A Journal Outlining the Progress of Preparing for a micRo CNC Router
12 April 2010 – I have decided that I need a CNC router for prototyping PCBs. I am tired of ironing transfers and etching with pool acids. I also want a versatile tool that I can use to aid in prototyping. Tasks can range from art, to PCB manufacture, to cutting precise holes in project boxes.
After doing a little bit of research and contacting several companies, I have decided to try out Lumenlab. They designed a nice CNC router that seems to be extremely accurate. Just search Youtube for Brainchild or micRo, and you’ll see the videos of micRo development.
I immediately had excellent communication from Kellie at Lumenlab. She has walked me through the ordering process, which really isn’t difficult except that I had a million++ questions.
Here’s what I am expecting in about 8 weeks from Lumenlab: micRo V2, spindle, and their ‘AMP’, which is the controller. They also sell an Ubuntu computer with EMC2 installed, but I have an old desktop that already has Ubuntu 6.06 on it.
The first step in the process of preparing for my new tool is to make sure my desktop can handle CNC tasks. While reading the EMC2 Getting Started PDF, I began running latency tests on my Ubuntu computers. I already discovered that my laptop is not a great candidate for it.
1. Install EMC2 from LinuxCNC.org. Follow the instructions on their website.
2. Once installed, open terminal and run “latency-test”. While latency-test is going on, you get to abuse your computer. Open up as many programs as you can while listening to music files and watching videos. I personally opened about 20 different programs and had that many internet tabs open. My desktop never exceeded 17.5us. According to the Getting Started PDF, this is perfect for CNC operations.
13 April 2010 – I read up on how to make G code yesterday afternoon. I made a simple schematic in Eagle, then used PCB-GCODE to convert the board to G code. The link is to their website where you can download the zip file.
To use Pcb-gcode, download the zip file and unzip it into the Eagle ulp folder. Then simply type in ‘run pcb-gcode c:\mygcode\’. It will do the rest for you.
31 April 2010 – I upgraded my computer to Ubuntu 8.04 because I couldn’t get the Flash to work with 6.06. Well, it was then I noticed that my computer only had 192 megs of RAM, and 187 of it was used. I decided to buy a ram upgrade without checking to see what the max was for the motherboard. What a mistake! the max was 384MB. I bought two 512MB sticks. Great going.
I am going to build a computer around the RAM. I’m aiming for a 667MHz PIII with 512MB RAM and a 20GB hard drive. I’m going to install it in a simple wooden box with fans since I don’t want to spend the money on a case. I’ll turn the other computer into a server or something. The Ubuntu servers run with sufficiently less than what that thing has to offer. I think an Ubuntu server can have as little as 128MB RAM.
29 June 2010 – The PIII computer works great. It runs great with 384MB of RAM, and the Linux CNC latency test comes back at less than 19uS.
Lumenlab has also started production of a V3 micRo. I would have had the V2 if I hadn’t upgraded, but who can resist the next best thing? I still haven’t received my ‘bot, but I’m sure that it’s getting very close to delivery time.
23 July 2010 – I’ve been following the V3 forum at Lumenlab.com, and the V3′s are being shipped to various LL customers. I am hoping that my order comes up pretty quickly because I have projects that I’d really like to work on. This CNC router will be the easiest way for me to prototype projects.
5 August 2010 – It’s official. I should be receiving my micRo V3 CNC router in about a week or so. Brainchild (Grayson) at Lumenlab posted a picture on their forum of some tests being run on it. Their quality control is the best I’ve ever seen. Every ‘bot built is tested before being shipped.
They have many improvements that are coming out that include rack mount computers and controllers, digital keypads, and a growing list of tools and accessories. You can buy a complete system from them that will work right out of the box with minimal setup. I am looking forward to creating new and wonderful creations with the Lumenlab micRo V3 CNC router.