Sunday, May 2, 2021

An Enclosure for My 3018-PROVer CNC Router - Part 1


For the past month or so I have been getting a fair bit of use out of my new CNC router and I've been busily trying my hand at doing some simple projects like making some cut-out letters and Christmas ornaments as I continue to learn how to use the machine. 

For all of its versatility, I did notice a few drawbacks with it. 

For one, it can get a bit noisy, while not really a problem for me since I have it installed in a garden shed in my backyard, I do wonder how the neighbors feel about hearing a loud humming noise emanating from my shed. 

Secondly, the router does throw up a fair bit of fine sawdust into the air while it's doing its thing and after a while, I have noticed a fine layer of sawdust has now started to coat all the tools that I keep in the shed. 

To combat the noise and dust issue head-on, I decided that an enclosure of some kind would be the best solution. I have noticed that there are many enclosures available to buy online, and I did see that there were also a few examples of homemade ones posted online. 

I did want to be as cost-effective as possible with my enclosure, but of course, I didn't want to completely cheap out and just buy a plastic tote from the store - where was the fun in that!

My plan is to build an enclosure out of leftover pieces of plywood and MDF board that I had laying around from previous projects. Since my router had an offline controller, also I wanted to have it so that the controller was mounted in a stationary location on the outside of the enclosure to eliminate stress on its cable (I wanted to keep it from bending the wires connecting the controller to the router, so installing it on a lid that was continuously opening and closing was out of the question) but still be able to easily see and operate the controller from outside of the enclosure. 

Likewise, I wanted to have some ventilation for the motor control board on the router, since I noticed that it tended to heat up a bit when the router was operating, so some sort of airflow was needed.  

Finally, I wanted to have the enclosure constructed in such a way that I can easily vacuum out the sawdust after a routing session

After some rough sketching, I settled on building an enclosure that had a bit of a quasi-clamshell design. with a little platform at the top of the enclosure to mount the controller and a little lip on the front edge to keep the sawdust inside the enclosure, but still making it easy to attach and remove the workpiece on the router.  

After taking some measurements of the router, I determined that an enclosure of 16" X 18" X 13" would do the trick 

With those specifications in mind, I started off by designing and building the base of the enclosure. 

Sketch of the enclosure base

 I started by cutting out 4 pieces of 1/2 inch plywood:

  • One board cut to 16 X 18 for the bottom of the enclosure
  • Two boards cut to 13 X 16 for the enclosure side
  • One cut to 19 X 13 for the back of the enclosure. 

Back, sides and bottom pieces

To create the clamshell effect, I wanted to cut a 45-degree angle into the sides starting 4 inches in from the top back of the sides, ending 3 inches in from the bottom front of the sides.  

I marked those locations on the sides and made the cuts with my table saw

Marking location for angle cut

Marked location for angle cut

Sides cut

Using some wood glue and brad nails I then attached the sides to the base of the enclosure.

After that, I then attached the back of the enclosure to the sides and base of the enclosure with glue and brad nails. 

Attaching sides and back

Sides and back attached

Next, I cut out a 4 X 16 strip of plywood and attached it to the top of the sides and back. 

4 X 16 strip of plywood

Top strip attached

After that, I then cut off a 3 X 16 strip of plywood and attached it to the front of the sides and base. 

Front strip attached

With the basic tub of the enclosure now built, it was time to give it a bit of a test fit with my router. 

Doing a test fit

So far the router fitted quite nicely inside the base of the enclosure. There was plenty of room for all the moving parts of the router. 

This was as far as I got with the enclosure this week, but so far I am pretty pleased with how things are evolving. 

Next week I will work on getting the lid of the enclosure put together, 

Sunday, April 25, 2021

DIY Mulcher for a Lawn Tractor


A simple mulcher for the mower

Since I was in a getting ready for spring frame of mind, I figured that I should tackle a bit of a pet peeve of mine when it comes to yard work. 

Anytime you see a picture of someone's lawn, whether it be in a magazine spread or a TV show, you will always be greeted with images of pristine fields of green, every blade of grass in its place.

Sadly the reality (or at least my reality) is quite different. In my particular case, my home sits on a rural property that has its sewage situation handled by a septic system that has a weeping bed that expands out into my front lawn. This creates pockets of nutrient and moisture-rich areas on my lawn, meaning that while in some areas I have a lawn that grows at a normal rate, I also have areas where the grass grows like proverbial weeds. 

The issue with this comes when it's time to mow the lawn. While I have no issues cutting the "normal" part of the lawn, when I go over the turbo-charged part, I end up with large clumps of grass, making my front yard looking more like a hayfield than a lawn. 

It just doesn't look good, and it bugs me to see winrows of grass instead of a pristine, freshly cut lawn. 

Other than hiring out a couple of sheep to spend the summer on my front lawn (the neighbors would look at me funny), I wanted to find a solution for this. 

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Taking a Wee Break From the Shop

My trusty ICOM IC-718

This weekend I took a bit of a break from the shop to say hello to some folks that I hadn't spoken to for a little while. 

In most cases, I have never met these people in person, and they live literally hundreds if not thousands of miles away from me, and to be honest, I need to do a lookup to see what their actual names are since  I only really know them by the government issued code name that has been given to them. Likewise, they only really know me by my own special code name - which happens to be VA3ATW, and in certain circles that is the name, I go by.  

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Time for an Upgrade - Moving from a 3018 to a 3018-PROVer CNC router


Sainsmart 3018 PROVer

A couple of years ago I bought myself a pretty cheap CNC router off of Amazon, mainly just to experiment and learn how to use one in my woodworking projects. 

The router that I had bought was a very cheap one based on the very common 3018 router platform, which uses an Arduino as its brain and uses the GCODE language as its instruction set. It was a very basic router and I could tell that it was certainly made on the cheap since a lot of the plastic parts, particularly the spindle motor mount was made from a 3D printer - so it wasn't necessarily made to precise tolerances. But for a learning machine, I figured it would be a good one to start with, 

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Repairing a Lawn Tractor Muffler - A Tale of Baling Wire and Bubble Gum

My muffler is broken!

When springtime comes a not so young man's thoughts turn to lawn care. 

And so this weekend I hauled my old lawn tractor out from its winter hibernation.  After giving the battery a quick charge and adding some fresh gas to the tank, I started the old girl up for the first time this year. 

I've had this tractor for about 10 years and it always provided faithful service in keeping the grass around the house nice and trimmed. 

So I was a bit bummed out when, after starting the engine I was greeted with a metallic clang and a really loud noise coming from the engine,. 

Hopping off the tractor, I immediately found the cause. On the ground, in front of the tractor, I found a large metal box - more commonly referred to as a muffler.