Author Topic: To the dark side CNC  (Read 19430 times)

Offline Stuart

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To the dark side CNC
« on: August 01, 2015, 08:48:08 AM »
Well I must be mad


A brief introduction , as you know I have had troubles with bad drawings and have to draw up the parts in TurboCad to prove to me that it is all correct with the dims.

Now as I have the cad drawings it seems a bit silly not to that the next step and let them drive a machine for the small bits ( note the WS is small so a large machine is out of the question)

So after consulting with the financial management dept a order was placed with ARC for a KX1.

John S was contacted to do the install ( two crutches or wheels ) are not conducive to moving machines

After much internet reading PC  :hellno: specs for mach3 a refurbed optiplex for £70 with a twelve month warranty was purchced

Well the faitful day arrived  day arrived and the machine is on the bench .

The machine comes with a cd with the software and a A4 folder manual more about that in another post

The software was loaded USB driver installed ,config files  and gues what zilch it no work nothing zilch
NBG

More to follow with pics

 :cartwheel:

Stuart
My aim is for a accurate part with a good finish

Offline Jo

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Re: To the dark side CNC
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2015, 08:59:00 AM »
Well I must be mad

With my love of collecting machine tools/castings I don't believe I am qualified to comment   :LittleDevil:

More to follow with pics


Looking forward to them. Strangely enough Vixen was trying to tempt me with "one of his spare" CNC mills not that long ago  :naughty:.

Jo
Usus est optimum magister

Offline mikemill

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Re: To the dark side CNC
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2015, 10:08:42 AM »
Stuart
Sorry to hear your new mill did not fire up first time, no bout Arc Euro will sort you out.
I bought a CNC mill around seven years ago, and there is a lot to learn. If I can offer some advice, start by making a 1in square in a soft material like acrylic or delrin, go through the whole process, draw the part, use a Cam program or write the code in Mach, choose a cutting tool say 1/4in end mill with a shallow depth cut say 1/16in
Clamp your material to the table with a sacrificial plate underneath so you donít cut into the table!!! and hit the run button, have your hand on the emergency stop just in case, and see what you get hopefully a 1inn square!
Good luck
Mike

Offline Stuart

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Re: To the dark side CNC
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2015, 10:11:13 AM »
A bit more info

You will have to wait for the pics


ARC,s advert is a wee bit not up to date

The machine is fitted with a single shot lub system .
The comp specs are out of date for the current ver of mach3  ( they say up up W8 )
The spec is for a PP system which will only run up to XP USB is fine to W8 note you cannot buy a new PP machine with XP , but as the interface is USB now it's no problem

Next the software cd contains out of date software and incorrect setup files for the machine ,more later
The manual with ref to the machine setup is well out of date and continually refers to the parallel port setup  note all machines now sold have USB interface , the manual makes no reference to copying the usbmove.dll

Anyway I have it sorted and running under W7 64 pro.

To be fair to ARC they do state check the support site for up to date software but you have to have a machine to get the ser. And reg code to register with the site to do the files . :toilet_claw:

Back to the PC side as ARC test the machine it should be ok so it must be the software.
Uninstall all the files installed  :Director:
Reinstall the current Mach3 , move the dll file to the plugins folder, plug in the mill turn it on ,win7 sees the machine and install its stuff. Then W7 requested a reboot
Start up Mach3 and I am greeted with the welcome to the driver signing on , now when I had the setup files from the cd the pin out setup was for a PP not as I found a motion controller .

Then looked on the support site and found a more upto date file v1.6 installed this now the PIN numbers are different for the limits , spindle setup .
Press the jog on the key board it's alive  X Y and Z even the spindle goes round.
You have to think of the cutter moving not the table  :censored: I found that X and Y were backwards no prob a quick click and all is well
Now the thing homes correctly ( I will explain if any one needs to know )
The next was to set up the soft limits so the machine knows how big and were the table is to slow down before it hit the limit switches ( later in another post)
Now call me a wimp  with a test file loaded for the Sieg logo , Z  half way up  no tool fitted and the job centred up in the correct place , I pressed cycle start much whering spindle ran up to 3k and it did its stuff

At this stage I have a PC and KX1 talking to each other but I will explain about the soft limits later.
I now have to get it in the correct position ,PC on shelf ,monitor on arm
Then I need to get to grips with CAM

More to follow

Stuart
My aim is for a accurate part with a good finish

Offline Stuart

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Re: To the dark side CNC
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2015, 10:16:58 AM »
Mike

The machine was OK as you see it was the out of date supplied software and incorrect XML file that fogged up the channel

Now that is sorted all is well well it moves and goes round with it doing the correct thing for the key pressed

Much more to follow re calibrating the movement , and getting my head in gear , I fear a lot of air cutting will take place

Stuart
My aim is for a accurate part with a good finish

Offline Vixen

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Re: To the dark side CNC
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2015, 12:34:25 PM »
Stuart
So you have bravely decided to enter the dark side of model engineering.

As you have already discovered, you are more or less on your own when it comes to getting it set up and working. Microsoft are only interested in selling Windows stuff, the machine manufacturer is only interested in selling machines, the CNC software people are only really interested in selling more copies of their software. None are really interested in owning YOUR problem, it's yours to fix. The CNC software is complicated by the number of hacked pirated copies of the software from the far east. Hopefully you have the genuine article.

Fortunately, you are getting to terms with your set up and the mill is responding to your wishes. I suspect there will be more work required to calibrate the axis etc. Stick with it, the effort will be worth it when it is all singing and dancing.

Then comes the fun bit, learning how to CNC machine stuff. This requires lots of time and patience together with lots of "machining air". It is safer that way, without the risk of the mill table, clamps and fixture getting in the way.

I discovered that to get the most out of a CNC mill, you first need to become good at CAD drawing. The drawings define the shape of the bits you are trying to manufacture, therefore you need to be very familiar with your chosen drawing package. Concentrate on a 2D drawing package, save the 3D stuff till later, much later. 2D drawings are all you need to define the pocket or contour toolpaths for you milling machine. 3D drawings are for high end multi axis machining centres, which are way beyond reach of our payscales.

Once you have mastered the drawings and using the software to convert them into toolpaths you can practice CNC machining on the mill. It is best to practice by machining air, that gives you time to hit the panic button if things do not go the way you intended. This will also teach you all about defining and using datums.  This is all about gaining experience and confidence.

When you start machining for real, you will soon learn about deciding the feeds and speeds. You will find it much safer to be very conservative with the depth of cut and the feed rates. It is better to go slow at first. You can always remove metal faster with a manual machine than is safe for a CNC machine. With a manual machine you can 'feel' the cut and ease off when necessary. With CNC you need to pre-define everything. So program the machine to make many small gentle cuts until you gain experience with different size cutters and material types.

CNC is not easy, it has a steep learning curve. It may not be easy but it does made the more difficult machining problems possible. It is a completely different experience to manual machining. I committed totally to CNC, soon after I got my first CNC mill to do what I wanted. Now I have a handwheel free workshop. That's not completely true, my lathe still has a manual tailstock.

So stick with it, take your time and gain the experience and above all enjoy the journey.

Mike
« Last Edit: August 01, 2015, 02:18:17 PM by Vixen »
It is the journey that matters, not the destination

Offline Stuart

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Re: To the dark side CNC
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2015, 01:01:12 PM »
Mike

Thank you for your input much of is has cemented my thoughts .

My motto is to take baby steps slowly

Yes the software is direct from the Mach3 web site and is now licensed as part of the machine deal ARC were very quick and professional in this . So no worries there

As to sorting out the problems yes you are alone , it did not help having the incorrect setup file supplied , but that's sorted.

I am a apple user and have had to relearn windoze , but as I built my first comp with a zilog Z80 many years ago , and spent a lot of my later working time doing BAS system software for a bank , I have the background to sort it out .

I use turbocad for Mac and have done for years so that bit is sorted ,a nice 27 inch iMac helps in that they are easy on the lamps.

Thanks again for your wise input I would guess that it will be a few weeks before metal is cut but off cuts of MDF may be done .
ARC supplied cut2d licensed copy as the CAM package , have you any thoughts on CamBam ( negative on this is they have stopped development on it but the first one is still being updated

Stuart
My aim is for a accurate part with a good finish

Offline Vixen

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Re: To the dark side CNC
« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2015, 02:00:32 PM »
Stuart
You are going about this in a very deliberate and controlled manner. Take all the steps along the way and don't look for shortcuts.

You will find MDF is far more abrasive on cutters than metal. I would not consider using it. There are CNC foams available for test running a CNC program. However you will not learn about feeds and speeds from foam, you need to cut metal for that. Always use a hard aluminium HE 30 TF (6082) or similar. Avoid soft, bendable aluminum like the plague, it does not cut nicely and welds to the cutter. Same goes for unknown material from the scrap bin.

Always 'CLIMB MILL' with a CNC machine fitted with backlash free ball screws. Climb milling reduces the power required to push the cutter and the surface finish is so much better.

Unfortunately I have no experience with cut2D or CamBam. I use DeskNC, it works well and I have used it for years and have no intention of trying an alternative. Unfortunately the company went bust so it is no longer available. I guess all the low cost CAM packages will be similar, some easier to drive than others. Whatever package you chose, stick with it and become a proficient user.

There is no substitute for time in the saddle.

Mike
« Last Edit: August 01, 2015, 02:12:22 PM by Vixen »
It is the journey that matters, not the destination

Offline Stuart

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Re: To the dark side CNC
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2015, 02:18:20 PM »
Mike thanks for the tip on MDF

As to metal I always get my stock from m-machine you get what you order , it may cost a bit more but you know what you are dealing with.


As I have a free copy fully licensed of cu2d desktop I will take you advice and give it a good go before I jump ship.

I will post some pics later when the WS is a bit more presentable and the PC it out of the way it's on a stool at the moment .

As we all know you are not done with the plastic when you have got the machine , fixtures, tool holders all mount up as the other mill is R8 they will not fit so another setup is needed

Yes the mill has ball screws as standard so climb milling is on the cards the spindle tops out a 7k

Stuart
My aim is for a accurate part with a good finish

Offline kvom

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Re: To the dark side CNC
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2015, 02:35:53 PM »
I'm a CamBam user and can recommend it highly.  Easy to learn the basics, and the support forum is excellent.  It can also generate 3D machining output if you advance that far.

I don't use Soft Limits myself.  Once you center the spindle on the work origin and zero the XY DROs, it's simple to verify the machining limits.  Load the g-code into Mach3 and you can see the toolpaths.  If the piece is large enough for you to worry then you can jog until the crosshairs are at the X and Y limits to verify that the limit switches are not touched.

For most work my Z zero is top of stock, and I establish that using a 1" gauge block.  I first zero the Z DRO at 1" above the stock and run the program cutting air.  Then, rewind the program, move to Z0 on the DRO and set the DRO to 1.0.

Feeds and speeds can be a problem starting out.  I licensed a copy of Gwizard to calculate F&S, and I have broken almost no tools since then.

Another tool I use that's very useful is CutViewer, a milling simulator that can be integrated with CamBam.  It runs your g-code in software to show you what the resulting part will look like.  It also detects collisions (rapid moves into the stock).

Offline Stuart

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Re: To the dark side CNC
« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2015, 03:08:40 PM »
Thanks

That's the type of info a raw beginner need to know I will take a peek at CamBam as well as the freeby as Mike has said then stick with it better the devil you know


Stuart
My aim is for a accurate part with a good finish

Offline Floating around

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Re: To the dark side CNC
« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2015, 03:47:41 PM »
Hi Stuart,

Welcome to the dark side!
I have used cut2d a bit and have found it Great, nice and simple is good when you are learning so many other things at the same time. You will find it a bit limiting in the long run depending how far you get in to CNC.
You may want to have a look at Fusion 360, it is FREE! Full CAD and CAM i have only had it for a week but sofar it seems very good. In fact much better than some of the currently avalable very expensive software that i bought ( it shall remain name less!)

Good luck.

H

Offline JimG

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Re: To the dark side CNC
« Reply #12 on: August 01, 2015, 04:09:41 PM »
Another happy user of Cut2D.  :)   I got my copy with my KX1 about five years ago and it has been excellent for doing 2.5D.  There's a new desktop version available with more facilities but I haven't had experience with that.   I was thinking of using DeskProto to complement Cut2D for more advanced 3D work - I've had a look at the trial demo and it looks as though it will give me a lot more facilities to use with my fourth axis.

My KX1 has been excellent and I've learned to use it for making a lot of parts which I would normally make with saw, file, etc.   It fully compensates for advancing years and gives an accuracy that my failing hands and eyes would find very difficult to match.  :)  Instead of cutting air,  I run a second copy of Mach3 on my "big" PC which runs my AutoCAD LT and Cut2D.  I run all my new work on that copy and check out the co-ordinates to make sure I'm not ploughing through the table.  :)  I mix zero to top and zero to bottom with CAM so it pays to check that I haven't run with the wrong setup - I have done once or twice.  :)

Jim.

Offline Stuart

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Re: To the dark side CNC
« Reply #13 on: August 01, 2015, 04:25:39 PM »
Floating around


Just had a look at fusion 360 it's £185 looks like it's cloud based no good as I do not have a network in the WS
It's free if you are a student but at 68 and a OAP  I don't think I can swing that
Note if it's good the price would not matter I will add it yo the consider list

Jim thanks for the info I emailed vertric with my details on the cd and they upgraded me to the desktop version for free, thanks for the added details

Stuart
« Last Edit: August 01, 2015, 04:30:31 PM by Stuart »
My aim is for a accurate part with a good finish

Offline Floating around

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Re: To the dark side CNC
« Reply #14 on: August 01, 2015, 04:57:16 PM »
Hi Stuart,

Fusion 360, seems that they are hiding the free option!
If you download the 30 day trial,and install, click on the day countdown at the top right corner there will be a option to buy it as a startup company/ hobby user, this is free!
They seem to be working quite hard on it, last week they upgraded it to have lathe CAM, something that is rather hard to find at any reasonable price.
But that still doesn't help with out network.  Edit, it will work for 2 weeks with out network, then needs to sinc with the server and then can go another 2 weeks, bit of a flaf but might work.

Any way, might be a good cad option for in the house?

You are in for a great time, it is amazing to watch something pop out of a chunk of metal so fast. It is addictive!

H