Friday, October 07, 2011

CNC Mantis Build

Some time ago I stumbled onto the Mantis CNC machine and have been plotting to build it for sometime now. I have long been interested in CNC milling, but I didn't want to make a $1000 investment to get into the hobby, and find out I was really not that interested in making stuff. I've done a fair number of metal projects over the years and have always needed to come up with a way to get more precise results then I was getting with hand tools. The task of wading through all the different build styles and figuring out a BOM to source was daunting, and everytime I started I butted up against the same problem, where do you source the controller, and where do you source the motors. For a large scale CNC Router, I still plan on purchasing one of the plans from Solsyva, and getting the motor's, power supply and controller from Xylotechs but that is for when I'm ready to plunk down about $1000 for a large and accurate machine.

The Mantis build was different because it focused on something that could be made with simple machine tools, and the cheap materials.  I printed out the parts, and cut and drilled all of the "pegging" holes to do the co-drills for parts that line up about a year ago, but just have waffled about pulling the trigger on buying motors and controllers.  A recent project at work might have given me the catalyst I was in need of.  While breaking down an old digital sign so that we can recycle and dispose of the parts I found this little gem inside.

That is a variable (currently set to 5v) industrial power supply.  Having a cheap (free) power supply in hand I went looking for 5v steppers and a controller for my project.

I bought some motors that I'm a little sad about in hindsight, but they where cheap and will work.  I'm sad because they are a five lead stepper that means they can only operate as uni-polar motors (bi-polar have more torque) you can see the difference here.  Because the motors I bought aren't the NEMA body style I'm glad that I held out on drilling the motor mount holes.  And without further adieu here is a picture of my controller.

  I don't have either the motors or the controller at this point the auctions on ebay have ended, but everything is in Hong Kong, so there's the inevitable 3 - 4 week slow boat from China wait.  I expect to see them sometime in early November and will update as I work to get this build finished.  The BOM that was provided on the Mantis site is already out of date and I had to come up with replacements from my local hardware vendor Tacoma Screw.  Because the local vendor sold in units of one rather than boxes of screws I saved about $40 on materials to say nothing of the amount of shipping I saved.  The motors and Controller combined are about $40 shipped so even is some part don't pan out as planed I only out grand total for this project less than $150 and time wasted.  I'll try to post more when I get all the bits gathered up.


  1. You have such strange hobbies lol

    btw, I had to delete and repost my last post. If you have the time, please comment on it again :)

  2. I love those DIY projects! + always wanted to make a CNC machine! will follow this one ^^

  3. Awesome, I've always wanted to do the same thing! Will be waiting for those boats right here with ya.

  4. Great job and a really nice hobby !