Real life’s taken over somewhat, with three kids (one 6 months, one 3.5 years, one, my wife, 38 😉 I rarely get time to learn how to use the equipment to actually cut stuff.
During a rare couple of hours free time, I decided to play about with GRBL
Of course, as always, practically, nothing’s been done, the shield is sitting on the arduino, doing its shieldy stuff, there’s no motors or power connected, just a string of stuff coming out of the serial port! (so, it probably works, right?)
FIRST – use GOOGLE CHROME (wasted an hour on that one, couldn’t connect to JSON server!)
SECOND – Download the pre-compiled HEX file – at the GRBL websit home page, scroll down a bit
Direct link – http://Grbl v0.9j Atmega328p 16mhz 115200baud with generic defaults (2015-07-17) (version 0.9J as of writing)
THIRD – Connect up your arduino and flash it with XLOADER – See instructions – HERE
Reset the Arduino
FOURTH – Download the JSON Serial server from Github – Home page Here
– unzip to somewhere nice (i’m on desktop!) and run the server, ensure to tick ‘allow firewall access
Note down which COM port your Arduino is connected to
FIFTH – Open up CHROME, type in http://localhost:8989
SIXTH – Type in the new window that appeared OPEN COM8 115200
(where COM8 is the com number of your serial / USB adaptor on the arduino)
Seventh – FIre up chillipeppr, Select GRBL
Voila, you’re talking, it all seems to automagically work!
Of course, there’ll be a way of automating / adding a command line prompt to the JSON thingy so you don’t have to web into localhost first…..small steps eh!
On my travels, also discovered that it’s not trivial to get TinyG2 running on the Arduino Due – with the CNCshieldV4 that I Have i’ve put that experiment off a little while
Next step, cutting stuff – ETA, 2016?
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
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
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.cambam.info/ – CAMBAM
- easy to use
- cheap – $190 AUD at time of writing, with a $400 AUD bundle with Cutviewer
- good for 2D, not so good for 3D
- 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
- http://www.deskproto.com/products/multiax-ed.php – DeskProto
- most expensive, only by a bit – $248 Euros Hobby Licence ($370 AUD at time of writing)
- 4 axis!!
- a LOT more feature packed
- Handles STL models quite easily with wizards!?
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!
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.
- Needs windows 32 Bit. Ideally a Parallel port but can be used with a USB dongle
- 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
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
There are a few circuit boards in the black box that comes with the CNC
- JP-3163B – Stepper motor control board, 3 channel
Some more information about these, including DIP Switch Settings
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.
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
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,
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!
Another night somewhat short on content….Lots of planning though.
At 55cm x 55cm (Google metrification <> imperialisation link for you inches guysGoogle metrification <> imperialisation link for you imperial guys) this $7.99 (at time of writing) is the ideal sized throne upon which to sit my CNC.
Having roughly measured the CNC, it takes up roughly
- 53cm in length fron back of stepper motor to the front
- 42cm in width – from the back of the stepper motor to the far side
- 41cm in height
An Ikea Lack table for those not familiar with paper masquerading as wooden furniture
An overly meandering perusal around the maze that seems to be Sweden’s least favourite furniture store can be enlightning. Not only are you kept alert looking for just the right part to do something with that it’s not supposed to, you’re also well fed. a Lack table, with some minor modifications can probably serve as an enclosure for the CNC!
I recon, stacking two tables and Bolting some see -thru plastic of some sort may do a cheap, temporary job until something better comes along?
Here’s a quick drawing my 3 year old knocked up, honest
Have spent a few days now reading up on solving the parallel port issue.
it really seems that Eight out of Ten CNC owners prefer Mach 3
Mach 3 is a somewhat antiquated piece of software it seems, I’ll figure out if it’s really worth purchasing a copy or if I stick to the lower number of lines limit for Gcode, or, well, i’m not really sure (other software maybe?)
None of my computers have a parallel port. few, if any are running a 32 bit OS. and Prices of devices to convert the 25 pin Parallel port on the controller…(shown in the pic below)
are fairly high (though perfectly reasonable) compared to the price of the CNC mechanics.
There’s an absolute myriad of controllers, convertors, power-ers, drivers, thingies and other stuff that’s been developed, kickstarted, knocked up, and sold on a whim, too much choice really.
I went the stingy route and picked up an ONTRON USB CNC Parallel convertor for just $34 AUD. My thought process was
- I have a machine that looks like it’ll work out of the box
- That machine has a parallel port
- it’ll be safer to use the machine as it was intended before attacking it further with a soldering iron and screwdriver
- Given my penchant for un-necessary teardowns (developed at a young age after discovering screws in my parents VHS recorder, and discovering screwdrivers in my dad’s toolbox) it’s probably best to buy a tested working device
- find the cheapest USB <> Parallel device I can
- if Cheapest USB device doesn’t work, then find other options (Arduino CNC Shield, GRBL, etc)
The Device I purhcased……
It was shipped within 5 minutes of buying it (somehow I doubt the French are that efficient), Fingers crossed it arrives in the next two weeks like the auction said it would
Not able to do much tonight, late day out watching the awesome Minions, The Movie in a jam packed, Sold out cinema.
Home late after entertaining a couple of youngsters and some adult conversation.
have some rather nice images of this beastly machine courtesy of the eBay seller.
Personally, I can’t stop myself from Ogling that 4th Axis….just look at those curves!