LongMill limit switches coming soon

Hey everyone. One highly requested add-on for the LongMill has been limit switches. For the uninitiated, limit switches are often used on CNC machines for 1) homing the machine 2) preventing the machine from reaching the limits of its travel. If you’re interested in reading more about what limit switches are and what they can do, I recommend reading the article in the Resources.

Please note that in this post, we are using the term “limit switches” and “homing switches” interchangeably. I do understand that there is a small distinction for both, but for this application, they are basically the same.

At the beginning of LongMill development, limit switches were not a priority as a feature when focusing on beginner hobby CNCers. This primarily came down to a few factors. First was the added complexity of having limit switches, which means additional setup and assembly for the user, as well as adding to the learning curve of learning how to use limit switches. Secondly, with the LongMill set up so that crashing the machine will not damage itself, limit switches are not necessary to protect itself. For customers still adamant about having limit switches, we still provided full hardware support to plugin or wire in switches directly into the controller, which would take care of a small population of more advanced users.

For those who want to read more about community made limit switch solutions, this is a great thread to read: https://forum.sienci.com/t/homing-limit-switches/99/41

We still hold our opinion that beginner users do not need limit switches with their machine to get the full functionality of the machine, and we recommend starting out without them until a better understanding of the machine and its use is achieved. However, as our community has grown and along with that their experience, more and more users are now exploring new ways to bring advanced features to their machines. Not only that, the development of our very own gSender now allows us to integrate software and hardware more closely than ever before. With these things in mind, we’ve spent some time creating our own plug-and-play solution for the LongMill.

Creating a limit switch solution specific to the LongMill came with several challenges.

First was the lack of foresight on providing mounting points for limit switches. This simply came down to the fact that we did not integrate mounting points on the LongMill for adding limit switches. Later versions of the LongMill did come with holes and other features that could mount sensors, however, with so many different versions of the LongMill, it would be difficult to document and provide resources for installing limit switches for every single version of our machine.

Second was the voltage support of the sensors we need to use for the limit switches. We are using a variant of the LJ12A3-4-Z sensor as our limit switches, a very common and widely used sensor. However, almost all variants of this sensor are designed for a 6-36V input voltage. Although it is possible to pull 12V power from the LongBoard, the JST 4 pin connectors already integrated into the board which was designed to be used for a plug and play solution were designed for 5V only. In hindsight, it may have been a better idea to route the 12V power to the JST connectors, but this meant that we would need to purchase 5V compatible sensors, which do exist but are more difficult to source, to be compatible with the LongBoard. Our first supplier for the sensors created the proper wiring and plug set up for the LongBoard, but unfortunately, they were only able to provide 6-36V sensors which meant that we had to start looking for a new supplier.

The new design overcomes these two challenges. First of all, the mounting hardware for the limit switches will allow users to install their sensors to any version of the LongMill, as well as allowing the flexibility to choose which side of their axis they want to mount to. For example, some users may want to home from the bottom left corner of their machine and some may want to home from the upper left corner of their machine. Users only need to move their sensor from the front of the machine and remount it to the back and specify the change in the software to make the change. Second, we have re-sourced and tested a 5V variant of the LJ12A3-4-Z sensor, which will provide proper voltage compatibility with the LongBoard. This supplier will also be providing us with the proper wiring for a plug-and-play installation of the limit switches.

We expect the kit to be ready for sale and shipping around the end of August. Each kit will come with three sensors with a plug and play wiring harness which should have an installation time of around 15-20 minutes. The price for each kit will be around $60CAD or $48USD. Additional resources and software setup support will also be provided with the kit. We’ll also be publicly releasing the designs and specs for the kit for users that want to make their own setups. Please check our blog, email, and social media for further announcements.

Today’s testing of the sensors have shown repeatably of over 1 thou which should offer a very precise way to home the LongMill.

I’m excited to see the limit switch kit in the hands of LongMill users soon and look forward to seeing the rest of the development team and the community come up with ways to utilize homing on the LongMill!

July and August 2021 Production Update

Hi everyone, this is a production update for July and August. I’m happy to announce that we are expecting the lead times for the next 400 machines to be 1 to 2 weeks (update, as of August 10, lead times for LongMills is under 1 week). For the most part, we expect most machines to ship within a few days. Any orders that are still pending shipment at the time of writing should be shipped by Tuesday of next week.

All of the parts that we were waiting on for this part of the batch have now arrived and we should not be seeing any major delays in shipping for roughly the next 8 weeks.

During part of July, we ran into some part shortages, such as with our control boards, Delrin anti-backlash nuts, and drivers. We also had a short period of time where our print farm was also shut down due to a shortage of filament. These shortages were caused primarily due to shipping delays. We’ve finally have gotten all of our parts without much issue, and can continue production.

At this point, we will be able to produce another 400 units without running into supply shortages. There are still a number of components we expect to start running out of once we ship the 400 units, including:

  • Rails
  • Gantries and other steel components
  • Control boards

We have placed orders for these items at the time or writing or are in the process of ordering these parts.

In any case, that’s our update for this month (and August). Happy making!

LaserBeam: Driver Complications

Hey everyone, Ikenna here with another LaserBeam update. I’m excited to see parts continue to arrive, with little to no QA issues. At this moment the majority of my time is focused on the 5A Driver development, our first prototype did not work as intended. Fortunately we have 2 separate designs and will be testing the second design late next week when the PCB arrives. At the same time we are reworking the schematic for the first design so we have more options and will give us the best opportunity to provide the best driver for the 7W LaserBeam. 

We expect to begin shipping Monday August 30th at a pace of about 25-50/week. We should be able to clear the order queue within 4-6 weeks from when we begin shipping. The challenges are completing a working driver, receiving acknowledgement from the FDA of test report submission, and receiving a large order of driver pcbs from our overseas supplier.

Driver Development:

Driver A-v1.1:

  • Unfortunately this design was not able to interpret the 5V PWM signal that comes from the Longboard
  • Mandatory Safety features did not work as designed; Key switch, interlock and power off reset
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Driver A-v1.2:

  • We broke down each function that wasn’t working with Driver A-v1.0 and I’m more confident that this new design fix the initial issues we saw
  • DriverA- v1.2 Is being troubleshooted, then pre-tested before a new PCB prototype is made, assembled and tested against all functions that we need for the ideal driver

Driver B-v1.1:

  • Assembly has been completed and shipped
  • We had the manufacturer send the PCB early because we can finish soldering components very quick and that should save us a day or two
  • Will arrive July 29th 2021 and the goal is to  be fully tested by July 31st
  • If we find any functionality issues during testing we will begin to troubleshoot and rework this design
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Local Designer:

  • To help speed up the prototyping process, we have begun working with a local electronics designer that already has experience working with Sienci Labs
  • His main objective will be to work with our current designers and help change designs at a quicker pace
  • He will also be able to populate and solder components onto new PCBs for prototyping faster than our overseas manufacturer can. Allowing us to test new designs within 7 days

Driver Design Compliance:

We are working with TÜV SÜD in order to independently test our LaserBeam to make sure we are in compliance with Health Canada, FDA and International Laser Standards. Testing can only begin once a 5A Driver design passes our tests so it acts as our bottleneck. TÜV SÜD testing procedure will ensure all safety functions work correctly, and our user/safety manual has all the information needed for safe operation. Until then we will continue working on our user/safety manual so it is as detailed as possible. We have also been completing the necessary FDA registrations so we can submit our reports in a timely fashion.

Production Heatsinks and Lens Focus Ring:

The manufacturing of the aluminum heatsink, copper heatsink and lens focus ring has been completed. The aluminum heatsink and lens focus ring has been anodized (black) and is being shipped now. This updated design should allow the G2 lens to be easily focused and solve the issue we had with the prototype heatsinks. As soon as they arrive we will begin quality assurance then assembly of the 7w diode, heatsinks and exhaust fan. The diode/heatsink/fan assembly is 50% of the 7W LaserBeam and the 5A driver, enclosure and air assist  is the other 50%.

Power Supplies:

Power Supplies have arrived and passed QA tests, connectors have been attached. We will have to repackage them with the AC cables as the box they came in does not fit both the power supply and the AC cable. 

Safety Glasses:

Safety Glasses have arrived and look great with the Sienci Labs branding.  

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Designs:

  • Laser Driver Enclosure: We have a rough design set, small changes once the driver is completed to accommodate all connectors, switches etc. 
  • Air Assist: We have improved the design with a sliding pressure fit and an articulating nozzle instead of a funnel design. But we are reworking new designs until we are satisfied 
  • Packaging: I will start playing with packaging ideas, nothing concrete until more production parts begin to arrive.

Testing:

  • PCB Design A: 5A Driver A-v1.1 failed testing, currently working on 5A Driver A-v1.2 (schematics look promising)
  • PCB Design B:  5A Driver B-v1.1 will arrive Thursday for testing. I had the manufacturer ship with a few parts unsoldered in order to save a few days and test earlier. We are comfortable soldering the remaining parts inhouse
  • Laser Diodes: Testing a new 7w diode supplier this week

Supply Chain:

  • Thermal Paste: Samples will be ordered Monday
  • Extension Cables: Connectors have been ordered, we ordered a small batch of wire to test
  • Lens Focus Rings: Completed and are being shipped
  • Aluminum Heatsinks: Completed and are being shipped 
  • Copper Heatsinks: Completed and are shipped
  • Laser Diodes: Currently have 150pcs 7w Diodes in stock another 50pcs were shipped last week

 Ordering Additional Safety Glasses & Lenses: 

Check out the link above if you need to order additional LaserBeam accessories that you didn’t order in your original LaserBeam preorder. You won’t be charged any additional shipping and your order will be combined with your LaserBeam Pre-order! 

Sienci LaserBeam Pre Order:

Place your Sienci LaserBeam Pre order here:  https://sienci.com/product/laser/

Answering your FAQ: 

Send your Laser Questions Here: https://sienci.com/contact-us/technical-help/

Check out our LaserBeam FAQ video, I take all your unanswered questions from the LaserBeam livestream and try to give you guys more clarity on the LaserBeam add on. 

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LaserBeam: Moving Along

Hey everyone, Ikenna here with another LaserBeam update. We have made a lot of good progress since the last update. Most significantly we’ve tested our sample production heatsinks with great results, and our prototype LaserBeam drivers will be arriving from the manufacturer in the next week or two. 

5W Generic Banggood Laser Power Test:

When testing the 5W Generic Banggood laser we were able to confirm that the real continuous optical power of 1.9W-2.2W which is far below the promised 5W continuous power rating. These lasers have their place in the market but if you are looking for high quality at a reasonable price I believe the Sienci LaserBeam is the best offering on the market. In the pictures below the top mW reading is the true optical power reading for this specific laser system. (1.95W, 2.13W)

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7W LaserBeam Laser Power Test:

When testing our 7W laser diode we were able to confirm real continuous optical power of between 7.1W-7.2W @ 4.5A (recommended current limit for longevity) which will keep both the diode and driver running for a long time as well as producing the exact power we are promising you, which cannot be said about lower quality laser systems like the one in the previous section. In the picture below the top mW reading is the true optical power reading for this specific laser system. (7.17W, 7.18W)

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Sample Production Heatsinks and Lens Focus Ring:

Last week we received some sample production heatsinks and lens focus rings. Good news, the heat dissipation is great and was able to keep the laser system 6 degrees celsius cooler than the generic heatsink when running our max power test file. Everything fits well and was assembled with relative ease. The bad news is that the top of the copper heatsink was just 2.5mm too long for the G2 lens to properly focus, using a very thin 3d printed lens focus ring I was able to get the G2 lens in focus. This  confirmed that I needed to reduce the size of the top copper heatsink by 3mm to make everything work, as well as sliding the set screw location down 3mm on the Aluminum heatsink. These changes have been sent to our manufacturer and they have begun production again. 

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5A Driver Prototype: 

I have been working very hard with our PCB designers and our PCB manufacturer to find any potential issues and solve them before we receive the prototypes and begin testing and designing our enclosure. Over the next 2 weeks we will be working with experienced testing labs to produce a comprehensive testing procedure for all LaserBeam 5A drivers. We will also use the prototypes to start creating our safety and assembly manuals.

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Safety Glasses:

Our safety glasses are ready and being shipped now. I have been using a these exact glasses to run all our LaserBeam testing and can confirm with my own experience as well as laser power testing that these are great safety glasses and your eyes will be well protected. 

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Designs:

  • Laser Driver Enclosure: I am waiting to receive and test our prototype LaserBeam Driver, I will continue to iterate designs until I can test them with the physical driver boards. 
  • Magnetic T-mount: The standard T-mount design is finished so I will begin looking into designing a magnetic mount.
  • Magnetic Air Assist: The main design is complete, I am now sourcing neodymium magnets to test
  • Packaging: I will start playing with packaging ideas, nothing concrete until more production parts begin to arrive.

Testing:

  • Power Supply: 12V 7A power supply has been tested successfully, I will continue to test 12V 7A to make sure we get the right power supply for the 5A driver and all the fans. 
  • PCB Design: Waiting to receive the driver prototypes, in the meantime devising a comprehensive testing procedure. 
  • Laser Diodes: I am currently testing a secondary supplier for the 7W Laser diodes to ensure that we have a backup if our initial supplier has a shortage.

Supply Chain:

  • Lenses: Tested production order successfully, in stock.
  • Lens Focus Rings: Tested product samples successfully, currently being manufactured.
  • Aluminum Heatsinks: Made one last small change to the copper heatsink set screw location, currently being manufactured. 
  • Copper Heatsinks: Made one last small change to the top copper heatsink size to make it easier to focus the G2 Lens, currently being manufactured  
  • Safety Glasses: Production is complete, and has shipped. 
  • Laser Diodes: Currently have 100pcs 7w Diodes in stock, currently testing a 6W diode to offer a secondary power option.

 Ordering Additional Safety Glasses & Lenses: 

Check out the link above if you need to order additional LaserBeam accessories that you didn’t order in your original LaserBeam preorder. You won’t be charged any additional shipping and your order will be combined with your LaserBeam Pre-order! 

Sienci LaserBeam Pre Order:

Place your Sienci LaserBeam Pre order here:  https://sienci.com/product/laser/

Answering your FAQ: 

Check out our LaserBeam FAQ video, I take all your unanswered questions from the LaserBeam livestream and try to give you guys more clarity on the LaserBeam add on. 

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LaserBeam: What’s Next?

Hey everyone, Ikenna here with another LaserBeam update. Pre-order went live a few weeks ago and we are very happy with the customer response, we now have a pre-order page for any LaserBeam accessories you might want. Lots of testing, ordering and designing is still underway but we are making progress very quickly.

Preorder your LaserBeam!

Ordering Additional Safety Glasses & Lenses: 

Check out the link below if you need to order additional LaserBeam accessories that you didn’t order in your original LaserBeam preorder. You won’t be charged any additional shipping and your order will be combined with your LaserBeam Pre-order!

Answering your FAQ: 

Check out our LaserBeam FAQ video, I take all your unanswered questions from the LaserBeam livestream and try to give you guys more clarity on the LaserBeam add on. 

Designs:

  • Laser Driver Enclosure: I am waiting to receive and test our prototype LaserBeam Driver, I will continue to iterate designs until I can test them with the physical driver boards. 
  • Magnetic T-mount: The standard T-mount design is finished so I will begin looking into designing a magnetic mount.
  • Magnetic Air Assist: The main design is complete but finding a way to mount the magnets and optimize the design to print better.
  • Packaging: I will start playing with packaging ideas, nothing concrete until more production parts begin to arrive. 

Testing:

  • Power Supply: I am currently testing the LaserBeam driver power supply. 
  • PCB Design: Waiting to receive the Driver prototypes, in the meantime devising a comprehensive testing procedure. 
  • Laser Diodes: I am currently testing a secondary supplier for the 7W Laser diode to ensure that we have a backup if our initial supplier has a shortage.

Supply Chain:

  • Lenses: Currently being manufactured.
  • Lens Focus Rings: Currently being manufactured.
  • Aluminum Heatsinks: Currently being manufactured. 
  • Copper Heatsinks: Currently being manufactured.
  • Safety Glasses: Currently being manufactured. 
  • Laser Diodes: we currently have 50pcs in stock. Looking to order more as soon as possible.

Lens Descriptions

Lens TypeDescription 
G2 Lens has the best efficiency (most power) and shortest focal length so it’s great for cutting and good for engraving 
3 Element Lens 3 Element has the cleanest beam profile (super detailed text, lines and image engraving)
G7 Lens has a good balance between the power of the G2 and the clean beam profile of the 3 Element.
G8 Lensis very similar to the G7 but it has a smaller focus length so you can engrave thicker material than the G8 because you would have more available Z axis travel. I will make a dedicated video for lenses but hopefully that gives you a bit of clarity until then.

Lens Test File

G2 Lens
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3 Element Lens:
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G7 Lens:
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G8 Lens: 
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Material Guide Chart

Youtube Video Guide: https://youtu.be/EizUVtjLsRw

MaterialCuttingEngraving
3mm PlywoodblankLens: G2
Speed: 2.2 mm/s
Power: 100%
Passes: 3
Z step per pass: 1mm 
For cleaner finish decrease power and z step per pass, increase speed and number of passes
Lens: G2
Speed :25.4 mm/s
Power:100%
Passes: 1

Decrease speed for deeper and darker engraving 
6mm PlywoodblankLens: G2
Speed: 2.2 mm/s
Power: 100%
Passes: 5
Z step per pass: 1.2mm
For cleaner finish decrease power and z step per pass, increase speed and number of passes
Lens: G2
Speed :25.4 mm/s
Power:100%
Passes: 1

Decrease speed for deeper and darker engraving 
1/4″ PlywoodblankLens: G2
Speed: 5 mm/s
Power: 100%
Passes: 16
Z step per pass: 0.4mm
Lens: G2
Speed :25.4 mm/s
Power:75%
Passes: 1
1/8th Acrylic (Opaque) blankLens: G2
Speed: 2.2 mm/s
Power: 100%
Passes: 3
Z step per pass: 1mm
Lens: G2
Speed :25.4 mm/s
Power:100%
Passes: 1
Organic Leatherblank
Organic Leather tends to shrink and deform when cutting is attempted. Although one may be able to cut organic leather. Beware that as the leather shrinks and deforms it can become a fire hazard as the laser is no longer focused. 
Lens: G2
Speed :25.4 mm/s
Power:75%
Passes: 1
3mm Corrugated cardboardblankLens: G2
Speed: 5 mm/s
Power: 75%
Passes: 2
Z step per pass: 1.5mm
Lens: G2
Speed :25.4 mm/s
Power:75%
Passes: 1

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June Production Updates

Hey everyone, this is our June production update. For previous production updates and other company news, please check our blog.

It’s continued to be a busy month for April, but as we talked a little bit in our previous update for April/May, we have continued to shorten our lead times. We’ve taken the time to train some of our staff on new responsibilities and reorganize and plan production for the coming months. We are near the end of our run of Batch 4 machines and are starting to prepare for shipping Batch 5 in June.

In terms of COVID, Ontario has slowly seen a decrease in cases and more of our staff are becoming vaccinated. We are fortunate to have had no cases so far, and hopefully none until the end of the pandemic.

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A new batch of motors, lead screws, and drag chains

Lead Times

Lead times are expected to average around 1-2 weeks for this month, however we are starting to face shortages in parts that will rely on the timely arrival to keep up with production. Some of these parts include:

  • E-stops
  • Touch plates
  • Arduinos
  • Delrin V-wheels

We expect these parts to arrive in 1-2 weeks. However, this may change if we face delays in transit. We will keep lead times updated on the product page to account for these changes.

Supply Chain

There have been some minor bumps along the way in terms of supply chain especially due to current worldwide events, but luckily with early planning and dedication from the manufacturers we work with, the supply chain process for Batch 5 has been relatively smooth.

One area that we’ve seen a large spike in prices have been with drivers and Arduinos. Due to the chip shortage, many of the components that go into the LongBoard controller have gone up in price. Most ICs that go into this production have doubled in price, and new products that we are working on that involve chips may be delayed due to the unavailability of chips. We have acquired parts for the next 500 controllers with approximately another 100 controllers in stock, but we may need to be cautious of continuing shortages for the rest of 2021.

On the topic of spiking prices, steel prices have gone up more than double since the start of the pandemic, affecting the price of gantries and other steel components that go into making the LongMill. On a lesser level, copper, tungsten carbide, and other raw materials have increased overall prices for many components as well such as E-stops and end mills. Cardboard shortages with our packaging manufacturer have also affected costs and lead times a few times over the last few months too.

Luckily due to improving processes and increasing batch sizes, we have been able to find other ways to save costs and so we don’t expect to have major changes in pricing for our products, however, it is a reality that we may need to face at some point that our company will have to account for changing material prices by increasing the prices of our products.

We have also been affected by the shipping fiascos that have been happening around the world as well. Although we weren’t directly involved in the Suez Canal crisis, we have experienced slowdown in some shipments due to this situation. At the time of writing, most of the parts that we need for Batch 5 production are in transit within Canada (by rail) or are in production with local manufacturers. A couple of parts that we are still waiting on that are in transit by sea include:

  • Router mounts
  • Couplers
  • Delrin nuts
  • 3D printer filament

The remaining components for Batch 5 are expected to arrive this month but won’t be complete for shipping until these parts arrive.

Manufacturing

There have been a few changes in manufacturing at Sienci Labs. Here are some of the things that have been going on.

One small change is the material that we have made the ACME nuts from, switching from stainless steel to brass. Brass has shown to be easier to work with in terms of manufacturing and forming threads. In previous manufacturing batches, a portion of nuts were rejected due to rough threading that made it difficult to thread onto the lead screws. The new brass nuts are of much better quality.

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As part of the transition from steel shoulder brackets and drag chain mounts, Batch 5 kits will use M8-16mm bolts instead of M8-25mm bolts to mount these parts. There is no functional change, as the longer bolts are a carryover from when longer bolts were needed on the 3D printed parts.

Next, we are switching to e-coating our gantries from powder coating. We believe that e-coating is an excellent alternative to powder coating as it provides a cleaner, more consistent surface which is important for our XZ gantry assemblies. In some of our recent batches of powder-coated steel, we were running into issues where paint contamination and dripping would either produce cosmetic defects or affect the assembly of the parts because of the unevenness of the surface. E-coating does have a thinner surface, which theoretically means that it offers less scratch resistance on parts. However, based on samples that we have been provided of our parts after being e-coated, we have seen significantly better resistance to chipping and surface quality, without much difference in scratch resistance. This change should decrease manufacturing costs while improving overall quality.

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In the last batch, we switched to using M3 screws with captive washers to help keep the screws from coming loose. For these screws, we have switched from stainless steel screws to Class 12.9 alloy, which is a much stronger screw that will prevent head stripping. Head stripping has been a minor inconvenience as removing stripped screws takes a while.

We’ve added three new CR30s (3D Print Mills), a belt based 3D printer. These machines will add additional 3D printing capacity with the benefit of being able to continually print repeated parts. We are currently in the stage of testing and tuning these machines, but we expect each printer to do the work of 4 standard 3D printers, increasing our print capacity by approximately 25%.

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Design

Batch 5 comes with some very minor design changes to the LongMill.

First to mention is that motor shafts on the X and Y will be fully round. This is due to a very small number of customers reporting their motor shafts breaking off. The engineers at LDO Motors and us have confirmed that the full shafts will prevent this.

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We are manufacturing a slightly modified 65mm router mount to eliminate the need to use M5-12mm screws. Because of the drill tap depth of the four mounting screws in the back of the router, shorter M5 screws were needed compared to the rest of the machine assembly. With the new router mounts, M5-25mm screws can be used on all parts of the router mount. We have also relocated the additional tapped holes that are used for mounting to the front of the mount for easier installation of accessories such as the LaserBeam.

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New ACME Delrin nuts have been manufactured without the counterbore, which were an unnecessary feature for our application.

Shipping

Shipping to US and Canada have been reliable overall and seems to have returned to pre-COVID speeds.

We had some delays with Canada Post shipments going to the US via US Air Parcel, so as an alternative we would recommend using UPS.

We have had several issues with customs for shipments going to Mexico this past month that are new. If you have an order that needs to go to Mexico, please let us know in case we need to make other arrangements.

What is a G-Code Sender or CNC Machine Interface?

Hey everyone. We get a lot of questions about software for CNC machines, part of which includes using a g-code sender or machine interface. If you’ve ever gotten technical support from us, there’s a good chance you might have talked to Kelly, who took some time to make this video to help answer the common questions and discuss common functionality in the software.

This video covers some of the basic features that are in g-code senders like UGS and our very own gSender.

gSender Surfacing Tool now available

gSender downloads are now public. Find downloads here: https://sienci.com/gsender/

Our development team have been working hard to continue making gSender better. Our latest update improves overall performance and reliability, as well as working on new features. The latest version now comes with a surfacing tool that makes it easy to surface your wasteboard using the built in tool.

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This tool lets you import your basic settings such as your tool size and speed to automatically generate the toolpaths to run on your machine. Not only can you use this to surface your machine, but you can also use it to surface other stock by changing the size on the tool.

If you aren’t on the latest version of gSender, your gSender program will have a green arrow to indicate an update is available on the upper left side where the gSender logo is.

Additional gSender Documentation continues to be in development. Feel free to check it out to learn more. Continue to stay tuned as more changes and updates come to gSender!

gSender BETA Public release is here!

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Hello all,

This is a really big milestone that I’m really excited to have reached! It’s not easy or inexpensive to be paying nearly 4 peoples salaries for coming up on 5 months just to develop a program that is being made available for free but we just really think that this labour of love is going to be something that benefits not just the LongMill community but the Hobby CNC community at large.

So I guess now is the time for me to answer the two big questions:

  1. Why now?
    Though the changes between our release last week and this week aren’t drastic it’s never really clear cut when something is ready to move onward. Since this was my call, I can say that I didn’t want to make gSender public until I was sure that we had all our bases covered. This included at least a couple of iterations on builds for every OS, less reports of crashing and bugs, fulfillment of the big-ticket item requests like jogging stability and keymapping, and some refinement in the overall design that was more of a gut feeling.
  2. How does this include the hobby CNC community as a whole?
    If you weren’t aware, the LongMill and many other machines such as: X-carve, Shapeoko, Bob’s. MillRight, OpenBuilds, 3018 CNCs, and more all run on the GRBL open-source firmware. This is what gSender has been built to support. This means that though gSender comes ready out-of-the-box to run a LongMill, it can also readily support many other kinds of CNCs and we’ve made it open-source and free across the board so that anyone can come on over, grab it, use it, and benefit from it. So yeah, tell your friends! No mater what CNC they use, if you’ve enjoyed using gSender then they probably will too 🙂

Alright so, of course I’ll do a quick recap of changes since the previous release and where to download, I just want to say a couple last things first:

  • With gSender now public, this will likely be one of the last communications made to this mailing list as all of you signed up for the duration of the closed Beta which is now concluding. Instead, I’ll likely be moving my communications over to a combination of our website blog and the Forum – we’ve got the regular Sienci Mailing list you can feel free to sign up for if you want to continue receiving development notifications
  • If you’ve enjoyed using gSender, I’d love it if you would take the time to respond back a review of how you find it. I don’t yet have a plan on how I’m going to use the reviews but at the least me and my dev team really grin ear-to-ear when we see you guys getting so much out of gSender so that would be some great feedback to hear
  • Lastly, thank you all so much for taking the time to provide your feedback – the feedback that’s brought gSender to what it is today. There will continue to be a page available for submitting gSender feedback here: https://sienci.com/gsender-feedback/ so keep it coming if you have more to say. I’m so grateful for the time and words from all of you

Okay, on to the normal stuff!

New changes:

  • Improvements to job handling
  • Tooltips created for data entry points
  • Splashscreen tweaks
  • Working PI build!?

Downloads:
All downloads are now available on the gSender page on our website, check them out here!
https://sienci.com/gsender/

There’s also now a documentation page underway, check out the beginnings of it here: https://sienci.com/gsender-documentation/

If anyone has any further questions or need assistance downloading the new version I’ll be keeping my ear to my inbox and the gSender forum category over the weekend 

👍

Cheers cheers cheers!
-Chris and the rest of the team at Sienci Labs

Talking about the Makita RT0701. Do I need a larger router for my CNC?

I decided to write this post to talk a bit about routers to use on hobby CNC machines like the LongMill. If you’ve done some research on this topic, you’ve probably seen a lot of machines use the same Makita router. Of course this isn’t a coincidence. We believe that the Makita RT0701 is a great option for a lot of reasons, including:

  • Good speed control from 10,000 to 30,000RPM
  • Simple round body which makes it easy to mount to a machine
  • Affordable price of around $100 to $150
  • Easy to find at most big box hardware stores
  • Ample power and performance

However, for a lot of people, especially woodworkers who use full size routers that have 1/2″ shanks and +2HP motors in their work , the Makita router looks a little bit dinky. If you’re one of those people who have this opinion, here are the reasons why the this router is more powerful than you might think.

Electronic speed control

By far the biggest reason the Makita punches above its weight is because of the electronic speed control built into the router. Simply put, when the Makita’s motor is under load, the electronics will boost power to the motor to compensate. This means that no matter how hard you’re pushing the router, the motor will continue to spin at a constant speed. For CNCing applications, this is an important feature as the speed of your router is closely tied with the speed and quality of your cut.

Although many routers now come with this feature, routers that do not have electronic speed control need to rely on their internal inertia to keep their RPMs stable. Although this works in an hand held application, CNC machines need to have a consistent speed through all of the cuts for the best results.

If you have a router that doesn’t have speed control, you’ll likely notice that your RPMs drop when you hit the material, and you have to adjust the pressure of your cut to keep cutting consistently. With a router like the Makita, the router will instantly compensate for the change in load and not allow the RPMs to drop.

Matching the performance of your router to the performance of the machine

With almost all hobby CNCs, the deflection of the structure of the machine is the limiting factor. To put simply, the machine will deflect far enough to ruin a cut before the router will begin to struggle to keep up, which means that there is no point in putting a larger router that will never see its full potential.

Our real life testing

Over the last couple years, we’ve heavily abused our Makita routers, such as by cutting large amounts of aluminum and wood at a time. We do run tests as well that involve crashing the machines while the Makita is still running to test the effects of changes in the electronics which can completely stall the router. We also have built custom industrial-focused machines that use the same router. Here’s an example of a project where we used a Makita router to cut aluminum.

Some of our tests include cutting through upwards of half an inch of hardwood using our 22mm surfacing bits to stall the router.

I hope this post provides a bit more confidence in the Makita routers and answers some questions on whether a larger router is needed for the LongMill.