VIDEO: First Look at the NOVA Voyager Drill Press

VIDEO: First Look at the NOVA Voyager Drill Press

What speed should you set your drill press for each bit? NOVA’s new variable-speed, computerized Voyager DVR Drill Press sets the speed for you. Chris Marshall demonstrates it’s three state-of-the art features. This drill press features no belts or pulleys – instead, it uses a DVR (Digital Variable Reluctance) motor.


Video Transcript:

Chris Marshall: What could a smart manufacturer do to make a drill press truly better? Well, the folks at NOVA Teknatool have found a lot of ways to break the mold in this new 18” Voyager Drill Press. It’s like no other drill press on the market!

In addition to a big cast-iron table and 6 inches of quill travel, this drill press is nothing like other woodworking drill presses I’ve used before, with features that we woodworkers will appreciate. In this short video, I’m going to introduce you to three of my favorites.

At the heart of Voyager, NOVA provides a DIGITAL VARIABLE RELUCTANCE motor. And if you’re familiar with NOVA wood lathes, this is same power system. It uses a programmable CPU to spin the motor’s stator and control it, in every regard — On/off, forward and reverse, drillings speeds and torque management. So, one big difference? There’s no pulley case here. That’s because this drill press has TRUE, electronic direct-drive variable speed.

What are the benefits? Well, no more belt changes to get your hands dirty or pinch your fingers. No more belts to tension or replace. And no more inefficient power transfer, because of those belts. With DVR technology, belt-and-pulley systems like this are obsolete.

To set the speed you want, just turn on the machine and dial it up. You can set the 5/8” chuck from a knuckle-dragging 50 rpm all the way up to 5,500 rpm, or just a out anywhere in between. And all without belts or pulleys!

Under power, the 1-3/4hp DVR motor is incredibly quiet and smooth-running. And even better, the computer is continuously monitoring the motor’s speed. When you put the motor under load, the computer will compensate by increasing the motor’s torque to maintain the same rpm. You won’t stall this machine.

Direct-drive variable speed is the first great feature. Here’s the second: This drill press knows the bits we use, the material we drill into, and the optimal speed to spin those bits.

Say you want to drill a hole into this piece of poplar with a 2-in. Forstner bit like this. What’s the right drilling speed? The best we can do on most drill presses is to look it up on a chart, which shows some general speed ranges. Then shuffle the belts on the pulleys and then hope that we’ve picked the best speed. But on Voyager, there’s no need to guess.

To set drilling speed, just select the Speed Chart icon on Voyager’s picture menu and choose one of 12 different bit options. There’s twist, brad point, bullet pilot point, Forstner bit, glass/tile bit, hole saw, spade bit, spade with with spurs, countersink, shearcut countersink, Powerbore and circle cutters.

We’ll choose “Forstner Bit,” and confirm it. Then, the CPU asks us what size bit we’re using [B-roll]. Since this bit is a 2” dia., we’ll select that diameter range and confirm it. Now it asks us what material we’re drilling into: hardwood or softwood. Poplar is a hardwood, so we’ll confirm that, too.

Now returning to the main CPU screen, Voyager has all the information saved. If we hit “On”, we’ll be drilling at the optimal speed for this bit and material type. It’s simple, and you’ll never have to guess.

Here’s the third cool feature: Voyager has electronic depth stop. We all drill stopped-depth holes — for situations like mortises, cup hinges or counterbores for carriage bolts. To set drilling depth, we adjust these stop nuts up or down on this threaded rod to stop the quill travel at some point. But it’s kind of a hassle to use, and these stop nuts actually can shift on the rod and change the setting unless they’re fully tightened against one another.

NOVA’s Voyager comes with one of these threaded stop setups, if you’d prefer to set up depth stops in the usual way. But it really isn’t even necessary, because the computer can let you set drilling depth instead. Here’s how.

Just toggle over to the USER SET DEPTH icon on screen, select it, then tell the computer how deep of a hole you want to drill. I’m going to set my hole for ¾”, and you can change depth setting in .05” increments. But since my Forstner bit has saw teeth on it, I’m going to set my depth at .90” instead to account for those and confirm it. Now to go back to our Forstner bit example again, Voyager is ready to drill a hole .90” deep with a 2” Forstner bit into hardwood at 250 rpm.

But there’s one last setting you can tell the computer. It knows how deep to drill the hole, but where is the hole going to start. That’s easy to set, too. Just lower the bit until it touches the wood, and zero it out on the home screen. Now the electronic depth stop is ready to go.

Now, we’re ready to drill that hole. And even this is foolproof. Because once you start to approach the hole depth, the CPU starts beeping at you to let you know you’re getting close. Hear it? The closer I get to my hole depth, the faster it beeps. And once we hit final depth, the machine stops. This way, you can’t over-drill or under-drill. The hole depth will always be accurate.

True direct-drive variable speed, built-in speed settings and computer controlled depth stops are just three of the cool features offered on this Voyager Drill Press. And there are many more features than this! It’s truly a woodworking drill press for the 21st Century, and a BIG step forward among all other woodworking drill press competition.

NOVA tells us that Voyager will be available in Fall 2016 with a street price of $1499.99 You can learn more about this machine’s smart motor technology by visiting Thanks for watching.

Posted in: