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Looking for workable gcode solution for 1010

Discussion in 'DrawBot' started by AllanArt, Dec 28, 2019.

  1. AllanArt

    AllanArt New
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    In the process of building a special application large scale ARCO 1010 pen plotter. I need to plot hundreds, in some cases thousands of open and closed end illustrative vector shapes created in Adobe Illustrator. Creating gcode in CAM via svg file is a non starter given CAM's one-at-a-time vector handling interface - plus other workflow limitations with that app. Tried Inkscape's "gcodetools" plugin extension but it has serious a host of serious problems and bug issues of its own - particularly on the Mac side - as the developer has essentially abandoned the plugin - as told to me in the Inkscape forum. I've searched all kinds of avenues for a workable replacement without success so far. That said, I see that OpenBuilds offers a laser cnc app called Lightburn. Can that app be used successfully as an svg to gcode converter by setting parameters for a pen as if it was a single pass laser plot on a surface with zero thickness?
     
  2. Giarc

    Giarc Master
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    I am probably not understanding what it is you are trying to draw because I can't see it, but I draw stuff with a pen holder that fits in my Makita's collet a lot. I just put all my graphics that I want drawn onto one "page" and save the whole thing as one .dxf file. I then tell my CAM (I use Estlcam) that my cutter is a 1 mm endmill because that is approximately the size of a Sharpie tip. I put a cutting depth of .2 mm. That may need to be adjusted if you want really fine detail. Then I select the option to engrave on the center of the lines in the .dxf. It works every time. Another way I have done it is saving the file as a bitmap then using Fengrave to create the gcode.
     
    #2 Giarc, Dec 29, 2019
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2019
    Peter Van Der Walt likes this.
  3. AllanArt

    AllanArt New
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    Interesting approach, but that workflow would not work for my app. My pen plot needs are far more robust and detailed than you describe. I need a large scale pen plotter to lay down very detailed, fine line ink - mostly the fine liner pen type - as an overlay on to base artwork I create by another means, for fine detail purposes and artistic treatment. Hundreds, if not more, of open ended vector strokes, lines, contours and the like are involved. Some closed end and filled in object shapes too which I create in Adobe Illustrator. The ideal solution would be to drive the 1010 directly from Adobe as if it were a traditional realtime XY plotter. But no such driver solution exists to my knowledge. Subject to someone correcting me on this, the only path I have to the 1010's grbl controller with these vector strokes is to save the drawing as an svg file and open it up in an app that can convert the vectors in to gcode paths. I thought I would be able to use the gcode plug in extension in Inkscape but that is a total bust, as it has serious compatibility issues with the recent Inkscape releases - especially on the Mac side. So far the 3rd party conversion apps I've found seem to be very limited and geared towards simpler cnc tool handling tasks mostly. If that is my only choice right now - i.e. find a cnc app that can handle the conversion workflow and task I need - my question is can I use a cnc app like Lightburn (offered by Openbuilds) by essentially ignoring the laser parameter settings, other than on/off to serve as pen up/down, and deal with it like a one pass cnc laser burn task where I pretend the pen is a laser?
     
  4. Peter Van Der Walt

    Peter Van Der Walt OpenBuilds Team
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    The basis of the workflow above stands, if you need to plot "on the line" set a endmill diameter of 0, else set the offset (tool/endmill diameter) to exactly the width of your pen stroke

    Light Burn will use Grbl's Laser Mode (so no way of lifting/moving pen) so you will need to post process the gcode

    Can you elaborate?
    Load a file with tonnes of vectors (DXF or SVG), CTRL+A or the Select all button top right selects everyting (it certainly isnt restricted to one-at-a-time!), Add to Toolpath, set parameters, Preview, Generate Gcode :) Done

    You can also select multiple vectors in other ways, except for select all:
    - drag a marque selection over the 3D view with your mouse, vectors are added to selection when marquee crosses the centerpoint of their bounding box
    - Hold down CTRL and click vectors in the 3D view until you have all the ones you want selected
    - Use the Documents treeview at the top right to select specific Layers or Entities, or even SVG groups
     
  5. David the swarfer

    David the swarfer OpenBuilds Team
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    Sketchup 2016 + SketchUcam will do it.
    you may also need a DXF import plugin

    then, select the Centerline tool, set depth to 100%, select all the lines CTRL-A, click one selected line to set them all as centerline cuts (which handles open ended lines).
    now use the Parameters dialog to set the material thickness to a useful value, say 1mm, and safe height to 1mm.
    this means it will move Z at 1mm above the work, and move the pen tip 1mm below the work to 'draw' (2mm total down movement to draw). I am assuming your pen is on some sort of spring mount.

    with the parameters set, click the 'create gcode' button.

    test on a simple drawing first, thousands of line segments will take a while to process, both for setting the cuts and for generating Gcode (unless you have a really nice PC).

    To get the best out of SketchUcam you will want to read the manual and watch the videos .
     
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  6. AllanArt

    AllanArt New
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    I used to use Inkscape, but now I use Adobe Illustrator for reasons too lengthy to explain here. But Illustrator has no gcode plugin so to get to the ACRO I must save and move the file to Inkscape as an svg. Internally Inkscape describes these vector shapes in an xml file that is visible to the user, for those who wish to view it. The line drawing I will make is laid out on 1, possibly 2 layers and contains hundreds, if not more, vector elements. 90% of the vectors are open ended fine lines. Basically it's the equivalent of a black pen & ink series of accent lines, lots and lots of them, I wish to plot as an overlay (plot) on top of base artwork I created using a special technique and media. I'll go back and look at CAM again, but without the benefit of a manual my initial impression of CAM was it required describing path parameters for each and every vector object it loads in to its viewer, which it lays out on the graphical right side of the GUI. While I could accept making some minor edits to a core gcode file or tree structure, it would be unworkable if what you are telling me requires me to drill down in to the tree structure of CAM and start picking my way thru the parameters for the segments to make some kind of manual changes. Pls correct me if I misunderstand the scope of its capabilities. However, in general, any gcode solution that requires me to muck about, line-by-line in a text editor, or even a GUI tree, other than in a minor way, is unworkable in my app. There are simply too many vector elements involved.

    Which brings me back to my question initial question about Lightburn. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you are telling me that that laser cnc software will not work for me because, for openers, it does not provide a means to command a "pen up" servo command. Is that the jist of it? Thx
     
  7. Peter Van Der Walt

    Peter Van Der Walt OpenBuilds Team
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    So, LightBurn: Correct: Read gnea/grbl - that what its outputting GCODE for (G0 moves = laser off, G1 = laser on)
    So you'll need to post process the file (some trial and error with find and replace may just do) and put your pen down commands before any G1 moves, and Pen Up commands after any G1 move (or maybe before any G0 move)

    CAM might supports open Vectors in some operations (the No Offset type of operations): Select all -> Try the CNC: Vector No Offset (has Z moves you can use for the pen) operation

    Fine grained selection is available but not forced on you, different strokes for different folks. For example some like to use Layers to describe the work (cut here, engrave here, burn here etc) then its easy to just add each layer to a Cam Operation. Or some specific job you want a lot of control over you may want to select-all EXCEPT that one little logo for example, then add a second operation for the logo (just select its entities or layer) and then apply a different set of parameters just to it. Really powerful. If all you are doing is ONE thing (trace the line with a pen) Ctrl+A (select all) probably is all you need

    PS: post the SVGs easier to see what your issue is if we can play with it, than guessing of a description :)
     
    #7 Peter Van Der Walt, Dec 30, 2019
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2019
  8. AllanArt

    AllanArt New
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    That explains the initial issue I had with Cam to cause me to bail on it at first try - Thx. As for Lightburn, Using "find & replace" to edit the code exposes another workflow issue. The overlay plot has to work 100% without a mistake. One visible plot mistake and my underlay artwork is ruined. It would force me to do a dry run with the pen mechanically offset above the surface to make sure I didn't miss something in the editing process. Not a practical solution. No, I'll either have to find a workable gcode solution, or deal with the bugs and limitations of Inkscape's plugin. That said, it surprises me that someone has not come up with a workable gcode plugin for Illustrator. There's a market for that option.
     
  9. Peter Van Der Walt

    Peter Van Der Walt OpenBuilds Team
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  10. AllanArt

    AllanArt New
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    I am open to paying for a solution if necessary, if it will really handle the task and the workflow is practical - which is why I asked about Lightburn - which I think sells for a modest price. But Aspire is a high end $350 package designed for cnc carving. A lot to spend on an app for which I have no direct use, and remains to be seen if it's workable in my case.
     
  11. Peter Van Der Walt

    Peter Van Der Walt OpenBuilds Team
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    Lightburn is "for lasers" so i don't expect it to work, but speak to them directly: Contact / Suggestions
     

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