Seperate computer to controll the xcarve

im looking for ways to controll my cnc from a seperate computer,
my thought was to buy a cheap desktop and setup a small nas with my router and a decently sized usb or external hard drive, and save all the gcode to the nas and pulling it from the second computer to run the x carve

Ik things could be done with the rasberry pi, and other methods, but i would like to know what is the most reliable method to run the machine so i dont have to take my expensive laptop to the shop just to run the x carve.

im accepting any ideas/ methods that could possibly work.

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  1. are you going to be using Easel or another G-Code sending program like UGS?
    a) UGS can work on a raspberry Pi with some tweaking
  2. team viewer has a free option for home use if you want to control the xcarve remotely
    a) personally i like to be near my machine in case anything goes south i can stop the machine quickly but thats just me
  3. most reliable method would be get an older computer and run it locally to your x-carve. old laptops work, desktops etc. doesn’t have to be a power house to run easel or UGS/ etc.

hope that helps!

All depends on your network/Internet connectivity in your shop. If you have none then forget Easel unless you load your project while on the net, then carry the machine to the shop.

If you do have connectivity then sure, run a second machine in your shop, it’s what I do now. I can sit in my office and design on a decent machine, in Easel. Go out to the shop, load Easel there, and run the project to the X-Carve. Of course it might not be Easel but UGS, Chillipepr etc.

I like to keep GCode as my projects, but don’t use a NAS, I just keep them on Dropbox as I can drag and drop a job into Chillipepr directly from there.



I started down this same path when I first got my XC working. I had my main PC in my office and did not really want to expose my expensive laptop to the shop dust and dangers.

After looking at all the rasberry pi option I decided it was just not worth the trouble since the majority of the software I needed to communicate with the XC was windows based (or ran cleanly in a browser on Windows).

So I went to Micro Center and purchased a reconditioned Acer 15 inch laptop for $180. I created a Gcode folder on my Dropbox account and save all gcode files I create on my desktop in Vcarve to that dropbox folder. Then I can access the files quickly from the shop laptop and use UGS 2.0 to send them to the XC. I can also run Easel when I need to.

So far this arrangement has worked perfectly.

If you’re handy around a computer, you can try buying an old desktop and running Ubuntu on it (if you work at a place of any size, you might ask your IT department if they have something old just laying around). If you have a processor that was built in the last decade or so, and 2-4 GB of RAM, Ubuntu will run just fine. You’re basically just using it as a web browser and a gCode sender at that point.

This is what I’ve done for my setup and it’s working well - I did it for the same reason you did…can’t have my laptop occupied downstairs for hours at a time. I’ve used Easel to export gCode from within Chrome on that platform and it has worked well in bringing the code into Universal GCode Sender / UGS (which, incidentally, runs better on Ubuntu than it does on Windows). The only modifications I’ve need are to add the spindle control lines (M3/M5) to the gcode before importing the file into UGS - not sure why Easel isn’t including those in the export because it knows from my machine setup that I have automatic spindle control.

So, as long as you can get your gCode compiled elsewhere, it’s possible to use the shop computer only to run the gCode. The NAS storage approach you mentioned should work here, too, but does require a connection to at least your local network (although I don’t think it would require the Internet connectivity or the low latency requirements that running from an online package would).

Good luck with whatever you decide to do!

Pulled my computer from a dumpster at a computer shop. Free. Cleaned with compressed air, put in a hard drive, loaded windows 7. Boom. It had a nice BIG tower box so I cut a hole in the side to mount all my electronics. I should be at least a core 2 duo or beyond with at least 4gb of ram for windows 7. If you can find a 3 ghz machine that is core 2 or better - you’re all set.

All computers are networked using “Homegroups”

For internet connectivity, I used a power line ethernet converter like these:

I can stream video out there. I got the cheapest monitor I could find and it is mounted above the machine.

And, speaking of Microcenter, here is a QUAD CORE computer for $219:

I ALWAYS so a fresh install of Windows 7 to get rid of everything I don’t need. If you use a solid state drive, it will boot up in 10 seconds. I don’t have patience for long boot times. Here is a shot of my OLD cnc computer. I used an Apple G5 case, gutted it and put a salvaged Pentium D 3Ghz board in (first dual core processor). You can see the stepper drivers in there and the 36 volt power supply up on top.

Why should I not use a NAS? It’s just a dedicated local storage space, when they are setup right, they are very reliable

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A NAS is great if you already have one setup and are willing to keep it running. But if the house burns you don;t have any offsite storage. With a cloud storage option everything is always available (no matter what network I am on) and it will never be lost. And I never need to reboot it or fiddle with the settings. I already have enough stuff that needs fiddling with (routers, wifi extenders, smart home hubs, music hubs, cable hubs, the kids laptops, the wife’s computer, my computers, …)

I think most NAS solutions now have a cloud back up.

If I go out and purchase a Segate NAS the data stays on that drive, if that drive get hit by a meteor then the data is lost, I guess I could tell my Dropbox or Onedrive account to sync to the NAS but then why pay for the NAS in the first place?

That’s a good point, now to pick what kind of computer to get, or I can run a long USB cable and Control it through team viewer from my phone until I find a dedicated desktop to run the machine. im looking at the mini pcs, like the chrome book mini, and i can find a cheap display almost anywhere. ill end up figuring out what to do, ill post my enclosure and my setup as soon as im finished with it. Thanks everyone for your suggestions, much appreciated. ill def have to try some of the options such as drop box, and ubuntu and find out what i like best. i mainly use Chillipeppr to run the Gcode, i havent had good luck with Universal Gcode sender, and i need something more than easel, so chillipeppr is my way to go.

@AngusMcleod - I just tested this Raspberry Pi setup today. Here is my quick write-up . I might be able to help you (but maybe not!)…

well i just ordered my rasberry pi 2 B, with their new 7 inch touchscreen… hopefully this works. Chilipeppr also has the json server for rasberry pi so time to test it out. Time to have some fun with the rasberry pi and my xcarve!!!

I just looked this up. Let me know how that screen works…if you can easily manage the buttons in UGS, this is a no-brainer.

i will make sure to keep you updated on how it works, also ordered a nice wireless keyboard as a remote to use the machine. might order a decent webcam and a second pi with touchscreen to make like a portable tablet/ monitor for the machine and maybe control it wireless if i need to make a quick change such as feed rate. i will be using chilipeppr on it. tried UGS on my laptop and broke a bit… changed to Chilipeppr and havent had a problem

Just a thought - I was tired of constantly cleaning my keyboard and trying to find a place to tuck it away so I switched to a tiny (by comparison) numeric keypad. With “numlock” you can map all of your desired functions to this and it cuts down on clutter.®-Wireless-Notebook-Computer-Compatible/dp/B00T5J6GK0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1441811621&sr=8-1&keywords=numeric+keypad

This is what I ordered, hopefully it makes it easier to control the machine

I had a touch pad once. But I could not find software to disable the “Tap click” on the touch pad. This created many disasters using Mach 3, like starting a job accidentally, zeroing an axis accidentally, stopping a job, etc. Once a little saw dust gets on the touchpad (or if it is cold in the shop) tracking becomes unreliable and increased pressure is counted as a mouse click. Now I just use a laser mouse in addition to my numeric keypad.

I already have a wireless laser mouse so I shouldn’t have a issue