After using the PipeDream for almost a year, I have a pretty good handle on what I want in a machine. This is going to be different for every person, and every application.
The things I like about the PipeDream are:
Things I want to improve on the PipeDream:
I had hoped to increase the speed by upgrading to a CAMTRONICS 2A Chopper Board with an 18VDC supply. I did not notice much of an improvement in speed with this upgrade. Since I have the controller, I will likely use it on the Big Brother. Originally I had hoped to build the Big Brother with Servo's. I had already bought the box, connnector kit, and DB25 board from CAMTRONICS. I was hoping to use a GECKO system to drive the servos. Now, here is the snag. Start adding up the cost of the servo's, the GECKO controllers, the power supply components etc., and you end up spending many hundreds of dollars. I think I will just stay with steppers for now.
While looking at the CAD_CAM_EDM_DRO group on Yahoo, I came across Paul Jones name. Paul grinds his own engraving cutters, and now is making full Z axis assemblies for a very reasonable price. I have decided not to reinvent the wheel for the Z axis. I am going to order the Z axis assembly from Paul, which will improve the machine and speed up the assembly process. Check out his web site at: Pauls Site
Update I just (February 11, 2003) received the Z axis, spindle and engraving cutters from Paul Jones. I would highly recommend purchasing these quality items from Paul! I found the Z axis to be of excellent quality. Very nicely machined, well assembled! The Z axis came with the attachment for the spindle, but it will take a small router like a RotoZip with a little work. The cutters are razor sharp and even cut glass (I would not recommend this...). The spindle will make a wonderfull PCB cutter or engraving head. Drop Paul and email for more info. Tell him I sent you!
My friend Gerry was kind enough to supply me with two large 54" linear bearings that will be ideal for the X axis. eBay supplied a nice 48" rolled ball screw assembly that will make it quick to move from end to end.