I made... a thing

Just wanted to play with holes, pockets, and islands in Estlcam, so I made a little box, that was supposed to be interlocking. I messed up the dimensions of some stuff on the opposite parts, due to the change in terminology from Outside/Inside to Pocket/Hole. When I was looking at the cuts on the screen, I didn’t realize it was including the the inside hole cut as part of the pocket when leaving the island. The tooltip for Island said to create the required objects with Hole and Part, so I assumed I needed a hole and part, but really I needed both of the shapes to be parts. I’ll revise it and recut. I have the feed rates set to very slow settings that Ryan recommends for getting started, so this whole thing took about an hour to an hour and a half to cut, but boy was that fun to watch.


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Awesome test part. If you make it a little less deep (so it won’t take so long) it would be a good object to dial in all the materials you use in the future. I use my 120logo (the triangle thing) and cut it out and cut the pocket.

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Sounds like it worked.

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If you make it a little less deep (so it won’t take so long)
I bought 3/4 foam, so I could simulate things I was going to but into plywood eventually. So all depths were just based on using the full depth of the foam. I don't mind the time right now. I bought a 16" rock saw a few years back, and when I first got it, I used to sit and watch it very very slowly cut through rocks I pulled out of the river. But yeah, I can use it for dialing in thinner materials when I get there.


Sounds like it worked.
Other than my little inside vs outside screw up, yep. But, I guess that means it worked if I learned something. Lunch has been eaten, Dr. Pepper has been drank, and dogs have been walked. Time to watch it cut for another hour with corrections made.
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+1 to this!

Lessons learned from attempt number 2:

  1. Make damn sure you chose the right hole to drill out. I was an hour and 45 minutes into this, and then watched it drill out one of the islands I had left. Then, I watched as it tried to plunge deeper into my waste board. Am I overlooking a way in Estlcam to see a list of tasks, and then clicking them to select them? It would sure make it easier to review things, but the preview list doesn't seem to let me select the task from the list, it just displays them.
  2. Don't try to cut two parts in one job. I mean, I guess if you have to leave it running while you are at work and monitoring a web cam or something maybe, but again, an hour 45 into this, and now I have to recut both. Well, I might have been able to salvage the one if I had use Repetier-host to kill the print, rather than killing power. Then I could have at least moved it back to 0,0 and just ran the last cuts for the second part.
Also, not a lesson learned, but a peculiarity, but I did peel for the top pockets on each piece, and it left flat spots on all four islands, in the exact same places. The lower layer I did with linear removal, because it kept changing to inside cut on the islands when I chose to do peel. The linear removal didn't leave the flat sides though.


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1-Yeah I always check the machining order, typically “as selected”, then look at the path output when you save, you can rotate it to see depth.

2-Yup, don’t combine until both paths are verified to work.


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Whoa cool. Didn’t realize you could rotate that.

Nope. Routers cause fire really fast. Run your bit or your collet too hard into the spoil board and you don’t have much time to estop before the fire is out of control.

I’m sure you’re learning how easy it is to misunderstand and make a simple mistake.

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Yep. I actually saw a Youtube video of an unattended MPCNC that caught fire. Ive seen discussion about using octopeint to remotely monitor 3D prints and keep intermixing the fact that this is a CNC, and it can 3D print, but need to remember to treat them very different. I work from home fortunately, so no remote monitoring needed either way.

Third times a charm… sort of. My first surfacing cut was supposed to be 0.107", and I think it was twice that. The cutting depth of the tool is set to 0.125" though, so I am wondering if I didn’t tighten the bit up enough, and it dropped out a little. I’m purposely not showing the two halves, because due to the Z issue, my holding tabs got cut into the waste board, and not the foam, so the corners got chewed up a bit :slight_smile:

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I think the Z depth issue, is because I was turning on the router after setting it to the origin point, then flipping on the power to the board. Since my hand was right at the switch when moving the whole assembly, it just seemed like the thing to do. Since the Z stepper wasn’t engaged, the vibration of the router was allowing it to slip down. So, lesson learned: turn on the board and engage the steppers before turning on the router. It’s the little things you just don’t think of at first.

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What a cool little challenge / test project. I think I’ll have to try.

I’ve become a master at going back into my E10 files, deleting the stuff that went well and leaving, fixing or relocating to a clean spot on the loaded sheet the stuff I goofed on and getting it running to fix my mistake. I save all kinds of master E10 files and quite often will go back in and save off copies of just this bit or that bit. But I’m always very careful to hit “Stop Print” rather than killing the power. Until I get my endstops set up and dialled in it’s key to my recovery. I’ve tried to find 0,0 manually. Virtuially impossible. I had since started using a hard 0,0 (the front and left most corner) but even that had minor variance.

I leave n IP camera watching my MPCNC from time to time but I’m never gone. I am always in the house where I can hear what’s going on and keep the corner of my eye on the IP camera on screen always. I also make sure the LCD is in the camera frame so I can monitor the progress bar. I’ve had three “Oh SH!T!” moments - two with smoke involved and that was me getting out there almost immediately. Once was bad CAM on my part and twice was due to material letting go from my work surface and getting all crazy on me.

I’ve been defaulting to parallel and I can’t say for sure why other than I like the way it machines. And if any trace artifacts are left behind they at least follow the contour of the part/hole etc.

I also keep a notepad beside me when I’m setting up my ESTLCam files so I don’t lose track of the machining orders / depths etc. I had one job that had something like 400 little holes to drill. I’ve since learned that I could likely have drilled all 400 with a single line of gcode using some sort of step repeat function…so much to learn ; )

Step one for me is always a +0.01 move on the z axis. So much so that I wish I could learn how to just program a function into Marlin so it’s in the first menu for me. When I power on my machine I’ve got the bit at the Z-0 height.

Kelly, in my last run, I actually had to stop it, and I had the sense to hit stop in Repetier host instead of kill power. I would have sworn I had set the orders on my last drill holes to 28 and 29, and the last cut out to 30, but it wasn’t like that when I saved, and of course in my quick excitement to try it out, I didn’t scroll down on the preview list to see that they were out of order. When I saw it starting the cutout before drilling, I was able to stop it, leave the machine on, make a quick edit in Estlcam, and then run the job with just the last two holes to be drilled (I keep saying drill, but they are 3/4 holes, so cut), and then the final cut out. Worked like a charm.

I did one final cut for the night, where I stepped up the X,Y feed rate to 12mm/s instead of 8mm/s, and did a 0.25" DoC instead of 0.125", just to see it rip through that foam. It cut it great at the faster speeds. My only concern was when it got down to doing the cut that would have been into the waste board, but I made it shallower, and it all worked fine.

I want to help my brother in law get setup with a Lowrider, so I am trying to learn what I need to, so I can feel comfortable cutting parts out for him. He’s still making room in his shop though, so I have some time. I bought an extruder and such when I got my kit, so I need to do some learning about the 3D printing too. I feel a bit bad that I keep sending him pictures of my little foam cut outs, and he doesn’t have a toy to play with yet.

I don’t know if this is still the right forum now, but I don’t want to keep making new topics and flooding it, so I am going to continue on this one if that’s ok.

Today I made… mistakes. A few of them. Nothing to ruined my build, and all good learning experiences. Just trying to surface a small pocket to put glass in to use for 3D printing.

  1. I learned that I could increase the speed mid print in Repetier-host! That was awesome! Until, I went and set the feed rate higher in Estlcam for the next thing, and forgot to put the speed multiplier back down to 100%. On my first run through, the glass didn't quite fit. So I left the MPCNC on, and made a slightly bigger rectangle and just did a cut out, instead of a pocket. Problem was, the speed was high enough that it broke out a piece of the now thin wall, and caught it, and pulled it, and moved the wood.
  2. So, I flipped the board over, and tried again. I knew I could run a bit faster now, so this cut should only take 30minutes, and not 2.5 hours. Great! Well, lesson learned here... make damn sure your clamps are tight (probably part of lesson 1), and sure as hell don't bump them with your leg. (result in image).
  3. I've read that you need to take material into account when figuring your feed rate, but I didn't read, is that you can't use the same feed rate for all plywood, because some of it is just so crappy the the layers peel off if you cut them too fast. This happened in my final run of this pocket, but it only kicked off some top layers, and the glass still rests nicely how it needs to, so I am going to go with it.
All in all though, good learning day. I got some attempts in on wood, and figured I can go faster than I had been, though I will probably stick to slower speeds for now still. I drew out a zero clearance insert for my table saw a while back (Craftsman ones are wierd), maybe I will give that a shot today or tomorrow. I think I have filament coming this afternoon too, so might have to see if I can print a small square.

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Apparently lesson 4 of the day, was that my little 1.5 gallon shop vac has a really crappy filter, and has been discharging dust behind me the whole time I was messing with the MPCNC today.

Regrets, I’ve got a few…

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Ahhh, the lessons we learn. Every single cut I make I learn something. Do not let that discourage you though. When I don’t want to learn something I will clean the shop while the machines are running. If I watch it closely I will always make some changes.

I made… a cube. Do I have to set the thermistor value back to 999 to go back to CNC, or will it work fine for both now? Don’t have dual end stops or anything on it at the moment.

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