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March 27, 2019 – CNC Maker Zone

Make a GRBL CNC pendant with a Bluetooth data link

If, like me, you like to spend time surfing the internet looking at photos of CNC accessories, you’ve probably thought how nice it would be to have a pendant (i.e. a controller on a cable) for cheap Chinese CNC machines using GRBL controller boards. In fact, I wanted one so much I decided to build one to allow me to jog and zero axes, as well as to let me turn the LASER on for focusing and accurate jogging. I decided to do it using an ESP32 microcontroller as it allows the pendant to act as a Bluetooth link for G-Code sending/receiving as well. I thought my finished design might be useful for others to base their pendant designs on too, so I made it open source, and you can see what it looks like in the photo below.

A photo showing the finished pendant as well as the inside and a view of the circuit board.

It’s important to note that this could probably be described as an advanced maker project, as it requires skills with 3D printing, circuit making, soldering and Arduino coding. But if you’re up for the challenge you can get all of the files and details needed on Github and Thingiverse. The links are below and good luck making one as they can be an invaluable CNC accessory 🙂

3D files on Thingiverse:

https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3521653

All files, including code, on Github:

https://github.com/drandrewthomas/ESP32_GRBL_CNC_Wireless_Pendant

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3D printing an 80x80mm extractor fan housing for LASER cutting

LASER cutting on a cheap and cheerful CNC machine is lots of fun, but I can’t say the same about the smoke and fumes. That’s why I posted before about a simple extraction system. But since then I decided to try to do better using a larger fan mounted on the CNC’s 2020-extrusion frame. So I used OpenSCAD to make a design based around an Arctic Air 80x80x25mm PC fan, as it’s designed for higher airflow than cheaper fans. You can see the result in the photo below.

A photo of the extractor fan housing mounted on the CNC frame during LASER cutting
The extractor fan housing mounted on the CNC’s 2020-extrusion frame

The design did quite a good job and the air flow-rate was quite impressive in my opinion. However, it has the disadvantage of covering a large area so the suction around the LASER-cutting area turned out less than for my previous design. So I decided to adapt the design to allow the fan housing to be mounted to a simple enclosure I’m prototyping for my machine. That led to me adding side supports that stick to the housing and have flanges with holes for bolts.

Using the fan with the enclosure works really well, with hardly any smell of smoke or fumes coming out while LASER-ing, as it’s all blown through a flexible 60mm hose out through a nearby window. You can see the side supports in the 3D assembly picture below. And, if you’d like to have a go at making your own extractor fan from this design, click here to go the Thingiverse page which includes all the STL files and the OpenSCAD design file too.

A 3D image of the assembly of the parts used to build the extractor fan housing and mountings
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