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LazyCam (Beta) / Re: Slot cutting
« on: January 02, 2019, 04:39:38 AM »
Thanks, Rich. As I said in my original post, I hand coded the file. Which worked fine. These slot cutters are great! I am already thinking of using them to cut finger joints, for constructing small boxes, etc. I've just got to "experiment" with them, to determine the optimum Z movements to achieve equal slot widths/finger widths. Happy New Year!

LazyCam (Beta) / Slot cutting
« on: December 24, 2018, 01:23:05 AM »
Does anyone know if there is an easier way to use LazyCAM to generate a toolpath with the following:
1 Constant Z height setting of ZERO
2 Rapid moves back to X0, then Y0 after each pass
WITHOUT the need to manually code it!!

What I did, was import a *.plt file which contained vertical lines (of the desired cut length) which measure 1.75", and are spaced 0.003" apart
The tool I am using, is a carbide slot cutter which measures 1.75" diameter, with 1/16" wide cutting teeth.
The theory was, that LazyCAM would generate a toolpath which would equate to the normal "Depth per pass" along the X axis, instead of the Z. The Rapid Height, Starting Depth, and Cutting Depth are all set to ZERO to prevent ANY Z movement during cutting. One must pay attention during cutting, and FeedHold the machine, then jog to at least X-1.0" before hitting the STOP button, (as this causes the Z axis to raise completely, resulting in a broken cutter, if it is still positioned within the current slot being cut!).

The G code generated by LazyCAM had to be modified, in order to force the machine to return to X0, then Y0 before each "Step Over" of the X axis of 0.003"
by entering G0 X0.0000
G0 Y0.0000 in front of each pass (for example G1 X0.0000 Y0.0000, G1 X0.0030 Y1.7500)
What I was hoping for, was to pass each pass starting at Y0 and cutting to Y1.75, "Stepping Over" to X0.0030 and repeating. THEN rapid back to X0 first, then Y0, And stepping over to the next cut (x0.0060) at the current feed rate (of 6 IPM), and continuing in this manner. I was able to achieve this, but it was after a couple of HOURS of hand-coding. I really feel that LazyCAM is capable of doing such a toolpath, But I am just not familiar with it enough to know what settings/ options need to be changed in order to achieve this. Can anyone steer me on this?
THANKS in advance, and Merry Christmas!

General Mach Discussion / Re: Z-axis setup
« on: December 09, 2018, 03:51:35 PM »
I'm no expert, but I've had a similar experience before. It was a stuck plunger on the limit switch. You might try manually wiggling the plungers on all of your limit switches. Or just Open the diagnostics screen (TAB key) and see if any of the LED's are lit up on any of the axis limits. Hope this helps. I know the frustration!

General Mach Discussion / Re: Laser limit switch
« on: December 09, 2018, 08:28:07 AM »
"...I haven't tested the repeatability on them, but from all i've read, they are very accurate. (.01mm), I'll get back to you tomorrow on that one."

Thanks for the suggestion. It is the "repeatability" in particular which is the issue. I spent a day, trying to calibrate my machine's Z axis using a touch plate on the stock, and a fixed plate mounted on table. The results kept varying as much as 0.050" I finally concluded that this was the amount of "play" in the microswitch, when homing the machine. And since all movements in Mach 3 are referenced from the (make, or break contact) of the limit switch, then the microswitch must be the variable culprit. I am currently using a ball screw on the Z axis, so I don't think that it's an issue with the mechanical aspects, other than the limit switch movements. What brought it to my attention, was upon re-homing my machine, I noticed that the Machine Coordinate display on the Z axis would always read something other than zero (resetting to zero, of course upon striking the limit switch).

General Mach Discussion / Laser limit switch
« on: December 09, 2018, 12:01:44 AM »
Does anyone know of a supplier of limit switches, which utilize a laser (or other light source) and a photo cell to sense when the machine has reached it's limit of travel? I currently use mechanical limit switches, which are not very precise (when homing the Z axis, in particular). And I just thought that light/photo cell system would probably be much more consistent. Thanks in advance, for any help you can offer!

LazyCam (Beta) / Re: Importing Text from CorelDRAW for engraving
« on: May 31, 2018, 06:56:59 AM »
Greetings Dorrisant. I feel your pain, in trying to deal with engraving text. I am not at all familiar with SheetCAM, so cannot offer any guidance there. When I received the notice email about your post, I had quite honestly forgotten about that post. Since it has been almost 7 years ago. I have since overcome the problem (of outlines of any imported text, instead of single-line font characters). It's NOT an easy fix! It requires a LOT of very tedious work to do, but I have created "Font" files which I use for engravings. They are NOT actually "Fonts", but rather bezier curve traces of each character in each desired font. I then painstakingly place copies of each letter, and arrange them manually on the page for any engravings I require.  A word of advice: Unless you are using a laser as the cutting tool for engravings, it is important to remember the size of your cutter will dictate the smallest character sizes you can use. While it is possible to engrave letters as small as 0.5" in height, one must remember that lower-case letters such as the letter "e" will be unrecognizable, if attempts are made to engrave very small lettering. (I.E. the "hole" in the lower case letter "e" will be just that: a HOLE) Therefore, it is my recommendation, to limit all small engravings to Upper-Case letters only. Adopting this practice, will allow one to engrave letters as small as 0.25" in height, with acceptable results. Hope this helps!

I cut a shoulder into the lead screw at both ends of the Z axis on my machine. Secure mounting of the pillow bearing blocks serves to form a "Clamped" lead screw. The only "Play" left is in the recirculating ball bearing nut assembly of the Z itself. I did have to experiment with different "Shims" in mounting of the pillow block bearings until I achieved movement without any binding. Also, I used the set screw hole of the coupler as the guide for where to drill an indendation into the lead screw into which the set screw is locked.  Never had any slippage since! Engravings in particular require precise repeatable movements to within .001" I realize this post is almost a year old, but perhaps anyone else who may be building their own machine, may benefit from this comment. Have a blessed new year!

I appreciate your suggestions. Since my router motor is AC powered, I was thinking of wiring a relay into the ground side of the circuit. Which would drop out, anytime the (return) current drops to zero (brushes no longer in contact with armature). This relay could be easily wired, (using a DC power supply) to trigger one of the five available inputs of the Gecko G540 I am using to drive the machine. Thanks for the advice! It was needed, to get MY mind thinking in the physical logic it will take to accomplish this task!

Is there a way, to wire a speed sensor (light source, and photo-cell perhaps), and set up Mach3 to trigger an error (And thereby STOP program execution at the current line number)? The reason I ask, is because motor brushes wear out! And when they wear down enough, they no longer contact the armature, so the router motor stops running. Invariably resulting in a broken bit, as Mach3 continues to run (unaware that the router motor has actually stopped!). Has anyone else done this? What sort of circuit, and speed sensor device could be used for this purpose?
Thanks, in advance for any help!

G-Code, CAD, and CAM discussions / WHAT has changed in Mach 3?
« on: January 14, 2017, 10:05:31 AM »
I have been using Mach 3 since 2008, when I built my first CNC router table. The software that I use to create tool paths include MeshCAM Art, Corel Draw, and LazyCAM Pro. I have not learned much, in terms of memorizing the various G code command set. So, I am unsure how to address a problem that has recently come up. In the past, any time I was running Mach 3 driving the machine (with either a *.NC or *.tap file loaded into Mach 3), and needed to pause program execution, I simply pressed the space bar. Which paused the machine. If I needed to make changes to things like cutting depth, etc. I would then click on the Rewind button, and click on the Router button, (to turn OFF the router). Then I would go into LazyCAM to make the needed changes. (in the case of *.tap files). However, when I attempt to do this now, I receive the following message "Unable to reverse execution, No jogging available". Any attempts at entering manual commands have no effect. Except to hit the Escape Key on the keyboard, which stops everything. Clicking the Reset button in Mach 3, runs the initialization script with the default settings that Mach 3 came with. (It loads, and executes a series of G codes which set up various things such as Metric or Inch measurement preferences, etc.) My question is this: Is there a setting in Mach 3, which prevents Rewinding a G code file during it's execution? Or perhaps a G code command, which does this? SOMETHING HAS CHANGED, and I need help understanding WHAT!
Any help with this problem will be greatly appreciated!
Thanks! -Michael

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