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New guy with new Mach3 and new controller
« on: November 10, 2009, 01:28:40 PM »
Hiya,

Chris in Estes Park, Colorado here. I've posted here before, and got good information. I'm SO close to having my new Soigeneris STDR-4C Stepper Drive System Control Box and Mach3 all set up and ready for a job. It's a lot more complicated than I thought it would be, even knowing upfront it would be complicated. Jeff from Soigeneris has been unbelievably helpfull to me during this project of mine. He's even given me Mach3 support. I thought I'd ask some questions in here to give Jeff a break from me, haha...

I've read both Mach3 instruction sets. They mostly seem to be too complicated for me to grasp. I thought I was a smart guy until I made these changes!  Below is a list of things I need help with currently.

What all do I need to do to get Mach3 ready to import & run a job?

Specifically, where do I plug in offset values to get the machine to the spot I want to run the job from? How do I save these offsets?
I rarely use standard thickness materials, so how do I tell Mach3 Z axis where the top of the material is?
How do I tell Mach3 the dimensions of the tool in the machine? How do I save those tool parameters?


How do I actually bring a job into Mach3 and actually run it?
Abody that uses Mach3 live anywhere close to Estes Park, CO?

Thanks in advance!
Chris
Re: New guy with new Mach3 and new controller
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2009, 09:01:46 PM »
Welcome from a slightly less new guy. The path to a finsihed part is:
Draw it out in CAD, export to DXF format
Import the DXF file into Lazycam or other CAM program that will convert your DXF to G code. This is another learning curve. This is where you set your tool diameter, offsets, cutting speed, total depth of cut, depth of cut per pass, etc. Lots of tool sizes can be created and saved here.
Post your G code to Mach3 and more or less hit start.

There's a lot more to the process of course. The top of material is determined either by jogging the cutter down right on top of the material or jogging it down to a feeler gauge and setting the gauge's thickness in Mach3.

None of this is rocket science but there are a number of learning curves to go up and you've got to put the whole thing together. I'd recommend going through your G code and see if you have included all the variables from Lazycam. Run Mach without the mill on and see what's happening. Did you set up an inside offset when you meant an outside? Did you forget to put a minus for depth of cut in Lazycam? Finally, practicing on some soft pine for your cuts is a good idea.

I hope this is a help. I've had lots of questions answered here. I'd really like to create a FAQ or crib sheet on all that's required from start to finish but the clock stops at 24 hours a day - can't get 25.

Offline Fastest1

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Re: New guy with new Mach3 and new controller
« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2009, 09:48:56 PM »
We used to have a house in "Big Elk Meadows" near Johnny Parks rd. Beautiful area. Wish I could help on the setup. Took lots of trial and error and still does. Youtube has good stuff too. MDF is cheap and easy on tools for verifying set ups and such. Good Luck
I want to die in my sleep like my grandfather, not like the passengers in the car! :-)
Re: New guy with new Mach3 and new controller
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2009, 02:09:14 PM »
Thanks for the info!

As far as learning curves, I hope I'm not at the bottom of all the curves. I've had the router since '95. I used En Route and it had 1 of the 2 MC3V controllers that came to the USA on the Mayflower. That thing never worked right. I just didn't know there were any options. I haven't decided if I should try to sell it for parts, or take it to the shooting range... ever heard of Tannerite?

I don't know what Lazy Cam is. I am using Vecrtic's VCarve Pro for the tool paths. I export from VCarve Pro to Mach3. I then burned the job to a CD (my network cable isn't plugged in to the Mach3 computer, yet). I noticed that the exported file, G-Code I presume, was saved as a .txt file. I got brave and ran it on Mach3, and the router actually moved! Yea! I had soft limit warnings, I ignored them for this test, and the job made it almost 500 lines until it quit. I don't know why it quit, though. I'm sure it had everything to do with me not having my Z-axis set up correctly, and me not knowing how to set a soft 0 for it.

I don't know what my next step should be, so I have more questions.

How specifically do I set up my Z axis "stuff"? Right now X, Y, & Z all reference to 0, 0, 0, just where I want them. When I jog Z with the Z+ key, it moves down, and the DRO goes from reading 0, to reading a positive value. Should the Z axis start at 0, and go negative on the DRO as it moves from home?

How do I get the spindle where I want it instead of Machine 0, 0, 0? I want the Z axis to stay at 0 (all the way up off the router bed) until I jog it down to the material top, minus the thickness of the feeler gauge. Where do I tell Mach3 the thickness of the feeler gauge?

Do I have to use Lazy Cam for tool offsets and speeds and the like, or can all of the offsets and tool dimensions be set in Mach3?

Wow, I have so many questions and all I can offer in return right now is that I will help others' as best I can when I get all of these learning curves under me.

Offline RICH

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Re: New guy with new Mach3 and new controller
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2009, 02:55:13 PM »
Mach demo is limited in how many lines it will do. So consider getting a license.
There are manuals available for the mill and lathe which go into a lot of detail and will answer many of your questions.
Mach is very configurable and depending on how complicated you want to be in running your machine it can do all sorts of things. Everybody works differently.
Enjoy the learning curve as it just never seems to end,  ;)
RICH
Re: New guy with new Mach3 and new controller
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2009, 03:43:03 PM »
Mach demo is limited in how many lines it will do. So consider getting a license.
There are manuals available for the mill and lathe which go into a lot of detail and will answer many of your questions.
Mach is very configurable and depending on how complicated you want to be in running your machine it can do all sorts of things. Everybody works differently.
Enjoy the learning curve as it just never seems to end,  ;)
RICH

I have the full $175.00 license for Mach3. Is it possible that my Mach3 doesn't know that? I also have both the Mach3 install and the Mil manuals. I can get some knowledge out of them, but some is over my head right now, but I will keep on truckin'

Thanks,
Chris

Offline Hood

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Re: New guy with new Mach3 and new controller
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2009, 04:42:35 PM »
Look at the Help menu then About Mach......
A window will pop up and should have your name, if it has Demo then your licence is not being seen.
Hood
Re: New guy with new Mach3 and new controller
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2009, 05:52:27 PM »
Look at the Help menu then About Mach......
A window will pop up and should have your name, if it has Demo then your licence is not being seen.
Hood

Well slap my knee and call me Shirly... it says demo version. I wonder if that has caused me undo hardship. I'll get that taken care of.

Thanks!

Offline Hood

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Re: New guy with new Mach3 and new controller
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2009, 06:35:42 PM »
Well shirly, all you need to do is put the Mach1Lic.dat file into your Mach3 folder and you will then get your own name back ;D

Hood

Offline olf20

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Re: New guy with new Mach3 and new controller
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2009, 07:43:39 PM »
Chris - many of us run VcarvePro. Keep asking away and we will get you going.


How specifically do I set up my Z axis "stuff"? Right now X, Y, & Z all reference to 0, 0, 0, just where I want them. When I jog Z with the Z+ key, it moves down, and the DRO goes from reading 0, to reading a positive value. Should the Z axis start at 0, and go negative on the DRO as it moves from home?
Yes
You can change the direction in by clicking, Config - homing / limits. On the popup screen you will see the "revesed" x.
Just change your Z and you should have that resolved.

Do I have to use Lazy Cam for tool offsets and speeds and the like, or can all of the offsets and tool dimensions be set in Mach3?
No.
I use VcarvePro and it will take care of the offsets for your design. VcarvePro calculates from the center of your tool.
You can also setup your safe Z and home positions in VcarvePro.

Run some of the sample files in VcarvePro and get your machine running right. Then start with some simple designs / signs.
 

Make sure you check your other axis for proper direction. Running a program with things moving the wrong direction
can cause problems.

olf20 / Bob
« Last Edit: November 11, 2009, 07:54:07 PM by olf20 »
Mach3, Atlas Knee Mill, 4th Axis, VcarvePro, ESS, Super PID.
Been Heating with corn since 1998