New to firmware/programming

Good evening all!

I am brand new to CNC machining, firmware, programming….everything. I have some questions:

  1. From what I understand, Marlin is the recommended firmware but what exact does firmware do and what makes one firmware more compatible with a controller vs another firmware?

  2. How many different software programs do I need?
    -Design: Inkscape, adobe illustrator
    -Tool path generator(CAD/CAM?): fusion 360, Estlcam
    -G-Code Sender- Repetier-Host
    -Controller: Marlin
    -then what? G-code sender sends the code to the controller for the
    machine to run?

  3. Do I have to program every line of g-code? Example: if my input was G70/71 (inch/mm), will the program recognize that code? Is it the controller or the g-code sender that recognizes g/m-code presets? Where could I find presets that ARE recognized by my particular setup?

  4. If I were to download plans for a particular project, what changes would I need to make, if any, to make it compatible with my software?

Thank you all for the support!

Great questions. You have gotten to the root of it.

You don’t have to write gcode. It is a machine to machine language. It does not hurt to be able to read it though. There aren’t many commands that come up often:

Gcode is a standard, but unfortunately, no firmware uses the standard the same way. Marlin can support inch mode, but not by default. See use mm. It isn’t a big deal, because any CAM program can do the unit conversion for you.

It really depends on the format you find it in. The biggest issue with furniture is that the thickness of the material is used for the sizes of slots. If you’re cutting out a logo for a sign or something, then you might need to edit it in inkscape to vectorize it, or make some small edits.


Thank you! You’ve been a tremendous help!

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