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What was I thinking???

Discussion in 'General Talk' started by Lpinney, Jun 16, 2016.

  1. Lpinney

    Lpinney Well-Known
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    Foy years, I have wanted to set up a small CNC machine in my shop. I stumbled across OpenBuilds, and Mark Carew. What a find! After watching nearly every video that he has produced (great work btw Mark), I lept into the parts store and had a shopping frenzy. I just completed my first build, well sorta. It's the Plate Maker C-Beam.

    Tonight I had started to put the power supply and controller on, then discovered that I was one m5 8 short. Not their fault, I'm sure that the wife has hidden it someplace just to get me back into the house. Here's where the real panic sets in. I'm at the point in the build video where Mark is explaining the controller and software.

    You mean to tell me that you need to learn another software program?!!! So while I sent the hounds out to search for the aforementioned screw, I began checking out the links to Sketchup, SchetchUcam, etc. The more I searched, the more confused I got! You've got to be kidding me I thought to myself. It's not just one program that I need to learn, it's several of them. You've got your CADs, your CAMs, Controllers, Compilers, heck, there's even a Gerble thrown in for some **** reason!

    At this point I'm thinking to myself, because my friends and family know well enough to not try and help me think my way through things like this. I'm too **** stubborn to listen to them anyway. So I said to myself, I said self, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!!!!!?

    So after a nice meal prepared by my lovely and patient wife, along with a frosty adult beverage, I now sit in isolation with my tablet, asking the one question that presumably has no answer. What is the easiest software for an absolute NEWBIE to learn, so that he might actually cut a plate?

    Signed,
    Frustrated and soon to be hammered in California.
     
  2. GrayUK

    GrayUK Master
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    Hi Frustrated.
    What an entertaining, if frustrating and confused, thread you have started. :)
    So, is it just the Cam side of it, or is it the whole drivers, motor wiring thing?
    All of your potential problems have been covered , many times, in this Forum....... somewhere. :banghead:
    This is also where YouTube can be your best friend, if you know just what to look for.
    Trust me, I know from use, that SketchUp/SketchUcam can drive you up the wall, until you can get that mindset
    and a little skill, so you are able to produce something. The thing is, it's free!
    However, for a free trial period, and a small purchase price, have a look at Estlcam. A great little program that pretty much does everything you could want. :thumbsup:
    Watch the videos of the much more expensive Programs, at least you will get a better idea on how cad/cams work
    Vectric Aspire is one in question. So very, very good, but very expensive. It is however, very easy to use.
    My best suggestion is to watch as many videos as you can on the subject, and ask as many questions as you like, HERE. :)
    I'm sure others will be able to help you more.
    Gray
     
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  3. snokid

    snokid Master
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    LOL we have all been there!!!
    Really the hardest thing to learn is the cad part...They all pretty much work the same way, you might do it a little differently....
    sketchup is free and a ton of video's on how to use it.
    sketchucam is pretty easy to get a handle on.
    the last part of the puzzle is the control software, once set up you pretty much press play!!! LOL
    First a foremost ask a question if you get stumped (we have all been there)
    Have fun you will get "it" trust me if I can anyone can!!!
    Bob
     
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  4. Joe Santarsiero

    Joe Santarsiero OB addict
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    You 'll also want to give Fengrave a try.
    F-Engrave
     
  5. Lpinney

    Lpinney Well-Known
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    Thanks to all of you for the advice, and for allowing me to rant for a minute. I will take a look at the suggestions, as well as Sketch...

    As a wise woman told me last night during dinner, "Honey, you have mastered audio and video editing software, you've got this".

    Lee
     
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  6. evilc66

    evilc66 Master
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    I know a lot of the people here use Sketchup due to the fact that it's free, but it's not what I would recommend. Don't get me wrong. It works. It's just that the work flow is so different than any other CAD program that I find it to be very frustrating. Maybe it's just because of my background in professional CAD. If I were to recommend a CAD/CAM package, it would be Autodesk Fusion 360. It's completely free to hobbyists (you just have to renew the free license every year), works like a professional CAD program, and has a very powerful integrated CAM package.

    But, it's also down to what you want to accomplish. If you are just carving signs, or just taking images and carving them into wood/foam/plastic/etc... then Vectric Aspire is probably the way to go (among other options).

    I guess you need to sit down and figure out your needs first. What do you want to make? Then you can decide on the software package that will make the most sense to you from a function and cost perspective. Ultimately, as your skill and confidence grows, you will most likely need to move between different software packages to accomplish what you want for the day or the design.
     
  7. Paul Pridday

    Paul Pridday Journeyman
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    I'm kind of in the same boat. Jumped both feet in and bought a C Beam plate machine on the $100 off special. Told my wife I could make her all kinds of 'purty stuff' with it. So now I have to learn! I have been playing in Fusion 360 while at work. (I know.. nice touch eh?) But I am finding that there are some things that I just don't get even after watching tutorials. It has to be something to do with stopping sketches and modifying etc. I have had NO CAD experience before, but I do know people who have. As they are the same company would someone with regular AutoCAD be able to help out?

    Thanks all.

    Paul

    (What a great website!)
     
  8. David the swarfer

    David the swarfer OpenBuilds Team
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    Well, I guess I am biased, but to me, easiest has to be Sketchup + SketchUcam on the CAD/CAM side and GRBLPanel on the control side. The compiling of GRBL is easy, just follow the instructions, you only need to do it once so no need to 'learn' the process, just make some notes if you like, to make upgrading easier (there is a new version due out soon).

    So, Sketchup. I used TurboCAD for many years and when the first 3D version came out I was excited and then vastly disappointed. It was very hard to use! So hard that I continued to use it in 2D mode for many more years until Sketchup arrived.

    While others have mentioned that it is 'not like pro CAD', that is the strength of it to me. It is more akin to freehand drawing, but you can do 0.001" accuracy if you want to, as simple as typing numbers and pressing enter.

    SketchUcam has to be the simplest way to create Gcode that I have found. Yes, it does have some advanced options, mostly things you can pick once as a default and then forget about. I was completely defeated by Inkscape, just could not get the magic combination of whatever is needed in order to generate Gcode.

    SketchUcam's speciality is flat plates, and all your C-beam plates were cut using it.
    And, the drawings you need to do are also flat, cannot get any simpler than that (-:
    Sure, you can do some complex stuff if you like, but with one flat drawing you can do inside and outside cuts, bored holes to any size, countersunk and counterbored holes, 'centerline' cuts which can be used to cut anywhere you like, and pockets.

    So, the simple end:


    the complex end:



    Now, if you insist on learning some very complicated software, Fusion 360 is great, but you will be watching a lot of video (-:


    Happy cutting :)
     
  9. Kyo

    Kyo Master
    Staff Member Resident Builder Builder

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    Completely agree, Even the plates I designed in Fusion 360 get cut using SketchUcam ! ( The two work really well together oddly enough ) SketchUcam has been the easiest cam for me to learn.
     
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  10. Lpinney

    Lpinney Well-Known
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    Thank you David for all of the info and videos!
     
  11. Joe Santarsiero

    Joe Santarsiero OB addict
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    Paul,
    AutoCAD isn't similar to fusion. Have you tried posting your issues with the F360 community? You can also try posting your troubles in a new thread here in software aswell.

    Joe
     
  12. David the swarfer

    David the swarfer OpenBuilds Team
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    Please note that there are not enough videos to replace reading the SketchUcam help.
    Hit the big blue question mark in the toolbar....
    toolbar.png
    on the far right....

    The more you know about your tools, the easier they are to use.
     
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  13. Paul Pridday

    Paul Pridday Journeyman
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    Thanks guys. I have signed up for the Fusion webinar and have also since downloaded Sketchup and Sketchucam. I will definitely go through all of the help menus David. I have a friend at home who is quite proficient at both software packages and I can hit him up for some help in a couple of weeks when I get home. In the meantime I'm trying to muddle through it myself to try to get a grasp. Lots of information but definitely fun to learn. My C Beam Machine arrived at home yesterday and I don't get home until Aug 10th. Kind of like having Christmas morning delayed!! :-(

    Thanks again

    Paul
     
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  14. Rob Shaver

    Rob Shaver Well-Known
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    I just took a short class about Fusion 360 at the Benicia Makerspace given by an industrial designer. He said that Fusion is much more intuitive than the other CAD software he's used like Solid Works. I'd like to hear from the folks in this forum if they have a similar experience.
     
  15. Moag

    Moag Master
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    Haven't used much else, so can't fairly compare, but I like it a lot the more I use it. They are constantly updating its features and in the latest they are making moves to be able to import mesh files such as the ones sketchup uses, which would be cool.:cool:
     
  16. MaryD

    MaryD OpenBuilds Team
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