tool.
About the touch plate, I consider this essential for setting the z axis. I watched some videos showing how to home the z axis manually which I'm sure works fine if you're carving an 1/8" deep into 3/4" wood since if you're a fraction of a mm off it doesn't really matter. However, being that the goal here is to engrave pretty fine text and line work into aluminum, like 0.05 mm deep, being off by a fraction of a mm is a lot.
About the bit, it's the pointiest bit I could find. There's cheap ones on ebay which I'll try soon but I wanted to start with something good, one less thing to worry about.