Harbor Freight Seig X2 3 axis CNC conversion

  This CNC project started out as a plain Harbor Freight mini milling machine. After milling a
  few basic parts manually and having the desire to cut circles and odd shapes accurately I
  started doing research on what it would take to convert the machine into a 3 axis CNC. I
  found that there were number of CNC conversion kits available that were reasonably priced
  and which would provide greater functionality over a just basic milling machine. Being able
  to reproduce a single part faster was just an added bonus.

  I ended up purchasing a complete 3 axis ball screw kit with preloaded ball nuts and heli-coil
  zero backlash couplings from CNCfusion. For the motor controller portion of the conversion I
  purchased a 3 axis kit from Xylotex that I assembled myself. The assembly and fabrication of
  the kit required fitting all the parts in a box which included a method of cooling the box
  and doing all the wiring, drilling, cutting etc… Only the 3 motors, controller board and
  power supply are part of the kit so it’s more assembly work and it’s considerably more work
  to build it yourself.

  For the software to configure and run the CNC I found a program called EMC2 that is bundled
  with Ubuntu. The LiveCD is free and down loadable on the web and is supported by a community
  of developers for Ubuntu and EMC2. Free is good if it works and this software package works
  perfectly. The good thing about EMC2 is it has a profile in the setup for the Xylotex
  controller board which does make it a little easier to get the CNC up and running.

  I also did some research and added a joystick to manually control the CNC when not running
  Gcode. Using a mouse was just not acceptable in my opinion. This required some programming
  in Hal to integrate the joy pad to EMC2 but the results were well worth the effort.

  Prior to this project I did not have any experience with a milling machine let alone a CNC
  and setting one up. I think the whole project took about a month before I was up and running
  and cutting parts.

  Some of the other modification to the CNC are listed below:

  * Replaced the stock gear box with a belt drive because the stock gear box was excessively
    noisy and this modification really quieted things down considerably. 

  * The stock spring counter balance was replaced with a kit I purchased from The Little
    Machine Shop. The kit uses a small shock like the ones that are used on automobile
    trunks and hatch backs. You know, the things that keep the trunk from falling on your
    head when you least expect it.

  * To stiffen the Z axis plane I installed a 1/4" x 4" x 12" horizontal steel plate on the
    back Z axis arm.

  Currently I'm in the process of extending the Y axis from a measly 4.25" to just over 10".
  Basically I'm going to extend the base by pigging backing another base and then purchase a
  longer ball screw. This will also require extending the cutting head out 6" but that’s not
  going to be that difficult. When I'm finished it will greatly enhance the capability of this
  little machine. I really do not miss the manual controls at all and am pleased with the
  results and accuracy of the conversion.

                                         CNC Cabinet Finished Before Conversion

   Not much to say about this except I had to have a sturdy cabinet to put the milling machine on so I built one. Don't worry, I
   don't carry that pink bucket in public. Now that I think about it, I might have to paint that thing just for posterity sake.

                                      First CNC project was to design and mill a fork brace for the Wing

  If at all possible I like to do things as cheap as possible without out actually being
  cheap. In order to run a CNC you have to have a software program to first draw the object
  in (CAD) and then another software program is needed to generate the Gcode which controls
  the CNC (CAM). I found a free software package that I really like called Heekscnc. There
  is a learning curve and the Gcode generated does need some minor tweaking but it does work
  quite well. Also Heekscnc is continually being improved so updates are available on a
  somewhat regular basis. After I checked the prices of CAD/CAM software packages I was
  appreciative of the efforts made by Dan Heeks in making Heekscnc available for free.

  My first project on the CNC was a fork brace for my Goldwing which I think turned out quite
  nicely. I noticed the difference in handling immediately when pulling out of my driveway and
  it really does stabilize the front end on this heavy bike. The bike weighs 900lbs and the
  fork brace makes slow maneuvering easier, especially with a passenger. I consider the fork
  brace a must have on this bike. Note that my design is a 4 piece design that allows
  adjustment for slight differences in manufacturing tolerances in the spacing between the
  forks legs. I would not put a fixed width fork brace on my Wing. Even a ~.005 difference
  in fork widths will cause some amount of binding on a fixed width fork brace which in turn
  can cause premature wear on the internals of the forks.

                             Second project on the CNC was a Keltec P3AT stainless steel magazine release

  The second project was a stainless steel magazine release for a Keltec P3AT and Heekscnc
  was used for this project as well.
I consider the stock plastic release in the Keltecs to
  be a weakness in the design so this modification was a necessity. The CNC does most of the
  heavy work but there is still a bit of manual fabrication that needs to be done to fit the
  release to the grip. Almost every corner on the release needs some kind of shaping for it
  to fit to the grip and hold the magazine in place. Actually the CNC part of the fabrication
  is the easy part of the whole process now after the CNC conversion.

  I know the picture is large but the actually size of the release is actually quite small.

    Height = .375  Width = .25  Length = .695


                                          Gold Mining trommel project

  The trommel you see in the pictures below would work 3 full grown men to exhaustion. The
  person shoveling into the trommel could only last about an hour before he had to switch with
  the guy cleaning the tailings from the output of the sluice and trommel. The clay and gravel
  shoveled into the hopper would come out clean and free of clay and dirt. For the gold to
  stay trapped in the expanded metal the gold needs to be free of clay. I used a riffle less
  sluice design because the material going into the sluice was classified by the trommel down
  to 1/2" dia so I caught very fine gold. Samples of the tailings revealed no color at all.
  Not using standard riffles in the sluice allows you to use less water which results in less
  turbulence in the sluice and in turn prevents small gold from being displaced by large rocks
  tumbling down the sluice. You have to setup your equipment for the size of gold in the area
  that is being worked. I eventually got tired of feeding the beast and just sold it.

  This project took me a couple of months to complete but it was a fun and challenging project
  with very positive results. The trommel design you see below is a result of years of
  prospecting as a hobby and in trial and error building sluices and high bankers. This
  thing would really catch the fine gold. See the last picture as an example of a normal take
  of gold for a day of shoveling.


   This is a duel sluice design where both the upper and lower sluices are fitted with
   ribbed carpet and expanded metal.

   This pile of clay and rock was a LOT bigger when we started so the picture shows
   about 1/3 of what we started with.

   Here's the yellow stuff we were going after! Note that this is a small clean up pan
   which is considerably smaller then a normal pan.

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