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LazyCam (Beta) / Re: Chains and nodes in lazycam
« on: October 24, 2021, 01:57:14 AM »
I lost my shop to a fire a couple of years ago, so it has been awhile since I have used LazyCAM. But I think that you should experiment with different settings in the Extents option of LC. However, I can't remember whether higher Extents yield better results, but I think it was lower Extents settings, that eliminated the "Crop Circles" that otherwise results.

Show"N"Tell ( Your Machines) / Re: Can anyone identify this machine?
« on: October 22, 2021, 11:30:41 PM »
Thanks for your response, Tweakie. I am still searching for anyone who recognizes it.

Show"N"Tell ( Your Machines) / Re: Can anyone identify this machine?
« on: October 20, 2021, 11:20:06 PM »
I have been documenting this machine for the past couple of weeks. And upon closer inspection, it seems to be GLUED together with some type of silicone. There are allen bolts holding things together at critical points. My thought is, since Kwong said the person he bought it from had said they "used it to cut aluminum" is that the silicone adhesive they used would accommodate coolant. It is the custom shapes of the aluminum extrusions which leads me to believe this was a kit, of some sort. Perhaps across the pond. TWEAKIE, are you familiar with this?

Show"N"Tell ( Your Machines) / Re: Can anyone identify this machine?
« on: October 09, 2021, 07:38:20 PM »
I forgot to mention, the router on this machine is a Porter Cable Model 75182. It is a Production Router with variable speeds from 10,000 to 21,000 RPM.

Show"N"Tell ( Your Machines) / Can anyone identify this machine?
« on: October 09, 2021, 07:32:15 PM »
I bought this CNC router from a man named Kwong Kim. He had owned it several years, and did not recall who he bought it from. Only that they had said they used it, for machining aluminum. It is a very well made machine, with steel (supported) rails, with 1.594" dia ball bearings riding against them on 2 sides. The X and Y drives are gear rack and pinions, driven by toothed belts with toothed pulleys. The belts are in good shape, but I would like to know the specifics, for the day when they are no longer in good shape. I have searched all over the machine, and not found any sort of labels, or identifying marks from the manufacturer.
  It is driven by Mach3 (the computer was included in the purchase, with Mach3 already installed). The frame is all aluminum, and features a satin finish, so I am not sure if it is T6061 or 2024, or What? If this was a home-built machine, my hat is off, to the person who designed, and built this machine. Most of the frame components are aluminum I beam-like. I say "Like", because instead of a traditional T at the top, and bottom of the I beam, they sort of taper out from a center thickness of about 0.25" to the T thickness of 0.695" The T slot table seems to be extruded aluminum, which accommodates 1/4" T bolt hold-down clamps from Rockler. Does anyone recognize this machine? Sound off! Thanks! -Michael

Well, I actually lost my shop to a fire a year ago. But what I had was a Harbor Freight 2HP dust collector with a 4" dia hose for the vacuum system. The most re-engineered component of my entire CNC machine, was the Dust Shoe. For it is the item that actually allows any vacuum system to do it's thing. Attention to keeping the brush strips of the Dust Shoe "just touching" the surface during use is key. Also, maintaining a good seal around it's perimeter is needed, to keep the dust removed. After MANY iterations of design, I finally came up with one which worked. It involved mounting the Dust Shoe to two vertical steel rods, which were held in place by two sets of pulley bearings (of the type used on sliding glass doors) on each rod. This allowed the Shoe to "float" over the tips of the brushes, while still allowing it to shift side-to-side slightly. Hold-down clamps on the table had to be modified for the lowest profile height as possible (to allow the Shoe to pass over them, instead of crashing into them). Experience, aka School of Hard Knocks, taught me that Dust Shoes can NOT be mounted directly to the Router mounts, because as the machine makes upward Z movements to lift the cutter from the material, it will also lift the Dust Shoe (thereby BREAKING the seal of the brush strips against the table surface, and the Router motor will BLOW DUST EVERYWHERE!). Also, if mounted directly to the Router mounts, it will be necessary to remove the Dust Shoe at every tool change.
In summary, it's not so much the brand or type of vacuum system you use, but rather the efficiency of the design that yields the best results. Hope this helps!

Thanks, Rich. After seeing the results that Tweakie posted, I started thinking that my problem is something mechanical. I have ordered a new lead screw nut for the X axis (since the existing one probably has somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 million miles on it). I tried slowing the feed rate to a crawl, so that I could witness the axis read-outs during cutting. There is no movement displayed which is outside of the coordinates in the G code. So my thoughts are: the excessive wear of the acme threads of the bronze lead screw nut allow machine vibration to cause it to move from thread to thread surface of the lead screw. This has been the DEVIL to track down, (and I am STILL NOT convinced that it is the actual problem), but thru trial and error (as always) we shall see....
  As for LazyCAM's ability to interpret *.plt files, it has for over 11 years now. CorelDRAW version X3's DXF export results in a microscopic sized image when imported into LazyCAM. After experimentation, I found that the HPGL.PLT file format preserved the images in the actual size drawn, when importing them into LazyCAM.  For engravings, in particular, I have created my own "Fonts" for use with the CNC. They are obviously NOT actual "Fonts", but just a vector graphic image of lines, circles, and arcs. I am aware, that the "Circles and Arcs" created in CorelDRAW are NOT actual ellipses, but rather a series of segmented lines which form the arcs.
   However, for my purposes (engraving simulated "Text"), it has served me well for over 11 years now. Until I encountered this problem the other day. Hopefully the new lead screw nut will cure this problem (once it arrives). THANKS for your help!

Thanks for that, Tweakie. "F Engrave"? tell me more. I have been painstakingly using LazyCAM for years, and having to manually re-order the cutting order of each line of each character in order to force the machine to engrave in the same manner it would do if it were actually text. The reason being, that while text can be engraved, it always comes in as an outline of the characters. Which is fine, as long as the desired characters to be engraved are a minimum of 1" in height. But rather useless, when the desired characters are only 1/8" in height. The double-lines created in a character outline tends to result in an unrecognizable hole being drilled into the wood.
  THANK YOU for trying the G code, to verify that it is correct! I am still no closer to diagnosing the problem. The tool parameters for the engraving bit, takes .008" per pass. So, with a starting depth of -.420" to a cutting depth of -.452" it actually makes 5 passes per character segment line. As you can see, in the photo of the actual engraving, the vertical lines of the character segment of the center T and E letters, seem to be "stepping to the left" with each pass. This is ONLY happening with just those two letters. As you can also see in the photo, the repeated runs of the engraving has resulted in repeated engravings of ALL other letters with absolute precision! My thoughts now, are that perhaps the lead screw on the X axis has some sort of wear in this area, allowing machine vibrations to cause the router to "drift" from right to left, during carving. But again, WHY does it only happen in this area (which only measures about 1/2" to 5/8" wide)? Inspecting the lead screw, does not reveal anything, so????? Perhaps an excorcism is in order....

I designed and built a 4 axis router table. (Basically a mill table, with 4th axis functioning as a lathe). I purchased the Mach3 software with LazyCAM Pro, and have been running the machine since 2008 with few problems. However, lately I have been experiencing things that I cannot seem to pin down. About my machine:
48vdc Keling Technologies power supply to a Gecko G540 driver. All motors are NEMA 34 steppers wired in Bipolar Parallel configuration. I use CorelDRAW to create most basic tool path artwork, and export the files from Corel DRAW as Hewlett Packard Graphics Language *.plt files. These files are then imported into LazyCAM, and edited for tool path creation. Most files of this type are used to engrave wood carvings that I do (using MeshCAM Art software). However, something is causing the X axis to "Drift" during the engraving process. I have tried cancelling all G41 or G42 moves (so that the tool path follows at center line with No cutter diameter compensation), yet the problem persists. The artwork is a simple arrangement of lines and arcs which form the letters in the word "Lieutenant". The letters are arranged in an arc, and engrave with absolute precision and repeatability with the exception of the letters T and E near the center of the arc. The vertical lines of those two letters seem to "step over" approximately 0.050" with each pass of the cutting tool.  Obsessed, with finding the cause, I filled in the damaged areas surrounding those two letters with wood putty. Then re-homed the machine, and tried it again. The cutter followed the existing cut lines with absolute precision. And repeated the "step over" on the vertical lines of the T and E AGAIN! I have checked the G code, line by line, and there does not appear to be any variation at all in the starting and ending coordinates of each of those vertical lines. The G91.1 code is inserted by LazyCAM due to the single arc that appears in the letter U. The only other G codes that appear in the file are G0 and G1. So, I am baffled. I can upload the gcode file so others may inspect it for themselves. The specific size of the area to be engraved measures 7.5" wide x 10.75" tall. The zero coordinates are at center (X3.75 Y5.355) the cutting depth starts at Z-.4200" and cuts to a depth of Z-.452" The tool I am using, is a 1/8" diameter engraving cutter which features a very sharp V cut which measures about 0.02" wide at the tip, and flares out to about 0.025" at the top. (Relative to the depth of cut). It would be great, if someone else could do a test cut of this file, and report whether or not the letters engrave correctly. The attached Lieutenant.tap file is the one I am referencing here. Any advice, or suggestions as to the possible cause is greatly appreciated!

G-Code, CAD, and CAM discussions / Home command
« on: August 13, 2019, 09:18:38 PM »
I am experiencing problems with my machine. It seems that the X axis is losing steps (or some other problem). What happens, is that the X axis will get progressively off in the + direction during the carving process. I am not very fluent with G code, but was wondering if it would be possible to enter a Macro command within the G code, which would re-home the machine between each pass, then continue where it left off at. If so, what is the correct G code, or macro I would need to enter? What I am referring to, in particular, is to invoke the same macro command that is built in to the 2010 Screen set. Please HELP!

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