Carbide Create V7 Beta

We’re releasing our first public build of Carbide Create V7 today with a lot of big changes. The download can be found at: Carbide Create Beta Downloads for those that want to try it out. It includes major internal changes but our testing has shown it to be stable so we’re ready to share. (That said, we’ve changed the file format to support all of the changes we’ve made so please give it an initial test on a non-critical project.)

And now, on to the changes…

Tabs are now a part of the vectors, not contour toolpaths.

We added a new tab command to add tabs to a vector. If you copy the vector, you copy the tabs too. This should be helpful for users that are doing production work where they may want to fine-tune the machining of a single item and then copy and paste an array of them for full production.

Look for the new command here:

image

Text alignment

Text objects now hold an alignment value of Left/Center/Right. For a single line of text that never changes, this doesn’t matter at all. If you have one or more lines of text that will change then this will be really helpful because the text will keep its alignment on the document after the text changes.

We also added a bit of code to update the text preview automatically as the parameters change. We may have to tweak this a little if we get feedback that some machines are bogging down. (It shouldn’t, we were pretty conservative about how often we update.)

Text on an arc

Text can now be laid out on an arc, with the text on the top or bottom of the arc. In the text command, you can set the arc by dragging the center point or the reference point of the arc to get the alignment and radius that you want. If you hold shift while dragging, it’ll move both the center and the reference point at the same time.

When text is on an arc, we use the middle of the text as the baseline so that text on the top and bottom of the arc appear to line up. There’s no reliable “middle” of a font so we determine that by taking half of the height of a “T” as the midpoint. That may or may not be perfect, depending on your particular font, but it seems to get you in the ballpark with our testing.

Expressions in numerical fields

In almost every numerical field we now allow math expressions. Type in your expression and then hit “=” to evaluate it and input the answer. For instance:

  • “1 in=” will change the value to 1 or 25.4, depending on the document units.
  • “25.4mm=” will do the same thing, but in metric.
  • “25/2=” will update to 12.5 (which is convenient for people who want to convert a diameter to a radius, or vise-versa)

These have been useful to us so far but the real win is that toolpath depths, both the start depth and the max depth, can hold an expression and update anytime the project thickness changes. For instance:

  • “t” will use the project thickness and update anytime it changes.
  • “t=” will immediately evaluate as the project thickness but not update on changes.
  • “t/2” will cut to half of the project thickness and update anytime it changes.
  • “t+.01in” will cut .01in past the bottom of the stock and update anytime it changes.

As you go through the change log, you’ll see a lot of notes about bugs in the expression code. This was a deep UI change and we think we’ve got it working well but be sure to let us know if you find anything funky.

Once we get this build tested we’re thinking about adding 3-4 other depth variables so that you can have a few intermediate depths values that can update toolpaths. We’ll see if that turns out to be a good idea.

Toolpaths can be linked to layers

Toolpaths can now link to a layer instead of individual vectors. If a toolpath is linked to a vector, it will recalculate any time the contents of that layer change.

On the surface, this seems like a convenience feature, but we think it’s much more. When combined with the depth expressions above, it allows you to make template files that contain known-good machining precesses where you only have to add vectors to the correct layer and you’re good to go. There will be no need to tweak toolpaths.

For instance, if you have a wooden sign file you might have:

  • Engraving layer linked to a V-carve toolpath
  • Pocket layer linked to a pocket toolpath with the depth set to “t/2”
  • Outline layer linked to a contour toolpath with the depth set to “t+.01in”

All you’d need to do when starting a new job is load the file and add vectors to the correct layers. If you change the thickness of the stock, the toolpaths will update automatically.

ANGLE rendering is now the default on Windows

We’ve found the ANGLE rendering option to work well on Windows so we’re making that the default now. You should not notice any changes from this but it’s worth noting in case anything comes up. (I wish I could share some of the customer interactions that triggered this change.)

G-code is now held in the C2D file

G-code is now stored in the C2D file, not in an external G-code file. This has been a request for a while but it had to wait for a new file format to make it work and it brings a couple of benefits:

  • Only one file is required for a project so the G-code and the project should not go “out of sync”.
  • Because the G-code and the project are stored together, you can always load it back into CC to edit something and then run it again.

The other thing this fixes is a growing support problem. We’ve been dealing with a lot of users who buy other (non-Carbide 3D) machines and then use CC. While it’s great that people are using CC, it’s bad because they’re buying from companies that provide little-to-no support so they end up trying to get us to help them use their machines and it’s not always clear that they don’t own one of our machines until there have been a number of emails back and forth, or a phone/video call. This is now getting in the way of us providing support to Carbide 3D customers so it needs to end.

We’ll be honest here, we also deferred this change because it felt unnatural to have the toolpaths in the design file. We’re not quite sure why it was unnatural other than, “because that’s not how it’s done”. After using it for a few weeks, we’ve become big fans of having a single file for everything and we don’t think we’d ever want to go back.

When you click the “Save Toolpath” button in CC V7 you’ll get a popup to save them in the current file or create a new C2D file. The “new C2D file” option will not update the current filename for future saves, which makes it a good way to output the currently-enabled toolpaths, but keep working in the original file.

The new C2D file also compresses most of the data so there’s generally no space penalty for putting the G-code and the design in a single file.

You’ll need to download Carbide Motion 565 or later, which supports the new C2D file format. 565 also adds a button to save the G-code to an external file if you want to review or edit it outside of CM.

Carbide Create Pro still has the option to save G-code to a standard file if that’s what you’re looking for.

We’ve also been testing this web-based G-code extractor for users that need to get their G-code out without Carbide Motion: Extract GCode from Carbide Create V7 . It’s not gated by a customer list yet, you only need a login for the community site, so feel free to give it a shot.

FInally, V6 will remain available at Carbide 3D for users that want to get a copy of it, or roll back from V7 once we release it.

Rest Machining (PRO)

V7 adds a Rest Machining option for pockets that allows you to only machine the areas left behind by another pocket operation with a larger cutter.

Keyhole Toolpath

We also added a very basic toolpath to create Keyholes without amnually editing G-code, which is what a lot of users have done up to now.

Measure Command

V7 adds a Measure command to make it easier to determine the distance and angle between two points. It’s a simple command but it’s been high on the request list for a while.

Some users wanted to use the Measure command as a way to construct geometry, which is not really the intended use. Instead, we added segment length and angle information to the Polyline command that should make it a lot easier to create construction geometry that you can snap other object to.

Notes command

After several user requests, we’ve added a “Notes” command so that you can add notes to your future self. You might want to hold change revisions, information about the customer or workholding, or where you sourced material for the project. It’s free-form and it’s totally up to you.

Other changes

We’ve made a lot of other smaller changes to make the program more responsive based on test files from users. Honestly, these are some of our favorite changes to make because these test files often show error in our thinking up to this point about how the program should be architected.

We’ve heard a number of comments like, “I don’t know what you changed here but it feels a lot faster”, which is not scientific, but it’s nice to hear.

Going forward

The changes above represent all of the deep changes we plan to make in CC7 so they were the minimum we needed to get done for the first release. The rest of the todo-list items are more user interface changes and changes to commands that don’t span the whole program. We’d like to get all the feedback we can soon so we feel comfortable getting V7 released. Once we hit that milestone, we can get more features added.

CC V7 should not interfere with V6 on your machine so it should be safe to use both in parallel. (And again, V6 will remain available at Carbide 3D )

We’d love to hear how CC V7 works for you, whether the feedback is good, bad, or indifferent. Please reply in this thread so we can keep everything together and not confuse others who are not running V7 with V7-specific problems or comments.

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this is nice, really looking forward to it

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Some great new features here! Regarding Text, I love the way that any change to text is now instantly “auto-applied” versus having to click the “Apply” button to see the effect. That said, the “Apply” button is always grayed out except for an instant when changes are being auto-applied by CC. Perhaps the “Apply” button needs to go away since it doesn’t appear to have a user-controlled purpose any longer.

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That’s actually the plan, but we didn’t want to remove it yet until we verify that the auto-update doesn’t have any bugs in it when used by a broader audience.

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Having trouble with Tabs, and I’ll admit it might just be me. I create a circle and a contour toolpath with an outside offset. I see the 3 Tab settings (“Width”/“Height”/“Ignore Tabs”). But how do I actually add tabs to the circle? Clicking on the circle doesn’t add tabs as it did in CC652.

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Disregard. You said it was in the vector and I didn’t look there. Found the new widget!

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I create tool paths on my desktop in my office, no problem running the latest CC. But CM is run from an old laptop in the shop that cannot be updated to a version that will recognize this new format. Am I out of luck or is there a way to still output individual NC files? BTW, my machine is a Nomad Pro.

So you’re effectively making it very difficult for non-Carbide3D users to use Carbide Create, was that the goal? While I understand the support problem, since it’s shared by any manufacturer that provides actual support, why not make the first support question “What model Carbide3D router do you own?”

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You’d need to run the latest CM or use CC Pro. Getting a Raspberry Pi or a cheap Windows tablet for the shop might also be a good alternative (it might be cheaper than CC Pro).

We’re not into doing anything that adds friction to C3D customers getting support and we have a very wide range of customers. (I’d love to share some real customer interactions that would explain this more clearly, but it would not be appropriate.)

And just to be clear, CC V6 is not remotely activated and not cloud-based at all. It’ll continue to run for a long time.

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@robgrz Bundling the GCODE with the C2D is interesting, but I can see a problem. I often use a single C2D but output different GCODE files for different parts. So for example, mating parts or overlaying parts. I’ve been using layers to keep the parts separate (my socket and cam example).

An example is for boxes, the lid and the box body are different GCODE files, but generated from the same C2D in my world. How will I do that in V7? I will have to keep different C2D files for the different components? Sounds like more work and a maintenance issue when those C2D files get out of synch.

  • Gary
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If you have a design file that has toolpaths for two-sided machining, can run individual paths from that file? Say, toolpath groups or something?

(edit: plus Gary’s question)

This is another good example of what I just wrote above. The practice of generating multiple GCODE files from the same design.

You can export multiple .c2d files from the “Save Toolpaths” button — they would capture the toolpath state at the time of export, just as exporting to G-code currently does, and they serve as a snapshot of the overall file state at the time of export — but you can still use a single .c2d file as the main file and have a single point of control.

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OK…yes. that works…I personally will name it something that will indicate that it’s not the master file. Thanks Will.

MINOR DEFECT: On the File Notes feature (which you didn’t mention, but I was excited to see):
I was thrilled that you can paste both rich text and even images into the note box!!!
image

However - it loses the Rich Text (in this case the BOLD in Is it rich text) and the image on the save. It does not come back when it is reopened.

image

I don’t know if you need to support images, but it would be nice to save the Rich features like bold, italic, strikeout, underline, etc.

EDIT: Font also, it seems.

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Of course not, nor should you. The usual way to do this is to limit support to other users in a forum or require payment for non-customers, guess requiring Pro does this. Can you at least provide something smaller and simpler than CM to extract gcode from C2D files? Or have you made a business decision to no longer make Carbide Create available to non-C3D customers?

Alas, this support issue is common. I encountered it when running a dial-up ISP in the 1990s (we had a support department, our competitors didn’t) and you see it today with 3018 type machines where there’s only one company providing actual support but a horde of other 3018 makers (they’re all clones of a somewhere around 2010 design). I suspect that anybody that actually supports their product has similar issues.

We spent a lot of time thinking this through to make sure the experience would be as seamless as possible. I may be biased, but I think it’s pretty good.

That was not intentional. The plan was to allow markdown rendering when we upgrade to a newer Qt framework in the near-ish future. For now it should be plain-text only.

We’ll take a look at what would happen if we tried to add rich text.

For what it’s worth, we plan to add the ability to read notes for a file in CM so there would be a way to put the design and manufacturing info in there.

We had a long discussion about that. In the end, say we offer a $50 one-time license to output G-code, we now have customers that have paid for a thing, and expect full support. There’s no way to say, “you only paid for G-code, not support”. Again, we have lots of customer interactions that support this perspective.

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OK…THIS:
image

Is going to be another pain in the butt. Any chance you can let me choose the option ONCE? OR Give me a check box to say “Don’t ask me again for this design file”?

It also shows up when I only have one layer — so I have to make this click every time, even if I’m not using layers!!!

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Awesome! I assumed that’s where you were going - as this would be really useful.