Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Speed control for a pulse motor

For my next clock I want to make some innovation in the driving system. My idea is to design and build a simple DC motor with wood, some permanent magnets and a coil. My expectation is to make something of very low power consumption to be ablate to run the clock on batteries .

A simple DC motor is what is called a pulse motor. A disc with magnets is forced to rotate when the magnets are facing an electromagnet  and the electromagnet is activated at the right time to create a magnetic force that can either attract or repel the magnets. The timing to switch on  the magnet is given by a reed switch or any other sensor like another coil. For this prototype I used a reed switch and the coil form a damaged contactor that was changed in the central air conditioner of my house. This kind of motor normally run at high speed and there is no speed control except by adjusting the voltage of the battery. The problem is that as the battery loses power the speed will slower.

For a clock drive we need a constant speed, so I had to add some kind of speed regulation. In the case I made my design based one that was part of all the steam engines that is the centrifugal governor or speed regulator

pulse motor

This tiny motor runs at 750 RPM when the voltage is above 5 volts and will keep the speed from 5 volts to 24 vols. That is the maximum voltage I can use in the coil before burning it Confundido

The video below shows the prototype running and explains the principle. This one runs with 4 AAA batteries.

Now I need to work in a nice and robust design to be used as a real wooden clock driver. The final design will use a pickup coil and transistor to drive the main coil. It will also use four 1/2” Neodymium magnets and a regulator design very similar the the picture below

Monday, December 16, 2013

My Toucan wooden clock is ready!

I finished the clock and now is part of the decoration of my living room. She is a beauty Sonrisa

2013-12-16 11.18.08

I think that what made me more happy was the comments from Clayton Boyer after I send him the pictures and the video of the clock finished:



Aloha Carlos, you do not know how much joy it brings me to know that I have helped make another builder so happy.  

My whole mission from the very beginning has been to spread to other woodworkers that joy that building these wonderful mechanism has brought to me.  

Your Toucan turned out wonderfully.  Thanks so much for the video link, and the nice email.  

I am SO Happy to read that you are a "very happy guy."

Aloha.  Clayton


This is the video I post in YouTube


I had to make the dial 6 times as I damaged it in many ways while learning and making mistakes. It is not easy to work the wood in large pieces and multiple milling jobs. Anyway I am very happy with the results.

This is a video of the machine milling the last dial:


The other part required a little bit of home engineering was to build a small machine to wind the coil for the electromagnet that drives the pendulum:

Now I am planning my next project for my CNC!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Building the “Toucan” wooden clock Part 6

After staining and finish of  the gears I put all together to see what issues come out but fortunately the only problem was in the Escape wheel, I had to sand all the teeth as they were too slippery. Here is a video of the test. I hope the mechanism  is smooth enough for the electric coil to kept it making “tic tack” SonrisaReloj

For the coil I used a screw and to pieces of round PC boards that I bought in Radio Shack to complete the reel. I used a heat shrink to cover the screw before winding
I made a small winding machine using a toy dc motor with gearbox and 2 AA batteries. A lithe bit of wood, a piece of 1” rod and two screws  helped to complete this provisional machine

2013-12-07 20.08.54
I ordered a stepper motor to add a rotary axis to my CNC. For the next coil I will use my CNC as a winding machine to make a perfect coil! as I will advance I a coordinated way.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Building the “Toucan” wooden clock Part 5

Testing Gears Sonrisa




The nice thing of cutting the gears with the CNC is the precision: Everything fitted perfectly and no rework at all. I made a mistake opening the holes in the frame: the one for holding the arbor of the escape wheel was too big so I inserted a brass tube and fixed the arbor to the wheel. I had to cut a longer arbor and add a stopper in the back of the frame. I asked Clayton about this and he explained that he does not like bushings but I think that this one will not harm the final result…

Tomorrow I will add some finishing to the wheels and I will start to work on the pendulum and the electrical part. I am also milling a new dial but with a small modification in the thickness of the Roman numbers.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Building the “Toucan” wooden clock Part 4

Work is advancing and now I am working in the “beauty” aspects Caluroso 

The base and the frame are finished and they have now a really nice color combination. As you can see the dial is on its way although I will probably  make a new one as a couple of Roman numbers are a little bit broken Triste. This  happened during sanding.

Now I am preparing the wheels for stain and finishing.

2013-12-04 20.27.16

I don’t know if I will be able to make this clock to give the right time, it looks that the pendulum adjustment will be very tricky, but it will be a really beautiful clock Sonrisa

Monday, December 2, 2013

Building the “Toucan” wooden clock Part 3

Finished with all the small parts and arbors. I made a preassembly to check that everything fits. Although it looks very good I am not happy with several things:

I cut the pinion supports and the wood spacers using a manual saw and even I used a cutting guide in many of the parts the main faces are not parallel Triste

This means that either I work the parts with sand paper or a make all the parts in the CNC milling a flat 1/4” piece of wood. Tomorrow is another day and I will see…

2013-12-03 00.19.532013-12-03 00.20.012013-12-03 00.20.46

Building the “Toucan” wooden clock Part 2

I have worked on and off during the last few days as my home was full of visitors for Thanksgiving Sonrisa

All the main parts (frame, base, wheels, pinions and dial) of the clock are already cut. The most difficult one was canon pinion as I had to mill it in both sides and the .0625” end mill bit was not long enough to mill all the part. Milling the rest of the parts was quite easy but anyway it is time consuming because it is necessary a slow feed rate and very high speed at the spindle to obtain good results without damaging the wood

2013-12-02 14.46.38

2013-11-25 18.49.182013-11-25 18.49.342013-11-25 18.54.442013-11-26 14.48.13 2013-11-26 19.04.532013-11-27 14.11.57


I had to cut the frame in two parts because the piece was too big for my machine I hope I can hide the joint with wood putty and stain!

Now I have to work in a lot of very small parts that are all the spacers, pinion supports, and arbors and then mill the parts for the pendulum.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

You get what you pay for…

And I was aware of this when I bought the the Chinese Machine! but In my professional life I learned this and I was prepared Sonrisa

When I was installing and running the first tests with the wooden car the machine one of the Stepper Motor flexible couplings broke. I contacted  the vendor an made the claim, and I am still waiting for the replacement part but I order 4 spare parts from other vendors of better quality expecting that this will happen again and it did! Triste

I lost two pieces of good wood and a lot of time. Now I replaced all the couplers in the three  Stepper motors and I order 3 more they cost $8.00


The Broken coupler and the new one:

2013-11-26 20.02.53

New coupler installed on the three motors:

2013-11-26 20.03.08

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Building the “Toucan” wooden clock Part 1

I will be posting the advances and the leanings while working in this project. I am working as much and as fast as I can in this project because very soon I will start a new contract (life is not always hobbies GuiƱo )and I will be traveling a so the available time to play in my garage will be dramatically reduced Triste

First step was to finish all the finish the drawings in CAD, second step is to post-process each part to generate the G code for the CNC. this means also to select the tooling and the material.

Wood (good wood) is not easy to find. For the wheels and internal components   I will use Birch ply-wood for the wheels and pinions and also for the clock arrows but for the frame, the base and  dial I wanted good wood. and good and nice  wood is expensive and not easy to find .

The most difficult part from the machining point of view is the dial ring because I changed the design and instead of cutting a disc of wood and then glue the numbers in wanted to carve the wood to form the numbers. I also modified my original design and now the numbers will be Roman style and

In the internal ring  face there will be inserts of brass rods marking the hours so I decided to start from the dial ring.

Dial Asy

The main problem was to find a good wood for the dial, The best wood I could find for this was in Michaels and is a cross cut of bass wood that is about 11” diameter (Basswood Country Round® – Large) , perfect for the size of the dial ring. This is a very good wood for carving that is exactly what I planed.


The thickness needed for the design is 3/8”plus 1/8th for the numbers so this is  is 1/2”. the wood was a little bit less than 3/4” (.605”) so I had to mill it down to 1/2”.


After this cut the center part and make a rough milling of the numbers and the front face:


Next step was to make a finish milling of the face. This  creates a  surface with almost no irregularities and this will reduce to a minimum the work with sand paper for stain and finishing:


Finally the finish mill of the numbers the internal ring face and cut the dial from the main wood:


Total machining time was about 5 hours as I used very low feed rates and small step advances to avoid stressing the wood and obtain a good finish.


And this is the final results! Sonrisa now the dial ring is ready for a nice wood finishing.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Next Challenge: A wooden clock

I have been working the last 2 days in creating a 3D model of a beautiful  pendulum clock designed by Clayton Boyer. I received the dxf files from him and worked very hard to make them usable for 3D solid extrusion. The final result is amazing and I really hope to finish this fantastic clock very soon. I already ordered the brass tubes and the 1/8” rod. and I have in my garage all the material needed for the electrical part (The clock uses a home winded coil) and a 9V DC power supply.

Tomorrow is shopping day for wood although I will probably will mill the wheels in plastic…

Here are the Images from the 3D cad software:

Toucan Clock1

Toucan Clock2

Toucan Clock3

Toucan Clock5

I have not stopped working with the wooden car and the Arduino. I am testing several things to make a very nice project…

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Technical Aspects Part #1

The Machine:

As promised here I start with technical information. If you goggle “CNC 3040” you will see that this is really a popular machine and there is a lot of information, especially in YouTube but it is hard to find a full operating manual of the machine and also the best settings for the controller software. Here I will try to summarize the most important aspects:

Where to buy it:

I purchased mine online via Ali Express but you can find it with similar price in Amazon or eBay. The title for the one I bought is: “3040Z CNC ROUTER DRILLING/MILLING MACHINE WITH 1.5KW VFD WATER-COOLING + 800W SPINDLE MOTOR ENGRAVER PROFESSIONAL”. I prefer not to share the links as they normally disappear when the machine is sold or obsolete. The vendor I selected offers free shipping from USA with no custom payments and price was the same of other alternatives. Below I copied the specs from the Ali Express vendor page.

3040z tri-axial engraving machine specifications:

Effective working travel


Shape dimension


Max.thickness of the materials

90mm(the distance between Z axis and the bottom of the working station)

Max. work piece dimension


Work table dimension


Frame materials

6061 aluminum alloy/ 6063 Industrial aluminum

Driving units

X axis 1605 ball screws


Y axis

NEW 1605 ball screws

Z axis

NEW 1605 ball screws

Sliding units

X axis Dia.20mm chrome plate shafts

Y axis

Dia.20mm chrome plate shafts

Z axis

Dia.13mm chrome plate shafts

Stepping motor type

57 two-phase 2.5A ,super-low noise ,NEW

VFD Power


Principal axis collet

ER11 / 3.175 collet  or 6mm

Spindle speed

24000rpm/min (PWM steeples speed regulation)

Empty line speed


Resetting accuracy


Engraving accuracy

better than 0.04mm (has been tested)

Spindle precision

radial run out 0.03mm

Control unit

tri-axial one-piece drive + ring variable power + PWM speed

Carving Instructions

G-code/.nc /.ncc/ .tab/ .txt

Communication interface

through parallel connection with computer

Software environment*

Windows 2000 / xp

Carving speed

0-2500mm/min (different materials differ)

Machine weight


*Please see below for additional software information

I copied the picture below from the page as it has a full description of the components. The machine from is more expensive than the one I bough.


The software:

In order to run the machine it is necessary to have a software to translate the milling commands to electrical signals so the motors can move to the correct position and speed. The universal command language for CNC machines is the G code (

For this machine I use a very popular, powerful and inexpensive software: Mach3. In theory the machine comes with the software and the license. Mine came without it and the vendor send me a link to download it. I found that the version and the license in that link is outdated so I decided to buy the license for $175.00 directly from the software developer. And I did the right thing!


Mach 3 was originally developed to use as I/O port the parallel printer port in the PC, after the introduction of USB and Ethernet this port disappeared from all the laptop computers and is basically discontinued and difficult to find the expansion board for desktop computers. Also the old software doesn't run in Windows 7 or above.

The new versions of MACH3 can use what they call “Plugins” to be able to use special developed “Motion Controller Interfaces” that are basically USB or Ethernet converters to parallel printer port. Be aware that low cost USB to parallel port converters will not work and they are not fast enough to process and buffer the high speed pulse commands to the stepper or servomotors of the machine.   The Plugin page of the Mach3 site lists all the plugins available and you can download there the drivers for these devices. I Selected the  UC100 USB Motion Controller and bought it from eBay (CNC USB CONTROLLER for Mach3 Smooth Stepper Motion Control , UC100) for $150.00

Important Data to know before starting:

Whatever controls software you will use (I use Mach3) there is important data you need to know in order to properly setup the machine:

Here I am sharing PrtScn of the setup pages of Mach3 for my machine, but you need to check with the vendor the exact data of your machine. It seems that the CNC 3040 is built by different companies and the ball screws and stepper motors can change from vendor or manufacturer.

I setup my machine in metric units but this is only for Motor/Screw ratio. The G code and the postprocessor takes care of the working units via the instructions G20 and G21







I think this is enough for now, I will continue with more technical information in future posts.