Vote: cnc software - Vectric Aspire

I figure I would make this a lot easier than a back and forth conversation that may not have a result. I propose a vote:
I am saying let’s go big or go home I say a vote for $2,100 for Vectric Aspire. (Coy’s quote below says $1,995. The addition 100 is just in case of possible tax or other unseen fees.)

Coy specified the better software is Vectric Aspire:
“Eventually I’d like to buy a license for Vectric Aspire which costs $1,995 but I believe we can start with VCarve Pro which costs $699 then upgrade later by paying the difference.”

I recommend the vote happen 1 week from tomorrow. Vote date of 1/12. I know I will not be there as I am working 430 to 1am, my vote is yes.
Daniel McNamara

I understand that this is an important piece of software to make use of the tools we have at the hive but that’s also a pretty good chunk of change. $2K? Maybe we should start with the $699 package, especially if we can upgrade by paying the cost differential? What does one package provide that the other doesn’t? Which is a better fit for the tools that we have at the space? Why?

Coy, if this software were approved would you be willing to take over as the CNC warden? Would you be willing to do monthly / every-other-month classes for those of us that are interested but ignorant?

My main reservation with voting yes to this is that this is a lot of money to spend on software the majority of the group doesn’t know how to use. If there were concrete plans to make education available to those interested in learning, I’d be on board with either the $700 or $2K package.

In the mean time, let’s discuss!

This is the first time we’ve voted to pay for software, so this is new territory (kinda exciting and kinda scary haha). To me, there are more facets with this than buying a physical piece of equipment, and as such I expect the discussion to be more in-depth to follow. :slight_smile:

As Lorin said in the other email thread (which might have been missed since it has gotten so many replies in the discussion): "I’d propose a try before we buy period. We have all 3 available at the space for folks to experiment with."

So we’ve got the software at the space right now already to play with. It is my opinion that voting right now is premature.

Something else to think about: sometimes the software that is the best is extremely expensive, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get the second best and still do good work. And sometimes it is definitely worth it to get the best.

I think it is necessary to have a united front when teaching; everyone is taught the same software to eventually get certified on the cnc. I definitely defer to the people who have more experience and done more research than I have, but since this could be a very large purchase for software, I think we need to experiment with them more as a group.

Re: Dave B. - Brad is already the CNC warden, so we’ve got that area covered as of now. :slight_smile:

How do we have a legal copy of a software we haven’t paid for? As mentioned this software appears to have unlimited keys included. If it is a personal key, did they donate it? If so why is this an issue, and why aren’t we using it?

@Dave, I’m fine with the $699 version also. I had to pick one, so like I said I went big, because why make another vote for an upgrade when we can get it all in 1.

Is $2000 out of our budget for a controller software that will operate multiple (and future) cnc items?

Coy can you clarify what the differences from the 699 and 2000 version are?

Honestly I see everything from coys point of view. With the amount of research is done in this field and the fact that he is very helpful with getting everyone up to speed with the process, I doubt he would be bringing up this software unless it was the best option for the hive. I’m not downing anyone else’s request for other software because I truly do not know enough about it to make a bold statement that would say yay or nay to other softwares. With that in mind if we get fully licensed stuff that we are not going to have to worry about for future use and possible charges down the road and go with something that we know is going to be a stable product for a set price, I personally would think it’s worth the money for the licensing alone and becoming a 100% baseline for people starting in the field of CNC. That way if there is any questions there will be many people who can answer quickly as to help solve it rather than using a couple different kind of software is to teach beginners and have it turn into a no I don’t know anything about that program type deal. Just my two cents but as always I could be completely wrong lol

Dave: All this back and forth is exactly why I’m not the CNC area warden. I prefer to get things done with as little red tape as possible vs spending all my time talking about it. A perfect example is the way the CNC eventually got built. The parts sat there for about a year because we couldn’t agree on how the table should be squared up. Everyone had their own ideas but no one stepped up to actually do it. Finally I had enough and some spare time so I badgered a few people and took control of the situation even though I may have been the least qualified at the time to do so.

I would have loved to have been the CNC warden, I spent a lot of time researching what software I felt was best and put together a plan but in the end it got discussed to death. If you haven’t seen the other post my plan was posted there. We would have had classes in September and everyone would have been able to be using the machine by now. Everyone had their own ideas on how things should be done and wanted to do the typical let’s talk about it. One of my requirements was to use Vectric software and people started arguing how we would pay for it or wanted to use something else. I gave 2 solutions on how we could pay for it, the Hive could buy it and we could have had free classes or I’d buy it and everyone would have to pay $50 to get certified. What was presented back to me was that I could pay for it but there needed to also be a free option. I think we all know how that would have worked, I would have bought the software and everyone would have taken the free training option.

I have yet to hear a legitimate response as to why we should use any other product besides cost, which is a factor. My main concern is ease of use for everyone. I’d be willing to bet that if you take any non biased person that isn’t familiar with CAD they would choose Vectric. I think it speaks for itself that when I looked around at other spaces with similar machines that Vectric was their option of choice. At the end of the day it will not make a difference to me one way or the other. I will use my own computer. If we go the Vectric route I’d be more than willing to help everyone out and teach classes if Brad wanted me to.

Daniel: The main differences between VCarve Pro ($699) and Aspire ($1995) is that Aspire does real 3D carving while VCarve Pro does 2.5d see this link for details Everything I have done to date has been done without true 3D. Also if we decide to buy this software there isn’t any tax charged & if we choose the cheaper version they will allow us to only pay the difference to upgrade later.

Elly: How many people really have the time to sit down for several hours with each piece of software to give it a fair shot? Me, you, Jon, Ryan, Lorin, Mike, & Brad probably already have opinions. We already have plenty of facts on hours of research that has been done. Let’s just share our research and get on with it. The longer we take to make a decision the longer it’s going to take to get people certified. I ended up speaking with Lorin this afternoon at the space and I’m not sure he feels the same way anymore but I’m sure we will discuss it at the meeting tomorrow.

If someone wants to download Vectric software, Fusion 360, or CamBam here are the links. Vectric & Fusion 360 both have really helpful training videos.

I’d prefer to start with all compatability. I prefer not have another conversation when someone needs it. Let’s give everyone full compatability from the get go.

Here’s my brief 2 cents:

So far I have used vectric aspire for driving the CNC. I have liked it, online documentation and videos are solid. As Coy said, main difference in the cheaper vectric vcarve is that it can’t do true 3D. However the user interface is very similar, so upgrading would be fairly painless. If Coy is willing to teach classes, buying one of these software packages gets my vote.

I have used Fusion 360 for making/editing 3D CAD models, but have not yet explored its CNC toolpath capability. It’s a powerful program, and I’ve liked the CAD features, although it does have a steep learning curve (very similar to Inventor). It’s free with some strings attached (cloud based). If we had someone offering to teach classes, this could be a good option…but in the interest of getting things moving quickly I’d still go with vectric.

Haven’t used cambam so I won’t comment.


My opinion on this:

I have used cambam and vectric a similar amount (I’ve done about three different items in each).

Vectric is pretty ok. Definitely not worth $2000 in my opinion because it doesn’t have that many more features over other tools. The GUI may look a little newer than cambam, but it is about equally as convoluted. The simple 2D CAD tools are definitely better in vectric, but that isn’t saying much. Anyone who moves beyond rectangles and circles is going to be importing designs from another tool anyways. (I use inkscape to do pretty much all of my 2d cad and I’ve used sketchup for 3d design work) It might be a little bit easier for someone to get up and running simply due to the better polygon drawing tools. Once you move beyond that though it doesn’t really matter. The price is a huge factor for me, because I like doing a lot of design work at home and I don’t think anyone is going to be buying a $2k piece of software for home use. This means everyone is going to be stuck using it at the space on our CAD machine basically. And no, if the hive bought a license people would not be able to install it on their own computer to use at home. It can only be used at the space.

Cambam is also also pretty ok. It is probably worth $150 or however much it is. It can do all of the same gcode generation that vectric can (2d, 2.5d, and full 3d). Its interface looks like it came from the early 2000s, but I like it more because there is wwaaayy less of “oh, I need to make sure I am in x tab and I have run y tool so I can see the button to generate gcode” that vectric has. Like I said before, the 2d drawing tools aren’t as good as vectric and don’t have as much “pizazz”, but once you move beyond circles and squares whatever. The biggest downside of cambam is that it doesn’t have a gcode toolpath viewer (which basically lets you see how the gcode is going to cut something out), but I also generally a bad idea to check the output of a program in that same program. FWIW we already have 10 licenses that cambam gave when Julien asked over the summer.

I haven’t used Fusion 360, but looking at videos it is a full blown parametric CAD tool which has a way steeper learning curve, but it looks really freaking nice. I would stick to 2d and 2.5d tools like vectric and cambam for beginners.

I’ve used a handful of other tools that are open source, but they were all of the variety of “this is only worth the extra effort because it is free/open source” which I don’t want to impose on other people.

In short… if there is going to be a class on making anything past circles and squares, cambam and vectric are pretty much on par with capabilities. The difference is that basically no one is going to be able to afford buying vectric for their own use while you could with cambam, and paying $2k for vectric is a gigantic waste of money. There is no way in hell that it is worth that much.

Doing this vote is seriously jumping the gun. Only a handful of people have experience running the CNC with these tools and we have access to all three plus more at the space. Let’s let people try out different software during the classes first like Lorin said.

So, huge NO vote from me.


if what Coy was saying is accurate this vote should have happened months ago. Yet the way leadership (per coy’s words) have handled this has been do nothing.

Again if we have a license for vectric why are we not using it? And how did we get it?

The vectric installation in Coy’s, it is just on the CAD computer at the hive.

Keep in mind that Coy is saying his interpretation of how “leadership” (aka me) responded.

He wanted to have paid classes to pay for vectric and I was fine with these. I said all I wanted was for people who have learned how to use CNC CAD/CAM tools on their own to be allowed to prove they can run the machine and not have to waste time paying for a class. He said that he wanted anyone who used the CNC to have to pay for the classes and would accept no other answer, so I said no. I don’t want to force people to have to pay to be certified to use a tool when they already know how to use it. That is dumb.

Leadership has nothing to do with any of this specifically. The hive is a voluntarily run space in which members (yes those members do include wardens and those voted into leadership) take it upon themselves to make votes, to improve the space, to create classes or teach people how to use tools, to clean up after themselves, to make neat things, etc.

Everyone needs to remember, that we run because members DO things, not just ask for them. There is only so much volunteering that a small group of people can do for the larger community. So offering to learn/teach/clean/fix are the best ways to see things move forward at the hive.

If there is some confusion, again, about learning to use tools when there currently exists no “standardized and frequently taught class”, we’ve said at every single meeting, and posted on the mailing list, that people who want to learn on an individual basis are welcome to approach those who can teach them on a variety of the tools at the hive. (I taught and certified someone on the big laser myself the other night). Creating and maintaining a certification class takes a monumental amount of time and effort, and it IS something that we are lacking as a space. I think we’re making big steps to fixing that.

So coy, I looked at the examples and to me 3d is something I could use quite a bit. I am sure others could also. It looks it will almost be needed if we got other cnc tools such as a cnc lathe.

If you want to do cnc milling and cnc lathing you are immediately going to fusion 360 realm. Vectric is meant for cnc routing, not milling, lathing, etc.

Then maybe I am reading the software info page wrong but a rotary axis machining sounds like a lathe to me. (This is from a list on the website )

That is for CNC routers with a rotary axis. Search youtube for vectric cnc lathe, look at some of the videos, then search search for cnc lathe, or maybe tormach cnc lathe to see the difference.

You know, Daniel, there’s nothing that stops you from buying this program for yourself…

Already everyone not to be a smart ass but time for a deep breath in and deep breath out, Wausau lol. I can tell a lot of people are very into the idea of what they think this software should be for the hive and if all possible I think it would be awesome if people who have ideas for software could create Pro vs cons sheets and have a quick discussion and lay it all out on paper for everyone’s sake so no one feels they are getting the shaft per se. The last thing I would hate to see you right now especially with the hard work put into this machine would be finger pointing especially by the people that made the machine what it is today and it’s pure awesomeness. I understand a lot of mines came together to create this and a lot of great minds have ideas for where this should go software wise. If at all possible if this seems like a good idea, a date should be set for people to bring whatever they have to the table and cash it out Mad Max Thunderdome style or even possibly Hunger Games style lol just kidding but no seriously have a meeting of the minds rather than going keyboard warrior on one another.

You know Nancy, if I had a CNC router of my own i would. This is for a tool we have at the hive, a community tool not a personal tool.
If we were to purchase software for each individual tool individually most of us be spending more money than we could afford (back to one reason we use a community for the tools) . Your comment (as Kevin put it) was a smart ass comment and I find rude to put it simply.