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New Chapter on Work Offsets in CNCCookbook G-Code Tutorial

May 21, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Beginner, Blog, GCode  //  No Comments

I just added a chapter on work offsets to the CNCCookbook G-Code Tutorial.  It covers all the basics including:
–  Why you’d use work offsets
–  Different g-codes associated with work offsets
–  Different g-code dialects for accessing extended work offsets
–  G92, an older way to program offsets that’s still useful today
–  Work offsets in macros and work offsets with G10
Lots of great information there for those wishing to learn the valuable tool that is work offsets.  Plus, there is a complete explanation of how to access work offsets in the G-Wizard Editor so you can play with g-code programming using work offsets on the GW Editor simulator.
If you’re not able to read and program g-code yet, give our tutorial a try.  It’s extremely easy and everything is arranged into bite-sized installments.  Just set yourself on a course to read a new chapter every evening or every couple of days and you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to pick up g-code programming.  It’s an important tool to have in your toolbox if you’re involved with CNC in any way.…

Tactia: Not Quite Full CNC But Much More than Hand Tools

May 19, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Business, Cool  //  No Comments

Remember those MIT students that had the crazy handheld “CNC” router?  That was one of the all-time popular articles for CNCCookbook back in the day.  Well, it seems they’ve started a company they call Tactia to build these routers and a lot more.  It’s not quite full CNC, but much more than ordinary hand tools.  Here it is in their own words:
CNC enables complex shapes to be economically produced and shared across the world. However, the process of using CNC is still complex, and somehow doesn’t feel human. That is where we come in. We have figured out how to blend the power of computer control with the flexibility, simplicity, and pleasure of using a hand tool. Whether you are a traditional craftsperson or a CNC guru, our tools will change the way you work.
Here are some projects done by a novice woodworker freehand using one of their routers:

I don’t know about you, but that looks to me like extremely nice work from a novice woodworker.
These routers work by letting the human hand guide the gross positioning while watching a screen and having the machine adjust the micro-position to be faithful to the design.  That’s why…

Customer Uses G-Wizard Estimator for Space Age Pet Food Bowl

May 11, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   3D Printing, Beginner, Blog, FeedsSpeeds, Manufacturing, Products, Software  //  2 Comments

It seems an unlikely combination, but when you’re an entrepreneur, anything is possible.  Luke Colby’s company, Rocket Thermodynamix, makes parts for rockets.  I’m talking about full-on beautifully machined aerospace quality components.  Here is a typical example:

A pyrotechnic actuated poppet valve…
Yeah, I don’t know what you’d use one of these for either.  Maybe Luke can chime in.  I have been amazed and impressed at the willingness of private industry to get involved in the space program on their own, and starting a small company to do so may very well be the next step.  One of the things this company is trying to do along the way is use Kickstarter to help pay for some new CNC machine tools.  Specifically, they’ve created what I’m calling a Space Age Pet Food Bowl and what they’re calling Pest Barrier Pet Food Bowl and it’s been launched as a Kickstarter.  If you’ve ever discovered a line of ants plundering your pet’s food bowl, you’ll know immediately why this is a good idea.  The Pest Barrier Food Bowl actually has a water-filled moat protecting the food so the ants can’t get to it.  In addition, it serves as a bubbler that keeps fresh…

Building the Rostock MAX v2 Printer, Part 4: First Part Printed

May 11, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   3D Printing, Beginner, Blog, Cool  //  8 Comments

With one more session of fiddling, the CNCCookbook Rostock MAX v2 was mechanically and electronically complete and it was time for the next stage:  calibration followed by printing the first part.  We got through the fiddling, calibration, and first part in one long afternoon–about 4 hours.
The calibration took the longest, and we encountered some problems.  The main problem was with the “PID Autotune” process.  The bed and hot end (extruder) have not only resistive heating but thermistors to measure the temperatures reached.  Printing is a bit finicky about temps and wants them to be precise.  The PID is sort of the equivalent of a servo for a mechanical CNC axis–it provides feedback that drives the temperature controls.  The Rostock’s controller has an “autotune” process for getting the PID dialed in, but we couldn’t get it to work on the hot end.  It would zoom the temp up too high and complain things had gotten too hot and then bail out.  Eventually I found a reference suggesting I turn down the max PID value from 255 to 128.  I did so and Autotune then worked.  The claim was it would work properly once the PEEK fan was installed.  This was…

Try the New Tool Crib Wizard

May 9, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Beginner, Blog, FeedsSpeeds, Software  //  No Comments

I just uploaded G-Wizard Calculator version 2.45.  Release 2.45 fixes a couple of bugs to do with error messages and adds the new Crib Wizard to the Tool Crib page. The Crib Wizard is capable of automatically generating Tool Crib entries for endmills or twist drills in standard sizes. In addition, Tool Cribs now have a “Description” field that can be used to describe the purpose and contents.  I also added a unit indicator for drill peck depth.
The new Tool Crib has undergone quite a bit of surgery, a lot of which will be invisible for a while as it is in preparation for bigger things yet to come.  What is visible is the new Tool Crib Wizard.  It’s accessed via a button on the Tool Crib:

The Crib Wizard button is located on the Tool Crib screen…
Clicking the button brings up the Crib Wizard:

The Tool Crib Wizard…
The Crib Wizard makes it easy to set up a Tool Crib with standard tools.  For example, the screen shot is set up to add tools in standard Imperial sizes from 0.1″ to 0.5″ in diameter.  It’ll add Carbide 4 flute endmills, and the comment will have not only…

Getting Your Print to Stick to the Bed When 3D Printing

May 7, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   3D Printing, Beginner, Blog  //  9 Comments

Like anything else, there is a learning curve associated with 3D printing.  Having gotten a new 3D printer in house here at CNCCookbook, we’re working our way through the learning curve.  You’ll likely see more than a fair share of 3D printing articles until we get things printing smoothly and then we’ll return to a more normal article mix.
One of the issues in getting great prints is getting your extruded print to stick properly to the bed when printing.  If it comes lose or warps up, you can imagine this will seriously reduce the quality of the print perhaps to the point of making the print useless.  There are a lot of techniques out there that have been tried, and these can vary from one filament material to the next.  At this stage, I’m focused on ABS filament, so I went through the SeeMeCNC forums to identify the best techniques for ABS.  A number of great articles are available, which I want to summarize here.
First was the Primer on Printing With ABS.  Key points included:
–  ABS doesn’t want to adhere to bare glass, so  you will need to do something about that.
–  Bed adhesion methods in…

Building the Rostock Max v2 Printer, Part 3

May 7, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   3D Printing, Beginner, Blog, CNC Projects, DIY CNC, Products  //  2 Comments

Progress continues on the CNCCookbook Rostock 3D printer.  This is our third installment representing our third weekend of progress.  Each weekend my brother and I have spent both afternoons for a total of about 6 to 7 hours.  Based on that, we’ve now spent probably 20 hours.  The printer is mechanically complete and has entered the debugging stage where we test and fix the mistakes we made along the way.  So far we’ve only discovered 3 mistakes:
–  We had some connectors installed backwards, easily fixed but tedious.
–  We had the limit switches connected to the “Min” sockets instead of the “Max” sockets.  Very easy to fix but took a moment’s thought to figure out what the problem was.
–  We made the wiring harness for the extruder a bit too short.  We’ll be grafting on an extension the next time we work on the printer.
Hopefully once the extruder harness has been extended, we’ll be ready to calibrate the printer and actually start making some prints.
This third session consisted largely of wiring:

This third and final construction session was largely about wiring…
By and large the kit has been fairly easy to build, the instructions were clear,…

6 Things A Brand New CNC’er Should Learn to Get Started

May 6, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Beginner, Blog, DIY CNC, FeedsSpeeds, GCode, Software, Techniques  //  1 Comment
Machinist's Mate Diploma

So you’ve just gotten interested in CNC, and you notice the waters look a little deep.  How do you get started?
Here are 6 things you should learn about first, before you buy a CNC machine, before you do anything else, just to get oriented and see what this CNC thing is all about.  It won’t take you long to get through them, and when you’re done, you’ll know enough to be dangerous.  Pretty cool, eh?  More importantly, you’ll know enough to understand what’s being talked about as you dig down into the next level.  You’ll have the mile-wide-but-inch deep map of the territory to help guide your learning efforts to the next level.
1.  Understand the CNC Software Stack
There’s a fair amount of different software that is involved when making a part with CNC.  At the very least that includes a CAD program with CAM (or perhaps Conversational CNC instead of CADCAM, but let’s start with CAM as a newbie) to generate the g-code, and your machine controller, which turns that g-code into machine motions that make your part for you.  There’s a lot of other software out there that you’ll hear about and wonder about.  It’s helpful…

Design a Case for Your iPhone

May 1, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   3D Printing, Beginner, Blog, CNC Projects, Techniques  //  No Comments

Phone cases are a straightforward project for any CNC’er, whether they plan to make the case using a 3D Printer or to machine it from a solid block of material.  The key is accounting for the dimensions of the phone itself.  One can measure the phone, or, in the case of Apple at least, we can obtain the official blueprints they provide for organizations that want to make cases and other accessories.  Apple has a page all set up for developers to access.  On that page you will find a link to a document called “Case Design Guidelines for Apple Devices.”  That’s where you’ll find the dimensioned drawings for all of Apple’s phones and portable devices like iPods and iPads.
Once you get your hands on the document describing your device’s dimensions, you’ll need to put together a CAD drawing that captures the outline of the phone:

Using your CAD program, generate the outline of your phone…
I’m using Rhino3D for this project, but most any CAD program capable of 3D modelling can be used to follow along.  I simply created a rectangle with the overall height and width of the phone (leaving out the buttons that protrude).  I then…

Carbide 3D’s Nomad: Dawn of Vertical Integration for Desktop CNC

Apr 30, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Beginner, Blog, CNC Router, Cool, DIY CNC, Products  //  18 Comments
Copyright Courtney Lindberg Photography

Many believe that Apple’s incredible success is due to its Vertical Integration Strategy.  The idea behind Vertical Integration is that by owning more of parts needed to create a complete solution its possible to make a much better solution.  Apple makes the hardware, the operating system, and many of the critical productivity apps in its products.  By contrast, Microsoft, Intel, PC Manufacturers, and Windows Software Makers all have to work together by loose (and sometimes factious) collaboration to produce an end result.  The latter situation is where we find CNC today.  It’s actually not a bad thing at all for industrial users.  They’re power users who want to be able to mix and match a solution to fit their needs.  Apple is not very strong in the equivalent PC Server market, despite having tried several times to gain penetration.  Where Vertical Integration matters is where maximum ease of use is needed, not where maximum power is needed, and Desktop CNC is exactly where such a difference will matter.
We’ve seen an increasing number of machines appear on Kickstarter and elsewhere as the market struggles to crack open the Desktop CNC Market.  There are some great solutions out there, with Tormach…

What Exactly is the Maker Movement, Anyway?

Apr 29, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, DIY CNC  //  11 Comments

This article is a bit of a rant, sorry, if you’re a Maker Fanboy, best move along, these are not the Droids you’re looking for.
As you can imagine, I subscribe to every CNC-related blog and news source I can find.  I have probably 50-60 Google Alerts sniffing out news based on keywords as well.  Lastly, a great many of you dear readers have been very kind in sharing your news findings.  The Maker Movement had certainly crossed my desk a long time ago.  Seemed like a wonderful thing–let’s make high tech manufacturing interesting for one and all.  How can you go wrong with that?
And just to be sure I’m on the right track, I thought I’d check with Wikipedia’s definition of “Maker Culture” before embarking on this article:
The maker culture is a contemporary culture or subculture representing a technology-based extension of DIY culture. Typical interests enjoyed by the maker culture include engineering-oriented pursuits such as electronics, robotics, 3-D printing, and the use of CNC tools, as well as more traditional activities such as metalworking, woodworking, and traditional arts and crafts. The subculture stresses new and unique applications of technologies, and encourages invention and prototyping.[1] There is a…

Building the Rostock Max v2 3D Printer, Part 2

Apr 27, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   3D Printing, Beginner, Blog, CNC Projects, DIY CNC  //  2 Comments

Part 1 got us to the point where the base was assembled, though there is quite a lot of wiring yet to be done there.  For part 2, I worked about 7 hours evenly split across a Saturday and Sunday afternoon.  This got me to about page 120 in the manual.  The printer is considerably further along and taking shape.
First up for this construction stage was to glue the two resistors that heat the hot end and melt the plastic filament into the hot end assembly:

High-Temp RTV secures two resistors and a thermistor in place…
This is no big deal, but it’s worthing doing it early as they suggest so the RTV will have dried completely by the time you start fussing with the hot end.  Note the size of the filament nozzle on that hot end–it’s a tiny little hole that’ll be laying down the plastic on your 3D part.
Next up was the Onyx Heated Bed.  A number of the components from this complete kit can be purchased for use in other 3D printer projects, and the Onxy is one of them:

This view shows the Onyx Heated Bed on some standoffs as well as a…

Just a Few Days Left on Our April 2014 Sale

Apr 24, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Business  //  No Comments

Just a few days left to run on our April 2014 Sale.  It gives you 15% off any purchase over $100 by entering coupon code “GUITAR WELDER” in the shopping cart.  Go ahead, check out the details.  The pug did and clearly found some eye popping deals.  Yes I know it’s a cheap marketing trick to use a Spokes-Pug, but we’re just a small business.  We do what we have to!
Meanwhile, consider these possibilities for the sale:
–  G-Wizard Calculator 3 Year Subscription:  Regularly $129, on sale for $109.65.  Plus, if you have at least 3 years of subscription history, we’ll upgrade you to lifetime with purchase of 3 years.
–  G-Wizard Editor 3 Year Subscription:  Regularly $199, on sale for $169.15.
–  GW Calculator + Editor 3 Year Subscription:  Get both of our flagship software products, regularly $299, on sale for $254.15.  You’re getting GW Calculator for about half price on this deal.
Ready to upgrade to a lifetime subscription?  If you’ve got at least 1/2 time left on your current subscription, order the lifetime, use the 15% discount, drop me an email of reminder, and I’ll give you full credit for the subscription that’s running out.  That’s…

What if Porsche Made CNC Machining Centers?

Apr 23, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Cool, Manufacturing, Products  //  1 Comment

I was recently contacted by the West Coast Office of Datron Dynamics.  It seems they were interested in getting G-Wizard Calculator into the hands of their customers.  Their machines are, to use their word, Unconventional.  For one thing, they all have very high speed spindles, which makes Feeds and Speeds problematic.  Even if you’re an old hand running the usual VMC’s found in manufacturers, very few will have had experience above, say, 15000 rpm.  This is the realm of High Speed Machining.  Suffice it to say that G-Wizard worked great for their customer.  They were able to get good results easily and with little to no training.  Never being one to miss an opportunity, I stepped up and asked if I could come visit and see the Datron’s in action.  Here I have a confession to make–I’ve been drooling over their videos of high speed machining for some time and was very excited to make the field trip and see them first hand.
Let’s get back to our Porsche analogy.  If Porsche were to build machining centers, what would they be like?  For starters, they’d be German Engineered, just like Datron.  Natch.  But I think they’d also adhere to Datron’s…

Telling the MeshCAM Story a Little Better: Easy CAM for Beginners

Apr 22, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Beginner, Blog, Products, Software  //  2 Comments

When I first discovered and reviewed MeshCAM, I was surprised at its simplicity.  So much so that I wrote about it in these pages.  It wasn’t very long before I approached the author, Robert Grezsek, about being able to offer his software here on CNCCookbook.  I was so pleased when he said, “Yes.”
But, after putting up a very simple notice on our Software page, I never got back to putting together a proper home page for MeshCAM here at CNCCookbook.  We sold a bunch of it, but I can’t help but think we could’ve told the story a little better.  So, today I put up a new home page that I think does tell that story considerably better.  It is accessible from our Software page (just click the “Software” menu at the top of any CNCCookbook page) or you can just click this link here if you want to take a look.
The essence of what MeshCAM is all about is simplifying the CAM experience.  I hear from countless beginners about how painful it is to learn the CAM software for the first time.  I went through it myself, and even though we’re partnered with multiple CAM vendors and…




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