Dummies Guide to CNC (TVMiller's Dumb Method)

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Vije MillerVije Miller 08/22/2016 at 12:050 Comments

As a tip for those who are new to CNC-ah-ing, I thought I would show you a step by step of how I have come to simply do it -- in what will be surely said to be the wrong way by those obsessed (arrogant) with their advanced software knowledge -- but yet it works, so scowl because, I am the captain now.

The desktop CNC build at Makerbar uses a Synthetos Atmel TinyG V8 board.

  1. In a graphics program, I use Adobe Fireworks CS6, open a document using 100 pixel per cm or 100 pixel per in and then create your image to be cut out using black lines. If you want some thing of depth milled out, shallow not through, then make that area transparent. Do not make exterior of the object transparent because you likely want to cut not depth cut. Realize that the cut width of your bit should be taken in to account. I found that on path cutting works best in the following program so I will reduce or increase size by 1/16th of an inch based on half of the 1/8th bit used to cut.
  2. Export the image in PNG
  3. Visit Easel
  4. Import > Image Trace
  5. Import your image and adjust the settings to make your image clear.
  6. Your object will appear on the flat surface on the left and on the 3D surface on the right. Adjust the dimensions of your 3D surface on the right. Pick a material and ensure the depth of the material matches yours. Also define the bit size. I use a 1/8th bit so in the size I type 0.125 in.
  7. Select all the pieces of your object on the left and resize to the actual dimensions of your original piece. The import never seems to import to actual size.
  8. Now select each individual line of your object and define the type of cut (choose on me) and select depth of cut and tabs. These tabs prevent the materials from being pulled up when cutting.
  9. Once you have defined all the lines of your object, verify on the right it is what you want as a completed project by hitting Simulate.
  10. Machine > Advanced > Generate GCode
  11. Download GCode
  12. Visit Chilipeppr
  13. Download Serial Port JSON Server
  14. Install and then begin serial-port-json-server.exe. This allows Chilipeppr to speak with your CNC which should be plugged to your computer via USB
  15. Select your CNC in the bottom right.
  16. Now you should be able to control your CNC. You can test this by moving the CNC around on the X Y and Z axis on the upper right.
  17. Drag your downloaded GCode file on to the Chilipeppr work space.
  18. Secure your material on the CNC surface, obviously. Use your head here.
  19. We need to set the machine's zero point (Set Mch Zero) to match where the start point is on the work space. To do this, move the CNC around using the controls above to the point on your material you want as the start point. When close to the material, I typically start the cutting tool and lower the Z axis 0.1 at a time until the first cut can be heard.
  20. Set Mch Zero
  21. Hold on to your butts...
  22. Press the Play Button to load the GCode and begin the cuts.

Keep in mind, this is the simplest most dullard manner to accomplish this task but for those like me who are disinterested in overly complex software, this works.

Questions? Comments? Keep them to your self.