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Thread: Getting my feet wet (CNC wise)

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    El Dorado Hills, CA
    Posts
    721

    Default Getting my feet wet (CNC wise)

    Another recent posting by Jackery about his Stepperhead finally pushed me over the edge into the world of CNC (my compliments to Alan on his incredible machine I might add). So I ordered up a couple of CNC books that were recommended on a past thread to get some foundational knowledge. They have yet to arrive.

    I do have a well equipped manual shop with good fundamental knowledge in the use of same, as well as good electronic skills and test equipment, computer skills, including Basic/Fortran programming ability and a late model laptop to dedicate to any CNC project. Unfortunately, I do not have ANY knowledge of CNC software.

    I thought it might be a good beginners project to couple my 8" rotary turntable and/or my semi-universal dividing head to a stepper and control it with my laptop. I realize there is a dedicated controller available (Division Master) with a CNC interface, or a dedicated programmable controller, something like a STAMP, but I was wondering if there is a basic CNC control program that could be used in lieu (4th axis?) and at the same time teach me CNC program use? Maybe something I can continue to use as I move up to a homemade CNC machine?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Nottingham, England
    Posts
    15,086

    Default

    Yes you could use Mach 3.

    http://www.machsupport.com/

    It's a free download with a license cost of $179 if I remember.
    The demo version works fine but is limited to 500 lines of code before it stops which should be fine to run a rotab and get your feet wet.

    Shout up if you get stuck.
    .

    Sir John , Earl of Bligeport & Sudspumpwater. MBE [ Motor Bike Engineer ] Nottingham England.




  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
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    El Dorado Hills, CA
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    Default

    Thanks for the response, John! I've seen that mentioned often.

    I'll give that a try.......

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    1,653

    Default

    There is also a freebe at cncsimulator.com
    Max.

  5. #5

    Default CNC Software

    As the guys above suggest, Mach3 is a good place to start. Very versatile program.
    You are also going to need a program to convert drawings to GCode. Give CamBam a try. The program will fully function for 40 runs before you have to buy it.
    George
    My Web Site
    www.mrrace.com
    Builder & Test Pilot N73EX

  6. #6

    Default

    mach3 is easy to use , laptops will not run stuff well (from the lil i know) you may look for a new old computer

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    6

    Default

    I use LinuxCNC formerly known as EMC2 and am very happy with it. It is free and is downloaded with the Ubuntu Linux 10.4 OS and LinuxCNC pre-installed. You can even run it from a CD for testing purposes but you can't save any configuration that way.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    El Dorado Hills, CA
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    Default

    Thanks for all the input (and yes, I did find out a laptop is not ideal for the purpose). I obtained a copy of Mach3 and went through most of the basic intro videos; a lot to digest in a short period of time.

    It would seem to me that in order to drive a rotary table the easiest way would be to scale the representative axis such that the DRO "distance" displayed will be 360.000 units (in either .in or cm) when the rotary table has made one full revolution. Specific partial rotation increments (as in gear tooth cutting) can either be accomplished by stepped G code line execution or manual axis value inputs. Does this seem reasonable or am I missing something? Please be patient, I'm floundering here, this is all new..........

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Nottingham, England
    Posts
    15,086

    Default

    Fred,
    Read this recent post, explains all.

    http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net/showthread.php?t=53976
    .

    Sir John , Earl of Bligeport & Sudspumpwater. MBE [ Motor Bike Engineer ] Nottingham England.




  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Beaverton, OR
    Posts
    6,961

    Default

    Ditch the laptop. Just use an old PC.

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