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Messages - kthomson

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General Mach Discussion / Re: Engraving with mach3 ?
« on: October 27, 2009, 08:41:04 PM »
I believe you are going to have to use a program that allows you to save text as curves. I've done it (not with Arabic) using Corel. You can export the text as curves using an output that your CAM software will recognize, and when opened it sees it as a graphic rather than text. (You may have to 'trace' the outline to get a usable file.)

It's true that all software has it's glitches and quirks. As you said, once I knew what to call the problem (I found the crop circle reference after describing the problem on the board) I found PLENTY of information on them. This fact in itself would indicate that it is a problem that should have been addressed long ago. Oddly, the crop circles aren't even the real glitch, I'm sure there is a mathematical reason that the program sees these line segments as circles. The real glitch is the fact that they don't show up in the cut path, you only find them in the middle of a part when it destroys your work.

The 'crop circle' issue seems to be one that has gone back for several releases. If you look on their support forum and use the search term 'crop circle' you will find MANY messages relating to this issue. The last contact I had with them stated that many of these issues have been addressed in later releases (again, I was using version 20 and they are up to 23). They wanted me to upgrade to (maybe) correct these problems (for the upgrade price of $800.00 or more).

I was using a Mach3 post processor.

As to the learning curve on BobCAD, that wasn't my issue, it was the clumsiness and unnecessary selections. For instance:

In BobCAD, to 'MOVE' an object you have to select the objects, then click on 'Change' then 'Translate' (what the hell does that mean, I want to MOVE an object), then select the method. You can select 'Increment' then enter an X coordinate ,then a Y coordinate, then OK to move it, or select 'Snap' and select the snap coordinates, etc.. In AutoCAD you select the objects, right-click, select 'Move', then you can (for increment) just type '@1,1' to move it over 1 and  up 1 , or click on any 'snap' point and select another snap point and it is moved, or you can enter the new coordinates. All with a single mouse click and some typing.

In BobCAD, to trim/extend an object you go through the same thing. Several menu selections to get to the point that you can trim/extend anything. In AutoCAD you simple select trim or extend, select the trim/extend lines, the proceed to trim/extend as many objects as you want.

My biggest peeve is that in BobCAD the scroll button acts as a PAN function which is worthless (there may be a way to change this but I was never able to find it in their 'documentation'). In most other programs the scroll button acts as a zoom in/out. When trying to create a GCode file from BobCAD it would often not see a string as complete (usually a .005 or less gap in the string). I had to zoom in to EVERY intersection many times to find the break. Since the scroll button acted as a 'PAN' instead of 'ZOOM' I had to continually 'CROP' the intersection, zoom in, crop again, zoom in, etc. sometimes as many as 6 or 8 times to find the break. In AutoCAD I put my cursor on the intersection and used the scroll button to zoom in as much as necessary.

Don't get me wrong, BobCAD worked for me for several years. I used it from 2003 until just recently, but the more complex my drawings got the more glitches I found and the more work I had to do to get them to work without destroying material. I think the 'crop circles' were just the final straw to get me to find something better for my purposes. So far, VCarve has answered that. I have yet to have a single cut error using VCarve, and I'm cutting MUCH more complex drawings than I ever did with BobCAD.


My approach was a straight plunge.

The lines I was cutting were often multiple line segments, which I tried to clean up, convert to arcs, etc. but a crop circle would still sneak in on me occasionally. I used cleanup and optimize, which helped a little in some instances, but I did a sign using and Old English font, which drove it crazy. The crop circle (term used on their forum) was a random event. It you could have two identical letters and it would have a problem with one and not the other.

I found that in every case there would be an errant line of code that was easily identified. I wrote a program that would read the GCode file, identify the bad lines of code, and eliminate them. I just got tired of jumping through so many hoops for a simple 2D cut path.

The only thing I used BobCAD for was GCode generation. I do all of my CAD work in AutoCAD. BobCAD's CAD program was atrocious. It was very clumsy, non-intuitive, and generally poorly conceived. I was using version 20, and BobCAD's people told me that some of this was addressed in the newer versions, but they wanted more for the upgrade than I paid for VCarve Pro, and it has yet to have a single glitch. So far, I think I made a good decision on switching, and am looking forward to upgrading to Aspire when I can afford it.

General Mach Discussion / Re: G0 Problem
« on: October 21, 2009, 02:29:11 PM »
Rich: I don't know what the max speed is, but I already have it set FAR below the max speed I was running in WinCNC, where I never had this problem. I have also already set the acceleration ramp to MAX (longest time from 0 to max speed) but it has not helped.

Hood: I'll give that a try this weekend. I won't be home again until Saturday, but this is something I have not tried.

Again, it only seems to be a problem when using the G0 command in manual mode, in a program it works fine, which is what I find confusing.


General Mach Discussion / G0 Problem
« on: October 20, 2009, 08:12:11 PM »
I have been having a problem with Mach3 for a while now that I can't figure out. About a year ago I changed from WinCNC to Mach3, changed my drives, etc., and for the most part everything works fine. The only problem I've had is, when I manually type in a 'G0 X## or Y##' command, just about every time (99%+) the axis will move anywhere from 2" to 24" (+/-) and both axis will lock up and the motors will 'scream' until I hit <ESC>. I can jog the machine in high speed with no problems, and it has only happened once or twice in a program (obviously with catastrophic results to the part), but it happens almost EVERY time I use a G0 manually. At that point I have to go back and re-home my axis to make sure the machine knows where it is.

I have experimented with the ramp speed, which is currently set to max time to full speed, and the top speed (currently set far slower than I was running in WinCNC), but nothing has helped to this point. I looked under the FAQs and didn't find anything addressing this. Does anyone have any idea what this problem may be.

I only changed the interface and software, the drivers and motors are the same ones I ran under WinCNC.

This is a BobCAD problem that I fought with for weeks while making a sign. This problem has been refered to as  'crop circles', I assume, because they appear from nowhere, and for no apparent reason. They destroyed a couple of signs I was making.  It has been a common problem in BobCAD for years. I tried everything to get rid of them. They do not show up when you view the cut path, but they are present in the GCode. I wrote a program to find and eliminate them, but finally got fed up and changed to VCarve Pro.

General Mach Discussion / Re: Macro Code
« on: May 02, 2008, 02:35:04 PM »
Thanks stirling, condescension aside, you did give me the answer I've been looking for the whole time. It was the 'probe' function. That seems to be the only input it will accept without causing a 'Reset', and that's the question I've been asking all along. I was able to use your example, with a few changes and it is working perfectly from a button.

If anyone else is interested here is the working code:

Code "G31 Z-100"
While isMoving()
Code "G0 Z0.248"
While isMoving()

You'll have to change the .248 for your touchplate (.750 - touchplate thickness). I used the Mach3Screen program and changed the 'Load Material' button to 'Touch Top', then set it to a 'vbscript' button and copied this code into the vb screen.

General Mach Discussion / Re: Macro Code
« on: May 02, 2008, 07:46:19 AM »
jimbinder - I have tried every setting I can find to turn off the limit function, but haven't found any setting yet that will stop it from tripping a reset. It may be in there somewhere, I just haven't found it. I'm still going through the documentation for Mach3, the Customizing documentation, and the Wiki site. Each of them has supplied some info, but so far I haven't found this.

stirling - While that code will work to set Z0, the final outcome is wrong. Using that code, it will set Z0 at the height of the touchplate and raise the head .75". This leaves Z at 1.248. Also, this is only one of a couple of things I want to do that require referencing a home switch, but they all require the head to be able to move again after touching a home switch, without intervention by the operator.

sshneider - I have tried a couple of different names. Initially I used M90000 (as suggested by the documentation for user macros).

General Mach Discussion / Re: Macro Code
« on: May 01, 2008, 09:22:04 PM »
Yeah, I tried the limit override, but it made no difference. I found one setting (I don't remember where) that would override the limits, but using that, it just ignored the limits/homes completely. I think that the problem is that 'Home' and 'Limit' should be treated differently. A 'Limit' should shut everything down and abort any running program, but a 'Home' should only stop axis movement in that direction, on that axis. The only time a 'Home' switch is used is when you are 'TRYING' to hit a limit for positional information, a 'Limit' is used when you screwed up. You should be able, via an OEM function, to tell a macro/program whether to use a switch as a 'Home' or 'Limit' switch. If that is possible, I haven't found a way to do it.

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