Author Topic: Something for CNC Owners  (Read 1930 times)

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Offline Peter Parfitt

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Something for CNC Owners
« on: December 04, 2017, 07:30 AM »
Hi Everyone

I have been playing with the new X-Carve CNC. It is a machine designed for a school or small workshop and would also suit the DIY/Hobbyist. I know that some small workshops have them for the odd bit of CNC work but they are far removed from the class of a large professional machine.

I use VCarve Pro from Vectric and find it quite easy to use. To get my jobs cut I use UGCS to take the G Code from VCarve Pro and feed the data to the machine.

I just wondered if there are many FOGgers with CNC machines, what software is favoured and what advice might be available for an absolute novice.

Peter

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Offline CNC Paul

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Re: Something for CNC Owners
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2017, 02:53 PM »
Hi Peter,

I have been using CNC router for 20 years, using many brands of software, I have used Vectric software since the day they started, I found it was the easiest software by far, I now use Vectric Aspire as I do a lot of 3D machining. All CNC software has a learning curve, Vectric excels at support and their very helpful training videos and gadgets.

What is UGCS ?  I have never used an intermediary to take my machine code to the router

Paul
http://www.fretworks.co.uk/

2D & 3D CNC Machining.  Laser cutting & engraving.

Offline Peter Parfitt

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Re: Something for CNC Owners
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2017, 04:11 PM »
Hi Paul,

In order for the X-Carve to do its thing it needs to be fed G Code. VCarve Pro can produce toolpaths as G Code but it cannot directly control the X-Carve nor send toolpaths to it.

So, one produces the toolpath in G Code within VCarve Pro and then use a piece of freeware, Universal G Code Sender (UGCS), to send the G Code instructions from the PC to the X-Carve at a rate dictated by the X-Carve. So the firmware in the X-Carve does a bit of hand shaking with UGCS so that the G Code is not sent too fast.

UGCS also provides a method of directly controlling the X-Carve if you need to manually move the gantry (X,Y or Z). You can also set the home position for the job in this way and manually issue a G Code command stating that the machine is in the home position.

In your case does your CNC have the ability to receive a complete file, perhaps in another format, and then execute the file once you press a button?

Peter

Offline Oldwood

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Re: Something for CNC Owners
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2017, 05:20 PM »
Hi Peter,

I run V carve and Aspire. Great software from a very good company.

I think V carve should have a Post Processor for X carve. If you open V Carve and go to file then open application folder then PostP at the bottom of the list I have X Carve inch and millimeter.

Once you have set your tool-paths you choose the save dialogue and choose your PostP in the drop down list. This should produce G code your machine will run.




 
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Offline Timtool

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Re: Something for CNC Owners
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2017, 05:29 PM »
I'm using the X-carve as my first ever CNC for a couple years now, nearly exclusively by drawing in sketchup or simply using the existing sketchup models I make of each project any way, then export as an .SVG into Easel and cut. Since I'm super efficient in sketchup it just goes faster that way and I can make virtually any 2d cuts I desire.

I could be ready for something larger and more solid, but I'm not thrilled to give up the X-carve Easel interface, it's just so simple to use. I'd be afraid that anything else will be much more difficult to operate, especially when you only use it sporadically.
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Offline Papalima

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Re: Something for CNC Owners
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2017, 08:18 PM »
I started out with an X-carve and Easel.  I didn't like having the laptop in the shop so I got a Raspberry Pi and went through a few different programs.  I ended up going with CNC.js which let me send gcode from my laptop over wifi, monitor the cnc via the camera, and watch its progress through the web page.  The developer was very responsive to issues and requests and it worked out really well.

I REALLY appreciated the X-carve forms and the community which is outstanding.

We did a lot of great projects on the Xcarve and learned a LOT!  Fantastic machine for what it is and especially what it costs.

We outgrew the X-carve, looked around, and as usual ended up going over the top a bit.  I got a new CNC Router Parts PRO 4824 with their electronics kit and spindle.  http://www.cncrouterparts.com/ I can't say enough about the folks there and their support. 
It came with Mach3 and while I fought to not have a windows box I have to say I have really appreciated moving to Mach3.  I've gotten the 2010 screenset to handle making tool changes easier and more exact but haven't finalized it yet.

I also got VCarve Pro and have enjoyed that.  I'm still working on learning Fusion but it has a learning curve.  I've used Sketchup a good amount but haven't gotten an easy way to go from the free version to VCarve or gcode yet.

If you do much in Sketchup or Fusion I highly recommend getting a 3D Connexion 3D mouse/Space Navigator.  Unfortunately the folks at Vetric don't see the wisdom and have refused to make or support a driver for it.

Offline James Biddle

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Re: Something for CNC Owners
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2017, 09:41 PM »
VcarvePro and Mozaik user here.

Offline Peter Parfitt

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Re: Something for CNC Owners
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2017, 01:22 AM »
Hi Peter,

I run V carve and Aspire. Great software from a very good company.

I think V carve should have a Post Processor for X carve. If you open V Carve and go to file then open application folder then PostP at the bottom of the list I have X Carve inch and millimeter.

Once you have set your tool-paths you choose the save dialogue and choose your PostP in the drop down list. This should produce G code your machine will run.

Yes, I have VCarve Pro setup with the X-Carve post processor (mm for me) and that creates ".gcode" files.

V9 of VCarve Pro has the X-Carve post processors ready installed. When I have previous versions you had to download a pp from the Inventables web site.

Peter

Offline neilc

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Re: Something for CNC Owners
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2017, 07:55 AM »
I use Fusion360 from Autodesk.  Full 3D including design, render, CAM and more.  They offer a maker license for free, which is renewed on an annual basis.  Great online community as well and a ton of videos on YouTube.

Offline Peter Parfitt

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Re: Something for CNC Owners
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2017, 10:19 AM »
I use Fusion360 from Autodesk.  Full 3D including design, render, CAM and more.  They offer a maker license for free, which is renewed on an annual basis.  Great online community as well and a ton of videos on YouTube.

Does the maker license require one central (paid for) copy of Fusion which others share or is the complete package free? Are there any limitations?

Peter

Online live4ever

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Re: Something for CNC Owners
« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2017, 10:38 AM »
I use Fusion360 from Autodesk.  Full 3D including design, render, CAM and more.  They offer a maker license for free, which is renewed on an annual basis.  Great online community as well and a ton of videos on YouTube.

Does the maker license require one central (paid for) copy of Fusion which others share or is the complete package free? Are there any limitations?

Peter

I've only dabbled with it so I'll defer to more-informed people, but my impression is that it's the complete package for free so long as you do not use it for any commercial endeavors.
"What you have to do tomorrow, do today.  What you have to do today, do now."  - a wise grandfather who was clearly talking about purchasing Festools

Offline Peter Parfitt

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Re: Something for CNC Owners
« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2017, 11:17 AM »
Vectric do a package that give free software to the users as long as the makerspace has a paid-for licence for the final production of toolpaths.

I used to use AutoCAD years ago but my ancient version will not run on Windows 10. I have changed to Draftsight from Dessault Systems. Their 2D package is free and is every bit as good as AutoCAD.

Another question to throw into the pot....

For any DIY or Hobbyists - what do you make with your CNC? Is it just the odd house sign, chopping board or guitar body or what?

Peter

Offline Richard/RMW

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Re: Something for CNC Owners
« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2017, 11:53 AM »
I use Fusion360 from Autodesk.  Full 3D including design, render, CAM and more.  They offer a maker license for free, which is renewed on an annual basis.  Great online community as well and a ton of videos on YouTube.

Does the maker license require one central (paid for) copy of Fusion which others share or is the complete package free? Are there any limitations?

Peter

I've only dabbled with it so I'll defer to more-informed people, but my impression is that it's the complete package for free so long as you do not use it for any commercial endeavors.

F360 is free to hobbyists and small businesses with <$100K in annual sales, no limits on it's use.

RMW
As of 10/17 I am out of the Dog business and pursuing other distractions. Thanks for a fun ride!

Online live4ever

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Re: Something for CNC Owners
« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2017, 11:55 AM »
I use Fusion360 from Autodesk.  Full 3D including design, render, CAM and more.  They offer a maker license for free, which is renewed on an annual basis.  Great online community as well and a ton of videos on YouTube.

Does the maker license require one central (paid for) copy of Fusion which others share or is the complete package free? Are there any limitations?

Peter

I've only dabbled with it so I'll defer to more-informed people, but my impression is that it's the complete package for free so long as you do not use it for any commercial endeavors.

F360 is free to hobbyists and small businesses with <$100K in annual sales, no limits on it's use.

RMW

Thanks Richard.  That's even more generous than I thought.
"What you have to do tomorrow, do today.  What you have to do today, do now."  - a wise grandfather who was clearly talking about purchasing Festools

Offline Peter Parfitt

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Re: Something for CNC Owners
« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2017, 01:54 PM »
I just went to the Fusion 360 web site and there is no mention of anything free other than the 30 day trial.

Peter

Offline Bob D.

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Re: Something for CNC Owners
« Reply #15 on: December 05, 2017, 02:02 PM »
I just went to the Fusion 360 web site and there is no mention of anything free other than the 30 day trial.

Peter

Look here under the Startup heading.

https://knowledge.autodesk.com/support/fusion-360/troubleshooting/caas/sfdcarticles/sfdcarticles/Autodesk-Fusion-360-Changes-to-Benefits-November-2016.html
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Offline TSO Products

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Re: Something for CNC Owners
« Reply #16 on: December 05, 2017, 03:24 PM »
anyone inclined to use SolidWorks CAD software in a "Maker" non-commercial manner can obtain a SolidWorks licensee at no additional charge when belonging to EAA, the Experimental Aircraft Association in the US for USD 40.00/yr

https://www.eaa.org/en/eaa/eaa-membership/eaa-member-benefits/solidworks-resource-center

I know thousands have taken advantage of it - "the price is right" [smile]
Hans
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Offline HMR

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Re: Something for CNC Owners
« Reply #17 on: December 05, 2017, 04:32 PM »
I’m a happy VCarve user.  I bought a CNC for my shop a couple years ago and now use it on nearly every project.  It’s definitely the tool that generates the most income for my shop.

Offline Peter Parfitt

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Re: Something for CNC Owners
« Reply #18 on: December 05, 2017, 04:42 PM »
I’m a happy VCarve user.  I bought a CNC for my shop a couple years ago and now use it on nearly every project.  It’s definitely the tool that generates the most income for my shop.

That's good to hear. What sort of things do you make? I am not looking for any commercial ideas but am trying to find out what sort of work or DIY projects can justify getting a CNC in a small professional shop or DIY workshop.

Peter

Offline HMR

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Re: Something for CNC Owners
« Reply #19 on: December 05, 2017, 11:12 PM »
That's good to hear. What sort of things do you make? I am not looking for any commercial ideas but am trying to find out what sort of work or DIY projects can justify getting a CNC in a small professional shop or DIY workshop.

Peter
I make custom furniture.  The CNC allows me to personalize (and charge a premium) for a customer’s piece in a way I wouldn’t be able to do otherwise (inlays, logos, etc).

Offline Peter Parfitt

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Re: Something for CNC Owners
« Reply #20 on: December 06, 2017, 03:12 AM »
Hi @HMR

After making the various videos (I think about 19 in all) of the original X-Carve a couple of years ago I then found it to be hardly used. I made a few signs, a couple of tool prototypes and that was about it. The problem that I had was that the original machine was not rigid enough to be accurate from one job to the next.

The new machine is a great improvement and so I am determined to try and integrate it into my woodworking. I think my first use will be to make some small (ish) stopped dados that are fiddly on the router table.

Peter

Offline CNC Paul

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Re: Something for CNC Owners
« Reply #21 on: December 06, 2017, 06:31 AM »
Hi Paul,

In order for the X-Carve to do its thing it needs to be fed G Code. VCarve Pro can produce toolpaths as G Code but it cannot directly control the X-Carve nor send toolpaths to it.

In your case does your CNC have the ability to receive a complete file, perhaps in another format, and then execute the file once you press a button?


I send the complete file to my CNC and then run, some 3D files run for 8 hours

http://www.fretworks.co.uk/

2D & 3D CNC Machining.  Laser cutting & engraving.

Offline Peter Parfitt

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Re: Something for CNC Owners
« Reply #22 on: December 06, 2017, 08:57 AM »
I assume then that your CNC has a computer unit with a fair amount of memory or else the ability to be past a file before being told to execute it. Again, I assume, that it is a professional machine.

Can it do automatic tool changes and if so how many tools can you have on the carousel/magazine?

Peter

Offline CNC Paul

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Re: Something for CNC Owners
« Reply #23 on: December 06, 2017, 11:28 AM »
Hi Peter,
It runs from a laptop, you can run the file from the laptop or a memory stick plugged into the laptop, it automatically feeds the code to the machine.

My machine has two 4hp HF spindles and drill head, I can also mount a tangential knife cutter and a rotary 4th axis.

When I purchased my machine a tool changer was not available, I could add one now for £15,000, my setup covers most of my need.

Paul
http://www.fretworks.co.uk/

2D & 3D CNC Machining.  Laser cutting & engraving.

Offline Peter Parfitt

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Re: Something for CNC Owners
« Reply #24 on: December 06, 2017, 12:03 PM »
Hi Paul

Gosh, that must be a very impressive setup.

Many thanks.

Peter

Offline fshanno

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Re: Something for CNC Owners
« Reply #25 on: December 08, 2017, 03:13 AM »
Looks like a fun machine to learn on.  I've been looking for a used x-carve and there are some out there but they are far away and they go fast and people don't want to ship.  I should just buy one and be done with it.

Have you heard of the Maslow?  It's a 4x8 CNC router that costs about $500 brand new.  It's impossible to describe it other than to say it looks a little like a panel saw and uses two bricks.  It looks like a legitimate on site CNC.  And it's very very slow.

Lots of very cool stuff out there. 

The one thing we learn from history is that we never learn from history.

Offline Peter Parfitt

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Re: Something for CNC Owners
« Reply #26 on: December 08, 2017, 03:31 AM »
Looks like a fun machine to learn on.  I've been looking for a used x-carve and there are some out there but they are far away and they go fast and people don't want to ship.  I should just buy one and be done with it.

Have you heard of the Maslow?  It's a 4x8 CNC router that costs about $500 brand new.  It's impossible to describe it other than to say it looks a little like a panel saw and uses two bricks.  It looks like a legitimate on site CNC.  And it's very very slow.

Lots of very cool stuff out there.

I had heard of the Maslow and looked at that link and was reminded of it. I do not think that the engineering of it could ever provide the user with anything like the same capability as the X-Carve. I demonstrated my machine to some friends a couple of days ago and they were all professional woodworkers and were impressed - I accept that they might have just been being polite but I think not.

Peter

Offline fshanno

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Re: Something for CNC Owners
« Reply #27 on: December 08, 2017, 09:19 AM »

I had heard of the Maslow and looked at that link and was reminded of it. I do not think that the engineering of it could ever provide the user with anything like the same capability as the X-Carve. I demonstrated my machine to some friends a couple of days ago and they were all professional woodworkers and were impressed - I accept that they might have just been being polite but I think not.

Peter

Right, no carving just cutout.  I haven't even seen anything like shelf pin holes.  But it looks promising.  And there is a growing user community.  If fact there is a waiting list.  Just costs a dollar to get on the list.  The community is pushing.  For instance they want a way to shut off the router when the panel is complete.  The inventor is hesitant because he worries about liability.  But the community keeps pushing and it looks like there will be a solution soon.

Apparently everything is open source.  The bill of material and the code.  You can build it yourself from scratch.


The one thing we learn from history is that we never learn from history.