CNC Master Checklist

Do you have all the bases covered for your DIY CNC conversion or refit?

Here is a master checklist I drew up to try to organize things from a top down list oriented perspective. Where I have some deeper information to contribute, I’ve tried to provide links to some of the other pages on this site.

For a breakdown on what all these components do, what the terminology means, and hints on how to make the best choices for your CNC Project, see our CNC Milling Machines Parts Guide.

Topic
Remarks
Links
& Articles
Axis Drive
Motors
         
Motor Type Stepper   Usually cheaper, simpler, can lose steps. Power peaks at 1000 rpm. Stepper, Servo &
Backlash Simulator
Servos   Higher performance, more expensive, more complex. Power well above 1000 rpm, fater rapids, greater accuracy due to closed loop operation.
Encoders Separate shielded cable from motor power cable? Connector type? CAT-5? Microphone? DIN?  
Transmission Direct Drive Coupler: Helical Beam, Oldham, etc. Simple. No torque or resolution multiplication. CNC Lathe Conversion Direct Drive Details
Timing Belt   Most common. Allows torque and resolution multiplication.  
Gear Head Harmonic Drive Need to make sure its a low/no backlash drive type such as a harmonic drive.  
Chain   Usually found only on lower resolution systems such as plasma tables and routers.  
Motor Connectors & Cables     Got shielded cables? Connector type? CNC Lathe Conversion Driver Electronics & Motor Cables
Axis Leadscrews          
ACME Leadscrew     What’s already there. Likely to have significant backlash. Some backlash can be adjusted out with a split nut and Delrin nuts have pretty low backlash.

Eliminating Backlash, Part 1

Eliminating Backlash, Part 2

Ballscrew     Low or no backlash. What the “pros” use.

Eliminating Backlash, Part 1

Eliminating Backlash, Part 2

Proper Leadscrew Mounting     You have to use angular contact bearings to properly mount the leadscrew.

Eliminating Backlash, Part 1

Eliminating Backlash, Part 2

Rack &
Pinion
    Usually found only on lower resolution systems such as plasma tables and routers.  
Belt Drive     Usually found only on lower resolution systems such as plasma tables and routers.  
Chain Drive     Usually found only on lower resolution systems such as plasma tables and routers.  
Ways         CNC Dictionary discusses different types of slideways
Rails     Usually found only on lower resolution systems such as plasma tables and routers.  
Linear Slides     Very high precision, lower rigidity tha nconventional ways. Most common design for the average machining center. CNC Lathe Gang Slide
Conventional
Machine Ways
e.g. Dovetail and Box Slideways   Less precision, more rigidity. Common on older manual machines and very heavy duty CNC machines.  
Home &
Limit Switches
      Are you going to combine home and limits to save inputs?

Optical Limit Switches

CNC Lathe Limit Switches on Drivers Page

Driver Electronics          
DC Power Supply       CNC Lathe Conversion Driver Electronics Page
Breakout Board       CNC Cookbook Breakout Board Article
E-Stop        
Spindle Control        
Coolant and
Accessory Control
       
PC      

Industrial, or Just a Basic PC?

Notebook? Notebooks have problems with a lot of breakout boards.

CNC Lathe Rackmount PC
Control Panel        

Survey of CNC Panel and Pendant Designs

CNC Lathe Conversion Panel

Software          
Machine Controller     Mach 3? CNC Software Overview
CAM Software      

OneCNC Turn Walkthrough

CAM Toolpath Strategies

Is Manual Machining Faster than CNC for Simple Parts?