Gcode tools for working with sand tables

There are a few software tools I would like to find for working with sand table designs. I haven’t been able to find tools like these yet. If you know of any, please let me know. I think everyone could get some use out of them.

I would like to find a visualizer that makes it easy to jog through line by line. When manually editing gcode, it would be helpful in choosing edit points.

There are two other tools I’m on the lookout for. One would make it easy to “shift” existing designs by a set amount. Example: my table’s drawing area is currently defined as X5 Y40 to X355 Y390 and all designs so far are made to fit those coordinates. I would like to redefine my table as X0 Y0 to X350 Y350, and would like to process my current designs to those coordinates. I’m sure it’s possible, I just don’t know how to do it.

The other tool I’m looking for is not so much needed for the sand table, but for my CNC etch-a-sketch. I need a way to process a design to account for backlash. Normally, I would try and get rid of the backlash mechanically, but in this case, the backlash is internal to the etch-a-sketch. I know it can be done because I’ve seen people mention they’ve done it. Unfortunately, when I see people ask about how to counter backlash in firmware or gcode, they are almost always told to fix their machine instead.

Anyone think of other tools that would be useful for working with sand tables?

 

You could write a script with that Python library that would read in the gcode, then translate each coordinate (or arc) one at a time and write out a new gcode.

You could also manage it with your starting gcode:

Home all axes

Move to New origin G1 X5 Y40

Set coodrinates to 0,0,0 (G92 X0 Y0 Z0)

 

I would again turn to that Python code. I’m sure it’s not much fun if you don’t like software engineering. You’d have to keep track of the backlash direction, and magnitude (estimated) and when you changed direction, you’d have to move by the exit backlash amount. I think that would work ok for things like stars that constantly have hard turns, but it would be worse for circles or right angles. I’m not sure what the physical model for backlash in X when only moving in Y is.

 

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I was surprised to figure out today that the tool I usually use to visualize gcode actually does this. The tool is here: https://nraynaud.github.io/webgcode/.

You have to copy your gcode and paste it into the window provided, and press Simulate. Then you can highlight any line and that segment will be highlighted in the visualizer. You can then arrow up and down through the code.

This is helpful, because sometimes Sandify will generate multiple loops around the perimeter of the design - sometimes dozens of them - at the end of the print. This makes it easy to identify those instances and delete the lines. Also, if you are joining multiple designs, and want to choose a reasonable jumping off point to start the next print, this makes it easy to find those points.