Looking at LinuxCNC (EMC2) or Mach 3 so far. Some aspects of the software may limit or modify our plans so feel free to discuss the software here.
I've used PyCam a bit. Not an expert by no means though. I am working on learning to use PyCam to use in EMC2 for my CNC I'm building. It is pretty straight forward, however, I've run into one issue I can't figure out. When I import a STL file into PyCam and center it to the orgin, then export into EMC it doesn't come in at the table corner. It's like it pads the origin. Still trying to solve that issue.
Currently I'm running PyCam and EMC2 on a old P4 with 1Gb RAM dedicated to CNC work. Generating the G-Code can get time consuming for that computer rather quickly.
As for comments on EMC vs Mach3. Tried both, liked the capabilities of EMC. Even lets you run PLC based (Ladder) logic which is of interest to me.
Also, for those that don't have a Linux computer, you might could try running in a virtual environment, like VirtualBox.
Just my thoughts.
Me and Python, don't play well together. ;-)
Found this on the RepRap wiki about servo control:
I'm just starting to think about this, but... encoders are expensive, how about we try the optical mouse sensor route? That way we could encode directly from the ways. Add accurate enough end switches and maybe a home point switch, use to regulate DC motors... could be a few tens of dollars per axis saved at the cost of some fiddling...
Another aspect of using Mach 3 versus EMC 2 is the use of front end CAM software, which in turn should provide g-code in the right format.
If you use Mach 3 for a mill you shouldn't have any problems with Cad3d or CamBam, but if you use foam cutting programs or 3 D print software, you may have to modify the G-code file changing axis names from X1, X2, Y1, Y2 to X,Y,Z,A. Also, 3D printer software will use E (extruder) axis instead of A and I have to convert these letters in Excel.
The licensed version of Mach3 is $150. So far the only glitch I found is that G41/G42 don't work and should be fixed in Mach 4, whenever that is going to happen.
On the other hand EMC2 has some other capabilities and is open source http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgnxBaFFDi8
Interesting video Stefan.
Another thing to note, Mach 3 lists it's a 6 axis controller. EMC is a 9 axis controller. I am planning on implementing a Doughty Drive head on my next build, creating a 5 axis machine.
On the subject of 3D printing, I just received my 3D printer. I went with a MakerGear M2. I have heard of people using a program called 3D Slicer to...well...slice their models into layers to be printed.
Yes, you'll need to use a program, which slices the model. I intend to use http://slic3r.org/
and the 3D CAD program, I'm using Alibre, should export to a stl file.
Thanks for correcting an error there. I posted the wrong "slicer" link. :)
There is another slicer you could try called KISSlicer. Seems one of the advantages is dual extruder heads if you have it. I've ordered the sumpod with a quad head. It's shipping this month. I'm looking forward to trying it!
KISS looks fine, but is indeed simple. The extruder motor is activated by an output command On/Off, but not regulated by controlled stepper motion.
Slic3R output file is usable with Mach3 or EMC2. However, the feed rate on my machine is 100 max. and not in the thousands.
I created a model and find that the material used is 4.9 ccm, Pretty good, the drawing program calculated 5.01 ccm.
So far I've tried only Replicator G
together with Mach 3. My extruder motor is turning and X,Y,Z is moving as well. I got stuck making the heater and nozzle for the ABS filament, but else everything is working.
I downloaded PyCam as well but have not used it yet.
I'm a hardware guy, not software. It turned me off, that I can't even install all drivers in Linux.
I only found EMC 2 interesting to use with the linear delta robot. Else, I (and my son, who is on this forum as well somewhere) use Mach 3.
Not sure if we are getting off on a side thread, but this is becoming an interesting conversation. I'd never heard of Replicator G. I downloaded and tried it today. Not to print anything, still building the printer, but to get an idea of how it works. I like it's ease of use. I think I am going to try using Pronterface myself as the controller for the printer.
On the CNC side, that's where I use PyCAM. I'll admit, there is a bit of...configuring...if you use linux. To me, that just seems to be the nature of linux. I know PyCAM offers a standalone version for Windows. Downside is it's only 3 axis CAM. However, it gives you many settings to adjust, including material removal per pass and overlap.
I'm stilling learning a ton of information as I go. Machining and prototyping definitely has a learning curve to it. All in all, I'm just glad this stuff if inexpensive enough for hobbyists to be able produce their own prototypes when they need them.