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Messages - frederic

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General Mach Discussion / Ignorant Newbie Questions..
« on: January 02, 2007, 08:23:58 AM »
Hello everyone and Happy New Year.

My apologies for asking this, but I'm quite enthusiastic about joining the world of CNC but am struggling to get my ducks in a row from a software perspective, mostly due to lack of understanding at this point.

I built a "cheesy" CNC Plasma cutter machine:
http://frederic.midimonkey.com/cnc-gantry2.html

And recently acquired a HF Milling machine:
http://frederic.midimonkey.com/yard-mill-install.html

I understand the stepper/servo aspect from an interfacing and mounting perspective, and have already started fabricating mounts, wiring, electronics, and so on.  No problems here.

Where I'm confused is with the software.  Best I can tell I need three major functions:

1. A software program to draw the parts in.
2. A software program to take the output of what I draw, and convert it to G-Code.
3. A software program to take the G-Code, and use that to instruct stepper/servo motors to do something, collecting feedback from optical rotary encoders to verify such instructions actually happened.

From what little knowledge I've acquired to date, I believe Mach3 provides #3 in the above list?  Is my simplistic list correct?

I downloaded and installed the Mach3 "unlimited trial" because it was one of the few software programs that can diddle the parallel port(s) to drive motor controllers.  That and TurboCNC (which is a dos program).

BTW, what limitations does the "unlimited trial" have?  I'm assuming there are limitations to encourage people to ultimately buy it which is reasonable.

Am I on the right track?

If I am, then I should probably try to resolve what software I should use to achieve #1 and #2 in the above list.

Thank you in advance for your patience and answers.

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