Brand new and an idiot, alot of questions, wanting some advice

Okay, i apologise in advance :grin:
New to the cnc game, well, been watching videos and contemplating it for about a year, bought a Fox Alien Matsuter Pro about 3 months ago, been messing with it, learning the different softwares, bits, feeds, speeds, basic design, etc. I believe ive gotten to the point of understanding that i could ask questions that arent going to get me flamed. forum guys are real prickly and aggresive in my experiance. (I got alot of hobbies, restore old bmws, build tune engines, some gumsmithing, quads, three wheelers, motorcycles, electric bikes… you get the idea, im a tinkerer, must…modify…everything.) Anyway, stumbled across a thread from here about the matuster pro, saw the MPCNC and mistakenly thought this was a board {or at least a catagory) dedicated to that machine and the community was so helpful, great replies so i signed up and here i am, ha, not what i thought it was but i recognise that you guys are the true gangsters of cnc routing so i am gonna ask a few things…

  1. I dont want to waste youre time so if you know of a better place for this, point me in the right direction, picking a forum cold can be tricky.
  2. I assume lots of you started where i am, what are the pros and cons of upgarding The control box/firmware?
  3. What are the best beginer upgrades for a machine like mine? (Just ordered the makita router and some descent bits) Hit the point where im gonna try to make things i intend to keep/gift/sell
    4)When i bought this, i figued this was a good learning machine but good enough to actually make descent stuff and if im into it, ill build a bigger, better one when the skills are there. How much does it cost, a range is fine, to build a descent sized, say like 4-5 ft X 4-5 ft from the ground up? Im a descent carpenter, can solder to a degree, good but not great computer skills, pretty good, mechanic, have ALL the tools. Nothing crazy, just descent with a med skill level requirement. I dont know what i dont know so i hope that is the right info for some helpful feed back.
  4. I have aspire pro, i like it but understand like 10% of its functions. Had fusion 360 out of the gate and that was beyond my comprehension, havent looked at in awhile. Have inkscape, zbrush, easel, candle, and ugcs. I use aspire and ugcs 90% of the time, occasionally import files to inkscape but its mostly beyond me at this point. So the question, is there some usefull/noob accesible software out there i should take a look at?
    Sorry for the long and rambling post, but any info is appreciated.
    Thanks and have a good day gentlemen. And ladies too i should say.
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Sorry, should have specified, doing woodworking only right now, with an eye towards some aluminun later, but wood, just wood.

This size would mean you want to go with a LowRider. I think you could make one for somewhere between $800 to $900. Do you do 3D printing?

For the CAD (drawing) part, whatever you are comfortable with, either a 3D modeling program you like, or a 2D vector illustration program.

For the CAM (manufacturing, i.e. outputting the GCode files for cutting), a lot of us use ESTLcam. It’s affordable, has a free trial, and is a one-time payment as opposed to a subscription. I like that last part. Really don’t like the subscription approach.

Wow, i was imagining several thousand at a minimum. How is it so cheap? What does lowrider mean exactly? No, no 3d printing, probably some day soon, but im cutting my teeth with routing. And thank you.

I have aspire, which seems to do it all, but i dont have enough experience to know whether there are programs that do aspects easier and or better. Do you have a 3d modeling prgram you like? and thank you.

It’s one of two DIY “mostly printed CNC” machines designed by the man who owns this site, and he makes the plans available for free.

The smaller original one is simply known as “MPCNC” (mostly printed CNC). The size limit on it is something like 2’ x2’ or so. For larger than that, the big brother, the LowRider, rides on a table, and works (cuts) best (most rigid) when low against the table.

This is a LowRider:

How so cheap? Those bars on the X gantry are EMT from a home improvement store. The black strut plates on the gantry are cut (bootstrap style) from 1/8" hardboard from a home improvement store. Or perhaps from whatever else you want to use, MDF, plywood, aluminum, as long as not too thick (max is about 1/4").

The side assemblies can be made from a mix of either MDF and 3D printed plates, or MDF and aluminum plates. There are 4 small linear guide rails (and slide bearing trucks), but those are affordable. Some NEMA 17 stepper motors, wires, some end stop switches, and a wonderfully affordable control board. It’s an amazing machine.

Check out my videos and those of others in this community. Here’s my channel:

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You can order the 3D printed parts from Ryan ( @vicious1 ), the genius who designed it. His store also sells full hardware kits for making the LowRider (and other machines). Check out the store here:

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Cool fact: Kobalt worked behind the scenes with Ryan to come up with a trim router made to suit our hobby CNC maker community, and it’s a great product, that features a LowRider pictured on the box (without giving the name).

Sadly, it seems the first batch did not sell well enough to get picked up as a permanent part of the Kobalt lineup, and some Lowes stores are now clearing out the remaining stock at discount prices.

For the details on that interesting story, check out this article:

and for details on getting the discounted clearance sales for the remaining stock, check out this video by my friend and fellow maker, Aza:

and check out the more recent posts in this thread:


Thank you so much Doug, will be checking out your channel, great information!

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LOL, since i have your attention, any tricks to keep the bits from chewing up the bristels on the dust shoe?

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For 3D modeling, years ago I cut my teeth on SketchUp, and still love it. Lately (last couple of years or so) I finally started learning how to use Autodesk Fusion 360. There are pros and cons to both. I still use both. I decide on a case by case basis which one to use for a given project.

Fusion 360 was like alien tech to me, and i have pretty solid co,puter skills, aspire is much more managable.

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I will definately check out sketchup

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Well, since our community here builds DIY CNC machines, and we mod them as we wish, we have a lot of control over the details. The simplest way to make sure the bristles cannot be chewed up by the bit, is to make the dust shoe closer to the material, and the bristles shorter — too short to ever touch the bit. That’s how my recent dust shoe mod for the LowRider is designed. Watch these videos in my series on it for more!

LowRider’s have done great cutting wood, acrylic, HDPE, aluminum, and even steel!

One, well, maybe one last thing for now. My rig has belts for the X Y and a screw drive for see. Cant find a b bit of info from fox alien about maintence or lubrication? What should i be doing besides vacuuming the crap out/off it?

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Lithium grease works well on lead screws.


Already got something else…whats the cost on an entry level printer that would print the parts need to build that sucker?

And again, thank you so much.

It was to me too, at first. In the normal workflow in F360, many three dimensional things are made by extruding a face of a 2D sketch made first, or by extruding a face of an existing 3D body or surface already made, which usually leads back to a sketch. I just learned that in certain ways, 3D wire frame content can be added to sketches, but they are mostly always 2D sketches. It took me a while to get used to how F360 approaches things, but I’ve finally gotten to where I can create what I want, such as this thing I designed for fun, just as a learning exercise: