Timelapse CNC Movie

This is a timelapse movie of a CNC machine in action. The part being machined is an engine mount for a model steam engine I am building. Because this machine has no coolant capability the feedrates are slow, so the part took about 90 minutes to cut. I wanted to record the process, so I made a timelapse movie. My camera has an intervalometer built in to the firmware, but if yours doesn’t you can use LadyAda’s great tutorial to build one of your own.

Here are a few tips about shooting timelapse sequences:

  • Most cameras display a photo on the LCD right after you take it — turn this off — it’s just going to drain your battery.
  • If you’re shooting something that moves, make sure you have enough depth of field to keep moving things in focus.
  • Prefocus the camera and then turn autofocus off.
  • Set your interval appropriately — a good rule of thumb is “total number of seconds” / 1000. So, if your total duration is 60 minutes, a good starting interval would be 4 (rounded up from 3.6) seconds.
  • Use virtualdub to sequence the images into a movie and then convert to a video file — it’s simple and it’s free.
  • Timelapse is a neat artform with lots of room to play — have fun!

Here’s the g-code for the CNC so you can play along at home.

Make a robot friend with Adafruit’s CRICKIT – A Creative Robotics & Interactive Construction Kit. It’s an add-on to our popular Circuit Playground Express, FEATHER and other platforms to make and program robots with CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. Start controlling motors, servos, solenoids. You also get signal pins, capacitive touch sensors, a NeoPixel driver and amplified speaker output. It complements & extends your boards so you can still use all the goodies on the microcontroller, now you have a robotics playground as well.

Join 7,500+ makers on Adafruit’s Discord channels and be part of the community! http://adafru.it/discord

CircuitPython in 2018 – Python on Microcontrollers is here!

Have an amazing project to share? Join the SHOW-AND-TELL every Wednesday night at 7:30pm ET on Google+ Hangouts.

Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!

Follow Adafruit on Instagram for top secret new products, behinds the scenes and more https://www.instagram.com/adafruit/

Maker Business — Despite multiple bankruptcies, RadioShack continues to find ways to keep the lights on

Wearables — Molding with glue

Electronics — A few words on inductor resistance

Biohacking — Running Blades

Python for Microcontrollers — Help bring CircuitPython to other languages!

Get the only spam-free daily newsletter about wearables, running a "maker business", electronic tips and more! Subscribe at AdafruitDaily.com !


  1. Kinda lends a different feel to the video…

    Hmmm…. you should be able to run that part faster, though… how about a MQL setup for that machine?

  2. It’s not my machine, so I have no control over what capability it has or doesn’t have. That said, I know they are planning on adding some lubrication & chip removal equipment in the near future.

  3. Looks like a Tormach… Even without coolant, you can run ‘er pretty fast in 6061. Try 5,000 RPM @ 22 IPM with a 1/4″ 2 flute end mill…

  4. Two suggestions for speed:
    1) Add something like G00 Z.1 (or even G1 Z.1 F50 if you are feeling cautious) as the second line in each pass. I usually position tools .03 to .05 away from a part before feeding in.

    2) You should be able to use a G0 move at the end of each pass without any problems. Where possible I use a G1 with about 10x the previous feed rate to move .005 away from a part and then rapid out. On your machine with 90ipm rapids it won’t save a ton of time but the larger concern is the tool rubbing and causing tool wear/poor surface finish/key holing. The first two not so much in aluminum but I have had issues with key holing.

  5. Yeah – I remember hearing about some dry-machining testing that Boeing was doing a while back… IIRC, they had to stop ramping up the feedrate when the machine started spraying molten aluminum from the end mill (the carbide cutter was just fine… and so was the machine – and they had only used something like 50% of the machine’s HP capacity…) Kinda extreme to be sure, but I’m sure ya’all get the point… 🙂

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.