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New to CNC, Need input please
« on: October 04, 2011, 08:58:35 AM »
Where do I start?
I am completely new at this.
Here is a breakdown of what I have going on.

I am building a CNC Plasma Table.
Its 100" x 60" (Cutting area) Water Table
Using CandCNC BladeRunner Dragon Cut 5 Axis Kit (5th for tube cutting later)
For software I bought Mach3 and SheetCam.
Using/Learning AutoCAD to design the parts.
I have a Hypertherm PowerMax 1000 with a Machine torch for cutting.

So far, I have built the table. I made it in two parts.
The stand and the table.
Its been so hot down here in Florida, I moved the top section into the Den.
(Wife is not happy)
This is just to try to learn and dial everything in.
So far, I have been able to move it using the keyboard.
I have to say, Those 620oz motors have some torque!
It shifts the table its sitting on around pretty good, and this is not a weak table!
Here is a short vid.

My questions are..
Do I just keep reading the manual and plugging along?
Is the manual in order?
I am guessing I need to set up my soft limits first. Things could go bad really quick.
Are there any tips I should know about?

All of this is very new to me..
Its a funny feeling being completely intimidated and fascinated at the same time.
I am open to suggestions.

If I am posting this in the wrong section.. Please let me know.

Thanks for the site and your time.

Re: New to CNC, Need input please
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2011, 09:32:12 AM »
Sounds like you're progressing like a lot of us: learn CAD, learn CAM, learn Mach3 and learn by experience. I'd say you are rather advanced based on what you've already built and hope others will chime in with suggestions. This is a fascinating hobby/obsession.

The only tip I have is that the Mach docs are a bit obsolete and refer to things that have changed in the program. The people participating in this forum are extremely knowledgeable and very helpful. If I knew more about Mach3 and there was a call to update the docs, I wouldn't mind participating. The only suggestion is to add related documentation - what you are doing for example, written up and posted on the site as examples of Mach3 applications. Don't overlook the forums relating to your equipment. Know the feeling on hot Florida. My Taig is in the garage and even with fans, all the motors get really hot. Buy the wife a nice present or she may decide that either the table or you have to stay outside.
Re: New to CNC, Need input please
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2011, 10:16:34 AM »
I cant really describe the look I got from her while I was moving and setting everything up.
It was just "That look" you know what I mean?.. lol

It's been absolutely miserable here in South Florida and I am getting impatient.
Something had to give.

I think I need to send an email to Tom at CandCNC.
The BladeRunner package came with a Plasma Profile.
But how does it know my gear ratio?

A lot of the documents in the Mach3 PDF are for setting up the system.
The Dragon cut came with an installer and I believe some of the work is already done.

My biggest fear is not knowing what I need to know.
I have been told I over analyze things but, I know it cant be this simple.

This machine is fresh.
All I have done is install the Mach3 Software.
Installed the Dragon Cut software.
Loaded the Plasma profile.
Tested each motor one at a time.
Slaved A to X.
Then moved the motors with the keyboard.

I know I need to set the soft limits for all axis's.
Install the THC.
Install the Hand controller.

There has to be more?
Pulley ratio?
Home location?

It would be nice to get a check list of some sort.
Hell, I hardly even know what I am looking at on the screen.
I guess I have a lot of reading and studying to do.

Hopefully someone can chime in and give me a hint to the correct path for my set up.
I feel kinda lost amongst all this technology .. lol

Thanks for the input..


Offline BR549

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Re: New to CNC, Need input please
« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2011, 10:42:26 AM »
THe easiest way to master getting tthe table to move at YOUR request is to work with the MDI (Manual Direct Input)line. There is a short Gcode manual on here somewhere that is a printout of the REFERENCES in the Mach3 screen. That way you can read the code for the manual and type it in the MDI line.

Move to a spot on the table and reset the X/Y axis's to 0,0. Now using the manual as an example to reference the code. Start inputing code 1 line or piece at a time. Input say G1 x2 F10  and see what happens.  The first moves I teach are G1's all around the table THEN figure OUT how to get back home. First you play in ABS mode then you switch to INC mode.

Working with Gcode is really like talking to a 3 year old. Go over here,now move to over there, ok now go back to the other spot. The machine can ONLY go where you tell it to.

NOW when you get the G1's down pat Move to the G2/3's and learn to make arcs and make them go where you want them to go. Easy to make the arc NOT SO easy for it to go where it is suppose to go(;-).  

Now you have the basic's for gcode  Basically ALL mach3 can do is lines and arcs.  Trick is it can do 6 axis all at the same time(;-).

Once you get the basics and it goes WHERE you tell it and when. Start stringing LINES of code together to do simple things. Squares cicles triangles,etc,etc.

THEN before you know it you are running monster programs and wondering what all the fuss was about.(;-)

The order of progression from there(Mach3 Gcode) is to master the Drawing side(CAD) then the converting side (CAM) and then roll them all into one process CNC. IF you can work with them ALL at thesame time great BUT if not then work with ONE element until you can do basic thing  well then add in another element,get it working and then on to the next.  Most people cannot learn it all at the same time. and get discouraged and leave CNC (;-(.

Please know it takes TIME and patience to get to a full blown CNCer. AND a lot stilll after many years are not masters at ALL elements.  You learn what you can to be able to make things and then fine TUNE the processes that YOU require to make it work for YOU.

AND there is really no RIGHT or WRONG way as long as you understand how YOU need to do it so it makes sense to YOU.

You know where to find us if you get stuck,(;-) TP  ( also a Florida Boy)
Re: New to CNC, Need input please
« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2011, 11:03:43 AM »
Thank you very much.
I am going to spend some quality time with my machine today.

I am a pretty fast learner. Been around computers for some time.
Built quite a few including the one I am using for the Plasma table.
Been machining for a while too.
This is the first time I have tried to combine both of them.
It seems like a whole new world.
Kinda strange being comfortable with ether one on their own but once combined.
Just kinda foreign to me right now.

This is exciting!

Its nice to know there are helpful people just a mouse click away.

Thank you for the advise.


Offline BR549

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Re: New to CNC, Need input please
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2011, 11:07:44 AM »
When you have all the CC stuf loaded and can at least move the machine then you have to calibrate the axis for correct distance of the move. That is controlled by the STEPS PER UNIT.  You can calculate the corrects steps from all the drive parameters then apply them. Then you make a move and MEASURE how far it acutally moved if wrong readjust the steps per by the % of error. You will have it dialed in in 3 moves(;-).

THen you can acutall run MOTION programs and add other functions as you go. Lay a board on the table and tape a pencil or pen to the Z and draw things(;-).

The CCC stuf probalby has MORE tech info than any OTHER system on the planet you just have to learn HOW to understand the ENGINEES speak that TOM somtimes uses. In the END you WILL appreciate all that INFO. DON"T be afraid to ask questions about WHAT you don't understand.  Better to fell silly than LET OUT the magic SMOKE in the electronics boxes.

For now don't wory about things like softlimits You have to have all the rehome switches setup to fully use it anyway. Just learn to PAY attention to where you are at and WHERE you told it to move to stay away from the axis stops.  IF you are running steppers you can't really hurt the drive from running against a stop. WELL you can HURT your pride(;-)

(;-) TP

Offline Tweakie.CNC

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Re: New to CNC, Need input please
« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2011, 11:23:43 AM »
Very nice machine Mike.

I can understand your wife's views about it being in the den.  ;D

Re: New to CNC, Need input please
« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2011, 11:34:51 AM »
That's great news.
When I started to piece everything together, I was referred to CandCNC by many people at CNCZone.

I wanted to build a really nice machine and do it once.
I was told he puts a nice electronics package together so, That's what I went with.
When the dust settled, I bought everything he had to offer for the BladeRunner package, Including the pendant controller.

Tom has been really helpful from replying to emails to phone conversations.
I'm sure in the end.. It will be a really nice machine.

I will send him an email asking what is already set up in his software package,
This way I have a better idea of what I am dealing with.

Just with the few replies so far, My tension has already eased considerably.

Tweakie, She is getting over it... Slowly.. lol
Thanks for the kind comment.

Thanks again BR549.


Offline BR549

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Re: New to CNC, Need input please
« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2011, 06:24:53 PM »
WOW I just peeked at the Ytube. I would have been killed 3 times if I tried that here. Once to do the job and 2 more times JUST to make sure it took

(;-) TP

Offline RICH

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Re: New to CNC, Need input please
« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2011, 06:57:09 PM »
Love the video Mike.  ;) Most folks just don't know what a family room should be used for nor do they appreciate a robotic version of  a ping pong table.  ???Should you decide to do some wood working in there, I want you to know, one section of my dog house is available for leasing and the rent is rather cheap.
 :) :D ;D