a retirement thing to do.

Leo Voisine

East Freeetown, Massachusetts
In retirement many people do a lot of different things.
Some go traveling
Some go on Cruises
Some buy a retirement home
Lots of things people do.

Me - I love my shop and making cool stuff.
I love my CNC

I know lots of folk have CNC routers and I do too - but - I am obsessed with it.
I know I'm obsessed, but that's OK.

I think of this sort of thing like supping up a car.

Since I have had my Chinese machine I have had issues with it.
The "bones" are ROCK solid.
The machine is all welded steel no aluminum.

The "TEE slot table is a bit soft for my liking.
It works, but it is not ROCK.
For most people the table would not be any sort of an issue at all.
For me - I am accustomed to industrial machines with solid granite bases and tons of cast iron.
So, my table needs to be "beefed up" - but not at this time.

The "Z" axis and spindle mount is also a bit "soft" for my liking.
So, this also needs to be "beefed up" - but not at this time.

Then there is the "electronics" part of the equation.

I use Mach3 - which is good - BUT
Mach3 is an older technology with limitations.
I have managed to hit some of those limitations
- I have run code with over a millions lines - Mach3 is not really good at that.
- I have some issues with Acel / Decal on 3D with short and rapid changes in axis direction at high feedrates. The problem is time. When running a large 3D model it can take 10 hours or more because I need to slow down feedrate.
- Mach3 was never designed to run on a USB. I am running a USB cable with some dumb Chinese work around software plug in emulator.
- If I hit my ESTOP - the machine go totally wonky --- DON'T ASK what that means - but it can take 2-5 hours of frustration to recover.

My BreakOutBoard is a Chinese made Mach3 board
- I just don't trust it.
- It relies on the Windows CPU
- If there is a hickup in Windows or on the CPU because of windows it affects the machine.

Sooo, for years I have been thinking about upgrading my CNC Router to make the "electronics" part as ROCK solid as the steel part of my machine.

I am going to upgrade to Centroid.
- Centroid Acorn BOB -- this has it's own CPU build in - not dependent on the main windows CPU (I know I am not saying that right - it's not a windows CPU)
- Centroid Probing - Digitizing software - I will be able to do 3D digitizing
- Centroid Tool Touch measuring
- It is ALL made by one company and will all integrate quite well
- USA made - sweet
- All sorts of inputs and outputs - DC, spindle coolant, lights, air blast, etc etc
- REALLY good support
- User forum
- Great documentation
- No USB - No Parallel --- this is ethernet driven
- MUCH better acel/decel

Whooo Hooooo ----- I just need $2500 to pay for it, fortunately I have made enough $ in 2021 to cover the cost.

This is going to be a winter, snow on the ground fire in the woodstove kinda project.

I know it's not really a CNC forum - but you all all my friends.

I am sooo excited about this.

fred hargis

Wapakoneta, OH
Sounds cool, not being a CNC guy (not even close) I didn't understand 75% of what you typed.....but if you're excited/happy/ready to go, then I'm excited/happy for you; maybe not so ready to go. :bliss:

Vaughn McMillan

Staff member
Looks like quite an upgrade. :thumb: When you bought the Chinese CNC a few years ago, were you kind of also planning on the need to upgrade certain parts? I know I do the same sometimes with guitars. Get a lower-priced guitar with good bones and then upgrade to first-class electronics, all for less money than buying a top of the line instrument.

Leo Voisine

East Freeetown, Massachusetts
Yes, I had thoughts about upgrading it years before I bought it.

One of the upgrades I have already done is to make it so that I can clamp vertically, meaning a plane 90 degrees perpendicular to the table plane.

I used that to cut custom dovetails already.

It is a little bit like a Porter Cable dovetail jig, BUT with little to no limitations.
With the Porter cable jig, I MUST cut specific dovetails.
With my setup, I can cut ANY - er just about any combination I want.
But not just dovetails.

I can put a small cabinet down inside my machine nearly 4 feet tall. and do machining on the top of the cabinet.

I have a few more upgrades in mind, but this one to Centroid is a BIG one.

There is NO way I could have afforded my dream machine.
Really - importing this machine from China was galaxies apart from what I really wanted and what I could afford.
Even with added upgrades it still is a SERIOUS bargain.

The machine is well within great working parameters, with a few NOT serious issues.

Why did the guy take a 283 engine out of his Camaro out and put a 350 in it's place.
The 283 worked just fine.
I have wondered how well Mach3 worked. I would love to build up or buy one like yours Leo. I learned to program G code long hand on a Kitamura Vertical mill with a Fanuc control. I moved up to an Andi WFD with Fanuc control and used Alphacam to write programs. Found I could write them better and faster long hand. That was all some years back, kind of out of practice now :huh:.

Be sure and post as you go some of us LOVE this stuff :wave:

Leo Voisine

East Freeetown, Massachusetts
Jay, There is absolutely nothing wrong with Mach3. I would recommend it to anyone. My upgrade is a little different.

BUT - Centriod basic is free, with limitations. What I am upgrading to is 2 level above free.
Centroid PRO is $159 - still cheaper than Mach 3 ($175) or Mach 4 hobby ($200)

I can't even begin to tell you how many G-Code programs I have written by hand. Thousands and thousands.
I spec'd out a Kitamura MyCenter one time, but we bought a Matsuura tiger instead. I have bought many Fanuc equipped machines as well as others. I used Alphacam, EdgeCam, SmartCam, Esprit, when I was in the industry.

I have done a little with Fusion 360 G-coding on my router. There is potential. BTW - Fusion 360 is a lot like Solidworks in that you can make parametric modeling.

There is NO WAY I want to write programs long hand anymore on my CNC Router. These programs just too much code. Sure, I can make them a tiny bit more efficient, but it would take too long. Once getting used to the CAM it is just a world apart. I don't even do simple ones anymore. V-Carve desktop is less than $200 and opens up a whole new world. YES, I an glad I know how, and I could in a heartbeat, but Vectric is just soo much better.

I will video the upgrade.

Rennie Heuer

Staff member
Constantine, MI
Can't tell you how pleased I am to hear that you are doing well with your new business and working on doing upgrades to broaden horizons and improve on what you have. Sounds like you really have a handle on this I don't see any limits to what you can achieve. Well done!
I had a major problem with AlphaCam in that it would not work right with Windows ME. I would ask them if the operating system was the problem and they just told me I needed more training at $1000/day. They called me after 6mo of trying to make it work and told me they had answered 6 question for me so what more did I want . I told them I want them to answer all basic questions until I could make it work. That's when they actually told me I was to stupid to use their program and that is when the lawyers were called.
Ended up driving back to NC and the Andi rep installed a bootleg copy of the updated program and it all worked great with NO other questions asked. Only problem I could NEVER go to Licom to ask ANY question. I was so glad I had spent $9600. for the program...NOT....LOL

Leo Voisine

East Freeetown, Massachusetts
Vectric Aspire is a bargain at $2000.00
Customer support is always there.

I have bought many industrial software programs and pretty much learned all of them. Been to the training sessions as well. I suppose all of that background helps me in my new stuff. This new stuff is Simple Dimple in comparison. I want to make it more complicated.

Even so - will all of it.

I LOVE IT!!!!!

Bob Gibson

Amherst, New Hampshire
All your posts make me wish that I could get into CNC. Health reasons say no though.
I am really happy for you !!!
Does the new program come with spell check? :ROFLMAO: ;) (personal joke between Leo, Carol Reed, and me)

Leo Voisine

East Freeetown, Massachusetts
Bob, I know what you mean. That was embarrassing, and we both looked at it many times.

Something I have always wanted to do is blacksmithing. If I were to live an additional health and strong 50 years - I would get into that, but alas, we cannot do everything we want to do.

glenn bradley

Congrats. Very exciting. Less expensive stuff is a good way to get moving, make a decision about direction, and fine tune the level of commitment we are going to apply to things. I have small drifts of, or have given away, cheap entry items. Some led to more robust purchases and some taught me what I didn't want to do (or how I wanted to do it differently). All were in some way worth the time and effort for the lessons :). Father time is helping me make some direction choices as well lately :D. I'm looking forward to tagging along on the journey with you.