I run Linux and have written a good deal of open source, so I rather like starting projects with Linux and open source…
I successfully toolpathed my own designs for my first CNC project all in FreeCAD, end to end. Worked great!
Now I’m trying to take an opendesk design provided in a DXF file and toolpath it. This is proving more challenging. I was able to use LibreCAD (QCAD fork) to lay out the pieces to fit my router’s 775 x 1270mm workspace. Then the fun really began. I’ve been tearing my hair out with toolpath generation trying out open source options:
- FreeCAD doesn’t recognize some of the polylines are closed when importing the DXF, and if I use inkscape to convert from DXF to either vanilla SVG or inkscape SVG, FreeCAD crashes (segfault).
- jscut I can’t select the parts because it expects them to be filled
- inkscape gcodetools doesn’t actually handle tool diameter and isn’t really set up for cutting multiple parts with multiple operations
- pycam picks up some random bits of line segments and generates garbage
- HeeksCNC latest I failed to build because it is based on older WxWidgets, I think
- PathCAM fails to build (hasn’t been touched for years)
- OpenCAM is written in BASIC and hasn’t been touched for 13 years so I’m not even looking
- I’m honestly losing track of the rest of the tools I’ve tried or stopped short before even trying…
So I think next I’m going to look at non-open-source gratis and trialware. I’m not opposed to paying for software, but I don’t like paying for software that’s inconvenient for me to use (for example, doesn’t support Linux) or that I am not confident ahead of time will do the job. Especially not both at once.
CamBam is the only one I’ve found that runs relatively natively under Linux (packaged up with mono explicitly for Linux). Carbide Create was rumored five years ago to run under Wine, so that’s a possibility. Vectric products have free trials so I could find out. Fusion 360 looks like a rather heavier weight solution that I’m less confident in running under Wine, and I hesitate to “get comfortable” there because I’d worry that at any point they could turn off the gratis license, so perpetual licenses are more comfortable. Booting Windows on my laptop means running it in a VM off a USB drive, so I avoid it when I can…
CamBam starts under Linux, but the very first run says “Your evaluation has expired. Please run CamBam as administrator for the evaluation count to work correctly.” That’s liable to make it hard to actually evaluate. And it won’t let me select the Tool Profile; I select “End Mill” and it returns to “Unspecified”. That seems unlikely to have been missed in a version out since June, so most likely it is limited to the Linux edition. [Problem did not reproduce under Windows, so yes, it’s just on Linux, could be a bug in the mono implementation of .NET] I guess that isn’t a slam dunk.
Dolphin lists more hobbyist than pro users, but doesn’t list a post processor for grbl.
Carbide Create got me an email pretty quickly to sign up for their newsletter as a prerequisite for their free trial, but the followup email with download link hasn’t arrived at this point. So I’m still waiting to find out there. … Arrived the next morning, but there’s no ability to configure arbitrary machine sizes; you may use it for any machine, but it only has size presets for Carbide 3D’s machines. This is fine but makes it a non-starter for my machine!