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HackCNC is a light-duty CNC mill built around a DNA sequencer

Some things about it:

  • 2.2kW (3HP) spindle
  • ER20 tool holder
  • Variable spindle speed 0-24,000 RPM
  • X travel: 126mm
  • Y travel: 309mm
  • Z travel: 97mm
  • The spindle motor can be manually moved up/down to accommodate larger/smaller work
  • Table size: 8" x 16" fixture plate 0.4" thick acting as the table
  • Table hole pattern: 0.5" x 0.5" checker-board pattern with 3/8"-16 threaded holes (fits mill clamping kit studs)
  • Dust collection shroud around spindle with an adapter to connect shop vac


Usage & Safety

The HackCNC is both a precision machine and also powerful enough to seriously hurt you. It needs to be treated with the same respect you would give any precision tool. All members are welcome to use the machine after being shown how to use it properly.

  1. Only trained members may use this machine.
  2. Tie back long hair, remove long sleeved shirts and jewelry.
  3. Eye protection must be worn when machine is running.
  4. Check all tooling and machine for damage before using.
  5. Sweep / vacuum up chips and leave the machine clean.
  6. No unconventional / unsafe use.
  7. No hammering on the machine table. It is high precision!
  8. You break it, you buy it!

You MUST be trained before using this machine. Please consult a member who knows what they are doing. You can help a guest with a job but guests are not permitted to use the machine themselves.

Note that knowing how to use a CNC milling machine is not sufficient - You must be shown by a trained member the intricacies of our machine.

Feeds and Speeds / Feed Direction

  • Learn about feeds and speeds for the cutter diameter and material you are using. Too fast or slow RPM can damage cutters and make it harder to work.
  • Learn about cutting direction (climb vs. conventional cutting) and use the correct feed direction. Climb cutting takes more effort on the handwheels!
  • There is a chart on the mill cart for calculating the maximum RPM for a given tool bit size and material. The chart was generated using this calculator (source code).

Tips and Advice

  • See Mill#Tips_and_Advice


  • A set of imperial ER20 collets: 1/8" through 1/2"



  • Hook up the Mesa FPGA
    • Make use of the encoders on the X and Y steppers for closed loop control
    • Mount FPGA board and breakout board
    • Add an encoder on Z
    • See if step rates can be increased
    • Needs lots of wiring: 5+ wires per encoder
    • Spindle speed encoder?
  • 4th axis

Component list

  • XY table from DNA sequencer
  • 2.2kw spindle from ebay
  • fill me