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I purchased a Genmitsu PROVerXL 4030to start getting into CNC routing/milling, with the possibility of also adding in laser down the road. I did dome experimenting and had some ok results, but I'd like to learn to do more than just find things on the internet to mill out. They gate a trial of their Carveco software, but I don't want to pay a monthly/yearly ransom for the 'privilege' of using their software. Does anyone have any recommendation for decent, ideally free, software that can be used to create the GCode files to run the router? I'm not against paying for some software as long as it's reasonably priced and perpetual. I'm just not doing this SaaS nonsense.

My second question for now is does anyone have any recommendation for some cheap material to get started with for testing/experimenting? Wood isn't exactly cheap these days, but I'm also not sure there's really anything cheaper, but if anyone has any recommendations, I'd appreciate it.

Thanks,
Dave
 

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Howdy.

Fusion 360 is still free for hobbyist I believe.

Blender 3d (free) can generate obj, fbx and stl files but they then have to be converted to gcode.

I am sure some of the smart folks on here will have a ton of better suggestions.

You are right wood is pricey. I use poplar to do my test carves. Poplar is not as pricey as the other stuff and carves okay. Pine, for me, almost never carves well. I know some folks that use mdf but that wears out your bits faster.
 

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Welcome to the forum.
 

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David
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I don't want to pay a monthly/yearly ransom for the 'privilege' of using their software.
You pay for the 'privilege' of living in a house or apartment or using a cell phone or driving a car or having utilities, etc. Fusion 360 is free for hobbyists earning less than $1,000 annually. But if you're looking for software to do signs and plaques or 3D carvings then F360 isn't the best choice. Carveco or Vectric software, that you'll have to pay for, is a good way to go for that.
 

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Carbide Create and Camlab are both free and capable of reasonably detailed projects.

As for material, I do experimental projects on rigid foam insulation. It's inexpensive, easy on bits and can even take a finish if one of my experiments actually works.
 

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Carbide Create and Camlab are both free and capable of reasonably detailed projects.

As for material, I do experimental projects on rigid foam insulation. It's inexpensive, easy on bits and can even take a finish if one of my experiments actually works.
How bad is the dust/debris from the foam insulation?
 

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I have good dust collection, so it's not an issue. I can say that it is less than MDF and more than hardwood, it that helps at all.
 

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I have a Shapeoko and have no complaints. Support from company is best I have ever heard. Join their forum..Community Carbide 3d and lurk to find out what owners are doing. Ask questions and you wont be mocked however basic. You can download a great free pdfbook that can give you a great intro to CNC..not just Shapeoko
You can download the CAD/CAM software from Carbide 3d for free and play away ..you dont need their machine.
You tube videos to watch from
Winston Moy, John Clarke, Chris Powell and Myers Woodshop(Ben Myers)
 

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Question 1. Software. I use Vcarve Pro. It's awesome and logical. You buy the software version no yearly subscriptions. I don't like yearly subscriptions. Vetric is good stuff and well worth the price.

Question 2. Lumber. A little work but it's worth it. Garage sales are a great place to look for cheap wood. Just repurpose it. Also firewood can be resawed into boards and allowed to air dry for a year per 1" thickness of wood. I have 4 pallets of 4' long oak, walnut, maple and cedar that came out of peoples yards. I have 15 36" walnut logs outside I need to resaw into lumber and get it to air drying. Time flies by. A little prep work and a little time and your CNC machine can be kept busy making all kinds of things. Lanterns, plaques, wahoo boards, signs, canteens to name a few things made this past year. The blue foam or quarter inch plywood test carves are a good idea. I use scrap or the cull pieces for test carving.
Here is my webpage on Shop stuff. Many projects on there and CNC and resawing as well.
Shop update 2019
 
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