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GUI for CNC

Discussion in 'CNC Mills/Routers' started by Ollieg, Feb 17, 2019.

  1. Ollieg

    Ollieg Well-Known
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    I've asked some questions on here before but I am hopeing to get a solution.

    With our laser cutters (we use Trotec Job control and Rudia RD works) if we want to draw something to cust we simply draw a shape in Adobe Illustrater and click print (for trotec) it appears in Job control ready to cut and in RD works all we have to do is save the file as a DXF and then open it is RDworks and it is ready to cut.

    Is there any similar workflow available for CNC ideally something that has a GUI that allows drawing within the programme or importing of an outline that also controls the cnc, we do not need much functionality as we will be cutting mainly simple 2d shapes and outlines.

    Thanks in Advance
     
  2. David the swarfer

    David the swarfer OpenBuilds Team
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  3. Ollieg

    Ollieg Well-Known
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    Thanks for the Feedback David, I couln't find that much info on the openbuilds CAM, does it combine with the control to form a single piece of software or are they individual?

    Without a budget restraint is there an industrial option that would combine CAD CAM and controller?
     
  4. Peter Van Der Walt

    Peter Van Der Walt OpenBuilds Team
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    Yes, there is integration with OpenBuildsCONTROL (See bottom right hand side of OpenBuilds CAM)
     
  5. David the swarfer

    David the swarfer OpenBuilds Team
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    technically 2 bits of software, the cam which is a web application and the control driver which runs on the computer.
    they work together to run the machine, the cam system knowing how to find the control driver and feed gcode to it.

    you can also use Gcode from another source and just load the file in the control driver. gives you some versatility rather than being locked into an all-in-one solution.

    how it works:
    you draw some shapes in the cam, or load a DXF(1) file, then add operations to that, then generate Gcode, then send it to the CONTROL driver. use control driver to set the start positions and then run the Gcode.

    (1) other formats are also supported.

    Not that I know of excepting things like PathPilot that has a wizard for generating Gcode which it then runs.

    As a software engineer I must warn against too much integration. doing CAD and CAM work can require a lot of resources. Sending the Gcode (or running the machine) takes ALL of the resources (a real hard realtime task). With integrated systems there is the temptation to carry on drawing while the machine runs, or read email, or surf openbuilds.com. Don't do that! And the easiest way to not do it is to have the CAD/CAM on a PC and have
    "your choice of GUI" (2)on
    'your choice of hardware'(3) feeding Gcode to gRBL

    (2) There are many GUI's for GRBL but not all are keeping up with changes and bug fixes.
    I have an old i7 laptop running Linux with bCNC as my normal GUI. I do have the Openbuilds CONTROL driver installed and use it now and then for some operations. I usually have to reinstall it everytime I use it because Peter has made yet another improvement (-:

    (3) can be a Windows box, can be RaspberryPi, can be an Intel NUC, lots of options, some small, some cheap, some pretty. I recommend just giving something a try that others are already using.
     
    Peter Van Der Walt likes this.
  6. T_Robert

    T_Robert Well-Known
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    I just started this adventure but I did purchase Estlcam and it does appear have the ability to draw simple shapes and then generate the g-code and control the grbl cnc machine as well as quite a few other machines. It's reasonably priced as well.

    Also to get away from Adobe Inkscape is a good vector graphic program.
     
  7. Giarc

    Giarc Master
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    Estlcam is great. Draw your stuff in whatever CAD you like and save it as a .dxf file. No need to draw in 3D. Also you can use the same file on whatever thickness material you have.
     
  8. Ollieg

    Ollieg Well-Known
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    Based on the information given here these seem to be some options, have I got it correct.

    1. I can draw in Illustrator and import the DXF or Draw within openbuilds CAM then open Openbuilds Controller which will run the machine (which requires a GBRL board?)
    2. I can draw in Illustrator and import the DXF or Draw within Estlecam directly then it generates the code and runs the machines (does this also require a GBRL controller?)

    3. Draw in Sketchup then add SketchUCam plugin will this also control the CNC?

    4. I have also seen Masso, any suggestions on this? what would be the workflow to use this, Illustrator then a cam package then the masso or is there something in between?

    5. No one mentioned Mach3 shall I stay away from this?

    Thanks
     
  9. Ollieg

    Ollieg Well-Known
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    ALso ANy thoughts on Enroute or FlexiSign as they have also been suggested to me
     
  10. Giarc

    Giarc Master
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    If you are using Estlcam to run your Gcode with the built in Estlcam Controller on an "arduino" based machine, then you can not use the Openbuilds software except to generate Gcode. Estlcam overwrites the controller software, but there is a method to reverse this function. The Estlcam software can generate GRBL compatible gcode for other controllers if they are "Arduino" based. It can also generate the right format for many other controllers. Personally, I use the built in controller because I like the "all in one" package. It also has several great probing functions, center finding, etc... I have never used the engraving functions yet. I usually generate v-carving code with Fengrave then use the generated gcode in Estlcam.
     
  11. Gary Caruso

    Gary Caruso OpenBuilds Team
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    If money was not an issue I would think V-carve pro or aspire would be a great option.
    I away's thought it strange that people use an art program to draw dimensional parts, but I guess you use what you know. :)
    Cheers
    Gary
     
  12. Ollieg

    Ollieg Well-Known
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    Yes Gary I know what your saying, for size critical jobs we do use solidworks from time to time but with most of what we make text and signage with limited need for precision it is more important to have an easy to use/ simple software, plus it allows us to use the same design software across lasers, flatbed printers, plotters etc

    For the V carve option does that act as a controller also? What hardware does it require?
     
  13. Gary Caruso

    Gary Caruso OpenBuilds Team
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    V-carve is a CAD/CAM package, Not a controller.
    Doesn't care what hardware, just makes drawing and g-code files, there are Post processors to select from which help make it play nice with just about any hardware, from GRBL to Mach 3/4 boards.
    There are so many ways to do this, you will get a hundred different answers on this topic

    You asked about Estlcam, this is what I use, and yes you can use Illustrator draw your svg - open in Estlcam - create your CAM files - and use Estlcam controller to control the machine.
    Or you can create the code and run the code on anything you want.
    Estlcam will run on a simple Arduino Uno (usb to a pc), sending signals to stepper drivers such as the DQ542MA drives sold on openbuilds.

    Gary
     
  14. Ollieg

    Ollieg Well-Known
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    Thanks Gary all very useful, so the Estlcam option is looking more like what I am after in that case, is there a hardware like the masso but for Estlcam as I would like it to be completely stand alone without having to always be connected via USB to a laptop/ desktop computer
     
  15. Gary Caruso

    Gary Caruso OpenBuilds Team
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    Hi Ollieg, not that I have seen, just get any old pc to use dedicated for it. I have an old Dell xps Core Duo (2 whole cores!) with 4gb of ram and it does well. Fresh install of win10 and an ssd and its nice to use.
    You can try Estlcam for free and see if your Illustrator drawings and cam work out for you.
    This will be a good video to get you started.



     
  16. David the swarfer

    David the swarfer OpenBuilds Team
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    SketchUcam generates the Gcode. Then you feed the Gcode to whatever controller you prefer.
    I don't think that is the implication, only that it costs for both the software and the hardware interface and it is a controller not a CAM system. It can drive stepper drivers off the parallel port but those are becoming rare so you end up with an external interface on the USB port.
     
  17. T_Robert

    T_Robert Well-Known
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    Aspire is kind of neat how it works. I don't know all of the functionality but it creates vector graphics for an outline and then uses molding functions similar to adobe's clone tool to add and subtract from the shape of the object you created with the vector outline. It allows for an easy way to make something look carved. It will also take clip art and create a texture for the appearance of carving. There is no exacting dxf file defining every level shape and curve. And Aspire will generate the g-code once the image is finished.
     

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