Easel and Ramps/Marlin

So, i decided to build a MostlyPrinted CNC from Thingiverse (see http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:724999) as the cost to build was much less than buying a second XCarve w/o spindle…under $500 compared to about $950 so I could add on a JTECHPhotonics laser.

I was originally going to get a mount for my XCarve, but decided that I didn’t want to switch it out when running the spindle and throwing wood shavings around…so a second machine was more practical.

I know Easel can’t connect and send the gCode to a Ramps board with Marlin…but I’m more wondering about generating the gCode, and possibly writing a quick post-processor.

I have heard about a GRBL for Ramps flash that I could do, and that’s on the “potentials” list…but I’d like to see if I can do it with everything that’s ready with my new machine.

Has anyone worked with Ramps before? With Easel at all? I do like Easel and have a few projects already saved in prep for the laser…so I don’t want to redo them in another tool if I can avoid it.

Both of our image to gcode programs PicLaser & PicEngrave Pro 5 can generate gcode files for 3D printer controllers to laser engrave images with the J-Tech laser, if that would be in your plans.

http://www.picengrave.com/PicEngraver%20Pro%205%20+%20Laser.htm

http://www.picengrave.com/PicLaser.htm

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Thanks. I’ll probably give it a try when it’s time to expand into images.

Right now, I’m focused on cutting parts out of 1/8" birch ply. I’m hoping the changes to spindle control on/off can be ported to laser on/off using a fan control on the Ramps board.

J-Tech has a Laser Plug-In for Inkscape that you can set the 3D printer controller commands in it also.

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I’m super interested in this. I just realized after ordering some 1000 mm rails and the X-Carve upgrade for my Shapeoko 2 that I already have the bare bones parts (minus electronics) for another machine. Maybe I’ll make it into a laser engraver/cutter! Oh the ideas…

Yeah - saw that. There’s another user in the MPCNC forums that has hacked a similar plugin due to some “issues” he found with JTECH.

I will probably do a mixture of those two for the time being.

Was just hoping that there was an easier way to get my Easel projects over to the laser since I’ve already got things sized/moved to exactly where I want them on the board after bringing in individual vectors from Inkscape into a full landscape.

I was not aware of any issues with the J-Tech Plug-In, other then it will not generate gcode in inches. I use Kubotek KeyCreator to generate the gcodes for vector cutting with our 6W laser diode on our Shapeoko 2.

Can you post a link to the other Plug-In?

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I can’t seem to find the exact place, and the guy isn’t as responsive as I had hoped on the MPCNC forums.

Here’s a thread that he talks about it and hacking up something and being on github – but I didn’t see anything that looked right in his public profile there.

http://www.vicious1.com/forum/topic/laser-gcode/

I installed the JTECH plugin today (Inkscape 0.91, Windows 10) and I get errors running it. I need to see if they have a forum for questions/issues with their plugin.

It generates gcode into a file after the error message. I just used default settings to see if it would output a file on a random shape I had laying around in SVG.

Oddy enough, playing with it again—no errors. Same file.

Going to give it a go when the machine is up and running. Still would like to consider an Easel workaround if there’s anything possible.

I’m guessing Alan that your concerns about running a spindle and laser were an “excuse” to build a new machine? If so ignore the rest. :smile:

I run both on my X-Carve and simply cover the lens while running the spindle. If the laser gets in the way I can unmount it in under a minute as it’s mounted with tool less screws.

Benefit of running both on the X-Carve is that you have one set of tools and configs even if run differently. And although the laser is offset from the spindle I’m getting good results doing a roughing pass with the spindle and a detail pass with the laser. E.g. cutting holes in thin ply with the spindle then cleaning up square inside corners with the laser plus marking.

Cheers

Ian

So glad you dropped in!

I don’t know if it was an excuse…though I love the thought of 2 machines. And with much less dust, I can put the laser in the basement where I can’t run the spindle and toss wood chips and dust.

Though I was concerned with the laser…in both dust and chips around the lens, or potentially banging the mount itself while mucking around with spindle mill changes.

My other concern was messing around with the existing machine. As I recall, adding the laser may involve soldering the jumper pins on, which means taking apart the boards and messing around in there. I’m a noob at all this stuff right now, and honestly the thought of doing that scares the crap out of me.

I almost sprung for the power supply and boards from Inventables w/ GRBL pre-loaded, though I’d have had to make some changes as my new machine is NEMA17 w/ 16 tooth pulleys.

I get the benefit, which is kind of why I was hoping to see if anyone here had worked with Easel on a Ramps/Marlin style system before. I like the tool chain I use, and hope to continue with it. Easel has worked for my tastes, as I’m not doing elaborate designs and stuff with the need to get a more expensive package like V-Carve.

Though you are right about using the laser as part of the CNC process with cleaning up areas with the laser.

I’m with Alan. I also have considered a second machine, mainly just as an excuse to build “something” else. :smile: But like you, I’d like a laser machine I can run year round and in the evenings in the house (with fumes/smoke handling).

I’d also agree that a second machine might be a better option for you. I too run the laser on the X-Carve at times I wouldn’t run the spindle because of the noise and close neighbours. My X-Carve is in a workshop outside but spindle noise carries in the evenings.

If you are set on the machine you are planning to build then I’m sorry, I cannot help on Ramps/Marlin, no experience here. But if it helps, I did no soldering to add the laser to my X-Carve. Just pushed the two trigger (PWM) wires into the spindle controls lines on the smaller green terminal block on the front of the power block. The PWM signal coming from the gSheild then goes to the power lines for the spindle and also to the laser driver. I just power off the spindle by flipping the spindle control switch from auto to off.

If I built a machine just for the laser, and I’m still thinking about it with a more powerful diode, I’d go for the X-Carve again but without a wasteboard/spindle mount. Main reason for that is that I’m happy using Easel, and exporting gcode to modify when necessary and sending with Chillipeppr. I’m sold on the Easel/GRBL combo but that isn’t to say that won’t change now I’m starting to tart about with other tools such as CamBam, Meshcam etc. Again, like you, I’m not interested in V-Carve software and that kind of carving at the moment.

Let me know how you get on.

Cheers

Ian

The price for the MPCNC was pretty good. Under $500 shipped, as compared to a good $950 or so for another 1000mm XCarve kit.

While I love my XCarve, I think the gantry setup is overkill for a light and tiny laser diode, so some of that extra cost for the machine is for extra engineering for heavier routers, and not particularly for just a set of rails, motors, and electronics to control them.

Here is another option. They have a 4W laser diode option as well. It also comes with Vectric’s Cut2D Laser program.

https://darklylabs.com/

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I built an MPCNC and started testing it with Easel.

My MPCNC uses a GRBL shield on an Uno and seems to working great with Easel so far. The MPCNC has a work area of 1200+mm x 690+mm roughly so I am thankful that Easel allows for custom work areas. I had a Shapeoko a few years ago, but I have been pretty impressed with the MPCNC especially given my whole setup was around $375 or so total.

There are some other folks on the MPCNC forum at vicious1.com that are running a GRBL port on the RAMPS 1.4 shield, however I don’t think they are using Easel. Easel was the only option for me (besides Fusion 360) since I am on a Mac.

I am planning on using a dual controller setup with RAMPS for laser cutting and GRBL for routing via Easel. The laser cutter will be added down the road.

Trying to dial my MPCNC since I have had some free time lately. Everything works great except my z-axis is cutting way to shallow and not picking the bit up high enough when moving between cuts. I have tried both z-axis thread settings in Easel, but my depth is all over the place.

Anyone know if you can enter a custom thread size for your z-axis in Easel?

You can adjust the settings by entering a value for $102 (Z-Axis steps per mm).

Thanks. I will give that a try.

I am having a hell of a time trying to dial in my z-axis.

Thanks to @ErikJenkins, I can at least adjust my z-axis steps per mm now, but the depth is still horribly wrong and the Easel never picks the bit all the way back up before returning home which leaves a routed channel all the way across the work piece. Before tinkering with the z-axis settings in Easel, It would carve fine just super, super shallow. My x and y axis work perfectly, it is just my depth that is jacked up.

My z-axis uses a 12" long 5/16" all thread paired to a NEMA 17 motor. The NEMA 17 stepper motor does the standard 200 steps per revolution and my GRBL board looks to have the correct jumpers in place for 1/16 microstepping. Does anyone know a formula or a site I can go to figure this out?

Nevermind… I got it all dialed in now. Here are the settings I adjusted to get my MPCNC cutting great with Easel. Depth is correct (or really damn close now) and adjusting $27 keeps the bit from plowing through things on its way home!

$27=2.000 (homing pull-off, mm)
$102=2272.720 (z, step/mm)

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