Dedicated Shop PC

Currently, I take my laptop to my shop and connect my X-Carve. I am investigating a dedicated shop PC.

I perform most of my design work in Inkscape and import the SVG into Easel. I would still design on my laptop but I would prefer to leave it in the (dust-free) house.

Can the Raspberry Pi fill this roll? I searched but I’m having trouble finding a direct answer.


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not sure about the raspberry, but I use a tablet with wireless keyboard/mouse and is much easier to take in and out of the garage and keep safer from dust.

I am using a sony tap11.

However, I would like to learn more how the raspberry could be used if it could.

is this what you are referring to?

Essentially, yes.

They just released a new version. Here is the stripped down version. I have monitors, keyboards, and mice laying around. I wouldn’t do the touchscreen.

interesting, I’d love to learn also if this is possible and how.

I just ordered the V3 and the 7" touchscreen kit yesterday, as soon as it arrives I plan to install the Windows 10 IOT version which should make integration MUCH faster.

I’ll let everyone know as soon as it arrives. My biggest reason for the Win 10 was so that I could build a custom touch panel for jogging the machine as well as ideally reading GRBL data in realtime and displaying things like X, Y, Z coordinates etc…

You can pick up a HP laptop for about $200 that will do a great job as a shop computer. By the time you configure a Pi, monitor, keyboard, mouse power supply etc you will be at least $100 in. The laptop has the advantage of running windows and “working” from the start.

Yeah, and I have a bunch of old laptops, but then I don’t have the fun of setting up Win 10 on a PI with a touch screen… :smile:

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That is a good point, plus the new Pi 3 with wifi and bluetooth is now available to play with.

But seriously, there are enough potential failure points in the X-Carve already without adding more just to send the gcode to the controller.

The Pi 2 is OK for controlling a CNC.
For actual creating CAD / CAM designs, a proper laptop will be much easier and quicker.
Maybe with the Pi3 that will finally be easier!

Agree 100% @AllenMassey, but the fact that we have an X-Carve makes it clear we like to tinker :smile:

For me, it’s just another toy, to see if I can do it.

I would have bought the PI3 anyway, since as @JeremyJohnstone implies it now has Wifi and Bluetooth which makes it more adaptable to other things.

This just gave me an actual project to test out with it, and the 7" touch screen just may make it possible, otherwise, I agree, a recycled laptop is (and was for me) probably the best option for control…

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I ordered a Pi3 yesterday! It does look like a great new toy to tinker with. I just want to keep it out of mission critical roles. I am thinking about letting it control a Pan/Tilt/Zoom camera in the shop so I can watch and record projects as they carve.

There are a number of comm / control options which will work on a Raspberry Pi:

I use a MacMini that has a permeant home close by the XC. Works well, it can do everything I can do on my iMac with the same software and is easy to share one to the other.
Total cost was $450.00, more if you do not have keyboards and mice laying around.
I also repair Mac so I had most everything including a monitor.
That is what I use, opinions vary.

here is my pc for what its worth lol slightly modified for heavy dust environment but does not over heat

the hard part is keeping the dust out of the monitors but they are el cheapo tvs

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I was having the same problem I would use my notebook set it up get all the dust in it and have to clean it all the time. I bought on amazon a dell Inspiron !3050-3000BLK computer for $149.00 come with windows 10 installed comes with keyboard and mouse all you need is a monitor (which I got at goodwill). Now I do all my art work on my home unit send it to Easel then I go into my work shop and pull it up on the dell and do all my carving from that. The unit has USB ports HDMI port. Network port or wireless. You can do all the designing on the unit but it’s easier for me to sit down at my desk do all the work then send it to the dell for carving. you can’t go wrong for the price.


I used a Pi for a while as my “shop computer.”
I didn’t like it because I couldn’t make any changes to my files without running back upstairs to the main computer, and often I didn’t realize I’d made a mistake until loading it up to visualize in Grbl Controller.

But as long as you view the Pi as the end of the chain, i.e., the very last step before carving the file, then you should be good to go. Imagine it as though it were printer that’s in the basement. You need to set up everything about the file before you send it to the printer because if you make a mistake the printer won’t be able to fix it. All it does is print. All the Pi can really do is send files to carve.

@DarrylKegg You know that Windows 10 IOT on the Pi isn’t normal windows right? It doesn’t run ‘standard windows’ apps. There is no real UI, no desktop… etc. Maybe you’re planning on writing your own software for it… but… IMHO, just running UGCS on the standard Raspbian would be WAY easier.

I have a TON of Raspberry Pi’s around my house running everything from my Weather Station, 3D Printers (OctoPrint), Media PC (OpenELEC) and my Arcade Machine (RetroPi)…

But… It just doesn’t work for me as my Shop Computer.

  1. It won’t run Easel… and even though i only use Easel once and a while, i’d miss it.

  2. Sometimes i need to tweak a design… Its nice to be able to run VCarve, Fusion 360 or Illustrator in the shop.

  3. I like to listen to music in the shop (using bluetooth ear protectors). I’ve also been know to watch a move while waiting for a cut to finish (Netflix).

  4. Its sloooow… The Pi3 is faster, but its not that much faster.


@brianm - I am definitely aware Win 10 IOT isn’t a fully featured Win 10 experience, I had planned to write my own apps… Not sure I’d make it a sender, but I wanted to build a touch-pendant style interface as well as do some other z-wave control of lights, dust collector etc…

How do you like Octoprint? I have a simple metal and was looking to add a different sender.

I absolutely love Octoprint. I haven’t had one issue with it in the years i’ve been using it… simply rock solid. (I cant say the same about AstroPrint). One of the best things you can add to your printer :smile:

Pick up a cheap 3.5 touch screen and run OctoPiPanel… You’ll have a color touch screen that makes filament changes a snap.

Add a cheap USB camera and monitor your Print remotely.

Install one of the many OctoPrint phone apps and controll your printer from your phone

you might want to consider one of these:

only $130, has external USB ports… runs windows (so all this software people are using and the software in the future will run on it), has HDMI out for a bigger monitor, has Wifi and Ethernet onboard, and has a touchscreen.

I’m not using the touchscreen yet, but I use the HDMI to hook up an old monitor in the shop and use that for everything but eventually i’d like to have a machine control widget for Chilipeppr (and maybe one for Easel) that can separate into a new browser window and be fullscreen on the touchscreen. With big buttons there it would be perfect for jogging the machine, seeing the current position, changing coordinate systems, feed hold, resume, etc.

So, I think this is a pretty good deal. It’s working well for me so far.