You guys may remember the Ghost Gunner, the open-source CNC mill that we ordered a couple of months ago. According to the makers, the initial units should be shipping RSN1. Cody Wilson hasn’t been on the blog since November, but we didn’t share that update with you guys yet.
The first news is that the machine itself has been tweaked since it was announced.
Improvements in our Mark III design:
* Single piece powder coated 1018 steel exoskeleton to improve rigidity per unit weight
*Reinforced A36 steel end plates to further improve rigidity
*A new open source GrBLDC brushless motor controller shield for Arduino.
*Oversized 125W NEMA 23 BLDC motor, electronically throttled to 72W.
*Spindle incorporation of industry standard ER11 collet system, supporting tools up to 5/16”
Those are all good improvements, although the steel exoskeleton looks like a manufacturing twofer that saves weight and reduces cost, with no net change to rigidity over the original design. Hey, if it can make the specs he claims, we’re all for it. But the ER11 collet is a big improvement over any proprietary system, as quality ER toolholders are readily available.
The ER system was developed by the Swiss company Fritz Weber Maschinenbau AG (now Rego-Fix) in 1972 and has become a standard. It allows a range of tools to be held in a single holder, which is nice; there are several ER sizes (larger number is larger) and ER11 handles a tool shank to 1/4″ / 6.5mm or so (Wilson says 5/16″). For a ½” shank, you’d need ER-20s. It is not a quick change tool holder, but the holders can be changed in the collet fairly quickly. This thread on Practical Machinist has some details (they’ve had some good luck with import tool holders, and discuss how to check them for run-out).
Back to GhostGunner, here’s what’s up:
For the rest of November we are setting up our work shifts and finishing our packaging. We begin assembly the first week of December and are still on pace for our Holiday fulfillment. Not too shabby, eh?
As for new orders, we’re thinking we will open them again in January. But you can always reserve a spot for the next round of machines on our waitlist.
This has been really fun. Ghost Gunner is still an open source project, and we will be releasing the designs and software as soon as possible. Stay tuned, ghost gunners.
via Ghost Gunner.
We’re a little concerned that we haven’t been contacted, because their lame order page ate the Address 1 line for Hog Manor (& Rong Brothers Aeroplane Works), and replaced it with the digit “4”, and we’ve been unable to reach anybody to make a correction. A bit discouraging, but it’ll work out.
They had no problem charging our credit card the same day, that’s for damn sure. Since it’s Wilson, we’re just glad we didn’t have to pay him in Bitcoin.
Still and all, we are in (IIRC) the third hundred or so — the $1299 batch.
What excites us about Ghost Gunner is not routing out AR lowers, the one canned application that comes with it, but the potential of using it to automate other small manufacturing gigs. We’re already thinking about setups for engraving and for modifying an A2 forging receiver to A1 profile. We’re going to need Wilson to fulfill his promises of open-source file formats, etc. A .dd format is a useless thing if it’s not documented and there’s no software that writes it. We’d feel a little more comfortable if the machine would take GCode.
But then again, it seems to be all open-source built, Arduino, GRBL, etc., so it probably can.
It may wind up being an expensive toy that gets used as a sweater rack, like a fat guy’s treadmill (wait… we just described our exercise room right now. And us). It wouldn’t be the first.
If there are developments from GhostGunner, they’ll probably be tweeted by the Defense Distributed or Cody Wilson accounts:
The FOSSCAD channel is unrelated, but also worth watching. Apparently the real goings-on go in in IRC, and only announcements pass in Twitter.
1. RSN – Silicon Valley/Startup Culture acronym for “Real Soon Now.” Sometimes serious, sometimes ironic. Here, we’re not sure. They seemed to be on track in November, so we think maybe serious.