4 Cheap and Simple Upgrades for Your Homemade Router

Here’s some upgrades to your CNC router that can be done cheaply or possibly for free if you have the parts laying around:

Dropbox logo

#1 Dropbox – I’ve done an article on this before just in the context of it being a good program, but if you have a CNC router hooked up to a computer it’s even better.  I design most of the stuff that I’m going to cut on my notebook and then transfer it to a cheap PC that I bought remanufactured from Tigerdirect.  This isn’t too bad using a flash drive, but it gets annoying having to plug it in every time.  Now that I have everything hooked up to wifi and dropbox is working, it’s like everything is on one PC.  Once I save a file on my notebook, it’s almost instantly transferred to my CNC PC.  So I can generate the Gcode on my notebook and run it on the PC like it was the same computer.

Their business model is to give 2GB of storage away for free and then charge if you want to use more, but 2GB is more than enough for transferring Gcode back and forth.  If you refer a friend each of you gets 250 extra MB up to some limit.  So if you’d like an extra 250 MB, just say I’m your friend with this link and we’ll both benefit.  Also, you should befriend jcopro.net on facebook as well, but I promise no benefit to this.

#2 Noise insulation  – CNC routers can get quite loud, so sound insulation is a good upgrade.  Earplugs should be worn around anything loud, but that doesn’t help things when your spouse is trying to have some peace and quiet inside and there’s a constant “wwweeeeeeeehhhh” coming from the garage.

I found some very porous shipping material that looked like it would absorb sound well and hooked it up as seen to the right.  Not an “elegant solution” by any means, but it seems to help some.  Make sure your material isn’t flamable, as the servos can get quite hot.

In the future, I hope to do some more elaborate noise insulation, like mentioned in this Hackaday article.  Unfortunately, it seems many local hardware stores don’t carry the correct insulation for this (I think the generic term is “mineral wool“), but an online supplier called “acoustimac” apparently does if you want to shop online.  Stores that sell to commercial builders should have it as well.

#3 Vacuum holder – Clearing out your dust from the router is always a good thing.  There are certainly better ways to do this, but for something quick and dirty, I tied a noose on one end of cord and attached the other to the top shelf of my multi-level router worktable.  Not perfect, but it takes care of most of the airborne stuff and allows me to sweep it across my work occasionally to cut down on buildup.

how to make a noose

cnc router magnetic toolholder#4 Magnetic parts holder – I had a “Magwear” wrist-strap style holder laying around that was meant for holding nails and the like while working.  As it turns out, this fit in perfectly with my setup as I could just strap it in place to a supporting surface.  Works nicely, and keeps the few tools that I have for my Dremel safe and secure.

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Other upgrades that you can do cheaply that I’ve talked about before include: new quickchange workholding rails, a sacrificial surface to make your router more level, or you can even manufacture a new multi-level “workbench” for your setup like I did.

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