Wednesday, January 26, 2011


I haven't posted much to the blog because I promised myself I wouldn't be that guy who always posts "sorry I haven't posted to the blog" posts. There just isn't that much to talk about.

This week, however, I started making the first steps down a road that could potentially be worth blogging about:

I want to build a CNC machine.

This is possibly the biggest impulse "I want it!" I have ever had, besides this and this. I stumbled on MAKE magazine and saw a feature article about some guys that published a book about how to make your own CNC machine using little more than MDF boards and aluminum angle. It all just clicked. Woodworking, robotics, motors, computer control: it's all there!

I promised my camp colleagues that I would create a bunch of signs around the campsite. I had previously looked for router letter templates or instructions on how to route the signs freehand. With my own CNC machine, I could just program the design into a CAD/CAM package and let it rip!

But really, that's just a justification. I already know I want to do this. It's a great excuse to get my hands dirty again. I've always loved playing with electronics. I had one of those Radio Shack project kits with the sproingy terminals that showed you how to create, like magic, your own radio, or sound maker. As a kid I had all kinds of designs for robots I was going to build -- one day. In high school I sketched out a schematic for a Z80 based computer -- from scratch. I built my own digital clock, one chip at a time, on a breadboard in first year university -- just for fun. My fourth-year project in university was a pan/tilt camera controller for a robotic vehicle. But I haven't touched any of that stuff since then -- 10 years ago.

It's time to get busy again! I've already ordered the book.

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