Revisiting the 3020 CNC & General musings

Been a few months of non-tinkering really, Just had a heck of a time getting anything useful printing in the D9………..Finally solved that issue – combination of badly cut PTFE tube and poorly machined throat caused major under extrusion and, well, that combined with two kids, a wife working away often meant zero time to actually tinker……

Anyways, in that ‘why the hell shouldn’t I go buy something that ‘just works’..’

I saw the Snapmaker 2 on kickstarter and got the old braincells working,

I have at home currently several devices that are taking a bunch of space

So after seeing the kickstarter I Decided to try to sell the 3020 on Facebook marketplace 

After several dozen people “interested” and several hundred messages, I now fear for the future of the human race having any semblance of collective intelligence  and have decided to keep the 3020T

Revisiting my earlier adventures, The CNC, being a parallel port version won’t run on windows 10, nor will that little dongle thingy I purchased

So, I purchased a new little dongle thingy –

It’s a rather clever little GRBL shield Which doesn’t have any Driver chips bulit in! it just wiggles the relevant data lines of the DB25 port in the back of the CNC controller…..

It’s alive again!……now back to the fun of calibration and figuring just how to use it, whilst allocating my decreasing waking hours to having fun tinkering…….

Ramble over,

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 😉 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 – 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?

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

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 😛

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