Pocket NC

Pocket NC V2 Summer 2018 Update

V2 Improvements

We’ve had a busy summer over here at Pocket NC and here is some of what we’ve been working on:

Bearing Change:

The Pocket NC V2 mill uses an in-house designed and produced bearing system on the rotary axes. The performance of the bearing system has met expectations, but the assembly has been more cumbersome than anticipated. Ultimately we made the decision that we would be unable to adequately scale the production of our machines without a change to the rotary axes bearing system. So we chose to switch to using a THK Cross-Roller Ring bearing. This bearing offers the ability to carry a load in all directions: axial, radial and moment loads are supported. The V2 now achieves a higher level of rigidity in the rotary axes of the machine without increasing the exterior dimensions of the Pocket NC.

The practical results of this change in the bearing are increased rigidity in the rotary axes, decreased runout of the A and B axes, increased strength of the rotary axes, as well as an improved production process that allows us to produce a more consistent product in a scalable fashion. The rigidity of the of the rotary axes was improved by a factor of 2 and the run out of the rotary axes was decreased by a factor of 4, the strength/force of the rotary axes movement is about double what is was before due to less friction in the bearing. All this adds up to a more rigid machine which results in improved machining performance in material removal rate and surface finish.

Rotary Axis Bearings

Rotary Axis Bearings

Calibration:

As a growing company we are constantly finding ways to improve our processes and products. One area in where we have been innovating recently is our calibration process.

Our machines have always undergone an extensive calibration and testing procedure before leaving our shop to ensure that they meet our stringent specifications. This process involves taking several hundred measurements and observations. In late Spring, we discovered that our calibration of the rotary axes on the machine was a weak link in our system. Our system relied on checking only two points, the home position and one other point in the rotation. This ensured that the machine was in the desired location at the home position as well as the second point, but it told us nothing about whether the machine was accurately indexing between the two points.

We developed some new fixtures that allowed us to check 8 points rather than 2. This revealed that there could be errors of up to 0.5° at points in between the two points that we previously checked. We immediately sought to discover the source of the error. We ultimately determined that it was due to some inconsistencies in the manufacturing of the gears that we build in-house. We made some changes to our manufacturing process and were able to correct about 50% of the error, down to a max error of about 0.25° but this wasn’t good enough.

Our software developer discovered that we could use a tool built into Linux CNC to compensate for inconsistencies in lead screws allowing us to correct for inconsistencies in our machine’s rotary axes.

We continued with our manual measurements at 8 points and added rotary axis compensation at 4 points in the travel of both A and B. This resulted in another decreased rotary position error of about 50% down to about 0.12°, but we still weren’t satisfied.

We needed a way to measure the angular position at more than 8 points in the rotation. We could have made another fixture and kept on using the dial indicator, but we recognized that it wasn’t going to be a realistic solution for the long term due to the time required to take hundreds of manual measurements. We needed a way to probe the machine.

This video shows one of the updates to our calibration process on the Pocket NC V2 using a Renishaw probe. This video captures the calibration of a couple points on the B rotary axis. Note, this is not yet an option we sell on the Pocket NC V2.

Enter the Renishaw probe. Our software and hardware team have been working closely together on developing a solution that delivers consistent, accurate results. There has been a lot of learning along the way, but we are excited to say that we now have the capability to probe the machine at any arbitrary number of points and create a custom compensation calibration table for each machine. We are now able to compensate the rotation of the A and B axes with enough precision to reach rotational accuracy of 0.05° at every angle.

A Axis Compensation Table.png
B Axis Compensation Table.png

And for you, the users, this innovation means that you are getting a better product. We are proud to say that the machines we are making right now are the best we have ever made. They are more rigid and more accurate than anything we have made before.*

Simulator

We recently started developing a simulator for Pocket NC machines. We have a number of goals for the simulator, but our main intent is to make it easier to use our machines. The Pocket NC is one of the most affordable and accessible 5-axis CNC machines out there, but there are a number of stumbling blocks for people who are just getting started with 5-axis machining. The simulator will be able to catch common mistakes such as the tool isn’t long enough at the current part orientation or the tool path origin isn’t correctly positioned at the machine origin. Getting to the bottom of those pesky limit errors will also be much easier.

Simulator showing tool path exported with an incorrect origin

Simulator showing tool path exported with an incorrect origin

One of the biggest benefits of the simulator, though, is peace of mind that the machine will cut how you intend it to. You’ll be able to see your GCode program run virtually, with each joint of the machine behaving like the real version. You’ll be able to learn how to use the machine without wasting material or breaking tools, a huge cost savings in the long run. We’re planning an official release this Fall, which will be available to use with all past, present, and future V2 machines. Look for an official announcement this Fall for more details.

Z range limit reached

Z range limit reached

Price

Which leads us to price, after careful consideration we’ve decided to implement a price increase starting September 1, 2018. In addition to the above, these machines will also include a 1-year warranty instead of a 3-month warranty. The terms and conditions will be the same as that of our current warranty, it will simply be extended from 3-months to 1-year.

As noted in this update there is certainly value that has been added into the machine; however, we have also experienced some vendor price increase. While we do source as many parts as we can from the US, we do get a few components and materials from overseas and have seen a price increase of these items due to tariffs up to 25%, which has increased our cost of goods.

The new price of the V2 will be $5500. We will keep the lead time active on the website online store for the Pocket NC V2, so you can also check there.

Should you have any questions regarding this change in price, please contact us at info@pocketnc.com, and we’d be more than happy to talk with you. Thank you for understanding that this price increase means we can continue to maintain the superior standard of our products and customer service that you’ve come to expect from us well into the future.


*Machines shipped after June 1 had the rotary axis compensation calibration process. If you purchased your V2 machine prior to this and have any difficulties with axis alignment, please see a tutorial here. Note, it is the worst-case scenario that is 0.5 degrees, and most were far less. Please email us at info@pocketnc.com if you have any further questions.

Announcing the V1 to V2 Upgrade Program

Without a doubt the V2 has been a huge success for both Pocket NC and its users.  The increased accuracy of the trunnion has allowed for the production of more complex and better quality parts.  With an average runout of 0.0005 inches and 6X resolution over the V1, it is much more capable of producing quality parts.

 Because of demand for the Pocket NC 5 axis mill, lead times have been abnormally high, to help with this, We  have purchased a 10 Ton 5 axis milling machine(a Haas UMC 750) which will produce V2s at 4 times the current rate of production.

Since the launch we have wanted to provide an upgrade option to all our V1 owners, getting them the latest and greatest of Pocket NC machinery!  Today we are excited to announce the V1 trade in program which will allow users to upgrade a V1 to a V2.   

How the upgrade works:

Pocket NC will provide return packaging and shipping labels for V1 machines. Once machines arrive back at Pocket NC, they will be placed in a que for teardown and reassembly.  Expensive components such as the spindle, linear guides and XYZ linear motors will be reused in the production of your V2.  These components represent a significant portion of the machine cost and allow us to give the best possible upgrade price.  The same components that were recovered from your V1 will be used on your V2.

 

The following video is a demonstration of the faster more accurate and more capable trunnion in action.  Go here to download the Fusion 360 file to check out the toolpaths!

Here are some answers to questions that are sure to come up:

Can I upgrade just my trunnion?

While the trunnion represents the majority of the changes between the V1 and V2 significant improvements have been made to the electronics , manufacturing and user interface.  Rather than retrofit every machine, we can replace all machined components and provide the best possible machine.  

Can I upgrade just my User Interface?

We do not currently have an option to upgrade just the user interface, but we are working to have it available in the near future.

I have an old spindle, will my upgrade be different?

As a thank you to our early adopters, V1s with the first generation of spindle will receive the new spindle, a tool holder and an ER11 collet with their upgrade at no extra cost.

 

Pocket NC Version 2 - The Next Generation in 5 Axis CNC Milling

If you have been keeping an eye on Pocket NC over the last year or two, you might have noticed some improvements in our 5 axis mill.  Today we are proud to introduce the Pocket NC V2 which follows in the footsteps of continually improving our products.  The V2 is our fastest and most accurate machine to date.  It features a new user interface, more robust electronics, a precision tool probe and a rigid trunnion.  The V2 is a culmination of everything we have learned about manufacturing over the past few years.  In this short period of time we have transitioned from a garage startup to a thriving business providing dependable mills to individuals, universities and businesses all over the world.   Our customer's feedback on our designs heavily influenced the features we chose to focus on for this upgrade.

Note that we will now be referring to the previous design of our machine as the Version 1 or V1.  We will no longer be manufacturing that design, however we will continue to support it and provide accessories for it.

New User Interface

A new, custom built user interface is quite possibly the biggest upgrade to the Pocket NC mill.  No more SSHing or downloading software.  Simply connect a USB cable from the machine to your computer and go to your machine's web address in Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Safari on Mac or Windows (no internet connection required).  Operating the V2 feels familiar to an industrial machine but now with a more intuitive interface.   Users can seamlessly switch between imperial and metric units, upload programs and more.  

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Integrated Tool Probe

Our number one hardware request amongst users was the tool probe.  A tool probe is an instrument which automatically measures the length of a tool.  Once measured, tool lengths are then stored in the tool table and are visible from the User Interface.  With the compact design of the Pocket NC mill, finding room for a tool probe was difficult as the location needed to be safe from active tools and maintain the work envelope. We were able to achieve these prerequisites by placing the probe on the side of the trunnion.  The probe takes precision to the next level by allowing users to repeatably set tools within 0.001 inches.  

DSC_8805-2-2 2.jpg

Redesigned Trunnion

The V2 trunnion is all about getting work done.  The result is increased speed, rigidity and accuracy.  The redesign starts with reducing part count and making the trunnion from one solid aluminum billet.  Each unit is produced using multi-axis machining, removing human error from the equation.  The new trunnion has an integrated bearing which reduces friction and deflection within each assembly.  We have also added an anti backlash worm drive to the A and B axes allowing them to move faster and with more precision.

The V2 trunnion also allows through-hole fixturing from the middle of the B axis.  ER-40 collets, can be used to hold a variety of round objects.

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Click below to see the technical specifications or to place an order.

Pocket NC, Affordable and Accurate?

Pocket_NC_Accuracy

Since the beginning, the Pocket NC mill has been based around two core values, accuracy and affordability.  While the Pocket NC uses many off the shelf components to remain affordable, it also employs several techniques that, when combined, have a greater impact on accuracy than that of expensive components.  

A good example of this is the ball screw versus lead screw debate. In general, ball screws are associated with accuracy. A machine with ball screws must be more accurate than one with lead screws.  In actuality, lead screws can have about the same accuracy as rolled ball screws, as both use similar technologies in the manufacturing process.  A high end ball screw only has an increased accuracy of  ~0.0003 inches per inch or ~0.0036 inches per foot over that of a good lead screw.  While they can improve accuracy, ball screws are usually adopted for the increase in lifespan, linear forces and noise reduction.  For this reason the Pocket NC mill uses preloaded lead screws with high life span nuts, reducing the cost by about $1000 per machine, without any major sacrifice in accuracy.

Some components used on the machine are extremely expensive, like the linear guides. So why use linear guides instead of lower cost guide rods?  Guide rods in general are very good for linear applications with similar tolerances to linear guides.  At Pocket NC we use linear guides because the mounting strategy of a linear guide allows each rail to conform to the squareness of its mounting surface.  

Pocket_NC_Accuracy5

Squareness is perhaps the most important aspect of a machine as a deviation in squareness for any given axis directly relates to the accuracy of the machine.  An axis which deviates by 0.001 inches per inch will have 300% more effect on machine accuracy than that of a lead screw and thus is much more important to consider.  

So how does Pocket NC create accurate machines?  For starters each machine is made from billet aluminum and allowed to flex and bow throughout the machining process so that its final surface cuts have minimal effect on squareness.  The use of a rotary axis during manufacturing assures minimum human contact where problems are likely to occur.  Each part is then checked using precision granite and tooling before anodized plating and assembly.  Parts which do not conform to tolerance bands are re-machined or recycled.

Pocket_NC_Accuracy2

Throughout the assembly process, subassemblies of the machine are measured to ensure squareness.

Pocket_NC_Accuracy3

Once assembled, each machine is calibrated and tested to ensure accuracy.  The entire process takes about 15 hours.  This includes machining, measuring, assembly, alignment, wiring, calibration and testing.

Pocket_NC_Accuracy4

Is the Pocket NC mill accurate enough or right for your application?  In general the Pocket NC mill is recommended for light manufacturing.  This means high part counts for soft materials like Delrin or wax or low part counts for harder materials like Aluminum.  The machine is also recommended for applications where +/- 0.005 inches feature locational tolerance is acceptable. While better tolerances are possible, greater attention will be required during the machining process.

March 2016 Update - Pick and Place

We have been working hard over the past couple of months to assemble and ship the remaining machines from our Kickstarter campaign.  We have already shipped over half of the Batch 3 orders and are on track to ship the remainder by the end of the month without a problem.  After that, we will begin shipping the preorder machines.

Our exciting news this update is that we have purchased a pick and place machine for building our own electronic boards from SparkFun Electronics.  Their operations outgrew the capacity of the machine and so it is a great fit for us to get started.  We will use it to place components on our custom capes, but it will also be an essential piece of equipment for the next product line we will be releasing.  Stay tuned over the next few months for more information!



New Training Series - Impeller Part 2

Per the request of some of our first users, we are creating a training series to teach Pocket NC users how to mill a wooden impeller from start to finish.  Last week we showed you how to create the geometry you would need in Fusion 360.

This weeks video gets to the really good stuff, how to generate your tool paths in Fusion 360 for the Pocket NC.  Once you've completed this tutorial, you will have the Gcode file read to get cutting!

If you have general questions related to Fusion 360 after watching these videos, be sure to check out their Learning Page as you may be able to find some answers there.  

New Training Series - Impeller Part 1

After sending out our first batch of machines,  we realized the most helpful tool to get our new users up and running with our machine would be a start to finish tutorial to mill a first part including how to generate the toolpaths in Fusion 360.  

We chose a wooden impeller as the first part.  While the impeller is the typical part used to show off continuous 5 axis machining, like almost all parts it is possible to do with indexed toolpaths instead.  We will do it using multiple orientations of the A and B axes.  Even though a metal impeller would be a lot cooler for a first part, we want to stress to our users to start out with a softer material while you are still getting to know your Pocket NC.

From now on, we will be shipping our machines with the material to cut the impeller.  For those of you in the first batch who already have your machines, we will send out the material to you soon.  

We will break the process up into 3 parts.  The first part(shown below)  details how to get the geometry all set up in Fusion 360.  You will need to download the file for the table and vise geometry  as well as the file for the impeller geometry.  Part 2 will show how to create your toolpaths in Fusion 360 and Part 3 will show how to cut the part on the machine.  Stay tuned!

September 2015 Update

We are continuing to make good progress here at Pocket NC.  This past month we shipped out our hats and stickers.  If you pledged for one and didn't get it, be sure and check your email to make sure you didn't miss the survey for your address!

 We'd also like to take time to thank all those who backed us at the $5 level.  All of you combined helped to give us a little extra wiggle room in our first run of production and we really appreciate all of your support!  So here goes, big thanks goes out to Keith Reffell, Eric Weinhoffer, Heri Sim, Ryan Lackey, Frank Wiebenga, GP Yee, 3Dsimo, Javier, Jotham McMillan, Mathieu Monney, Matt Stultz, Tim, Jason Webb, Michael Curry, Christian Klemke, Dustin Sell, cubergreen, James S Beckman, 3devo, Brian Ware, Thorkil, Jondale Stratton, R. D. Childers, Gavin Bath, L.M. Oliver, Scott Seivert, CHERCIU Mihail, Niall Barrett, Michael Ukabam, Edispin Inc, Grzegorz Jagla, Dag Henrik Bråtane, Laurens Laudowicz, Phoenix, Gerald Fuller, Daniel M Simser, David Perry, Affan, Wolfgang Klich, Nathan Stephens, Tyler Lindsay, Kristen Dyrr, R.M., Lauren Schmitt, JV (John) Pumphrey, Dean, Anthony Bergelt, Amanda Z, Filippo Toso, Celtic Hotel, London (Deb), D.LINK STUDIO LLC, Elias Dinter, Stephen Coates, Andreas Rozek, Ove Andersen, Carlos Poon, Lorenzo Frangi, Sean Hall, David Proffer, Jason Bird, ben shultz, Chris E, Darin, Adam Phelps, Mcontrem, Andy Holmstom, Victoria A., Simen Kjærås, EJ Strauss, Nathanael Nunes, Philip Barishich, Ryan, Jesse, and Wes, Aaron G. Sauers, CLP, NEEO Inc., Evgeny Hotulev, Peter Csontos, Ng Wai Sing, Hamish Patel, Natalie Freed, Ilya Smirnov, Andy Mills, Ernest Ho, CrystalKB, Carsten Spranger, Andrew Sand, Dmitri Don, Brandon Zurek, Justen Judd, Gion Manetsch, Center for a Stateless Society, Kean Maizels, Jonas Rabbe, Jordan, Katrina L. Halliwell, FastEddie, Shaun Redsar, Rob Scott, Vincent Poirier, onelife, Leonard@TM, waquier, Christoffer Wallén, Ryan Oberfield, SeltzerKick, Calvin Chu, IPD DESK Ltd, supervexi, and Alya.

We are continuing to work hard on machining and are over halfway through the machines.  We also have a steady flow of parts coming back from anodize and will soon have the custom machines back!

 We also have all the components we need to begin the assembly process for the first batch!  We are excited to finish assembling a few soon so that we can test them and make sure everything is good before cranking out the rest.

You may have noticed that the machine we advertised on our Kickstarter campaign required an ethernet connection to a computer to operate.  We have realized that this is one of the weak points of our machine because who really wants to deal with an ethernet connection in the 21st century?  So we have been working on a few prototypes to add more ports including a micro USB, HDMI, and USB.  What this means for our users is that they will have three options for operation.  Users can SSH into the machine from another computer using the ethernet connection, SSH using the micro USB connection, or use a stand alone mouse, keyboard, and HDMI compatible screen.  You can also use the USB port to load Gcode files to your machine with a USB stick.  We have tested 3 iterations of the prototype boards and things are going really well.  Thanks again to OSH Park for helping us work through these prototype boards quickly!

We also want to thank our programmer, Duane Bishop, who has been working very hard to iron out any bugs we have in our setup and make our user experience better.

 We are also working on rounding out our website so that by the time we begin shipping machines, there is ample information to get our users started.  You can find this information on our resource page.  This includes things like tutorials on how to use the machine, dimensions of the machine for those of you building custom enclosures, as well as diagrams describing the home position and travel of the machine.

That's a wrap!

Since we have wrapped up our Kickstarter campaign, we wanted to take a post to say a huge thanks to everyone who backed us!  We are really excited to have the go ahead to move into full production.  We have got a head start on the process since we met our goal a few weeks ago and are machining through some aluminum while we wait for our funds to come in to finish ordering our components.  We have been producing about 200 pounds of aluminum chips a week.

 We also have the boards for our BeagleBone Black capes on order.  The photo below is one of the left overs from the last batch of working prototypes that we produced and saw no issues with.  We owe a big thanks to the folks over at OSH Park for all the help they've been through our prototyping process.  If you are looking for a place to get small batches of boards prototypes, we highly recommend working with them!

 One issue we have been struggling with for a while has been finding a way to cover the fastener holes on our linear bearings that is functional, looks good, and won't add an hour to our assembly process.  We weren't too happy with the plastic caps that are made for this purpose and even tried out essentially a hot glue gun and plastic which didn't work too well either.  We finally got around to prototyping some very thin laser cut shims that we are very happy with on all fronts.  It's all about the details, people!

Old rail covers.

Old rail covers.

New rail covers.

New rail covers.

Sold Out!

Wow!  What a week it's been.  Thanks so much to all of our backers who came out to support our campaign!  We are SO excited about the machines sold and ready to head into production.  So ready, that today we took delivery of about 1000 pounds of aluminum so that we can get to making chips on some of your frames.


 For those of you wondering if we will be adding more machines to the campaign, the answer is that we don't plan to.  The number we limited the campaign to is based on the manufacturing plan that we have developed and our capacity to grow over the coming months.  While it kills us to not sell as many machines as we can through the campaign, we want to make sure that we are well equipped to follow through with the delivery dates that we have set.  If you missed out on a machine and you want us to let you know when we launch preorders, or if you are outside the US and want to know when we launch preorders, leave us your email address in the box on our homepage.  Another option, if you are very determined to get a Kickstarter machine, is to watch over the next few weeks to see if another backer cancels their pledge.

Since we have done so well in the campaign, we decided to develop a custom vise to include with all of your machines!  It is a simple dowel pin vise that attaches to the table made from 6061 aluminum.  With what we will include, the width of part it can hold is 0.2-2.25 in.  This width can be easily extended by using longer dowel pins and a longer bolt. 

PocketNC and Fusion 360

We have had a very exciting couple of months here at PocketNC.  Our last round of capes for our BeagleBone Black have full functionality which has enabled us to FINALLY move ahead with testing our hardware.  It also allows us to further explore the capabilities of Autodesk's new, cloud-based CAD/CAM solution, Fusion 360.

We are really excited about the offerings of Fusion 360 and believe that it will make a huge difference for our users as well as a ton of makers, educators, and start-ups the world over.  Autodesk has committed to offering the software for free (including 3+2 machining capability!) for hobbyists, educators, and businesses making less than $100,000 per year.  See this great blog post by CEO Carl Bass for more info on their vision.

We've worked with Autodesk over the past months to create a post processor for Fusion 360 specifically for PocketNC, but given the state of our electronics haven't been able to test it until now.  So we've spent the past couple of weeks working through writing tool paths to machine a duck call(based off an open source design by Doug Lanter on GrabCAD) and proofing out the PocketNC post processor.  We are really happy with the results and looking forward to moving on to more testing!


Happy Holidays from Pocket NC

We hope that the holidays found you all happy and healthy and that you're now tinkering with any new toys that Santa may have brought you!

We had a great Christmas and were delivered the last components we needed to complete our second round of prototype Beagle Bone Black capes on Christmas Eve day!  We have been working hard even since then to get everything connected and soldered and ready to go.  We began testing on the machine yesterday and we are happy with the results so far.  We have the machine moving around, and we are very happy to see the boards are staying cool.  The last round of prototype boards were getting pretty warm so that was one of our design objectives this round.  

So everyone is thinking the same thing,   "That's great, so when can I get a machine?!"  Well we have some more kinks to work out on these boards and that will determine whether we continue on with this set to do the fun testing or if we need iterate again on the capes(which will add more time to the process).  

We are excited to keep on testing, and hopefully put out some good videos for you all once we get to making some chips!

 

Testing our second round of cape prototypes for our 5 axis desktop CNC mill. First section is homing, second is just movement. Third is small movement with a dial indicator to show positional accuracy.

PCB Progress

We have had a very busy month placing all the components on our first round of PCBs for our BeagleBone Black cape.  As expected, we ran into a number of issues and bugs on the first round but so far nothing that we haven't been able to address.  We are getting close to sending out the next rev of boards to be made which should have the functionality to continue our machine testing.  

Here's a snapshot of one of our fully assembled Beta 2.0s:

PocketNC_Beta2_5Axis_CNC_Mill

We also had the opportunity to travel to NYC to participate in the Blackstone LaunchPad Demo Day along with 20 other ventures from universities around the nation.  We had the opportunity to have a cocktail hour on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and get our picture taken with the opening bell (see below).  We learned a lot over the couple days we were there and were excited to get back home to keep moving on Pocket NC.

Green Beta 2.0 and Purple BBB Capes

Quick update to let you all know how we are doing with our Beta 2.0's.  We got them back from anodize and were pretty happy with the results.  This is our first run with a shop here in Montana so that is always nerve wracking, but they did a great job so that was a relief.

PocketNC_Beta2_Desktop_5Axis_CNC_Mill

Bannor finished the design of our cape and we had the boards made.  The guys over at OSH Park did a great job of doing a rush set for us so that we can keep the ball rolling.  This week our purple boards came, and we have been working hard to get them populated with our components.  Like any prototyping process, we already know of some changes that need to be made to the boards but we are really happy to be making progress.

Also wanted to update you all on the timing of our Kickstarter campaign.  Once we get the boards up and running, we will need to run some good tests on the machines before launching the campaign.  If everything goes as planned, it is looking like December would probably be the earliest launch date for the campaign.

Beta 2.0 Progress

Since we got our Haas up and running last month we have been working hard at machining the frames for our Beta 2.0 machines.  We are close to finished with one of the machines, and the next one will go much faster since the programs are proofed out now.  It is such a blessing to have a machine available to us to make our own parts and learn along the way.  We can't wait for our machines to get out there so others can have that experience too!

Here's some pictures of the Beta 2.0 parts next to our original Beta parts so you can see some of the improvements we have made:

The base of our machine(left) was previously a box composed of 4 half inch walls.  To add rigidity to the machine and simplify assembly, we have moved to machining a solid billet of aluminum(right).

The base of our machine(left) was previously a box composed of 4 half inch walls.  To add rigidity to the machine and simplify assembly, we have moved to machining a solid billet of aluminum(right).

Our previous X/Z stage(right) was composed of 2 parts,  lacked rigidity, and was difficult to align.  Our new one (left) is a single, rigid part and greatly simplifies alignment.

Our previous X/Z stage(right) was composed of 2 parts,  lacked rigidity, and was difficult to align.  Our new one (left) is a single, rigid part and greatly simplifies alignment.

Our previous A/B backing plates(required) required the wires to be routed through the center where they could get kinked and made it impossible to disassemble if repair was needed.  The new plates(left) have the wires routed through the side and includes a second motor for additional torque.

Our previous A/B backing plates(required) required the wires to be routed through the center where they could get kinked and made it impossible to disassemble if repair was needed.  The new plates(left) have the wires routed through the side and includes a second motor for additional torque.

Our previous spindle mount(left) lacked rigidity.  Our new spindle mount (right) has added rigidity and simplified assembly.

Our previous spindle mount(left) lacked rigidity.  Our new spindle mount (right) has added rigidity and simplified assembly.

Our old linear bearings (upper right) for the Y rails were very difficult to assemble because of the fastener size so our new ones(upper left) are easier to assemble, have better seals, and are made in the US.  Our new rotary bearings(lower left) are bigger and easier to assemble.

Our old linear bearings (upper right) for the Y rails were very difficult to assemble because of the fastener size so our new ones(upper left) are easier to assemble, have better seals, and are made in the US.  Our new rotary bearings(lower left) are bigger and easier to assemble.

We are also making progress in developing our cape for the BeagleBone Black.  The initial design is finished, and we are now working on finding a board house that will be able to get us a few prototypes quickly and at a price that we can afford.  Hopefully the first boards will come back around the same time as we get the frames back from anodize and we can get this second round of testing going!

We wanted to let you all know that we will not be attending the World Maker Faire in New York this year.  Those of you who present or attend Maker Faires know that not only are they expensive to do, but you also end up spending a few weeks getting ready, attending, and recovering from them.  We have so much to do to get through this last push of development that we are deciding to spend the time and money to get us closer to our Kickstarter campaign instead.  Thanks for understanding, and we hope you have an awesome time at the Faire! We will miss it!

Welcome Home Haas!

We have had a big month here at PocketNC!  After 6 months, we have officially moved out of Matt's parents  basement into a house of our own with a 3 car garage and an office to house our company in our next phase of starting up.  Our friend and board designer Bannor has been working relentlessly outside of his day job to get our cape ready to go for the Beagle Bone Black.  We also are very excited to have purchased a Haas Minimill 2!  This is a big step for us to work towards the capability to finish up our testing by building 2 new and improved Beta machines and to be able to head into our Kickstarter campaign ready to knock it out of the park.

We have also been working hard with the folks over at Autodesk to get to know their CAM software package and make sure that we have a post processor in place for our machine so that it will pretty much be plug and play with their software.  They have some great solutions coming down the pipe line to offer affordable CAD/CAM software.

The summer in Bozeman has offered some great opportunities to get involved in our community and help educate people about desktop machining.  We showed our machine to a group of Tech Ed teachers from around the state and had great conversations about how it could fit into their classrooms.  We also attended a maker event at our local library.

For those of you looking for an update of when our Kickstarter campaign will be, if our next round of testing goes well we are still on track to launch the campaign this Fall with the first deliveries going out in early 2015.  We will keep you posted as we test to let you know if we come across any speed bumps that will push us out.  

Beagle Bone Black and Beta 2.0

A lot has been going on for us in the past couple of months!  We attended the Bay Area Maker Faire in May and had a great time.  We ran demos of a wax ring casting on our new Beagle Bone Black setup for pretty much both days straight.  We had some family join us and our friend Gary came to help us answer questions at the booth.  

We are moving forward with a real prototype of a Beagle Bone Black cape which could enable us to release the machine with encoders on all axes.  We are also doing one final run of updated hardware on the machine, which we are calling Beta 2.0.  Once the boards and the hardware are done, we will do one last round of testing on the machine before launching a Kickstarter campaign(still aiming for fall).  

Another exciting piece of news for us is that we have ordered a Haas mill that will be delivered in July.  This will be the machine we use to produce our Kickstarter orders as well as machine the Beta 2.0.  It will be a huge asset to be able to prototype our work in house.

Below is a picture of the Beagle Bone Black running LinuxCNC that we showed at Maker Faire.  We have been seeing great results testing our machine with this setup and we are really excited about all of the opportunities it allows for us to increase our functionality and usability.   Big thanks to Duane who has put in many hours to help us get rolling on it!

PocketNC_Beta_Desktop_5Axis_CNC_Mill2



Testing Update

Our last couple months have been spent inching towards the capability of physical testing on our machine.  We are finally to the point of being able to successfully run some complete tool paths(sometimes for hours on end) which is pretty exciting because the build up to this has been hundreds of 10 second runs before having to stop to address bugs.

That being said,  you can see in the video above that we still have a ways to go in refining the 5 axis motion control with our TinyG2 boards.  We are happy to be on our way, and in our down time of getting software bugs worked out we are looking into an alternative motion control solution that would be based off of a Beagle Bone Black.  We are excited to have multiple motion control solutions in progress in the hopes that at least one will work out and we will be able to get machines out there with a stable solution at our Kickstarter campaign.

The other good news about starting our physical testing is that we are fairly confident our machines will still be running in a month from now(possibly with a Beagle Bone Black too) and we will make the trek to the Maker Faire in San Mateo.  We love meeting other makers and hearing what's going on outside of our corner of the world.  Thanks as always for your interest in our project and for your patience in waiting for it to develop!

February Update

Well it's been a while since we last updated, sorry for that.  The reason why is that we have been always feeling so close to getting our bugs worked out and having some awesome videos of the Betas running for you all.  We have been struggling with bug issues with our electronics since our last update, and are still struggling with them but we are still working hard at fixing them, and most importantly getting our customers a machine that just works.  We want to have all this worked through before launching a Kickstarter campaign so that you all can spend your time making cool stuff, not debugging your machine!

The state of our machine for the last few weeks...

The state of our machine for the last few weeks...

That said, there have been some positive things that have come out of our struggles.  One being that we realized we needed a better way to take the electronics in and out of the machine because its inevitable that it will happen, and having the mess you see in the above picture only adds to the frustration of having issues. So we designed a console that pulls out of the back of the machine much more easily .  

PocketNC_Arduino

The other good thing that has been happening is that we have been starting to make more connections here in Bozeman with other makers and entrepreneurs,  which always helps to give us new ideas and to push through these technical problems.  As always, thanks to everyone who is keeping up with our progress.  We hope to get these bugs fixed soon, and once we do we will be posting as many videos and pictures of our testing process as we can.  Wish us luck!

Happy New Year from Pocket NC

Starting the New Year off with a fresh new website!  

Matt and I are both loving being full time at Pocket NC.  Over the holidays we shipped one of our Beta machines off to the guys over at Synthetos so they can help us with testing their TinyG boards.  Now we are working on assembling two more, while the other two are off getting anodized this week.  Pretty excited to get them together in the next few weeks and see what they can really do before getting our Kickstarter campaign rolling.

PocketNC_Matt