Thinking of buying XXL, some questions from a filthy casual

So after years of looking at home/diy CNC machines, but either not having the money or not having the space or time or whatever combo, the three roads have finally come close to hitting an intersection and I’m looking to purchase a hobby cnc machine. While there are several choices on the market, the XXL seems to be the best value, and will do way more than my overloaded and slowing down mind will ever be able to comprehend. But, I need to do the due diligence, and as such, have some questions.

  1. Software - If i’m understanding everything, you design with a CAD/vector program, make the g-code, or tool path, with a CAM program and then it goes to the control program that runs the stepper motors,etc. So, Carbine Create is a combo CAD/CAM program? And Carbide Motion is the control program? How far will these stock programs take you? Will these do letters for signs, use a v bit for carving etc? Is there software that is not a must, but great improvement that is recommended?

  2. Noise - As a general contractor/carpenter for 25+ years, I’ve had the Dewalt/Makita/Bosch laminate trimmers, and I know first hand they are loud. Since this will be used in a garage that is under a 2nd floor room, would I be better off making the upgrade right at the start to an air spindle such as the kit on Inventables? I really don’t want to make a huge noise cover for the machine, as I’m pretty tight on space as it is.

  3. Dust control - I’ve been looking at the Bosch VAC140A for my chop saw set up and wondered if anyone had tried it with a dust hood on the XXL. I can see this being quite a messy toy if not properly contained.

  4. Demo - I live close to Sacramento, CA, and wondered if there was anyone in the area that might be willing to show off their toy. I would love to see a demonstration of one of these tools first hand.

I think that’s it for now. I’ve read many pages of the forums, saw the projects people have done, and will probably be ordering one in the next couple of days. It’s an amazing system for the cost. It’s funny to look at something like this for under $1500 and to see how far technology has brought wood working.

Dirtycamel

  1. Correct. Carbide Create is a CAD/CAM program, quite simple, but surprisingly capable. My suggestion for when one bumps into its limits is to then use a vector drawing app such as Inkscape (free/opensource) to do designs, then import them into Carbide Create for the CAM step. It supports V-carving: http://docs.carbide3d.com/assembly/carbidecreate/video-tutorials/#v-carving — if you would like a commercial software option, Serif’s Affinity Designer is I think the best option

  2. While the spindles are quiet in and of themselves, the noise of cutting is where most of the noise comes from, and the balance from dust collection. My suggestions for reducing noise would be a quiet vacuum and isolation dampening between the machine and the table, and the table and the floor.

  3. That looks like a good option if the noise is acceptable — should just be a matter of using the right size vacuum setup at the dust shoe — list of designs here: https://www.shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/Spindle_Options including one where I walked through each step of the design process: http://www.shapeoko.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=3658 the “Suck-It Dust Boot” has been a popular option

Can’t help on the demo — though that reminds me I need to do a demo for/at the local library.

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