After some spelunking on the forums I was set on getting a DRO, but my puny toy budged wouldn't bear anything more than a Shumatech DIY DRO kit with a set chinese calipers. These kits are great value for the money, and with their new DRO-550 design running OpenDRO software they are simply a "cant's meow", but at that time Shumatech didn't have any in stock. Luckily one of the GrizHFmill goup members pointed me to Grizzly T23012 12" Digital Scale with Remote Readout scales. These work the same way as digital calipers, but have a remote display with a magnetic base (and are much easier to mount). Without a DRO box I ended up with a passable solution for a bit over $110 and that would be the end of it, but... Last month I started making a power feed for the mill and an idea crossed my mind: “why don't I make me a DRO/controller that can control my power feed...”. Basically I'm talking about a DRO with an integrated stepper motor drivers that can move the table to a set position etc, or in other words, have a rudimentary DIY CNC. At this point I don't have a definitive set of features, but as a minimum I'd like to have:
- three axis position display (duh)
- standard DRO functions, such as hole circle, center of the hole etc.
- ability to enter a set of coordinates and a way to go to one coordinate at a time or run continuously ability to enter tool offsets/heights, feeds etc.
Optionally, I'd also like to have:
- a rudimentary G-code interpreter
- some way to upload the G-code into the controller (via serial port, LAN or SD card)
- a way to record macros, i.e. “repeat what I just did”
- spindle speed controller and an output for a fourth axis (rotary table)
I imagine as I start working on the actual implementation things will change, but this is a good starting point.