Freesteel Blog » Getting to a climax

Getting to a climax

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006 at 7:30 pm Written by:

Getting the Online Adaptive Clearing done seems to have captured our imagination. A splash of colour and some careful design so that you do not need to read instructions to work it out has made it look real good. Anyone here who reads this blog is invited to check it out.

It’s still not done. We can’t plot sections of the toolpath or select positions on it yet, and we’re still lacking a post-processor. Also, the job-sheet (the window you get when you hit the “Start Machining” button) needs some serious finishing off. The idea is that the diagrams and controls should be self-explanatory enough to get you most of the way without reading any instructions.

The post-processor is going to let you set the feedrates. Anything else it needs to do? It’ll be on a separate pop-up page like the job-sheet so we won’t have to cram all the settings on one line along the bottom of the main page.

Any other suggestions will be greatfully received.

We’ve promised ourselves that we’ll buy a mini-machine tool (one that works this time) as soon as we see photographic evidence of someone actually cutting a toolpath generated through this webpage. This may take days, or this may take years. This may even take us borrowing a machine tool from someone and doing it ourselves. Who knows?


  • 1. Francis Irving replies at 23rd February 2006, 4:36 pm :

    It’s fantastic! Like magic to see basically Machining Strategist running in a browser. It looks much much better already than it did last week. It’s working for me (in firefox 1.0, if unsurprisingly not in konqueror). Some suggestions:

    Get rid of the text about which browser it works with, and do browser detection based on the user agent header. Make the whole page say “you need firefox”, and link to the download for it.

    The debug stuff at the bottom is distracting. You could make it initial a little link (you know like copyright messages) saying “Debug information”, and when you click it they are made visible.

    The STL model and toolpath dimensions look like they are editable, when they are not. Just have plain numbers rather than input boxes.

    Change the text on the checkboxes from “STL model dimensions (mm)” to something like “View STL model”. The things below are obviously the dimensions without stating it. Likewise put the “Total length” cells below the toolpath dimensions.

    What is “Surf image state”?

    The rotation is still far far too slow on my machine. I think you can come up with a lighter weight thing to draw than the box that you are drawing.

    The selecting point thing doesn’t work for me – I click and it flashes up and does something, but nothing seems to happen.

  • 2. Julian Todd replies at 23rd February 2006, 6:52 pm :

    You’ve found all the bits that don’t work yet. Debug information is just that. No one’s business and usually gets hidden on release. We’ll do some kind of browser detection in a mo.

    Don’t know what’s wrong with the rotation box for you. Is it Linux? We’ll have to ask for feedback.

    The numbers are now a different colour and not editable. They are input boxes which means you can scroll them left and right in the way you can’t do with text.

  • 3. Anthony replies at 1st March 2006, 12:12 pm :


    Can make your webbased application accept an STL model of the stock?

    I would assume behind the scenes you are creating a bounding box of the target STL, but it would be very nice to allow us to put our exact stock to your algorithm. This is escpecially needed if you want real life test cutting from people over the web.

  • 4. Julian Todd replies at 1st March 2006, 12:58 pm :

    This would be conceivable within the algorithm. You’d have to give me more information about what sorts of STL stock shapes you’d want to use (with worked examples), otherwise how will I know what you need?

    There are many obvious features to add to this technology. However, it’s very, very important to get a basic version functioning, useable, and stable before considering building them, or the whole development could go off at a tangent to what people would find useful.

  • 5. Neel replies at 1st March 2006, 1:49 pm :

    I think they want the initial stock to be defined by an Stl . Its for milling pre-machined models or castings. The stock can be of variable or uniform thickness above the cad model.
    The initial stock definition will save air times.

  • 6. Julian Todd replies at 1st March 2006, 3:30 pm :

    If the stock model is generally an offset of the CAD model that is being machined, then that simplifies things because you don’t need a whole extra part of an interface — it can be controlled by one extra number.

    The limitations in CADCAM is often due to the User Interface. If you keep throwing features in it gets too complicated for anyone to find them. And if no one finds or uses them, there’s no point in writing them.

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