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Thread: New to CNC

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  1. #1
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    New to CNC

    HI I just bought a new "to me" cnc machine and need all the good advice I can get. I have attached pics. It has an ah ha controller with a mach 3 breakout board but no pc or software. my intent is to use it for cutting sheets of ply/mdf for cabinets and furniture. i know nothing about CNC. But I have become comfortable with a few different drafting and cabinet programs that export dxf files. I need recommendations for cam software, tooling, and Ideas for a budget minded vacuum table, and other hold down options. as of now it just has the aluminum table

  2. #2
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    Re: New to CNC

    You should be in good shape if you already have a good deal of familiarity with some of the software.That said,you till have two new areas in which to develop some further knowledge.Obviously you need to become familiar with getting the machine to carry out your instructions and while you mention Mach 3 specifically,it is a bit dated and other software is likely to work with your breakout board.At some point you are going to have to configure your chosen software to work with the board and you can assign pin functions as you do so,in fact you have to do just that and will be ahead of the game if you have schematics of your hardware.You could take the opportunity to check out Mach 3's newer brother Mach 4 or something like UCCNC.

    As for CAM software,you need to check out the post processor options for each package as you will need something that works with your control software.Many of the packages have trial versions that will allow you to gain some experience before you part with money and you might take a look at a few.Vectric is fairly good and you can find a good number of post processors packaged,they also have a sensible upgrade pathway if you need further capabilities.

    A vacuum system is a very nice thing to have if you have a sufficiently powerful electrical system.You probably know that it needs a high flow rate and the smallest motor I have worked with for holding down 8X4 sheets had a 4Kw motor-it was just about enough.I also have experience with a 14Kw system and it never struggled.Both of these were three phase systems.

  3. #3
    Community Moderator ger21's Avatar
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    Re: New to CNC

    Look at Mozaik - Mozaik Software

    And Black Box Vacuums - https://www.blackboxvac.com/

    For a DIY version, look here - https://www.centralvacuummotor.com/shopbot.htm

    You'll need to cut some holes in your aluminum table.
    Gerry

    UCCNC 2017 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2017.html

    Mach3 2010 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2010.html

    JointCAM - CNC Dovetails & Box Joints
    http://www.g-forcecnc.com/jointcam.html

    (Note: The opinions expressed in this post are my own and are not necessarily those of CNCzone and its management)

  4. #4
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    Re: New to CNC

    Thanks for the input! I think for now I will stick with Mach 3 just to see if it will mate a little easier, and to see if the ah ha controller and motors even work. I have been considering v-carve pro for the cam software, any thoughts? Also Ive been considering the black box hurricane, any thoughts or criticisms on that system? IF I understand correctly, if my DXF files from my software are good, Mach 3 and V-carve should be all I need to start? Ive used Mozaik in the past, for almost two years. My shop volume is too low to justify the $125 per month, and it wasn't flexible enough without having the big shots rewrite some of the parameters for me. Right now my go to software is Cabinet Planner(awesome for only $90), followed by Sketchup. As you can see it has a portercable 3hp router, so i also need to try to get away with as few tool changes as possible without causing the cycle times per sheet to suffer too much. I hear of some guys using a 5mm bit start to finish, but sounds kinda slow. then other guys say they can push a 1/4" bit a little faster, and I can make shelf holes this diameter, but im worried they may be too big for hardware holes

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    Re: New to CNC

    I should also mention that I want to add a z zero sensor and some sort of pendant with E Stop...

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    Re: New to CNC

    Vcarve will work with your .dxf files.I don't think you need to get too hung up on sheet times as there is more than just cutting to take into account.You have to clean the table between sheets to allow the vacuum to function and you have to locate each new sheet-both these operations take a little time.The better your extraction system is,the less time it takes to clean the table.In terms of how you use the machine,is it the plan to do all the programming in advance so that you can run non-stop or will you be programming during the working day?

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    Re: New to CNC

    I would like to think that everything would be programmed per job, or at least per section of job. Ie box parts, drawer parts, doors ect... would I be doing myself a disservice buying cut2d as opposed to vcarve? to save a few bucks?

  8. #8
    Community Moderator ger21's Avatar
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    Re: New to CNC

    Does Cut2D support toolpath templates? You're going to want to use those.
    Gerry

    UCCNC 2017 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2017.html

    Mach3 2010 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2010.html

    JointCAM - CNC Dovetails & Box Joints
    http://www.g-forcecnc.com/jointcam.html

    (Note: The opinions expressed in this post are my own and are not necessarily those of CNCzone and its management)

  9. #9
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    Re: New to CNC

    Quote Originally Posted by MAHNKEN View Post
    I would like to think that everything would be programmed per job, or at least per section of job. Ie box parts, drawer parts, doors ect... would I be doing myself a disservice buying cut2d as opposed to vcarve? to save a few bucks?
    Vectric have a very fair upgrade policy,if you decide to upgrade they just charge you the difference between your original purchase and the next level software.

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