Tag Archives: 3020T

Chillipeppr, GRBL, JSON and CHROME

My little CNC Controller

My little CNC Controller

Real life’s taken over somewhat, with three kids (one 6 months, one 3.5 years, one, my wife, 38 ūüėČ 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

I figured I’d explain how I finally managed to get it going on my Arduino Duemilanove, with my Clone CNC Shield V4

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 РDownload the JSON Serial server from Github РHome 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 РType 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?

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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 Рthat 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

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

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 ūüėõ

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

It’s Alive –

The small USB-CNC adaptor thingy arrived today,

And, I can now leave feedback for the CNC Seller ebay Bloke as all seems well!

First Connection

First Ever CNC-Ing¬†– Ain’t pretty but it’s a start. Involves lots of sellotape and no pencils were harmed in the production. You can just about make out the letter ‘S’

Software…….Blimey

Have been thoroughly googling just how exactly to create digital masterpieces that can be ‘realised’ with this shiny new tool of mine.

Blimey……

There’s a bit of a general workflow to CNC. It seems to go something like this….

  • 1 – Create something in some CAD package
  • 2 – export it as some filename or other
  • 3 – use another software package to generate another format
  • 4 – import that into yet another software package to send to the CNC

It seems that every forum, every person has different answers to different requests. There’s a myriad of hardware drivers out there, different softwares more suitable for different drivers.

Right now, I’ll stick with a generic solution to learn and see how it goes.

I’m thinking

3D stuff -OpenSCAD –¬†http://www.openscad.org/index.html

2D Stuff / 2.5D Stuff – Inkscape – ¬†https://inkscape.org/en/¬† (i’ve already used this a little with my KNK ZING cardboard cutting machine

OpenSCAM –¬†http://openscam.com/download.html#install¬†– seems to be used a bit for making or simulating toolpaths

Heeks CNC –¬†https://sites.google.com/site/heekscad/¬†– some sort of code producer for the CNC toolpaths – Costs 10 quid

Where to put the CNC? – a cheap solution

Another night somewhat short on content….Lots of planning though.

Whilst on a trip to¬†Ikea, I noted the¬†Lack Coffee Table. I have one of these spare at home now we’re cleaning out the spare room

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

Ikea Lack Table

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

MS Paint to the rescue

MS Paint to the rescue

Parallel Port Conundrums

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)

DB25 Parallel port

DB25 Parallel port

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……

USB Parallel convertor

USB Parallel convertor

Mach 3 compatible apparently

Mach 3 compatible apparently

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

Components, Circuit boards

So far, a list of things I’ve discovered

  • A rather large ‘old school’ torroidal transformer
    • HDB-200¬†– 200VA
    • JP-3163B¬†– Stepper motor control board, 3 channel
      • Mine looks almost the same as the below one, it’s just missing the DB15 serial connector next to the parallel
      • JP-3163B Nice image
    • JP-1635A – Single Channel Stepper motor controller board
      • JP-1365A
      • TB6560AHQ – stepper motor controller chips
    • JP-1482 – Variable speed spindle driver
    • 57HD0401-15SB BiPolar Stepper motors
      • 57mm, so, NEMA 23 size
      • HD = 1.8¬į ¬†Step Angle
      • 0 = Fuselage Length Code (57HD – M) – 0 in this case – 41mm shaft
      • 4 =
      • 01 =
      • N =
      • Can anyone read the text on this website? – it has more data

Seems there’s really no accurate information out there for this little thing. A good summary would be though ‘a bit crap’…..if you compare it to all the others available, every website suggests this is the lowest possible spec in its size. Maybe time for an upgrade ūüėõ