Around my second year at SFU I was getting pretty bored in the engineering program. There was a lot of circuit analysis and math courses, but it was all dry academic stuff. The school had machine shops and laser cutters, but they were accessible only if you were taking specific courses.

I resolved to build my own CNC, not only as a useful tool but to create something real and tangible with my own hands.

I based my plans mostly off of, constructing the parts using hand tools and homedepot supplies. The frame is wildly inaccurate by most CNC standards, but it was good enough for prototyping at least. Not having access to a shop, I did most of the sawing in the bathroom to contain the dust.

I managed to find a local supplier that had proper acme rod, which I used instead of the homedepot threaded rods.

At the time I didn't have enough money for a proper power supply. I got a few junk PSUs from a local repair place and hooked them up in series to get 36 volts, which was surprisingly the most stable part of the whole system.

First time I booted up the entire machine shook uncontrollably. That was my first experience with diagnosing a ground loop.

First thing I made on the CNC, a chassis for an air-hockey robot for one of my courses. I was pretty excited when it started working and managed to mill out something useful.

Making some signage for my cousin's business

Disaster strikes! I was overconfident and left the CNC alone to do homework.

When the smoke cleared I found that during a z-axis retraction the router got snagged on the dust collection hose I just installed. Not knowing this, the machine then tried to do a full depth pass and burned up the router.

I discovered v-carving and started making small plaques for people.

In retrospect I probably spent enough on tooling and materials to buy a machine of similar accuracy, but the experience was certainly educational.

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