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Greetings Earth folk!

Alex here reporting from Space Lab!

 

We’ve made a lot of exciting progress this week.

I learned a lot so this post is going to be a little wordy so I can cover the broad strokes of what it’s like to work with this new software!

 

Let’s get started! 

On Monday Jay brought in the Shapeoko CNC Mill (finally!)

Before I could use the Shapeoko, I had to first learn how to use the software that goes along with it.

Getting your project set up is a surprisingly very simple 3 step process:

 

Step 1

Draw out what you want in Inkscape

Inkscape is a free vector-based drawing software that works well with the Shapeoko.

In my example, I just used the text tool to write out my name:

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This was a simple (narcissistic) “Hello World” test I did to get a 2D drawing from the Shapeoko.

Pro Tip:

Be sure when using the text tool in Inkscape that you convert the object to a path! (Select Text > Object> Object to Path, or Shift+Ctrl+C)

If you don’t the CAM software will have an easier time making the tool paths.

 

Step 2

After you save the file as a .svg, you then import it to MakerCam

MakerCam is a Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) software that runs right from your browser, interfaces with Inkscape really well, and has the ability to export G-Code (more on G-Code in a bit).

Basically, MakerCam’s job is to figure out HOW the Shapeoko will create your project

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So here’s my .svg file from before, dropped into MakerCam with the toolpath calculated.

At this point I had set the size of my tool piece, the speed of the Shapeoko and all the other little variables that the Shapeoko needs to know to get going.

Remember that G-Code I talked about?

In a nutshell G-Code is the code the Arudino reads to tell the Shapeoko when and how to move. G-Code looks pretty daunting, so it’s great to have a program like MakerCam that’ll do it for you.

 

Step 3

The final step to getting your project to the Shapoko is to take your exported G-Code and open it up in the Grbl Controller

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The Grbl Controller is how your computer interfaces with the Shapeoko. The blue lines are the paths the Shapeoko will take during the course of the project.

As the project progresses you can see where the Shapeoko is virtually because the blue lines turn green (and there’s a red dot that estimates the location).

 

So enough boring pictures blocks of text:

Here’s a video of the Shapeoko doing some work.

Pro Tip:

If it’s your first time using Shapeoko, do a phantom print (like the video above).

2 reasons to do this; 1.) It’s fun to watch and 2.) It’s nice to get a visual on how deep the Shapeoko is going so you know how to set up your tool (In my case it’s a sharpie)

 

Here it is! Getting the Shapeoko to write stuff out!

 

So there it is! All that work to get a sharpie to write out my name. It’s very cool and I look forward to next week when I get to make 3D stuff!

 

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

Today I had the pleasure of honing my soldering skills by redoing one of the controllers for Project Libity.

My job was to amputate one of the old breadboards and recreate/replace it with a new and improved version.

 

I captured my day in  4 parts:

Part 1: Amputate the Old

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Part 2: Replicate the Layout on a Better Board

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Part 3: Solder it into Place

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Part 4: Reattach the Wires

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Bingo-Bango, you got yourself a new and improved Project Libity controller!

Nothing really new to learn here, I just wanted to show you guys what I was working on.

 

Shameless Plug: 

Yes all of these pictures are taken and posted on Instagram.

If you want to see more of what I like to take pictures of or tweet about (like my own game projects!) you can check me out:

@Im_Alex_Smith

You can see things like Space Lab’s own Luna!

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Later days!