I have only been up and running for about a week now, and would like to try my hand at designing something from scratch. What is the best way? Is there a program I need, or any suggestions for how to proceed? I had never heard of SVG until starting to use Easel, so really need down to the basics info! Thanks in advance for any advice!
A free solution is a program called Inkscape. If you Adobe Illustrator, it will do the same.
You can do a lot of designing in Easel, especially if you use the apps. Once you are ready to move on to designs that are beyond the ability to create in Easel, there are other programs that you can use (V-Carve, etc.).
If you’re interested in using a drawing by yourself or someone else, you can open them in Inkscape (free, as @JDM mentioned) and save them as a .SVG file, which stands for Scalable Vector Graphic. Basically, instead of saving a drawing as a bunch of pixels, it saves them as a bunch of lines. That lets you scale the drawing to ridiculous proportions without pixellating the drawing.
Once it’s saved as an SVG, you can import it into Easel. There’s lots of little things that can go wrong, such as areas that aren’t closed that should be, but that’s not really going to be an issue unless you have a VERY detailed drawing. One thing you can do if the SVG files can’t import is try to open the original SVG file in www.MakerCam.com and save it as an SVG from there. Sometimes it just works for some unknown reason.
They did something recently that really cut down on parts moving around. A very welcomed update.
Tom - the tool chain @JDM and @RobertA_Rieke mention should work well for you. If you have the time and patience, consider more traditional CNC tools like CamBam, Meshcam and others. If you want a fully integrated tool (CAD+CAM), I’ve grown very fond of Fusion360. Right now I seem to be bouncing between Fusion and Inkscape+CamBam depending on the level of complexity being modeled. Finally, I always use OpenSCAM to validate the tool paths and Universal GCode Sender to send the gcode (though I’m growing less and less fond of UGS recently after a couple screwed jobs for no apparent reason). One note, I’m on a Mac, so I searched high and low for a fully native tool chain. CamBam was really a “last resort” until I discovered Fusion. But now that I own it, I do keep using it…
Robert, thanks for all the contributions you add here. You sure helped me a lot when I first got started and just wanted to say thanks.