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Starting CNC, a few questions...

Discussion in 'CNC Mills/Routers' started by Anlagen, Jan 31, 2021.

  1. Anlagen

    Anlagen New

    Jan 31, 2021
    Likes Received:
    Hello all! I am a junior software developer with a long history of building 3D printers. Now I would like to get into the world of DIY CNCs.

    I have been doing a lot of research, and I found answers to a lot of my questions, but not a lot of straight answers. So I apologize if any of them seem beginner or redundant, I just wanted some firm input on these questions before buying a build.


    1. Is there one that is better between the Workerbee, Queenbee Pro, and LEAD CNC designs?

    I saw that the LEAD CNC is actually a design made after the Workerbee, all originally off the Ox CNC design, to be cheaper and more modular with throwing away custom-cut metal mounts. Is that it? If we are looking to upgrade, is LEAD better? I see everyone still buying Workerbee, but I'm not sure if they just went with what pops up more often and seems popular.

    Also the Queenbee just appears to be the Workerbee with some added axis support? Right?

    I am leaning towards the LEAD unless someone can tell me otherwise.

    2. Is there a max size for these that you start greatly sacrificing quality?

    I see everyone going for the 60" x 60" (1500mm x 1500mm), because obviously, bigger is better. But also obviously, the bigger the range, the more flexible the frame becomes. Does it matter yet at this size? Can we go thinner and keep the length (750mm x 1500mm or something) and improve strength enough? Or can this be fixed with added support?

    Obviously I would like to go as big as possible, but quality is more of a concern for me than size (or as far as DIY cheaper CNCs can go). I mainly plan on using it for guitar building and would love if I could do a fretboard or exciting inlays with this. But would be happy with just getting all of the pockets and shapes with it.

    3. Is there a performance difference between the MACH3 and GRBL platform? Or just usability?

    I am much more familiar with arduino and raspi and would like to stick to GRBL if it does not make a difference.

    4. If GRBL, should I upgrade to a good Mega instead of Uno or Nano? Or does it even get close to stressing it enough to matter?

    5. Should I upgrade the router right away or does that matter that much?

    6. I saw there were weight issues with the 2.2kw on the gantry. Is this true? Should it just be avoided or reinforced?

    7. If I went with the LEAD, I saw there was a nice Z-height mod. Would this make the router less stable overall or just when it is at an extended height? Am I overall sacrificing quality?

    Thank you all for your answers and I can't wait to get started on this! Will research for a month more before buying a build.
  2. Peter Van Der Walt

    Peter Van Der Walt OpenBuilds Team
    Staff Member Moderator Project Maker Builder Resident Builder

    Mar 1, 2017
    Likes Received:
    Queenbee is a chinese knockoff of the Workbee with some changes. Stay away from those vendors, we see all the tears and regrets on here ^ use the search above if you do not believe me to be impartial. http://support.openbuilds.com/support/home can give you a list of official resellers if you prefer.
    A knockoff will cost you more in replacement parts to get it working than you think you save.

    LEAD is the flagship - easy to maintain and modify as its all based off the standard modular build system.

    As a beginner, avoid VFD spindles at first - lots of EMI, too complicated, not needed.
  3. sharmstr

    sharmstr OpenBuilds Team
    Staff Member Moderator Builder Resident Builder

    Mar 23, 2018
    Likes Received:
    And from someone who built their own arudino controller at first with awesome drivers, go with the Blackbox. It just works.
  4. Darce

    Darce New

    Dec 13, 2020
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    I've just finished setting mine up, a V2 with the high Z mod, and promptly ordered the parts to convert the Z-height to version 3.
    Version 2 allows you to manually adjust the height of the Z gantry to allow greater height when needed, but you need to release eight clamping screws, set the new height and retighten the screws (the gantry 2080 section locks down the whole assembly).

    With version 3 the whole gantry moves up and down, with an extra 2080 piece added to provide the rigidity.

    If you're going to get a Lead, pay the extra for V3 :)

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