Thursday, May 06, 2010


Hydra-MMM Prototype Finished!

The end of the semester is here and after many many hours of hard work the Hydra-MMM prototype has been completed. The design was rigorously tested and accomplished many of the initial goals that we set out to achieve. The machine proved it had the ability to perform many different tasks including CNC milling, rapid prototyping, and even making some basic single-sided SMD circuit boards! With movements speeds of 200 inch/min and a positional accuracy of 0.001 inch, the machine not only attempted these tasks, but performed exceptionally for such a low-budget machine. The software and firmware developed for the project also proved to be a success and was extremely versatile allowing for all of these functions without modification. The firmware has enough G, M, and T codes packed in that it was able to take gcode programs from several different software packages with almost no modification and successfully run them on the machine. The results were simply amazing for a machine at this price level and I look forward to how the Hydra project evolves over the coming years. To wrap things up, here are a few pictures of the final prototype

The final cartesian robot with the accompanying electronics enclosure. Most of the connecting wires were removed from this picture for a little cleaner look, but they are pretty easy to snap back on with the rear panel on the enclosure.

A backside shot of the machine with all the cables attached and my Mac running the show

A close-up of the electronics enclosure showing the estop switch and an optional input button for tool changes and things of that nature. There is one fan missing from the above pictures as it was somehow lost during the last week of the project and we couldn't find 2 other matching fans in town. The box houses the new a4983 stepper drivers and a beefy 30V power supply. It also has a custom breakout board for the Arduino Mega that allows all of the connections to the microcontroller to plugged in with ease.

A rear view of the enclosure showing all of the connections and inputs to the internal electronics. We have 7 stepper motor outputs for a single X motor, 2 Y motors, 2 Z motors, and 2 possible extruder motors. It also has a solid state relay for controlling an attached spindle and a nice panel mount USB connector for interfacing with the Arduino.

The project has been a lot of fun, and I would love to get some input from the community about some future ideas for this technology. There is a host of additional videos and pictures from the last few weeks that I may post sometime in the future, but for now I am out to celebrate the end of the semester and a successful end to my undergraduate career! Cheers!

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Very clean looking work!
Excellent work -- and congratulations on completing your degree. This product is a fine way to mark the end of a phase.
What price level?
We only paid around $500 for the entire project, but we were able to get a lot of the materials for free by salvaging motors and material from around town. If you bought everything new from scratch, the total would be $1200, but IMO that is still incredible for such a versatile machine
Clayton, this seems like an excellent project for your very serious hobbyist. Will you be making plans, BOM and such available, or will you greedily keep all to yourself? :)
Nice looking design indeed. I've been planning to build a lighter CNC machine in addition to the mill and this looks like a great design. You used Pro/Engineer for the design, right?
I'm not sure plans are in the works for this version of the machine. This machine was definitely a prototype and there are a few changes I would make if I did it again. Maybe after the 2nd or 3rd version, if I am happy with the design, I will release some more detailed plans. And yes, all the CAD work for the machine was done in Pro/Engineer
Congratulations Clayton! I saw the videos, and I'm amazed with priting/miling/printing video. Is this routine readly in Skeinforge? Or was a "manual" trick?
Be open source let the plans out, and see what other people can do with the design. /rant

Personally I would love to build this. It looks like the perfect machine for what I would be doing.
All the firmware is already open source and the design for the Hydra prototype is largely public. I may spend the time to release full plans when I get done designing rev 2 of the machine which should solve a lot of the problems we had with the first go around. If you have suggestions for the second design feel free to shout out!
Well I guess I'll have to hope you finish V2 fast. Because this is beautiful and I want to make it.
My compliments!
Like many others I would lik to follow your plans.
No problem on the electronic side, what's more difficult for me is the mechanical part.
I was wondering if I could use HDPE instead of alluminum like the guys al lumenlab did with the MicRo...
Looks cheaper and easier to machine, yet very, very similar (altough it probably can't handle more z heads like yours...)
Anyway, your 3d plans would be very very appreciated!
Greentings from Italy
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