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  1. #1
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    Default whats the best software for a someone new to cnc?????

    i got my 15 year old son a bridgeport boss that has a machine master retrofit now i need to get him some software to start learning.

  2. #2
    ormachine is offline Aluminum
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    Default Long lost Father ??

    Hi 2Lane,

    I couldn't help but notice the strong resemblance there was between us at the last family get together !!
    If it turns out that we are related, does that mean you will get me a CNC also ?? I am taking a CAD class right now at the local community college.

    Regards, Ron (Long lost relative)

  3. #3
    CPT Crunch is offline Cast Iron
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    What a great present! There's lots that can be done with no software at all. What is your level of experience? How are you at programming? Your son will likely be able to pick up any program very quickly, but he will need some fundamentals before he can do anything useful.

  4. #4
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    i have no experience in cnc i'm a race car fabricator i have a manual mill and lathe that i use to make bushing and i just started re splining axles my son has a lot of interest in machining and cnc and picks stuff up real fast so i got him the bridgeport to learn on in fact i got another 3 axis cnc today its a magnum with a dynapath 10 controler the local community college here has a so so cad class but you have to be 16 to go so i wanted to get him a good cad/cam program to start learning so he would be ahead of the game i wish we had a local cnc machine shop that he could get a job at cleaning the floor or something thats how i started with the race car stuff i think thats the best way to learn start at the bottem and work your way up but these day people don't do things like that most kids are not interested in any thing and nothing is getting passed down.
    Quote Originally Posted by CPT Crunch View Post
    What a great present! There's lots that can be done with no software at all. What is your level of experience? How are you at programming? Your son will likely be able to pick up any program very quickly, but he will need some fundamentals before he can do anything useful.

  5. #5
    scudzuki is offline Stainless
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    The best software for someone new to CNC is Windows Notepad or another text editor.
    Read the control manual and become familiar with the code syntax it requires to make it do what you want it to do.
    Start with simple stuff, programming a toolchange, a rectangle, a circle, drill a hole, etc.
    Becoming familiar with G code syntax (especially the particular dialect your control requires) is pretty important.
    There are a few lower cost CAM systems that are pretty powerful and easy to use, but troubleshooting a program is a h3ll of a sight easier if you can pick the code it posts apart.
    That said, I use Alibre Design for 3D modeling and Alibre CAM (a plugin made by MecSoft derived from VisualMill, their very capable relatively low cost CAM software) to do my design and CNC programming.
    Another popular and very capable product at the lower midrance is OneCNC. If you purchase a high enough level of their CAM product, it includes a CAD software.
    If you want to spend more than that (say in the $10,000 to $15,000 range) there are the industry standards, SolidWorks or SolidEdgefor CAD and say MasterCAM or Gibbs for CAM (to name a few, there are a bunch of similar products out there that people are having success with).

    Does the control have any sort of conversational programming? Some of the conversational languages are pretty powerful, too.

    Still, it is best in the long run to learn G code since most controls speak some form of it.

    Joe

  6. #6
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    Default

    for now i'm wanting something cheap that will help him learn the basics and then if he really sticks with it i won't have a problem buy something high end.
    Quote Originally Posted by scudzuki View Post
    The best software for someone new to CNC is Windows Notepad or another text editor.
    Read the control manual and become familiar with the code syntax it requires to make it do what you want it to do.
    Start with simple stuff, programming a toolchange, a rectangle, a circle, drill a hole, etc.
    Becoming familiar with G code syntax (especially the particular dialect your control requires) is pretty important.
    There are a few lower cost CAM systems that are pretty powerful and easy to use, but troubleshooting a program is a h3ll of a sight easier if you can pick the code it posts apart.
    That said, I use Alibre Design for 3D modeling and Alibre CAM (a plugin made by MecSoft derived from VisualMill, their very capable relatively low cost CAM software) to do my design and CNC programming.
    Another popular and very capable product at the lower midrance is OneCNC. If you purchase a high enough level of their CAM product, it includes a CAD software.
    If you want to spend more than that (say in the $10,000 to $15,000 range) there are the industry standards, SolidWorks or SolidEdgefor CAD and say MasterCAM or Gibbs for CAM (to name a few, there are a bunch of similar products out there that people are having success with).

    Does the control have any sort of conversational programming? Some of the conversational languages are pretty powerful, too.

    Still, it is best in the long run to learn G code since most controls speak some form of it.

    Joe

  7. #7
    Michael Moore is offline Titanium
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    Default

    Get him a copy of Peter Smid's "CNC Programming Handbook, 3rd Edition w/CD-ROM" to go with that free copy of Notepad that scudzuki recommended.

    You can get a copy from Enco for $56 part no 327-9551. That's the cheapest price I could find for a new one.

    cheers,
    Michael

  8. #8
    Ox's Avatar
    Ox
    Ox is offline Diamond
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    Quote Originally Posted by scudzuki View Post
    The best software for someone new to CNC is Windows Notepad or another text editor.
    Read the control manual and become familiar with the code syntax it requires to make it do what you want it to do.
    Start with simple stuff, programming a toolchange, a rectangle, a circle, drill a hole, etc.
    Becoming familiar with G code syntax (especially the particular dialect your control requires) is pretty important.

    .
    .
    .

    Still, it is best in the long run to learn G code since most controls speak some form of it.

    Joe

    X2



    -------------

    Think Snow Eh!
    Ox

  9. #9
    PaulT is offline Stainless
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    I agree with the previous posters that it would best for your son to learn how to make simple parts using hand written G code programs to start out.

    In addition to G code he'll need to learn how to properly set speeds and feeds, which is little different approach with a CNC machine than you may have used on your manual machines. Searching "feeds and speeds" on these forums will hit some good background material on this topic.

    I'd also have him start working with some CAD design programs. There are some pretty good free 2D programs. Solidworks, one of the most popular 3D CAD suppliers, has recently introduced a free 2D CAD program. If you search Solidworks 2D you should hit it. SolidEdge also supplies a pretty nice free 2D CAD program.

    For free 3D design, the free version of the Google Sketchup program is not too bad. Its has a limitation of not having built in capabilities to export .dxf files, which are needed for some CAM programs, but there is a free plug-in available for it that gives it this capability.

    There are also "educational" versions (for student use only) of the 3D design programs that are pretty affordable, I believe both Solidworks and Autodesk/Inventor offers these. These programs are much more powerful than Google Sketchup and are oriented fully towards mechanical design.

    For a CAM program I'd start out with the demo version of SheetCAM from SheetCam homepage . This is a 2.5D program but its a good starting point before trying to jump all the way to 3D CAM. The full version of this program is also very affordable (I think around $250. or so) and you'll likely find that most of the parts he will be making are 2.5D.

    A 2.5D part means that if you look at the part from a top view while its sitting on a table, all its machined surfaces are either parallel to the table surface or are at right angles to the table surface.

    When he's ready to start learning about 3D CAM, there are demo versions available of the VisualMill program from MecSoft Corporation: CAD CAM Software | Computer Aided Design | Computer Aided Manufacturing and the OneCNC program from www.onecnc.com . You can learn alot about the CAD/CAM design process by going through the tutorials of the demo versions of these programs.

    Good luck-

    Paul T.
    Power Technology

  10. #10
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    Default

    thank you very much thats what i was looking for.and i would like to thank the rest of the guys on here for there help as well.
    Quote Originally Posted by PaulT View Post
    I agree with the previous posters that it would best for your son to learn how to make simple parts using hand written G code programs to start out.

    In addition to G code he'll need to learn how to properly set speeds and feeds, which is little different approach with a CNC machine than you may have used on your manual machines. Searching "feeds and speeds" on these forums will hit some good background material on this topic.

    I'd also have him start working with some CAD design programs. There are some pretty good free 2D programs. Solidworks, one of the most popular 3D CAD suppliers, has recently introduced a free 2D CAD program. If you search Solidworks 2D you should hit it. SolidEdge also supplies a pretty nice free 2D CAD program.

    For free 3D design, the free version of the Google Sketchup program is not too bad. Its has a limitation of not having built in capabilities to export .dxf files, which are needed for some CAM programs, but there is a free plug-in available for it that gives it this capability.

    There are also "educational" versions (for student use only) of the 3D design programs that are pretty affordable, I believe both Solidworks and Autodesk/Inventor offers these. These programs are much more powerful than Google Sketchup and are oriented fully towards mechanical design.

    For a CAM program I'd start out with the demo version of SheetCAM from SheetCam homepage . This is a 2.5D program but its a good starting point before trying to jump all the way to 3D CAM. The full version of this program is also very affordable (I think around $250. or so) and you'll likely find that most of the parts he will be making are 2.5D.

    A 2.5D part means that if you look at the part from a top view while its sitting on a table, all its machined surfaces are either parallel to the table surface or are at right angles to the table surface.

    When he's ready to start learning about 3D CAM, there are demo versions available of the VisualMill program from MecSoft Corporation: CAD CAM Software | Computer Aided Design | Computer Aided Manufacturing and the OneCNC program from www.onecnc.com . You can learn alot about the CAD/CAM design process by going through the tutorials of the demo versions of these programs.

    Good luck-

    Paul T.
    Power Technology

  11. #11
    M Owens is offline Plastic
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    Default

    You could also get a demo version free from the Featurecam website. It will not allow you to post code but it will give you an experience using a cam software. It also has drawing capabilities although not the best. Featurecam is a very good CAM program comparable to Mastercam or Gibbscam. If your son's school offers any drafting classes I would encourage him to take as many as possible.

  12. #12
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    is there any one that has a program manual for the dynapath 10 that we can buy ???

  13. #13
    Ox's Avatar
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    2.5D {machines anyway} can doo more than that.

    They can doo angles and rads in any two axis.

    The only thing that a 2.5D [again - machine] can't doo is helix's.


    -------------

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    Ox
    Last edited by Ox; 08-28-2010 at 05:18 PM. Reason: axis - not planes....

  14. #14
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    Mickey_D is offline Stainless
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    For a under $1000 program that has good support (comes in handy to get a good solid post) it is hard to beat the basic version of Visual Mill. Tool paths are good, support staff is very patient, and in the year that I have been using it for most of my work it has only gotten stupid once (despite what the simulator showed, it drilled all of the holes in a fixture plate in one spot) and was easily fixed by just reposting. On average I use it on a couple of parts or fixtures a day and am very happy with it.

  15. #15
    HuFlungDung is offline Diamond
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    I never hand wrote much code, but using old Bobcad 14 was where I started out. Yes, it was slow and pathetic, but by and large, you'd have to build your program a line at a time, or one chain of lines at a time. So click over here in the CAD screen, and see the results over there in the editor screen. So you'd become accustomed to what the general look of the code was and what corresponded with what.

    And setting up the simple post processor also was a good exercise in researching the controller manual to figure out how to get the correct results to appear. Try and fail, try and learn, try and succeed.

    Although I use OneCNC now, the program is so far advanced above old Bobcad, I highly doubt I'd learn much about gcode if I started with it, because it is just too easy. Bobcad used to make me work, sweat, worry and prove out my programs

    I'd still be inclined to teach it the same way to someone who wanted a good basis in program understanding. And I'm a noob compared to some guys who figured it all out with calculator and keyboard. I'm not that diehard, and I don't think I'd recommend that for much except extremely simple mill programs, and lathe programming.

  16. #16
    magic's Avatar
    magic is offline Plastic
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    Default Magic CAD/CAM Sweet

    Hi 2lane,

    May I suggest the Magic CAD/CAM Sweet, which consists of DesignCAD 3D MAX v. 20, a complete 2D drafting and 3D solid modeling CAD program, probably the easiest accessible CAD program in the market today, and ContourCAM v. 16, a 2D/3D CAM system for cutting, engraving, milling, and turning, which is completely integrated with DesignCAD 3D MAX, and which comes with a G-code editor, an NC-simulator, as well as the unique Snake system.

    Both programs offer excellent support through active and very knowledgeable forums.

    You can get it all for only US$ 179.95 from Magic Systems at www.magicsystems.com.

    Hope this helps.

  17. #17
    BOSTON is online now Stainless
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    Quote Originally Posted by HuFlungDung View Post
    ....Bobcad used to make me work, sweat, worry and prove out my programs ...
    ..
    Bobcad still makes me work, sweat, worry and prove out my programs ...

  18. #18
    BobWarfield is offline Hot Rolled
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    You two start out together with the MDI interface. Like Ox said in another thread, think of your CNC like a DRO where you can tell it where to go. Or, it's like a really fancy DRO integrated with really fancy power feeds on every axis.

    You can operate the MDI just like you would a manual machine with power feed. Doing so for about 2 weeks on some real jobs and a lot of things will be second nature.

    Once having done that, start in on the hand written g-code to automate a little more. I don't know if there are Wizards like Mach3 has available for your controller, but they will let you gen up some code for simple things like bolt circles.

    Next, I'm going to deviate from the crowd. Don't get a real cheezy CAD and CAM. Whichever one you get, they are painful to learn. You are going to be making an investment. It's worth spending a little more and getting one that will stick with you. Given the choice, I would worry more about getting the CAD program that will stay with you for life.

    So, I'd get Solidworks or some other equivalent CAD. Try out all the demos to see which one you like better. It'll cost you some money, but you guys will love having a good CAD program and getting good with it.

    On the CAM front, you don't have to zoom all the way into Mastercam or Surfcam, but I'd go a step or two above BobCAD. OneCNC is a nice program that will carry you a long long ways. Again, you will invest a fair amount of time learning your CAM. It isn't a throw away.

    Cheers,

    BW
    CNC Cookbook: Blog

  19. #19
    PaulT is offline Stainless
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobWarfield View Post
    Next, I'm going to deviate from the crowd. Don't get a real cheezy CAD and CAM. Whichever one you get, they are painful to learn. You are going to be making an investment. It's worth spending a little more and getting one that will stick with you. Given the choice, I would worry more about getting the CAD program that will stay with you for life.CNC Cookbook: Blog
    Bob, I agree with your suggestion not to get a CAD/CAM setup that's unprofessional or too "cheezy" so as not to start off in a bad direction (and as an aside, definetly have your son check out Bob's CNC Cookbook: Blog website, there's alot of useful information for him there).

    But the SheetCAM program I mentioned, even though its low cost, is a solid, well designed and well supported package that see's a lot of professional use, its not in the same class with the "bob" level programs

    In combination with a good 2D design tool, and the free SolidEdge and free Solidworks 2D packages provide this, it is a solid CAM/CAD setup for designing 2.5D parts, which I think is a good starting point before moving to up 3D.

    Ox, also thanks for pointing out the distinction between 2.5D machines and 2.5D design tools, the description I gave was referring to the design tools (and thank god there aren't very many 2.5D machines around these days).

    I agree that the full 3D Solidworks package is a good pick for a 3D CAD tool, in most parts of the country its the most popular one in use which would help your son's employment prospects, and as I mentioned I believe you can get a significant discount on Solidworks for educational/non-commercial usage.

    However, if the educational discount for Solidworks isn't that steep, see what the educational discount for the Autodesk Inventor package is. Its a nice system, some users prefer it over Solidworks. I own Inventor and I like it alot. I believe both these packages have demo versions and you can learn alot by going through the tutorials for them and it would give your son a feeling for which one he preferred.

    The learning curve for both these systems is pretty steep though, so tell your son not to expect to be an expert with them after just a day or two. It took me around 2 to 3 weeks with Inventor before I felt I could do anything useful at all and then around another 2 or 3 months before I started feeling like I was really getting the hang of it.

    Then after around 2 or 3 years it started really sinking in how it was best to use it during the design process and I realized how much cleaner my earlier designs could have been.

    Its great that your son is taking an interest in machining. I tried to get my 2 sons involved with it but it just wasn't in the cards. They're good kids, but I've learned if somethings not in their blood it doesn't work to try to force it, you have to let them go the way they want to.

    Actually the day when they were pretty young and I came home from the shop looking like someone had hit me in the side of the face with a hammer might have had something to do with it. When trying to quickly duck under the steel support beam of hydraulic lift I missed the duck by about 6". It staggered me but I took the 8 count and kept on going but by the time I got home I looked like Freddy Kruger and it scared the hell (and I guess the shop) out of them.

    Good luck-

    Paul T.
    Power Technology

  20. #20
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    thank's for all the help/info we have down loaded all the demo's and my son is playing with them again i would like to thank everyone for the help

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