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  1. #1
    We were gifted a cnc 3018 pro wood engraver brand new thru a grant as were afamily who shield due to various reason and several with health issue

    Im a 29 year old scottish lass who gonna plead help here desperate help going to pull my hair out kinda help

    Back story im autistic i love crafting its my happy place i have a cricut i could carve wood on that but i argue with vinyl wood wouldnt go to far without me wanting to through it out the window (issues mainly relate to the awful software that you cant yuse any other)

    So i have cnc 3018 pro i built it inwired it and were trying to get it to cut wood with just the blade part before we attempt to use the laser cutter (we being me and my technaphobe mother)

    Now control work it move up down left right forwarback fine.... till you go cut currently using candle but struggling abd have nonclue
    How do you find images to cut?
    How do you get images you have to cut?(some go to cut butcome upbwith an error some lift the blade up and start to cut but move further than the board then jam)
    Basically can someone treat me like a newbie which i am and tell me how the heck i do? Just in simple term would be great! this is just with the blade to start with because trying one before the other or is using the laser easier

    Thanks
    Zee
    The desperate lass in need of help

  2. #2
    Doddy's Avatar
    Lives in Preston, United Kingdom. Last Activity: 7 Hours Ago Has been a member for 8-9 years. Has a total post count of 1,359. Received thanks 187 times, giving thanks to others 66 times. Referred 1 members to the community.
    Zander,

    Part of the problem with forums, such as this, is trying to gauge the level of understanding, and equally challenging, adapting any reply to pragmatically match that level, so please excuse me in advance if any of the following comes across as patronising, etc, it's not intended, but I recognise that many of my replies on here have historically missed the mark by a long way. I'll also caution that we often run a mile from posts like this because they are rather non-specific and can become a huge bottomless pit of discussion that never really gets anywhere (and can cause more harm than good, for all involved). That said...

    Please understand that you're talking about a very specific class of device - a 3018 running (I'm presuming) a GRBL/Arduino control card - because you mention Candle. There are a number of user groups / facebook groups etc. that deal specifically with this class (or similar) devices. You might get more success finding focussed/relevant information from those groups. That's not to exclude you from here, far-from-it, but understand that for the main part people on here are dealing with different classes of machines - usually with rather different control systems that typically support different solutions, strategies, etc, than the consumer-level 3018 devices. There's a common theme, of course, our machines all try to do much the same (move in 2/3 dimensions and make big things into small things, usually resulting in a load of mess), and we suffer many of the same pains, so there's a common conceptual level of understanding, even if our machines are somewhat different. There have been a number of 3018/3020 owners join the forum in recent months (Corvid?) who hopefully may add to this reply with more relevant help. In the main, though, there's not a huge user-base here that are particularly familiar with 3018s, or Candle - and I'll include myself in that list - so our ability to help (and in my case, or hinder) may be limited.

    I'll also comment - you've introduced yourself very nicely here - but specific problems are usually best posted into the respective sub-forums. I do recognise that this opening gambit is largely a wildcard "tell me everything" sort of question - as we refine this into individual issues it's best to create separate threads to allow these to be individually put to bed. Common sense applies, of course.

    Right, that's a longer bunch of caveats than the usual reply... so onwards...

    What I can guess at, is a particular learning curve associated with what you understand as an image (your word) and what you're trying to get your device to engrave/cut. Referring to your list of questions...

    Now control work it move up/down/left/right/forward/back fine.... till you go cut currently using candle but struggling and have no clue
    Good - so each axis is working, at least at some level (X: left/right, Y: Forward/Back, Z: Up/Down). That helps. Also, under Candle you have a button to turn the spindle on/off, and some degree of speed control for the spindle - I guess that works?

    How do you find images to cut?
    Herein lies the crux of this. You need to understand that Candle (and your 3018) communicate using GRBL, which is (deep breath) "a low-cost implementation of a G-Code interpreter/motion control system."

    What that means is, in terms of images you need design software that can create "G-Code" for an image. Or that you need software to take images to convert to "G-Code". Or that you source images in "G-Code" format. You might gather, "G-Code" is the one common theme here.

    G-Code is, in itself, fairly straight forward, though a bit of a bugger to read. Essentially it describes a sequence of machine instructions along the lines of "Move to X/Y/Z". That covers a whole multitude of sins, including moving the tool to a safe height above the workpiece, moving to the start position of an image, moving the tool to a first-cut cutting height, then moving (engraving/cutting) to another position describing a single vector of the image, moving to the next position, and so on. I used the term Vector there - a bit of a misnomer as G-Code supports arcs (mathematically not-a-vector (at least not at my lowly level of maths)), etc, but essentially moving the class of image into a vector image, rather than a bitmap image. There's lots of software out there that deals with vector images - Inkscape being one popular piece of software (which can, through add-ons, generate G-Code, rather than the more usual SVG file-format). I'd ask that, if necessary, you re-read the above and google to fill in the blanks/misinformation - it's important to understand the vector image concept, versus bitmaps, because the 3018 will largely only support vector-based (particularly G-Code) operations. Once you can get images into a G-Code form, then you're halfway there.

    Note: Not discussed above, It also requires that you understand your device coordinate system (so you have your X/Y axis on the horizontal plane), and the Z axis on the vertical plane (for laser, you don't really have the Z - and actually the laser may be the easier device to practise with, taking necessary safety steps - UV protective goggles). Typically your image exists in the 2D X/Y plane, though it's possible to do 2.5D (limited form of 3D) contour profile cutting... but learn to walk before you run.

    How do you get images you have to cut?(some go to cut but come upbwith an error some lift the blade up and start to cut but move further than the board then jam)
    Need more info. In theory a G-Code image (really, a G-Code program, that results in a cut image) should operate the machine to cut the material to form the image. If there are "errors" - if you can advise what they are then we might offer some insight. One common theme with GRBL (and even more complex/complete G-Code interpreters) are G-Code commands or extensions that are not supported - I know GRBL does not support the complete conventional G-Code command set.

    "Jamming" is usually if you're trying something that the machine is not capable of doing - for example cutting too deep/fast/slow into the workpiece. Even the guys on here with the biggest, most brutish machines will typically cut with multiple-passes - maybe taking a millimetre or more of material off at a time, and repeating over and over again going ever deeper into the material until you cut the entire depth - difference between cutting and engraving, I suppose. But, you should be aiming not to jam or stall the cutter.

    This brings us onto a deeper topic - "CAM" - the process that translates the design (e.g. from Inkscape) to the G-Code, for Candle to interpret. This "CAM" operation takes the relatively simple "Image" into the machining operation. If I can try to explain:-

    Imagine you want to cut a circle of 10mm diameter in your work piece. You might draw this in Inkscape as a 10mm diameter circle at some X/Y coordinate offset.

    On the 3018, however, you would have a cutting tool, maybe 5mm diameter? (I'm just using round numbers to keep the maths easy).

    If you want your 10mm circle to be a 10mm hole in your workpiece, then the 3018 has to cut a circular outline with a diameter of 5mm - to accommodate the diameter of the cutter. Alternatively, to cut a 10mm circle out of the workpiece - so you're left with a 10mm "coin", then the 3018 has to cut a circular outline with a diameter of 15mm - again to accommodate the diameter of the cutter (and you'd be left with a 20mm hole). This is all part of the CAM process - you need to consider your design (your image) and understand with the tooling at your disposal, how to translate that design into machine instructions (how to convert the vector image, to G-Code). There are software packages to support this, as you might expect. It's a very necessary part of using a machine with a rotary cutter, as you can imaging cutting an internal share versus an external shape is a very different tool-path for the 3018. You need to understand this bit well.

    Going back to the jam/stall discussion - that's also part of the CAM process - where you'd normally specify for a particular operation (e.g. cutting an outline), the number of passes / depth-per-pass / target depth etc, and the CAM would generate the multiple cutting paths at different heights in the workpiece as a result.

    Using a (notionally infinitely small) engraving cutter, or laser cutter, simplifies the above, as the cutter width tends towards 0, and you typically would engrave only to one height pass, but there's still the CAM activity of translating basic shapes to machine instructions (G-Code) that you have to understand. There's some software that many people use "CamBam", on Windows, that allows you to draw simple primitives, and then supports the CAM operations to translate those to G-Code. It's probably not really what you're after, but it's free to evaluate for a short period of time (40 uses) and it (and the support group) may help you get you head around the translation of images to G-Code.

    Basically can someone treat me like a newbie which i am and tell me how the heck i do?
    Please understand - there're numerous learning curves that you have to follow - it's a broad topic and you need to understand (at least in part) each element in the full toolchain to get to the end-game:

    Design (e.g. 2D image : e.g. Inkscape) --> CAM (e.g. CAMBAM) --> Machine Operation (e.g. Candle)

    Just in simple term would be great! this is just with the blade to start with because trying one before the other or is using the laser easier
    No. Alas, there is no easy short-cut here - you need to understand the processes and tool-chain - find the software packages that helps you for each part of the toolchain, and practise, play, grow your understanding. It's not an easy gig to play.

    What would help is to break down problems into the respective design/CAM/machine operations and understand when trying to articulate individual problems - help us to be able to help you.

    Again, though, I would say that you might find more relevant help from a more focussed 3018 user/support group - and please understand my intention with that - I'm trying to point you at the help most aligned with what you would be trying to do with your 3018.

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  4. #3
    Doddy's Avatar
    Lives in Preston, United Kingdom. Last Activity: 7 Hours Ago Has been a member for 8-9 years. Has a total post count of 1,359. Received thanks 187 times, giving thanks to others 66 times. Referred 1 members to the community.
    As a footnote, just playing with Candle, and with no machine connected (as above, I don't have a 3018 or similar). Bottom right of my instance of Candle, running on a Mac, there's a text-entry widget intended to allow you to present G-Code to the machine. Just try entering the following G-Code into that, to get a feel for what G-Code is doing.... "G1 X10 F100" (then hit the "Send Command" button). Then try the same with "G1 X0". Then "G1 Y10 F400", If that results in some very basic movement (and doesn't break your machine!) then you can start to understand (a) the basis of G-Code instructions, and (b) the basics of the machine coordinate system - both of which would be useful starting points.

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    Last edited by Doddy; 03-01-2021 at 12:58 PM.

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