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Newbie with a few questions
« on: June 27, 2019, 12:18:44 PM »
I am kind of new to the CNC world, but have been a long time woodworker.  About 10 years ago I used and abused a Sears CompuCarve system.  I really liked the things it could do, but the reliability was an issue.  I am a subscriber to WoodSmith magazine and when I read the issues for their design of a CNC machine I decided it was time to get back into the CNC world.  I'm almost finished with the build and just getting started into the control programs.  I have a Mechanical Engineering degree and have used AutoCad for years.  The system I purchased was through Build Your CNC
2) NEMA 24 425 oz-in stepper motors
(2) Drivers (3.0Amp 24-40 Volts, 1-1/64 microstepping)
(1) NEMA 34 651 oz-in stepper motor
(1) Driver (6.0Amp 24-70 Volts, 1/2-1/256 microstepping)
(1) 36v 8.8a Power Supply
(1) Interface Board Depending on the One Selected (USB or Parallel)

I also purchased the system set-up to use Mach3 USB controller, the computer I will be useing is a Lenovo ThinkPad, it has a 2.80GHz processor, 16.0 GB Ram, and is a 64 Bit operating system.  I have purchased and have been messing around with MACH3 a little.  The system will not be used by me personally, not for production work.  OK, enough of the background information.  As I'm getting more and more into this I'm beginning to get a little concerned so if someone would be will could you help me with a few questions:
1)  Do you see any issues with my initial set-up (computer, Mach3 compatibility with the computer, etc.)
2)  I have been looking at purchasing VCarve Pro, in my eyes it seems a little expensive, but others tell me it is on the low end of the spectrum.  Would anyone suggest a different program (I would rather not go over the $800 threshold).
3)  Any other thoughts or suggestions would be welcome
« Last Edit: June 27, 2019, 12:20:51 PM by grubby65 »

Offline TPS

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Re: Newbie with a few questions
« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2019, 02:35:36 PM »
I also purchased the system set-up to use Mach3 USB Controller


USB Controller makes me a Little "nervious",
the rest Looks ok.
anything is possible, just try it.
if you find some mistakes, in my bad bavarian english,they are yours.
Re: Newbie with a few questions
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2019, 02:48:58 PM »
Hi,
if building a new machine consider Mach4. It has all the features and more of Mach3, is less buggy and far more flexible.

If you have a 64bit OS that PRECLUDES a parallel port, you MUST use an external motion controller.

Consider an external motion controller like an Ethernet SmoothStepper. You will have more IO, in the case of an ESS 3 ports
worth or 51 inputs and outputs, capable of 4MHz pulse streams, Ethernet comms being more noise resistant than USB
and manufacturers support unlike Chinese junk. In addition the ESS has both a Mach3 and a Mach4 plugin.

The single most overlooked specification of steppers is the inductance. Inductance determines how badly the torque will reduce
with speed. The lower the inductance he better.

For 23/24 size look for steppers with 1mH or less if possible. Reject any over 2mH.
For 34 size look for 2mH or less and reject any over 4mH.

You want the highest possible voltage driver and power supply to maintain torque at speed. Leadshine AM882's are good value
and 80V capable. Gecko's are the gold standard. You want a 72V power supply, preferably with a toroidal transformer
being that much more robust and less electrically noisy than a switch mode supply.

Fusion 360 is free to hobbyists for a year and is worth checking it out. If you have used AutoCAD it will come easily. I don't
much care for Autodesks subscription model though.

I personally am leaning to Vectric Aspire ($2000), I want the 3D toolpaths which the cheaper versions miss out on.

A lot of jobs on a mill don't require a CAD/CAM program. Simple operations chained together are adequate.
For example face a piece of material, cut a rectangular pocket and drill a rectangular bolt hole pattern. It can take more
time with CAD/CAM to do it than the job takes to cut!. Try out NFS Mill Wizard ($75), it adds what amounts to conversational
programming to Mach.

Craig

My wife left with my best friend...
     and I miss him!

Offline ger21

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Re: Newbie with a few questions
« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2019, 06:14:28 PM »
Quote
I personally am leaning to Vectric Aspire ($2000), I want the 3D toolpaths which the cheaper versions miss out on.

V Carve Pro has the same 3D toolpaths that Aspire has. But it has no modeling tools, and limits 3D imports to a single model per file.
Gerry

2010 Screenset
http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2010.html

JointCAM Dovetail and Box Joint software
http://www.g-forcecnc.com/jointcam.html

Offline ger21

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Re: Newbie with a few questions
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2019, 06:20:36 PM »
Quote
1)  Do you see any issues with my initial set-up (computer, Mach3 compatibility with the computer, etc.)

You'd usually want to ask that before you buy anything.

I wouldn't buy anything from build your CNC. They mostly sell overpriced, underperforming hardware.
The USB controllers they sell are chinese. Just about all chinese Mach3 controllers have some issues or limitations.
Gerry

2010 Screenset
http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2010.html

JointCAM Dovetail and Box Joint software
http://www.g-forcecnc.com/jointcam.html
Re: Newbie with a few questions
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2019, 06:26:59 PM »
Hi Gerry,

Quote
V Carve Pro has the same 3D toolpaths that Aspire has. But it has no modeling tools, and limits 3D imports to a single model per file.

That's good news. I have watched Youtube videos on Aspire only. I have not downloaded Aspire and tried it out. I still have
some time on my Fusion 360 trial and feel that I sort of owe Autodesk a 'fair suck of the sav' as the Aussies so eloquently
put it. :)

Overall I think Fusion 360 is good and Autodesk is a manufacturer of real substance. I'm just less than happy
with the subscription model. It works out to about $1500 every three years. $1500 is about or similar to the price of
a number of the perpetual licence software packages like VisuallMill Std or Aspire. Note that I have not counted the optional
cost of yearly upgrades with VisualMill or Aspire. You might argue that I'm not comparing apples with apples....with some
justification, its really a reflection of my budget (or tight-fistedness).

For personal use I think Autodesks price of $1500 every three years is a bit too steep. If it were about $750 then I would
pay it. In fact I would guess they could put all their competition into the shade at that price.

I did watch some Mecsoft vids. There was one in particular (VisuallMill) that had some great toolpaths but when I investigated
further all the 'tricky dicky' toolpaths that really made the software appealing were restricted to the Pro ($5000) and Premium
($10000) versions rather than the Xpr ($600) or Standard ($1500) that are within my budget.

My advice to anyone reviewing the capabilities of various software solutions pay attention to what modules/capabilities are
in the package you are considering and can afford rather than some the headline expensive version that you cant afford.

Craig
My wife left with my best friend...
     and I miss him!

Offline TPS

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Re: Newbie with a few questions
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2019, 04:14:56 AM »
a very simple and cheap cam Software is EstlCam, you can have a look there is a free trail avaliable at https://www.estlcam.de/.
anything is possible, just try it.
if you find some mistakes, in my bad bavarian english,they are yours.

Offline ger21

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Re: Newbie with a few questions
« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2019, 06:46:34 AM »
1) Fusion 360 and Aspire are two very different programs, with minimal overlap. While basic machining can be done in either one, both go about it very differently, and each does a things easily that can't be done in the other.
2) Fusion 360 is free. You don't have to pay anything for it. When the trial runs out, sign up for a hobbyist license. You then just renew it every year.
I bought in to Fusion on an early promotion, and am locked in at $300/year. As of December, I'll have already spent $1200 on it, and I rarely use it.

With Aspire, figure on a $400 upgrade (US$) every two years. So, for me, Fusion 360 is $300/year, and Aspire is $200/year, with a $2K down payment. When you do the math, Fusion 360 is cheaper for the first 17 years.
Gerry

2010 Screenset
http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2010.html

JointCAM Dovetail and Box Joint software
http://www.g-forcecnc.com/jointcam.html
Re: Newbie with a few questions
« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2019, 07:12:44 AM »
Hi Gerry,
if you forgo the $400 every two years for the Aspire upgrade and figure on the normal subscription rate of $500 per year
for Fusion the numbers even up somewhat.

I am rather interested in what you perceive as the differences between Fusion and Aspire.

For several years I had access to decade old version of Mastercam. Not withstanding the steep learning curve I did come
to appreciate its power and flexibility. The choice of toolpath types was simply amazing and has only gotten better over the
subsequent years. If I could afford to replace it I would.

The majority of the work I do is engineering parts.

How would you rate Aspire and Fusion for that style of work?

Craig
My wife left with my best friend...
     and I miss him!

Offline ger21

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Re: Newbie with a few questions
« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2019, 08:17:06 AM »
Quote
if you forgo the $400 every two years for the Aspire upgrade and figure on the normal subscription rate of $500 per year
for Fusion the numbers even up somewhat.

Sure, but that's like saying a 1970 Corvette is a better deal than a 2019 model.
Fusion is updated constantly, so you'll always have the current version.
If you don't update Aspire, you only have what you got when you bought it. Having said that, if you don't need any of the newer features in an Aspire update, then there's no reason to pay for the update. You can skip as many as you want, and still just pay the $400 for the upgrade, even if you are jumping forward 3-4 versions.

For mechanial or engineering type work, 100% Fusion 360.
Fusion 360 is a full parametric modeler, and it's integrated CAM can create toolpaths from features, surfaces, faces, or edges of the model, as well as from 2D sketches. Fusion also has a TON of other features, including assemblies, rendering, simulations, ...
And Fusion has a variety of toolpaths that you'll likely never see in Aspire.

Aspire was designed to create 3D relief models. It's native format is a pixel based "height map". Models have no features, and your toolpaths are limited to simple roughing and finishing parallel paths.

Fwiw, I'm an Aspire beta tester.

Here's a Fusion 360 model of the new router I'm building. You can't do anything like this is Aspire.
Gerry

2010 Screenset
http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2010.html

JointCAM Dovetail and Box Joint software
http://www.g-forcecnc.com/jointcam.html