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Thread: convert drawing to g codes

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Victoria B.C.
    Posts
    45

    Default convert drawing to g codes

    I have seen several items on g codes,cam cad sketchup programs etc.

    My question; I have sketchup 7 (free one) lazycam with mach 3. Now

    what do I need in between these two to write g codes ,without a large

    cash layout. I will use the cnc router for large items like mortice,tenon

    dove tail and box joints so its straight fordward no need for any fancy

    program. Thanks for your help. Anson

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    854

    Default

    Hi Anson

    For the simplicity of your work, and if you want free, I would try Acad9 for drawing your 2D outlines, save to .DXF file format and import into CamBam for generating the gcode,

    Acad9
    http://www.a9tech.com/


    Older cambam beta free version
    http://www.brusselsprout.org/CAMBAM/...-beta0.8.2.msi

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Colorado USA
    Posts
    261

    Default

    Anson,
    I agree with Rockcliff that you should check into Cambam. I did a couple of projects with it before I bought Vectric Aspire. They have both a free version and a paid version. I would suggest that you check out the free version but also try out the trial version as it has a bunch of new features and bug fixes that have not been added to the free version yet.
    Also be sure to watch the tutorials in the videos section they will help save you some time by shortening the learning curve. ( http://www.cambam.info/vids/ )

    If you want to stick with sketchup there is a plugin for it that will output gcode, it is currently 2d only (should be ok for what you have mentioned you are looking to cut). You will backcally be using sketchup to draw your tool paths in the X and Y directions, and setting the Z depth and cutting passes in the plugin dialog. It was designed by hobby CNC users and is under heavy development (new functions added about every 4-6 months).
    More details and download/install instructions available here http://www.phlatboyz.com/the-process...g-your-design/

    There is also a lot of info on other free programs at http://cnc4free.org/
    The site owner has a set of tutorials (for sale) that take you step by step through using various free tools to do cnc projects. I have not bought them but they were recommended to me by one of the guys that I was chatting with on cnczone.com when I was starting out.

    If you get tired of fighting with free tools, (I did, and considering that I have been using Linux as my primary Desktop since ~1995 that is saying a lot.) check out the Vectric Cut2d package. It goes for $150 from them but I have seen it as low as $99 from some of their resellers. This will do what you are trying to accomplish today and can be upgraded to do vcarving (v-carve pro) or 3d relief modeling+carving+4th Axis (Aspire) If you want to do that in the future. (I'm a happy Aspire user.)

    Regards,
    BoorT
    Rockcliff Machine Model A (built fall 2008)
    - Baltic Birch Construction
    - Probotix 3 Axis kit with Red Motors
    - Bosch Colt VS with upgraded Collet
    - Mach3 / Vectric Aspire

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    5

    Default Clarification?

    Quote Originally Posted by Boort View Post
    If you get tired of fighting with free tools
    Regards,
    BoorT
    Is this because of Linux incompatibility, free programs inter-compatibilty, or are free programs like most free things, simply not good enough for CNC woodworking? How did you "fight" with the free stuff?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Colorado USA
    Posts
    261

    Default

    E_P68

    I had a hard time getting the results I wanted from the trial (or free version) of CamBAM. At the time I knew nothing about CNC or machining so it offered a learning curve that was more than I wanted to deal with to cut some simple profile parts. Everything seemed like it took 10 too many steps to get done. I watched a bunch of videos that were available at the time taking me through the process and still could not get a reliable workflow.

    I remember that LazyCAM (from Mach3 folks) worked well for simple shapes but I could not get a DXF from what I had available at the time to process correctly. I actually got a book and went through it's steps and was writing gcode fairly well, but it was time consuming. I don't remember all of the other combos I tried.

    That being said. The free tools have come a long way in the last few years and are much better now than when I was tired of messing with them. I run Linux as my desktop and generally found that most of the tools that I used worked as well on linux as on other platforms (with WINE or some workarounds).


    I would recommend that you take a look at:
    Inkscape and the gcode output plugin for it
    http://inkscape.org/
    http://www.cnc-club.ru/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=35
    I had some reasonable 2d gcode output from this program in 2008. I found that I could hand edit the code easily to improve performance and get better finish on my parts.

    Sketchup (runs in wine with Winetricks) and the Phaltboyz Gcode plugin:
    http://sketchup.google.com/
    http://www.phlatforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=2
    Still only 2d gcode (as of the last time I checked) but this gave me the best results without editing, supported adding tabs to hold my parts, and was easier to adjust depth of cut. I did my first few real projects using this setup.

    For ease of use and just getting things done I don't think that the Vectric Tools can be beat. I even have Aspire v2.5 running under WINE on my Ubuntu desktop! I'm not sure but I think Nick is a reseller for them and offers a small discount for us Rockcliff Builders. (Don't take this as gospel as I have not been looking on the main site for a while. )

    Regards,
    BoorT
    Rockcliff Machine Model A (built fall 2008)
    - Baltic Birch Construction
    - Probotix 3 Axis kit with Red Motors
    - Bosch Colt VS with upgraded Collet
    - Mach3 / Vectric Aspire

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    5

    Smile Thanks very much, Boort

    Boort,
    Thanks for this thoughtful and deeply considered answer. I'm appreciative any time someone takes time from their life to so concisely answer a complete stranger.

    Now to reveal my ignorance further, (if my spelling hasn't already) what is "WINE", and "ubuntu"?

    On another note, about these "hold downs", "tabs" etc..... has anyone ever just set a large peice of throw rug anti skid mat, (the same stuff workshoppers use under hand electric routers to keep their small parts from moving around during router passes) I wonder if a sheet of that over, the sacrificial cut board (between it and the project board) wouldnt solve all this "vaccum", "hold down", "clamp tab", etc in one shot. Bought as throw rug anti skid, in a 5x7 or larger peice, it's many times cheaper than what say Rockler sells for hand electric router use, and its the same product. Dollar stores even sell a thinner, crappier roll of it for shelving use to keep plates ad glasses from skidding for (unlilke their name says) $2.00


    Quote Originally Posted by Boort View Post
    E_P68

    I had a hard time getting the results I wanted from the trial (or free version) of CamBAM. At the time I knew nothing about CNC or machining so it offered a learning curve that was more than I wanted to deal with to cut some simple profile parts. Everything seemed like it took 10 too many steps to get done. I watched a bunch of videos that were available at the time taking me through the process and still could not get a reliable workflow.

    I remember that LazyCAM (from Mach3 folks) worked well for simple shapes but I could not get a DXF from what I had available at the time to process correctly. I actually got a book and went through it's steps and was writing gcode fairly well, but it was time consuming. I don't remember all of the other combos I tried.

    That being said. The free tools have come a long way in the last few years and are much better now than when I was tired of messing with them. I run Linux as my desktop and generally found that most of the tools that I used worked as well on linux as on other platforms (with WINE or some workarounds).


    I would recommend that you take a look at:
    Inkscape and the gcode output plugin for it
    http://inkscape.org/
    http://www.cnc-club.ru/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=35
    I had some reasonable 2d gcode output from this program in 2008. I found that I could hand edit the code easily to improve performance and get better finish on my parts.

    Sketchup (runs in wine with Winetricks) and the Phaltboyz Gcode plugin:
    http://sketchup.google.com/
    http://www.phlatforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=2
    Still only 2d gcode (as of the last time I checked) but this gave me the best results without editing, supported adding tabs to hold my parts, and was easier to adjust depth of cut. I did my first few real projects using this setup.

    For ease of use and just getting things done I don't think that the Vectric Tools can be beat. I even have Aspire v2.5 running under WINE on my Ubuntu desktop! I'm not sure but I think Nick is a reseller for them and offers a small discount for us Rockcliff Builders. (Don't take this as gospel as I have not been looking on the main site for a while. )

    Regards,
    BoorT

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Colorado USA
    Posts
    261

    Default

    E_P68

    Your welcome, I'm glad to help as I would not be able to do many things without similar assistance from others as I was learning.

    Ubuntu is a Linux distribution that is focused on being easy to use. You can download a copy free from http://www.ubuntu.com/. This is the main site for this distribution and has a lot of info about getting started. That said there are multiple variants of Ubuntu that are available to do specific tasks. The folks over at http://www.linuxcnc.org/ have created a modified version of Ubuntu that adds a bunch of CNC related applications. The most notable of these are EMC2 and it's AXIS front end. I use EMC2 and AXIS to drive an older Shopbot 4'x8' CNC router. They can also be used to run a Rockcliff machine if you do not want to use MACH3 (Windows based machine control) or TurboCNC (DOS based machine control software).

    "WINE" is a project that allows Linux users to run some Windows applications under Linux. I use it to run Vectric's Aspire CAD/CAM software and Google Sketchup on my Ubuntu Linux desktop.

    I have used Dollar Store anti-skid place mats when hand routing and find that they work well as long as I'm not making any through cuts. I see 2 problems with using them on a CNC machine. First they tend to be about 1/8" thick and "squishy" so as the router bit plunges into the workpiece the underlying mat may deform slightly causing the cut to be off as the workpiece shifts position. The second problem that I would expect would be that when cutting out the part the mat could foul the bit. this could be nothing more than melting the anti-skid coating to the bit gumming it up or as bad as the strands inside the mat getting caught on the spinning bit and wrapping around the axle. This would be very dangerous to anyone in the room as well as to your CNC Machine. The mat could get tangled int he bit that is spinning at 10,000 RPM (or faster) and start flinging things around the room at high velocity.

    I often use double sided "turners" tape to hold my work pieces to the spoil board. I try to place the tape where the bit will not contact it when it does the through cuts but I have cut through the tape on occasion and only had to clean the bit and sand the part a bit to clean up. I get it from Rockler or Woodcraft. I have tried a few different types of double sided tape but not had good luck with them. the various types of Carpet tape were the worst, It refused to hold securely. The foam tapes hold better than plane carpet tape but suffer from the same flexing problem I mentioned above.

    Regards,
    BoorT
    Rockcliff Machine Model A (built fall 2008)
    - Baltic Birch Construction
    - Probotix 3 Axis kit with Red Motors
    - Bosch Colt VS with upgraded Collet
    - Mach3 / Vectric Aspire

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