pic related. ordered a chinese 3040T cnc router/mill and should get here today. it is coming with some pirated mach3 software which is supposed to be pretty decent. I prefer linux, and installed linuxcnc to mess around with it. i can see that there will be a learning curve either way to get it set up (cnc noob), but i wanted to ask here to see what sort of CAM software solutions are used, or preferred, why, etc.
RhinoCAM is nice, but I haven't used CAM software in years now, so my opinion is based on outdated experience.
I think it makes the most sense to use whatever software is commercially popular or standard right now. You're going to have that learning curve no matter what, so you might as well learn something that's going to be standard for a long time to come. Imagine how all those CorelDraw people felt when Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator became the standards for raster and vector image work. They had to throw out years of training to learn the new standards. You don't want to go through that with your CAD/CAM stuff.
I have one of these, AMA
>it should get here today
I hope you have a tracking number showing so. The promised ship date on the auction will be missed by at least two, maybe four weeks. The seller from whom you purchased this is undoubtedly a drop-shipper who imports these from the one factory that makes 'em. I'm certain your paypal transaction went to XINGZAO IMPORT/EXPORT LTD or something similar, can't be assed to look it up now but all the ebay sellers are sockpuppet accounts of the same company. You should be receiving two boxes, one a cardboard one with the controller box/ 4th axis/ cables / hardware and one a wooden crate with the actual machine.
If you want to score a cool $5, leave them a neutral feedback rating due to slow shipping. You will be offered $5 by paypal as a bribe to change your feedback to positive.
As far as CAM, try Fusion360. Works alright for me and is free for startups/hobby use.
here's my setup
If you're wondering why it's in a tub that's extended over the edge of the desk, that's for coolant. My coolant pump is an aquarium powerhead I bought at a salvage store. Pumping against a couple feet of head, it has a rated flow of 880 GPH which is way too much for what I'm doing, so I'm putting in a valve to slow the flow.
The router sits inside a polyethylene concrete-mixing tub that I bought from Mcmaster. I'm not super happy with it because it has ribs that prevent it from sitting super flat. I use it because I bought it, but if I was doing it again I'd find something else.
Coolant returns through a shower drain that I cut and caulked into place, into a scrounged plastic storage container. Inside the container is my filter, two foam filters for wet vacuum shopvac use. Filtered coolant drops back into the homer bucket tank. Works well enough. Coolant is Koolmist 77.
The base for my machine is a steel surface plate that I bought for scrap price from an industrial surplus store. Ohiofags be sure to check out HGR Industrial Surplus; shit is cash. It's about 170 lbs of good old-fashioned cast iron.
I put the router on the plate and marked where the feet lie, drilling through holes appropriately. Be aware that the feet are machined from a forging and that the threaded end is not concentric with the ball that fits into the rubber foot. I had to widen two of the holes to get things to fit properly.
I've spaced the router above the plate with rubber anti-vibration pads also from McMaster. It needs a little height off the table to provide clearance for the Y-axis motor.
I used bolts and washers thru the surface plate and anti-vibration pads to secure the router to the surface plate. This also allowed me to level the bed and adjust to prevent warping.
Have fun finding the initial Mach3 settings, by the way. The instructions provided for the "knife road software" that runs your "exquisite miniature version of longman cutting structure" are in horrible engrish mixed with traditional chinese characters, and the screenshots did not work for me. I had to trial and error out all my motor pin settings.
OP here. lots of good things here.
it arrived on schedule and was mostly ok. there was a damaged foot, but nothing show stopping.
pro choice on the cooling. i was thinking of getting a bucket from lowes depot and outfitting it similarly.
i just built a set of these for the garage workspace.
the router and accoutrements take up most of a table top, and i have the control box below with enough room to put a tub for the coolant. shit's cash.
I finally got the parallel ports set up in linuxcnc, and am pretty happy with it. the control box is missing the wiring for the spindle, but the hardware is all in place. should just be a short wiring job.
I looked at a lot of CAM software, and looked more deeply at g-code. i'm an electrical engineer, so of course i'm going to go with the most convoluted solution possible and write my own CAM, but it's going to take a while. gcode seems simple enough, though. until then, i'm looking at eaglecad and i found this website:
they take gerber files and have a fancy interface to choose tools and it gives visual feedback as to how your project should be. i'll be receiving my engraving bits tomorrow some time, so i've thrown together a test pcb to see what's up. pic related.
that should emulate the shift registers in an snes controller and allow for analog inputs, so you can use the controller as the mouse for mouse enabled carts in the snes. the next phase is milling the enclosure and HAPP buttons and joystick.
I too had a damaged foot. Interesting.
You're right that g-code is pretty simple. For simple tasks I can just hand write a program, but more detailed or longer programs take too much time to make. I'm setting up to engrave firearms, and my programs tend to be 2 to 3 thousand lines of code. At my day job I write programs that have hundreds of thousands of lines of code - no way to do that manually. I use an integrated cad-cam package at work, so fusion360 comes pretty naturally to me.
Props to you if you make your own cam. I'm not sure why you'd want to when fairly powerful and polished freeware exists but I won't sling shit at you.
Would you mind sharing how you wired your spindle controller? Mine just has a variable resistor on the front of the control box to adjust rpm.