Hacked Gadgets Forum

January 12, 2010

Harford Hackerspace CNC Machine cuts Throwing Star

at 11:18 am. Filed under Computer Hacks, Cool Gadgets, DIY Hacks, What Were They Thinking

The Harford Hackerspace has been building a CNC machine. You can see all the build details here. This machine is a huge success! The Z axis can lift an amazing 65 lbs and it has no problem cutting metal throwing stars. What more testing do you need? I think we can call the build done at this point.

“The CNC machine’s construction has advanced to the point where we can begin to cut items.  Being a bunch of teenagers trapped in adult bodies, someone decided that we should cut a throwing star from sheet aluminum.  One copy of CamBam and 6 minutes later and the star was ready to be cut!  After a few adjustments and a bit snapped in half from being dragged through the metal too fast, the cutting was underway.  The star took about 10 minutes to cut and was an excellent first attempt at metal production.  The next step is to use the CNC to cut more precise parts for itself and help bring about the Robot Armageddon.”


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12 Responses to “Harford Hackerspace CNC Machine cuts Throwing Star”

  1. Stunmonkey Says:

    Man, I wish these guys the best of luck, and am glad they had the fortitude to take on this kind of project. Unfortunately, it appears to have the same problems most of these physical projects undertaken by hackerspaces do and is doomed to be suboptimal if truly useful at all. There are a lot of nice well thought-out features coupled with some tragic beginner mistakes. That weight test is kind of the final clue they don’t know even what to test or build for.

    Why is it the subtle cockiness of computer and electronics people always means underestimating the mechanical engineering problems? Because they work primarily in the mental space, they tend to underestimate anyone who works in plain meatspace as a dumb greasemonkey. I have not yet found an IT or EE guy who didn’t think he could pull off any ME project as trivial, when the opposite is actually true – it takes a hell of a lot more skills, learning, planning, math, and thought to build in realspace where things get more than a bit non-linear and there are infinitely more variables.

    I am all for building CNC or any other project, but remember to ask a ‘dumb’ mechanical engineering type for basic advice, or at least look at what has come before and try to ask why it was done that way, before trying to reinvent the wheel. Build on hard-earned existing knowledge, maybe even improve it. Just outright ignoring a hundred plus years of machining development and best practice thinking you can automatically do better is just not realistic, no matter how bright you are.

  2. Nemo Says:

    @stunmonkey-They are learning by doing. They should be commended. Sometimes reinventing the wheel is a productive and useful exercise.

  3. bsom Says:

    @Stunmonkey – The lifting test was done as a joke in response to another CNC maker that thought his CNC lifting 35 pounds was a feat. Our CNC is absolutely useful, being designed primarily to make prototype PCB’s and some minor woodworking.

    “That weight test is kind of the final clue they don’t know even what to test or build for. Why is it the subtle cockiness of computer and electronics people always means underestimating the mechanical engineering problems?” I guess the biggest clue of your own cockiness is commenting without having the whole story.

  4. bsom Says:

    @Stunmonkey – Also, I like how you assume we are all “computer and electronics people.” It is nice to know that you know us so well. We built the machine for fun. Remember fun? It’s the stuff people have when they stop taking themselves so seriously. Keep building!

  5. bsom Says:

    @Nemo – Thanks. Some people miss the point of the excitement, educational value and fun in *not* following what has preceded you. If we were planning on building the perfect CNC, we would have just rolled our pennies and bought some…..kit. Yuk.

  6. StunmonkeysaChump Says:

    @Stunmonkey – you’re a dick

  7. Stunmonkey Says:

    I am all for people building and learning, and I congratulated you on the effort. Some of the parts of your machine show true brilliance. You will hopefully get there eventually.
    I am all for reinventing and improving the wheel, AFTER figuring out why it was put together the old way FIRST. Unfortunately a few simple missteps, easily avoided through a little research, is keeping it from working well at all. That’s all. If those were solved, you maybe could get to actually making a better, cheaper machine and contribute to knowledge. Until then you are just flailing over well-covered ground, and I’m sorry, but that is pride not practicality.

  8. Stunmonkey Says:

    @Nemo – No matter how brilliant someone is, a refusal to study and learn from what has gone before, or recognize that any value may be found in it, is pure hubris and folly.

    Reverse-engineer the wheel. Then try to reinvent it. That is productive and conducive to learning.

  9. Alan Parekh Says:

    I don’t want any flame wars here. I understand your thoughts Stunmonkey but in the future please provide kind constructive criticism since we are all friends here trying to create fun and challenging things. There is lots to be said for doing something the tried and true way but the amount you learn when you start from a clean slate is immense.

  10. bsom Says:

    @Stunmonkey – Again, you make some pretty broad assumptions that we started by looking up CNC in the dictionary instead of research or study. The machine is far from perfect, but without access to precision equipment to being with, it is the best we have been able to product to date. The goal of the project is to produce a “rough” CNC that can be used to produce better parts for a 2nd CNC. With each revision, the child machine will be more and more finely machined and precise than its parent.

  11. bsom Says:

    @StunmonkeysaChump – Now, now. Let us not be name callers. While I appreciate Stunmonkey’s comments, I retain the right to defend our progress to date.

  12. Gary Says:

    @Stunmonkey – You think our goal was to build the bese CNC ever? If that’s what you got from the video then I must thank you for the incredible compliment. I think our CNC is pretty kickass given the cost.

    Where did you derive this assumed inferiority towards Mech Engineers? The reason we didn’t consult any is simply because there are none that have joined our group. They are probably too busy building the Iron Man suit in their garage with a slide rule and bean paste because they are so damn amazing.

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