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CNC Build


The Corsair 4000D case can accommodate either 6 x 120mm fans, or 4 x 140mm fans. We want volume of airflow, normally measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM). RGB is a nice-to-have luxury (aesthetic only).

Training on YouTube

Choosing fans for the dedicated tower computer: (2463) PC Fans Types Explained... What is right for your setup? - YouTube. The video makes clear that ball bearings don't tend to deteriorate over time the way fluid bearings ones do (mostly due to dust imbedding itself into the lubricant). The incremental cost of ball bearings is about 25%, or about $20 upfront.

At time of writing, installing 4 x 140 mm of the following looks to be best performance per dollar of cost (with a whopping 169 CFM per fan):

It also happens to have addressable RGB, with an incremental cost of about $5/fan (Iceberg brand), or $20 total incremental build cost.

So this is the fan we are moving forward with (adding 1 extra as a spare).


We have an old touchscreen laptop (with no parallel port) that we'd still like to use for its display, keyboard, and touchpad to run Mach3 on the AMD computer.

In a sense, we want the AMD computer to be a server (with no independent keyboard, mouse or display) ("headless" in computer jargon, apparently).

We found the following videos very helpful (starting at ~5:15 for the first one):

 We picked up an HDMI video capture device on Amazon for about $14:



To add a connector to an ethernet cable, we found this video very helpful:




TThe plot thickens on Mach3 running on Windows 10:

 And yet, the current Mach 3 website itself suggests that Windows 10 should work:

Mach 3 continues with the following:

There is no definition of "external motion device". We had thought the BBC Breakout Board was such a device. As it turns out, no it's not.

After much reading, it seems that an "external motion device" such as the following will provide vastly better performance:

It's clear that the Ethernet SmoothStepper is the clear favourite for new builds.

Let's try the sole Canadian distrubuter (the pricing is lower in any case): DashX - Service and Retrofit of CNC Routers: Laserspec, Camtech.

The existing Ethernet port is connected to our Router, so we'll need to add another Ethernet port on the AMD Computer.


Mach 3

This one was most helpful on Feb-15-23, to make extra sure that the BBC Breakout Board instructions from MachDrives (and Stepper Motor Canada) we've been working with don't include any errors / troublesome settings [shortly before going live]:

 Stepper Motors now working, but NOT POWERFUL enough. Ugh.

Let's go with 750W servo motors. Position feedback included, for better results.

To save time, let's just get another BBC Breakout Board (using section 6 this time, for Servo Motors), plus another ESS Smoothstepper.

[The idea is to preserve the stepper motor electronics for another build... likely a 3D printer of some sort, or maybe a CNC router with a larger table]

Problem: the Servo Motors need 24V control inputs. The BBC Breakout Board outputs much less than this (there is no information anywhere that I can find that provides the output voltages). I've tried using a 2222 transistor to boost the signal to 24V, and I can get the Servo Motor to turn, but it's completely uncontrollable.

I re-reviewed the User Guide to my Oscilloscope to make sure I was using it correctly, but to no avail. Perhaps these devices are designed to make it difficult for a DIY-er?

The YouTube video ( ) using 750W Servo Motors successfully used an Eding iCNC600 Industrial CNC controller. I'm tired of things not working, so I think it's time to spring for one of those. I've tried all other options and despair is setting in.

The Eding comes with its own software, plus customer support.

To close the chapter with Mach3, I left a message with MachDrives that might engender a response (they ignored me previously):

 ...and this time a response was swift! David from Machdrives sent me a detailed, hand-written diagram of how to wire it (!)


Machining Aluminum

We will try using isopropyl alcohol when machining aluminum, as per the following: (823) Does isopropanol make a difference? - YouTube In short, yes it greatly improves the finish.