I’ve been thinking recently about what the ideal shop setup would be computer-wise, and I’ve been looking at some of the all-in-one PCs [like this]. I really like that you can get a touch-screen all-in-one for less than $1000 (depending on quality, I found one for <$500, and that is for Windows machines, I think there are some <$300 Android machines). Windows machines have the advantage of full peripheral support, and while I personally would always prefer a Mac, the iMac doesn’t really seem like a workshop computer and doesn’t have a touchscreen.
I was inspired by this image I found browsing pinterest for CNC ideas:
Woah actually it looks like @MikeMerzke already built an awesome Shapeoko computer setup with a monitor mounted above the machine, computer below and keyboard in front for a standing-desk style configuration.
I just bought a Win Book TW700 to run Easel for my Shapeoko 2. This little tablet runs Windows 8.1 and allows an external monitor and USB Keyboard and mouse to be connected. It also has a separate USP charging port so it can always be connected to wall power, I found it at Microcenter for about $50 and it even included a full year subscription to Office 365 for that price.
It looks like the normal price for it now is $70 but they may go back on sale again.
I use an older PC with Windows 8 as the OS. I thought about trying to get a computer with a touch screen but my budget seemed to go to upgrades for my Shapeoko 2… and not I had to order the X-Carve upgrade kit! Thanks for showing my stand up work station above. It really works out great in the shop and having the computer below the keyboard keeps the dust (at least most of it) out of the computer.
Have you used it with Easel yet? I’d love to hear how that works. If you have a keyboard and mouse, it should be ok, but be aware that there isn’t support for touchscreens yet for certain parts of Easel.
I have 4 computers in the shop. An ACER laptop hooked to the internet that I screwed up the other day and disabled the speakers and don’t know how to get them back. My computer running my Tormach 770 CNC mill on LinuxCNC with Path Pilot front end. A old Sony running XP and Mach3. A Del converted to Linux running LinuxCNC that will some day run my much modified X-Carve.
Then I have a new HP running 8.1 with 2 23" monitors here in the house. Do all my CAD and CAM on this machine.
I tried a few tablet like devices but in the end it was just not worth the tradeoffs. I finally just bought a $200 Asus dual core 15 inch laptop for dedicated use in the shop. It has good wireless built in, two USB ports, a nice display and it is plenty fast to run Easel or UGS
I use a computer I bought from “I Buy Power Pc”, a gaming system with quad core i7 processor, 16gigs of ram, dual video cards (each 1 gig), and 2x25 inch Samsung monitors. Overkill, but I upgraded to a bigger monster in the house… Lol. I want to make sure everything, no matter how complex, runs smoothly.
Yeah, I just use a spare Windows laptop. I’ve thought about trying to move over to a Raspberry Pi, but what I have is working well enough.
My biggest tip (if you’re not using Easel) is to run Dropbox (or your preferred equivalent) on both your X-Carve computer as well as the machine you use to design/generate gcode, so that you don’t have to do any kind of manual file copying.
I have started using Dropbox as the central file location for all my design and gcode files. Vcarve remembers where it last saved files so it always opens and saves to a folder in my Dropbox account. Then I have UGS open the Dropbox folder for the gcode files. Before that I was moving files back and forth on a thumb drive and that was horrible.
Ya i usually use iCloud Drive for all my files, but it won’t run on a XP machine (what I currently have in the shop). Luckily I’m currently only using Easel, so I can do all my design work inside and then just log-in and carve.