What to do about software?

New X Carve just built. 3 small projects completed and not a single problem running it at all (yet). I’m already running into easel’s limitations. I have 20 years of autocad 2d drawing and exporting these files to a HD Plasma cutting table. Also, a touch of 3d drawing with solidworks. What is going to be my best software path to go from a cad based program (vs an art based) to my machine?

a lot of cam programs can work with dxf/dwg, so you can draw with autocad and export it to a cam program of choice.

as far as i know all of the vectric programs (cut 2d/V-carve/cut 3d) can work with dxf.
I am using estlcam, a lot less visual as a vectric program, but it is a lot less expensive.

Hello Robert, congrats on getting your X-Carve built.

As for software, with your background in solid modeling, it sounds like Fusion 360 might be a great choice for you. It is a free licence for hobbyist so the price is right. F360 is an amazing piece of software from Autocad/HSM but it does have a pretty steep learning curve for anyone not accustomed to solid modeling.

If you are looking for software more focused on making signs and 2D objects I would suggest that you look at Vcarve Desktop or Pro. The Desktop version is about $350 so it is not cheap, but everyone that has purchased it seems to think it was a worth the money.

Thanks Allen. If I start using F360, then what would the hardware routing look like? Do I continue to use grbl and audrino? Or do I need a new path? I’m used to running a $100,000 machine that’s already been sorted. This build has been so fun, and I’m only getting started.

I also briefly looked at ESTLCam. It seems like I can import DXF files straight from a 2d auto cad file and it also seems to function as a cad program and not an art program. I think then all the same hardware path stays the same. As I understand it though, it gets re-flashed.

Using F360 is pretty straightforward. You will need to save your toolpath (gcode) in F360 using a Grbl compatible post processor. Then you will use a gcode sender like “Universal Gcode Sender” to send the gcode file to the Arduino/Grbl that controls the X-Carve.

So no changes to your hardware are needed. Just download Version 2.0 of the Universal Gcode Sender at this location http://bit.ly/1hftIhy

The UGS is a Java “Jar” file, so be sure you have the latest version of Java loaded on the computer that is connected to the X-Carve. Unzip the UGS file and double click the JAR file and UGS should start. Use the File tab to load the gocde file you want to use. Zero the machine and then “Send” the file to X-Carve.

I use Dropbox to get my gcode files from my design computer to my shop computer, but you can use your home network or just copy the file to flash drive and carry it.

Let me know if you have any questions

There’s a new feature in early testing in Easel, which will allow you to send a Fusion 360 toolpath to the X Carve via Easel:

Request sign up as a tester in that thread for access. Should allow you to skip UGCS altogether.

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[quote=“RobertConrad, post:5, topic:17465, full:true”]I think then all the same hardware path stays the same. As I understand it though, it gets re-flashed.

There are 2 possible workflows with Estlcam:

  • You can use Estlcam as “CAM only” and save the g-code file for use with an external CNC control program like e.g. Universal Gcode Sender (in this case select “GRBL” as postprocessor preset)…
  • Or alternatively use Estlcam itself to control the machine without external control software. Only in this case your Arduino will be re-flashed. (the current version will also create a backup so the controller can be restored with just one click in case you don’t like it.)