Some of my components have finally started comming in. So far I have recieved my motors, linear actuators and power supply. Unfortunately, i'm still missing the controller board (which is shipping from the UK) before I can really start putting anything together.
In the meantime, I have been looking at software options to run the mill. I have not been able to find a decent opensource or low cost option out there. The best cost/feature option I have found so far is Mach 3. Not too bad for $159, considering some of the other options out there are in the thousands of dollar. Who knows, maybe someday i'll write my own software. But I think I have enough projects on my plate for now 🙂
My only other worry so far is in regards to the linear actuators I have purchased. They use a timing belt and have a decent precision. This was the only option I could find within a reasonable price range. The ideal would be the use of a ball screw system (which is a combination of a high precision screw and a ballbearing nut). But the drawback is that these are really expensive. From the prices i've seen so far, a 2' rail can easily cost $300+
Since the motor controller board supports microstepping, that should give me about 0.0006" precision with my current actuators, which I think should be sufficent.