CNC for RF30 mill

I can’t make the meeting tonight (wife’s birthday) but I wanted to start the discussion.

I am researching into converting the Enco mill (RF30) to CNC. I would like to call out to anyone that may have donated (or has things to donate) to make this a reality.

Looks like we would need:
3 stepper motors (don’t have the size yet, but I’m thinking they would need to be on the larger side)
Mounting brackets for motors
Timing belts for steppers to leadscrews.
Pulleys for steppers and leadscrews.
Controller board (min 3 axis).
Power supply.
Possibly new leadscrews (Jim offered some leadscrews he had previously acquired to make his own CNC, I’ll check into if they would work. If not, possibly some ballscrews to minimize backlash)

I’m checking into if we can use the existing digital scales to “talk” to the CNC system. This would provide feedback to the system. Would be very cool.

Any help would be appreciated.

I would like to start my CNC learning journey with the Shapeoko that we have. I think it is pretty much functioning but I wanted to ask around if anyone could walk me through it’s operation. I think Julian was the previous owner, someone even told me the PC driving it is set to French . . . .

Re: shapeoko - pc is in french. And Lorin would be a good person to talk to about it! I think Marvin Stuart has one at home also, and might be able to give you some direction!

Also, in favor of computerizing the mill! :slight_smile:

yes the PC is in French!!! It’s my legacy to the space :wink:

I tried to installed a English version but it is not possible with the European version of windows!!!
No one offered me an other alternate at this time… and French is fine for me ;-))


Brad -

You’ve chosen an ideal time to explore the Shapeoko. Jon, Lorin and I dusted it off over the weekend to begin work on a circuit board milling workflow. After a little rewiring, it’s out of the corner and once more moving around under its own power.

At last update, Jon and Lorin were working on reconnecting the limit switches. I’m fiddling around with control software, looking for something a little more user friendly and cross platform than the java gcode sender app we’ve used in the past. Gcode generation can be handled by the usual suspects (Fusion, Vectric, CamBam, Easel). There was also discussion of replacing the grbl shield with another arduino/ramps board combination This would allow us to maintain very similar software and hardware configurations between the 3D printers and the CNC machines. I’ve even seen CNCs running off OctoPrint in the past, though I’m unsure if this is more gimmick than useful feature.

In a nutshell, talk to one of us when you’re ready to dive in. I suspect we’ll be working on it again this weekend if not sooner.

  • Ry

I’ll be working on this this week as my schedule allows (pretty open, actually).

Ryan, try the new shapeoko software - it’s a bit better. It’ll work for now… Also, I believe fusion can send gcode directly to shapeoko. I’ll pull up that YouTube video – I think there’s some partnership there…

I will add documentation to the wiki, and I speak / read and write enough French to handle the computer.

Also drafting up a plan to enclose it so we’re not shooting fiberglass into the air. I have parts for a simple DIY downdraft I could use.


Cool, thanks for all the info. We could laser cut a nice acrylic enclosure and hook it up to dust collection (maybe a shop vac if we are worried about hot chips).
I’m out of town this weekend so it would have to be later. Do we know the model/version number of the one we have? I could start to look into the documentation.

I think it can do some (lightweight) Aluminum milling.

We should update the machine for English (or provide screenshots of what to click on). Hmmm, forced foreign language development. Maybe we can start to have all the machines randomly switch to a variety of languages to encourage diversity . . .

Couldn’t we use the new Vectric VCarve software to talk to it? Might be nice to setup a standard for all the CNC machines. Of course someone could use whatever they are comfortable with . . .(don’t want to start a heated debate). :smile:

Good times.

They should all speak Esperanto! It’s the language of the future!! (tongue mostly in cheek)

For venting/dust collecting, would it be hard to add a branch off the big dust collector for long term use? I know a 'quickie solution is the shopvac.

btw, does the dust collector pull air in through all the ports on the system, or are they closed when the machine they are on is not in use?

On a mill like the RF-30 you don’t do dust collection since they don’t make dust, but large chips. The normal method is to build an enclosure around the milling area and then sweep the chips out/use compressed air to blow stuff out of the smaller spaces.

The dust collector has blast gates on all of the ports currently, so you only open the ones you need.


I think we were talking about the Shapeoko for possible dust collection. I was wondering if it could also do some light Aluminum milling. There are some videos on the web of it. If so, then we might not want to put those chips into the master system (might not be a big deal, something to think about later). We could hook it up to the main system and then just use the shop vac if we do Aluminum.

Everybody enjoying the snow? :scream:

Oops - My bad! People have just duct taped the shop vac to that for dust collection. :stuck_out_tongue:

Lorin, Ryan, and myself did discuss dust collection if we are going to do circuit board milling on it. Fiberglass dust is naassttyyy!

Main system + shop vac sounds like a pretty reasonable plan. I did add an extra port in the CNC area in case we wanted to attach the shapeoko.