CNC Noobie – First Life – First Realisations – First Thoughts

I’ve discovered now that CNC devices are fundementally, quite rudimentary.

During my five minutes of ‘wow’, giggling like a small schoolgirl whilst repeatedly jabbing the arrow keys (mixed in with some heavy page up / down banging too) whilst proudly exclaiming vociferously to a somewhat bemused missus at half ten at night “it’s moving”. I’ve, somewhat soberly come to the conclusion that ‘it’s all a bit naff, really.

CNC should be quite easy in theory – just draw ‘this’, tell motors to go ‘there’, done…

it’s not quite like that

Some immediate observations.

  • Co-Ordinates….That X,Y,Z stuff. I, at this time have no idea how what’s on the screen relates to what’s on the CNC bed.
  • Limit switches….There aren’t any on my machine, I need some to stop me wrecking the thing whilst learning
  • Speed (or lack of)….CNC’ing is going to be a looooooong process. Also, it’s a tad slower than anticipated
  • Software…..Mach3 is going to be ‘fun’, CAD is going to be ‘funner’, and not quite sure about the levels of amusedness involved in linking those two yet.
  • PC specifications. My ‘procured from hard rubbish Toshiba NB255 2010 1 Gig memory mini 10.1″ laptop really doesn’t cut the mustard. The CNC was making all sorts of odd grinding noises whilst running the GCode demo. This caused a little worry until my previous interweb searching memory kicked in and i’d remembered that someone had reported similar issues with a crappy PC. Swapped it for my normal laptop Asus G51Jx and it all went quite well.
  • USBCNC software from that ebay bloke works quite well, out of the box for my 3020T, your mileage may vary but I suspect it’ll help me get some of the basics downpat in a hurry
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