3D Printer Reviews, Arduino Reviews, Raspberry Pi Reviews, and product information. What should you buy? How do you decide? Where should you look? All this and more in this section ...
The Prusa Mk2/Mk3 3d printers are renowned as top quality, but buying parts is a painfully expensive deal due to the long journey and single supplier. That just changed! [Read more…]
The T8 CNC is a desktop CNC kit built with aluminum extrusions, open source Arduino hardware, and GRBL software. If you were looking to learn CNC, perhaps this little $200 CNC mill could be a good start?
T8 CNC specs
Firstly, we need to address the obvious. This CNC mill is tiny. The cutting area is roughly the size of an A6 piece of paper. 130mm x 10mm x 4mm.
It does, however, come with a decent 24v motor as the router, getting up 7000rpm (not necessarily PWM, as we will discuss later).
This is why a lot of stores and reviews described it as for PCB milling. It is small but beefy.
There are a lot of these machines out there and they all seem to have variations. Mine came with no instructions or software but did come with 4 v-cut end mill bits.
The T8 runs using an Arduino Uno clone and a CNC shield. Pretty standard stuff.
What can the T8 CNC do? What is it good for?
If it is so small and has a motor rather than a commercial router, what is it useful for?
First I would say due to it being a kit, the fact it is based on open hardware and software, and because it is so small, it would be good for learning, especially in a small classroom or makerspace. Everything learned on this machine is applicable to larger CNC operations.
We already mentioned that people see this as a PCB mill, but it can also handily cut and engrave plastics and wood, maybe even soft metals, though I did not try.
Building the T8 CNC Kit
As mentioned earlier, as for instructions you are pretty much on your own.
I did the crazy thing of just working off product images, and it worked out mostly. On the Gearbest product page, there are some videos and links, plus there is an Instructable here that seems to be a slightly different machine to mine.
There is some soldering, the steppers arrive with snipped wires rather than connectors. My crimping tool came in handy.
You can get it working relatively well enough after building but set a good weekend aside, don’t expect to build and run this guy over a lunch break.
Other than documentation – Any problems?
Unfortunately, the CNC shield is not set up for the pins of the latest GRBL firmware. After a little hacking and snooping I found I could connect the motor signal pin to the Uno and get it working.
While in theory, the machine is capable of speed control, the kit as arrived uses a relay to turn the motor off and on, so that’s all you get as far as control is concerned without mods.
Modifications and Upgrades
Gearbest sent me this machine knowing I was into CNC (see future articles about my Sienci and X-Carve). While I was tempted to try some PCB milling, and still might, what I am more intruiged about is the upgradability of this guy.
It is built with standard extrusions, lead screws and smooth rods … so I bought some new larger replacements. When the weather is better I will be taking all this to the Fuse33 maker space and upgrading. Look out for an update.
If you are prepared to do a bit of research and effort, this is a fine little machine, and not only that, a good foundation for a much better machine. Think of it as buying a bill of materials for a CNC, rather than something that will give you support and hand holding.
Creality and the CR-10 reviews were everywhere in 2017. Only Prusa got better press from what I could see. Justifiably, I might add.
Half a printer?
Weird thing? It works, and it works well!
Creality Ender 2 Specs
Let’s start with the price because outside of everything else, this is the reason why this kit gets attention.
+ GET $30 OFF WITH THE CODE GBTE AT CHECKOUT
What do you get for that?
- 150 x 150mm heated build plate with 200mm Z-height
- Open 1.75mm filament, mk10 bowden hotend and extruder combo (0.4mm nozzle supplied)
- Print USB or SD card
- 12V PSU
- LCD screen and control box
- Metal construction
See? Exactly as you would expect from a cut-down CR-10.
It is a little more involved to put together than a CR-10, but it is not as involved as, say, the Anet A8 or similar, and the major parts are metal so it is a bit more forgiving for clumsy folks like me.
How does it print?
It prints very well, like it’s bigger brothers and sisters basically.
- You will want to get the community supplied slicer profiles (Chris Bennet has a good one but I can no longer find it).
- Creality are not honoring the spirit or the law with the open source Marlin firmware that they supply with the printer, they should make their customizations open.
- The belts have some severe rubbing so I need to go back and do some tweaking.
This is an excellent printer at a great price.
+ GET $30 OFF WITH THE CODE GBTE AT CHECKOUT
Buy it as a first printer, a portable/travel printer, use it for smaller prints such as action figures, robot parts, props, or this would be an excellent printer to teach.
Would I buy this over the Anet A8 at a similar price? Yes, if you don’t need the extra capacity that the 200mm bed of the A8 provides. I would say the A8 has more community modifications and upgrades available for now also.
If a 150mm bed is fine then I would go for it. My first printers were 150mm (Makibox, Printrbot, Cube3) and they served me pretty well until I wanted to build an Astromech (which I still haven’t done, by the way).
When I put together my brand new Virtual Reality PC I immediately encountered a problem.
Wifi dead zone. [Read more…]
It must be building up to gift-giving season because I have been asked a whole bunch of times for ideas for what parents should buy their kids to encourage their interest in making – electronics, robots, and programming in particular.
What should you buy your kid, or as a family, to grow their maker passion and skills? [Read more…]
Ultimaker sent me an Ultimaker 3 for review, and to try out some projects on – exciting stuff (and from community reaction, I am not the only one who thinks so!).
Since I posted my video I have had a ton of people message me about it. Some who wanted to know what an expensive prosumer printer performed like, some who wanted to know if the hype matches the reality, and some who were on the cusp of purchasing.
Let’s take a look! [Read more…]