Dedicated computer for Carbide Motion?

(Frank Zhao) #1

My Nomad 883 is about to ship.

I got a big problem… My desktop computer isn’t anywhere near where I plan on putting my Nomad.

I really wanted to put a Raspberry Pi on the Nomad and just do everything through SSH, but it looks like Carbide Motion is Windows and Mac only.

Is there a secret version of Carbide Motion for Linux, specifically ARM instruction set?

Is there a good replacement for Carbide Motion that can run natively on Raspberry Pi? It would be nice if it had a console user interface so it can be remoted into by SSH, instead of a full GUI that I would need VNC for.

What do you guys think of spending money on a new Win 8 tablet computer? I’ll permanently connect it to the Nomad. The trouble is, the small tablets don’t have USB ports at all. The ones that do are more expensive than I feel comfortable with.

What about my last option, which is to put a TCP to serial conversion server on a Raspberry Pi, and install a virtual COM to TCP port on my desktop, and run Carbide Motion on my desktop but it’s actually sending everything through TCP to a Raspberry Pi, which then sends stuff out USB port?


(William Adams) #2

We list all of the communication / control programs at:

A couple of them run well on a raspberry Pi, and I’m fond of bCNC.

One option for a Windows tablet w/ a single port is to use an OTG adapter — I got one w/ my Toshiba Encore 2 Write 10 and it works well

The only issues for me using a a tablet are the occasions when the buttons are too small and I have to grab the stylus. I did have a Wii Remote connected and jogging and need to revisit that and get in the habit of using it.


HP stream 7 with an OTG adaptor is a cheap barebones option.

(Steve Bennett) #4

You may want to look into a referb laptop from one of the online retailers. Win7 laptops can be quite affordable and you have a tidy package to work with.

(Frank Zhao) #5

About the OTG adapter… I think the HP Stream 7 charges from the OTG port, and if I occupy it with a device, then I fear that it will not charge.

I know I can modify the OTG adapter to supply an external 5V source, but the problem is, I already know that tablets like the MS Surface 3 only accepts certain chargers.

Also yes I’ve seen some of the Linux GCODE senders, can they truly replace Carbide Motion? Which one is GUI and which one runs in a terminal? I’d rather run my R-Pi headless.

Also doesn’t the Nomad have a different motor than the Shapeoko? Different as in, variable speed controls vs fixed speed router motor?

Thanks guys

edit: what’s the controller board inside? what microcontroller? is it emulated virtual com port or could I wire a XBee straight into it and just send commands wirelessly that way?

(William Adams) #6

Some machines and OTG adapters allow charging.

bCNC is a GUI.

Spindle isn’t an issue.

Carbide Motion Board is an Arduino w/ USB connection.

(Frank Zhao) #7

I just tried out a few things.

First… the Raspberry Pi is slooooowwwww. Although right now I’m running X because I have to type in WiFi info, but I can’t avoid having a screen if I’m using WiFi, it’ll be too difficult to troubleshoot if it disappears from my network.

Having a “serial to TCP bridge” was too cumbersome, it occupies the serial port, and I don’t want to actually print a project over a wireless connection. So I would be forced to use the bridge for jogging and zeroing, then shut down the bridge, SFTP over a file, and run another GCODE sender. Pain in the ass.

I’m going to try the a $80 WinBook tablet… Amazon’s return policy is good enough for me to not worry too much about it not being good enough.


I’m running CM on a little Dell laptop that I bought used for the purpose for $150. It has an SSD so it boots up really fast.

But I’m trying to picture how you’d run the Nomad “headless”? How would you do the interactive job setup steps–jogging to position the cutter and settting axis zeros before you get to the sending gcode step?

(Frank Zhao) #9

The thing is, I am probably buying a MS Surface 3 or Surface Pro 4 later on this year. But that tablet would become my main “entertainment” tablet. It’s gotta move around frequently

If it was headless, it would have been done using a Raspberry Pi and operated over my home network. And I would run whatever user interface on my Surface, to do the jogging and axis zeroing. When I want to run a job GCODE file, I would SFTP over that file and run a GCODE sender on the Raspberry Pi.

To do that, I could’ve either found a good software and use it via SSH or VNC, but my second idea was to run a TCP to serial bridge. On my Surface, I could build a tool around COM0COM or COM2TCP and fool Carbide Motion into transmitting GCODE commands over TCP to the Raspberry Pi, and the Raspberry Pi would handle converting the TCP data to serial port.

(Samuel) #10

I bought a Mac Mini on eBay for $120, and it’s now my dedicated Nomad/Printer machine.

I got tired of plugging and unplugging my main notebook. I also figure that the Mini can be more readily sacrificed to the potentially dusty environment.

(Frederic Detienne) #11

I installed bCNC on a beaglebones black. Files are accesible from a samba share so no ftp’ing stuff over. Quite happy with it.

Notice that meshcam generates M6 (tool change) and G1A0000.0 commands that must be edited out. I will write some cleanup scripts for that.


@TotallyFred, what MeshCAM postprocessor are you using?

You can have MC not generate the rotary axis commands. There will be two lines in the postprocessor file like


Change them to


and the A000.0 should not appear in the gcode.

For the M6 (MC puts in an M6 every time it encounters a new tool number) you can comment out that line in the TOOLCHANGE section of the postprocessor by adding a semicolon to the front. You’ll need to have your tool loaded and zeroed because MeshCAM will turn on the spindle and start moving straightaway.




I’m using a TW100 Winbook and a usb keypad without any issues. I posted this a while back.

(Frederic Detienne) #14

@Randy This is very interesting! After your post, I started reading about post processors and this actually addresses a great question that has been bugging me for a while but did not know how to phrase.

I found the doc and googled forums around but I am still somewhat stuck: no instructions for MeshCam for Mac.

After a bit of research, I found the post files in /Applications/

When I save the toolpath, there is no option in the dialog box to select a post processor. It is the plain OS-X “save as” dialog. I can see the extension is .nc but I can’t specify a format.

Also, if I create a new post for MC on Mac, where should I drop it ? The /Applications/Mescham package does not seem a great place.~/Library/Applications Support/Meshcam would sound better but I do not know if this is supported by MC. Then again, I am just asking…

Bottom line, to answer your question: I do not know which post processor I am using as I never knew one could specify one (which is probably why it flew under my radar). :smiley:


@TotallyFred, I’m sorry, the only Mac I have is a Plus so I have no knowledge of MC for Mac.

But it is weird–even though I have a whole folder of posts, I cannot choose a different post than the one shown:

In the Windows MC help STL Quickstart section it says

  1. Click Save Toolpath to save the toolpath.
  1. Select the name and location of the file.
  1. Select the correct post processor for your machine under Save as type. If you’re not yet sure which one to use select Minimum Gcode Config(*.nc).
  1. Click Save.
  1. Click Done in the Accept Toolpath dialog.

And from my pre-Nomad experience the Save as type dropdown does list all the postprocessors in the folder.

I’d suspect it was a factor of the Carbide3d license, but I can’t even choose Carbide3D-inch postprocessor…

MeshCAM’s help file is a little spotty–the only place I could find mention of choosing the postprocessor was in the Quickstart.

I’ll need to do some digging.


(Frederic Detienne) #16

@Randy Yep… this is similar to a screenshot I found while searching the web (the documentation does not mention any of that… aherm…)

Interesting you can not select a postprocessor of your choice.

I attached a screenshot of the save dialog (from the Save Toolpath). No place to specify a postprocessor either. At one point I suspected the extension would determine the post processor but multiple posts specify the same extension so that would be ambiguous (and so I suspect this is not what is happening).

I hope Rob (@robgrz ) can shed some light on this… but thanks again for pointing me in the right direction!

MeshCAM7 .nc file output

I think I’m going to call a bug here. I should at least be able to select Carbide3D-Inch as the postprocessor.

I reverted from my Carbide license to the legacy license and regained the ability to choose posts:

Of course that gives up the Carbide-specific menu choices.

So the behavior definitely is connected with the Carbide3D license itself.

MeshCAM7 .nc file output
(Rob Grzesek) #18

You’re right Randy- the Carbide license for MeshCAM locks the post processor to the Carbide post that’s built in. This is intentional to eliminate the ability to produce code that’s incompatible with the Nomad or Shapeoko.


MeshCAM7 .nc file output

Oh, that is reasonable, Rob. But even the Carbide3D-Inch post is not selectable, for those of us who work in inches…


(Frederic Detienne) #20

Hi Rob, thanks for answering.

I can understand the commercial reasoning behind that but the MC generated gcode is incompatible with the Nomad unless CM is used to preprocess it… It’d be really cool to have the option to generate pure Nomad code as CM has its own limitations.