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  1. #1
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    Open Source V-Carving

    There are a couple of relatively new open source projects on the web for doing v-carving:

    Open Voronoi
    - Uses Voronoi diagrams to determine the tool paths

    and

    F-Engrave
    - Uses some less complex planer geometry to determine the tool paths (this results in the tool cutting some locations twice as the program steps around the geometry)

    I have long thought v-carving was a missing capability in open source CNC software. Ironically it wasn't until after I finally sat down and wrote my own simple program (F-Engrave) that I found another project (Open Voronoi) in the works.

    Both of these projects a Google-able. I can't link them because this is my first post on cnczone.

    I am the author of F-engrave but I think Open Voronoi will have some definite advantages.

    Scorch

  2. #2
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    Thanks.

  3. #3
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    In an attempt to make F-engrave more accessible and useful I incorporated support for True Type Fonts (TTF) and DXF files. I also added a windows executable zip package.

    To give F-Engrave a try you can download the windows executable zip package, unzip and run f-engrave by double clicking "f-engrave-XX.exe". Where XX is the current version of F-Engrave.

    The program can be downloaded from the F-Engrave Home Page: F-Engrave
    My next task will be some documentation so let me know if there are things that are unclear/confusing so I can address them first. Also, feel free to post or send a picture of something you made using F-Engrave.

    Scorch

  4. #4
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    This is freakin' insane!!

    :banana:

    How in the world did you write all this and then just toss it out there without even having anyone's input AND it come off flawless?!

    I just wished I could program.

    Revealing something like this for the world to use and giving it away redeems my faith in humanity?

    Let me know what you might need help with regarding the manual. At least I do have some professional skills in that area.

    Regards,
    Vogavt

  5. #5
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    @Vogavt, Thanks for the kind words. Flawless is definitely an overstatement but I am glad you like F-engrave.

    I am starting to see a small uptick in the response from people using the program which hopefully will get me moving on the documentation side.

    Scorch

  6. #6
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    Wouldn't ya know, just 2 weeks after I plop down $600 for V-carve Pro I find an open source solution! Great work Scorch!

  7. #7
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    Nice work, looks like something else to add to my "to do" list

    Russell.

  8. #8
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    Okay, I've been working with this and it's fantastic!
    I downloaded the Hershey cxf file and extracted it to the fonts folder, but it's not showing up. I've searched the web for what to do with the file, but I'm coming up empty.
    I did note that the file is huge (~2,740kb) compared to the normal.cxf file which is 8kb.

    What am I missing?

  9. #9
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    Scorch - I've been using F-engrave as one of the first test carves on the DIY 3-axis CNC I built. The letters come out great (Gothic fonts look fantastic) and it's been a breeze to use so far. I'm still getting the machine to its final working state so I haven't stressed F-engrave too hard but I'm very impressed so far.

    Just wanted to say thanks for creating this! Hopefully I can help contribute to it in the future.

  10. #10
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    @Vogavt
    Based on the file size you quoted my guess is that you downloaded the cxf_fonts.tgz file and now have it unziped (gunziped). To access the cxf files you need untar the file after you unzip it. When you untar the file many individual .cxf files will be extracted.

    If this is the case the file you have now should have a .tar extension.

    Scorch

  11. #11
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    Nope! I got it sorted out.

    Once the file gets extracted, it fails to write the file extension.

    Simple enough! I added the " .cxf " to the end of the file and reloaded F-Engrave and it found it! (of course after moving the file to the fonts folder)

    I'm a happy camper now!

    I suspected and figured it out after I download the qcad cxf files and saw one of the files with about the same file size (unicode.cxf). Knowing about unicode, I knew it has many more characters in its character set.

    So.... :idea: I had a hunch and I was right. (don't get to say that very often).

    Properly named the file and voila! :wee:


    You can get the individual qcad cxf files here or all of them here in zip format. It appears to be public domain since the link says "community.src....."

    Thanks again!

  12. #12
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    @Vogavt
    Great! I am glad you figured it out.

    The web links you provided will be very useful for new users. Especially those using Windows.

    I already added the links to the F-Engrave web page.

    Scorch

  13. #13
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    Wow...you must be a mathematical genious. I tried to do this about 4 years ago and spent 6 months trying to develope an algorithm (and failed). I wrote about 1,500 lines of code and could never get it to work with nested geometry. This is brilliant and extremely generous of you.

    Thank you so much.

    James

  14. #14
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    @geomagnet
    Thank you for the encouraging words.

    I am slowly trying to make F-Engrave more useful. I now have at least some documentation on the home page and I am keeping a list of features people would like to see added. Until F-engrave is made obsolete by another more advanced open source program I will keep chipping away at improvements.

    Scorch

  15. #15
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    Scorch, F-Engrave is amazing! I finally finished my cheap, DIY CNC only to realize that there were very few open source software choices for generating g-code - especially with respect to v-carving. Finding and using your program with my machine made me feel like I actually had a legitimate CNC machine. So thank you.

    A project that I have been trying to do now is to v-carve a long length of text (our wedding vows), but the program just stalls out. I'm assuming I am just asking too much of the program. Is there a solution to this? Maybe a way to line up multiple passes? Thanks for your help.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by caffeinatedjoe View Post
    ...the program just stalls out. I'm assuming I am just asking too much of the program...
    When F-engrave runs on a large design or a lot of text the display will stop updating. Generally F-engrave will continue the calculations and resume normal operation after it has finished. I have run v-carve calculations that have takes almost 30 minutes to complete. My best advice is to be patient and wait it out. I save my work before I run any v-carve calculations that I think will take a long time so I don't loose my work if I get sick of waiting. Then save the g-code file again after calculation is complete.

    Making multiple smaller output files is also a good idea if F-Engrave really is freezing up. Using the origin setting will help break up the text into two parts pretty easy. On the first half of the lines set the origin to the bottom of the text (Bot-Left, Bot-Center or Bot-Right). Then for the second half of the lines set the origin to the top of the text (Top-Left, Top-Center or Top-Right). This way your zero position on your cnc machine can remain in the same place for the two sets of text.

    Scorch

  17. #17
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    The file I am trying to generate gcode for is actually a dxf from Inkscape. It seemed easier to format the text in Inkscape, but maybe dxf files require more computation than the native text in F-Engrave. Is that the case? I'm not 100% on how the whole thing works, but since both the text and the dxfs are treated as vector graphics I believed that an equivalent shape (a "T" entered in F-Engrave vs a "T" of the same font exported as a dxf from Inkscape) would require the same computation. Maybe you can shed some light on that if I am mistaken.
    Anyways, I started the program on a Friday afternoon on my work computer, and when I came in on Monday it was still hung up (maybe still working, but I didn't let it keep going). I tried to attach the file to this post but I keep getting an error, so just picture 146 words accross 15 lines, scaled to a square about 18 inches by 18 inches. I know computers aren't supposed to care how many calculations they do and theoretically at some point it would finish processing, but I think the program is actually freezing up, not just thinking in the background. Any thoughts on how to fix this? Or maybe fixing it isn't the solution. Maybe there is simply a size limitation that we have to work around.
    About the solution you proposed with resetting the zero location, would that cause my text to stack directly on top of itself with no space in between? My understanding was that the program created a bounding box around the content and so the space above or below would be ignored.
    I know I am pestering you with a lot of questions. If you want you can tell me to go jump in a creek... I know this stuff takes a lot of work. V-carve isn't free for a reason.

  18. #18
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    More calculation is required for text that has been put into a DXF file. The difference is that the v-carve algorithm can not determine which features are part of the current character in a DXF file so it checks every feature for every step (this is what makes it take forever). For the text typed into F-Engrave the individual characters are defined separately so F-Engrave only checks the features within each character. (Unless Check All in the v-carve settings is selected)

    Your best option may be to break the text into chunks as you suggested. You do need to be careful of how the text is place as you pointed out. Adjusting the origin as I suggested might not work perfectly so you do need to double check to make sure the text is being placed as you want it.

    Scorch

  19. #19
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    F-engrave 0.6 Released

    As of V0.6 F-Engrave can read Portable Bitmap (PBM) image files with the help of Potrace. I have included potrace with the windows binary distribution of F-engrave. If you are using Linux you need to install potrace for the functionality to be enabled.

    Potrace is available at: potrace - sourceforge

    F-Engrave 0.6 is now available at: F-Engrave

  20. #20
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    Complex Pattern V-Carving

    I have changed the v-carve algorithm to accommodate large DXF files like the one caffeinatedjoe was trying to carve. I even gave one of the Aztec/Mayan patterns a shot with F-Engrave. It took a long time for F-engrave to process ~6 hours and some of the details were lost when I carved it on my machine (I am limited to 5 inch diameter and my z-axis slipped a couple of times). I was hoping to get these changes into version 0.6 but wouldn't you know I had a moment of clarity the day after I released version 0.6. So to get the improved speed you need to download F-Engrave version 0.7.

    Thanks to Vogavt for the tip on the "divide by zero" bug that slipped into version 0.5 and 0.6 :cheers:

    Scorch
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails complex_carve.jpg  

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