Monthly Archives: July, 2015

TinyG, TinyG V2, Arduinos

Gonna be slow few weeks….

Some researching on alternate control methods for the CNC, avoiding totally the old school parallel port…

Well, today the parts have arrived, I’ll be assembling them soon,

Looks like it’s Very early days for TinyG V2 and the CNC shields along with the Arduino Due..

However, good news it does seem.

TinyG V2 is compatible with the RAMPS-FD and modified RAMPS 3D printer boards…and another board I’ve just discovered  – GAUPS – HERE

Those devices use  the standard Polulu style driver modules – that use the A4988 Stepper Driver from Allegro MicroSystems

My CNC Shield V3 device also uses those devices.

So, fingers crossed, it should be, worst case a simple pin-reconfiguration, probably something I can do in some spare time here

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Software!, Another!!!!, CAM thoughts

The Actual, Physical CNC’ing is on hold for a few weeks whilst family come down to visit.

So, doing waaaaay too much research, i’ve narrowed down some software selections,

Here’s some thoughts on the CAM, which’ll probably go out of the window as I’ve still not decided on which CAD software to start putting time into to learn.

this CNC stuff is 90% preparation, design, bugger about. Turns out the fun, actually making physical stuff is only 10%! D’oh!

CAM software – stuff wot makes the toolpaths, in order of pricing

  • http://www.grzsoftware.com/ – Meshcam
    • easy to use
    • well priced – $250 USD (around $340 AUD at time of writing)
    • great for 3D, not so good for 2D

Here’s some other peoples thoughts

http://www.factorydaily.com/node/1223089 – quick compare of 3 CAM softwares

http://blog.cnccookbook.com/2014/01/20/results-from-the-2014-cnccookbook-cam-software-market-share-survey/ – Survey showing top used CAM softawre – Meshcam top, followed by CAMBAM for the hobby market!

CAM2014LowEnd

Annoying, 32 Bit, 64 Bit….More toys to buy?

Well, looks like i’m faced with a few more barriers to my lovely days of CNC’ing

Conventional CNC’s use parallel ports. None of my PC’s have those

complex CNC Driving software, currently is split into two main options.

  • Mach3
    • Needs windows 32 Bit. Ideally a Parallel port but can be used with a USB dongle
  • LinuxCNC
    • won’t work with a USB dongle, only a parallel port, or plugin card

My conundrum  –

All  PC’s in the house are 64 Bit,

I have an old Toshiba netbook, NB255-N250, it’s performance is somewhat lacking though with a CPU Mark score of just 290 and an out of the box windows performance rating of just 2.4 (memory jumped from 3.6 to 4.7 after chucking in a 2Gig stick of RAM from hard rubbish instead of the included 1Gig)

So, Time to look at other small, powerful PC’s to run the mill?

Doing a quick compare on CPU Benchmark suggests that the new, cheap intel Atom PC’s, using the Z3735F / Z3736F processors  can get a three fold performance improvement – in the range of 900 CPU Marks

Decisions….

I’ll probably re-install windows AGAIN on my Laptop, it has  a Core i5 M 430 processor which sits around the 2100 PC marks, mark, i’ll chuck windows 8.1 on it and suffer the potential grief of transferring my 64 bit licence to 32 bit, and limiting myself to just 4 Gig of RAM

Right now, i’ll manage with the Toshiba

Another new gadget purchsed – Android TV Box

Thanks to Ozbargain on this one, a $50USD android TV Box

Just picked up one of these Tronsmart R68’s at http://www.geekbuying.com, youtube unboxing here

geekbuying-c8f4d2e5-4d3b-4bf9-9cda-2700556f1d33

Tronsmart-R68-Exclusive-Private-Mould

Some thoughts as to why I purchased

The Boards….Some more information

There are a few circuit boards in the black box that comes with the CNC

    • JP-3163B – Stepper motor control board, 3 channel
    • JP-1635A – Single Channel Stepper motor controller board
    • TB6560AHQ – stepper motor controller chips – TB6560AHQ_AFG-20080407 – PDF Manual
    • JP-1482 – Spindle controller board – more information at CNC Arena

Some more information about these, including DIP Switch Settings

TB6560 JP3163B Board inputs outputs TB6560 JP3163B Board Dip Switch Settings TB6560 JP3163B Board PCB ConnectorsJP-1365A

GreenBoard

TinyG – G2 – Arm Processors

Arduino Due 1 – Arduino Due 

Reading up in-depth more about Arduinos, CNC’s and ‘stuff’, I’ve found a superb product called TinyG

Reading further on the Synthetos website about the TinyG, I discovered a forked branch of the code that is called G2. It’s basically a TinyG Arm port that uses their G-Shield, which at the time of writing is, unfortunately sold out.

I’ve noted that the G Shield uses TI’s DRV8825 stepper drivers

Whilst Googling those parts, I discovered – This website that basically suggests that they’re pin compatible with the A4988 used in those cheap drivers I picked up. Main advantage of the G-Shield device is that it can do 1/32th of a microstep, so much finer resolution for the CNC. Given that i’ve trouble locating the spindle within roughly the 30×20 area of the CNC without smashing into the limits, I think i’ll manage with 1/16th for now

Oh, the picture.

The V2 sounded rather good, so, I picked up an Arduino Due also, my favourite cheap chinese webstore had a voucher for 10% off so I bagged this for just over $23 AUD

Grand total for my new Shield is now $44.59. and I have the option of standrd TinyG GRBL, or G2

I think i’m going to spend more time buggering about making the thing cut than actually cutting anything…..Still have the software to go yet

Finally, why I haven’t bought a Syntheos product.

I can see that the TinyG V8 board has been out a little while now, there’s headway being made to V9, even some reports of them out for testing. I’m on the wall right now and really happy learning, tinkering.  i’ll be jumping and buying a V9 when it’s released :-). V8 is a very well reviewed product so I can’t wait to see what V9 has to offer.

For those of you less into the electronics and general tinkering – highly recommend to get a V8, it’s almost plug and play with these cheap, chinese CNC’s

It’s ALIVE!!! – first complete ‘dry run’ of a small Gcode worked

well, kind of…..

Have FINALLY gotten something sensible out of Mach3 demo and the machine by bolting a pencil to it…

more reading needed now though as I keep having the G-code plotting outside of the table display,

Zeroing on Mach

Have tried a few different things, I guess it’s just getting used to the workflow of making sure the CAD item is starting at 0,0,0, making sure the CNC is also starting there and somehow scaling the image….Bloody annoying and now i’ve run out of Ikea pencils to jam in the spindle with some tape, keep snapping them…must remember to disable the Z axis somehow when running tests.

Still, I’ve now at least done a complete dry run of the sample Collete spanner by loading a different 500 lines of G-Code each time and re-starting ….just need a non broken pencil now so I can take a photo and show the world!

TinyG and G2 – an idea for the future!?

Have been reading up on control methods for the CNC (yep, too much reading, not enough actual do-ing),

Stumbled across something called GRBL, which to summise,is, “an arduino CNC controller”

There’s a shedload of websites regarding GRBL…..so……

I actually own various quantities of each of the following microcontroller boads that i’ve acquired over the years, a few more modern ones include

And, given my recent discovery of GRBL,and a penchant for hoarding un-used demo boards,

I’ve purchased one of these………

an arduino CNC Shield

SKU198457a(3) SKU198457aa

It’s a blatant clone of a couple of other shields out there, at under eight AUD though, it was worth a punt

it uses the standard Polulu style driver modules – that use the A4988 Stepper Driver from Allegro MicroSystems

I picked up five of them also….for just under $14 AUD, three for now, a fourth if I ever figure out 4 axis machining and a fifth as i’ll probably blow something up

a4988 2 A4988 1

so, for a grand sum of $13.81 Plus $7.63 = $21.44 delivered, I have a nice CNC Shield for my Arduino

Possible Z axis adjustment / improvement?

Specifications for the CNC suggest that the maximum working area is

  • Max.workpiece dimension:200mm*300mm<65mm

Z axis dimensions are <65mm

Measuring the total Z axis travel, there’s only 56mm of travel available….

it does look like I can slacken off the screws on the spindle a little to move it upwards to gain some workspace back,

great for using a sacrifical piece of wood orsomething on th ebase and maintain the full movement

Limit Switches & other stuff – Purchased, list of websites

Some pics of the two types of limit switch I picked up, 5 of each type for under $6AU delivered

limit switch 2 limit switch 3 Limit Switch 1

I’m also grateful to all of those websites out there that allow us to mispend minutes hours days weeks perusing endless pages of cheap tat.

Some of my favourites to date that i’ve spent waaaaay too much $$ on

http://www.dx.com – The original source of my additiction

http://www.banggood.com – The new favourite

http://www.tmart.com – a nice all-rounder site with some occasional good deals

http://www.lighttake.com – used a few times, not so much nowadays

http://www.focalprice.com – seems to have lost its way with pricing of late

http://www.buyincoins.com – has some ridiculous offers from time to time

http://www.icstation.com – so much i WANT from that site, yet don’t have the free $$ to buy 😛

and of course, now the ubiqutous http://www.ebay.com.au

oh, and whilst you’re there, check out http://www.ozbargain.com.au too