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HomeAircraftHelicopterCAD - Engineering - Technical › Bridgeport CNC Mill Restoration
06-26-2006 12:44 AM  12 years agoPost 1
sbalder

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Brighton, Michigan

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CNC machining can be just as addictive and expensive as RC helis! I started with a Smithy manual lathe/mill 3 years ago, converted it to CNC, did another CNC conversion on a Grizzly/Sieg minimill, and then decided to take the plunge and bought a Brigeport Boss CNC mill off of Ebay in March. This machine was sitting in a shed for many, many years, and as you can see it was an ugly sh*tpile when I got it:

The wreck weighed about 3,500 pounds, with 1,500 of that being the 1970's computer and power supply! I began this project by assesing the general machine condition as well as my limited knowledge allowed me to do. Underneath the pea-green filth was basic machinery in excellent condition. There was no wear in the moving surfaces and no backlash in the ballscrews. Next I was able to get the original motors working, so that saved me a lot of money. I ripped out every last piece of wire and control and then added slightly more modern electronics. The steppers are controlled with Geckodrives, there is a 50-volt 10-amp laboratory power supply, a Panecon industrial 486 pc running TurboCNC software, and a Hitachi VFD serves as a phase converter and spindle speed control.

Once I had the machine retrofitted and running with all this "stuff" I stripped it down to the bare castings and painted everything with grey powdercoat paint. Finally, I machined a mount for a router and vinyl plotter knife

The cost? All together with tooling I have a little less than $3,000 in the project. Given that a new Bridgeport CNC is $25-30K, I am very pleased.

Here are some fastphotos of the final machine and I will upload the rest into My Gallery on Monday:

-Steven Balder

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06-26-2006 12:56 AM  12 years agoPost 2
AzHyper

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Peoria, Az.

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What a great project. WAY cool. I'm sure you'll be turning out custom heli parts in no time. We have some really talented folks here....

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06-26-2006 06:42 PM  12 years agoPost 3
sbalder

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Brighton, Michigan

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New Pics uploaded in My Gallery.

-Steven Balder

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06-27-2006 11:26 PM  12 years agoPost 4
R.J.

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SF bay area, CA USA

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Steven,

Nice job on that restoration! I know that was a lot of work. You must be very proud of it.

Did you make that swivel knife holder or buy it? I'm interested in trying to cut decals with my mill.

Regards,
Rick

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06-28-2006 02:33 PM  12 years agoPost 5
sbalder

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Brighton, Michigan

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R.J.-

I made the vinyl plotter attachment as my adaptation of TAUSCNC's excellent design. He has a lot of good information on his website at http://www.cuttingedgecnc.com/vinyl.htm

Here's how I built mine: From the local hobby shop get 4 1/8" ID ball bearings, K&S brass tubes to fit the od of the bearings and the next telescoping size up. Also get some K&S 1/8" OD aluminum tubing and pick up some e-clips and retaining rings. Fit an e-clip or internal retaining ring in the smaller of the brass tubes as a stop, and then insert the ball bearings followed by another e-clip or retaining ring on the end of the tube. Next insert the aluminum tube in the bearings and carefull drill it out so that it is a friction fit on a 2mm Roland plotter blade. Be careful not to damage the bearings- the final assembly should have the blade close to the end of the tube and it should rotate smoothly.

When this is done, cut the larger brass tube in half and deburr the ends so that the smaller tube can slide up and down freely. Mount the larger tube to the z-axis of your mill. In my setup it is fit into a machined holder; a spot of JB Weld on wood scrap will work just as well. Keep the knife holder tube from falling out of the assembly with a retaining ring or screw.

As for cutting, I mount a piece of particle board shelving on the mill table (the kind from Lowe's or Home Depot with a smooth white melanine surface.) Using 3m repositionable adhesive I spray the paper backing of the vinyl and mount it securely to the board (critical!)

Set the Z-axis in your program so that the knife makes contact with the decal enough to raise the whole inner tube slightly, and your z-height for rapid traverse lifts the knife above the material. As for blades, quality varies consistently. I have had better luck with the 30 degree blades from seller seikitech on Ebay, and I recommend that you buy at least 5 each of the 30 and 45 degree blades. Ebay is also a great source for small quantities of sign vinyl.

You can get a great free text engraving program from http://www.deskam.com It will output g-code for any Windows font.

The electric heli in My Gallery has decals cut using this method.

-Steven Balder

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06-28-2006 07:24 PM  12 years agoPost 6
R.J.

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SF bay area, CA USA

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Hi Steven,

Thanks for the info! BTW, nice workshop and helis in your Gallery!

Regards,
Rick

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08-07-2006 08:27 PM  12 years agoPost 7
QuickSilver

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Cherry Hill, New Jersey

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Nice work
Fantastic job converting that Bridgeport! I will be sure to get in touch with you if I need something made up!

Kyle

Stanley Bostitch
Proto Tools

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08-10-2006 01:45 PM  12 years agoPost 8
Coloradoheli3d

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Colorado USA

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Here are a few of my tools. MoriSeiki CNC mill and Lathe.

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09-29-2006 11:53 PM  12 years agoPost 9
Beezer

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Ontario, Canada

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Man I would love to find a Bridgeport BOSS mill to do a CNC upgrade conversion on. That an a Hardinge tool room lathe CNC'd would be cool.

Now if I could only win the lottery.


Nice job Steven.

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09-29-2006 11:59 PM  12 years agoPost 10
gyan

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Surrey, BC Canada or Blaine Wa.

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That is too cool man I wish I had the time for that stuff!!

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09-30-2006 01:34 AM  12 years agoPost 11
sbalder

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Brighton, Michigan

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Thanks for the nice feedback. I've taken a break over the pat few months to move into a new home and build my dream workshop. I've sold the 3-in-1 mill/lathe in my gallery and have a smaller 8X14 lathe on order. My plan is to replace the spindle motor with a huge stepper motor and mount the lathe on the table of the Bridgeport with the quill of the mill bolted to the lathe carriage. This will give me a CNC lathe that is also completely indexable. I can't wait to start cutting gears and machining blade grips with only one or 2 setups! I'll post pics as this progresses.

-Steven Balder

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09-30-2006 11:09 PM  12 years agoPost 12
Peefor

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Norfolk UK

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Very nice work, Steve.

You mentioned using Turbocnc. Does it work satisfactorily? I just wondered as I was a beta tester when it first came out, and thought the program quite poor.

Pete

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09-30-2006 11:40 PM  12 years agoPost 13
R.J.

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SF bay area, CA USA

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My plan is to replace the spindle motor with a huge stepper motor and mount the lathe on the table of the Bridgeport with the quill of the mill bolted to the lathe carriage. This will give me a CNC lathe that is also completely indexable. I can't wait to start cutting gears and machining blade grips with only one or 2 setups! I'll post pics as this progresses.
Can't wait to see that! Maybe you can post details of the build at cnczone as well.

Regards,
Rick

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10-01-2006 05:33 AM  12 years agoPost 14
sbalder

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Brighton, Michigan

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Pete- Turbocnc is totally no frills, but works flawlessly for me. DOS is a pain but there is nothing that I can't do with the software.

Rick- CNCZone is the Runryder of cnc machining! I'm thinking that I should start doing a better job of documenting my projects online, especially if I figure something out that may be useful to some other tinkerer.

-Steven Balder

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10-01-2006 05:51 AM  12 years agoPost 15
Beezer

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Ontario, Canada

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I use Mach3 for my CNC router and really like it. Never tried TurboCNC but have read positive things about it.

Carl

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10-01-2006 06:48 AM  12 years agoPost 16
R.J.

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SF bay area, CA USA

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Steven,

Yes, I would like to see you document your build. I think it would be helpful for people like me . Did you see my attempt? http://cnczone.com/forums/showthread.php?t=18284

Regards,
Rick

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10-01-2006 07:20 AM  12 years agoPost 17
Beezer

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Ontario, Canada

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I see you are running the Newall system on your mill Rick. Very nice. Is it tied into your controller to give you position feedback? Are you running servo or stepper motors?

Carl

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10-01-2006 07:32 AM  12 years agoPost 18
Beezer

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Ontario, Canada

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Man Steve I can't believe you only have around $3,000 into your Bridgeport. Looks like alot more. I put that much into building my CNC router. Looks like I need to keep scouring the classified for used mills wasting away in a garage or barn somewhere that I can do a retrofit to. Problem is that there seems to be alot more people getting the hobby CNC bug so good machines are hard to come by or don't stay on the market very long.

Carl

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10-01-2006 07:41 AM  12 years agoPost 19
R.J.

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SF bay area, CA USA

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Carl,

I am using AC brushless servos. The Newall DRO is standalone for manual use or to readout while using CNC but does not give position feedback to Mach 2. The system is closed loop between servo motor and servo controller via resolvers on servo output shafts, but open between Mach 2 and servo controller. Mach 2 cannot verify that the axis actually moved the amount it commanded.

I think I could have put encoders on the motors to input to Mach 2, but then I would have had to fire up the computer if I wanted to do something manually, and it would have been subject to what little backlash is in the system, and therefore not as accurate.

Regards,
Rick

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10-01-2006 01:57 PM  12 years agoPost 20
sbalder

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Brighton, Michigan

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Rick,

I just read your thread- very nice!!!!! It looks like you really put a lot of time and thought into this! I had considered buying a newer manual mill and doing a conversion like yours, but then I read about people bring old Boss machines back to life. I figured for the $900 I paid, even if I had to replace everything on the machine I was still ahead.

-Steven Balder

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