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New 5-axis machine, PocketCNC

Posted: Wed Nov 06, 2013 5:09 pm
by WillAdams
Here's an interesting new machine:

http://www.pocketnc.com

Should make a nice complement to a ShapeOko....

They've also defined opensource software as a limiting factor.

Re: New 5-axis machine, PocketCNC

Posted: Wed Nov 06, 2013 6:25 pm
by Improbable Construct
It does look pretty cool. I dont think it is anything all that revolutionary.
It would be pretty easy to slap one of these under a Shapeoko:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/251199061353?ss ... 1423.l2649
The software is not just a limiting factor, it pretty much makes it useless for the market they are looking for.
As far as I know there is no 5 axis software available for under $10K.
Even most of the "affordable" software that does 4 axis really just wraps either the X or Y for the A-axis.

Re: New 5-axis machine, PocketCNC

Posted: Wed Nov 06, 2013 8:02 pm
by northbear
Improbable Construct wrote: As far as I know there is no 5 axis software available for under $10K.
LinuxCNC is free and can control up to 9 axis. May be more of a learning curve as Stepconf wizard only does XYZ (Mill), XYZA (4-axis mill) or XZ (Lathe), so I believe you would have to set it up by hand.

Re: New 5-axis machine, PocketCNC

Posted: Wed Nov 06, 2013 9:15 pm
by Improbable Construct
northbear wrote:
Improbable Construct wrote: As far as I know there is no 5 axis software available for under $10K.
LinuxCNC is free and can control up to 9 axis. May be more of a learning curve as Stepconf wizard only does XYZ (Mill), XYZA (4-axis mill) or XZ (Lathe), so I believe you would have to set it up by hand.
I should have been more clear...
Mach3 (which I use) will support up to 6 axis. Thats the easy part.
What I was talking about was the CAM software.
Software that will take a 3D drawing and create the 5 or 6 axis tool paths and output the G-code.

Re: New 5-axis machine, PocketCNC

Posted: Wed Nov 06, 2013 9:37 pm
by northbear
Improbable Construct wrote: I should have been more clear...
Mach3 (which I use) will support up to 6 axis. Thats the easy part.
What I was talking about was the CAM software.
Software that will take a 3D drawing and create the 5 or 6 axis tool paths and output the G-code.
Ahh... now I understand, I have not looked for any software to create the G-code (and probably won't as I don't plan on doing 5 or 6 axis anytime soon ;) ) Thanks for the clarification.

Re: New 5-axis machine, PocketCNC

Posted: Wed Nov 06, 2013 9:59 pm
by Gadgetman!
As long as the SW can generate a 4Axis path, you can always do the 5th axis 'manually'.

After you have the object designed, run the toolpath SW for a 4Axis path, rotate the object a set number of degrees(15, 30, 45 degree jumps sounds good), and run the toolpath SW again. Repeat as many times as necessary.

On your CnC, run the first block, and when finished, run code to move the 5th axis the same number of degrees, run the next block of code and so on...

The problem will be in 'zeroing' the bit for every iteration.
Should probably be directly above where the A/B crosses. And you need to know exactly how high above, too.
and every iteration needs to end with the tool being moved to that exact point.

Fiddly? Yes!
Doable? Yes...
Anyone going to do it more than once or twice?
Not unless lives are at stake...

Note that with the platform shown, one of the axis will be limited to less than 180 degrees. Probably in the neighbourhood of 130 - 150 degrees.
(Closer to 120 if the spindle is a big unit)

The good news is that once you have gotten it to work, and you have all the files, it should be possible to add them together to create a single big file with all the commands which won't require user interaction from start to finish.

The bad news is that it will need a lot of editing to be anywhere near useful code, unless you consider watching the unit mill empty air for most of the job a 'useful operation'...

And yes, it should be possible to manually handle both A and B axis this way, but... that way lies madness...

For some parts, it may be a good idea to limit the area the tool works on between each rotation.

Re: New 5-axis machine, PocketCNC

Posted: Wed Nov 06, 2013 11:14 pm
by DanMc
Gadgetman!'s idea will work. I have seen plenty of people on CNCzone and in the CamBam forum doing just that. If you get the workflow down I think it can be reasonable, in fact I do something similar once in a while to do 4 sided pieces. What I have been looking into though is DeskProto, the standard license for 5 axis is around $1k but they offer a "hobby" license for $350 or so.

Re: New 5-axis machine, PocketCNC

Posted: Sun Nov 10, 2013 5:25 pm
by danimal
The one thing that I did not anticipate with getting into cnc machines was the complete lack of reliable CAM software. I make due with what I have, but I have finally given up and I am saving up to buy something for 3D operations. Maybe I should just pursue computer programming more diligently and make my own. It seems like it would be a simple yet tedious calculation that could be applied to form the tool paths, but I get stuck at reading and validating a virtual model in such a way that the data can be transposed to limits. Frustrating.