All set? Software questions.

I know this has been asked a million times - even by me at one point but it all seems so different with a machine built and ready to go. I’ve run through the software/testing page and it looks like I have or can get everything rolling on the Mac. Arduino, Repetier, fusion 360 - those last two are already installed and running. Estlcam is the missing piece of the puzzle here. I gather I can’t get around that one and I need it? What role does each play in this big old puzzle? And what have I bypassed the need for by setting up my machine with an LCD?

Just don’t want to plug everything in and see a board on fire. Although I guess the above wouldn’t prevent that. Ha!

I’m not sure what your asking but I’ll take a stab at it.

Arduino is the platform you run the firmware on. Whether it be a RAMPS, Rambo, or mini Rambo, once you flash it onto your control board it’s function is complete(unless you need to reflash it for whatever reason).

Repetier is a program to control your machine and run the G code on. If you dont have a SD card, you will have to keep your computer tethered to the machine via a USB cable.

You need a program to convert your model to G code. Estlcam will do that for you. Fusion 360 will also do that for you albeit it seems to be more complicated to learn. I hope this helps, if not I’m sure someone else will chime in and keep you moving along the path.

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No need for repetier host.

What you are concerned with is what is called a CAM package, the most common two around here are estlcam and fusion 360 cam.

I think Edward (thanks I missed this somehow) covered the rest.

Thanks guys. That’s perfect. I’ll start looking in those directions. I think maybe just to get the motors running I’ll borrow the neighbours PC and get Estlcam running while I figure out the Fusion 360 workflow.

Question - if I want to do some 2d plotting/cutout milling using DXF files from illustrator is it still Estlcam that’snest in line? I assume so because I’m thinking if I understand this correctly that the gcode includes not only the shape info but the tool and tool path info?

I know I’m coning into this sideways and I apologize. I’ll “get it” all soon enough I know. I’m going to run through the getting started tutorial with Estlcam and the crown tonight/tomorrow so maybe I’ll hold further question until I have some experiential reference.

ESTLcam is one of the gcode generators/ CAM available for the mpcnc. You don't just give the CNC a dxf file or a picture and it does the rest, you must use CAM to generate the file which contains instructions for the CNC machine.

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The workflow.

1-Firmware - This is on the board and most never have to deal with it at all. Marlin/arduino stuff.

2-Art / design - This is what you want to make, the design. Inskcape / CAD stuff.

3-CAM - This is directions for the machine on how to cut / draw / burn the art/design from step 2. Things like how fast to move and how deep to cut.

4-Load the file from step 3 onto the sd card and run it from the LCD.


I think my crown demo will clear most of this up in short order.

Thanks Ryan. Today’s the day! Just re-reading through it all before I plug stuff in and start fires. hahaha

I think a post disappeared on me so my apologies if this doubles up the other. I’ve got it all plugged in and using what appeaered to be a 3d print Repetier setup screenshot plugged in a combination of those settings, settings from Repetiers website and my best guesses. I was able to get the machine to connect and subsequently play with it a bit. I had to flip the plug on the x axis but that’s it. Hooray!

However, I was unable to find the manual button panel in Repetier. I’m on the Mac for now (probably why my settings windows and tabs didn’t match the screenshots online). I clicked my way through the LCD screen controls and found the move tools so I played a bit with that. Can anyone tell me if/where to find the Repetier on-screen buttons and maybe tell me what settings I should be using (feed rate, park pos etc.)?

Pretty excited!

No fires by the way.



Yet. Hahaha

Ooh, ooh! A question I actually have some experience with! How exciting!


I use my Mac laptop to run the MPCNC as well. I believe the tutorial to either be outdated, or RepetierHost on Mac looks much different than Windows. Possibly both. The tutorial could just show an outdated version of the program.


The only way I have found to manually control the axes is through that tab you talk about, which also has options for extruders, feed rate (speed of movements), and other stuff that doesn’t appear to apply unless using an extruder. So I will click click click whichever mm distance I want the selected axis to move. After using a 3d printer with an LCD and dial, it is definitely smoother to move any axis that way. I am going to set up a Raspberry Pi with the awesome V1pi image Jeff made, however, otherwise I would absolutely get an LCD for my MPCNC.


As far as ESTLCam, it is much easier to use than Fusion 360. I wanted to use Fusion because it is free and available for Mac, in addition to being a 3d modeling software. I think I got a few 2d drawings, for plotting, to export some gcode that ran on the machine, but that was after a lot of additional time spent learning how to get Fusion to even EXPORT anything because of the stupid tool path and tool selection settings always seeming to conflict. It took too much time, or at least much more time than seemed necessary. Especially for a drawing - it should be as simple as importing the sketch, MAYBE setting line widths, selecting lines (the only area ESTLcam may be lacking in because for sketches with many lines, you have to manually select every single line whereas I think Fusion allows drag selection), then hitting export gcode.


I’m lucky because I have other computers in the house that use Windows, so I set up Microsoft Remote Desktop on one and my Mac, and installed ESTLcam on the Windows PC, so now I use a shared network folder on that PC to drag the raw files, and run the remote desktop to use my Mac and work in ESTLcam to get the gcode, put it back in the shared folder, and retrieve it on my Mac to run over USB to the MPCNC. V1pi will thankfully cut out the second half of that, so I only have to go from here to the Windows PC. If you cannot access another Windows computer (maybe even look for a super cheap laptop?), maybe you have more knowledge in setting up virtual machines and can side load Windows in something like VirtualBox. I tried, but probably didn’t invest enough time to actually figure it out. I gave up and realized it would be easier for me to use remote desktop since I had another PC available.


I hope some of that helps!


Thanks so much. The neighbours PC laptop is on the way over now. I do indeed have the LCD and if that’s an acceptable means to move stuff I’m cool with that. I plan on doing as much via SD card as I can to keep the computer hardware out of my garage. You all think YOUR garages are dusty? You ain’t seen nothin’. Hahaha

The pen mount is on…getting pumped!!!