Rotating Engraving bit

Building a Beautystar/Topdirect CNC DIY Router Engraving Machine PCB Milling Machine CNC Wood Metal Carving Mini Engraving Router PVC

Here we will discuss how to build these inexpensive CNC test/hobby machines which seem to be sold by different companies but look pretty much the same.  I add pictures and add explanations in addition to the assembly instructions found on a USB stick. The Instructions are a bit funny as you will find instructions in both Chinese and badly translated English, overlapped in boxes on pictures. There are also instructions to build a Woodpecker CNC, which seems not to be this product. The instructions are fairly accurate but sometimes the boxes are badly sized so you don’t see all of the text or the part looks different, or is mirrored while you are instructed to watch the orientation.

I bought the CNC from Beautystar, the ones from TopDirect seem to look pretty similar. There are other CNCs that look also familiar. In any build like this you will have to somehow be a bit flexible in your mind, as parts seem to constantly changing and evolving. So we can only present here a rough presentation of what you will expect. This guide is just intended as an addon to all other documents you can find to build your first CNC.

Manual title page
Manual title page

I needed actually only a screwdriver, oil and vernier caliper, besides the computer to assemble the CNC.

I also noticed that docx reader on my Mac (OX 10 Sierra) reveals instructional boxes on the pictures in the assembly instructions, while my Openoffice on Windows 10 doesn’t show these boxes.

There are instructional videos on Youtube, which look nice but
didn’t help.

This is the machine I acquired.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B06Y1ZDFRK/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

This is an equivalent from TopDirect

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Engraving-Working-Milling-Machine-Carving/dp/B06Y3R828R/ref=pd_sbs_60_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=SA7Q5JRRBT3VSVA605H4

Links accurate at time of posting.

CNC machine label
CNC machine label

The package arrived very quickly and is a repost from China to Amazon Prime.

The parts inside are well cushioned and packed in bubble wrap.

CNC Box opened 1
Opening the box. Well cushioned parts

After we remove the bubble wrap we are faced with the following packaging.

CNC Box opened 2
CNC Box opened after the bubble wrap is removed

We find several boxes.

Biggest CNC Box opened
After one opens the biggest Boxes one finds the main construction frame items

The biggest box contains most of the frame assembly. Most noteable are that besides the aluminum rails, many side plates are scratched and seem to be 3D printed.

Badly scratched but functional CNC frame plates
Badly scratched but functional CNC frame plates

You will also be faced with an adapter for your electricity. The power block leads to a US style block. Coming from Europe, I have no problem with the block provided or adapters, but if you are British you might feel safer connecting your own plug types.

Adapter with CNC machine
Adapter with CNC machine

A user on of the CNC reviews on Amazon went to great length to explain the details of this approach in the UK.   His main concern is grounding.

It’s a good idea to go through the reviews of all similar looking machines on Amazon to get an additional feel for what you will be purchasing.

CNC Stepper motors
CNC Stepper motors

The stepper motors looked ok.

CNC pieces
CNC pieces

These are additional pieces in the box, many brackets for the aluminium rails, a USB cable that will go from the “Teensy” looking  arduino clone  to your computer you intend to use for CNCing. Then there are connecting cables, the actual motor and insets for the guide rails.

Even more CNC parts
Even more CNC parts

In above picture we see a neat wee box with all the screws and tiny parts you will need, the actual motor control board with the teensy looking Arduino clone howling the GRBL code. Then we have the box that holds the stepper motor over the spindle motor and the power brick that powers the mechanical parts.

Small parts box for the CNC
Small parts box for the CNC

Besides the small screws the box holds rod connectors, screw connectors, dials for manual jogging and the counter nuts that will go into the railing. These will keep you busy and are the most annoying part of the build.

Broken nuts
Badly machines nuts.

In my package there were some of these blocking nuts badly machined. If you have too many bad ones you should not proceed. I had two and got away with it as there were too many supplied. Exactly two. One was machined but distorted but I could get the screw in, barely.

Here is a panorama of all  the pieces I found in the box. Besides the coffee cup. The Chinese writing on the monitor was from a video that I didn’t use.

All the pieces
All the CNC pieces

 

Pieces for the CNC spindle cradle.
Pieces for theCNC spindle cradle.

I started off putting all the pieces on the table as the instructions showed them. Be aware that the instructions have pieces missing. As I tried to copy the described moves, I will have copied that error in the picture.

Rod connector
Rod connector on lead screw

The first move is fairly simple. Just use the blue rod connector and place it onto the big screw securing it with  grub screws with the supplied Alan keys.  The grub screws are weak.  Especially in the tiniest size M3. On the rod connector they are still up to the job.

Screw Guide Nut
Screw Guide Nut

Then assemble the first guide nut with the screws provided. (The shorter ones). Make sure that you only use two screws in the positions as seen above. The next step will make clear why.

Spring cushioned guide nut
Spring cushioned guide nut

Then add to that the spring cushioned nuts. I think the use of them is to dampen distortions through backlash.  Here is an explanation.

CNC motor holder guide rail holders
CNC motor holder guide rail holders

Then add the guide rail holders. This can be snug fit.

CNC Guide rail holders on the other side
CNC Guide rail holders on the other side

Here they are supposed to be level with the surface of the 3D printed part.

CNC Cradle Screw Holder part 1
CNC Cradle Screw Holder part 1

Now continue to add the first part of the X- Axis screw nut.

CNC Cradle Screw Holder part 2. Backlash preventing spring loaded nut
CNC Cradle Screw Holder part 2. Backlash preventing spring loaded nut

Add the backlash preventing spring loaded nut. Again make sure you have the screws to hold the piece oriented the right way.

Guide rail holders
Guide rail holders

Add the guide rail holders.

Securing guide rail holders
Securing guide rail holders

And secure the guide rail holders with the screws provided. Obviously the screws need to reach the guide rails, so make sure you use the correct length.

fitting motor holder
fitting motor holder

After adding screws to the motor holder, fit the short guide rails through. Don’t tighten the screws yet. At this stage the instructions asked to watch the orientation.  I had a mirrored piece, based on the guide role holders that stick out and din’t fit any other way. It made no difference to the final build.

CNC Motor holder orientation 1
CNC Motor holder orientation 1
mirrored setup
mirrored setup

The way the guide role holder holes were, I could have not attached it another way, it would not have fitted.

Mirrored setup
Mirrored setup

Moving on from this instruction confusion, it is now time to connect the first stepper motor to the guide screw with a connector screw. Use fitting grub screws for that. Fit them tight and use the flat bit on the motor spindle/metal piece to make the match secure on the motor side. The supplied grub screws are weak. I had loosening screws during CNCing at this point, which ruins a carve.

Connector rod
Connector rod

Make sure, when you fasten the motor to the 3D piece to use the waskers and orient the white plug of the stepper motor towards the flat side of the supplied 3D printed piece. Not visible here. That will make cable management less messy.

Washers on Motor
Washers on Motor

Then guide the screw through the whole assembly. Make sure the two guides for the guide rail before the hole are oriented towards the motor, so the setup fits later.
Like so.

Fitting CNC motor cradle stepper motor and screw
Fitting CNC motor cradle stepper motor and screw

Now fit the faster at the other end, add a grub screw but don’t tighten yet.

Fitting screw holder 1
Fitting screw holder 1
Fitting screw holder 2
Fitting screw holder 2
Fitting screw holder 3
Fitting screw holder 3

Attach the screws for the bit that says 43  (stepper motor holder) to the main cradle.

Fitting screws to attach main cradle holder to stepper motor holder
Fitting screws to attach main cradle holder to stepper motor holder

Secure the guide rails with screws.

Guide rail fastening screws
Guide rail fastening screws

This concludes the motor cradle build. Onto the next bit.

Parts for the next axis
Parts for the next axis. This will move the motor left to right.

Parts for the next building part.  I think here a part was listed in the main instructions but was supplied. As I was just building this the first time, I will have copied that error.

CNC stepper motor fit
CNC stepper motor fit

Add a motor to the 3D printed part that fits the picture.

Fit CNC stepper motor other side
Fit CNC stepper motor other side

Now using  the 3D printed part that mirrors the one where you just connect the motor, slow in the guide rails, secure them and add the guide screw fastener.

fit guide rails and guide screw holder
fit guide rails and guide screw holder
Securing screws and guide screw holder/fastener.
Securing screws and guide screw holder/fastener.

The guide rail holders will be hold in place by this funny constructions, where the screws will tighten the plastic around the guide rails.

Now add the screws that will hold the construction to the aluminium rails later.

Aluminium rail tightening screws.
Aluminium rail tightening screws.

Add these at the other end on both 3D printed parts.

Broken nuts
Badly machines nuts.

Now add the motor cradle and the guide screw and fasten the connector rod to the stepper motor.  Add the wee black knob to the screw. Fasten with Alan key.

CNC Screw Knob
CNC Screw Knob

This is what you should have in front of you.

CNC Z and X Axis cradle
CNC Z and X Axis cradle

Onto the next part.

CNC build parts for next stage
CNC build parts for next stage

Make the following with parts provided.

Work plate connectors
Work plate connectors

Use this connectors now to make your work plate with the aluminium parts.  The fastening nuts are fiddly, good luck. The need to be perpendicular to the way the open in the aluminium plate goes and often have a habit to turn when not desired to do so.

CNC aluminium work plate
CNC aluminium work plate

I mean these things.
Broken nuts

Badly machines nuts.

I and others have learned to hate them.

Now we will make the guide rail and screw and stepper motor holders for the Y axis.

CNC Guide screw nut
CNC Guide screw nut, Y axis

Add the guide screw nut and the backlash springloaded nut as before.

Adding the guide rail holders
Adding the guide rail holders

Add the guide rail holders and secure them with screws.

Adding guide rail holders
Adding guide rail holders

Now mount the motor to the third 3D printed plastic. This looked for me different again than what was in the Chinese assembly constructions. My piece looked more substantial than what was in the instruction videos. Take a note where the rectangular groove is and build accordingly.

CNC Y axis stepper motor plate
CNC Y axis stepper motor plate
Stepper motor plate difference
Stepper motor plate difference. To the right what I received.

Now add the screws that will attach the just build parts to the aluminium rail with everyones favorite countersink nuts or whatever you want to call these things.

Adding screws to attach to aluminium rails
Adding screws to attach to aluminium rails
Aluminium rail fastening nuts
Aluminium rail fastening nuts

Now add the part with the backlash spring nut guide screw holder tp the aluminium  work plate. In the picture above under the motor 3D printed part. 40 mm from the end.

Aluminium work plate to guide screw holder 3D printed part.
Aluminium work plate to guide screw holder 3D printed part.
40 mm
40 mm

Do the same on the other side.

Precision positioning
Precision positioning

Now attach again the remaining knob to the remaining guide screw.

CNC Screw Knob
CNC Screw Knob
Attach the guide rails
Attach the guide rails
Secure the guide rails with screws
Secure the guide rails with screws

Now attach the guide rails with the screws to the part the motor isn’t attached to.

Feed in the guide screw and the guide rails into the other side. Attach the connecting rod to the guide screw. Tighten this with grub screws.

CNC Y axis guide screw attachment.
CNC Y axis guide screw attachment.

Now attach the 3D printed part holding the motor and tighten the connecting rod (blue). Ideally you should end up with something like this.

Y axis cradle
Y axis cradle

Now we need to construct the frame.  Collect the parts

CNC Frame parts
CNC Frame parts

And build this.

frame builing
frame building

Two of the T-Shaped frame parts will now have to be positioned 70mm,  on the back side of the frame on the longer rails.

70 mm to back
70 mm to back

Then add the other two to come to the frame looking like this.

Frame build
Frame build

Space these with another screw.

spacing trick
spacing trick

Now add the work plate.  Again the right corner of the rod holding mechanism has to be 70 mm from the side.

Adding the CNC work plate
Adding the CNC work plate
more precision
more precision

Tighten connecting rods and screws.

Connecting rod
Connecting rod
fastening screw
fastening screw

Now position the motor cradle.  Put something on the work plate to help you with height.

Adding motor cradle
Adding motor cradle
Adding motor cradle
Adding motor cradle
Tighten all the connector rods
Tighten all the connector rods grub screws

Now add the spindle motor. The yellow bit is facing front.

Adding the spindle motor
Adding the spindle motor

Now tighten the screws to secure the spindle motor.

Now fasten the motor board with THREE screws to the frame.

Adding CNC motor board with Arduino clone
Adding CNC motor board with Arduino clone

Use the cable management plastic construction to your liking.  The X Axis moves the most, so I added it here as there was not enough supplied for perfect cable management.

Cable Management
Cable Management

Tighten all screws, close to the knobs.

securing grub screws
securing grub screws

Wiring. Please note that there is a space (empty unused plug) between Y and Z.  The motor plug plugs into the motor simply with a connector. The micro USB leads to your computer/laptop and the mains power leads to the power block.

X is the axis that goes left to right if the CNC is in front of you. Y is the axis that come closer of farther from you and Z is the axis that goes up and down.

wiring the CNC
wiring the CNC

With a bit of luck you should now have a functioning CNC.

CNC finished
CNC finished
Rotating Engraving bit
Rotating Engraving bit

With the Mac Book I have free for CNCing the supplied software was not much use.

As software you can use INKscape for GRBL code generation (free) and there are several GRBL controllers out there for several operating systems.

I suggest testing first without the engraving bits supplied with a simple supplied nc code that is on the USB stick.

As starting wood I used Bass wood sheets, you can get from hobby craft or elsewhere. The wood is soft but not as brittle as Balsa.
http://www.hobbycraft.co.uk/basswood-sheet-127-x-762-cm-single-sheet/569090-1000

I might state that as supplied the CNC is OK, but not fit for purpose without some improvements that will be in another article.