Tag Archives: software

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

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!

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