The "The Vamp" CNC Platform


         The Vamp is one of my longtime goals! A simple cheap CNC platform. You can make this a CNC Mill,3D printer or Laser. What makes this so slick is it is built using trim channel. Trim channel is used on the edge of plywood to hide the edge on countertops and shielves. You can find it at your local hardware and home improvement center. The trim channel forms the Frame, Linear Rails and motor mount. It is easily cut in a cheap miter box. I used a Harbor Freight $9 saw/miter box unit to cut my parts. The Vamp uses Delrin V-Slides. My V-Slides run on one of the two lips on the Trim channel. For best results keep lengths of Trim Channel under 12". If you go longer you will get flexing. The plans are set for a machine that mills FR-4 circuit boardsk, plastic, wood and soft metals.


          The machine sits on a piece of Oak stair tread. You can also use MDF or Plywood. The Z-axis is held in place using my famous Flange-Pipe-Elbow-Nipple-Flange system. The Endbearing is a roller blade bearing in my Captive bearing design. This system can be made in other configurations. Below is the build blog if you have not followed it!

        The "Build" starts out with my Trusty $9 Harbor Freight miter box mounted to the bench. Each piece of aluminum Trim Channel is cut to length and then touched up using a cheap HF belt sander.

        The parts for the frame are drilled using a cheap HF drill press. The Frame is bolted together with 10-32 X 1/2" bolts, Nuts and Star Washers. Corner Brackets to prevent Skewing are also made from the Trim Channel. This forms a super simple CNC Axis Platform that is Frame, Motor Mount and Linear Rail.

        Here you see the Z-Axis assembly. I incorperated my Captive Bearing system as an End Bearing. The leadscrew is allowed to float in the Delrin Drive Nut.

        Here we have Gas Pipe used to hold the Z-Axis. This idea comes from my Brute model introduced 15 years ago! Notice the 1/2" PVC transition block mounted to the upper Pipe Flange.

        Here is the Acid Test! With a Dremel in it's mount sporting a 1/8" drill bit, I flex the tip of the bit with increasing pressure. It is at that point I can determine what the machine is capable of doing. The goal was a PCB Milling machine. It is worthy!!! Think about it! I spent over a month on this idea. Others have used Trim Channel but not like this! There are $600 to $800 Kits out there that are not as tight and stiff as this crazy design. How come? They are out to make money! I am out to find out what if? A big difference!


         We now assemble the X and Y axis. All final holes are drilled and de-burred. Doing this blog is harder than making the machine!


         The four mounting holes are located and drilled in the oak board. All hardware is located and mounted. The final possible problem was mounting the stepping motor using four nuts as spacers. That caused no problem. On the Z-Axis the motor is mounted using joiner nuts. NEMA 23 Steppers have a plateform near the shaft. I had to find a way so it would sit straight on the frame. The nuts took the problem out of the picture. I could have used more joiner nuts. Saving money here using a plain nuts!


         The Y-Bed is added allowing the X-Axis to be mounted to see if all the holes line up! Do I have enough bolts? Will the weight of the motor pull down enough to cause the V-Slides to wear out prematurely? Lots of questions get answered by building things! Right?


         Now we reassemble the machine and calibrate as we go! The Z-Axis is now finished. I am using a stepper with a dual shaft. Using a light weight knob on the motor will allow me to accuratelly set the cutting tool above the PCB.


          The Y-Axis is now assembled and calibrated. Note to self!!! Don't work on an axis when it is bolted to a board. Talk about a hop in the ass! I made a Delrin drive nut. Very well made but there was no place to make an adjustment. I had to use my Delrin mounted on a piece of aluminum angle. The Z-Axis uses a floating Leadscrew. You need to have places to dial in the alignment!!!


          The X-Axis is now assembled and calibrated. Can you make a CNC machine out of Trim Channel? The answer is Yes! I would do this only if you need a different size than the Brute or you can not locate the storefront window channel. This design went from drawing board to reality smoothly. There was only one big problem! Me! My old eyes and shaky hands!


          With Windows 98 installed in a computer I have everything ready to cut my first circuitboard. Can The Vamp do It? I will be cutting FR4 board not the softer FR1 others use for their pictures.


          The Vamp is a success! I need to cut the next board a little deeper. Traces are straight. There is no play in the machine. No drive belt flex! We use leadscrews made from threaded rod!

Email: John a quick question

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