CNC Routers for FRC Robotics


I would also check local suppliers if they exist in your area. Many large tooling manufacturers make single flute endmills. I saw there’s at least one Onsrud distributor in Israel.


Alibaba vendors can custom-make aluminum cutting endmills for you if you ask, with reasonably good quality. However, a proper Amana/Onsrud bit is a lot less stress.
You can get a 6090 with ballscrews and linear guides (The K6090T comes to mind) for $2300 before shipping and import duties, so I wouldn’t expect a 1212 to cost much more than $3000 from China if you shop around. Import fees and stuff will likely bring it up to $4000-5000 before it’s in your shop, however. Any machine with ballscrews and linear guides and a reasonable amount of mass can easily charge through aluminum. For reference, I’ve run 4mm endmills from China through aluminum on 115’s 1212 at 42 IPM with a 0.07" DOC in a full slot at 18k rpm. I would go deeper, but I had trouble clearing chips because they haven’t bought a mist cooling system yet. They regularly run 1/4" Onsrud endmills at 30ipm or more in a full slot, 1/4" DOC.


OMIO X8 is capable of cutting aluminum. But just dont get the -EPL orange box. get the -USB that allows you to hook up your own PC and run Mach3. The EPL box uses a cheap “all-in-one” converter and GUI, you can google DDCS CNC. its horrible, has a bunch of glitches and you need to customize and really pare down the g code (its just not compatible with a simple FANUC post processor), the GUI is limiting, and only displays code live 1 line at a time with no way of editing for troubleshooting without taking the usb dongle out and going back to your pc/laptop.

the bed is lacking in strength, its not flat by a considerable amount. the spindle is great tho. the gantry is decently stiff and looks a lot tougher than the shapeoko.

i totally admit being wrong about not getting the 4th axis. in the end it could have been useful light weighting some cylinder parts. but still likely to be a pain to setup and reduce production time.


The Robotics Engineering Center of Detroit (RECD) has submitted for a grant to buy the Shark HD4 with water cooled spindle from Rockler. Rockler has a local store (Novi, MI)

It’s a decent size 25 x 25, so it’s a place to start for the 11 teams in our center. it’s also water cooled.

I am very excited for this very timely thread, getting all of the speeds and bits to use. Thank you!


Agreed get the USB controller. Everything inside it is a standard interface that can be replaced with any number of COTS parts if necessary. It’s comparable in complexity to FRC speed controllers.


I’d avoid the Shark HD4. Just not a great machine for the price and fr worse than the OMIO in terms of quality. (leadscrews vs ballscrews and round rail vs linear guideway)


Yes, we are purchasing the USB controller version with separate PC. Part X8-2200L-USB for reference.

Any other comments on OMIO grounding or CAM software recommendations?


If it’s not too late, I’d cancel the order ASAP. They appear to be charging out the nose for a machine made out of plastic and aluminum. The bearing setup on the X-axis looks pretty weak as well, and the idea of “adjustable bearings” worries me. For $5000, I’d 100% shop around for a better deal.


4096 took the plunge and purchased what seems to be the goto FRC router, VeloxCNC 5050. It arrived at the end of week 2 and we started making parts in week 3; 4 weeks behind schedule. Having the tool in house allowed the team to quickly modify parts for weight reduction and throw together a climber in the week before champs. Due to budget concerns, we have the standard Porter cable router and we added a misting system purchased from Amazon. The Velox documentation is sparse to say the least.

We pretty much duplicated RoboChair /1678’s tubing jig setup, although we need to get another vise for the next season and redo our vise mounting.

Has anyone added a pneumatic / fluid valve that is driven from the control box (other than using the AC supply to the router itself)? I would contact Velox but I figured that ChiefDelphi will give me a faster response. This is high on the list for next season because we typically manually turn the fluid and air nozzle off during a tool change and have destroyed some parts when we forget to turn the air back on.

Also on the list before next season is an enclosure to keep the chips confined to the enclosure.

Bob Smith
Mentor 4096
2018 Central Illinois Regional Chairman’s Award


548 hasn’t, but you definitely could. The next pair of ports to the left of the “Router Relay” wires on the back of control box is an optoisolated output. So you can connect the plus side of the output (look at the Leadshine MX4660 manual, that is the board inside. This manual will also tell you which pin you will need to configure in Mach 3) to either 12 or 24V, then the minus side to the plus side of the solenoid, and the minus side of the solenoid to ground. You can also do low side switching if you want. It’s just a simple transistor. You can even use the 24v output already on the control box labeled “fan” if you have a 24V solenoid on hand and don’t want to get another power supply.


We specifically instructed Velox to include this when we purchased the machine so I am not sure if it is standard or custom. Looking back at our invoice it has a line item that says 'ADD IN ADDITIONAL OUTPUT FOR COLLANT OUTPUT FROM MACH 3 FOR COLD AIR GUN". We have a female AC plug coming out of the control box that we plugged a 12v ac adapter into. That was then plugged directly into a single solenoid valve. The shop air is plugged into the air inlet, one of the output ports is plugged (the default closed side) and the other runs to our fog buster and to the spindle. When we hit the coolant button in CAM or manually hit the coolant button in Mach3 it opens the single solenoid and starts the air flow.

I can take a picture of our setup when I stop by the shop later this week


That’s not standard. I think there is a second AC relay but it is not wired to anything normally. If you have an AC powered solenoid, you could do that, but then you would need to run multiple new cables with line voltage. The way I described above would work for a normal robot solenoid and without opening the control box.


Thanks for the responses. I will download the Leadshine manual and do some checking on the control box connectors.


Make sure to read that manual very carefully. It is rather poorly written and somewhat incorrect. The output should work for a solenoid, but it definitely cannot do step and direction for more axes like they say it can.


If you need help please let us know.

Here are some pictures I snapped of our setup. We have the AC-OUT on our control box that is plugged directly into a 12V power supply which hooks directly into the single solenoid that feeds the shop air to our machine. We do have an upgraded router spindle that uses a VFD so maybe this is where our setups differ. This allows us to press the coolant button in mach 3 which turns the fog buster on and off. You can see in the picture of the back of the control box we have a separate spindle fan and spindle output in addition to our AV output. I have also attached some photos of where we placed our reservoir. We placed it in that location to get it as close to the nozzle as we could. It is held on by an angle bracket at the bottom and some zip ties keeping it square. It was something we did quickly to get up and running and we haven’t gone back to make it more robust as we haven’t had any issues.

I wanted to share some pictures to show it is definitely possible







With more and more teams purchasing routers we want to share where/what we bought to get more out of our router.

We use the small vises that you have seen teams use and we found the cheapest place to get them to be shars tools. If you have these or purchase them, please take my advice and go purchase extra bolts. The design of how they clamp down eats into the shank of the bolt and eventually it will snap. It is a weird thread and size and had to be ordered as it wasnt available at home depot. Luckily we have mcmaster within driving distance so we were back up the next day. These vises are not great by any means, but they are small, easy to mount, low cost and not to heavy that your router extrusion top is going to bend.

From pictures I have seen most people are using a custom solution to put mount these to the aluminum extrusion table tops. We use a COTS solution from littlemachineshop and if you really wanted to you could machine your own using their design but we have had great success and no failures using this mounting method, see pictures below.

For our spindle we have the upgraded TEKNO spindle from Velox that has er25 collets. We wanted a solution that we could leave our standard cutting bits and have a repeatable z offset without losing too much z travel. We did not like Velox’s solution to quick change tooling and felt like we wasted money purchasing some of their quick change tooling in our initial purchase. Since then we have moved to the GenSwiss quick change ER collet adapters. These have been awesome and can be found at the link below. The only downside we have seen is the wall thicknesses on their nuts are very small so we snapped a couple nuts when tightening the collets (over tightening obviously since it failed). Unfortunately you have to find a local dealer to order but these were worth how much we paid for them and with an education discount from our distributor were about 60 bucks a piece. We ordered 10 so we could have multiple single flute bits, drill bits etc all set without having to change unless we were changing a bit due to wear or being broken.

For drill bits we use short length drill bits that we order from mcmaster. The shorter length allows us to have more z height for the machine which is at a premium when you start adding tube stock, parallel bars, and vises to your router table.

We use mist coolant and we purchased a fog buster system model 10100. This was an easy upgrade for us as you can see my earlier posts on this thread about how we integrated it into our router and mach 3.

I hope this helps teams looking to purchase a router. I have some pictures below of the setup for the vises. We chose to run ours in the direction parallel to the gantry as it is close to our operator station. We havent had to cut tubes longer than 4 feet yet. If we did we would reset our vises and offset to run perpendicular to the gantry so we could do longer tubes.




What does the inside of your control box look like? Ours has the MX4660 right against the back, with the connectors sticking out each hole individually, not a bunch of wires going through one of the holes.


In keeping with the useful additions to routers:

We started with a typical pancake compressor which couldn’t maintain airflow, then moved up to a larger one (can’t remember what size). We ended up getting one of these at 25% off and it is much quieter than any of the other compressors in the shop.
It also has the capacity to not run continually while the router is running.

This pendant is nice for manually jogging the router, starting stopping spindle, etc. It can also be used for manually making parts. It was easy to install and Mach 3 recognizes it with no problem.

This is what we are now using for cutting fluid.
Based on other team’s descriptions, a late summer project will be to experiment with the fluid to try to reduce the amount of fluid we are using and try to get more of a mist than a flood.

Another project will be to build a new stand for the router and build an enclosure similar to 971.


Question - I have seen a lot recommending the Velox line of CNC routers in this thread and elsewhere. Is it worth it to have a relatively cheap CNC (like a 6040 or an X-Carve) for just knocking out quick small parts while the other is in use?


We have an X-Carve (which is actually our only CNC) that is really fast at creating simple parts.
If you know you regularly have backlog of stuff needing to be CNCed and have the money for a second CNC, I recommend it.
If you are unsure of whether or not you will need it often, then wait a year and monitor how much backlog there is during build season and make the decision based on that.