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And another special project of mine

While working on "The King's Treasure," I was also writing two other non-LEGO books. (Don't ever do this - completely crazy and will take a few years off your lifespan.) One of these other books is something that I'm extremely proud of and would like to share with The NXT Step readers... it's titled "Build Your Own CNC Machine" and it's coming out at the end of November 2009.

Here's the cover and a couple of pictures for you. Some details:

* It has a 2' x 4' tabletop workspace with about 1.5" of non-usable surface around the perimeter. So, you can realistically work on wood, aluminum, or plastic that fits within the 2'x4' boundary.

* Depending on the router you choose to use, you can work on material up to about 7" tall, but the depth the router can cut down (on the z-axis) is dependent upon the surrounding area not impeding the up/down movement, so the depth of cut into super-thick material will really be limited to your bit depth/length as well as any material blocking the further downward movement.

* The entire thing can be built for less than $800.00. Yes, $800.00US. While most 2'x4' comparable CNC machines are running $7000 and higher, this is a completely reliable and fully functional 3-axis CNC machine. The book provides plans for cutting, drilling, etc... all the parts from MDF (very rigid and strong) and my co-author (Patrick) and I provide parts #s and locations to get all the electronics. Chapters show you how to wire up everything as well as where to get the free software used to control the stepper motors.

During the writing of this book, three separate machines were built - I built one, my dad built one, and my tech editor built one. All three are identical, working right now, and are very impressive to watch.

I can already hear someone asking "Can it cut out parts for my robots?" - Yes, it can. But it can do so much more.

One of the reasons Patrick and I did this book was to make CNC technology available to a larger group of users - traditionally, these machines have been (and are) expensive to own and complicated to operate and repair. Well, when you build your own CNC machine, you know every part, how it all comes together, and you'll know how to fix it...

It's not an NXT robot or product, but if you're into robots, you're sure to enjoy something like this. We have a website, discussion forum, videos, full color photos for downloading, etc... all to support readers of the book who want to build their own machine. We're hoping to hear from students, shop teachers, parents, and after-school groups who take on building their own CNC machine(s) and we'd love to see photos and videos of your machine and your designs.

Again, the book is out in late November... if you have any other questions, let me know.


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