Found some time this weekend to start the actual build of the alarm clock. I started with the front panel and thought I'd collect some feedback on the progress so far. So be sure to let me know what you think in the comments!




To make the necessary cutouts for the clock display and button, I'm using my ShapeOko2 Desktop CNC machine. It uses a Dremel to mill and is controlled via an Arduino UNO with gShield used to control the stepper motors of the CNC.

On the software side I'm using Easel, Inventables' web-based all-in-one software application for CNC milling. It combines the CAD software to create the design, the CAM software to set the tool paths, and additional software to send the resulting G-Code to the Arduino.


FullSizeRender (2).jpgScreen Shot 2016-08-08 at 18.02.10.png


Since it was my first time milling a solid board like this one, I used conservative milling speeds and depths, to avoid breaking anything or having the stepping motors skip steps.


The settings used were:

  • feed rate: 750mm / min
  • plunge rate: 500mm / min
  • pass depth: 1.0mm


This means that in the horizontal plane (X & Y), the mill moves at 750mm / minute, in the vertical plane, 500mm / minute (Z). Every layer is milled 1mm deep, so for a board like this one which is 18mm thick, 18 passes are required.


The entire process took about 1h30min. Apart from the occasional vacuuming of the wood dust, not interference was required


Finally, if you have an Inventables account, you can access my file using the following link, allowing you to copy and modify my design to your needs: Easel - PiIoT Alarm Clock - Front




Here's a gallery of different steps in the milling and fitting process. I've added descriptions to every picture


{gallery} CNC


Solid Board: The starting piece, a solid board from the hardware store.


Passes: Unlike a 3D printer adding layers of material, the mill removes it, layer by layer.


Order: It is important to define the shapes to be milled in the correct order. The outside perimeter is done last to avoid the piece coming loose before milling other shapes.


Tabs: The piece remains attached to the board with easy to cut "tabs".


Sanding: With minimal sanding, the piece is cleaned up and ready for fitting.


Fitting: Fitting a push button, and attaching it with a nut. Enough space was foreseen for easy access.


Acrylic: A small acrylic plat is fitted, acting as a diffuser for the clock's display.


Display: The plate and display are held into place using a few drops of hot glue.


Result: The result from the front. What do you think?


With the front finished, I can now proceed with the rest of the enclosure.




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