Easel CNC gcode problems

I haven’t started up the learning curve with Estlcam or some other CAM package for gcode generation yet, but Easel is pushing me in that direction really quickly.

First up the good part - http://easel.inventables.com is very quick and easy to lay out some basic CAM tool paths and get rolling on actually using a CNC router table. I was able to import an SVG, do some basic rearranging of parts for waste reduction, pick a tool for cutting, and generate some gcode very quickly.

Now the bad part. First, the gcode is slow as crap to execute. Doesn’t seem to matter what I set for feed speeds, all travel speeds occur at a snails pace that’s not configurable any way I can figure out.

And second, I swear that if it just cut all the lines in a random order it would be faster than the layout it comes up with. Snails pace slow travel all the way to the opposite end of the piece to make a cut, then back to the origin side of the piece for a small cut, then back to where it was at first for another line segment, etc. etc. A simple set of pieces that should be maybe 20 minutes of cutting time on a reasonably well arranged tool path ends up taking over 2 hours to cut.

So I’ve got two questions for the community here;

  1. Is there anything in the Marlin firmware on the RAMPS that might be the limiting factor on the travel move speed instead? Am I incorrect in blaming Easel for this snails pace travel problem?
  2. Is Estlcam the easiest to use free/open source CAM software that would do half way decent tool path optimization?
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1- Yes, I have not ever tried easel by I assume they use the industry standard G0 for rapids and G1 for cuts. Unfortunately Marlin sees G0 and G1 as a G1…standard cutting speed move. All of our post processors basically change the G0 commands into a separate line with it own feedrate. There is nothing you can do to fix that other than make a postprocessor for easel.

2-Yes/no. it does a good job at optimizations but you can also specify where it goes and in what order as well as cut start points, even lead ins if needed. All CAM is a bit odd as to path optimizations.

I do highly recommend you start messing with estlcam, I can not imagine it being very different once you learn the different names for things and it is extremely powerful if you need it, if not the advanced options sort of stay out of the way. When I learned easel didn’t support Vbits I was very very surprised, I would consider that a beginners function. I have tutorials up (they need some updating as it is actually easier now) and they will get you started. Draw the crown, run a carve cut, from there it is simple.

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It really helps knowing what Marlin is doing. I did a quick gcode export from Easel and can confirm that’s exactly what it’s doing in the file. For the job I’ve got setup in Easel right now I’ll try a quick find/replace process on the gcode to manually set the feed rate on the G0 moves. If I can get this plane to cut at a more tolerable speed I’ll probably just leave it in Easel, but my next project will be on Estlcam.

If anyone’s curious, I’m using the Lowrider with a needle cutter to cut out foam parts for a radio control airplane I designed. http://forum.flitetest.com/showthread.php?36066-Lowrider-CNC&p=373202&viewfull=1#post373202

Thanks for the speedy and helpful reply!

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You will also need to set the next line back to the normal speed, marlin continues using the last speed command it received.