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Step craft CNC machine

my experience

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Shane Sunday23/01/2016 14:05:13
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I know a lot of you are like me and prefer to build your own. Perhaps your skills on a band saw are like mine and pretty rough making all your template just a little off. Perhaps like me you want to get on with the build and couldn't be arsed catting all those formers. Also like me you have a few brain cells and can figure out simple computer program techniques. I've wanted a CNC machine for so long it hurt and doing my searches for the exact thing I wanted was tough, mix that with my budget. The stepcraft machine is so versatile with add ons and it's ability to be adapted for 2D, 3D. laser cutting, 3D printing, foam cutting and much more. I saw this to be the machine I wanted and it came in various sized that could suit whichever budget I had saved for. Sure there's a learning curve as with everything. Also not everything that glitters is gold! But if you'll bear with me I will over the next few days go through my trials and tribulations so far with the machine. The good mad and the ugly. I'm at work now on my lunch so I shall update more tonight but suffice to say in a couple short months I truely didn't know how I managed without one before.

Steve Hargreaves - Moderator23/01/2016 14:27:27
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Moderator
6728 forum posts
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Watching with interest Shane.....I'd love a CNC machine!!

Steven Shaw23/01/2016 15:12:08
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333 forum posts
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I'm also watching, CNC always interests me.

Robert Armstrong 223/01/2016 15:34:49
234 forum posts
23 photos

Me too. Have coveted one for ages. Looked at the Stepcraft myself. Looks really versatile.

cymaz24/01/2016 07:20:06
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8817 forum posts
1195 photos

You might get inundated with offers of work !

Fun Flyer24/01/2016 13:49:40
293 forum posts
38 photos

Fascinating project, I've been meaning to have a go at this for years.
Take a look here for example: **LINK**

Luther Oswalt24/01/2016 16:08:25
138 forum posts

Here is the absolute best Guy to talk with, great service and backs the products he sells. I highly recommend Stoney:

UK BASE at STONEY CNC
STONEY CNC,
Penylan Barn,
Hardwicke,
Hereford,
UK

Posted by Shane Sunday on 23/01/2016 14:05:13:

I know a lot of you are like me and prefer to build your own. Perhaps your skills on a band saw are like mine and pretty rough making all your template just a little off. Perhaps like me you want to get on with the build and couldn't be arsed catting all those formers. Also like me you have a few brain cells and can figure out simple computer program techniques. I've wanted a CNC machine for so long it hurt and doing my searches for the exact thing I wanted was tough, mix that with my budget. The stepcraft machine is so versatile with add ons and it's ability to be adapted for 2D, 3D. laser cutting, 3D printing, foam cutting and much more. I saw this to be the machine I wanted and it came in various sized that could suit whichever budget I had saved for. Sure there's a learning curve as with everything. Also not everything that glitters is gold! But if you'll bear with me I will over the next few days go through my trials and tribulations so far with the machine. The good mad and the ugly. I'm at work now on my lunch so I shall update more tonight but suffice to say in a couple short months I truely didn't know how I managed without one before.

simon burch24/01/2016 16:27:59
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754 forum posts
19 photos

I would be interested to watch how you get on. I was tempted by one of these, but have been put off by peoples comments about compatibility issues with hardware and windows versions. The lack of software to convert your cad drawing to CNC cutter path.

For how much the machine actually costs, I would want it to literally be plug and play, with all the software included. At the moment, I think they just cost too much for what you are actually getting. A thousand pounds gets a lot of laser cutting done by someone else !!

Watching with interest.

Simon

Shane Sunday24/01/2016 23:11:10
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342 forum posts
160 photos

I understand completely. Yes there is quite the learning curve. I think you have to go with what you know and whereyou would like to be. Like I said im only learning myself but there are some things that inalready knew such asillustrator. So I had a pretty good start there. The fellas at stoney are incredible and very helpful. You can contact them and rest assured that they will help you as much as possible to get you up and cutting.

Tomorrow I will add some photos.

As I statec above the stepcraft machines are priced to taylor to your budget. My budget was rather small and I hadto save for almost a year, just my pound and 2 pound coins. Finally id saved enough to purchase the model I thought would best suit what I wanted to do so I purchased the 420 machine. This ma hine has a 420X300 mm work space. If iI'd saved a bit more I could have gotten the 600 but the 420 machine is plenty for me. The package arived within the 3 week period as stated although it felt like a lifetime as I was so excited to get started. When it finally had arrived I was busy other things and couldnt getbaround to building it. Anyhow... when I opened the box everything was packaged very neatly, everything was wrapped in foam sheet and protected. One look at the instructions reasured me that I could do it. The best thing is that it fits together the way the pictures say it fits. If you put a 6mm long hex into a 9 mm long hole then you will be missing a 6mm bolt later and wonder where to put the 9mm bolt you have left. So this was good. I made one or two mistakes and had to back track but got into it real easy. So follow the instru tions and it goes together well.

So what about the software? You have to have software to cut your files using a cnc machine. Well that was the other thing I liked this machine comes with WinPC NC starter and is supose to be easy to open your eps files you created in illustrator ore coreldraw or another drawing program that deals with vector graphics. Well it wasn't as easy as that for me. Yes I could open the files in winpcnc but only after a couple of days of trial and error. Also the starter pack was so slimmed down from the full version that I could hardly understand where I was oriented on the machine most of the time. So I chose to bite the bullet and purchase a program that could turn my eps files into G code and therefore make winpcnc run better. Turns out that program still won't understand G code unless you purchase the full version. So I caved. But id be damned if id purchace that countervintuitive program.

More reaserch and more money this wasntvwhat id had in mind. But I finally came up with a program called UCCNC. the fellows a stoney cnc had it and a few other ancillaries to me in less than a week and I was off. Sure I had to swithch out thecWINPCNC control board for the UCCNC one but that was easy. So lets see

Illustrator draws vector files which can be saved as eps

Vector cut2D turns eps files into G code

UCCNC translates G code and tells the machine what to do.

This is what I use to cut everything so far. Which so far isnt much. I've cut hard wood, plastic, plywood, lightply and depron.

Shane Sunday24/01/2016 23:19:23
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342 forum posts
160 photos

Just a note. Typing from my tablet is a pain in the but and takes forever. It also doesn't have auto correct and sometimes I hit a C or V instead of the space bar. Please bear with me here. Tomorrow ill add more.

simon burch24/01/2016 23:52:15
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754 forum posts
19 photos

Shane,

This is what put me off. As you say, it's not a cheap piece of kit but you are still spending more and swapping stuff out. This thing is not new to the market, so surely this problem has been an issue for other customers as well.

I really feel this puts people off.

Simon

Shane Sunday25/01/2016 08:51:53
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342 forum posts
160 photos

Good morning Simon. Yes I agree that these things aren't cheap and through this thread i hope to help people understan the actual costs and your right these things aren't new to the market but I feel changes have deffinately been made. Like I've said I've been looking for one for a long time. Hen I first started looking it was at the ones from china. Its all I could find for the longest time but they seemed too expensive and didn't look so well made. Mix that with control boxes that resembled a futuristic bit of kit from the 70s. Now the Stepcraft machine looks nice with the controler inside the machine itself which is more akin to computers of today. Lets not forget that this is German engineering as well, and that really does mean something here. So this is new.

On the topic of programs and computer cross compatibility I cant speak for Mac users but for us windows users the above programs work and they work well together. Unfortunately Simon Im not using cad program yet so I cantinform you about that. Although iI've looked into a 4th axis and my UCCNC controler does and will deal with it when I start in 3D.

what are you looking to cut with the Cnc machine? Are you wanting to print 3D? Or are you looking to mill 3D objects? Also Simon you had mentioned above on how much 1000 quid can get laser cut by someone else, what about those spur of the moment pieces you had either forgotten or had just realised you needed? If you are just cutting ribs and formers from your cad drawings then im pretty sure you can import your DXF files into CUT2D and set parameters that will be saved in GCODE so UCCNC can tell the CNC machine what to do.

I wouldnt discount one just yet.

Edited By Shane Sunday on 25/01/2016 09:01:10

Shane Sunday25/01/2016 18:02:17
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342 forum posts
160 photos

I keep getting asked to login over and over again when trying to upload photos to my albums. Ive no idea why.

Shane Sunday25/01/2016 18:17:46
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342 forum posts
160 photos

 

Sorted the image thing out.

 

Here is my 420 machine. A little dusty from use with a depron sacrificial layer and my dremel 4000.

 

Edited By Shane Sunday on 25/01/2016 18:20:02

20160125_174026.jpg

Edited By Shane Sunday on 25/01/2016 18:20:44

Shane Sunday25/01/2016 18:22:05
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342 forum posts
160 photos

This is a drawing of a model im trying to build. This is done in illustrator.

20160125_174612.jpg

Shane Sunday25/01/2016 18:23:17
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342 forum posts
160 photos

Here is cut2D with parts drawn in ullustrator

20160125_174637.jpg

Shane Sunday25/01/2016 18:24:29
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342 forum posts
160 photos

And finally the CNC controller program UCCNC

20160125_174923.jpg

Shane Sunday25/01/2016 18:55:45
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342 forum posts
160 photos

I look through the many build logs of all the people on these forums and the wonderful works of art that have been created just blow me away. This also leads me to believe that any one of you can build the machine. Hell if I can do it then so can you. So I don't feel much of a need to go through the process here but mix with the fact that there is so much support online via youtube and just regular searches you don't really need my help.

What I do want to shed a bit more light on are the programs. These are the things people find daunting, or maybe the price, but lets just say you're going to get one no matter what the cost but just needed help making some kind of informed decision on what else is needed. now you can get an older version of illustrator online for around £100. You don't need all it's functions but you do need a handfull of it's tools and once you play around with them a little it becomes easier and easier to do. I scan my plans on my desktop scaner/printer and open them in illustrator. I'll use the measuring tool to make sure I have the right size or you can enlarge or reduce if you like too. Once in illustrator and sized you can then use the pen tool to trace around your plan. There are other tools like the loop tool and the marquise tools to help with this as well. Try it out play with it and have fun. Whne you're happy with your drawing Obviously save it but you can also open up a new page which I like to make 400X300mm to help me orient things on the machine. I'll then copy and past parts of the plan on this new page and when I'm happy I'll save it as an EPS file and save as an older illustrator 3 compatable otherwise the cut 2D program may have trouble understanding your file.

 

CUT 2D is a wonderful and very simple to use Gcode generating program. In Cut2D you set the material depth orientation top or bottom of material as well as orientation of the XYZ axis which I like to chose center just because then I know exacty where I am all the time. Initially I didn't know where the front of the machine was located on the program so center seemed to be best. After you've done this you can then select and alterter any piece you like within your drawing. Heck Cut2D has some basic drawing and lettering tools of it's own. So lets say you selected an object lets say its a firewall. well you've drawn your firewall with mounting holes in the perfect spot and you want those cut first. you can selct those holes and cut them first, telling the proram weather to cut to the right or on or to the left of the line. there are tutorials online that will be able to get you started. Rather than go through every little bit. next you selct the the firewall itself and again tell the program how deap to cut where to cut also

Edited By Shane Sunday on 25/01/2016 19:38:46

Shane Sunday25/01/2016 20:00:35
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342 forum posts
160 photos

Im sorry guys I keep getting pulled away with parenting issues in the middle of a thought or sentence. Am I going into too much detail? Is this making any sense? I'm not too good at these things. You know making build / info threads.

Steven Shaw25/01/2016 22:34:48
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333 forum posts
182 photos

Please - carry on, I'm still very interested.

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