Buying a CNC Mill

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kvom

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After a fair amount of time spent on cnczone and other sites, I decided to pull the trigger and order a CNC mill rather than try to build one or convert a manual mill. My goal is to eventually build a radial IC engine, but there will be a lot of stuff to learn along the way.

The machine I chose is the Novakon NM-200. It has enough Z travel to handle a 8-inch vertical rotab, and the envelope is big enough for just about any model part. It has an R8 spindle, so all the Bridgeport tooling will work as well as a 6" vise. I should get it around the 1st week in February, and will post pics of getting it working in the shop.

Here's the webpage for this mill: http://novakon.net/nm200.html
 

shred

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Looks like a good machine; plenty big enough for most any model work. What CAD/CAM do you plan to use? Also, got any specs for the Novakon quick-change tooling? Looks like it might be compatible with the Tormach TTS.
 

stevehuckss396

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Very nice!

I built mine for the same purpose and have started on the Gcode for the Hodgson 9 cylinder Radial.

What radial were you going to tackle?

Best of luck!

Steve
 

kvom

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The machine comes with a license for BobCad V21, so I will see how that seems. Apparently if you like BobCad the upgrade to V23 is advisable. I'm currently taking a school class in Mastercam, and although I won't have that at home at least at the end of the class I'll have some idea of what CAM is all about. In the meantime I can write g-code for simpler 2D parts. And then I'll have a go at a simpler steam model once I choose a 2.5D CAM package.

The Tormach TTS will work with this, or any mill with a R8 spindle. Novakon has a quick-change offering as well based on a ER type holder. I didn't buy their starter kit as it included things I don't need, such as a R8 shank drill chuck. I'll wait until I have some experience on the machine before thinking about a QC system.

I am thinking about the Edwards 5 as a build, but starting on it probably a year away. I'll be travelling during September and October and much of June, so nothing will be done during that time. Hopefully I can learn from your Hodgson 9 build.

 

shred

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kvom said:
The machine comes with a license for BobCad V21, so I will see how that seems. Apparently if you like BobCad the upgrade to V23 is advisable
eegah... V23 is OK with the latest patches... V21 is not fun (I have both; my CNC came with 'em). Support for consumers is limited, but it does mostly work. If you get the V23 upgrade, fight hard (BobCAD loves to haggle) to get two dongles unless you plan to do all your programming at the machine. I'd also do a careful survey of the hobby CAD-CAM market as well to see what you like before dropping the $ to upgrade.

The Tormach TTS will work with this, or any mill with a R8 spindle. Novakon has a quick-change offering as well based on a ER type holder.
Ah, ok. I have some TTS tools and like the system, esp with a power drawbar. From the pictures on the Novakon site they looked pretty much the same and a little lower priced
 

kvom

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The mill has a tall column, which is both good and bad. The good part is that there is about 19" vertical clearance when the head is at the top position. So it's possible to mill pretty large pieces as well as mount a large vertical rotab.

The downside is that the vertical travel is limited so that the spindles lowest position is still about 5" above the table. Since most model machining is for small parts, I wanted to raise the vise so it's accessible to the spindle with small endmills.

My final solution is to use a cast iron tilting table that I got with the manual mill and which has been sitting in my garage for the past year. Although the top was a bit rusty, I measured that there was less than .010" variance from side to side. I took it to school and used the large surace grinder to grind both the bottom and then the top. Since it weighs around 70-80 pounds with an equal weight of vise, I think it will be good for rigid setups.

 

Speedy

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NOVAKON is top notch it seems. I have some friends in the states using their cnc's and love them.
Khai is a great guy and the actual shop is close to where I live :)
 

iDesign

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I've had nothing but problems with my Novakon and I've owned several different brands of CNC machines. By far, Novakon is the worst. I don't say that lightly. I'm so mad at them I created this website to warn people http://www.novakoncnc.com

Buy from some other company. I've had great luck with Sherline (small equipment) and Techno-Isel. Also, consider Shopbot, Tormach and Smithy. BobCAD is selling the Novakon and while I like BobCAD I still have to recommend not buying from them as you are getting a Novakon.

Points to consider. 1) Can you get Parts, 2) Can you get support. A machine without parts or support is like a car you can't buy tires for. It may look pretty but you can't actually use it.

Oh, and double check ALL specs. I found that out the hard way.

kvom said:
After a fair amount of time spent on cnczone and other sites, I decided to pull the trigger and order a CNC mill rather than try to build one or convert a manual mill. My goal is to eventually build a radial IC engine, but there will be a lot of stuff to learn along the way.

The machine I chose is the Novakon NM-200. It has enough Z travel to handle a 8-inch vertical rotab, and the envelope is big enough for just about any model part. It has an R8 spindle, so all the Bridgeport tooling will work as well as a 6" vise. I should get it around the 1st week in February, and will post pics of getting it working in the shop.

Here's the webpage for this mill: http://novakon.net/nm200.html
 

Cedge

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Idesign
Since this is your first post, perhaps you'd care to enlighten us as to the specific problems you encountered, before carpet bombing the company. Quite honestly you came across sounding like a competitor... and a rather bad one at that.

Steve

 

RonGinger

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Both Novakon and Tormach were at the recent CNC workshop in Ann Arbor Michigan. I spent quite a while looking over all the machines.

Tormach has a vastly larger support ability- its a company of about 15-20 people and has sold over a thousand machines. Novakon is new, has 3 employees and My guess after talking a while is that none of them have any real CNC experience.

I liked the Novakon iron, it seemed well built and nicely fitted. Their control box was rugged, but the wiring was a bit of a rats nest inside it. The components used seemed to be good quality.

I wish I lived near you, Im sure I could have it running in an hour or less, unless there is some actual broken part. I suspect its simply a wiring or config error. You might try getting the Mach install and Config manual off the machsupport.com website and follow through its step by step setup procedure. Id be willing to help by PM or even phone if you want to contact me.
 

Tin Falcon

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IDesign:
this is a new one we have had people trying to sell stuff on there first post. people trying to buy things . Offering advise and asking questions. but you are the first to slam a vendor.
may I suggest :
post an introduction about yourself your shop and your interest in building engines. and please include location:
2) then post a thread asking for help with your problem. I am sure folks will help you if you offer a handshake and ask nicely.
Ron knows his stuff.
Tin
 

kvom

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I've had mine for 6 months now. So far, other than a few issues, it's been OK. The poster with the issues bought his 2 years ago, and I suspect things have changed in the interim.

Installation is pretty straightforward assuming you have a way to lift the mill onto its base.

The mach3 configuration did need quite a bit of tweaking.

The main issues I've not been able to get resolved is that the limit switches and e-stop don't work. I traced the e-stop circuit to the cable pins that plug into the controller and can see the pins go between closed and open as the switch is operated. So that issue is definitely a controller problem. The limit switches worked at first, but I had an electrical short when some swarf got into the outlet where the controller was connected, causing the circuit breaker to open. I can't trace that as the switches need power to operate.

In any case, the above problems are not critical to making small parts in ones and twos. I can't store coords easily across restarts as there is no way to home the axes repeatedly. I have to manually ref all 3 axes at startup. That said, I can write down the machine's positions at shutdown and manually re-enter them if need to re-use a mounted fixture.

I'm not using any of the TTS holders. It's easy to change tooling, although I do have to zero the z-axis every tool change. I normally use a 123 block as a tool setter.

I bought the controller with the PC motherboard and parallel port installed, so there were no integration problems as the unlucky poster experienced.

For CAM I've been using CAMBAM. So far it has done everything I needed. It has rudimentary CAD capability, and I do use BobCad when I need more to draw more complicated parts.
 

dsquire

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Where about in Canada are Novakon located? If it is in London, Ontario I have heard a different horror story about a person that bought a CNC setup from them because he figured he figured he would buy Canadian and buy local and get better service. It seems that it didn't work out that way.

Cheers :)

Don

 

shred

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FWIW, I have a beater of a Tormach-- one of the first hundred or so made and it's been through at least 3 or 4 owners. It's a good machine, with some rough edges (mostly fixed in later versions), but the thing that would make me buy another Tormach is the quality support I get from them. I've not dealt with the other vendors in this size/price range however, so this is only one data point.


 

Speedy

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dsquire said:
Where about in Canada are Novakon located? If it is in London, Ontario I have heard a different horror story about a person that bought a CNC setup from them because he figured he figured he would buy Canadian and buy local and get better service. It seems that it didn't work out that way.

Cheers :)

Don
novakon is located in Markham
 

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