MeshCAM UI concepts

Continuing the discussion from Spindle Speed Questions:

I will post several UI designs that will help in this area. If @robgrz so wishes, he may use these mockups, or contact me for further discussion.

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It would also be nice to be able to use letters and dashes in the Tool Number field.

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I just posted a reply in the other, linked thread, to this same effect.

@krekof Yes, but that’s what the description would be for. Then the UI would use that instead of trying to make a human readable summary, which it does differently for ‘Carbide3D’ bits vs manually entered ones.

Also, adding an image of the bit with callouts to the appropriate measurement location would help tremendously. Have the image change when selecting the different bit types.

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Add a new Dialog for editing Feed and Speed settings per tool.

Now selecting the tool, and feed rates can be done together in a new select tool dialog (coming next).

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Managing Feeds and Tools together - hierarchically.
Using good descriptions eliminates the need for the details here.
The details can be easily accesses and edited if required, which should not be that often.

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Very nice designs. They’re clear and appear quite usable.

Toolpath Dialog with even less text boxes.
Use hyperlink buttons to launch the tools and speeds dialog and select.

Parallel finishing image changes with selected cut type, same as tool image changes in tool edit dialog.

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Characterizing each bit would be great, having the system track the wear and tear on each bit would be even better. I.e. # of hours x feed rate.

Being able to import/export a set of bits through CSV files would be great too.

In theory I agree about tracking usage @hooperbloob but I think that would be more apt to CarbideMotion.

Being able to import and export tools and feeds settings would be super easy, especially as JSON:

{
    "Tool": {
        "Id": 101,
        "Description": "Carbide 3D - 0.125\" Ball Cutter",

        "IsInch": true,
        "OverallLength": 1.000000,
        "ShaftDiameter": 0.125000,
        "FluteDiameter": 0.125000,
        "FluteLength": 1.000000,
        "CornerRadius": 0.062500,
        "TaperAngle": 0.000000,

        "Feeds": [
            {
                "Description": "Renshape - Roughing",
                "RPM": 5000,
                "Feedrate": 75.000000,
                "Plungerate": 30.000000,
                "Stepover": 0.010000,
                "DepthPerPass": 0.020000
            },
            {
                "Description": "Renshape - Quick Finish",
                "RPM": 5000,
                "Feedrate": 60.000000,
                "Plungerate": 15.000000,
                "Stepover": 0.010000,
                "DepthPerPass": 0.010000
            },
            {
                "Description": "Renshape - Detail Finish",
                "RPM": 5000,
                "Feedrate": 60.000000,
                "Plungerate": 15.000000,
                "Stepover": 0.010000,
                "DepthPerPass": 0.010000
            }
        ]
    }
}

In this discussion (encompassing the other thread too), keep in mind that Carbide/Nomad users are a small (edit:but rapidly growing!!!) fraction of all MeshCAM users, a number of which have CNC machines wtih automatic toolchangers where the tool number picks a physical tool from the toolrack. Having multiple tool numbers for a single physical tool would be impractical at the least. Even without that, people like me are using pre-mounted and pre-measured tools that depend on a tool table maintained in the controlling software to coordinate.

I’m just pointing out that any changes to the UI need to be applicable universally to the larger CNC community of MeshCAM users. I’ve been using MeshCAM for 12 years through 4 machines now (including the Nomad) with 4 different control softwares (including Carbide Motion) and currently use MC with Mach3 on my Tormach mill. I also need to keep the Nomad tools from interfering with the existing tool numbers I’ve established over the years, of which the 100 series are already reserved. :slight_smile:

@FlatBaller, I like your suggestions since they do seem to meet the wider-audience criterion at least on initial viewing.

Added a simple tooltip concept that would allow reviewing the feeds details while keeping them out of the way.

As part of my learning process, I regrouped this UI into things that seem to go together, so I could distinguish what is similar/something you might want to compare and what is a specialized function. Helped me, might help some of you.

There are ways of making this less busy, like selective use of color, or greying out the stages that aren’t selected.

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You know, I really like a lot of these concepts. I hope Rob implements some of them! If I only had one wish it would be for little explanatory tool-tips that would pop up when you hovered over stuff, like if you hovered over “arc fitting” checkbox it would tell you what the hell that does, etc.

Of course you’d need to be able to turn off this feature in case it started to annoy, but it would go a LONG way in the place of a proper manual for MC.

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+1 for this. Even the standard stuff, like stepover, could be explained with a recommendation – “this should be less than 100% of the tool diameter with an end mill, less than 60% with a ball mill” etc. And a picture of what stepover looks like.

This is of course all because many Nomad users are absolute beginners. I suppose MeshCAM’s usual user base is different, but I figure it can’t hurt to cover beginner needs if they don’t hurt expert needs.

Another reason I did this was to see what all the weird commands like “arc fitting” were, and separate them from the obvious. :slight_smile:

Massive thanks to @mbellon

for patient, extensive help with all this…most of the comments below are his and from Rob’s manual.

Oddballs:

  • Enable Arc Fitting: Try to use circle G codes when possible.

  • Use 3D Roughing: Allows the tool to follow the contours of the part in the vertical direction when roughing. Using this option leaves a more uniform layer of stock to be cut by the finishing section but may require more time to machine because the vertical axis must also move. If this is not done, the roughing will tend to leave a “bumpier” layer.

  • Use Parallel Path: MeshCAM supports two rouging strategies- parallel offset and contour offset. The parallel offset uses a series of lines parallel to the X axis while the contour offset follows the outline of the geometry. In general, contour offset will require more time to calculate than parallel offset. Go parallel or follow the contour around. (noob: When is this worth the extra time?)

  • Mill direction: (Appears if Parallel Path is NOT used) Defines the direction of cut. Conventional move the tool in a direction that makes it push back from the stock. Climb moves the tool in a direction that pulls the tool into the stock. Climb generally gives a better finish but requires a more rigid mill to withstand the additional cutting forces. This does not appear when parallel path is selection because parallel path goes in both directions - there is no consistent direction.

  • Surface angle limit: The maximum angle of the surfaces to machine. Any surface more steep than the specified angle will not be machined. (noob: What do people usually set this to? Is it based on tool diameter/type?)

  • Don’t machine top of stock: This option causes MeshCAM to not machine any part of the geometry that is in contact with the top of the stock. This option is useful if you have already surfaced the stock and wish to preserve that finish or reduce the machining time.

  • Toolpath Order ?? (noob: What does this affect?)

  • Full retracts only: The separate parts of the toolpath are linked without a full retract whenever possible so as to machine in the shortest possible time. This can cause trouble if there is no roughing pass used since the finishing passes expect most of the stock to be removed and a collision may occur; ensure collision free machining. If you have not used a roughing pass then this option will use full retracts all the time. In short: Unchecking this makes things faster, but collisions may occur.

MeshCAM manual on all this:
http://www.grzsoftware.com/manual/toolpath_settings.htm

@spongefile ask me to describe these. My comments were quick answers - and I pointed to the WEB page for MeshCAM that explains them as well. The MeshCAM descriptions are often superior. We should use those.

Thanks as always, Mark, for your help!

Looking at these tool tips it occurs to me that perhaps it would be better to take the approach they use in the Avid editing software, where if you hover you get a very short label that tells you what the button is for (eg “insert edit” etc), but if you right-click anything in a dialogue a little tooltip pops up that says “what’s this?” and if you select it, it opens the relevant page in the help. I’m not sure the shorter explanations are that useful for a completely new user. I realize this might be a great deal harder to code, but since this is all academic anyway - as only Rob will decide what to do - I thought I’d throw it out there.

The more I think on this, the more I look the “tool tips” hover method - just have a long hover before they show (and a control to say don’t show them at all). An optional click to get more make a lot of sense.

@spongfile and I will go over my quick comments and redo them using as much of Robert’s text that makes sense. We’ll expand the n00b help part a bit (not too long).

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