ScanaPlus By Ikalogic

Test Conditions:

Machine: NONE (Bench Test)

Mods: NONE

Software: ScanaStudio

Pros:

-Setup, Ease of use, Function of Software, Channels, save function

The ScanaPlus From Ikalogic is a great add on to a portable work station. The unit is small (2.87 x 1.81 x 0.67 inches) and light (2.08 oz), it also comes with a set of test leads and probes. The Software is easy to use and has built in decoders if you want to debug anything from 1-wire up to a Parallel (8-bit) bus with a 9th channel for a clock signal. upon first setup i was a bit leary on the operation but once i got going it all made sense. A great feature with the software is you can save your waveforms for further investigation later.

Cons:

-No Live Mode (Not Expected on a Spectrum Analyzer), Probes

I would love for this little black box and software to be able to live stream even though it is not the end of the world if it does not. the probes and leads that come with the kit are sort of cheap and not long enough (10″ overall Reach) it would be nice to have at least a 15″ reach so you can run from one end of a proto board to the other and have the ScanaPlus away from the board.

Improvements:

-Probes, Bits and Pieces of Software

Final Thoughts:

The ScanaPlus packs quite the punch for fitting in the palm of your hand and while there are some cons this thing will let you know whats up in your circuit and even give you the timing between the rise and falls of the input. it also boasts differential inputs which can come in handy. I am still pretty upset with the leads it comes with but there is not a good way to breakout 9 channels on a Spectrum Analyzer that fits in the palm of your hand. Overall the software ended up being functional and has a library of decoders that is updated and added to once in a while. I would recommend this for someone that needs a Analyzer but does not have the money for a stand alone unit.

Design: 9/10

Function: 8/10

Looks: 8/10

Quality: 7/10

OVERALL: 8/10

This Product is Available here: https://www.ikalogic.com/scanaplus/

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C-Beam Actuator by OpenBuilds

Test Conditions:

Machine: NONE (Bench Test)

Mods: NONE

Software: NONE (GRBL to test movement)

Pros:

-PRICE!,  High Quality Motor, Great Quality Machining, Ease of Assembly, Assembly Time (20 Minutes)

The C-Beam Actuator Kit from OpenBuilds is a great add on or starting point for anything that needs a sturdy axis. I am surprised at how easy and fast i assembled the unit. the quality is great and the parts fit perfectly with no modifications needed! not even slight sanding.

Cons:

-Delrin Nut

One of the only down sides i can see to this kit is the Delrin Nut.  Depending on what Nut you use in the kit can change the accuracy of this product. The normal nut has a few thou play but if you use the nut with the backlash adjustment screw you can pretty much eliminate this problem. therefore the C-Beam Actuator really has no downsides!

Improvements:

-Delrin Nuts (I had to find something)

Final Thoughts:

I am amazed at this kit and how easy it was to get up and running, From assembling the wheels to bolting the frame together everything had a tight tolerance and everything lined up great. this Line of Actuators from OpenBuilds makes it easy to assemble your own CNC Machine or any machine that needs an axis. Another Plus is that if you buy a shorter version you can always upgrade by purchasing a matching length of ACME Screw and C-Beam. While there are some cons they are not a red flag they are just slight issues that i ran into and that are easily changed. being made of V-Slot extrusion you can mount this to just about anything. Great Job OpenBuilds!

Design: 9/10

Function: 9/10

Looks: 10/10

Quality: 9/10

OVERALL: 9.5/10

This Product is Available here: http://openbuildspartstore.com/c-beam-linear-actuator-bundle/

C-Beam Actuator Build Instructions Download

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uArm Metal by EVOL

Test Conditions:

Machine: uArm Metal

Mods:  NONE

Software: Stock EVOL Software

Pros: 

– Open Source, arduino controlled, easy to use

The Metal uArm is pretty cool, you can control it via pc or use the record function to show it what to do. It is rather easy to assemble considering all you have to do is plug it in and comes pre-assembled. The vacuum system is a great feature.

Cons:

– Bluetooth,  reliability

While the Metal uArm is great for hobby I can’t see it performing for small production setups, the accuracy is not the greatest at +/- 1-2 cm and that affects the reliability and repeat ability of the arm… The arm also seems to have the jitters when making slow moves witch can affect accuracy. Non of these cons kill the arm but make it more hobby than production. Also the Bluetooth adapter plug is right in the way of a component of the arm when it operates so you may have to bend the pins a bit to make it clear properly.

Improvements:

– Controller, Software.

Final Thoughts:

Well this product has a pretty high price for what it is but there is no other company right now that offers the same setup so all the power to EVOL. When I got the arm I plugged it in and tested it and it seemed to work pretty good. The software is not the best and doesn’t allow you to setup any sort of pre planned positioning or run a routine. The controller has a great design but this newer version of the arm does not allow addition of sensors or outputs, the arms ability to redo a task over and over is there but with some error and jitter.

Design: 8/10

Function: 7.5/10

Looks: 9/10

Quality: 8/10

OVERALL 8/10

This Product is available here: http://store.evol.net/

uArm Plastic by EVOL

Test Conditions:

Machine: uArm Plastic

Mods:  NONE

Software: Stock EVOL Software

Pros: 

– Open Source, arduino controlled, easy to use

The plastic uArm is pretty cool, you can control it via pc or use the record function to show it what to do. It is rather easy to assemble and takes 2-3 hours from start to making it pick objects up. The vacuum system is a great feature but they also offer a gripper that has two tongs and can be built by parts supplied with the kit.

Cons:

– Accuracy, instructions, reliability

While the plastic uArm is great for hobby I can’t see it performing for small production setups, the accuracy is not the greatest at +/- 1-2 cm and that affects the reliability and repeatability of the arm… The arm also seems to have the jitters when making slow moves witch can affect accuracy. Non of these cons kill the arm but make it more hobby than production.

Improvements:

– Controller, Software.

Final Thoughts:

Well this product has a pretty high price for what it is but there is no other company right now that offers the same setup so all the power to EVOL. When I got the arm I assemble and tested it in a few hours and some frustrating moments. The software is not the best and doesn’t allow you to setup any sort of pre planned positioning or run a routine. The controller has a great design and allows you to modify it to add sensors or other outputs, the arms ability to redo a task over and over is there but with some error and jitter.

Design: 8/10

Function: 6/10

Looks: 8/10

Quality: 8/10

OVERALL 7/10

This Product seems to not be available on the website anymore please refer to my post on uArm Metal by EVOL

X-Carve by Inventables

Test Conditions:

Machine: X-Carve CNC Machine

Mods:  DeWalt 611 Spindle and Stiffening of X and Y Axis’s

Software: GRBL Firmware, Easel, HSM Express,  Inventor, Vectric

Pros:

-Assembly, Wiring, Troubleshooting, Replace Parts, Ease of use, Diversity, Mod-ability

I got a X-Carve 1000mm from Inventables and this machine is great! it has all the features you need to do custom carvings and even v carving, the accuracy of the unit is +/- 0.003″ so for the price point and being a DIY Build is pretty impressive. the assembly was pretty easy with some minor issues along the way, Replacing parts on this machine could not be easier all that is involved is usually a bolt or two, Also the X-Carve is PnP (Plug and Play) in my eyes once it is assembled. The Diversity of this machine is wonderful as you can put a spindle, drag knife, laser, pen, marker or any attachment you can dream up as this machine accepts almost any mod you can throw at it.

Cons:

-Strength, Interference, Square

The X-Carve does not have many cons but i had to think of a few. The strength of the X and Y rails could be better as you can flex the rails by hand hence why i added the supports i did including vertical plates for the Y Rails and a bar between both X Rails. I managed to have some Limit Switch interference when i started off due to the motor and limit wires running beside each other for long distances. The Final con of this machine is keeping the X Gantry square to the machine has to be achieved by pushing it all the way to the end of the rails then turning the machine on and homing.

Improvements:

-Strength of Rails (use bigger square rails), speedcontrol for routers (Like Super-PID)

Final Thoughts:

Overall i really like the X-Carve 1000mm and it seems to be the best unit you can find for the price on the current market. The support that Inventables offers for all of their products is amazing and you will usually hear back from them within 1-2 days max! They are also honest if they send you a broken or bent part and will replace it.

Design: 8/10

Function: 9/10

Looks: 10/10

Quality: 9/10

OVERALL: 9/10

This Product is Available here:

https://www.inventables.com/technologies/x-carve

3-Axis Nema 24 Kit by Omc-StepperOnline

Test Conditions:

Machine: NONE (Bench Test)

Mods: Run via Arduino not stock controller

Software: GRBL , Universal G-Code Sender.

Pros:

-PRICE!,  High Quality Motors, Dual Shaft, Great pairing with Driver, Ease of wiring

This kit is a great starter or upgrade to any cnc project that needs the 439 oz.in that these motors offer. the motors are NEMA 24 but will mount in NEMA 23 frames, they also come with a good length of wire on them that allows for easy wiring, the drivers are the next great feature to this kit as they have removable headers and easy to access switches for current setting and step setting. this driver will do Full Step right up to 1/256 step.

Cons:

-Control Board

Well the only con to this kit is the horrible mach3 compatible breakout board that uses parallel port to control the drivers, i tried for a while to get the board to work with windows 10 and could not succeed. this kit would benefit from a usb driver.

Improvements:

-Breakout Board

Final Thoughts:

Overall this kit is GREAT for anyone looking for cheap stepper power. The motors are great build quality with 8mm shafts that have a flat spot and dual shaft to add an encoder or drive other things. The M542T Drivers are incredible but lack a idle current mode so motor heating is going to happen if the motors don’t move a lot. the biggest down side to this kit and the part that drags the rating down is the Breakout Board… it is a parallel port mach3 compatible board that well is outdated in my mind. this kit is a powerhouse aside from the breakout board.

Design: 9/10

Function: 7/10

Looks: 10/10

Quality: 8/10

OVERALL: 8.5/10

This Product is Available here: http://www.omc-stepperonline.com/3-axis-31nm439-ozin-nema-24-stepper-motor-m542t-driverr-kit-for-cnc-router-p-305.html

X-Controller (Prototype) By Inventables

Test Conditions:

Machine: X-Carve 1000mm

Mods: Probe Plate, Stiffening, Start/Resume and Feed Hold Buttons, Dewalt 611 Spindle

Software: Easel, Vectric, UGS , Autodesk.

Pros:

-Neatness, Look, Ease of Wiring, Control of 120v Appliances

Overall this controller packs a lot under the cover. It has a built in E-Stop that absolutely kills power to the whole machine, it also has removable connectors for all your motors and logic control/limits, comes in an extruded aluminum case that has rubber feet on the bottom, the handy relay controlled receptacle add-on has indicator led’s and CH1/2 Is controlled by M7/M8 Respectively. When you take the unit apart you can see they made it easy to fix/upgrade.  With the Stepper driver and AtMega328P all on one board and the other electronics on the logic control board. A new feature that I really like and prevents motor heating and ambient noise is the driver board has a jumper to select reduced idle current so when you are not turning the motor it reduces current but still holds position. The labeling on everything seems to be great and is always a big help when you have to unplug something or add something in.

Cons:

-No Built in Start/Resume and Feed Hold Buttons,, E-Stop Quality, Internal Connectors.

Well there is always something wrong with every product. The X-Controller and receptacle add-on both have a few flaws. Firstly, they did not build in a Start/Resume and Feed Hold button that plays a major roll in manual tool changes and also if you wish to pause your cut briefly to check something or make sure that everything is going smoothly, also with the receptacle add-on when I plug my rather small vacuum into the plug and issue a M7 or M8 command it clicks then reboots the Arduino. Everything seems to be optically isolated but somehow interference is getting through. The e-stop on the main box is ok but feels cheap and takes some force to trigger and un trigger. Finally, when I first received this product I hooked it all up configured it and BAM the Z axis absolutely destroyed the limit switch and rendered it a pile of crushed plastic. After replacing the switch, I opened up the controller and noticed the i/o ribbon cable was only pushed down about half way.

Improvements:

-Start/Resume and Feed Hold Buttons on case (Easy fix)

-Fix issue with receptacle resetting whole system when something is plugged in (Maybe add a cap to 120v to soak up the spike)

-Some sort of wire strain relief (To take stress off of connectors)

Final Thoughts:

Carry It! With a few mods this controller could be amazing. I like it 1000X more than the old controller setup they have that leaves you with a cheap looking hunk of wires and electronics. I wish I could have kept this unit but at $329 USD I just can’t afford it. Inventables really likes their custom extrusions and all the power to them the product looks great. Also at time of review Grbl was on version 0.9j and the controller came with 1.0b witch seems to have some new features but with no documentation and only 1 week to review this product was hard to dig deep and use them.

Design: 8/10

Function:  8/10

Looks: 9/10

Quality: 8/10

OVERALL: 8.5/10

After talking with the CEO of Inventables they have made some changes to the unit and most of the cons in my review have no been addressed. This product and company are very well managed and the team at Inventables is always there to help.

This Product is Available here: https://www.inventables.com/technologies/x-controller

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