Intro to the mill. Sat Jan 9th 1-3

I would like to have the "intro to the mill" class next Saturday (Jan 9th) from 1-3.

This would be basic safe operation and a walk through of how to load a tool and make some chips.

I could also do a quick talk Tuesday after the meeting if desired.

I'm pretty free Saturday so if someone really wants the class shifted please let me know.

Brad "not a machinist" Walsh

I’ll be able to be there for some of it but I’ll need to leave early to pick up kids.

I gotta leave town around 1 saturday sadly but I really want to hit this class.
Earlier would be great if possible.

I will also be offering a class / event the same day with Brad.

It seems that folks really want to get familiar with our CNC equipment.

I'll be doing a:

"Starting out with CNC - make a thing / how not to kill yourself or lose a hand"

We'll use auto desk fusion360 (free and cool) to make some gcode and do some cuts with Shapeoko and the big CNC. Emphasis on best practices and how to get started with CAM.

I can do it 10-12 or 3-5.

More info Tuesday.

Lorin (not Coy, the hive CNC wizard, but adept) Parker

I’d love to see the 10-12 time.

I would like to do the CNC class. I would propose the 10-12 time.
Then get lunch and do the mill class.

I agree, 10-12 then mill class 1-3 sounds awesome. Maybe I can get a sitter and make it to both of them! Will there be the typical class costs?


I’m going to voice my opinion here on the CNC even though I know it is not popular with some. We should decide on a uniform CNC software package before we ever start training others on any of our machines. I believe we should use a software stack that can be used on the Roland, Shapeoko, and our large CNC so once you learn one software package you can use all three of our CNC’s. The software should be easy to use and learn for everyone, especially those that are less technical but still want to create cool things with our CNC’s. No one wants to spend a lot of hours to learn software if they only have a few small projects. I believe that the people driving these software decisions are not thinking about everyone as a whole and are of the belief that everyone is familiar with Autocad. I believe this software decision should be made to attract users of skill levels and competencies.

The three main programs that people are using here are CamBam, Fusion 360, and Vectric. Here is my opinion on these options.

This software is IMO the worst of the three by far. The best thing about it is that it’s free. Typically you would draw your part CAD or Inkscape and import your file before prepping it for cutting. It lacks several key features unless you hack together a few tricks to make it work how you want. This software also lacks a native way to view your part digitally after it’s cut unless you use another third party application. Trust me it’s not really all that fun or convenient to have to keep importing/exporting files every time you want to make a change.

Fusion 360
This software package is great and free (for now at least). The biggest problem I have is the steep learning curve for non CAD type people. This product is made by Autodesk, the creators of Autocad so if you are good with Autocad this is your program. It does about everything you would ever want to do and the developers are constantly making changes to add the features of other products that are more established. The biggest issue is that the learning curve is steep if you are a CAD type person. I3 Detroit uses this software but it appears that they require you to complete a 10 week class to be CNC certified. If we are cheap and want to use software that keeps others from easily using the CNC this is our best choice and it’s much better than CamBam.

This is the software I prefer us to use, Most of the hacker spaces that I have checked with large CNC’s use this product or a version of it (Columbus Idea Foundry, LVL1, The Manufactory, Tinkermill) and only one didn’t (Detroit I3). ShopBot (a well established CNC manufacturer) ships their white labeled version of Vectric V-Carve Pro with their machines. I believe they do this because it’s the easiest to use for their end users and is very powerful at the same time. Vectric software allows you to import files or just create them inside the software. It also allows you to view your part without using another program. The learning curve (IMO) is less steep than Fusion 360 and is more established. In my opinion using Vectric products is like doing a project in Paint versus using Autocad, both work but you don’t need a fancy complicated tool when there is an easier, faster more simple way.

There was a time (beginning of September) when I really wanted to be the CNC warden. I wanted to have classes to teach everyone how to use our CNC but I wanted to do it in a way that I felt would take the least amount of everyone’s time. Using Vectric software was one of my requirements but several people disagreed with me because they insisted that our free options were just as good or better. At the end of the day I just couldn’t bring myself to volunteer to spend time teaching people CAD when I knew there was an easier way.


I’ll probably be at the manual mill class. Once the times have been worked out, let’s get this on the calendar!!! :smiley:

Thanks Brad and Lorin!!

FYI here are the prices for the three cam tools (since this is a pretty important detail).

CamBam: $150 (I think we have 10 licenses for use at the space)

Fusion 360: Free for hobbyists and students

Vectric V-Carve Pro $700 (there is a desktop version, not sure what that is) for $350

Out of these three I have talked to a surprising number of people at the space who have experience with Fusion 360 and none who have brought up the other two packages when mentioned.

CamBam does some noteworthy things. It can CAM up PCB Gerbers (haven’t tried that yet). It also has better import / export capability.

Fusion 360 is a bit bloated, but best feature is simulation so you can see the tool head and cuts on the computer before you actually cut.

Note: “hobbyist” means you don’t make $30k or so per year with your use of fusion… In other words, free if you’re not a lucrative business.


Just because Fusion is free today for people and companies does not mean it's going to stay that way forever. They originally charged for this software and only dropped it to free to gain traction in the market when they weren't gaining the traction they wanted. Trust me I like Fusion 360 but it's not the easiest for everyone.

Honestly, for our space $750 is not a big deal for software. It's not like we are running low on funds. Having something that is easier to learn, more established,and more widely adopted is much more important IMO. If we were pinching pennies to get by I'd feel differently. Heck if cost is a big deal I believe we could charge $50 to take a class to get certified that could go towards this software. Paying $50 for unlimited use is still a much better deal than having to pay per minute for our laser.

I’ll block off being at the Hive from 10-3 on Saturday.
I think Daniel has a morning availability, and a desire to make a class. Would he prefer the mill or CNC in the morning block?
I know we won’t make everyone’s schedule but let me know if something is preferred.


Coy, I hear you, and the same thoughts were restraining me from doing an intro.

Everyone, Saturday is offered as “meet the CNC”, not “master the CNC”. 2 hours is not long enough to cover much, but I feel that everyone would like to know more about how CAM, CNC, etc works. I won’t be teaching software or “certifying”. So I want to stress that there is no commitment to any work flow or software from me. I just want to demystify this thing a bit.

So here are the outcomes of the intro:

What CNC is
What CAM and GCode do
What Mach3 is and isn’t
About our machines

For the record: this will not make anyone new to this able to suddenly use the CNC solo! We are going to do really simple shapes, make a drawer for a cabinet, and demystify things. You will need to hit the books, watch videos, and most importantly, reach out to get one on one help with other members to be capable and confident with this.

I like Vectrix and autodesk equally. I think Vectrix may be the way to go, but I will encourage fusion or vectrix at this point ONLY for people to simulate their CAM. I will also encourage them to do the CAM and then send the simulation to me, John, Coy, Mike, or anyone who can verify that it’s unlikely to shatter bits, etc.

If I were to weigh in at this point, I’d say let’s start with the concepts and the safety. Without Julien around the CNC area is in danger of becoming the white whale of the Hive. Everyone sees the beautiful machines and respects their power enough to know not to use them if unfamiliar. However, if only 5% of folks use it, then it will lead to resentment. As a long time director of lab spaces at Universities, I am all too familiar with this.

More people will hurt themselves, break things, have bad experiences, steal things, etc if cool spaces if we don’t do some introductions so folks understand the concepts.

It is akin to shooting guns. One starts by learning the parts, rules (don’t point it at people), cleaning, and posture. This progresses to study, supervised range practice, then certification. I spent a LOT of time with an unloaded .22 before I ever shot a target, and it was just as cool. The majority of gun injuries happen because of a lack of understanding, not poor marksmanship.

My plan is not to teach or promote software. My aim is to help people uncover the concepts and understanding of this process.

I think the path to learning all this is in steps. Concepts on Saturday, self study with practice on a computer, using Shapeoko to do less scary practice, practice with the wardens and CNC specialists, and then, after time, being a specialist!

No commitment, simply demystification.


I’ll be ready to start at 10am.

I’ll send out an outline of what’s happening and can make a post on the blog.

Coy, I think it would be great if you could be there. You’re the guy I respect most when it comes to hive’s big CNC and you have a LOT to offer. We could all figure out kinks and future plans over lunch. Same goes for mike, john, elly, etc. It will be a better experience for sure!

My goal is to facilitate peer group learning, not be “the teacher” all the time. This means that I’m willing to take on lame administrative support / programming so sharing is easier for everyone.

Maybe folks attending could bring a pot luck item for lunch? No reason we shouldn’t kick back and enjoy some conversation and food.

Finally, I will be doing another intro (next on 3D printing) in 2 weeks or so. I have set side 1/3 of my work load to develop community projects. I am also hoping to do open hours twice a week for members and folks to drop on and learn, talk, etc. I have dropped my work hours to 2/3 to do this, as I really think the maker movement is important (and to start a book on sharing economies and technological empowerment). So I’m committed to making more of this happen. We’ll figure it out together, just need to get the ball rolling.


I think this is great discussion.
The big CNC is probably one of the more expensive things at the Hive (and one of the more fragile).
It is a careful line to walk to make the equipment accessible yet safe and productive.
Let’s talk about how other places handle this and what we want to do.
Our history so far isn’t that great (someone doesn’t like spindles :relaxed:) but I don’t think there has been any malice.
My bigger fear is someone hurting themselves or someone else. Until you’ve lived through an industrial accident you can’t imagine the impact.

I don’t have any preference on the CNC software. I don’t really think anyone is married to one or the other, this is probably more of a discussion on the money and training.
Perhaps we can setup different tiers:
Basic - you should have the safety training and a basic procedure to cut simple items and follow this specific instruction set.
Advanced - Feel free to use whatever software you want.

These are just thoughts thrown on the table. . . .

Let’s talk more Tuesday.


In the long both. I gotta go cnc as first priority though. I appriviate that.

Has this software ever went to a vote? I personally don’t remember so. If it hasn’t, even with disagreements on it by individuals, we should make it a vote this is where individuals can speak up.

Like Coy said the hive can afford this. And to make our largest tool easier to use? I’m all for that.

For the cnc I think the vectrix is the way to go. My main reasoning is if there has to be a de mystification class then I don't want to have to over complicate the matter with a steep learning curve. I think a standard software will be a great start to have everyone on the same page for training. I don't think it's a bad thing to pay some money for a program that could make the hive a more viable place for a new person to join and use the cnc. People pay for programs. It's a part of life ie Microsoft word. I am sure you all aren't using open office. I really want to be able to use the cnc it's a really large part of why I joined the hive in the first place let's invest some money in a solid program to make the space a better place to work not a place to get frustrated over programs I don't ever use.