This guide explains how to set up and start using the Bantam Tools Explorer CNC Machine. The process is simple: Unpack, insert the collet, install the Bantam Tools Milling Machine Software, and machine your first project.
In this guide we'll go over:
- How to unbox and set up your Bantam Tools Explorer CNC Machine
- What accessories come with the machine
- Installing your 1/4" ER-11 collet
- How to install the Bantam Tools Software
- The steps you'll need to take to start machining
- Getting started project
Before You Start
Bantam Tools Explorer CNC Machine is about 45 lbs. We designed the Explorer to be light enough to move on your own using the built-in handles. We would still recommend having a friend help with unboxing and lifting if you have any concerns about the weight.
Step 1: Unbox your Explorer CNC Milling Machine.
Cut and discard the straps.
Open the Explorer CNC Milling Machine box from the top. Remove the Accessory Kit and set aside. Remove the machine by grabbing the two cardboard hand-holds and pulling up while securing the outer box. It might help to have someone lend a hand for this step.
Place the machine on a sturdy work table that is suitable for operating your machine.
Carefully remove the cardboard and foam protection from the sides of the machine.
Open the front door of the machine so that you can work on removing the securing rubber bands and foam from the spindle carriage. Remove the front rubber band first.
Remove the second rubber band by pushing down with your fingers to release the bottom of the band from the acrylic part securing it to the t-slot bed.
Once the rubber band is removed, remove the clear acrylic holding parts from the t-slot bed. You can now remove the foam that secured the spindle carriage during shipping from between the spindle bottom and t-slot bed.
The inside of the machine should resemble the below photo now, with the L-shaped alignment bracket and toe clamps securing the stock material that was sent with your machine.
Open the accessory box that you removed from the box initially and unpack its contents. You should have the following items:
- Get Started Card with a scannable QR code.
- ¼” flat end mill
- ¼” probe
- Collet wrench set
- 4mm allen key
- Replacement belts
- USB cord
- Power cord
Remove the collet and the two wrenches from the Accessory Kit.
Note: The 1/4” probing pin that comes with your Desktop CNC Milling Machine is not shown in the picture above.
You may also notice a few residual chips in your machine. Don't worry, these chips are a good thing. They're a testament to the rigorous quality control testing we ran your Explorer CNC Milling Machine through before shipping it! If there are any chips on your T-slot bed, be sure to vacuum them out before you start machining.
Step 2: Install the collet.
Remove the collet nut from the bottom of the spindle shaft by using the smaller wrench on the flat part of the spindle shaft to secure it in place while loosening the nut with the larger wrench.
Insert the collet into the collet nut. It might wiggle a little, but putting it on the tool holder will pop it into place. You might also notice the inside of the collet has an offset. This is part of the collet’s design.
image above is the the Desktop Mill, but the process is the same ;)
With the collet in place, thread the collet nut back onto the tool holder by hand. Tighten by two or three turns, holding the tool holder in place with the small wrench if necessary.
Note: Do not fully tighten the nut without a tool inserted.
Step 3: Connect to power.
Connect the power supply to the power jack on the back of the Explorer CNC Milling Machine with the built-in cable. Next, connect the power cable to the power supply and plug it into a grounded electrical outlet. Then plug in the USB cable to the USB jack on the back of the milling machine and connect the other end to your computer.
For International Users
You will need to supply your own power cable. If you would like recommendations, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Step 4: Install the Bantam Tools Explorer Milling Machine Software.
To operate the Bantam Tools Explorer CNC Milling Machine, you’ll need to install the latest version of the Bantam Tools Software on your computer. The Bantam Tools software is available for Windows 8.1 and above, MacOS 10.13.6 and newer. Download it here and install the program according to your operating system’s instructions.
Note: For more details about navigating the latest version of the Bantam Tools software, see our Software Overview support guide.
With the front door closed, turn on the CNC machine by twisting the Emergency Stop button on the front of the machine clockwise and pushing the power button on the back of the machine. The interior lights will turn on and the CNC machine will beep.
Note: If the firmware on your Explorer CNC Milling Machine needs to be updated, the Bantam Tools software will automatically guide you through the process.
When prompted, click Start Homing to calibrate your machine. If you’re starting your CNC machine for the first time, the Locate T-Slot Bed dialog box in our software will automatically pop up and provide prompts to help the machine locate the bed correctly.
Before you install your tool, you may want to change your units. You can switch between metric and imperial units in the Bantam Tools software. To change your units, go to the Settings tab and select which units you'd like to display.
Next, you'll need to insert the end mill of your choice. Follow our Installing & Locating a Tool support guide for a full tutorial.
Alright! Now it's time to set up your job!
Before You Start Milling
If you’ve used a CNC machine before, feel free to skip to the next section. Whenever you use the milling machine, you need a design file, milling material, and a milling tool.
Design file: The milling machine needs to know what to mill. Once you’ve created a design, import it into our software to scale and orient it the way you want. Our software supports G-code, SVG (.svg), and .nc files.
The Bantam Tools Explorer Milling Machine Software supports the following popular design formats:
- G-code (.gcode)
- Another extension for G-code files (.tap)
- Mastercam numerical control file (.nc)
- SVG file (.svg)
- EAGLE file (.brd)
- Gerber top layer (GTL) printed circuit board (PCB) file (.gtl)
- Gerber printed circuit boards (PCB) file (.gbr)
- Default format for exporting from EAGLE; contains top, pads, and vias layers (.cmp)
- Bantam Tools project file (.btm)
If you’re just getting started, head over to our Getting Started Projects.
Milling material: The milling machine cuts most anything softer than steel. The object you're milling is called the material, stock, or workpiece, aka “the thing you’re cutting.” For more information on materials supported by the milling machine, read our Materials guides. If you need help selecting material, refer to our Materials Overview Guide.
Before you start cutting, you’ll need to fixture your material to the T-slot bed. The L-bracket comes pre-installed and toe clamps to hold your material to the T-slot bed. To learn more about fixturing techniques check out our Fixturing support guide.
Milling tool: We’ve included a Helical 1/4” flat end mill to get you started, but you can use any cutting tools with a 1/4” shank diameter. You can also use 1/8" tools, but you will need to install an ER-11 1/8" collet. Remember, the smaller the tool, the more fragile it will be, and the slower you’ll need to cut. Larger tools are great for roughing passes and clearing out lots of material, while smaller tools are better for detail work and finishing passes.
Once you’ve imported and set up your design file, loaded a tool, and fixtured your material, you’re ready to mill!
Safety & Maintanence
Even if you have used a CNC machine before, we'd highly recommend reading through our Safety Overview and Cleaning & Maintanence guides before you start machining. These guides are specific to the Bantam Tools Explorer CNC Milling Machine and will help you machine safely and ensure the machine continues to perform optimally.
Getting Started Projects
Each of our Getting Started Projects has been designed to help you get more comfortable with our Bantam Tools Explorer CNC Milling Machine, show you how to set up your job in the Bantam Tools software for the first time, and build your machinist skill set.
This Aluminum Tool Holder project walks you through the basic workflow of machining an aluminum part on your new desktop CNC machine and gives you a place to store your collet wrenches, end mills, and other go-to tools. The block of aluminum stock that comes fixtured to your T-slot bed is what you'll use to machine this project!
In this project, we dive into 2.5D machining with the Explorer CNC Milling Machine. We'll show you how to machine a pocket-sized machinist rule using both the basic and advanced SVG workflows in the Bantam Tools Explorer Milling Machine Software. This is a great project for those still getting comfortable with Fusion 360.
In this high-level project, we’ll show you how to machine a rope knotting tool. You can use this everyday carry object as a tie-down or for other rope handling tasks. This project involves a multi-operation setup, multiple tool changes, and intermediate fixturing techniques.
If you have questions or need help, please don’t hesitate to contact us at email@example.com. We'd love to hear from you. Mill on!