Protohaven Member Forum

CNC mill

I’m not sure where the old thread about the CNC mill went so I’m starting a new one.

Daniel and I hooked up power to the mill yesterday and started it up. I spent some time working with it and have figured out how to fully start it up so that it is ready to run programs. It’s a bit tricky. I’ll be making a user guide for it soon.

Everything appears to be functional with the exception of one limit switch which I’ll be replacing sometime soon. This shouldn’t affect normal usage.

The spindle can be controlled by the G code program. At this point I am unsure if it can only be commanded to go clockwise or counter-clockwise or if it can also control the speed to some extent. The speed can be manually controlled by a lever and a crank on the head. It may be possible to set the maximum speed with those controls and then to set it lower using your g code.

There are two types of coolant used by this machine: Mist and flood. Right now neither work but that is because the coolant was drained and some parts were removed when it was moved. I’ll work to get this going soon.

The only obstacle to using this mill is that we don’t currently have a way to send data to the mill but it looks like we can just set up a computer next to it and use a usb to serial adapter to feed the programs to the mill. I’ll be working on that soon.

I’ll post updates as things develop.

Today I went in and worked on the mill some more. I now know how to send programs to the mill and made a really simple G-code program that cut air in a square.

Some things that I learned today:

  • For now, programs will be limited to 64,000 characters. This is a limitation imposed by the really old hardware. Apparently ‘drip feeding’ was a feature that the original customer didn’t pay for. It may be upgradable but in the event that people start wanting to do longer programs, it probably would be more worth it to rip out the controller and upgrade to something modern. I suspect that this could be done for less than $400 but need to look into this more. For now, if you are interested in doing something like milling a complex object that requires 3D contouring, please just let me know here and I may put some hurry on the upgrade.
  • The limit switch is still broken. This doesn’t affect normal operation because thankfully the X axis homes in some other manner. I’ll eventually fix this.
  • Coolant needs to be looked at. We probably only need to fill up the reservoir but I won’t know until I try it.
  • We need a way to really lock in the tool holder. There is a brake but I don’t currently know how to use it. I suspect that it requires compressed air.

One more thing that I thought of is that we currently only have a 1/4" collet. I didn’t want to buy a lot of them in the event that I found that there was something about it that didn’t work correctly but everything has checked out so I’ll get some more.

We now have collets for 1/4", 3/8", and 1/2". We also now have a Jacobs chuck with a 1/2" shank that will fit into one of those collets. I’ll be working on figuring out how to lock the spindle on Wednesday. We’ll need to do that in order to really secure the tooling in the spindle. I’ll work on getting coolant to work as well. Marty has donated some to the cause.

Today I hooked up compressed air to the mill. Mist cooling and the spindle lock now work. Only two things need to happen before the mill is ready for use: I need to bring in a wrench that will allow us to tighten the collets as well as some way oil for the automatic oiler. The oil is on the way. I’m in the process of documenting how to use the mill and will make a binder with instructions that will be kept near the mill.

I filled up the flood coolant reservoir today but it appears that automatic flood coolant isn’t working at the moment. I’m not sure what the issue is but I’ll look into it over the next few weeks. I may just be putting the wrong code in my program but I think that it is likely that something else is happening.

---- Nov 22 Update ----
With the exception of the flood coolant and the limit switch, the Clausing CNC mill is now ready for use… though you’ll have to hunt down Devin’s air compressor or bring your own to be able to really lock in the tools. If I remember, maybe I’ll bring in my small compressor next week to tide things over until the shop’s compressor is hooked up.

The limit switch is on its way. I’ll install that next Wednesday.

For those of you who have prior milling experience and know how to use some CAM processor, the mill is now available for use pending Thorin’s approval. He is the machine shop area lead.

Nov 29 update:
The limit switch is in now.

1 Like