An idea that would help me out greatly.
How about an option for a “special bit”, i.e. one that doesn’t necessarily spin in the spindle and cut? I’m talking about lasers, drag-knifes, pens, paint brushes etc.
This way you can have a unique “Carve” dialog/wizard for each, with the special features they require.
For me this would be for a laser. This would allow the spindle to be jogged as normal and allow the laser to be switched on to very low power (would issue an M3 S1200), to allow the focus to be set (zeroing the bit). Once happy it would send an M5.
It could then run the X & Y tracing the outline or a rectangle of the entire, about to lasered, part, again by switching on very low power. Once you are happy you can hit “go”.
This would move to the start using X and Y using a rapid but it wouldn’t raise the bit (Z), in fact wouldn’t move Z ever and would also not power on the tool yet. The power on would be issued once at the cut site (M3 S12000) and the first cut would start (with optional delay between power on and start moving as some materials require a little static burn time). At the end of the section, M5 would be issued powering off the laser, rapid to the next and repeat. So basically instead of plunging and lifting Z between each section it would simply power off and on the laser.
Then you could do fancy stuff like using grey scale/depth to modify the laser output to dark or lighten it or do it by speeding up or slowing down the feed rate.
As far as I can see, just about all the components are already in place, it just requires the addition of a few more steps or modification of existing ones. (Obviously I’ve not seen the Easel source, so I’m making assumptions here). Doesn’t require any hardware changes to standard X-Carve or firmware either, just bolt on your laser, controller and get it’s PWM control signal from the X-Carve spindle control
I’m guessing another special bit, with its special requirements would be the same way, e.g. drag knife that has already been suggested would gets it’s own “Carve” dialog with some special features for it.
Overall, this would give a good framework to allow Easel to become the tool for all, regardless of what is on the end of the X carriage.
Video below shows a JTechPhonotics 2.8w laser marking on my X-Carve. It’s almost perfect apart from not turning off the laser between features. More on that over here: JTechPhotonic mount for x-carve