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  #1  
Old Wed 25 June 2008, 02:01
Kobus_Joubert
Just call me: Kobus #6
 
Dalview
South Africa
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CAM programs in general - who is using what?

I am little bit confused...and that is easily achieved..
For about 2 day's I am fighting to get my DESIGNS into Mach3 to 'cut'.

I have Mach3 version R2.63 and on the FILE menu only have ...LOAD G-Code
......LazyCAM
......Close File
......Exit

BUT....If I read the MACH3 MILL manual they talk about Importing DXF, HPGL, BMP and JPG directly from MACH3 FILE menu.

I know that I can IMPORT them into LazyCam, but me and LazyCam is not seeing eye to eye at the moment and I cannot get my design situated on the correct start point etc etc.

Anybody with more experience please fell free to help me...I NEED to make dust this weekend and time is running out.
Thanks in advance
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  #2  
Old Wed 25 June 2008, 03:11
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
Have you tried the Lazycam forum? Probably part of www.machsupport.com?

An economical product that is well accepted is www.sheetcam.com. I am convinced the free trial version will have you going by the weekend.

This product's trial will also have you cutting soon:
http://www.vectric.com/WebSite/Vectr.../c2d_index.htm

Both of the suggested products are UK-based (our time zone) and have excellent forums. I was honoured to meet the writers of both programs in England 3 years ago and they are extremely approachable, helpful people.
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  #3  
Old Wed 25 June 2008, 23:52
Kobus_Joubert
Just call me: Kobus #6
 
Dalview
South Africa
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Thanks Gerald, Sheetcam and c2d will be tried. I got home last night DETERMINED to get it right with LazyCam. With all new programs you go through this learning curve...sometime its easy, sometimes its more difficult. LazyCam interface is not like all windows programs where you click, drag and presto you resize your work. Some actions can be mouse driven, but others needs a manual typed input to change something.

I also found out that if I do my design in CoreDraw..which I have used for years now...and export to DXF, I get funnies in LazyCam/ Mach3. But if I export it to WMF format, it works well in LazyCam and Mach3.
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  #4  
Old Thu 26 June 2008, 05:26
J.R. Hatcher
Just call me: J.R. #4
 
Wilmington, North Carolina
United States of America
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I tried to use Lazycam but gave up because of the lack of help within the program. I am using Sheetcam with good results because of 2 reasons, 1st ... Marc helped me a lot and 2nd Sheetcam has excellent help within the program. My vote goes for Sheetcam. Marc and I have talked to Les (the developer?) and he is very willing to listen and make things work better for CNC Routers. I think the program has been used a lot more for plasma cutters than routers. Just think about all the extra control you need for a router. Anyway just my 2 cents worth.
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  #5  
Old Thu 26 June 2008, 06:47
Kobus_Joubert
Just call me: Kobus #6
 
Dalview
South Africa
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Thanks JR, was wondering WHY I cannot get it right with LazyCam straight away...not as user friendly as I would have expected it to be. Will give it another go tonight, and then on to Sheetcam....there goes my budget again.
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  #6  
Old Thu 26 June 2008, 07:41
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
There are some other budget CAM programs listed here:

http://www.mechmate.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=19
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  #7  
Old Thu 26 June 2008, 09:54
Greg J
Just call me: Greg #13
 
Hagerman, New Mexico
United States of America
Kobus,

I'm using the VCarve Pro programs. Very easy and intutive. I was carving wood within 1 hour of opening the program.
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  #8  
Old Thu 26 June 2008, 10:53
ekdenton
Just call me: Ed #8
 
Alamogordo, NM
United States of America
+1 on the vectric products. I wound up picking the vcarve pro also.

I downloaded a free trial of sheetcam and tried to figure out both lazy cam and sheet cam, IMHO both were very complicated compared to vcarve. There is a forum for vcarve with help and support also. $$ for vcarve pro is more than sheetcam but I think that they have a lower priced 2D software now that is avaliable and I think you can upgrade the 2D later to vcarve pro without having to pay the full price of the vcarve pro. I would still perfer the vectric 2D over sheetcam.

Not that I am advertising for or pushing any peticular software, all seem overpriced to me except for Mach 3, just echoing an opinion that the vectric is pretty simple and works well, even for thick headed guys like me
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  #9  
Old Thu 26 June 2008, 22:11
Marc Shlaes
Just call me: Marc
 
Cleveland, OH
United States of America
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I downloaded a Cut2D trial because it came from Vectric and I just didn't like it at all. I was expecting to REALLY like it so maybe my expectations were too high. I also think that the CAM programs that I found in the "reasonable" price category have been designed for a purpose. The Vectric products seem much more in tune to 3D and at least to me, Sheetcam works very well for 2.5D. Just my thoughts. I would love to hear other opinions about apparent strengths and weaknesses.
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  #10  
Old Thu 26 June 2008, 23:38
Kobus_Joubert
Just call me: Kobus #6
 
Dalview
South Africa
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Thank's guys. I tried LazyCam again, but importing my CorelDraw file in any of the types that you are allowed gave me rubbish on my screen. The lines are all distorted and skew and not what was on my original design. Then I went over to sheetcam. Worked through the first tutorial...the one where you carve the word CAM. Set everything up, generated the g-code. looked in Mach3 and saw that the 'C' was missing. It only shows the A and the M. On the Sheetcam page the work surface, material surface all looked OK. I don't know why, so tonight I will get into the Vcarve stuff to see if I get any luck with this software. Will keep you updated.
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  #11  
Old Fri 27 June 2008, 00:02
hennie
Just call me: Hennie #23
 
Roodepoort JHB
South Africa
Hi Kobus

I downloaded the cut2D and found it easy to work with there is a tutorial download also.Like Ed said chop, chop and it works.Try and export some of the MM laser cut parts in dxf. and play.

Lekker speel!
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  #12  
Old Fri 27 June 2008, 01:10
Kobus_Joubert
Just call me: Kobus #6
 
Dalview
South Africa
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Had a quick look at cut2D...much better...will play tonight at home. Maybe after I begged, borrowed and nearly stole all my parts, I should invest in VCarve PRO.. From the documentation available this is the one to have to make life easier.
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  #13  
Old Fri 27 June 2008, 01:19
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
I know that this comment will get up Kobus' nose, but he will take it in the spirit it is intended . . . . . .

Sorting out your CAM tools, and climbing that learning curve, is something that should ideally be done before you mount the router. Even before, you buy steel. . . . . . . heck, even before you commit yourself to spend a cent.

For all the armchair readers out there: start figuring out how you are going to talk to your beast one day. It is a pretty dumb animal and it will only do exactly what it is told to do . . . including errors and missing instructions.

When you have your kitchen table motors turning, run a couple of your own files (signs, typically) past those motors and see if it looks right. If it looks wrong at that point, it is going to look far worse when 200 pounds of gantry make the same wrong moves.

This thread subject of CAM, should be getting a lot more attention than what we have seen so far. The physical building of the machine is a passing phase......after that it is CAM every day for the rest of its life.
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  #14  
Old Fri 27 June 2008, 03:10
Kobus_Joubert
Just call me: Kobus #6
 
Dalview
South Africa
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Up my nose...bul twang... runnig down my back that is what it is.... I agree with Gerald, once the beast is build, you will spend most of the time with the program that drives it. I have lots of knowledge when it comes to vinyl cutting for signs, can use CoreDraw for all my needs (2D) and thought that getting my designs onto the beast will be easy. I have spend some time with the Kitchen Project, but only now that the beast is moving on my commands I realise what it is actually doing. So for me it's a chicken and egg situation. Just playing around with programs without seeing some physical output does not alway make sense...maybe I am a much better practical type guy...but I will get there...promise
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  #15  
Old Fri 27 June 2008, 03:54
sailfl
Just call me: Nils #12
 
Winter Park, FL
United States of America
Kobus,

I agree with your approach for me. I will have to have the machine working and run some test designs and cuts to work out the software. I am a Software Engineer. I have looked a lot of the tutorials available with Vectric and I have a copy of ArtCam Pro but I will need the hands on to see the interface and to work the stuff out in my head.

I like the Vectric products and their prices. I think ArtCam has potential but they have a hefty price. I also am going to need CoralDraw because a lot of free stuff comes in their format and not much else will read it.
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  #16  
Old Sat 16 August 2008, 11:26
normand blais
Just call me: Normand
 
montreal
Canada
http://www.mecsoft.com/rc2/rhinocam2.html

A beta version of Rhinocam2 has been release last week .You need to have rhinocam1 to try it . The price has not been release yet ,if they have a promotional deal I let you know, It is a software that you can grow with . The basic version is really good for starter ,an upgrade is available for 4axes ,and the pro version has many more toolpath option even now indexed 5axes ,but I am not there yet. It has postprocessor for a lot of machines ex.
http://rhinocam.com/Downloads/posts.html
I figure been still young at little over 50 I learn a software that I can take with me hopefully the rest of my life ,weather I route wood, plastic, or foam on a MM, or steel on a mill, or wax and gold on a portable mini machine.
Some company would like us to belive that we need a special software for every kind of work.Wizzard for this and that might be handy but after while ,once you understand the logic behind them the magic is gone . Computer design is computre design ,and cam is cam no mather what software. The most valuable thing I have is my time ,and as time go by it get even more valuable . To change software is to time consuming and I like that there is no end to that steep learning hill. I understand that not every one think like that, but if someone is willing to build a MM I doubt they stop once it is done.
Normand
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  #17  
Old Thu 11 September 2008, 19:20
normand blais
Just call me: Normand
 
montreal
Canada
http://www.mecsoft.com/Mec/Newslette...wsAug2008.html

Rhinocam2 beta release ,small pre release special . I am not relate to them,
just a happy customer.
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  #18  
Old Fri 19 September 2008, 12:42
DMS
Just call me: Sharma #9 India
 
Rajasthan
India
I found this Mach 1 filter for importing DXF, HPGL, BMP and JPG files on this Mach forum page, maybe most of you guys know about it -

http://www.machsupport.com/forum/ind...ic,6544.0.html
Attached Files
File Type: rar Mach1Filter.rar (153.1 KB, 57 views)

Last edited by DMS; Fri 19 September 2008 at 12:48.. Reason: Mach filter loaded
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  #19  
Old Fri 19 September 2008, 13:06
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
Importing DXF, HPGL, BMP and JPG direct into Mach is not as useful as it might sound for someone new to CNC. Particularly those BMP and JPG files, which are raster (not vector) files are going to send your cutter...... in what direction? Imagine a spinning cutter trying to read colours and shades . . . . it is going to be disappointing. There is no substitute for getting a CAM program - even then, they don't do too well with raster input.
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  #20  
Old Fri 19 September 2008, 13:15
DMS
Just call me: Sharma #9 India
 
Rajasthan
India
Thanks for you input Gerald, I am still in learning phase.
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  #21  
Old Fri 19 September 2008, 13:34
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
Taking a dxf straight into a cutting machine is also interesting.......your machine cuts the lines (vectors) in the same sequence that you drew them.

If you drew a square with a typical CAD program, you will probably draw the baseline (left to right), copy that baseline higher up to make the top of the square, draw the left side from bottom to top, copy the left to the right. The dxf file output from your CAD will contain that square in the same sequence. If you give that direct to Mach, the cutter will plunge bottom left then move right and the z-slide will pull out. Then it will plunge top left move right and pull out. Then plunge bottom left . . . . . . . . you get the idea . . . . . .
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  #22  
Old Fri 19 September 2008, 13:44
DMS
Just call me: Sharma #9 India
 
Rajasthan
India
Very interesting tip. That's new for me. I'll try in that sequence.
Next tip plz
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  #23  
Old Fri 19 September 2008, 14:46
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
No, no, no! That is a terrible sequence for cutting a square! You want it to plunge once, go right around and pull-up once. CAM programs figure that out for you.
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  #24  
Old Wed 11 March 2009, 07:47
Kobus_Joubert
Just call me: Kobus #6
 
Dalview
South Africa
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I am so exited I cannot wait for the weekend. Just found out from Mark at Vectric.com that I can take some of the 3d files you can buy from www.vectorart3d.com. Do you tool path / cutter setup in the FREE program that they supply. Then import this toolpath into my CUT2D program...add some more vectors, toolpaths etc and have truely 3D stuff. I have played with the 3D Machinist software and the sample file, but because I could not get that sample into my existing work I did not bother any further. Now that they advised me of this method I might not need Vectric Aspire anymore...let's see what happens.
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  #25  
Old Wed 11 March 2009, 13:45
Kobus_Joubert
Just call me: Kobus #6
 
Dalview
South Africa
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Well I will be off to Beaufort West tomorrow morning early, only to get back home late on Friday and as I cannot wait I tried it this afternoon.

Good news...I can generate the 3D toolpaths in the free 3D Machinist...save it to a file and then import that file into my CUT2D....add my own borders etc and away you go. Come on world now I am ready to make nice 3D stuff....pity you have to buy the designs from them and with our exchange rate it is still a bit expensive, but at least I get a 3D file that works.
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  #26  
Old Wed 11 March 2009, 14:47
astrolavista
Just call me: Rene #29
 
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Canada
Kobus,

I have downloaded some Free reliefs from http://cnc4free.org/ to use with Aspire.. You just have to ask for a username and a password. The reliefs are in the download section.

R
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  #27  
Old Sun 15 March 2009, 02:44
Kobus_Joubert
Just call me: Kobus #6
 
Dalview
South Africa
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Thanks for the info Rene, but Cut2D cannot import STL files. I have looked previously at the cnc4free site, but it will not help me unless I find the money to buy ASPIRE.
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  #28  
Old Thu 09 April 2009, 10:11
inventall
Just call me: pete
 
ca
United States of America
Post #13 Should be front page front and center! I wish I started looking in to this at the beginning. I have been banging my head against the wall for days trying to figure out what cad and cam programs to buy.

The problem is I don't want to learn a program just to find out I don't like it. (I am Irish so I will stick with something that sucks.) Is there a site that ranks cam or cad programs, something like "Consumer Reports"? Something I can trust like the MM forum. I have been watching a lot of video on Aspire It seems great. $2K but like Gerald said "......after that it is CAM every day for the rest of its life."

Trying to get this sorted out before I return to the machine on the 16th.
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  #29  
Old Thu 09 April 2009, 11:05
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
Pete, Aspire is the flavour of the month, but I can't justify it's price tag for the type of jobs that earn the bread and butter money. Aspire creates beautiful 3D products, but they have long cutting times and it is hard to find top-paying clients for machine created art.

The products from the Vectric stable are excellent, but they have many different products at various price levels, for different types of work. Don't be surprised if their lowest budget Cut2D turns out to be your highest income earner.
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  #30  
Old Thu 09 April 2009, 12:24
inventall
Just call me: pete
 
ca
United States of America
I think my problem is I don't understand the limitations of the programs. I will end up doing a variety of things with this machine and do not want to be to limited or have it take a lot of time to create. I do a lot of work for a hi-end Party planer. Not to long ago I had to make 16 chess peace half's about 16inches tall. They asked me for them on Friday and needed them for Monday I got paid $2500 for them and spent all weekend at the lathe than cut them in half. I never no what I am going to do next. I have plans for a lot of cabinet style work soon too.

It seems impossible to determine what programs will be best for me with out downloading each one, learn how to use it, play with it for a few days and than decide if I like it. I think this will drive me insane.(well more insane)
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