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New CNC router

6707 Views 32 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  PhilBa
So I got a new CNC router as a christmas present. Well I havent got it yet but was told it's on the way. Without having it in hand I dont know what to expect other than reviews are good.

I know it comes with basic grbl control software but no drafting software. YouTube recommends easel from inventibles. Any other suggestions?

The model is the 3018 pro upgrade. Its undoubtedly made in China and appears to be a smartview genitmatsu (sp?) Knockoff. But hey for $200, can't be horrible to learn on.

Any advice is greatly appreciated. Suggestions in upgrades or consumables (like bits) would be very welcomed.

Happy New Years guys and cheers!

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Looks like the controller is a customized arduino type board running an 8825 driver, so any GRBL software will work. Depending on your abilities, you may want to pickup a cheap Raspberry PI and run CNCjs or similar (there are a ton of Linux CNC options), you don't really want to drive the CNC from your computer, in the event something locks up (it's Windows after all....) or resource constraints on larger projects (not physical size, but lines of code size). That is the setup I use, Raspberry PI running FreeBSD and CNCjs (linux would be a much easier option for someone new to the Unix world, Ubuntu specifically).

As for Software, I use Fusion 360 (and there are literally 10000s of tutorials on youtube on how to design and use the software), it is free for hobbyists and start ups (so yes, you can use it for commercial purposes as long as your revenue is less than $500k a year.. I don't think that will be a problem, keep in mind, they did change the license recently, and I have not read the new license). I use it, because it integrates well with Eagle (another of Autodesks products used for designing printed circuit boards). Another totally free, completely open license, do with it as you will, make as much money as you want option, is Blender, its a great 3D modelling tool, but it has a steep learning curve, and a really busy interface. I used to recommend Google Sketchup, but they pulled the stand alone version in favor a a cloud based version, and I don't like that, as it removed the ability to use plugins that generated cut lists, now only available in the Pro paid version...

Other options, are using Openbuilds web based application (full disclosure, I have an Openbuilds lead 1010, but I have no affiliation with them other than being a member of the forums and a user).
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I only use the Openbuilds for quick engraving jobs.
Until October the number was $100k or less but it is now $1,000 or less for the free version. Additionally, F360 is now a limited version in the free under $1k package. So if you make more than $1,000 annually in your hobby/business then you'll have to pony up for the subscription.

I use it almost exclusively and can't really do without the software so in October we jumped on the paid version. It is very powerful software and to me wasn't that difficult to learn, but it 'fits' the way I think and the CAM portion is very strong. However, you can download it and give it a shot for free. Take a look at the Lars Christensen videos to get up to speed on how to use the software.

I was wrong about the max value, sorry about that. I posted in the other thread (although it appears I need a moderator to approve the post for now). I'm still confused about the max value now though, as I just checked the page where you sign up and register for the Startup version, and it is still listing the 100k limit, but I don't have access to the license at the moment, I'm guessing it has been updated there.

ps, I have no affiliation with Autodesk other than as a user.

For the other person, I have not used vectric yet because last time I looked (was when I first started with CNC stuff) the limitation of not being able to save the toolpaths bothered me.. although I suspect you can just regenerate them, I'd have to look into it more..
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BTW the extension name of the toolpath file may vary depending on what controller software you are using. For LinuxCNC for example it makes files with .NGC as the extension.

It is a flat text file, I export my toolpaths with the .nc extension, but you can call it whatever you want, even csv or .txt, just so long as whatever software you are using will open it. I make a few manual edits to my toolpath file before running it in CNCjs, one being I keep forgetting to remove the the GRBL M6 command and CNCjs craps out due to my overly sensitive limit switches and a grounding problem, since I am not doing a tool change. The generic GRBL postproc in Fusion360 keeps adding it, and I have not bothered to figure out where the option to remove it is, since I can just use vi to remove it. (M6 is the manual tool change command, and even though the router carriage is no where near the limit switches, the moment I touch the router, the limit switch trips.. annoying as hell.)
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