Build the TinyCNC 2 Axis Controller For
 Sherline Lathes and Mills!

A small, standalone, programmable 2 axis controller for Sherline lathes and mills!

Clarification of Use: 

 I am making the  design of the TinyCNC available to individual hobbyist, machining clubs, electronics clubs, schools and such, to generate  interest and promote hands on experience with electronics and machining. I am NOT relinquishing my ownership of it and rights to it.  Use or manufacture of this unit and derivative designs for any commercial purpose is expressly prohibited without express written consent from me, David Q. R. Wagoner (TinyCNC@Yahoo.com).

Introduction:

The Tiny-CNC two axis controller (TCNC) was designed as a multi-purpose lathe and mill accessory for the hobby user. The TCNC was designed for use with a 200 step per revolution (1.8 degree per step) unipolar stepper motor for use with Sherline lathes and mills. The TCNC unit helps with the monotonous repetitive operations found in using a lathe or milling machine. There are three versions of the TCNC unit.

  • Imperial Units Version -  The imperial units version of the TCNC was designed for use with a 0.050 inches per axle rotation (20 threads per inch) found in the Imperial units lathes and mills, with accuracies of 0.0001” (one ten thousandths of an inch) to a distance of 39.9999 inches for any single move.
  •  Metric Units Version - The metric version of the TCNC was designed for use with a 1 millimeter (mm) per axle rotation found in the Metric units Sherline lathes and mills, with accuracies of 0.01 mm (one hundredth of a mm) to a distance of 999.99 mm for any single move.
  •  Degree Units Version - The degrees version of the TCNC was designed for use with the 5 degrees per axle rotation found in the Sherline rotary table, with accuracies of 0.01 degrees (one hundredth of a degree) to a distance of 999.99 degrees for any single move. This version of the TCNC unit was designed as a complementary accessory to the mill and lathe.

        The TCNC provides the user with several useful control modes. These are Simple for ease of use, Advanced for complex moves, Remote for control from another unit and Hole modes for creation of hole patterns. These modes are defined as follows.

  •  Simple – The simple mode allows the user to move either axis at a single speed and distance. If a distance of zero is entered the axis will move until stopped by the user. This mode is most commonly used to quickly move an axis or perform long single cutting operations.
  • Advanced - This mode provides the user with the ability to enter up to 50 separate distance, speed and direction commands. This mode provides the user with a means of simple programmable operations to perform more advanced control, such as looping, providing signals to other controllers or waiting for signals from another controller. This mode is most commonly used for the more complex repetitive operations or thread cutting operations.
  • Hole - This mode provides the user with the ability to make patterns of from 3 to 12 holes around a central point. This mode calculates the relative positions of each hole and stores the moves using advanced mode commands for the user to access and execute (Imperial and Metric Units Only).
  • Remote - This mode provides the user with the ability to control the TCNC using step and direction signals from another control unit or PC. The TCNC unit is also capable of providing step and direction signals to another TCNC or CNC control unit if desired.

        NOTE: The more advanced capabilities of the TCNC unit provide the user with the ability to “program” very complex X-Y movements that can pause, wait for a start signal from an external device, provide signals to external devices and loop to the beginning of the sequence to start over. This capability is obtained by the input of simple numerical commands. The TCNC DOES NOT use the Classic G-Code commands normally used for CNC control. This capability is far outside the scope of this unit. The TCNC unit is intended to act as a shop accessory to ease the repetitive operations in a manual hobby shop by providing a (hopefully) simple means of quickly throwing together movement commands for the non-G-Code savvy user. If G-Code commands are what you are after, then this is NOT the unit for you (But it is still very handy)!

            The TCNC unit, if provided with the proper input signal, can provide an RPM calculation accurate to within 5 RPM every 6 seconds. The unit also has the ability to calculate and display the proper RPM setting necessary for the user to cut the desired pitch for thread cutting operations on the TCNC unit.

            The TCNC unit consists of a keypad to allow the user to enter setup or control commands, a 2x16 LCD for the display of setup and movement information, an “Emergency” stop button (which doubles as a clear button), an input connector to provide 12 to 30 volts to power the unit and 3 termination strips to allow the user to terminate the stepper motor connections for each axis as well as terminate step and direction and control input or output signals. All configuration settings and the 50 advanced mode commands are stored in non-volatile memory so as not to be lost between power cycles.

                     Complete operations manuals can be downloaded from the following links:

 
 

 
A web page with complete instructions on how to build the TCNC can be found here:

 

 Next link kind of explains itself: 

 
 Brave Souls that have built the TinyCNC:

     DISCLAIMER: 

         As currently designed, the TCNC is not sealed and so is NOT resistant to liquids and chips. The user must position the unit far enough away from the machine tool to keep it dry and free from debris. In addition, the TCNC unit controls powerful motors at respectable feed rates. Safe shop practices MUST be followed to avoid injury. Always keep one hand on the emergency shut down button and maintain a safe distance from the machine tool during ALL movement operations. Every attempt has been made to design and test the TCNC in order to provide a safe and useful tool. But, like any machine, the TCNC could fail. The TCNC is targeted at the hobby machine shop user that is familiar with appropriate cutting speeds, feeds and shop practices. There is great danger in exceeding the capability of the tools you are using and can result in tool damage and/or personal injury. Do not use this product unless good manual techniques and safety practices have been developed. Please use this product at your own risk. 

    All data on this website is provided without charge or obligation by me or anyone else who contributes to this site. It is the responsibility of the reader to perform any action outlined here in a safe and responsible manner. The reader assumes all responsibility for service or actions taken as a result of the information contained here. I assume no responsibility for personal or property damage, any type of monetary losses or losses caused directly or indirectly from the material provided. 

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Last Updated

8/5/2008