Unsure why MeshCAM and/or Carbide Motion is causing problems [SOLVED]

See my later post with edits. Meshcam wasn’t the problem at all. Carbide Motion was what threw me off…

I’ve spent about 4 hours screwing around with the Nomad and I’ve been able to make the rosette piece without an issue but nothing else.

The first issue was a missing file needed to run on my Windows 7 setup.

Now, I’m trying to load a simple gear dxf into Meshcam and it starts machining a quarter inch above the part. Either the Meshcam software is very counterintuitive or it has a bug.

Later, after I keep trying 5 different z zero settings, it starts the spindle, moves about an inch and then stops and says the job is completed.

At best, Meshcam is very non-intuitive. At worst, its full of bugs.

Vent over for now… I’ll try something else and see if I can get it to work…

If I knew I was going to have to spend hours just to figure out non-intuitive software I would have went ahead and just bought a Tormach. I had hoped the Nomad/Meshcam would be very intuitive but I was wrong.

Based on what I’ve read of it, there’s a tricky bit to setting stock/part zero which some people seem to have difficulty w/.

It was discussed here, and someone posted a video or other tutorial. Let us know if you can’t find it.

You may want to try Carbide Create.

List of opensource / free software options at:

http://www.shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/CAD
http://www.shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/CAM

Commercial at: http://www.shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/Commercial_Software

I have had good luck with meshcam, but what I suggest you try when starting out is Easel. It’s a free, online cad/cam that is dead simple to use. You can export your files in the Xcarve format and it will work pretty good

If you want more control, then try Vetric Cut2D. I have this and LOVE it. Tons of control and very intuitive.

I rarely use Meshcam since most of my cuts are 2D.

I’ve used many CAM systems - from MeshCAM to those costing tens of thousands of US$ - and I’ve found MeshCAM to be wonderfully useful for many small to medium complexity jobs.

Although I recently found what looks like a serious bug in MeshCAM:

I’ve never found another bug in it despite more hours than I can remember working with it (not to be compared to @Randy however!).

That said, it is quite different than every other CAM package I’ve used (there are some similar but I’ve not used them). I found MeshCAM… unusual at first. Every CAM package has “CAM think” and MeshCAM is no different. MeshCAM definitely takes some getting used to.

CAM for CNC is not 3D printing and there are a few somewhat non-obvious things to get right. That said, the steps of a work flow are consistent and make sense once all of them are grasped.

MeshCAM generates G code; it doesn’t send it to the Nomad, Carbide Motion (CM) does. Is CM giving you the problem? If so, I do understand as it takes some getting use to - and there isn’t any good documentation to study as yet.

My first few hours with CM were quite frustrating - I do sympathize - as it just didn’t make sense to me. Now that I see the approach, I like it.

We’re here to help.

mark

P.S.

I use Tormach’s and setting them up isn’t much different than using a Nomad. MeshCAM on a Tormach is no different than the Nomad.

@Randy actually owns a Tormach - of many years of use - and can talk about MeshCAM in detail.

Hi Tshulthise

I have a friend that has tried to learn Mastercam, he programs robotic limbs for a day job and is fluent with CAD and several different programming languages but still found it an absolute mission. I have another friend who is a machinist with his own shop who spent months learning to program basic parts for his CNC mill on the $3,000 CAM package that is integrated into it.

I am good at CAD (Solidworks) too but as Randy and mbellon can probably attest I have sub-par intelligence and a very poor sense of humor but I made this little box My first real project 100% made on the Nomad - what do you think? as a first project on Meshcam and the Meshcam part of it probably only took a couple of hours to get my head around. There was a couple questions I asked/researched on this forum and a little bit of trial and error and generating simulations of the g-code it produced but for the most part I think it’s pretty user friendly compared to other options.

I really hope you don’t give up, as has been said already CNC is not 3D printing, it’s a bit more tricky, but you get real usable parts and it’s more rewarding.

Good luck and keep on the forum, it’s really helpful.

I have a friend that has tried to learn Mastercam, he programs robotic limbs for a day job and is fluent with CAD and several different programming languages but still found it an absolute mission. I have another friend who is a machinist with his own shop who spent months learning to program basic parts for his CNC mill on the $3,000 CAM package that is integrated into it.

I can completely understand this. I’m digging into the really complex levels of BobCAD-CAM and even with experience I’m finding it a bit challenging. I teach machining and CNC and I call this “CAD think” and “CAM think”. It takes a lot of pain to master a CAD and/or CAM package and learning another - or master a totally new part of it - is quite a challenge.

I am good at CAD (Solidworks) too but as Randy and mbellon can probably attest I have sub-par intelligence and a very poor sense of humor

… you sense of humor is fine. We just keep it in mind that the blood is constantly rushing to your head. :joy:

but I made this little box My first real project 100% made on the Nomad - what do you think? as a first project on Meshcam and the Meshcam part of it probably only took a couple of hours to get my head around.

I remember that! Nicely done!

There was a couple questions I asked/researched on this forum and a little bit of trial and error and generating simulations of the g-code it produced but for the most part I think it’s pretty user friendly compared to other options.

The forums are here to make things easier. C3D is working at improving things constantly - something that they have wired into themselves - and with our feedback things will become mature, stable, capable and easy(ish) to use.

I really hope you don’t give up, as has been said already CNC is not 3D printing, it’s a bit more tricky, but you get real usable parts and it’s more rewarding.

I messaged @Tshulthise and I’ll help him out.

Good luck and keep on the forum, it’s really helpful.

Yup.

mark

In MeshCAM, there are two levels of abstraction between the geometry and the machined workpiece.

  1. The rawstock is defined relative to the geometry.
  2. The Program Zero (the zero point for the generated gcode) is defined relative to the rawstock (note not the geometry)

(this is the important part) You need to zero the machine’s physical zero point to the same place that MeshCAM’s Program Zero is placed, wherever that zero is.

Those things done, your gcode will be in the same relation to the physical stock as MeshCAM’s toolpaths are relative to the virtual stock defined in MeshCAM.

The biggest problem people have with machining with MeshCAM is not setting (or paying attention to…) the physical Program Zero. MeshCAM puts a skinny red/green/blue triad at the virtual Program Zero. The default location is the top left front center of the rawstock, but that can be changed by the user.

Setting the physical zero means moving the tip of the cutter to the Program Zero point, and setting the Nomad’s X Y Z coordinates all to zero at that point. Then run the gcode, and it will be in the proper location relative to the rawstock.

Randy

1 Like

Here is a discussion that may be helpful:

mark

‘skinny’ you got that right Randy, it’s if it was any skinyer it would be invisible, I empathise with Tshulthise if he missed it and assumed it might be some place it wasn’t.

1 Like

Some time ago I sent in a request that the Stock and CAD zeros use scaling, fat arrows. When I really stretch out the MeshCAM window on my high resolution display they are both difficult to see, particularly the stock zero.

I know others have also made this observation and request.

I’m a BobCAD-CAM user and it’s IMPOSSIBLE to not see the CAD and stock zeros. In your face obvious.

mark

@mbellon, wait a bit. I’m sure Rob will fix the arrows.

Here is the last MeshCAM V5 release:

The sample part boundary is 2 x 2 x 1.5 inches.

Something has gone wrong in V6 (so far…)

In an earlier era (2006) the situation was like the below (the locomotive wheel center is .400" diameter):

and a few of us asked for smaller arrows. One comment was

The arrows are nice for the initial setup, but they are pretty overwhelming when dealing with small parts. A single-pixel X, Y, and Z line is all that is needed for us small parts folks.

So Robert added the 1-pixel triad option. Show Full Program Zero under Edit/ Preferences is supposed to toggle the fat/thin arrows but is currently stuck off.

Randy

I’m using the non-nomad old version of meshcam and have had absolutely no issues with it at all. And as with Mark I normally use professional CAD CAM in the form of inventor professional with HSM and I find meshcam to be far superior in terms of user friendliness (especially for 3d machining) than HSM.

Inventor HSM obviously allows a ton of customisation and control over toolpaths etc but is far too expensive to really compare with meshcam.

But yeh in summary: love meshcam and find it a pleasure to use!

2 Likes

I’m using the non-nomad old version of meshcam and have had absolutely no issues with it at all. And as with Mark I normally use professional CAD CAM in the form of inventor professional with HSM and I find meshcam to be far superior in terms of user friendliness (especially for 3d machining) than HSM.

Inventor HSM obviously allows a ton of customisation and control over toolpaths etc but is far too expensive to really compare with MeshCAM.

BobCAD-CAM is much the same way. For many simple jobs, it’s hard to beat MeshCAM. When I need complete control or I need absolutely minimal machining time, I use the high end stuff.

It took me a bit to grasp MeshCAM… it’s CAM think was different enough that it took some thought and experience to master it. Once over the initial “oddity” I find it quite easy to use and fly through setting up jobs.

mark

the huge advantage i see is the reduced programming time, so for short runs (very common) Meshcam kicks ass. Some of our local manufacturers here in New Zealand really should look at it.

Edited portion…

Thanks to Mark Bellon for talking me through where I was going South. The problem I had was with Carbide Motion, not Meshcam. My apologies to Meshcam!

When I was zeroing the machine in Carbide Motion I didn’t realize you have to do it TWICE. That still doesn’t make sense to me but you have to click “Zero” then you have to do it again and click “Zero All” or something like that. I was skipping the second one since that’s what I thought I was doing the first time.

Mark pointed out that I have an old version of Carbide Motion also. I expected to get emails that let me know anytime a software or firmware update is available. I’m not sure what that didn’t happen.

Anyway, a couple of hours of headache has been averted with some help from Mark. Thanks again. The general walk through of Meshcam was very helpful also. I would like to see a video that basically just walks through every screen and every variable that Meshcam offers and explains what each does and a basic overview of what to do and what not to do.

It was fun to see this little mill crank out a part so quickly and I love the 3D milling and support tabs. Those make life much easier.

Original Post below…
I’ve spent about 4 hours screwing around with the Nomad and I’ve been able to make the rosette piece without an issue but nothing else.

The first issue was a missing file needed to run on my Windows 7 setup.

Now, I’m trying to load a simple gear dxf into Meshcam and it starts machining a quarter inch above the part. Either the Meshcam software is very counterintuitive or it has a bug.

Later, after I keep trying 5 different z zero settings, it starts the spindle, moves about an inch and then stops and says the job is completed.

At best, Meshcam is very non-intuitive. At worst, its full of bugs.

Vent over for now… I’ll try something else and see if I can get it to work…

If I knew I was going to have to spend hours just to figure out non-intuitive software I would have went ahead and just bought a Tormach. I had hoped the Nomad/Meshcam would be very intuitive but I was wrong.

I’ve made a couple more parts with zero issues. That one simple piece about having to hit “zero” twice in Carbide Motion was all I needed.

The first zero is actually go the screen that can do all of the zeros. The zeros screen lets you actually zero the job.

mark

But why do you need to do it in two steps? Why not just one step? Is there some process that makes the first step useful without the second one?

But why do you need to do it in two steps? Why not just one step? Is there some process that makes the first step useful without the second one?

The first is just to select the zeros screen. The second is to deal with actually zeroing the machine. One is just a UI choice, it’s the “Zero All” that you’re hitting that does the work.

Depending on how one is zeroing, setting the zero may take 3 separate jog and set operations - one per axis. UI choices are largely at issue here. On other systems, all of this is on one screen - but then it looks scary and complex.

mark

P.S.

This is the control screen of my CAMaster. It does everything that CM does… and more… but complexity is exposed.