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Newbie Questions

Discussion in 'General Talk' started by Bill Weissborn, Oct 7, 2015.

  1. Bill Weissborn

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    First, not sure this is the right place to post this. If not, please let me know.

    Second, I'm a total newbie with regards to CNC routers and CNC in general. I am, however, fascinated by the concept and idea. Which is why I've been looking into this for the last few months. I've been watching a LOT of videos on YouTube about X-carve (if that is a 4-letter word on this site, I apologize) and most recently about the OX and Routy. In fact those last builds have pretty much convinced me that I want a CNC setup.

    What I have not been able to discover yet, however, are answers to questions I have about the software. It seems that all of the various systems/machines/builds are similar in terms of construction, stability,etc. So it looks like it comes down to the electronics and software used to drive these systems.

    Am I on the right track here?

    I know there are lots of different software out there, some free, some not-so-free.

    What I'm not sure of is what can I use to "drive" the Routy for example? Or the OX?
    What kinds of electronics do I need and how do you decide what to use?
    Do I have to use an old PC with a parallel port (i.e., LPT) or do the controllers now support USB or some other interface?

    And lastly, it looks like I could start out with something like the Routy and later cannibalize it to build an OX or something similiar. Do I have that right?

    Thanks in advance for letting me shotgun these questions out.

    Bill W
     
  2. Rick 2.0

    Rick 2.0 OpenBuilds Team
    Staff Member Moderator Builder

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    The main factors that most use when selecting the electronics is cost and what you intend to ultimately do with the machine. Arduino based systems are the least expensive as the board setups will run $80 to $130 and the software is opensource (i.e. free) and is ideal for the hobbyist but is a bit too limited for commercial use. If you've got the funding and want to go farther with this, Mach3 based systems offer a more robust and expandable solution. The Mach3 software will run you about $150 and the board (& drivers) start around $75 and goes up from there with some users spending well in excess of $500. Arduino based systems run off a USB port and Mach3 systems use the parallel port. You can pull a lot better information out of the Software and Electronics sections of the forum.

    As far as starting with a Routy and working your way up, there's really no sense in it. The wasted parts vs. the cost of buying Ox plates manufactured by a third party is pretty much a wash so might as well go for the final build the first time. If you do feel the need for a two step process, I would probably recommend the C-Beam Machine as the best starting point.
     
  3. Joe Santarsiero

    Joe Santarsiero OB addict
    Staff Member Moderator Builder

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    In short,
    Between the pc and stepper motors are motor drivers and a communication board. The pc talks to the com board, com board talks to the motor drivers, drivers then to the motors.

    Two general flavors of boards are grbl based and lpt port based also known as BOB (break out board). Grbl based are usually usb. lpt BOB's are parallel port boards. These connect either through usb, ethernet, or lpt.
    The control software to talk to the two types are incompatible with one another. Mach3 and linuxcnc are two lpt based software. Universal Gcode sender and grblpanel are two grbl based software.

    GRBL boards can have built in motor drivers like the tinyg or the xpro or they can be modular units such as an arduino with individual drivers attached. BOB controllers are generally standalone without and used to control external motor drivers(there are actually a lot chinese lpt cards with crappy drivers built in. I can't bring myself to recommend any of them).

    In any case a separate power supply is needed to power the motors.

    I'm sure there's more I missed.

    Joe

    EDIT; I tried not to bring in cost as it can be debated which is more to get you running than the other, but in general Rick is right. GRBL based is less expensive in general. I'm into my lpt system about $900 already.
    A cheap lpt system can be had for much closer to a grbl based system though.
     
    Leebo914 likes this.
  4. Bill Weissborn

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    Ok...good info. Off to the Software/Electronics forum for more research. But before I do that, one more question that has come up:

    What is the difference, if any, between the alum extrusions sold by here and those sold by other companies? Or for that matter the stuff that 80/20 sells?

    Thanks

    Bill W
     
  5. Rick 2.0

    Rick 2.0 OpenBuilds Team
    Staff Member Moderator Builder

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    It's the way the wheels ride the V-Slot groove. The double bevel allows the wheel to set in firmly where as the others just have a wheel setting down in a slot which can wobble side to side. This is all best explained by the video.

     

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