Freesteel Blog » Hook up the electronics, and we’ll make some stuff

Hook up the electronics, and we’ll make some stuff

Thursday, July 17th, 2008 at 9:53 pm Written by:

Still surfing around looking for that elusive Python command-line driven CNC tool which I believe would be a mega-educational resource for our time — and if no funding for such devices can be found, then the education system really is screwed, if it’s not too busy being defrauded [and I had to write that whole article myself] for hundreds of millions of pounds on account of massively incompetent and stupendously overpaid contractors.

Anyway, in the process, I discovered this remarkably charming video of someone assembling what appears to be a machine tool :

Further details are on a site called Instructables, which also has make your own CNC controller and How to make a CNC machine cheaply and easily (out of what looks like wood).

Also, I found a nice little CAM system called cambam, free to download in Windows. Clearly, the machining community (such as it is) has yet to get the idea of free open source software, because such niches would have been prime candidates in any other programming sector. I’m still eager to offer some low-level (but very hard) calculations and algorithms to an open source CAM community, but there’s yet to be anywhere that takes it. Maybe in another twenty years if there’s enough fall out from the free software movement into this sector, which would be likely if there ever was an educational device based on CNC technology, directly accessibly programmed (ie not by G-codes — which are very simple, but don’t appear so at first glance).

1 Comment

  • 1. anders replies at 18th July 2008, 8:58 am :

    EMC2 ( includes Python bindings. Once you have a machine with either stepper motors or servos it should be easy to set up a python script that can dispatch G-code like commands (linear and arc) to the trajectory planner.

    If you want to get rid of G-code and create an arbitrary trajectory in real-time then that needs to happen with a ca 1 ms (millisecond) or less delay. That’s also possible to set up with EMC2, and your program would be outputting a number that goes to the set-point of the servo PID loop. You would then have to worry about acceleration and velocity limits in your CAM code, and it needs to run in real-time, i.e. the position output needs to update every 1 ms or so.

    I will be contacting you about those CAM algorithms when I get somewhere with drop-cutter and z-slice!

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