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Thread: CNC router table, what next?

  1. #1
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    Default CNC router table, what next?

    Four years have gone by but I am getting ever closer to when I can try out my router table. X and Y are about 2000x900mm and the Z travel is about 150mm.

    Nothing fancy, just skate board bearings for all 'sliding' surfaces and threaded rods (aka 'allthread') to move things. Two rods to move the long (X?) axis tied together with roller chain to resist wracking of the gantry. Ancient steppers of unknown specifications for Y and Z while the X axis drive is a F&P washer motor.

    I have EMC2 software installed on a PC (Linux) but the question is what to do next?

    I perhaps rashly imagined that there would be freeware data files available online but looking for them makes my old brain hurt as there seems to be a unlimited variety of gcode formats and file types.

    Any suggestions please? (Apart from the obvious ones about how my design is no good and everything has been a poor choice from the get go.)

  2. #2
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    The CAM program needs to know what post processor you're using. In your case it will be an EMC2 or LinuxCNC processor. You also need to configure LinuxCNC to work with your hardware. Stepconfig is the simplest way to start configuring LinuxCNC.

    As far as a gcode file goes, what is it you want to make?

    I don't know of any gcode programs online that would make what you want to make (See previous sentence)...

  3. #3
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    Thanks elf.

    I have been through Stepconfig some time ago when I tested that the motors and controllers are compatible etc.

    I think a simple enough project for an XY router table would be to make a few routed signs and I expected to be able to find software that would enable me to do stuff like that. Also I expected to find a few files that would cut/draw test patterns to prove my project.

    Maybe I just need to keep looking...
    Last edited by The Artful Bodger; 09-11-2017 at 02:21 AM.

  4. #4
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    It doesn't work that way. Gcode contains feeds, speeds, toolbit ID (which you need to provide in the LinuxCNC tool file), etc. Feeds, speeds, and toolbits are highly dependent on the individual machine, especially built in home shop varieties.

    Here's a video I made to show how hard it is to make a simple plaque in Fusion 360

    Here's a link to the file. Feel free to download it and modify anyway you like.

    Note: I renamed the EMC2 post processor to LinuxCNC a long time ago, so look for EMC2 in your post processor list.

    p.s. It's also a good idea to learn gcode so you can debug problems. It's a very simple language and online documentation is quite good.
    Last edited by elf; 09-11-2017 at 03:39 AM.

  5. #5
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    I'd also be looking for a conversational mode interface. A great deal of what you may do (as a hobbyist) on a router table are "one off" and moderately simple. I never go though the cad/gcode cycle on my BP for 99% of what I do - direct assisted entry onto the screen. It asks about tools, origins etc, and then the rest is just line, arcs, circles, pockets, frames, drill, etc.. all just template driven. Geometry solutions are also solved. Error checked also. And no just for"simple". Some of my entries are 100's of lines long - I shudder to image what that would be in G-code. imagine For "signs" my interface also has lettering on line, arcs etc.. I use it for engraving. You never want to directly enter lettering in g-code.

    Now... if you want to carve an entire P51 from hardwood, that another issue entirely!

    IMO.. Gcode is like programming in assembler (then) verses Java etc (now). I was damn good at in my my day, but I'd never go back. I can muddle through gcode today, but there is little point (most of the time). I have about 20 summers left on this planet - do I really want to devote one to becoming a g-code master? lol. On the other hand, I might spent one learning Fusion (or other) to generate the code, but for now I don't need to.
    Last edited by lakeside53; 09-11-2017 at 11:03 AM.

  6. #6
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    Look at nativecam in linuxcnc

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjO...hTmiUBQ/videos

    https://forum.linuxcnc.org/40-subrou...atures-renamed

    looks pretty cool - I have only lightly played around with it. It is cool that it used the preview in linuxcnc to show the stock also.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by lakeside53 View Post
    I'd also be looking for a conversational mode interface. A great deal of what you may do (as a hobbyist) on a router table are "one off" and moderately simple. I never go though the cad/gcode cycle on my BP for 99% of what I do - direct assisted entry onto the screen. It asks about tools, origins etc, and then the rest is just line, arcs, circles, pockets, frames, drill, etc.. all just template driven. Geometry solutions are also solved. Error checked also. And no just for"simple". Some of my entries are 100's of lines long - I shudder to image what that would be in G-code. imagine For "signs" my interface also has lettering on line, arcs etc.. I use it for engraving. You never want to directly enter lettering in g-code.

    Now... if you want to carve an entire P51 from hardwood, that another issue entirely!

    IMO.. Gcode is like programming in assembler (then) verses Java etc (now). I was damn good at in my my day, but I'd never go back. I can muddle through gcode today, but there is little point (most of the time). I have about 20 summers left on this planet - do I really want to devote one to becoming a g-code master? lol. On the other hand, I might spent one learning Fusion (or other) to generate the code, but for now I don't need to.
    Thanks for the comments. That conversational mode of operation is pretty much what I have in mind and I certainly do not anticipate weeks of designing then months of widget production, more like 'one offs' to see just what I can do.

    I dont expect to be carving out any P51 s but I do hope I can manage a few ribs for glider wings etc.
    John

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    Quote Originally Posted by skunkworks View Post
    Look at nativecam in linuxcnc

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjO...hTmiUBQ/videos

    https://forum.linuxcnc.org/40-subrou...atures-renamed

    looks pretty cool - I have only lightly played around with it. It is cool that it used the preview in linuxcnc to show the stock also.
    Thanks, those are two interesting links which I will study.

    John

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Artful Bodger View Post
    Thanks elf.

    I have been through Stepconfig some time ago when I tested that the motors and controllers are compatible etc.

    I think a simple enough project for an XY router table would be to make a few routed signs and I expected to be able to find software that would enable me to do stuff like that. Also I expected to find a few files that would cut/draw test patterns to prove my project.

    Maybe I just need to keep looking...
    There's always Vectric software. Vcarve and Vcarve Pro, $350 and $700.

    Vcarve is supplied with a number of the commercially available small hobby routers similar in size and capability to yours. It's about as simple as you can get in integrated design and programming software. I think they also supply monthly projects to licensed owners of their software.

    I see these type routers in the woodworking stores, they usually demo them making signs. But.....how many signs or "carved" wall hangings made of wood does a person really need in their lifetime?

    Same issue goes for desktop lasers like the Glowforge that exceeded all previous crowd funding. Thousands of people rushing to get in on the deal because of the slick advertising. I'd like to have one myself and probably will look for one on Craigslist when the reality sets in......how many people actually will find uses for their prepaid laser?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by DR View Post
    There's always Vectric software. Vcarve and Vcarve Pro, $350 and $700.

    Vcarve is supplied with a number of the commercially available small hobby routers similar in size and capability to yours. It's about as simple as you can get in integrated design and programming software. I think they also supply monthly projects to licensed owners of their software.
    I own the pro version of that software. It came with a machine. I find it buggy, and they tend to ignore bug reports. You need to keep paying for new versions to get fixes. Worse, they seem to hold back obvious and basic features (and bug fixes) that should be present, to encourage upgrades.

    Worse, when I politely reported a toolpath bug on their forum, with attachments as examples (path data, etc), they banned me and removed the post.

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