Sound is an issue with any workshop, power tools are cool but make lots of noise. My workshop has the added benefits of being in a garage, close to neighbors and harboring a CNC table. My primary concerns are the air compressor, shop vacuum and the CNC router table since it will run patterns that could easily run 30 minutes, an hour or more. Luckily, I am designing a cabinet to hold the vacuum, compressor and most importantly the CNC table for both dust and sound control. The empty pockets created in my 2x4 frame design will create great places for sound damping panels.
The weekend was a blast at the Kansas City Maker's Faire (http://www.makerfairekc.com/). There were presentations and fun from many groups and as expected 3D printers were everywhere. While 3D printing is nothing new, it is still a fledgling market for the DIY home crowd and there is a constant stream of new ideas.
Now it's perfectly OK to use the keyboard and mouse to control and zero your X, Y and Z axis at the first of a job, but it's not always convenient. Most CNC setups I have seen have an easy to use hand-held controller called a pendant. Some DIY pendants use video game joysticks that don't look very professional, cost money if you don't have one laying around and take some extra effort to setup with lightly documented unsupported software packages. Buying a professional 3rd party pendant is definitely an option, there are some very nice options out there but I couldn't justify spending $100, $200 or even $500 for a premium pendant, not for my needs.
OK, to work a CNC you need G-Code, to get G-Code you usually need a CAD (Computer Aided Design) program. Since I'm a Windows kind of guy, and well, a cheap kind of guy, I go for the very capable and free CAD program Inkscape. One of the cool things I found out about Inkscape is it's ability to take a command line argument to output a PNG file. What's so cool about that? Well, if you have a bunch of drawings it can be a pain to load and save each as a PNG file just so you can have a thumbnail visible in Windows Explorer. So let's automate making thumbnails viewable from Windows Explorer (PNG files) from a bunch of SVG files (the format Inkscape saves in).
So I wanted in the CNC game, played with the idea of building one but opted against it and went out and bought myself a Probotix Fireball X90. It's a pretty slick machine, easy to assemble, but not entirely complete in my opinion. One of the major shortfalls to me is the lack of any type of work holding system. Yes, I could have plopped down $259 for an aluminum T-slot board, but daaaang I'm cheap. Yes, I can do like I've seen others do before and just screw my work in place, but I've done that and was not very happy with the process. Beyond needlessly butchering my spoil board, it took forever.
I decided to take a detour from the MAME cabinet for a bit and have been collecting supplies and mini projects around my next build, a desktop CNC machine. Part of this CNC machine is some nice cable management in the form of cable chains to handle voltage and control circuits on a moving gantry. I could very simply have purchased the cable chains from ebay and would have been done with it but wanted the opportunity to actually build some cable chains using a separate CNC machine available at OHMSpace. The more I use the available machine the more improvements I can see for my own mental blueprint of the CNC I intend to build, plus having wooden cable chains would be uber-cool.