OsX Workflow Help for a "Non-Technical" Designer

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OsX Workflow Help for a "Non-Technical" Designer

Post by romanograph » Thu Mar 28, 2013 8:45 pm

First off, thanks to everyone here for sharing their expertise. I'm stoked to get this thing going.

I've built my Shapeoko and have been able to send some commands via Universal G-Code Sender, so I know my rig is working on a very basic level, but I have a ton of holes in my knowledge, and most of the resources I'm finding are for users who are comfortable with using the Terminal, understand how to hack code, etc. I'm a designer, and this project is my first foray into the open-source world, and the whole community seems really helpful, but I just can't seem to wrap my "visually oriented" mind around how to get my Shapeoko calibrated and running jobs.

I'm running OsX 10.7.5, and I believe my Shapeoko is a 5th gen model (shipped in early January 2013).

After trying to install PyCam via this post, I couldn't get it to launch (and didn't really understand what I was doing anyway). Then I found MakerCAM, which got me closer (thanks to the step-by-step instructions), but my spindle (or pencil, in this case) kept getting broken as I tried to plot some simple imagery on paper. I can generate the geometry I need (the CAD part), since I am proficient in software like Adobe Illustrator and Cinema 4D, but everything between that and the tip of my Shapeoko spindle is a bit of a mystery. I guess what I really need to do is run some simple tests to ensure that things are set up right and calibrated properly. Are there any designers out there who have made the leap? Any hackers who can help me tackle this "visually"?

I'm super excited about the potential for this sort of technology to impact digital designers like me. I don't know much, but what I do know leads me to believe there will be a huge demand for a more "end to end" turnkey software solution for people like me, where I could go from my spline/CAD file to cutting material without too much of a headache. I know that's not really the "open source" way (or maybe it could be — I'm new), but after searching for awhile those are my thoughts. Thanks again for reading. I can't wait to get this thing working!

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Re: OsX Workflow Help for a "Non-Technical" Designer

Post by WillAdams » Thu Mar 28, 2013 11:40 pm

I'd suggest using a felt tip or marker instead of a pencil, unless you rig up a spring-loaded holder.

I haven't had much luck on the software front and have been hand-coding G-code. For straight-forward 2D work, I'd suggest Inkscape and gcodetools, there's a page on them in the wiki:


Sketchup and phlatscript may be a good fit for you:


But we really do need better toools for Mac OS X --- I'm a bit concerned over even basic drawing since FreeHand is now moribund and I can't find a replacement which suits (and don't suggest Illustrator --- had the CS6 Design Premium upgrade inflicted on me at work and I'm not amused).

Last edited by WillAdams on Fri Mar 29, 2013 3:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: OsX Workflow Help for a "Non-Technical" Designer

Post by romanograph » Fri Mar 29, 2013 12:50 am

Thank you for the tips, William. I had not seen these tools. It looks like they will help remove some intermediate steps. I'll check them out. Thanks!

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Re: OsX Workflow Help for a "Non-Technical" Designer

Post by edwardrford » Fri Mar 29, 2013 3:36 pm

My suggestion would be to use

1.) Inkscape (or illustrator if that's your thing) to draw.
2.) Use www.makercam.com to produce your gcode files.

phlatscript is nice, but I think there's a certain learning curve wtih using sketchup that is a little flatter with makercam. I have a few tutorials on youtube on how to use makercam which should get you going pretty easily.

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Re: OsX Workflow Help for a "Non-Technical" Designer

Post by twforeman » Fri Mar 29, 2013 6:58 pm

For 2D drawing it looks like LibreCAD will run on OSX.


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Re: OsX Workflow Help for a "Non-Technical" Designer

Post by madmanmoe » Sat Mar 30, 2013 5:38 pm

All I've been using so far is Illustrator* and MakerCam.
MakerCam has a nice GUI and is relatively friendly. It doesn't allow you much control, but for starting out that's much better, as you don't have too much to worry about.
I've actually got PyCam running on my Mac, but it's not very friendly at all, and from what I've heard, it takes forever to calculate 3D profiles.
The only problem I've had with MakerCam so far are a few little bugs where, for no apparent reason, it just won't calculate a path or pocket. Most of the time, using MakerCam's tools to redraw the offending line work, then trying the operation again will fix this problem.

*I actually draw stuff in Vectorworks and simply use Illustrator to convert epsf files to svg.
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