Any SO3 users running Estlcam?


(Jim Amos) #1

I really like all the function and operation provided by the Estlcam package, however it’s not GRBL compatible. In order to try out this CAM package with my Shapeoko3 XXL, Estlcam needs to reflash/reprogram the Carbide Motion GRBL controller.

Has anyone here on the forums done this operation? Chris has confirmed/answered my basic questions so far, however I’m wondering who here in the community has first hand experience with this CAM package and the Shapeoko3 XXL, specifically:

  • Where did you land with your USB CNC controller settings?
  • Does the “restore controller” button actually reflash the controller to some prior flash state (GRBL?)
  • What utility is used to restore GRBL if the Estlcam restore doesn’t actually restore GRBL?

Thanks in advance for entertaining my noobish Q’s.


(Roger Newmon) #2

I use the cam portion, it works fine with grbl for gcode output.
I have not tried the controller portion of the software so I didn’t even realize a re-flash is required?
I’ll have to test it now…


#3

It is a great CAM program, I haven’t used the control part either.

Not as powerful in my opinion as Aspire or the other big CAM programs but it is a lot cheaper!


(Roger Newmon) #4

Ok I tried it, apparently it does want to re-flash, not sure why but they may be doing something special for the cool alignment and cam features?

I didn’t flash it, because I don’t really want to use it as a controller app anyways, but I can help you out a little bit.
If you want to go all out, you could download the entire GRBL software, and the arduino IDE and customize and re-compile to suit your needs.

The stock firmware is on a wiki page.
http://www.shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/Grbl

Default settings are here:
http://docs.carbide3d.com/article/38-shapeoko-3-default-grbl-settings


(Jim Amos) #5

Thanks @rogwabbit

Your XXL post and laser etched wasteboard ruler thread popped when I searched Estlcam on the forums here. Chris indeed confirmed that Estlcam does indeed persist a “previous controller image” when you first reflash the CM controller… I was curious about what software folks were using for GRBL reflash as a secondary means of restoration.

Chris also recommended downloading the latest v9.009 build in order to try evaluating with the Shapeoko.

This software has so slick many bells and whistles that I’m curious as to why there isn’t a larger user base in the Shapeoko community?

I’ll get a chance to investigate more later in the evening.


(Christian Knüll) #6

Hi,

Estlcam can be used in 2 ways:

  • As standalone CAM with external CNC control software like Carbide Motion or Universal G-Code Sender.
    There is a preset for Carbide Motion and also a generic GRBL preset available.
    (However I never got much feedback about those presets - so if there is anything that needs to be changed or improved please let me know.)
  • Or alternatively as CAM with integrated CNC controller - only this option requires reflashing the controller.
  • Estlcam uses its own controller firmware instead of GRBL. It will automatically create a 1:1 binary backup of the controller and can be restored to factory settings with just 1 click.
  • There is a Shapeoko 3 preset available (I have a Shapeoko 3 myself) - you just select the preset and the machines COM port, press “Program Arduino” and are ready to go.

Whether you use Estlcam or GRBL to control the machine is just a personal choice.

  • I personally think most of you would enjoy Estlcams continuous jog mode (including Xbox360 gamepad support) and the way it handles workpiece setup and tool changes.
  • The other differences are more subtle like e.g. a motion planner with unlimited look ahead and the ability to process hundreds of small line segments per second (e.g. for some 3d machining operations.)

(I’m the programmer of Estlcam - just let me know if there are any questions, suggestions or issues…)

Christian


(Jim Amos) #7

OK, so does anyone here run the Estlcam CNC controls? I see that some folks are using the CAM path features (which are quite nice and versatile)>


(Jude Marleau) #8

Reading about Estlcam in another post, I googled it and watched a video fixing broken paths. Seems to be the ticket I need. My problem is I’m too new to CNC to understand the intense terminolgy. Please advise me if this IS what I need for my broken paths in svg file drawn in sketchup. 2 concerns I have are: !. Does using Estlcam mean that I create the tool paths in Estlcam, save the gcode and than send it directly to Carbide Motion? 2. If I use Estlcam than I will not be using Carbide Create? Ok a 3rd: Can I use Estlcam to fix the svg file, save that fixed svg file and than open it in CC?. I hope please that these are good questions, If the advice is to use Estlcam to fix broken paths in a svg file and than open the svg file in CC than I will dedicate a learning effort to Estlcam. Also I would like to maintain a concerted effort at using CC and CM. Thanks for understanding my rambling (for which I apologize). And of course now I’m the one that needs to be careful what I ask for.


(William Adams) #9

It’s my understanding that EstlCAM runs in two different modes:

  • CAD/CAM mode — this allows one to use the program for drawing up designs, and processing drawn (and imported) designs as a traditional CAM program (but w/ some nifty features, most notably trochoidal milling: http://www.shapeoko.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=7479&p=58821#p58820 )
  • G-code interpreter / machine controller mode — there is an option to install EstlCAM software onto the Arduion on the machine controller to replace Grbl — the EstlCAM software on your computer then interprets G-code and sends very low-level movement commands to the EstlCAM software on the controller. This allows one to use the computer’s CPU for calculating acceleration/deceleration.

Here’s a review: http://www.jcopro.net/2013/03/24/estlcam-first-impressions/

My understanding of your questions:

1 - yes, you can make G-code in EstlCAM using its CAM mode and then save that in a file, and then send the G-code to the machine using any comm/control software including Carbide Motion

2 - there is an option to use EstlCAM as a comm/control program instead of using Carbide Motion

3 - it is my understanding that EstlCAM has very robust DXF import features — I believe there’s a trial available, try that?

My usual suggestion for this sort of situation is to try / use Carbide Create until you run up against limitations in one or the other, then look at and try other software. The principles which you learn while using them will apply to other CAD/CAM and communication/control apps.


(Jim Amos) #10

Does using Estlcam mean that I create the tool paths in Estlcam, save the gcode and than send it directly to Carbide Motion?

It does not support “direct send” like Carbide Create does to Carbide Motion. You’d instead save your CAM paths (created in Estlcam) in “.nc” files, then open and run in Carbide Motion

If I use Estlcam than I will not be using Carbide Create?

See above… only if you choose to not use Carbide Motion.

Ok a 3rd: Can I use Estlcam to fix the svg file, save that fixed svg file and than open it in CC?.

Negative… no SVG or DXF save/export.

I hope please that these are good questions, If the advice is to use Estlcam to fix broken paths in a svg file and than open the svg file in CC than I will dedicate a learning effort to Estlcam. Also I would like to maintain a concerted effort at using CC and CM. Thanks for understanding my rambling (for which I apologize). And of course now I’m the one that needs to be careful what I ask for.

No worries… I am using 2 tool chains (the Carbide Suite and CAD/Estlcam) also using 2 controllers (1 for GRBL, the other for Estlcam). I love everything about the prorgram, especially all the CAM strategies and operations it performs. I’m also running all my STL jobs using Estlcam. I wholly recommend this software if it fits the bill


(Jude Marleau) #11

Ahha It’s Jim again, Thanks Jim, I have to google STL, what, why, and how??? I’m not asking you just advising I’m so new there are many acronyms and terms I don’t know enough about to even question about them. Maybe searching for an svg file editor is the right direction. Thinking about using multiple controllers is way beyond me at this point. Your point of using Estlcam instead of Carbide Create and sending the Gcode to Carbide Motion (when I get my machine in a couple weeks) is a reasonable suggestion as it looks easy to understand since I’m only cutting in wood without extreme tooling requirements. I’ve read they now have restore setting for the audrino(??) so the Grbl(??) original settings can be returned to when not using Estlcad. Maybe that helps me?? Thanks for your help and encouragement.


(William Adams) #12

STL == (STereoLithography) is a 3D file format which defines 3D shapes as a mesh of triangles. Most 3D CAD programs will export to .stl

http://www.shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/File_formats

For an SVG editor, see Inkscape, though once one gets to SVG it’s pretty simple to save out as PDF and then use any Bezier curve editor / vector drawing program.


(Terry) #13

EstlCAM v 10 was released. I got my Shapeoko 3 with carbide motion control board v 2.4c to work.
If you open up the settings and choose Shapeoko 3-GRBL PWM .9-com3(for me).
Before you hit the button on Estlcam, hit the white button on the left below the capacitor and hold it, then hit the button on the Estlcam settings.
It worked for me. I can jog and send an AutoCAD .dxf file into Estlcam.
There is a setting for Carbide Motion for the post processor that needs to be made.
The first file I tried milling the scale is really off.
Going back to the forums to seek out why it is cutting the part too big. (Not to scale).
I read somewhere on another program that Carbide has to be imported as metric then converted.
Hope this isn’t the case. I teach high school and my students know how to use AutoCAD and SketchUP.
Estlcam really is a great program for them to learn. (User friendly)


(Terry) #14

Also had great difficulty getting circles and the belt on the x axis was slipping.
The stepper motor was shipped from the company with the stepper motor mounted backwards.
Flip the gear pulley around and remount if anyone else had this issue I would like to know.
I can’t believe that I am the only person that had this issue.
Maybe I am just that lucky.
I have the settings for Estlcam hammered out and the circles are good.
I am able to carve text and mill parts now.
I highly recommend Estlcam.


(Jim Amos) #15

I’ve not seen what’s new in v10 beside the obvious Mega2560 update and some “color” tweaks on the CAM/Tooling associations. I’ve not upgraded as the Ramps support required yet another CAM reflash and I wanted to run a job.

I agree on the Estlcam recommendation, too.


(Terry) #16

Now I am getting greedy. Does anyone know about 3d wood carving using Estlcam?
Imports .stl from SketchUP. SketchUP has gcode extension. But if anyone has a tutorial it would be appreciated. Right now I am looking of doing a 3d tiger using Estlcam and a Shapeoko 3.


(Jim Amos) #17

STL is directly importable and launches a CAM strategy dialog. You can control size, scale, roughing/finishing, etc… Unsure about your question and Sketchup?


(Jude Marleau) #18

Hi Terry,

Do you mean hold the “prog” button in while you select the Estlcam “program arduino” so that while Estlcam reprograms the board you are holding the “Prog” button in? OR just hold it for a second and let off than select the Estlcam “program arduino”???
I have a newer board than you (v2.4d) and mine does not have a white button but it does have a black “PROG” button, I’ve also read that Carbide3d is protecting against reprogramming by 3rd party software. I’ve emailed support to ask if Estlcam is “protected against” within the v2.4d board. I’ve been “tool pathing” only with Estlcam so far and a svg file saved from sketchup opened into Carbide Create was totally broken and scattered and unusable but the same svg file opened into Estlcam perfectly and all tool paths worked fine.
Also are you using Estlcam to control your Shapeoko ? Please, your comments on this aspect of Estlcam.
I want to use sketchup and Estlcam only as a workflow because of how easy Estlcam works and will soon have my complete Shapeoko station ready to make produce work.
Many thanks, Jude


(William Adams) #19

To reflash the newer boards, see the instructions for upgrading to Grbl 1.1 and CM4:

(I believe that translates to hold down the Z-axis homing switch)


(Jim Amos) #20

You can keep running as you are now with GRBL and CM v2.4. There’s no need to reflash your CM controller board unless you really want the Estlcam CNC controls.

I beleive it only requires an initial press & hold @ power up to activate the bootloader. Same button regardless of color.