Surfacing the spoil board

Yesterday I had a few hours to devote to my Mantis. The power supply, Ultimaker board with Arduino MEGA had to be attached to the back of the Mantis, the wire  mess needed to be taken care of and some other things needed to be dealt with before I got to the point where I could let my Mantis do some first serious milling. The closer I got to that point, the more I sensed some nervousness; after working on this machine for 5 evenings and an afternoon, would it really work???

The last issue I took care of was the spoil board. The one that was supplied wasn’t thick enough (caused by a design hickup), so the cutter couldn’t even reach the original spoil board at it’s lowest Z position. So I took a piece of 18 mm MDF plate and made my own. With the additional 6 mm in thickness, the cutter could now cut into the spoil board deep enough to perform the initial surfacing.

Now it was time to really start doing serious stuff instead of clicking the X, Y and Z buttons… so I mounted the spoil board, hooked up the Mantis to my laptop, started ReplicatorG, opened a G-Code file to surface the spoil board and clicked the build button.

YES, it works! OMG, this is beautiful! 🙂 Some issues though…

The cutter moved too fast. I could hear that the rotary tool didn’t like the speed with which it had to cut. I modified the G-Code and adjusted the feed rate (the F variable) to slow down the movement of the cutter, but that didn’t help; so after that I created my own G-Code with help of a facing tool and decreased the stepover percentage to 10%. That did the job; now the rotary tool no longer ‘complained’ and in 20-30 minutes the spoil board was done.

Another issue is the dust. Maybe the amount of dust that was produced is caused by the use of MDF as spoil board, but doing this in a room of 4 m x 6 m x 2.10 m with 4 PC’s nearby is not a wise thing to do I guess; when the slots for the floor heating were cut into our concrete floor earlier this year, 2 DVD players stopped working afterwards; I hope this won’t happen again!

Also, the connection between ReplicatorG and the Mantis isn’t 100% yet; whenever I use the Control Panel to manually control the Mantis and try to do a build after that, the Mantis doesn’t respond; only after disconnecting the USB connection and restarting ReplicatorG, a build will succeed.

Despite these issues I’m pleased with the results so far. I uploaded some images and below you can watch some video’s of the surfacing process.

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