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New Conversational CNC Face Milling and Surfacing Wizard

Mar 19, 2013   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, FeedsSpeeds, GCode, Software, Techniques  //  2 Comments
Face Milling and Surfacing CNC Wizard

I just uploaded G-Wizard Editor version 1.018, which has our new Conversational CNC Face Milling and Surfacing Wizard.  Here’s what it looks like:
The Surfacing Wizard includes three different toolpaths:
–  Zig-zag:  Fastest surfacing, because it cuts both ways.
–  Climb Mill:  Best surface finish–passes are climb mill and then rapid back so they always cut in the same direction.
–  Radial:  This path spirals outward, and is a nice compromise between the two as well as a good choice for surfacing round areas.
We’ve spent a lot of time incorporating state-of-the-art face milling toolpath features, such as the way the tool arcs into the workpiece.  These features result in longer tool life, particularly when surfacing tough materials, as well as better surface finishes.  You can get a PhD in Face Milling and write your own programs to do this stuff or just use the Surfacing Wizard.  While there are other Wizards and Conversational CNC programs out there, G-Wizard is the first one I’ve seen that does this sort of thing.  Even many CAM packages don’t.
I made a video that shows how to use the Wizard if you want more information:

Also, if you’ve never tried G-Wizard Editor, check…

What Now: My CNC Won’t Go Slow Enough or Fast Enough?

Mar 15, 2013   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Beginner, Blog, CNC Router, DIY CNC, Software, Techniques  //  No Comments
594037_Donkey_cart

It takes a complex bunch of math to properly calculate Feeds and Speeds under all conditions and to get anywhere close to good answers.  There is a whole lot more to it than the basic equations everyone learns that claim to relate surface speed, chipload, rpms, feedrates and the like.  Unfortunately, those equations work reasonably well for manual machining (though you can still do much better with proper calculations), but they can be way off for typical CNC operations.  When I first started out, I was using an Excel spreadsheet to keep up with it all.  Every time I learned something new, perhaps from an article via a tooling manufacturer, I’d add that information to the spreadsheet.  Pretty soon it was a honking complicated mess and I still wasn’t done.  In fact, I started to get into problems were there was no fixed formula that gave an answer.  These types of problems had to be solved by iterative methods.  That means you plug in some guesses, see the result, and try again until you get the right inputs to give the answer you seek.  Spreadsheets call this Goal Seeking, and they can do a little bit of it, but not…

New File Compare Command for G-Wizard G-Code Editor

Mar 7, 2013   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, GCode, Software  //  No Comments

We recently ran a survey to see what folks thought we should add next to the G-Wizard Editor.  The #1 response was a File Compare command, so here is a video showing how the new command works:

We thank you for participating in the survey.  It’s not too late to get more votes in to help us decide what the next thing on the list ought to be.  You can participate in the survey and make your voice heard.  Go ahead, you know you have some great ideas for us.…

Mac Native Installs for GWE and GWC Just Released

Mar 5, 2013   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Software  //  1 Comment
macbook-air

For our friends using Macs, I am happy to report that the latest install pages for GW Calculator and GW Editor now offer Mac Native Installs.  You download a standard Mac .dmg file, right-click, and select “Open” to install.  Double click won’t work as it refuses to install “unidentified” developers.  We’re not in the Mac Store or Dev Program, so that makes us “unidentified”.  We may change that status in the future.
In any event, this should make life easier for Mac owners.…

Be Sure You Vote on What Features We Should Add Next to G-Wizard Editor

Feb 26, 2013   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Software  //  4 Comments

We’re running a survey to collect feedback on what features to add next to G-Wizard Editor.  Be sure your vote is counted!
 …

The Latest G-Wizard Editor Features Up Through Release 1.012

Feb 24, 2013   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, GCode, Software  //  No Comments
SaveModes

I have a confession: I haven’t gotten much writing done for the site in the last week.  No blog digest newsletter email went out at all as a result.  So, I’m trying to get caught up.  I was busy doing work on GW Editor, so I want to go over what all was added in this post.  My last post on GWE releases was all about 1.005, and we’re now up to version 1.012.
Here’s what’s happened since 1.005 in terms of new functionality (for more detail, consult the GWE Change Log):
–  A File Close command.  One user was going through an iterative cycle as they tried to tweak their CAM package’s output and so was switching back and forth between GWE and the CAM package.  They wanted an easy way to close the file in GWE when they went back to the CAM package. So we added File Close.
–  Keyboard shortcuts for Revisions.  Many of the Revisions get used a lot and so it’s handy if they can be triggered by a quick keystroke.  Not only did we set that up with some default keyboard shortcuts, we also made it possible for you to remap the Revision…

Making GCode Programs Smaller for Older Machine Controllers

Feb 24, 2013   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, GCode, Software, Techniques  //  No Comments
SaveRAMComments

Living in a world where the average phone has memory measured in gigabytes it’s easy to forget that a lot of very capable CNC machines have far less memory available for gcode–especially older machines.  A real old Fanuc might have only 16K of RAM–that’s “K” as in 1000’s while “Gigabytes” are billions!  Even the newer controls have less memory than you’d think and upgrading can be expensive.  There are a number of solutions to this problem including drip feeding, which is the “Big Hammer” for the problem.  With drip feeding, you DNC program parcels out the gcode a little at a time as your machine executes so as not to overwhelm it.  There are still limitations and challenges with drip feeding.  For example, depending on how things are set up, the RS-232 link may limit the throughput.  If you’re running lots of little tiny moves, the machine may become starved for data.  Such moves are particularly common for 3D surfacing routines.
Whenever possible, it’s nice to be able to get the whole program onto the machine if you can.  So how do we go about making gcode programs as small as possible?
It turns out there are a number of…

G-Wizard Editor Release 1.005 is Posted

Feb 12, 2013   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, GCode, Software  //  No Comments
1nth1

Hot diggity, another G-Wizard Editor release is available!
Release 1.005 is a minor release:
– Added ISO Mill and Lathe posts in Inch and Metric.  You may need to download the newer canned posts to access them.
– Implemented the ability to use “,” and other characters for the decimal point in g-code for International users. Just change the Post variable “Other.DecimalChar”.  If your version reports this post variable as unexpected, you’ll need to upgrade to v1.005 to get rid of that message.
– Fixed problems with the JMP buttons on the toolbar.
– Fixed a bug where SQRT[] wasn’t being recognized correctly.
– Fixed some drill cycle issues having to do with calculating the Hole Bottom on the very first hole of a series.
Last week was also spent increasing the level of automation in our ordering process to handle the increased volumes we’re seeing.  Thanks very much for your business!
I still have a few customer-reported issues to resolve, but I have also started on a new feature that I think will be very useful, especially if you have to make similar changes to lots of g-code files or on a frequent basis.  More news when it is…

Rhino3D 5.0 and Flamingo 3.0 Upgrade: I Need to Rant

Feb 3, 2013   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Software  //  No Comments

I use several CAD programs including SolidWorks and Autodesk, but Rhino3D is by far my favorite.  I just got my new Rhino3D 5.0 upgrade and Flamingo 3.0 Rendering software, so I thought I’d do a little mini review.  I will still do that mini review at some point, but right now I have to finish a rant, because…
The Install and Upgrade Experience is Atrocious
Let’s start with the Bad News first–the install experience is terrible.  Generally, I have found the Rhino upgrade experience to be pretty painless, so I was surprised at how bad this was.  What I’m used to is just responding to the prompts when I bring up the product.  It deals with finding the new release online whenever one is available and the worst thing is having to track down my License Key every time.
Having bought the upgrade from Novedge, who offered a nice discount, I fired up Rhino and went looking for someplace to put my new official license key.  No joy, I couldn’t find a spot anywhere though I looked at several entries on the Help menu.  I even tried the “Register Rhino” choice which offered no possibility of a License Key entry…

Tapping Into the Wisdom of the Crowd in Our Software

Feb 1, 2013   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Software  //  No Comments
Feedback Button

We spend a lot of time trying to understand the folks using our software.  We know we don’t always get it right and we know there is no one-size-fits-all solution to making the software easier to learn, easier to use, and more powerful.  So we rely on you to keep us in the loop in a whole variety of different ways.  I call this “Gaining the Wisdom of Our Crowd”, and I believe the ability to listen to one of the largest online audiences of machinists in the world (CNCCookbook now has nearly 17,000 folks who have our software and nearly 1.5 million visits a year to the site) gives us a real edge because we learn things from our crowd that are hard to find out anywhere else.
Recently, we added a new “Feedback” button to both GW Calculator and GW Editor.  We learned so darned much from the Beta Survey we ran with GW Editor, I wanted to keep the feedback coming and make it easy to give us your feedback.  The button is up near the top of screen on both apps on what I call the “Login Bar”.  You’ll find a variety of ways to get…

G-Wizard Editor Version 1.0 To Be Launched Friday

Jan 29, 2013   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, GCode, Software  //  No Comments

G-Wizard Editor, Version 1.0.  Available for Sale Friday, February 1
I’m extremely excited to announce that we’ll be launching our G-Wizard Editor this Friday, February 1.
Since starting to build our first product, G-Wizard Calculator, I’ve had Big Plans for CNCCookbook’s software line.  I’m trying to do something fundamentally different than anything that’s ever been done with CNC Software before.  It’ll be quite a while before the whole Vision is in place and obvious, but GW Editor represents the next Big Step.  As of Friday, we’ll have two great products from CNCCookbook, alongside Art Fenerty’s Gearotic Gear Design software that we also offer.  Part of our mantra is to always be giving away some kind of software for free, in Beta Test.  The GW Editor spent about 2 years in that capacity and many of you watched it grow month by month to be what it is today.  Today, we offer G-Wizard Conversational CNC, which is free while in Beta Test and which has just begun its journey.  It will be our third product in the lineup.
I hadn’t realized just how big and complex a project GW Editor had been until I got to looking over it, and putting…

Custom Deep Hole CNC Canned Drilling Cycles

Jan 25, 2013   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, GCode, Software, Techniques  //  2 Comments

It seems like it has been a while since I’ve added a new chapter to our G-Code Tutorial so I decided to get busy and write one.  In addition to updating the chapter on Canned Drilling Cycles a bit, I have added a chapter on Custom Deep Hole Drilling Cycles.
Custom Deep Hole Cycles are a common thing to hand code.  It turns out there are a lot of techniques (described in the chapter!) that are not part of the canned drilling cycles of most controls.  Things like exactly how the pecking strategy changes with hole depth or whether to vary feeds and speeds with depth.  By hand coding a custom deep hole cycle, you can greatly optimize the process.   This new chapter describes not only the techniques required for custom deep hole cycles, but also provides a discussion of our Conversational CNC Deep Hole Cycle Wizard that makes it easy to crank out this kind of code.

The Custom Deep Hole Cycle Wizard…
Check it out–the Conversational CNC Wizards are free during their development and come with G-Wizard Editor.  If you’re not already signed up for the GWE Beta Test, get on the list so you’ll be eligible for…

4 Easy Steps to the Best CNC Feeds and Speeds

Jan 19, 2013   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Beginner, Blog, FeedsSpeeds, Software, Techniques  //  1 Comment

I just uploaded a new video showing how to get the best CNC Feeds and Speeds with 4 easy steps using our G-Wizard Calculator:

It also goes through the reasons why a calculator can give better feeds and speeds than your tooling manufacturer’s feeds and speeds charts.…

G-Wizard Editor v0.731 is Available: Avoid CNC Alarms With Our Simulator

Jan 15, 2013   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, GCode, Software  //  No Comments
MakingAMouseStronger

I just uploaded G-Wizard Editor version 0.731 and it addresses the most common Beta tester feedback:
– Did a serious overhaul on Zoom Extents and it works much better now.
– Lots of people were reporting that GWE was hanging when they saved Setup. It was very slow, but it wasn’t hanging. Unfortunately, it was hiding the message that would’ve made what was happening a lot clearer. That message now shows up properly.
– Did a bunch of tuning on the simulator playback speed because it was still going way too fast at the slowest settings. It now runs pretty slowly at the lowest settings and will smoothly accelerate to the fastest settings.
Those things all should be a lot smoother.  Just go to the GWE Install Page to download the latest version.  If you haven’t yet signed up for our Beta Test, please register.  All it takes is your name and email, you get to try the product for free, and Beta testers will receive a great deal when we launch the product and start charging for it.  Looks pretty close, so I’m guessing we’ll launch by end of this month.  Exciting!
Wondering what the heck you would use…

G-Wizard Editor version 0.730 will save you steps

Jan 8, 2013   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, GCode, Software  //  No Comments
RevisionList

G-Wizard Editor release 0.730 is a minor feature and usability release that can save you keystrokes or mouse clicks with its new Revision History feature.  It works by listing your most recently used Revisions at the bottom of the Tools Menu:
 
It also remembers what settings you used the last time with each Revision and keeps them around.  What this means is that your favorite options for Renumbering can be had just by picking the entry from the history list and it’ll do the same thing.
Other changes and enhancements include:
– The “Jmp” buttons now automatically switch the Simulator to Single Block mode if you use one. Before, if Single Block was not on, the Simulator was just run the whole program.
– Changed all use of “OK” or “Yes” in popups to be a specific verb reflecting what the popup will do. This is part of the Apple UI guidelines and makes software easier to use.
– Fixed a lot of minor bugs in various places but especially in the Revisions.
You can download this release from the GW Editor Install Page.  You’ll need to be a registered user, but registration is quick and easy and just requires…

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