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Conversational CNC Drilling Wizard with Deep Hole Cycles Added to GWE v1.93

Apr 20, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Beginner, Blog, GCode, Manual, Products, Software, Techniques  //  No Comments
DrillConvCNC

The next installment of our Conversational CNC Wizards is available with G-Wizard Editor version 1.93.  Conversational CNC is a quick way to do simple jobs without resorting to creating a CAD drawing or running a CAM program.  For all those times when you would turn to a manual machine instead of a CNC because the overhead of the CADCAM cycle was going to mean you could do it faster manually, this is a better way.  Now you can stick with the CNC and do the job even faster than the manual, even for one off parts.  The key is simplicity.  Lathes are particularly well suited to Conversational CNC, because many round parts are fairly simple.
This week’s Drill Wizard seems simple enough:

Conversational CNC Drilling Wizard…
It’s so simple you might even wonder why you’d need it.  After all the parameters for a G83 peck drilling cycle are not all that hard to remember.  The thing is, there’s more to life than G83 when it comes to making holes.  G-Wizard’s Custom Drilling Cycles can be really useful for two reasons.  First, they can be faster than standard peck cycles because they can finely tune exactly when to start pecking and…

9 Completely Frivolous Things You Could Make on Your Expensive CNC Machine

Apr 19, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, CNC Projects, Cool  //  3 Comments
ArtGears

We sent men to the Moon with it and much more, but CNC can also be such a decadent luxury.  No matter what you make with CNC, it takes on that certain look of mechanical perfection.  Nature is filled with organic curves, so when we see CNC’d objects, they’re particularly profound in their man-made contrast.
Here are 9 completely frivolous things you could make on your expensive CNC machine, just because you can, and because they are so cool:
1.  Gear Art
We sell a lot of copies of Art Fenerty’s Gearotic Gear Design Software.  Some of it goes to legitimate Horological (clock making) pursuits.  But I suspect a great many Gearotic users have a guilty pleasure–they like making unusual gear designs for art’s sake (and I do not mean Mr Fenerty’s sake):

Because you’ll need a storage vault for all the other frivolous CNC projects you make…

Light switch complicator.  Essential for machinists and engineers.  Because we can.

I gotta HEART these gears…
Gears are not easy to design, but Art’s nifty Gearotic software makes short work of them.
2. CNC’d Spinning Top
Any manner of toy is fun, but some are mesmerizing.  A CNC’d spinning top can be…

CNC Software Sale Ends in Just a Few Days

Apr 15, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog  //  1 Comment
CheckSaleGreen

Our Spring Sale on CNC Software is ending this Sunday, April 19.  Full details are available on our Deals and Steals Page (aka our “Cheapskate” Page).  For a limited time only we’re offering 15% off on purchases of over $100 of our CNC Software.
Here are just a few examples of our 15% off deals:
–  Get a 3 year subscription to GW Calculator for $109.65 instead of the regular $129.
–  Get a lifetime subscription to GW Calculator for just $211.65 instead of our regular $249.
–  Get a 3 year subscription to GW Editor for $169.15 instead of $199.
–  Get a lifetime GW Editor for $254.15 instead of $299.
Want both?  Try these deals:
–  Get 3 years of GWC and GWE for $254.1 instead of $299.
–  Get lifetime GWC and GWE for $373.15 and save over $65.
Been wondering about MeshCAM, the world’s easiest CAM software?  How about getting MeshCAM plus a 1 year subscription to GW Calculator for just $228.65?  MeshCAM alone retails for $250, so you get not only a great deal on MeshCAM, but GW Calculator is free for a year.  What about Gearotic:  Art Fenerty’s crazy cool gear designer–CAD and CAM…

New Conversational CNC Lathe OD Turning Wizard Available in G-Wizard Editor v1.90

Apr 13, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Beginner, Blog, GCode, Manual, Software, Techniques  //  2 Comments
ODTurnConvCNC

I promised 1 new Conversational CNC Wizard a week and I’m slightly ahead of schedule with the OD Turning Wizard.  I’ve just uploaded GWE v1.90 (click the link to get your copy), which has the new OD Turning Wizard.  Conversational CNC is a quick way to do simple jobs without resorting to creating a CAD drawing or running a CAM program.  For all those times when you would turn to a manual machine instead of a CNC because the overhead of the CADCAM cycle was going to mean you could do it faster manually, this is a better way.  Now you can stick with the CNC and do the job even faster than the manual, even for one off parts.  The key is simplicity.  Lathes are particularly well suited to Conversational CNC, because many round parts are fairly simple.  Last week we introduced the Facing Wizard, and this week’s entrant is OD Turning, the next logical component in the series.
Here’s what it looks like:

The OD Turn Conversational CNC Wizard…
The OD Turning Wizard is designed so you can enter multiple (up to 8) diameters to be cut in one operation.  The Wizard will face the area to the…

Use a Robot to Change Milling Vise Jaws? Yes, Please!

Apr 13, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Cool, Manufacturing, Products, Techniques  //  1 Comment
ArtRobotByAshleyWood

I’m always fascinated by the degree of automation that’s possible in CNC manufacturing.  There’s certainly no end of pallet changers and similar methods for loading workpieces, but how about a robot that swaps out your vise jaws?  Almost anything is possible if you’ve got the cash to automate.  Check out this neat video of one in action:

What will those darned robots get up to next?…

Lathe Conversational CNC Kicked Off in G-Wizard Editor version v1.88

Apr 8, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Beginner, Blog, GCode, Software, Techniques  //  No Comments
FacingConvCNC

Conversational CNC is a very popular feature among G-Wizard Editor users, but what is Conversational CNC?
Simply put, it is the ability to quickly and easily generate g-code by answering a series of questions rather than by producing a CAD drawing and then applying CAM software to it.  Conversational CNC is not really a replacement for CAM.  Rather, it’s an opportunity to keep simple things simple by not requiring CAM for simple projects.  For example, suppose you need to create a simple bracket that simple requires milling a rectangular piece of material and adding some holes.  A manual machinist would be done with that part before most CNC’ers would be done creating a CAD drawing and using CAM to generate the g-code, let alone making the part.  But, with Conversational CNC, you can operate quickly and shoot from the hip just as on a manual machine.  This is perfect for simple parts where CADCAM is overkill.
G-Wizard Editor already has a great many Conversational CNC Wizards for Mills, but we’re just getting started for Lathes.  This week, GW Editor version 1.88 was uploaded and it includes the Conversational CNC Facing Wizard for lathes.  The Facing Wizard looks like this:

The…

Using a Microwave to Heat Bearings for Fitting

Apr 8, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Cool, Techniques  //  15 Comments

I had to check carefully that this wasn’t an April Fool’s deal, but it is apparently real.  Neat trick:

I gotta say, it’s a pretty slick idea that I’m dying to try on my wife’s microwave.
This one about balancing rotating machinery is also interesting:

I’ve got a crazy idea we can predict chatter frequencies with a rig like that and do it very cheaply.  Will have to try some experiments.…

Spring Sale on Our CNC Software

Apr 6, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog  //  No Comments
customsprings

No, not those kind of springs, silly–SPRING as in the season.  You know, Spring!
Spring is when the new year really gets into the full swing of things, so we’re offering to help with our sale.  That’s right, you get 15% off on all orders over $100.  The discount will be taken right in the Shopping Cart.
There’s lots of great deals out there with this discount.  Now is the time to go ahead and purchase that G-Wizard package you’ve been thinking about, or maybe it’s time to extend your existing subscription while the savings are here.
Here are just a few examples of our 15% off deals:
–  Get a 3 year subscription to GW Calculator for $109.65 instead of the regular $129.
–  Get a lifetime subscription to GW Calculator for just $211.65 instead of our regular $249.
–  Get a 3 year subscription to GW Editor for $169.15 instead of $199.
–  Get a lifetime GW Editor for $254.15 instead of $299.
Want both?  Try these deals:
–  Get 3 years of GWC and GWE for $254.1 instead of $299.
–  Get lifetime GWC and GWE for $373.15 and save over $65.
Been wondering about MeshCAM, the…

Cheap and Cheerful Modular Tool Organizer

Apr 4, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Products  //  1 Comment
FreeZone

I tell myself that with enough tool organizing technology, my shop will always be effortlessly clean and clutter free.  Yeah right, I see you shaking your heads out there, and it’s all true.  But…
That doesn’t mean great Tool Organizing technology isn’t pretty handy too!
I came across this neat idea while reading a post from Garage Journal.  It’s a neat blog for the garage and auto enthusiast, and I read it just because a lot of the ideas are also great for CNC’ers and machinists.  In this case, the post was about how to organize your 1/4″ bits.  You know, all those little goodies that you can pop into an impact driver or socket setup.  They’re handy, but easy to lose and hard to organize.  I’ve left most of mine in the rubbery cases they came in, but I really like this idea better:

The FreeZone® Storage System…
You can insert the bits directly into the squares or they also sell little clamps and holders that can secure things that don’t fit the holes.  I like French Fit drawers better for larger items, but this is very cool for organizing little bits and other goodies that will fit the…

Dave Decaussin Makes a Floating Tap Holder

Apr 1, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Beginner, Blog, CNC Projects, Cool, DIY CNC, Techniques  //  2 Comments

Dave Decaussin is one of the heroes of our CNC industry.  He was one of the original founders at Fadal, which they sold some years ago.  He’s been quite active since on various projects and has a great YouTube channel with a number of videos of projects he’s been working on.
He’s built several different CNC machines and done a number of other things in these videos.  Recently he put out a video showing how he made a floating tap holder so you can see how they work and how to make your own if you should desire to do so.
Here is his video:

Floating tap holders are used for tapping on machines that don’t support rigid tapping.  To rigid tap, the machine has to be able to synchronize axis motion accurately enough so the vertical motion of the Z axis can follow a tap as it goes down the hole making its thread.  If the Z moves too slowly, the tap is stretched and will probably break.  If it goes too fast, the tap is forced down hard into the hole and it will also be likely to break.  A floating tap holder relieves these problems by providing…

Shopmade Air-Powered 5C Collet Chuck for a Haas TL1

Mar 30, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, CNC Projects, DIY CNC, Techniques  //  No Comments
ColletChuck3

This is quite a neat project built by Geof over at CNCZone:

Air-Powered 5C Collet Chuck assembled…

Installed on the Haas TL-1…
Some design notes:
Geof discovered the optimal draw force on the 5C system is about 1200lbs. This is accomplished via 10 springs that act to return the piston to the “locked” position when air pressure is released. The estimated unlocking force is up to 2300 lbs. Based on an air pressure of 85 psi, this calls for a 27 square inch piston. Since the piston is an annulus (donut shaped), the inner ring on the piston (so the bar can pass through the center) is 2.25 inches and the outer is 6.5″. The whole thing is housed in an 8″ OD cylinder assembly made of aluminum. Looks like a big o-ring is used to seal the piston against the cylinder and a smaller one seals the piston hub. These O-rings are standard sizes.
Threaded adjustments on the drawbar end control draw tube force, release free travel, and piston stroke. The release free travel lets the tube travel a short distance to pick up speed so it can knock the collet loose. Plastic liners protect the draw tube’s interior…

Top 4 Reasons to Use a GCode Editor

Mar 29, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, GCode, Products, Software, Techniques  //  No Comments
GWEUses

We recently surveyed G-Wizard Editor customers to see what they were doing with the software.  Here’s what they came back with:

The survey provides a good cross section of uses.  Customers could choose all of the choices that applied to them, and clearly a lot of folks were doing multiple things with the Editor.  Let’s talk just a bit about what each one means and how it might benefit your CNC activities.
Writing G-Code From Scratch
I think this is the one that most commonly comes to mind, and if you stop here (please don’t, the other uses are good stuff!), you probably don’t think you could ever use a G-Code Editor.  After all, it’s so much easier to let the CAM software create your g-code, isn’t it?  Yet, we still see a surprising amount of hand written g-code out there.  Why do it?
For one thing, there are certain things that CAM is good at and certain other things it is terrible at.  A lot of simple parts can be programmed by hand faster than you could do a drawing in CAD to run your CAM against.  So, we could say CAM is not especially good at really simple…

Other Machine: Tiny Machines for Giant Dreams

Mar 25, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Beginner, Blog, CNC Router, Cool, DIY CNC, Products  //  3 Comments
OtherMachineCo

Mobile CNC, anyone?  The OtherMILL is easy to tote from place to place…
CNCCookbook recently had a visit from the coolest little CNC machine and its two handlers.  This is unusual from a number of standpoints.  First, CNC machines aren’t really known for being mobile.  Sure, there has been the odd exception, but to have one literally come walking in my door is fairly unheard of.  Normally I have to go visit the CNC machine if I’m going to see it, and I have done so a number of times.  The second thing was that the visit was so much fun, so easy, and so approachable.  Imagine a group of friends just getting together to play around with CNC the same way they’d get together to play a card game or throw a football around.  This is just not the sort of fun I’m used to having with a CNC machine, though I have no end of fun with them, let me assure you.
The machine in question even has an odd but hip name–they call it the “OtherMILL”, and it is sold by the “Other Machine Company.”  Maybe they’re getting us ready for the idea that even the hardcore…

Connecting Your Tormach to the Network

Mar 24, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Products, Software  //  6 Comments
TormachCloud

A Tormach in the Clouds?
Until very recently, Tormach strongly discouraged connecting their CNC machines to the network.  That’s all changed with the introduction of the new Tormach Path Pilot CNC Controller.
As Tormach says in their recent article:
Prior to PathPilot, our technical team strongly discouraged any networking of Tormach machine controllers. Background network activities that are inherent to a non-real time system like Windows OS would result in intermittent signal timing interrupts and interfere with the motion-control process. Our “best-practice” advice was to transfer G-code files to the controller using a USB flash drive and load these files out of controller memory and never directly from the flash drive.
While I’m sure there were plenty of folks that connected anyway (I know my Mach3 machine was connected to the network, but I was using a Smoothstepper to keep the machine stable for motion control), most were heeding Tormach’s advice.  After all, who wants a controller hiccup to trash their part?
Path Pilot makes this possible through a couple of mechanisms.  First, it shows up on your network as a NAS (Network Attached Storage) device.  As such, you can make it look just like a disk drive to any…

2 Tools for Calculating Cut Depth and Cut Width/Stepover When Milling

Mar 23, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Beginner, Blog, Cool, FeedsSpeeds, Manufacturing, Products, Software, Techniques  //  No Comments
higher-mathematics

The depth of cut and width of cut (also called stepover) are crucial variables when milling pockets, profiling, facing, and a variety of other machining operations.  Aside from the machines capabilities, the material, and a description of the tool to be used, they’re the most important variables for determining feeds and speeds.  In conjunction with your feeds and speeds they can determine your Material Removal Rate, which in turn will determine how long it will take to complete the operation. Given a material removal rate and the machinability of the material, we now the spindle power required for the operation.  Turning that back around we can compute the potential for deflection of the tool.  Too much deflection ruins tool life, makes for inaccurate cuts, and is also bad for surface finish.
Given all that, one might say that your Cut Depth and Cut Width are going to determine just about everything of interest in terms of what you want to get out of the cut–how long it will take, how it will impact tool life, and the surface finish.  Cut Depth and Cut Width are very important variables indeed!
Yet, most machinists do not have analytical tools that help them…

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