A desktop CNC Mill for cutting specific shapes from a variety of materials. Now upgraded with 1000mm x 1000mm rails. Giving a printable area of 780mm x780mm.
Flat Designs - These use Inkscape to create a SVG path. A program such as easel.com then creates a path that the cutter will follow. SVG objects can be asigned different hights so that the flat design file can produce multi level cuts. This is good for creating signs or cutting out patterns. You can also do 2.5D models by layering multiple levels of flat designs.
The first time you run this from your laptop easel will ask you to install software to run the CNC over USB. Once setup you can configure the CNC in the software.
To get the gcode from Easel simply go to Machine > Advanced >Generate G-code > Download Gcode.
From here you can use the MakeHaven file bucket to transfer it to the computer attached to the CNC.
3d Models - These use an STL from a CAD program and can have graduated surfaces on the z-axis. This would be useful for printing complex shapes such as the countours of a landscape. The open source sofware for this is PYCAM. It will take some learning to get the result you want with the software. In my experice PYCAM also take a long, long time to render gcode. A much faster option is Autodesk 360, which is free for hobbiests.
Each of these will generage gcode. This is the language that the Arduino on the Shapeoko reads and will instruct (using software called Grbl) the motors where to move the cutter.
Using Universal Gcode Sender On Pie
When you have generated and tested your gcode you will need to use a gcode sender (easel has a simple alternative gcode sender built in that you may use). The software is called Universal Gcode Sender. This is already loaded on the computer mounted by the CNC. Just follow the instructions in a text file on the desktop.
The CNC has a system attached that cant run Easel directly but can run gcode exported from it or other software to control the tool.
To use the system.
Turn on the screen, make sure Raspberry Pi is plugged in. If Universal Gcode Sender (UGS) is not on screen you can follow the instructions on the desktop to run Start.sh (which will load it).
Once loaded turn on the motors to the CNC (blue switch box on stand).
Then in UGS click "open" to connect. You should now be able to control the machine under the "machine control" tab.
In some cases the machine might be in "alert" mode. To allow control of the machine go to the tool in UGS for sending text commands and send "$h". This will put it through the homing process. If that does not work you can use "$x" to ignore the alert. (this alert thing requires a little more research).
After that you can load your gcode (Tip: use the file bucket to transfer it to the pie) in the UGS tab that says "file control". Once it has loaded you simply press send (after you ensure you material is secure and everything is setup right).
You can open gcode in a text file to get an idea of it works. Gcode is fairly readable. Looking at the file you will likely see G00 (travel without cutting) and G01 (cut a straight line between points). Other codes define curves and other specialty cuts.
Before you use the code you should preview it. There is a powerful preview tool called CAMotics. This allows you to watch a fast motion simulation of your work being cut. If everything looks in order you can take the next step and send the code to the cutter.
Be sure that you have setup the tool in the cutter and done all safety checks. Put the shapeoko cutting tool in the lower left corner (it will call this zero)
If you have trouble sending it could be that the default sending settings are set to limit your charicters to 50 per line. You can up this to 70 in the Gcode sending program. If you still have trouble you can manualy edit the gcode in a text editor and remove the commnts sections in the header and footer. These are not read by the arduino and are some times too long and confuse it. Particularly when using PYCAM to generate your gcode carfuly observe plunge and cutting speed. We have seen examples where it has moved far too fast and the speed need to be manually reduced (find the related gcode instruction and do a find and replace in the text file).
Directly From Easel (on your laptop)
First you must have a digital model of what you want to create. There are two options and require different software to generate the code you will need to run the CNC. If you are going to run it from your lap you need to install Universal GCode Sender or the software plugin that Easel offers (as well as the Arduino IDE).