Shopbot Buddy 3/4 axis router
DETAIL TO BE ADDED SOON- CHECK BACK FREQUENTLY FOR MORE UPDATES
THESE MACHINE TUTORIAL PAGES ARE NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR MACHINE TRAINING AND PRACTICE. ALL SHOP USERS MUST GET
ADEQUATE MACHINE TRAINING IN OUR SPACES TO OPERATE ANY MACHINERY OR POWER TOOLS
This page is meant only as a backup for trained and experienced shop staff, and experienced non-staff
students who have been granted access to the machine controls. However, all users should refer to this information
as part of training, with the intention of gaining enough experience to become a machine operator.
SHOPBOT - 3 AXIS
Swipe card to activate machine power , switch on machine and computer, open shopbot
software (if computer was already on, it should be restarted)
Window will pop up prompting you to hit the blue reset button, every time the machine is
powered up (blue reset button is on controller next to keyboard)
Push blue reset button. There was a flashing light in the (red) window, in the line of (4)
inputs that should stop flashing when you do this. Any time you push an E-stop, the same
light will flash - releasing the E-stop and pushing the reset button should clear that out.
As a general rule - please ALWAYS READ POP UP MESSAGES BEFORE CLICKING "OK"
Home x/y - in "cuts" dropdown menu (home x and y using prox switches)
Install endmill - check collet and endmill carefully for damage/buildup first - make sure
collet is inserted into nut correctly and endmill is inserted completely for surface
contact inside collet - torque to 77 ft lbs, with torque wrench and 11/16 inch wrench.
Any damaged-looking collets/end mills can be very unsafe to use - leave them on Jen's desk -
spares are in brown cabinet next to shopbot.
Correct torque wrench use is very important - crank handle to 77 ft lbs (NOT newton
meters), and then IMMEDIATELY loosen gauge back down to near zero after use, every time.
Always tighten in direction of the arrow on the wrench - the loud click indicates torque
according to the dial on the handle. Torque wrenches won't do their job if you don't work in the
arrow's direction. In one direction, it will face one way- and for the other, when working on the
same part, it will need to be flipped over.
If the torque wrench is left cranked up for too long, it loses accuracy, which would allow us to
accidentally over-torque later, which would be dangerous. So don't forget to turn it back down
after every single use.
It's a good idea to re-torque the tool (endmill/collet) between sets of gcode, if you are using it
for multiple paths in hard material - over extended run time it could start to vibrate loose. This
means that if it is allowed to loosen and shift, it could lose its original position (destructive and
dangerous) - meaning you
might also need to check and potentially re-zero x y and z, if at that point the job isn't already
being ruined. Prevent the risk of this happening by checking and torquing the tool as you go. For
comparison, the tool carousel on the Onsrud in N51 is on a very important regular maintenance schedule
to prevent things like this from happening. The Shopbot has tools installed individually for each job,
so we need to do the same maintenance a bit at a time as we go.
If you come in and the tool you need is already in the spindle, it's much safer to remove it,
check it, and reintall it. Never trust a machine to be set up and ready to go for you when you
walk in, no matter who you think the last operator may have been.
After tool is torqued, zero z with aluminum touch off plate (also in "cuts" dropdown menu)
Place aluminum plate (red coiled wire) flat on spoil board beneath endmill, on a clean, flat area
around where you plan to attach the material (we normally always set z zero at the bottom of the
material, unless there are very specific reasons not to).
Attach clip (black coiled wire) to tool (or collet nut if the tool is too small for good contact) -
click "ok" - the tool will touch down on plate twice to confirm location of tip. you may need to hold
on to wires to keep clip from slipping off the collet nut.
DO NOT forget to put clip and plate back up in their storage spot - this is a common mistake
that causes people to rip the cords right off the machine by starting the spindle with
these still attached, seriously.
Find location on spoil board where you want the part's X/Y origin to be, jog endmill to
location and change coordinates in "values - axis location values". You may need to attach
material to the spoil board first, and then move the endmill over the corner to locate it
Foam can be hot-glued to the board - other material must be securely screwed down. make
sure spoil board is clean and flat before attaching material. Remember that you'll need
to remove it afterwards - don't put glue underneath the center of the foam - put a thick
bead around the edges, with good contact on the foam and on the MDF. These will be easier
to scrape off afterwards.
MDF and other hard material needs to be screwed to the spoil board, but it needs to be
it will blow out and/or break screws if holes are not predrilled.
It will also probably not sit flat on X/Y plane if the screws force it up off the spoilboard. Mess
left by glue /drilled MDF must be cleaned up after every job, to keep the spoilboard as flat as possible.
Make sure all screws are a very safe distance from anyplace that the endmill might move.
Space to locate screws should be planned into material preparation ahead of time - this must be
considered when material is being cut and/or glued up.
Never even risk cutting through screws with the tool! You can make temporary fixtures out of scrap or small
brackets in the Kennedy cabinet (#3), if you need to connect to the sides of the stock, in
order to be able to affix it to the table.
With X Y and Z set, and the material secured, once the Mastercam file is confirmed to be
complete, you can export the .sbp file and run the spindle warm up routine.
The spindle MUST be warmed up before any cutting can be done - this literally warms up
the grease in the bearings - if it isn't done, or is done too early and the spindle cools
down, running a job can cause very expensive damage to the spindle. So just wait to run the warm up until you're
sure the job is about ready to go.
To enable spindle power, you need to insert the spindle power key to the right of
the main power switch (key is attached to the old junky wrench) and turn to the right. It
may already be inserted.
When the key is turned to 10 o'clock, spindle power is OFF. 2 o'clock is ON.
Spindle warmup is a short .sbp file, and is, again, in the "CUTS" dropdown menu.
You will be asked to turn the spindle on with the "start" button - this is the GREEN push
button on the little plastic control box that is attached to the left of the keyboard.
The buttons are labeled 'start, reset, and E-stop'. make sure you are familiar with them. The
spindle will start spinning as soon as you push the green button.
AFTER you start the spindle power with the green start button, and the spindle is actually
spinning in place at the proper rpm, then click "ok" on the
screen. This is when it actually starts running the shopbot code. Make sure the spindle
speed in the spindle power control pop-up window on the screen matches the code (spindle
warmup starts at 9000!).
If you cannot tell what spindle speed it's running at (familiarity will make you able to tell
the difference between the sound of 9000 versus 16000- higher spindle speed gives it a
higher pitched whine), or every time, just to be safe, you can check the beige spindle control box (under the
table in the rear right corner) - there's a little red digital readout that will tell you
what the spindle is actually spinning at, regardless of what it might say on the computer
Restart the spindle power if it does not run correctly according to the RPM window/respond to the sbp code.
Restart the Shopbot software if it seems to not be communicating properly with the machine/spindle.
When you type 9000 into the RPM window, the spindle control box must respond and read the same number.
You'll need to do this before running the actual router jobs any time the rpm needs to be changed, as well.
If it was responsive at first, but seems to be frozen at one spindle speed once you have started the warmup
file, and does not slowly work its way up from 9000 to 10,000, and then to 12,000, then the computer/machine
needs to be completely shut down and restarted. This can't be overlooked - your job may
be ruined or impossible to get going properly if the computer is not freely communicating
with the machine. The Shopbot, being the Shopbot, sometimes needs a fresh start, so be ready
and expect to catch it behaving a little glitchy.
TURN OFF the spindle power key (to 10 o'clock) every time you finish running the spindle -
do not ever change tools or do other work on machine with this key turned on!
final Mastercam file check-
Make sure the machine definition in the file was set to Shopbot 3 axis - you need to
generate an sbp file for all shopbot 3 axis work (4 axis is different)
Check the floating "spindle control" window - you need to type in the desired spindle
speed regardless of what is in the mastercam file - the number in this window may override
info in the sbp code, so you need to make them match.
Turn the dust collection on - the red/black buttons are on the wall to the left of the Shopbot.
as long as it won't collide with the part, also attach the plastic brush/skirt to make dust
collection more effective.
When you load the part file, it will prompt you to start the spindle. First, the key must be
turned to the right, and then you need to push the GREEN BUTTON on the controls by the
keyboard - this starts the spindle.
ONLY THEN, once the spindle is spinning, click "ok" to start running the file.
ALWAYS be ready to pause the machine in case anything unexpected happens, throughout
the job, but ESPECIALLY at the beginning.
do not forget to turn off power (red/green STOP button on wall) when you're done and
machine has been turned off.
Vacuum up all dust/shavings left behind by cut, put all tools away, and clean up any bumps
left by screws and/or hot glue. Either leave endmill torqued in collet, or remove ALL
PARTS. Never leave collet/nut loosely attached to spindle.
4 AXIS setup
Machine definition for 4 axis mastercam files is "mill- 4 axis vmc.mmd-7"
origin must be in set at one end of stock, centered, with X axis running through length of
the 3 axis table has to be removed and replaced with the 4 axis rail - the table is VERY
heavy - 2 people, who can each lift about 50 pounds to above waist height must be
Pull the small black handle on right side of the machine straight out, and then over, to
disengage cogs under table. Table should slide freely - CAREFULLY KEEP IT LEVEL- to avoid
damage while sliding out from v-shaped horizontal bearings on table. lean against wall, moving
the drill bit/endmill cabinet out of the way to clear wall space is best. Do not
twist the black handle - pull and release only.
while it's still on the floor, BEFORE MOVING, check 4 axis tail stock (green, opposite end
from chuck) and make sure bolts are somewhat tight so it will NOT slide and hurt someone
- when you're sure tail stock is bolted down, pick up rail and slide into v-shaped bearings
up on the table. Replace the black handle to re-engage the cogs under the table. The
rail/table will resist sliding when the black handle has been moved to re engage those
Follow instructions for turning machine on, homing x and y using prox switches, being
careful not to collide with 4 axis parts. Follow instructions for installing tool -
to zero y and z, follow instructions in the text file saved on the Shopbot's desktop for 4
(add that info here)
You will use the zeroing plate on the flat top of the green body of the tail
stock (care must be taken to balance the plate on the small horizontal surface on the tail
stock, so Z height can be accurately set). Then the Z value needs to be adjusted according
to the text file, so that it is change to be at the center of the chuck/tail stock (the 4th/'A'
axis will rotate around this, the X axis). Y zero is also adjusted based on the numbers in
the text file.
To have room to set X zero safely on your stock - ahead of time, when material is being
cut/glued up for the 4th axis, extra length is absolutely necessary, so that the chuck and
tail stock have a safe margin of material to attach to, while the endmill stays a safe
distance away from both metal parts. All of this should be entered accurately into the
Mastercam file - put the real dimensions of the stock into the file, and adjust placement
and limits of drive surfaces so that the cutting happens well away from the metal
chuck/tailstock. To make entrance and exit of tool paths smoother, the ends should also be
drawn as cubes and lofted surfaces should be drawn from the part to the cubes so that
the endmill's movements into and out of the stock are NOT vertical. Use the cubes as check
surfaces to keep the tool away from the ends. These will require that extra stock length,
so it's very important to take them into consideration when deciding what size the piece of
material is needed.
Unlock and retract pointy cone on tail stock gently and loosen bolts just enough so that
the tailstock can slide to accommodate material.
Make sure material has centered square carefully cut out on one side for chuck (about
2-2.5 square and .5 deep) and a hole drilled/countersunk on opposite end for tail stock's
'live end' to hold - (live end rather than dead end means that the cone has a bearing inside
and will spin despite being locked into its base)
Move tailstock in as close to the chuck as you can, tighten bolts to secure tailstock base,
then crank tail end in (a minimal distance) to secure part, then make sure you lock the set
screw to secure the live end. make sure chuck is tightened (and that each of the 4 'teeth'
are on the FLATS of the square, NOT on the corners. This may seem counterintuitive, but
make sure the corners of the square are in the spaces between the black teeth, not jammed
into their centers. The part cannot be held securely by the chuck unless this is done
The 4 axis has a material size limit of about 6 inches in diameter (or corner to corner on
You can cut the corners off square stock, on the band saw, to make a sort of octagon if
necessary, to reduce the amount of material that could collide with a long endmill in the
limited z height clearance. This also reduces the amount of waste material that has to be
removed by the endmill, so it's a good idea even if not entirely necessary.
Always dry run job in the air on the 4 axis, to test settings, before actually starting job -
just move in negative Y several inches, and temporarily reset Y zero to do this. Checking
for good X and Z position is very important - you only need to adjust the Y location to start
a dry run.