It's essential for me as a hobbyist to contain costs, yet I would also like to use software that enjoys a reasonable level of support by being in fairly common use. So please point me back to sanity with alternative ideas as necessary...
These are my current thoughts on the cheap-ish Hobby-CNC workflow software I intend using as a starting point :
1. Grey-Matter... can only be used when intergalactic, atmospheric, and biological conditions are favourable.
2. CAD - SKETCHUP will be used for design to capture / draw / dimension / visualise / revise, and save the drawing as filetype SKP. Although SKETCHUP is geared more towards architecture than towards solid mechanics, I'm now pretty proficient in using the FREE version of Sketchup, and feel it will suffice for my 2.5D machining needs into the foreseeable future.
3. A plugin for SKP will be used to export drawings as filetype DXF or STL or CB. I have downloaded and briefly tested the plugin from Convert Sketchup SKP files to DXF or STL | guitar-list and have also downloaded but not yet tested CamBamExport-mm.rb from Sketchup to CamBam Plugin - CerebralMeltdown.com.
4. CAM - CAMBAM will be used primarily for creating tool paths as gcode. I will buy CamBam PLUS for around £100, although there is also a free trial of the most recent version with limited lines of gcode, and also a totally free and unlimited but OLD version.
5. MACH3 which will process the gcode. Should cost of the order of £100.
6. A motion-control-device such as ESS Ethernet-Smooth-Stepper.
Does the above seem sane?
The Following User Says Thank You to WandrinAndy For This Useful Post:
If you want to contain costs then No6 isn't required and just use the parallel port.
Motion control card is nice to have for a few reasons but not required so long has your PC has a decent parallel port.
i'm so glad to see there are plug-ins to convert sketchup to dxf as i wasnt aware this was possible... if this is a cost effective solution then i may just be following your lead on this to get the machine up and running and in future may look to other avenues once i prove the machine
The process looks fine (I use Cambam & think it's excellent)
I started with Mach3, but was attracted to CNC-USB (which would condense your 5 & 6) & I'm very happy that I switched....but there's a lot to be said for "safety in numbers" which is why Mach3 wins the day for so many.
If you want to contain costs then 4,5,6 aren't required:
4) In 2) you only mention needing 2.5D, in which case you can just use the free version of cambam since it does that just fine.
5) Try LinuxCNC, contrary to popular belief it's not difficult to set up and is completely free with plenty of features. If you have problems with either Mach3 or LinuxCNC, be it in general use of just setting up, you will easily get help on this forum. Once you've tried both programs decide weather it's worth about £100 for the Mach3 licence.
6) See 5).
i presume all the CAM programs are very helpful and easy to get you going in zeroing the machine and setting the limits ect?
really pleased ive read this post. its cleared lots of questions ive needed answering but didnt know how to ask the questions...
The Following User Says Thank You to kingcreaky For This Useful Post:
Simple fact is Mach3 is THE BEST control for New folks has it's easy to use out the box(Very soon to get much much better with V4.!!) and there's 1000's of very willing NONE GEEK users willing to sort any issues.!! And that includes the program designers.!!
USB -Cnc is an ok option and eliminates any PP issue's but not keen on the software.!!
Also grateful to Andy for starting this thread, I'm sure it helps lots of guys new to cnc. One area where I need some clarification is on no.6
If You recommend that for first time users like myself, a normal cheap BOB will do the job, is there a way to test is the PP on my pc is 3.3v or 5v, as I read this is where problems arise with PP's.
By dudz in forum Artsoft MachReplies: 5Last Post: 01-04-2013, 05:02 PM
By dudz in forum CAD & CAM SoftwareReplies: 5Last Post: 23-12-2012, 04:22 PM
By m.marino in forum Machine DiscussionReplies: 2Last Post: 06-06-2012, 03:45 PM
By motoxy in forum CAD & CAM SoftwareReplies: 4Last Post: 09-02-2012, 05:01 PM
By Phobia1 in forum Projects, Jobs & RequestsReplies: 1Last Post: 18-01-2011, 01:57 PM