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Post Questions about the "book" CNC Plans here

Official support for products purchased from the BuildYourTools.com and BuildYourCNC.com sites, and the book "Build Your Own CNC Machine (Technology in Action)" by Patrick Hood-Daniel and James Floyd Kelly.

Post Questions about the "book" CNC Plans here

Postby jamesfkelly » Sat Dec 12, 2009 11:45 pm

If you have specific questions about the PDF plans - dimensions, naming conventions, etc - please post those here so other readers can benefit. Thanks.James Floyd Kelly
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Postby gatnact » Sun Dec 13, 2009 7:13 am

I have the blacktoe2.0. I have all of the MDF and started to measure it all out and make a 3D model of it in SolidWorks. I didn't think to ask if you had the 2D or possibly 3D plans put together. So I would love to have a 3D model to play around with. Would it be possible to get this. I was also wondering if I were to buy the Build Your Own CNC Machine Book would it be help full in putting all of this together. Thank you.

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Postby Awesomeness » Sun Dec 13, 2009 7:30 am

The book probably wouldn't do you lots of good. Part of the book's appeal is that it's a pretty specific set of instructions to build a particular machine (not the BlackToe).

However, if you're a complete novice, you may gain some minor benefit from the generalized chapters about the assembly of the electronics, building jigs for drilling holes, assembling the bearings and rails, etc.

If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?
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Postby pconti31 » Mon Jan 18, 2010 6:42 pm

I have finished reading your buildCNC book and could'nt find any mention of measuring or cutting the z or y axis leadscrews. The lenghts don't seem to be mentioned in the pdf file either. If you can't give an exact figure can you list approximate lengths?

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Postby jamesfkelly » Tue Jan 19, 2010 1:21 am

Paul Conti - we mention in the book to cut all the lead screw to leave approx 1" on each end... I can't remember which chapter, but that should be plenty.

Paul Franklin - sorry you're disappointed - there is a thread where a reader has posted an Excel spreadsheet to list the components. We did provide a "Hardware Required" section at the end of the chapters requiring hardware that lists the pieces used in that chapter - we did make a few mistakes (or omissions) but overall we were fairly accurate in providing a list of hardware required. We've had a few individuals complete their machines, so we're fairly happy with the machine's design and the book's instructions, but a lot of the success of a completed machine hinges on the skills of the reader... although we tried hard to write the book and keep the instructions easy to understand, this is not a project for everyone. Please tell us what problems you're having and we'll do our best to help.

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Postby Awesomeness » Tue Jan 19, 2010 3:55 am

I actually agree that the book is... "lacking". If this post sounds overly harsh, consider that I wrote a positive review that I'm generally satisfied with the book.

The book has some intangible sense of something missing, which is of concern. It's not any one thing, it's lots of little things added up. The hardware lists at the end of each chapter are incorrect, inconsistent, and there is no complete "shopping list summary" which is a practical requirement if you hope to buy all the parts to build the machine. There are countless discrepancies between the plans in the book, the downloadable plans, and the written instructions. There are, what I consider to be, unfathomable differences like calling 22mm bearings "7/8 bearings", when there is no reason to do so, and you can not in fact buy 7/8" skate bearings. It's the fact that when I send an email that says "The plans say the table is 4'1" and the book says both written and in plans that it is 4'-even", I just get a reply saying that the plans are tested and correct. Or that when someone mentioned something being missing in the book, the response was "We figured the type of people that would use this book would just figure out the solution, and work through any issues with the book/plans." It's all of this wrapped up into some uneasiness I have with it, that I can't exactly put words too.

I've thought about why this might have happened, and I think it might be a miscommunication, or a difference in expectations. The book is more of a written documentary about how the authors managed to build a working machine, than it is an instruction manual for others to build machines. There is certainly enough detail there to formulate my own ideas, make a plan to build a suitably similar machine, and design my own incarnation. However, it would have been very simple to have the book take the approach of "This is an instruction manual to exactly and accurately build this particular machine", and that is how I would have done it, and I guess that is what I was expecting from it. All those discrepancies that I listed, and I sent pages of them to Patrick, were just the ones that I glaringly found after reading the book once and trying to do a detailed replication of the plans in CAD.

The way I chose to deal with this was by trying to understand it as only a documentary of the author's build, like a puzzle that I have to figure out any missing pieces for. That isn't the way I would have preferred it, but it is what it is, and I'll do it because CNC machines are so AWESOME and I want one. :-P

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Postby Awesomeness » Tue Jan 19, 2010 5:20 am

I think it's just a difference of expectations. Crafty people can certainly build the machine by "following" the book, so they succeeded in providing adequate information to the community. They could have gone above adequate, and delivered thorough instruction. I don't mind having bought the book (and I only paid $25 on Amazon), but I was expecting and hoping for plans/instructions, and instead got a narrative.

It makes sense, from their point of view. Patrick is a tinkerer, and is very much caught up in the very nature of designing, improving, and building these machines. Every hole he drills, and bolt he puts in place, he has to carefully select, calculate for, and figure out what to do with. He is never working from "plans", but rather the plans are the product of his designs. So his book shares with us how he goes about building the machine.

I have made a set of 3D plans, in AutoCAD Inventor, that includes all the missing parts and corrections (I think). I plan to build my machine from my version of the plans, and if everything is ok, I'll post them.

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Postby jamesfkelly » Tue Jan 19, 2010 1:26 pm

All,

I'll let Patrick post his response if he likes,but I would like to thank all of you for your comments... writing a book, especially a technical book, is extremely difficult to do without any errors seeping in. We knew we would have errors... with this many measurements, dimensions, hardware terminology, and photos, it was a real task to keep everything straight.

Unlike many tech books, we decided very early on to fully support this book with a forum where we could collect errors and such... I've got dozens of tech books on my shelves that have no support after the purchase... and they all have errors that will stay that way because I cannot reach the author (or the publisher has gone under). That's why we hold to our belief that this book isn't for everyone... but if you've got patience and can think things through, you'll be able to figure out what we did... or at least post a question here for us to try and answer. While I was building my machine, I didn't have even the book... just the plans... I had to try and figure out what Patrick was showing me in the plans... or call him. But mostly I just pushed on and was able to figure stuff out. I know that's not a real solution, but we went as far as we could in the explanations...

Patrick and I both agree that the plans, the PDF files you download, should be the final word, not the text in the book. If you find an error in the plans, let us know... but if you find a discrepancy between text and PDF plans, go with the plans... those we can update at will versus waiting for the publisher to let us do a 2nd Edition with fixes to the text.

Technical writing is one of those jobs where perfection is an impossibility... we did our best and hope that our readers can make sense of our work. I'll continue to help Patrick to see if we can't work towards some "official" parts list... but even that's debatable as there are some actions where you could use a 2" versus a 3" bolt... but that's for another conversation :)

Thanks again,

James Floyd Kelly

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Postby barskey » Tue Jan 19, 2010 5:21 pm

Guido, very well said. I agree completely with your sentiments and your conclusion. Although I haven't scrutinized the PDF plans (I am waiting before I begin construction), I am under the impression that there are discrepancies between the plans and the book. I thought I read that the plans would be updated, is this true?

I agree that as written, the book will provide excellent advice and instructions for constructing our own machine. But I also agree that the initial impression is that the book is a set of instructions, and used as that it feels incomplete. But if I view the book as a journal of the author's work instead, I tend to not get caught up in the details or errata. Either way, it is an invaluable resource, and I plan on using it to its full extent. I think it is important to note that the reason I am (and I would assume others are as well) actively looking for corrections and support before I begin the build is to try to avoid mistakes along the way, which would cost both time and money. This book is written for those wanting an inexpensive build that can be constructed in a reasonable amount of time. We're just trying to get the most bang for our buck!

Here is a suggestion: would it be possible to add a forum thread or web page listing the known errata? If not, perhaps we the readers could maintain some sort of list of the discrepancies we find, with notes.

Also, I am wondering what the status is on the parts list? Jim, you said Patrick is working on putting it together, do you have any update? I think just having a complete parts list would go along way,

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Postby jamesfkelly » Wed Jan 20, 2010 2:07 pm

I talked with Patrick yesterday... he's working on an "official" parts list. I put "official" in quotes because between the 3 machines built for the book (mine, my dad's, and my tech editors), we all took slightly different directions when it came to building - for me, I used 2" bolts quite a bit... but my tech editor used 3" bolts (you just drill the hole a little deeper)... I used washers in some instances just to spread the pressure of a bolt head... another machine, washers weren't used as much.

We also purchased more bolts/nuts than we needed because in some instances, we drilled "extra" holes where we felt we wanted more holding power... this was rare, however. In one instance, I drilled more holes than needed but ended up not using the extra holes.

I'll email Patrick again about the list, but I'm not wanting to rush him - I'd like the list to be as accurate as possible... (then we can compare it to the Excel spreadsheet located in another post!)

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