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 Post subject: Cnc software to learn on
PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2018 9:55 am 
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Koa
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Looking ahead to 2019 I hope to get into cnc stuff/)
Question... is there a free software out there that is good enough that I can learn on? I’d like to have a few chops before purchasing a machine and such ... I may even hate it haha

Advise is welcome
Mac based is a big plus for me


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2018 10:16 am 
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Fusion 360 - available for Mac, free for non-commercial use, tons of great tutorials published by users, and has built in CAM. Its a very richly featured, powerful software package, and has a corresponding learning curve. I've been learning to use it for simple CNC machining with my Sherline mill/lathe.

https://www.autodesk.com/products/fusion-360/overview

This guy has pretty good tutorials.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5bc9c3S12g



These users thanked the author dpetrzelka for the post (total 2): SnowManSnow (Tue Nov 20, 2018 12:06 pm) • DavidSchwab (Tue Nov 20, 2018 10:53 am)
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2018 10:53 am 
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I’m learning Fusion 360. So far I like it.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2018 11:28 am 
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+1 on F360.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2018 2:41 pm 
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Koa
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So... does 360 allow you to draw the design on a plane ? Or do you have to import a shape into the plane? Is that a silly question?
I guess I’m asking if it allows for complex shapes or just basic circles and square type things ...
Hope that doesn’t sound stupid


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2018 3:12 pm 
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SnowManSnow wrote:
So... does 360 allow you to draw the design on a plane ? Or do you have to import a shape into the plane? Is that a silly question?
I guess I’m asking if it allows for complex shapes or just basic circles and square type things ...
Hope that doesn’t sound stupid


Fusion360 is a full on 3D workspace with parametric timeline. It is more program than 99% of us will ever need. And the tutorials available on Youtube are all the training you could hope for.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2018 3:14 pm 
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Koa
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Allen McFarlen wrote:
SnowManSnow wrote:
So... does 360 allow you to draw the design on a plane ? Or do you have to import a shape into the plane? Is that a silly question?
I guess I’m asking if it allows for complex shapes or just basic circles and square type things ...
Hope that doesn’t sound stupid


Fusion360 is a full on 3D workspace with parametric timeline. It is more program than 99% of us will ever need. And the tutorials available on Youtube are all the training you could hope for.


Thanks downloaded it earlier


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2018 3:22 pm 
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It allows for very complex 3D drawing.

Start by watching that video I linked - it maps out the the Fusion approach to assemblies, components, bodies, planes. You can, and I do, start by drawing 2d objects on a plane initially, then Push/Pull to define the body. I'm not familiar with importing a shape into a plane.

That guy has had some of the best tutorials I've found yet.



These users thanked the author dpetrzelka for the post: SnowManSnow (Tue Nov 20, 2018 10:39 pm)
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2018 10:40 pm 
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Been messing with it:)


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2018 8:26 am 
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So I’ve been toying w making a basic bridge. It seems the process involves first creating a rectangle, extruding it to the right height then cutting off / extruding out what isn’t part of the design.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2018 8:46 am 
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If you are new into cnc, vectric software is the easiest to make quality stuff without a team of programmers and long learning curve. You have to run your machine with something, I use Mach3 cnc software, its very reasonably priced or maybe it still has an eval version. So:

1. vectric package you select : cut 3d, or aspire, or v carve pro...all of them are good and up gradable- This software will design your project, render it so you can see it before you cut it, and then it will make your gcode for your cnc. I think there is an eval version.

2. Mach3 will run your gcode files and cut it on your machine.

I've tried to learn Rhino cad and a few other cad programs and although they are quality stuff, it was just to much of learning curve for me and the frustration would overtake me. Yea, if you want to get your feet wet and make cool stuff in a short time, this is the road i suggest. I have made strat necks, guitar bodies, radius dishes, tons of jigs and fixtures etc.... I just finished my mandolin top using aspire. I love it!


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2018 9:34 am 
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Kurt,

I have to interject here a bit.

I use Vcarve pro for inlay and other than the very simplest parts like fretboards, I don't see how it can be used to design guitar parts. I'm not sure that Vcarve can even handle the radius of a FB without using 3D files created elsewhere. There are some 3D features that Vcarve does have but they're very limited. Aspire on the other hand can handle quite a bit, but it's definitely not up to the level of a tool like F360.

I normally use SolidWorks 2018 for all of my 3D stuff but I've been dabbling with Fusion 360 lately because the HSMworks CAM in there is brilliant for cutting metals which I'm doing now for a particular project. If you want to elevate your CNC game to 3D parts, it's pretty essential to learn a package like SW or F360 or even Aspire. I agree that Vectric products are great which is why I use Vcarve for certain things and they're much easier to learn than packages like Rhino, F360 etc. But no one should expect to buy Cut 3D or Vcarve and be able to start designing guitar parts. Cut 3D in fact only works with imported 3D files and can't be used to design anything.

Aspire as you know can do it but it's also a $2k product. It very may well be worth it though because of the support it provides but F360 is much more powerful in the end. Aspire is great but it's really geared to 3D sign makers where it does a wonderful job.

Mach 3....is really really bad. It's popular because it was cheap and the only game in town for a long time but it's full of bugs, some of them very serious, that were never fixed nor will they ever be fixed. It also has a terrible UI and I'd recommend the screenset from CNCwoodworker to anyone who refuses/can't switch from Mach 3 I've also used Mach 4 and it's pretty bad too.

I use UCCNC which has much better performance than Mach 3 and is far far far less buggy. UCCNC + a motion controller like the UC100 is typically cheaper than Mach 3 and a motion controller.

For the free route, Linux CNC is much more stable than Mach 3 and performs better. I don't use Linux CNC directly but PathPilot which is a custom roll of LinuxCNC that runs my mill. I know that LinuxCNC will run external motion controllers but I'm not sure which ones are supported. I would recommend just about anything (other than a GRBL based control which is really sub-hobby level) over Mach 3. None of the stuff in the price range we're talking about is perfect but Mach 3 is at the absolute bottom of the barrel in my opinion.

My recommendation - F360 for CAD/CAM (which runs on a Mac also) and UCCNC/UC100 for control. I'm really irritated by the F360 UI but that's probably because I'm so familiar with SW. I've watched a lot of videos of people doing some incredible stuff with F360.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2018 11:21 am 
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First name: Kurt
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Andy, dont disagree a bit. Vectric is really good about upgrades so buying vcarve (not aspire) to learn how things run (I remember the first time I cut a circle, I took a victory lap around the shop) is huge...then they give you a very fair upgrade price from what I remember. Now for someone who programs cnc everyday, my advice is a joke. But I can walk away from from vectric aspire for 6 months at a time, come back,turn it on , draw a program and make something happen without watching countless videos and relearning every fricken thing. Its very simple and easy. Now , hmmmm..... Mach 3, I have been running it for many years, hahaha yea it probably sucks, but its what was available and affordable a number of years back. Is there something better, cheaper, easier....yea maybe. It has never once hickup'ed on me and if there are bugs (and im sure there are), I just load my g code and go....it works everytime. Anyway, I know lots of guys buy these machines, get frustrated and sell them because of the steep learning curve. Just trying to give good advise of a shortcut or simple way to get out and make something happen and enjoy what your doing.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2018 3:23 pm 
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kage wrote:
Mach 3, I have been running it for many years, ..... It has never once hickup'ed on me


Kurt, you may not know it, but I'll bet your machine's accelerations are probably set to about 40% of where they should be due to the major CV trajectory planner bug that's in there. i.e. your rapids could be 100% faster just by switching from Mach3 to something else - this is a bug people notice very early on, figure their acceleration is simply set too high to prevent stalling and through trial and error, drop it until the machine works. This is due to a bug where Mach 3 is violating the max accel parameter by up to 50%......sometimes. If you're using your machine every 6 months - no big deal, just wait longer for it to cut. OEMs just tuned their machines so it doesn't matter and that's why so many hobby machines running mach 3 are so slow (Some support info: https://en.industryarena.com/forum/mach ... 113-4.html )

There's more - I once had it ruin a guitar body after a 4 hour cut with a random, repeatable move that wasn't programmed. After troubleshooting, I could even start at the line of code that caused the un-programmed line and it would make a random unprogrammed move. Add anything to the file - e.g. a space in the code somewhere - and the bug would go away (or perhaps move somewhere else - I don't know because that was the final straw after ruining about $200 in customer guitar bodies). Take the space out and the bug was back.

Just trust me on this one - Mach 3 is absolute garbage in spite of the fact that it works kinda sorta okay I guess for 99% of the users. The reason that's true is because most people who've had problems with Mach eventually abandon it because it's so terrible.

Please please please don't recommend Mach 3 to any beginners - it won't make their lives any easier considering that there are far superior options that are out there these days.

Re: Vectric - yes their upgrade is very fair, I believe it's either 100% or very close to it. Spend $500 on Vcarve, get a $500 credit for Aspire (or very close to it). Support is also fantastic. I found a bug when doing an inlay and they had a patch like the next day. Probably my favorite CAD/CAM company.

UCCNC support is a bit arrogant but I went to them pretty early when it was released and found an overflow bug in long programs. They didn't believe me at first but when I shot a quick video, they had it fixed in a couple days. The CV mode bug in Mach 3 has been around since the beginning and still hasn't been fixed.

p.s. I apologize in advance if this causes you to find a bug in Mach 3 - you know how the cosmos works :roll:

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2018 6:12 pm 
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Andy, just finished cutting 5 minutes ago. Yea, Im not 100% sold on the mach3 as user friendly. I have it set just right and have never adjusted it. Anyway, I think mach 3 was $150 . Now, I remember looking at solidworks (cant afford it...lol) ...Anyway, I looked at your site, its obvious you do this very seriously and its in your best interest to have the best of the best , you should , because people are paying you. In my case, I am never going to splurge on solidworks, and for me to dump $2000 into Aspire was a very serious decision I made yrs back and I was able to upgrade and learn at the same time. I'm not selling guitars, just want to make a few, play em, drink a beer at the end of the day and be proud of what I made. So for the guys like me, what do you recommend for a mach 3 replacement. Just remember, its hard to spend $500 or more on software that accomplishes the exact same thing I have now. I could sure think of other things in my shop that would make more sense to replace. I would get rid of mach 3, but at what cost? would like to have a little friendlier interface... I'll be the first to take your advise if its reasonable $


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2018 7:32 pm 
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Kurt - just to be clear, I'm not trying to be combative or anything I've just seen so many issues with Mach 3 and watched so many people chase their tails and...I've probably spent *over* $500 in ruined parts strictly because of Mach3 which kind of turned me into a hater.

I settled on the UCCNC/UC100 combination for my routers:

https://cnc4pc.com/uccnc-control-software.html $60
https://cnc4pc.com/uc100-usb-motion-controller.html?SID=5m0jaatoln795micvtakudun65 $110

$170 plus shipping. I'd highly recommend buying from cnc4PC as there are UC100 forgeries on ebay for like $60 that are crap and don't work right. If you find a UC100 for less than $100 it's quite likely its a forgery. The UC100 is a drop in replacement for the parallel port as well which is one of the reasons I bought it. (It actually also works with Mach 3 but used that way it doesn't solve most of the bugs in Mach 3).

If $170 is too much you can try LinuxCNC http://linuxcnc.org It's free but it runs on Linux which can be more complicated than windoze but for a dedicated control machine it shouldn't be too bad. It also will run without a motion controller just like Mach 3 (but I'd recommend a motion controller). Tormach used to run Mach 3 but as an OEM, they had so many issues with it that they decided to roll their own version of LinuxCNC which is branded as PathPilot. I have used this a lot now and it's pretty good but quite difficult (and expensive) to use on machines other than Tormach.

If you're happy with what you have but would like a better UI, definitely pick up this screenset: http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2010.html Ger, the guy who made the screenset, also makes one for UCCNC which I haven't tried yet but I'm sure it's good. The tool change macros in those screen sets are brilliant and there's no way I could keep the family fed without them. When I showed Ger the difference in performance between Mach 3 and UCCNC he switched as well. Ger's day job is programming and running an 8x12' industrial machine with an ATC, separate drill spindle and two 20HP vacuum pumps! He also made his own CNC way back in the day when no one was doing it and Mach was truly the only game in town.

The screenset is only $20 and makes Mach WAY more user friendly.

Best of luck with whatever choice you make!

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2018 9:04 pm 
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p.s. the "best of the best" as far as affordable stuff goes is probably kmotionCNC with a Kflop motion controller. It's not that expensive but it gives the performance of industrial controllers. The downside is that you have to do quite a bit of programming to get it up and running. I actually have one sitting around but I never got it up and running just because of that.

The Kflop + an I/O expansion board has enough power to retrofit modern controls to an older industrial CNC machine and have it perform very well. Bob Garrish who used to hang out on the forum (hey buddy!) did exactly that to an older VMC and raved about the performance.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2018 8:02 am 
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Walnut
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Cool! was just looking at the usb adapter, now thats what I need! Im on borrowed time with my old Dell computer and windows xp. Im running this because of the parallel port. I want to convert over to a laptop with usb, with updated software 64 bit windows 10 or whatever is current. And finally get my tower computer out of the shop and just bring out my laptop when its cut time. $170 is reasonable to do this and try out the new software for $60. Any reason why I shouldnt use a laptop? I'll probably order this later today and take your advise


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2018 8:59 pm 
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I use UCCNC and a UC100 dongle off a Windows tablet with no issues.


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