My CNC machining workflow

  |   Source

Hello ! Today we'll talk about driving CNC machines, toolpaths and Debian, so stay tuned ! I have a separate old PC for driving the CNC machine via parallel port. This is, as they say, the Only Proper Way and It Was Always Like That. I'm thinking about changing this to usb+grbl in the future then ;) Up till now, my workflow went as follows;

  • Do the research and drawing/parts modeling in FreeCad, on my main workstation
  • Export to e.g. DXF
  • Import in HeeksCad
  • Design machining operations, export gcode
  • Copy gcode to a network drive
  • Switch the monitor and keyboard to the one of the old PC
  • Open gcode in LinuxCNC and go

What happens if it's not perfect at first try though ?! Most commonly the issue  is with the toolpath, like I want to change feeds or speeds or depth of cut, rarely it is with the part itself, fortunately. It may have something to do with the fact that I'm mostly working with other people's parts for now ;) Anyway, to do any correction I need to switch back to the main workstation, correct in Heeks, re-export to the network drive and switch back, reimport. Not very annoying but not very convenient either. But wait. What if...I install Heeks on the old PC ?! It's running LinuxCNC realtime distro, which is based on Debian wheezy. Heeks packages are available prepackaged for Ubuntu only. With the help of the documentation and the comments there and in other corners of the internet I was able to get this little script done:

#!/bin/bash
set -e
set -v

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get -y install liboce-visualization-dev libwxgtk2.8-dev libgtkglext1-dev python-dev build-essential bzr git libboost-dev libboost-python-dev subversion debhelper cmake liboce-ocaf2 liboce-ocaf-dev oce-draw
mkdir heeks_build
cd heeks_build
svn checkout http://libarea.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/ libarea
cd libarea
dpkg-buildpackage -b -us -uc
cd ..
sudo dpkg -i libarea*.deb python-area*.deb
svn checkout http://heekscad.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/ heekscad
cd heekscad
dpkg-buildpackage -b -us -uc
cd ..
sudo dpkg -i *heeks*.deb
svn checkout http://heekscnc.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/ heekscnc
cd heekscnc
dpkg-buildpackage -b -us -uc
cd ..
git clone https://github.com/aewallin/opencamlib.git
cd opencamlib
bzr branch lp:~neomilium/opencamlib/packaging debian
dpkg-buildpackage -b -us -uc
cd ..
sudo dpkg -i python-ocl*.deb
sudo dpkg -i heekscnc*.deb

Run this on your LinuxCNC machine and that's it. It will download and build all the dependencies and Heeks CAD and CAM packages. This way, my current workflow goes more like this:

  • Do the research and drawing/parts modeling in FreeCad, on my main workstation
  • Export to e.g. DXF to a network drive
  • Switch the monitor and keyboard to the one of the old PC
  • Import in HeeksCad
  • Design machining operations, export gcode
  • Open gcode in LinuxCNC and go
  • Repeat last 2 steps if necessary - no machine switching
Comments powered by Disqus