NCPlot - Sketch NC - shameless plug
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  1. #1
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    Default NCPlot - Sketch NC - shameless plug

    OK, so just as the title says, I am taking the liberty of trying to shine a light onto a not-so mainstream machining related product: NC-Plot/SketchNC

    Just like some of the forum members here, I am a very very happy and satisfied user of NC-Plot.
    It has been a life saver in a shit ton of cases.
    If you are a user, there is no need to explain.
    If you are not, then feel free to ask when and how.

    This post however is not about NCPlot!
    It is about another piece of software NCPlot ( aka Scott Martinez, aka metlhead ) is working on, which is SketchNC.

    Scott started it a few years back. In my view it wasn't even ready for an Alpha back then, let alone Beta.
    But!
    There is an update to his efforts as of 06/05/19, and SketchNC is now at v.1.00.19

    The original ( v.1.00.00) was barely (if even that) good enough to hint at where he's trying to go, but the update is definitely a a huge step!
    Does it ( in it's current form ) work for those on a shoestring budget? Nope, not by a shot.
    BUT!
    It is NOT ALL THAT FAR AWAY from being able to provide a typewriting CAM solution for someone with G-code and machining knowledge!

    Just for the record:
    I write most of my Mill programs from a solid model using FeatureCAM. ( active permanent maintenance on Inventor and FeatureCAM )
    I write the oddball Mill programs using solid model to DWG, and then AutoCAD and BobCAD V21. ( ACAD is a given from the maintenance, BobCAD V21 is now defunct )
    I write ALL my lathe programs using solid model to DWG, and then AutoCAD and Bobcad V21. ( see above, but note that BobCAD is now DEFUNCT )
    I write ALL of my Wire EDM programs using solid model to DWG, and then AutoCAD and Bobcad V21. ( see above, but note that BobCAD is now DEFUNCT )
    At the same time,
    I use NC-Plot to verify, check or edit all of the programs written for all of the above machines.
    AND!
    I have re-written a Wire EDM program using the new SketchNC, manually edited it, verified it using NcPlot, and then ran it on a production part.
    End result was identical!
    With a little attention from Scott, SketchNC could become one of the fastest tool to create 2D code for either 2 axis lathes, mills, WEDM, waterjet, laser, or ....

    In any case, if you are familiar with NcPlot, please go back and check out SketchNC and report back either here or on the NcPlot forum.
    If you are not familiar with anything NcPlot has to offer but looking for a solution a problem you may or may not have, check out NCPlot.com.

  2. Likes memphisjed, barbter, mhajicek liked this post
  3. #2
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    +1 BillTrillion for NCPlot and Scott.
    It helped me learn CNC turning because I could play around with the code and then backplot.
    It was (back in the day) the only backplotter that could handle sub progs correctly.
    IMHO it is VERY capable and the best value for money machinist software out in the market.

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    I am also a huge user of NCplot. Couldn't live without it.

    I tried sketch NC a few years back and was underwhelmed. I'll take another look at it. Thanks for the heads up.

    Karl

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    Seymour, I know it's not the point of your post at all, but I can't help wondering why:

    Quote Originally Posted by SeymourDumore View Post
    I write the oddball Mill programs using solid model to DWG, and then AutoCAD and BobCAD V21. ( ACAD is a given from the maintenance, BobCAD V21 is now defunct )
    I write ALL my lathe programs using solid model to DWG, and then AutoCAD and Bobcad V21. ( see above, but note that BobCAD is now DEFUNCT )
    I write ALL of my Wire EDM programs using solid model to DWG, and then AutoCAD and Bobcad V21. ( see above, but note that BobCAD is now DEFUNCT )
    That seems like a very peculiar workflow...

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    Never mind.
    Last edited by Tichy; 09-17-2019 at 01:53 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gregormarwick View Post
    Seymour, I know it's not the point of your post at all, but I can't help wondering why:



    That seems like a very peculiar workflow...
    Actually Gregor, while it may seem like an odd way of doing things, it is kind of the point of the thread.

    First, the AutoCAD DXF to BobCAD route is simply due to the fact that back then that's all I could afford.

    Initially 2 axis Wire EDM programs.
    Draw the part in ACAD, draw the exact toolpath I want the wire to follow, then a LISP routine spits out the coordinates into a text file, then manually edit the result in a blind.
    Well, needless to say that got very old very quick.

    So, BobCAD V17 to the rescue.
    I still drew the part in ACAD, I still created the exact toolpath in ACAD, but then instead of the LISP nightmare, export the DXF to BobCAD containing ONLY
    the toolpath geometry.
    Now in Bobby, just click cut-chain, and voila! the toolpath geometry is turned into a properly formatted G-code.
    Sure, in this form it is useless, but because the text and the geo is side by side, one can hand-edit it visually.

    Seriously, once the DXF is imported, a 2D Wire program can be created, edited and saved as a proper G-code in less than 1 minute.
    No joke, regardless of complexity, a 2D wire program is that simple.
    Lathe and mill programs need a bit more hand editing, and you need to keep a very sharp eye on BobCAD, but still, it is very very quick.
    Obviously one doesn't want to approach very complex milling programs, let alone 3D programs this way, but for a simple hex, slot, flat etc. features,
    and virtually all 2 axis lathe programs, this method is surprisingly quick and efficient.

    Don't get me wrong, I do use a proper CAM ( FeatureCAM ) when it's warranted, but to mill a hex on the end of a round stock or slot through a flat plate...
    I don't even bother.
    Lathe CAM ... Pfft! Show me one that doesn't leave some thing to be desired!

    And now that BobCAD has decided to play with the big guys, the original "click-and-show" method is bye-bye as-of V22(ish), and they don't reactivate the older versions any more.
    ( Hence the defunct comment)
    There is no need for a real post processor, in fact I've stripped EVERYTHING out of mine. Clicking cut-chain doesn't plunge, ramp, add speed or feed, coolant or anything else.
    All it does is enters the coordinates with the proper G01, G02 or G03 as-needed, and calculates the I and J values.
    That is it, and that is all I want as I can do the rest easily.

    SketchNC is almost there!
    If Scott had a bit more time ( or help ) to spend on it, SketchNC coupled with NcPlot could go way beyond all of what the original BobCAD offered!

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    NCPlot is the only way I know of to accurately simulate many of the macros I've written. I've also used it to check my work while writing turning programs for the mill (stock in the spindle, tools on the table.)


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