■ FIGURE 3. The 56 pound shipping
box from PROBOTIX.
hobbyist CNC router. A bit of
investigation showed PROBOTIX
offered the FireBall V90 CNC router
for $599 plus another $309 for an
entry-level motor kit that included
the stepper motors, the power
supply, and the motor controllers.
Add in shipping, and you can have a
complete CNC router kit on your
doorstep for less than a kilo-buck! All
you have to provide is the home
computer (with a parallel port) to
run the software and a Dremel®
moto-tool to use for cutting.
I sent an initial inquiry to John
Hansford over at FireBall CNC to get
some information on the availability
of the product and to see if they
would be interested in having their
CNC router covered in Nuts & Volts.
John seemed excited about the
prospect and put me in touch with
Len Shelton over at PROBOTIX.
Before I knew it, Len had my order
finalized and just a few days later
I had one big (heavy) box on my
doorstep. Looks like it was time for
me to dip a toe into the waters
of CNC fabrication, but first I had
■ FIGURE 5. Painted support tubes
containing Acme lead screws (with
brass couplers) and threaded tension
to build the machine itself.
Amazingly, I received the Fireball
CNC in a single box (Figure 3). It
weighed in at 56 pounds and was
extremely well packed (seemed like
the person who did the packing must
be pretty good at Tetris!). Overall, the
box measured 27” by 16. 5” by 8. 5”
leaving me wondering how they
could fit everything in there. I
checked the packing list/invoice and
it appeared that everything was on
Inside I found two smaller boxes
and lots of things wrapped up in
brown paper (Figure 4). It still didn’t
look like there were enough pieces
to build a machine but, by the time I
finished unwrapping everything, the
parts were all accounted for. When I
said everything was well packed, I
I found that the large side tubes
contained the smaller side tubes
which contained the lead screws and
motor couplers and the threaded
frame tension rods (Figure 5). Not
only was this a nice use of space, but
it was also a very effective way to
■ FIGURE 4. Nested packages inside
the shipping box.
protect the delicate parts while
After carefully emptying the
large box and laying out all the
components on the kitchen table, I
went to both the Fireball CNC and
PROBOTIX websites to look for
instructions or pictures to help me
with the assembly. I identified all of
the major parts and located a couple
of tools to help in the process. The
primary tools were a 7/16 inch nut
driver, a Phillips screwdriver, and a
set of Allen wrenches (hex keys).
After identifying the major parts,
I cleaned the protective wax from
the precision ground and hardened
Thomson shaft with some acetone. I
then installed the smallest set of rods
transverse to the Z axis. I installed the
Z axis and rods between the gantry
uprights and added the gantry back
and base. Next, I added the X drive
nut to the bottom of the gantry base.
This was starting to look like a CNC
machine already (Figure 6).
The next step requires a couple
of magazines to hold the frame end
plate off the work surface (Figure 7).
The frame is assembled vertically to
■ FIGURE 6. Gantry with X
axis travelling nut attached.