Quick CNC work

I’m always impressed by Frankie’s ability to machine one-off parts on his Taig with minimal time spent on generating the toolpaths, which is something that I want to become better at. I’ll frequently over-think and puzzle over the CAM side so much that I wind up just bashing out parts manually on the Tree. However, for a recent project I needed to do a lot of cutting in odd shapes that would be crazy to do manually for a single part, so I gritted my teeth and dove in.

As part of my growing RC aircraft addiction, I had purchased an Ikarus SU27-XXL kit as a fun ‘zoomy’ plane to advance beyond my trusty Slow Stick. My original plan was to use the brushed motor included with the kit – why discard a perfectly good motor, even though it may not be as powerful and efficient as a brushless one?  Well, a good reason is that brushed ESCs (electronic speed controller) are much more difficult to find these days than their brushless counterparts.  So I went brushless anyhow and purchased a motor and ESC.

Since the new 400 brushless was mounted at the base rather than the face, I couldn’t use the included light plywood motor mount.  I needed to build my own custom motor mount, and I happened to have some 3″x3″ squares of 1/16″ G-10 fiberglass sheet left over from a project that would make for very sturdy construction.  I drew up the needed parts in Cadkey and then tinkered with GibbsCAM at work to hopefully output usable toolpaths.  Fortunately, I’ve gotten much better in this regard, and the G-code worked out just fine.

I used a hunk of scrap polycarbonate bolted to the tooling plate on my Taig as a sacrificial base.  Frankie recommended using carpet tape to hold sheet stock flat for machining, and it worked like a charm.  I’m using a 1/32″ carbide cutter to do the milling – I think it cut through the sheet in 3 or 4 passes.  When done, the parts were easily pulled off of the base.

After removing the tape and adhesive with a ‘Goo Gone’ type of solvent, here’s the parts I had.  As it turned out, I could have skeletonized them far more than I did, and using 1/32″ G-10 may have been an even better material.  I did have to do a bit of filing by hand to make things fit – the original plywood parts were laser cut and so had perfect square cornered slots, which obviously can’t be done with a round endmill.

Glued together, it looks pretty good!

Fits beautifully on the plane and certainly looks like the beefiest part of the entire airframe.

Unfortunately, she would never look this good again…  On the final flight (just after I had moved up to a larger prop that finally provided the performance I wanted), I pulled out of a fast low level loop right into a tree, and the brittle Depron foam snapped all over.  The motor and mount tore free from the plane and was unscathed, however, so I’ll be dropping the unit into a scratchbuilt MiG-29 made out of pink sheet foam from the home improvement store.  I have a feeling that the motor mount will easily outlast that airframe as well…

One thought on “Quick CNC work”

  1. Beautiful work! You should come over and fly planes soon… I still haven’t taken mine out of the box, you can give me some tips.

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