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Topics - Stonemull

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Mini CNC / grblgnu software
« on: August 24, 2017, 09:20:52 PM »
I think this might be some useful stuff, not managed to get it to connect to my machine yet though, I have asked him a question on his youtube channel as he seems active there.

Basically I uploaded grbl 1.1e to my machine and still get 'grbl not detected' on the correct com port.
I have a bunch of 888888888888888<<<<<88888888888 in the status window from the machine.
If I close grblgnu and then open the port in realterm I get the following ..

Grbl 1.1e ['$' for help]

So it looks like grbl is hanging or something similar, I have confirmed that grblgru expects 115200 baud, so its not that... will report back if I get a response.


Mini CNC / PCB creation
« on: August 24, 2017, 08:55:09 AM »
I have had some success with making very small pcb's including double sided.

Software used is flatcam to generate gcode files which are then imported into estlcam.

Following is my very first attempt, well fourth if you count the failed ones on the same bit of copper.
I was using the 0.1mm 60 degree V bit, set width to 0.21mm for a 0.1mm cut depth.
I have found 0.05mm is a useable depth if you have flat material, I am yet to try probing in multiple points, estlcam can do it but I am not sure how to apply it to imported gcode, not even sure you can.

Note: this is a double sided board, I cut the first layer, drilled then did the edge cuts and removed the board, then realised I was going to have a mongrel of a time clamping it for the second layer, also the alignment hole I drilled turned out to be in the middle of a track on layer 2 .. but it did work.

edit: added a couple of pics of the completed board too..

Mini CNC / CAM software
« on: August 24, 2017, 08:52:51 AM »
You will need some..

This is the most promising so far, I am yet to pay for it as I am still hoping there is a nice open source solution, I find it a little lacking in a few areas.

Mainly .. mill a hole and it comes out smaller than expected ? it may just be a setting I have wrong.
It does not work with grbl I dont think, it expects that you are using a grbl type board or a number of other boards and uploads its own firmware.

The photo shows the settings I am using..

Mini CNC / Milling bits
« on: August 24, 2017, 08:45:49 AM »
These are decent quality and cheap for the price, each one in its own nice plastic box with text in english for the size that is totally readable with a magnifying glass..
I have only used the 3mm and 6mm so far, I tried the 6mm on aluminium and it was horrid, spindle speed is too slow and forces too great, wood though like MDF .. turns it into dust quite happily.
6mm shaft on all.

Mini CNC / Burr bits
« on: August 24, 2017, 08:42:32 AM »
These are great ! Well worth it, I have used them to cut into a coin (australian 50c piece) and also aluminium with no sign of wear or degradation of the tool. Also very useful in the dremel .. I have used them to carve up 3D printed plastic like a demon.
They vibrate much less than milling bits and are far more suitable for these CNC machines than milling bits. They remove a fine powder of metal, don't expect chips.

They are a 3.00mm shaft but I just tried one in the standard 3.15mm collet and it does grip, feels like about the limit of the 3.15mm collet.

Mini CNC / Collet sets
« on: August 24, 2017, 08:34:03 AM »
This one is a good one...

Only issue is the little plastic boxes they come in are a mongrel to get the lid off.
Note these are actually ER11A collets, not ER11 .. they have the extra groove that means they lock into the nut, ideally you would buy an extra nut for each collet as they can be hard to grip and remove.

Mini CNC / Play in Z axis
« on: August 24, 2017, 08:26:51 AM »
Trying to come up with a way to eliminate this movement, preferably without rebuilding it from scratch :)

I think if this could be eliminated then aluminium could be machined with care and careful control of feed rates and cutting depths and direction.
As you can see, the 8mm rods flex, the narrower machines might not be as much of a problem so perhaps the easiest solution would be to reduce the width, or perhaps adding a removable brace or two and working with a reduced feed at times, I am not going to need 300mm of X when machining metal.
This is with about a kilo or so of force, maybe a bit more, the z axis can easily generate this by itself.
The problem with milling is that this flex means the tool can be 'sucked' into the workpiece with traditional milling or forced away in climb milling, leading to chatter, crap surface etc.

Trouble Shooting / Useful Troubleshooting Diagram
« on: August 16, 2017, 11:05:55 PM »
hopefully helps someone.

Projects / Self balancing robot
« on: July 22, 2017, 01:52:57 AM »
Always wanted to make one of these, thought I would see if steppers would do the job since I have some sitting here and a couple of new uno stepper shields.

So trying out the new tools, used openscad to make a dxf stencil .. added the code toshow you how easy openscad is to use as is totally useful for lasers too, just export as dxf

Code: [Select]
$fn = 100;  // this sets how many arc segments in a circle
pl = 4.5;   // this is the extra 4.5mm I need to make a plasma stencil
//wid = 50-pl;
nemahole = 3/2+pl;  // radius of drilled mounting hole.

//polygon ([   [0,0],[wid,0],[wid,wid],[0,wid],[0,0]]);
    translate ([31.0/2,31.0/2]) circle (nemahole); // hole #1
    translate ([-31.0/2,31.0/2]) circle (nemahole);
    translate ([31.0/2,-31.0/2]) circle (nemahole);
    translate ([-31.0/2,-31.0/2]) circle (nemahole);
    circle (11+pl);  // centre hole

opened that with estlcam, stuck some plywood in the mill and a 3mm mill. used the 'hole' function to mill out the holes in 4 passes.
Used the stencil on the plasma cutter to make 2 nema 17 mounts 180mm apart (long enough to mount some 18650's between 2 motors)
Cleaned up with a flapper disc on the angle grinder.
Folded up the steel in a vice and tack welded the corners together.

Screwed motors in ..

resurrected an old Sony bloggie camera I had not used in many years, it happily charged up amazingly, ideal for shed use and saves me dragging the ipad or Canon out there.

more to  follow..

General Discussion / Portable death ray
« on: July 19, 2017, 05:29:34 PM »
Made to decommision nuclear reactors.

Custom Size Frames / Little CNC mill
« on: July 10, 2017, 07:01:09 PM »
Arrived fast .. ordered Jul 2

Nicely packed little box, the larger oarts I thought were billet are 3D printed, pretty solid though (heavy infill) but not aluminium. Tricky using grey plastic so it looks like alloy in the photos.

The 2 main parts of the Z axis and the girder like Z braces are all plastic, also the linear bearing holders are not 3D printed but still plastic.
Can't complain given the price, it was cheaper to buy this than get the individual parts.

A little CD I assume has build instructions on it..

Custom Size Frames / Bigger servo stuff
« on: July 06, 2017, 10:14:51 AM »
I was chatting to a client of mine who has a small factory, he like to make his own machines, like he made an automated pipe bender a few weeks back and is now working on a pan brake that can bend in either direction. He has made 5 machines in the last year.

This is his supplier for the electronics and motors and he gave me a complete rave review of them today, the pipe bender uses 5 large servos and cost $900 AUD all up with electronics and a controller so the prices must be damn good.

Anyway, out of my league but thought somebody here may find the information useful.

13 / Geared encoder motor
« on: July 05, 2017, 11:23:53 AM »
One of these arrived today

I bought it to experiment with driving a DC motor with an encoder feedback, also thought it might ge more suitable for my plasma cutter build. Then I might make a sliding door opener or something ..

I am yet to try the encoder but powered it up to check torque, damn, its torquey .. even running the motor at 2V you can't grip the shaft hard enough to stall it, at 24v I think you could use it as a tiny winch lol.

Top comes off easily, screws arent even tight, open it output shaft side down though, the pins are mounted on that side and you end up with all the gears and brass spacers on the floor otherwise ..

brass worm on motor to a nylon gear, then 3 alloy reductions to output. A few degrees of play on output shaft, not measured it yet but I reckon if it had a T16 pulley on it you would get 0.2mm or so of belt inaccuracy. So its going to be better at larger movements.
Nicely lubed with white lithium grease, no bearings but all the gears are sitting on decent sized steel shafts, thing shoukd last quite a while imo and the motor brushes will likely fail first.

About 40mA no load current at all voltages.

Mini CNC / Mini CNC
« on: July 02, 2017, 10:33:39 PM »
So just bit the bullet on one of these

I was looking at a variety of them, they make the same machine in 1610 , 2518 and 3018 .. (16 x 10cm work area etc)  I could have grabbed the 1610 for about $70 less, tbh I am not sure why I am buying one, guess I'll think of some use. The smaller one to me seems like it would be stiffer however I figured I could chop this one down worst case or flesh it with a bunch of wood or aluminium or even 3d printed parts.

The spindle motor is going to suck at anything more than scratching wood, so figuring a mod to fit something like this would be a good idea, I will likely wait to see how the thing performs.

Possible addition ..

Anybody had a play with one ?

Other Software / Wifi connection first test ..
« on: June 30, 2017, 01:11:50 PM »
This might take me a day or two so will edit this post as I go..

Adding wifi, there are many ways to do this but this is the version I am going with. I have been using ESP8266's for a few years now so I get this is going to look confusing if you have never heard of them .. will try to make it as simple as possible.

These guys have recently brought out a 32 bit version so these have dropped in price, I am using one of these basically..

So what follows is how I go adding wifi using one of these Node MCU ESP8266 4MB modules.

First things first .. plug module into USB (micro usb)
download one of the TGZ's at I used the 3.0.14 version (last stable)

Follow instructions in you will need a flashing tool, grab the one here ..
I am not sure if that is the one I am using, if so .. then in configuration set the filenames and addresses as required according to .. the addresses autofilled for me anyway.
Change options to a 4MB flash if that is what you have, hit "flash" and wait a minute..

You can open a terminal window to the com port the ESP is using at 115k and check debug info. Mine said .. (the number is a millisecond time stamp)

Code: [Select]
111> Flash config restore *FAILED*                                           
   111> CONN led=0                                                             
   111> SER led=14                                                             
   113> Wifi init, mode=AP                                                     
   115> Wifi uses DHCP, hostname=esp-link                                       
   119> "ip": ""                                                         
   121> "netmask": ""                                                   
   124> "gateway": ""                                                   
   126> "hostname": "<null>"                                                   
   129> sleep enable,type: 2                                                   
   132> Httpd init, conn=0x3fff3820                                             
   135> No user file system found!                                             
   138> Serbridge pins: reset=12 isp=13 swap=0                                 
   151> Reset cause: 6=external                                                 
   151> exccause=0 epc1=0x0 epc2=0x0 epc3=0x0 excvaddr=0x0 depc=0x0             
   151> Flash map 4MB:512/512, manuf 0xE0 chip 0x4016                           
   156> ** esp-link v3.0.14-g963ffbb: ready, heap=21368                         
   161> SNTP timesource set to with offset 0                   
   166> initializing user application                                           
   169> Waiting for work to do...                                               
   172> mode : softAP(a2:20:a6:0d:d2:1a)                                       
   176> add if1                                                                 
   178> dhcp server start:(ip:,mask:,gw:   
   186> bcn 100                                                                 
 15132> Wifi check: mode=AP status=255                                         

Then using an ipad or tablet/phone open the new wifi you will have (mine was called ESP_0DD21A) then open the browser and connect to

debug now reports

Code: [Select]
581578> add 1                                                                   
581578> aid 1                                                                   
581578> station: 1c:ab:a7:b3:cf:1c join, AID = 1                               
581579> Wifi AP: station 1c:ab:a7:b3:cf:1c joined, AID = 1                     
605137> HTTP GET /: 302, 21ms, h=18904                                         
605242> HTTP GET /home.html: 200, 31ms, h=18904                                 
605737> HTTP GET /style.css: 200, 37ms, h=14848                                 
605751> HTTP GET /ui.js: 200, 51ms, h=16544                                     
605755> HTTP GET /pure.css: 200, 56ms, h=18184                                 
605799> HTTP GET /favicon.ico: 200, 64ms, h=18904                               
606248> HTTP GET /menu: 200, 42ms, h=16728                                     
606249> HTTP GET /wifi/info: 200, 42ms, h=16920                                 
606249> HTTP GET /system/info: 200, 42ms, h=17120                               
606262> HTTP GET /pins: 200, 54ms, h=18032                                     
and ipad now has an open page to configuration..

open "wifi station" page

where it says "wifi association", select the switch to "STA+AP_mode to scan" link

scan and select the wifi network you want to use ..

note the IP address it tells you up top after it has connected and rebooted.

You can now connect back to your normal wifi and browse to the IP it gave you above, mine was

You are now connected back to the device via your wifi and it has disabled its own wifi server. (now ins STA mode, station instead of STA+AP)

You will not see debugging on the terminal any longer..
Code: [Select]
903711> Scan done: found 2 APs                                                 
903711> bss1: Lounge2 (-53)                                                     
903711> bss2: no_free_lunch (-83)                                               
904437> GET scan: cgiData=0 noAps=2                                             
904446> GET scan: cgiData=1 noAps=2                                             
904450> HTTP GET /wifi/scan: 200, 18ms, h=17616                                 
904498> HTTP GET /wifi/icons.png: 200, 12ms, h=17616                           
915801> Wifi check: mode=AP+STA status=0                                       
915801> Enabling/continuing uart log                                           
924513> HTTP POST /wifi/scan: 200, 9ms, h=17584                                 
924711> Starting a scan                                                         
926835> Wifi try to connect to AP Lounge2 pw *******                     
926838> scandone                                                               
926838> Scan done: found 2 APs                                                 
926838> bss1: Lounge2 (-55)                                                     
926838> bss2: no_free_lunch (-87)                                               
926842> HTTP POST /wifi/connect: 200, 31ms, h=17592                             
927574> GET scan: cgiData=0 noAps=2                                             
927578> GET scan: cgiData=1 noAps=2                                             
927581> HTTP GET /wifi/scan: 200, 12ms, h=17616                                 
927835> Wifi changing association                                               
930101> scandone                                                               
930501> switch to channel 6                                                     
930503> state: 0 -> 2 (b0)                                                     
930505> state: 2 -> 3 (0)                                                       
930506> state: 3 -> 5 (10)                                                     
930507> add 0                                                                   
930507> aid 3                                                                   
930507> connected with Lounge2, channel 6                                       
930635> dhcp client start...                                                   
930636> cnt                                                                     
930637> Wifi connected to ssid Lounge2, ch 6                                   
930911> HTTP GET /wifi/connstatus: 200, 8ms, h=17144                           
931724> ip:,mask:,gw:                     
931725> Wifi got ip:,mask:,gw:             
931727> host_name = esp-link                                                   
931729> server_name = _http._tcp.local                                         
931955> HTTP GET /wifi/connstatus: 200, 16ms, h=16808                           
947765> HTTP POST /wifi/scan: 200, 7ms, h=16792                                 
947962> Starting a scan                                                         
948812> GET scan: cgiData=0 noAps=2                                             
948815> HTTP GET /wifi/scan: 200, 8ms, h=16744                                 
950091> scandone                                                               
950092> Scan done: found 2 APs                                                 
950092> bss1: Lounge2 (-55)                                                     
950092> bss2: no_free_lunch (-87)                                               
950864> GET scan: cgiData=0 noAps=2                                             
950867> GET scan: cgiData=1 noAps=2                                             
950872> HTTP GET /wifi/scan: 200, 13ms, h=16808                                 
971106> HTTP POST /wifi/scan: 200, 9ms, h=16792                                 
971304> Starting a scan                                                         
972156> GET scan: cgiData=0 noAps=2                                             
972159> HTTP GET /wifi/scan: 200, 7ms, h=16744                                 
973279> GET scan: cgiData=0 noAps=2                                             
973433> scandone                                                               
973433> Scan done: found 2 APs                                                 
973434> bss1: Lounge2 (-53)                                                     
973434> bss2: no_free_lunch (-88)                                               
973981> HTTP GET /wifi/scan: 200, 708ms, h=16808                               
975028> GET scan: cgiData=0 noAps=2                                             
975032> GET scan: cgiData=1 noAps=2                                             
975037> HTTP GET /wifi/scan: 200, 15ms, h=16808                                 
987974> Wifi check: mode=AP+STA status=5                                       
987975> Wifi got IP. Going into STA mode..                                     
987975> station: 1c:ab:a7:b3:cf:1c leave, AID = 1                               
987978> rm 1                                                                   
987979> bcn 0                                                                   
987980> del if1                                                                 
987982> pm open,type:2 0                                                       
987984> mode : sta(a0:20:a6:0d:d2:1a)                                           
988108> Turning OFF uart log                                                   

I turned off the ipad and opened the page on the PC instead  .. photo 1

I suggest setting your router to configure this device as a static IP.

for my router, I go to DHCP clients list, copy the MAC address, then address reservations, paste the MAC address and the current IP and hit "enable" and now esp-link (can change name later) will always be the same IP.

At this point I disconnected the esp from USB and wired it to the Mana SE bluetooth port.
5v (pin closest to drivers) to Vin
Gnd to gnd
Tx - Tx
Rx - RX

I know the serial looks counterintuitive but that is the way the pins are marked on the mana se, so tx is tx of the FTDI chip and Rx of the nano..

The 5v on this port comes from the onboard regulator of the mana SE so there is no power when the power switch is off and the nano is powered. More on this later .. the nano will need to be swapped to this power also.

Turned power switch on and make sure you can still connect to the esp-link board...

Then open the uC console page and type "$$" in "console entry" and send it .. you should see the grbl data echoed back.. photo 2
congrats, hardware is done, you are well on the way ..

(maybe: Note to self check nodemcu for resistive divider on both rx and tx pins, a brief glance shows a 470R to the sub chip but none to the ESP12 module, the ESP may have only a divider on the RX from memory, which is fine, the nano 5v Tx is going to the esp rx line)

next step likely not needed so spoiled for the moment..
Next step, we have a functioning wifi device that can talk to the laser via serial, we need PC side software so things like T2 think they are talking to a serial port when in reality it is going out over wifi.
So for this step I am using Com0Com .. you want the signed version available here google "com0com signed" for alternate copys.

instructions ..

Opened com0com setup and I used virtual pair 0, click on "use ports class" for the 2 entrys if not already ticked, hit apply and you should see a driver installation message and a new com port will appear. mine is COM19 and COM20..

(note to self, not sure com0com is required yet)
[/spoiler] .. doh, no spoilers..

We need Com2Tcp .. I used this version (made me nervous so used an online virus scanner and had one 1/57 false positives), I will let you know if my PC explodes (by using my ipad)

once installed it opens a little window up top left, set the com port to an unused one if not already filled in, mine is COM4, set IP to the esp link device and port to 23.

this then connected ..

opened a realterm window and opened com4 at 115k, typed $$ and got the grbl data back .. good sign.

close realterm .. open T2 and connect to the chosen comport..

odd, right click on home is not resetting the XY to 0. Y always sets to 32 or 72 ?? latency issue ?

"display grbl parameters" however is working.

loaded the TEXT_COLOURS.dxf and set laser to 200, preview frame looked ok, hit go..

etched the letters on some ply well except for one glitch .. it stopped a couple of times at the start of one letter and tried burning a hole straight through my ply for a few seconds, so I am guessing
that we are not getting the throughput grbl needs ?

but .. it is working over wifi..

tomorrow will power the nano from 5v and unplug the cable I think, though this stopping and burning issue might be a deal breaker, may try bluetooth tomorrow and see if any better..

edit: as Zax moted below, enable dynamic laser power, this will turn off the laser if buffer emptys (off or compile time minimmum ?) .. disable fast status.


day 2 ..

Did some research, removed the nano and soldered the jumper underneath on my board, this connects the nano 5v regulator output with the onboard 5v supply and means the nano no longer needs USB power, not sure if all Manas have this jumper..  (photo3 .. it has been soldered)

Turned on power, open Com2TCP, hit connect, open T2, connect to com4 and off it went.

Disabled fast status, position is still reported incorrectly though,the odd thing though I can open the console in the browser and see that WCO is being correctly reported, T2 machine position is correct at all times, it just seems to have a problem reading the WCO parameter. In fact X pos stays at 0 and Y pos which is displayed is the machine position.

from console ..


T2 is reporting ..
 machine pos 105.0 and -45.0
work pos 0.0 and -45.0 (should be 5,5 from above values  I think)

no big deal, setting the work pos works, just the reported work value is incorrect.

Anyway, all good, I could now put the laser in another room of the house if I so desired, which I dont right this minute.. this was more an experiment for the plasma cutter in future since moving my PC to the shed is not an option and neither is moving my plasma cutter into the house..

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