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  1. #91
    I don't think you'll get a CAD program to output G code, this is a function of the CAM software or a third party add-on.
    Re. your boards, just use VST it's easier only joking, looks a nice job.
    Spelling mistakes are not intentional, I only seem to see them some time after I've posted

  2. #92
    So perhaps its something like this:

    DESIGN (CAD) > G-CODE Conversion (CONVERTOR) > Parallel Output (CAM, ie MAch 3) > Parallel Output to Stepper Board > Output to Steppers on CNC
    Perhaps: like this:

    DESIGN (CAD) > G-CODE Conversion (CAM) > Output ( ie MAch3 or Linuxcnc) > Parallel Output to Stepper Board > Output to Steppers motors on CNC. ..Clive

  3. #93
    I don't think you'll get a CAD program to output G code, this is a function of the CAM software or a third party add-on.
    Re. your boards, just use VST it's easier only joking, looks a nice job.
    LOL yeah VSTs are much easier!! I guess im just a sucker for punishment..

    I was looking at VCarve im not sure if this can effectively CAD, CAM and Output to Machine but it seems the lines with some software get kinda blurred.

    I assume if you pick software that does it all you kinda get a Jack of All trades master of none? However, vcarve looked pretty sweet but as of yet I dunno.

    DESIGN (CAD) > G-CODE Conversion (CAM) > Output ( ie MAch3 or Linuxcnc) > Parallel Output to Stepper Board > Output to Steppers motors on CNC. ..Clive
    Cheers clive that makes total sense now.

    I think for now im gonna try and master the copy of mach3 I have then look into other machine control later.

    I have heard KKam4 can output to these chinese machines as you can select what control code goes to what pin on the parallel port. Again I have no direct experience.

    Tomorrow im gonna hack open the control box and take some pics. I am quite tempted to fix the earth issue (if its broke) and maybe tackle this automated drill speed control MOD if it looks easy.

    I will definitely upload pics and ask before the soldering iron appears.

    Cheers for all the feedback. Particularly as I am clearly asking numb nut style questions. I guess we have to start some where LOL.

  4. #94
    Quote Originally Posted by EddyCurrent View Post
    I don't think you'll get a CAD program to output G code, this is a function of the CAM software or a third party add-on.
    Re. your boards, just use VST it's easier only joking, looks a nice job.
    Eddy, there are some programs that will output G code. I use Alphacam which is a propriety cad/cam program that outputs the code within a few mouse clicks - toolsize, direction of cut and which side of (or on) line and depth/no. of cuts. I admit that this is not a cheap option, but I find it a fantastic program. G.

  5. #95
    Just out of interest geoffrey does Alphacam provide Machine features as well? ie will spit out code to the Stepper Controller Box?

    So i guess im asking does Alphacam provide CAD, CAM and Machine Control? Effectively a one stop shop.

  6. #96
    Hi Futura,

    I think your not quite understanding fully how the process goes and what Control software actually does.

    The process of creating a working file goes like this. Design the part in CAD then load into CAM in which you define toolpaths and set cutting parameters, tool size, speed, depth etc. Then output the file in a format that your Control software understands.

    Now most Control software's ie: Mach3, linux CNC use plane G-code files but some control softwares require dedicated files for them to work. So there's a Process within CAM at the time of outputing files known as Postprocessing. When outputing files you select the Post processor to suit your Control software so the file is formated to suit your control software.

    Now control software like MAch3 does very little other than take this G-code file and translate it into Pulse's which is feed to the drives on the machine which inturn move the motors the correct amount. Other functions of the Control software is to watch and monitor Input signals. ie: E-stop, limits etc.
    It also controls outputs which can be used within G-files and by CAM software to turn on/off external devices like Spindles, coolant, Air Etc These are known as M commands. ie M3 turns spindle ON M5 Off.

    CAM as no interaction with Control software other than these special instructions, which it doesn't do directly but thru the codes in the files it outputs.
    Some CAM packages will let you directly load the outputed file into the Control software but other than that they don't have any interaction.

    Some packages as you have worked out are CAD/CAM and like you have worked out they can be OK but master of none.

    So at the minimum you'll be working with two pieces of software, CAD/CAM and Control software.

    Now Control software like Mach3 while very powerful are actually rather simple to use. They need setting up correctly so the motors move the correct distance and tuned so they don't loose steps etc along with being told which input pins to monitor and what output pins to turn on/off but when that is done, which is mostly a one time affair, then there isn't really a lot to learn.
    In practice you'll basicly load in a G-code file, set the work Origin point ie: X0,Y0,Z0 and click cycle start sit back and watch it do it's thing.
    If you have set the cutting parameters correctly in CAM then it will go smoothly but sometimes you need to tweak some parameters, like feed rate or spindle speed while cutting, so there are on screen controls to let you overide these on the fly. But other than that there is very little to do with the Control software after all has been setup.

    Hope this helps.
    Last edited by JAZZCNC; 12-03-2014 at 11:01 PM.

  7. #97
    Quote Originally Posted by futura View Post
    Just out of interest geoffrey does Alphacam provide Machine features as well? ie will spit out code to the Stepper Controller Box?

    So i guess im asking does Alphacam provide CAD, CAM and Machine Control? Effectively a one stop shop.
    As Jazz has said, Alphacam is a CAD/CAM program, you can design and output the code via the post processor, but does not control the machine. G.

  8. #98
    Hello JazzCNC

    thanks for your post..

    Hope this helps.
    I would say thats an understatement!!

    Yeah that really does clarify things a whole LOT. I really appreciate you taking the time out to write this as it has certainly cleared up many things for me.

    I suspect any other newbies reading this will also learn from this conversation.

    I wish your post could have been included with the Chinese manual that came with the CNC machine. :D

    Just out of interest what software would you recommend?

    For CAD design I want to make traffolyte front panels for my synthesizer modules I design. I was thinking maybe Signlab? but also I have Corel Draw and now I am starting to realise the CAD side of things doesnt need to be so much machine orientated am i right in saying for CAD you can almost use anything you like or get on with?

    For CAM I am looking for something that is not over complex but can hopefully be smart enough to assist with not just engraving the synth panels but also cutting the holes for the potentiometers and finally cutting the panel. I have looked at a demo of vcarve.

    For control software I think for now I will stick with Mach 3 but I am also all ears in terms of other options such as LinuxCNC or KKam etc.

    I have a feeling I may hit brick limits in terms of actual cutting with the router ie it will engrave the traffolye happily but I am unsure of how it will perform in terms of actually cutting holes or cutting out the plate.

    Im one of these people that likes to get a good understanding of what I am doing prior to doing anything. I know there is an argument to "get your hands dirty" and find out but for now I want to tread carefully and not break anything or waste money on unnecessary software.

    Hope you dont mind the questions I am very interested by what people have to say on this forum.

    kind regards :)

  9. #99
    Neale's Avatar
    Lives in Plymouth, United Kingdom. Current Activity: Viewing NEW MEMBER: Introduction Has been a member for 4-5 years. Has a total post count of 1,005. Received thanks 170 times, giving thanks to others 5 times.
    I don't have anything like the experience of some of the contributors to this forum, but FWIW...

    I use Vectric VCarve for most of what I do, and like it a lot. It's really easy to use once you have got used to it, which doesn't take long, and it is really good for things like lettering. I've been cutting some small printing blocks for my wife this evening, and VCarve does a good job of squaring out corners rather than leaving them at cutter diameter. It has some simple CAD (as long as you can do what you want with circles, lines, and rectangles) which is also quite useful for the odd quickie. I'm sure that there are some features that it doesn't have as it all seems deceptively simple to use, and powerful tools usually seem to have a really steep and long learning curve, but if it does what you need... If I were making flat plates with lettering and relatively straightforward holes in them, then VCarve would probably do the job pretty well. It ain't cheap, of course. There are probably other toolpath generators that would do all the things that VCarve does, but I'm not sure what they are - I have played with a couple of freeware tools (limited and fiddly to use) and took a look at Cambam, but plumped for VCarve in the end.
    I get the feeling that I am in the minority on this forum because I'm a LinuxCNC user. Whenever machine control software is mentioned, it's almost always Mach3. I originally chose LinuxCNC because I was trying to build to a budget without committing too much money until I got a feel for this whole CNC thing. In the event, that's not what happened but I did use LinuxCNC because it was free and I didn't need another Windows machine/licence - it runs happily on an old PC that I had spare. Again, FWIW, it does everything I need, at least at the moment. Somewhat surprisingly, what it doesn't seem to have that Mach3 does have is a large amount of add-ons easily available (although at a cost in most cases, I think). I had rather naively expected that since LinuxCNC was more-or-less public domain, there would be a lot of extras available but that doesn't seem to be the case. Maybe I'm just looking in the wrong place! For example, I have been thinking about a touch probe for tool height setting, and it looks as if that is quite possible to incorporate but needs a bit of fiddling about to do. With Mach3, you just buy something that someone else has already written and is well-proven.
    As far as CAD is concerned, you use whatever happens to suit you, I think. Sometimes I use TurboCAD (because I've been doing odd drawings in that for years), more often these days I use Rhino which is a pretty fearsome but very powerful 3D drawing tool, but for the stencils I cut the other day in 6mm ply, I was given scanned images in jpeg format and I ended up using Adobe Illustrator to turn those into vector format. Anything will do, as long as it gives an output format that your CAM package can accept. Most things seem to be happy with dxf, for example.
    My machine is probably about as bendy as they come and still be usable, so if I can cut hardwoods, birch ply, and so on I'm sure that you will be OK for what you are planning to do with Traffolyte. Good luck!

  10. #100
    As Jazz has said, Alphacam is a CAD/CAM program, you can design and output the code via the post processor, but does not control the machine. G.
    In terms of CAD or CAM I assume based on price this software is pretty good in terms of features?

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