Looking at the Jianken Chinese 2.5KW ATC spindle

( This questions pertain to an Elite Foreman ( on order like the rest of the world) )

It appears this spindle is pretty popular, but I have some questions:

  1. I assume getting the 2.5 Kw is preferred because it has 4 bearings not 3

  2. How much air does the spindle require? CFM & pressure

  3. Did you have to wire your own cables or can you buy them? Seems the drive just has tab connectors.

  4. Recommendations on a VFD (with the correct settings)

  5. If you are using a drag chain… how wide is it.

  6. Where do I start on ATC installs.

  7. Gotchas I have not thought of.


I’ve been thinking about moving to an ATC on my x50 Journeyman, I converted over to a Masso (non touch) controller about 8 months ago. I keep get stuck on a way to have the tool rack where it does not impede on the cutting area of the machine or interfere with tiling as I often use the entire workspace. This leads to a movable rack or loader arrangement combined with a way to remove the dust boot and makes my head start to hurt. It would be a really beneficial upgrade but I just can’t invest the amount of time in R&D right now to do it.

Which model are you considering?
I have installed one and am happy with it thus far - if you search for “Masso G3 ATC build update…” in the forum you can see my progress.
A quick shot at your questions, and a ‘preface’:
It is an expensive option to add, time consuming, and will require you to accept that you will need to research all aspects of the build fully - for me it was and remains fully worth it.

  1. I am sure the extra bearing helps, but the 2.2Kw model I got (*search forum on why this rating is actually an overstatement) was more to match it with the rigidity of the CNC (and price).
  2. Mine uses an air seal which requires it to be on constantly. My CNC is in the basement, so I purchased a small quiet compressor, that just manages to keep up - air seal, tool changes, air blast, mister, etc… It is a King 10ga 4.4CFM@90PSI. I also have a small California Air Tools as a standby, but have not needed it yet.
  3. My spindle cable was a short small bundle of 4 wires - rather poor in my mind. I didn’t mind as I had a different plan for connecting it via a high quality Lapp cable to the VFD. Besides the Jianken spindle cable (flying leads), I tried to follow best wiring/electrical practices throughout - costly but worth it for my own peace of mind.
  4. I invested in a Hitachi WJ200 series VFD sized appropriately for my spindle.
  5. I invested in an Igus energy chain - it is substantial at 20mmx100mm - and is just big enough. As an example, it currently holds one large VFD cable, one large bundled data cable for the spindle, two water hoses, five spindle air hoses, and additional hoses/cables for stepper motors, MQL system hoses, manual oiler lines, sensors,…
  6. See note above re forum posts. There are others here that have similar set-ups that may also respond with additional information. Once you have thoroughly researched the topic you may have more specific questions.
  7. No way to know how much time you have already invested so … cost, time to research, acquire new knowledge and skills, as well as to build, patience,…

Thanks Tom, you are obviously the point man in this area. I have read your post multiple times … I am a slow learner, chuckle.

Right now I am trying not to be stupid. I am a Mech E. and my wife is the Elec E. … So she is somewhat used to working with VFDs, and maybe able to hook me up with a panel shop (builds machine control panels…they may do the wiring too.)

Frankly if PwnCnc did this I would consider them first… but their response was a quick “nope we don’t do that”

With regards to the 2.5 Kw, I think that is the one Piotr was using. I kinda like the idea of 4 bearings considering I might try to tackle some metal. Though I admit a Foreman even with the stiffy may not be rigid enough.

Your comment about the air seal is an area where I don’t find much info. I will need to check my compressor to see it ratings. But that likely means an air dryer and running shop air. Quick look on amazon say $200-$250

With all the pennies flow out here … I might just get the spindle and a tool setter (guessing $100-$200, ) and wait to do the ATC. I would prefer to cry once, but I may need a bigger box of tissues.

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Piotr was my initial introduction to Jianken - I have enjoyed watching his work over the years.
it sounds like as a couple you would have no trouble with the work involved. I started knowing absolutely nothing, except the will to succeed and learn new things - part of my retirement goal :smiley:

The costs to me were known, and as this is my only hobby, and one that I am expecting to keep my mind and hands nimble for (hopefully) many years, I was more than happy to make the investment.

As I mentioned earlier, I tried to use best practices throughout my build, which certainly made it more expensive than could be done using alternative materials and systems. As a rough estimate in Canadian dollars (rounding to nearest $500CA) the ATC related portion might be broken down as follows (the general categories given include many components, which is why the figures might seem high):

ATC Spindle and VFD - $3.5K
Tooling - 1K
Electronics - 1K (Masso G3 adds another 1K - purchased for, among other things, the ATC logic/functionality)
Pneumatics - 1K
Hardware/motion - $500

I have the Woodworker, and am currently experimenting with its ability to mill aluminum. From what I have learned through research and hands on experimentation is that this type of CNC router lacks the needed mass and rigidity to effectively and efficiently mill aluminum. I am confident I will overcome these limitations over time by learning the best CAM strategies, toolpaths, and tools to use - I am already seeing satisfying results (for my non-production hobby needs and projects). Whenever I have a setback, I remind myself that I have the benefit of a ‘combination mill’, in that I can easily switch to wood and plastics, on top of the ability to cut non-ferrous metals like aluminum.

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When costs and development add up like this, I always ask myself, am I in the hobby of building the devices or am I in the hobby of using the devices to build other things?

Seems simple enough, but that binary question is really going to affect what comes out the other end.

This is where I’d really start to evaluate turn-key solutions.

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Tom thanks for the “accounting” … seeing this big picture should make folks aware of what the are biting off. Believe me I thought long and hard about the “value” of this project, especially along the lines of Espressomatic’s comments.

I upgraded to the Elite Foreman from a Journeyman. It was a hard choice again, to Esspressomatic’s point the Foreman wont really make anything the Journeyman could not make. But as my skills grew things like :

  • tool changes
  • screaming routers
  • tiling / running multiple parts at a time

become more of an annoyance …

I think I will end up with a sibling to Tom’s machine over time, and will always wonder if I would have been better off with a Shop Sabre or Avid… but as they say in life, enjoy the journey.

Now how to insure my table top is flat for the Foreman.

Thanks for the good conversation

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I understand the comments and underlying advice, I have read and received similar in the past, and although the question you presented is binary, for me the answer to both is … yes.

I took on the project to learn, and although I am no expert by any stretch, I am now confident in my knowledge, abilities, and skills in many new areas. I understand enough about the electronics, pneumatics, kinetics, etc… of this type of CNC to trouble-shoot issues that arise, as well as to build a better one in the future should that remain a goal. For me these were a planned goal of going this route.

It also fit my needs for flexibility, and cost, as I have no shop or garage, and need something that can/could be dis/reassembled (and fit through a door and down stairs :smiley:) if need be - so no turn-key solutions I looked at that I liked would work. I also at this point do not envision my use case ever needing the power, mass, or rigidity that comes with the more capable production machines.


I gave the cost estimates partly because others have asked about ATC options, and I thought it might provide some insights into what it ‘could’ cost. Keep in mind I purchased the best quality I could afford (well… except for the spindle :smile:, which was all I could afford).

I think as well that Espressomatic’s points should be considered, especially if someone has not done the research ahead of time, or does not know what their goals are.

When I had looked at Shop Sabre and Avid they appeared to be nice machines, but both very different, and both perhaps for users with somewhat different needs. Being Canadian, machines like those are not the best value given exchange rates and freight, import fees, etc…, even if they suited my needs :grinning:.

I think in the end, you and I, and Espressomatic, will be pleased with what we are able to produce with our machines, even if we do it in different ways, and got to that point through different means.

I think you will very much enjoy the functionality of the Elite series. Also, if you ever decide to add ATC capabilities in the future, for whatever reason, I think you will find it fairly easy to accomplish.

I would also add into the equation the amount of time used/saved with an ATC vs manual tool changes (I don’t really run the CNC fully unattended). For me most of my operations run one of 3 bits with each toolpath taking 30-60 minutes so manual tool changes aren’t so much of an issue… after I added in the tool setter, that was a huge time savings on tool changes. Before that having to manually move to a point, probe Z again wasted 3x the amount of time it took to change the tool - maybe that is a starting point to better automating the process on the journey to a ATC.

There are some profile bits I use that do not work well with the tool setter, I could see the ATC being very valuable in having a known offset that is repeatable every time.