Shopbot Assembly Photos
The posts and pictures on the forum were very helpful for our Shopbot assembly. For what it is worth, here are some pictures of how our Shopbot went together. Hopefully, they'll be of some help to others putting their machines together.
Here's where it all started - the empty space in our workshop.
The starting point was assembly of the frame. Here's the legs and the sides coming together.
Here are all of the cross members assembled, and the leveling and installation of the rails. While it helped that we stared out with a level floor, leveling the frame wasn't too difficult following the instructions in the manual.
Here's the installation of the XY and Z cars on the rails.
Our machine came with the plexiglass cable guide, but following the lead of others on the forum, we used cable carriers. These were purchased from McMaster Carr. (Thanks to Gary Campbell for model number information he posted on the forum). The upper cable carrier was mounted with some pretty simple home-made aluminum brackets. The x-axis lower cable carrier is also mounted to aluminum brackets, but also has a plexiglass plate for support.
Here's the wiring of the cable carriers.
We mounted our control box and VFD to the wall next to the Shopbot. This was pretty simple (except that the mount locations were not optimized for normal stud spacing). Based on other forum posts about heat, our mounting concept (white painted 2x4's) left plenty of airspace behind the boxes. We were originally a little worried about having enough wire to run from the machine to the boxes, but everything worked out OK.
Here's how the machine looked with all of the wire run through the cable carriers.
Here's the external view of the wiring to the boxes. The gray plastic box under the control box is where we coiled all of the excess wire.
Here's a picture of the interior of the control box completely wired with the power feeds and control lines, and a photo of the wires coming out of the control box.
Now, this is where we departed from the norm -- we are using an Apple i-Mac to run the shopbot. Here's the mounting of the i-Mac on the wall. It's an elegant solution -- the i-Mac has a big screen and the computer all in one package -- plus an industrial quality wireless keyboard. This is a 24" 2.8GHz model. It easily mounts to the wall using an Apple VGA mount kit and a VGA wall mount.
With the machine wired, the next step was the vacuum table. Here is the first layer of the table getting ready to be bolted down. This is a sheet 3/4 inch 5x9 MDF. While we would have rather not used MDF, this was the best solution we could find for our 96x60 machine. (Our workshop is pretty dry, so hopefully it won't turn into "rice krispies" as Bill Palumbo said at recent Camp Shopbots).
Here's the plenum layer being glued on. We attempt anything fancy for this process -- just used a lot of clamps and weights to hold the material down. This is another sheet of 3/4 inch 5x9 MDF.
Here's the first time the machine cut anything -- the plenum board. This is a photo of the cutting just starting.
With that, we breathed a sigh of relief that the i-Mac would really run the Shopbot. After reading forum posts about this and not getting enthusiasm for Apple from Shopbot training class, we were a little nervous that this would work. Here's proof that it does -- Shopbot control software running on the Mac. We're using Parallels software to run the PC files. This solution really works well for us. We've got several Mac's networked in our home and office. When we finish a design file in the office, we are easily able to move the design file to the workshop Mac on the network. Plus we've discovered some other interesting features using one of the new dual-core processor Macs. For example, i-Macs have a built in camera that shows real time pictures in a video conference over the network or over the web. Because we are able to run Shopbot control software and Mac programs simultaneously, we can point the camera at the Shopbot and watch/hear the Shopbot cutting files. Overall, the Mac works great. The screen is big and visible, and it has a great wireless keyboard and wireless mouse that make it really convenient to run the machine.
Here's what the plenum looked like after it was cut. Although we really liked some of the more elegant plenum ideas on the forum, we decided to keep it simple on version 1. We set up 7 zones. Five zones were set up to hold down normal 4x8 sheet goods. The other two zones -- which use the extra foot of the 96x60 machine are contemplating that we'll use the machines for board lumber. The 4x8 area was broken into 5 zones to create one 2x2 zone in front where we could run smaller pieces.
To seal the plenum, we sprayed it with 5 coats of polyurethane floor finish. Here's the machine taped off for spraying and the final finish.
We tried to stay simple with our vacuum piping design. One Fein vac runs the front of the table and one runs the back of the table with an ability to connect both Fein vacs together to run specific zone. We mounted the piping on an aluminum angle on the side of the machine -- which kept the front of the machine very clean and made runs to the table simple.
Here's how the piping looks under the table.
The vacuum piping connected to the plenum table mostly by a friction fit. With the Shopbot precision cut holes and a lot of polyurethane, plastic piping fit very tightly in the plenum holes. We also sealed around the bottoms with silicon. Here's how the plastic piping looks coming through the plenum table.
Next was installing the spoilboard and surfacing both sides. For the spoilboard we used two pieces of lightweight MDF -- with a seam that matched our plenum design. The first attempt at surfacing the spoilboard was a disaster -- we tried to do it with no clamps and just vacuum. Unfortunately, as we cut the skin off of the first side, the MDF sheet started releasing its internal stresses and started curling. We successfully turned that sheet into mostly sawdust. For our next attempt we used clamps at the corners. That solved the problem. Plus it also taught us about safe Z clearance heights when we cut through our first clamp. Here's a picture of the spoilboard being surfaced with the surfacing bit.
This worked well -- our resulting surface was flat and smooth on both sides. The edges of the table including the spoilboard were sealed with multiple coats of polyurethane and gray epoxy paint prior to surfacing the final side. The spoilboard was glued down with a lot of silicon sealer/adhesive. We used the vacuum to hold down the spoilboard -- using some wax paper on top of the spoilboard to create enough vacuum.
Here's the final product.
We made one last modification -- to the Fein vacs. We experienced vacuum leaks connecting hoses to the orange Fein bodies. So, using an idea from the forum, as our first Shopbot project, we built custom bases for the Fein heads. Here are the new Fein bases being cut out on the machine from one sheet of MDF:
Here's the base of the assembled box -- sprayed with multiple coats of polyurethane and then the interior coated with epoxy paint.
The top of the box was built to fit up inside the Fein head and provide a solid seal.
This is the completed Fein stand -- a photo of the stand and a photo with the Fein head installed.
Here are the Feins attached to the vacuum piping.
That's it. Here are overall photos of the final machine installation.
Thanks again for all the forum users who posted information that helped us get our machine started.
Nice neat clean job. Good pictures, too. Now that you have ruined a sheet of material, cut a clamp, all you have to do is break a few bits and you are initiated!!
WOW! That's one heck of a first post! Well done.
GREAT pictures!!!, Great Info!!!, and GREAT Posting !!! Thanks for putting the time in to assemble all of that.....Hope we can either reference the posting, or just transfer the entire posting to the WIKI(?)
Bill: Feel free to use the pictures and information any way you feel would be of value.
very impressive, thanks for taking the time to post all of that...where did you find the plans for plenum
Outstanding set up of your machine. BTW you have email.
Fantastic job Allison. & welcome to the community. If Gary Campbell tells you "Good job" then you can definitely be proud of your work. I'm designing on a Mac on Parallels, it seems to run Windows better than Windows, as Gene Buckle says, "Linux for servers, Macs for design, and Windows for Solitaire" Again great work, now I'll copy your design for the vac table if you dont mind - Neville
Nice Setup Alison. Would love to see pics of the rest of your shop. It looks very clean, tidy and impressive.
Great pictures. Thanks for taking the time to share them with us. I am scheduled to received my Bot in April and will be referring back to these pictures often as a reference and as an 'excitement generator' until mine Bot arrives.
I agree with Glen. Your shop looks great.