Tools – Handheld CNC?


Ok so while I’ve slowed down (again) on progress of my pinball machine, I’ve gotten interested in a new startup pre-order tool.    Me and pre-orders have been extremely lucky.. I am currently one of ~50 people with a Big Lebowski pinball machine right now due to a pre-order (people 51-300 are still waiting due to contract manufacturing disputes).   I also have a 3D printer that was on clearance after a failed kick starter for $350 (was $1000).  So, I’ve been very successful, but also some near misses.

Yet, I go back into the frey once again.   This time, the Shaper Origin.. handheld CNC.   It’s a handheld router with computer vision and augmented reality thrown in to give you a CNC like experience where you and your person is the XYZ robot that moves the head around.  To do this, you do have to cover the workpiece with proprietary tape so it can triangulate it’s position.

Website:  https://shapertools.com/

Here’s their promo video

Now, the very first question that came to mind after watching some of the initial videos was your hand motion is going to make this whole thing imprecise.  However, there are actually tiny servos that move the spindle +/- 1/4″ or so on your behalf to keep the lines straight and on the tool path.  Highlighted here:

Here’s some other videos:

  1. The most recent video , a Q&A with the CEO.  This answered a couple questions for me like Z travel height.

2. This is in response to a Q&A (original Q&A here: http://www.core77.com/posts/55712/How-Practical-is-the-Shaper-Origin-Self-Correcting-Router


Appealing to me is that i was otherwise looking at several hobbyist home CNC machines.. they are also priced around $1800 (Xcarve and Shapeoko) but are limited in size, 1m^2 or so.. so less than 4 feet.  Plus, storing a 4’x4′ dedicated cnc router takes a lot of space in garage.  I still have access to the makerplace giant one for more serious work.

And, also, if you order one for some reason, they are doing a promotion right now where they give people that have preordered a link that gives other people $100 off (this effectively is Free Shipping), but it also gives the provider of the link an additional $100 off per unit.  A pyramid scheme of discounts 😉   But, since I just pulled the trigger, here’s mine:





MakerPlace San Diego

Always looking for an excuse to learn new tools and processes, I joined Maker Place San Diego this past week.  Classes signed up for so far:

  • Vector 2D class – Many of the CNC type machines work with vector graphics (SVGs, etc).  I’ve been learning Inkshape at home.  So far, I don’t see the need to buy Corel Draw or Illustrator but we will see.
  • VCarve – this is the CAM software for the CNC Router at MakerPlace.  This takes your SVG and makes G-Code (this is a popular command language that just about all X/Y/Z robot gantry type things use in the wild).  My 3D printer uses this as well.
  • CNC Router – Operation of that particular piece of equipment / Safety checkout.  CNC routers are very handy for the many holes that go into a playfield between inserts (the lenses), brakets above and below, mechanisms, ball guides, lights, etc.. an empty playfield looks like swiss cheese
  • Plasma CNC – same thing as above, but metal.   I don’t know how useful this is going to be, but they had an opening so I snuck into the class.  Certainly is cool

    I am realizing though with my preliminary activities, I probably should suck it up and take the basic woodworking class.  I haven’t used a band saw since middle school, and that was a long..so long ago.