As part of mentoring out High School’s First Robotics Team Andromeda One I have learned Solidworks. Since we have a Jet Mill converted to CNC (running GRBL and a Chinese controller) and several of the other mentors, including myself, having CNC routers like the ShapeOKO 2 and X-carve we wanted to be able to have a one-stop shop for doing our design and CAM toolpath generation. There are some generic postprocessors for Solidworks but none seemed to support exactly the post processing options and syntax I wanted to see. As such I embarked on writing my own post for Solidworks.
I downloaded “Universal Post Generator” from Camworks who provides the CAM functionality for Solidworks. This can be found here: https://camworks.com/universal-post-generator/
When installing it is necessary to install it as Administrator. If you do not it will not install properly/fully and may not work properly. I then used this tool to edit a Postprocessor from scratch and compile it into something Solidworks understand. Note, this was not very straight forward and resulted in several iterations of trial and error until I got it close enough. I’m still getting syntax errors on comment lines. For some reason the line starts with an “*” then the line number and then the tool comment. I cannot determine where this “*” is coming from in the post or how to get rid of it. The second issue is the line numbers, These are very much a personal preference but even if they are disabled in the post configuration they still appear on the output in Solidworks. In the end the postprocessor output needs to be post processed to run on my CNC with a text editor to fix the tool comment lines.
You can download the fruits of my labor here: SW_GRBL_POST.zip
I recently purchased a package fo some cheap Arduino Nano development boards from Amazon. For a couple bucks more you get 5 instead of 3. The only downside is they have the CH340G serial chipset. In order to get these to program on the mac and avoid the stk500_getsync() errors a couple steps need to be followed:
- First download the latest serial driver for OSX from the vendors website here: Mac CH341 Serial Driver
- Follow the installation instructions in the readme.
- I had an old driver installed so I removed it first before installing the new driver and rebooting my machine
- Connect the serial cable and open the Arduino IDE
- In the IDE make sure you have the Arduino Nano selected and the appropriate com port
- This step is critical in the Tools menu select the Atmega328P (Old Bootloader) option.
- If you don’t to this you will still get stk500_getsync errors.
Hope this is helpful for someone having these issues.
I finally tracked down the “Blocked Sign-in Attempt” messages on my Gmail account. My old ReadyNAS NV+ had alerts setup on it using my Gmail SMTP. Unfortunately Google has limited access to SMTP unless you allow less secure apps. I didn’t want to allow this on my main e-mail account so I setup a “relay” account that I could enable the less secure access in. Read more
After seeing an awesome Hack-a-Day “RickRolling” Free Wi-Fi access point based on a node MCU I wanted to see if I could do something similar on my tiny 51KB ESP-01 module. While annoying as all heck this “hack” is pretty clever and involves social engineering to rick-roll people. The users is lured in by free wifi that does not exist and then a message of the designers choice is displayed on their screen. The original can be found at Hack-a-day: ESP8266 Mobile Rick Roll Captive Portal – and like mine was based on the work of others. This was designed for a NodeMCU ESP with 4MB of flash – not the 512KB not found on the paltry ESP-01 – although the original “Captive Portal” did run on an ESP-01 it was much more limited in support. This project also gave me an excuse to try out the new PlatformIO IDE and dust-off my unused ESP-01 modules. Read more
Aside from a mouse and keyboard or XBOX 360 console game this is the first Microsoft product I have purchased in around 6 years. I switched to Apple products after spending over $2500 on a high-end Intel Xeon powered quad core HP workstation which was running Windows Vista and having it burn up on me after two weeks of use. Not only that but the windows Vista transition from XP was painful and the constant dialogs that would pop up destroyed my workflow. Based on the learning curve alone and the quality of even high-end hardware I sent back the HP machine and purchased a Mac Pro Desktop instead. I have been an Apple fan ever sense.
Apple products usually “just work” out of the box. Sure there was an initial learning curve and there weren’t a ton of games. For some reason OS X is seen as as a second tier by game vendors still, mainly for how it chose to support graphics. This article isn’t about Apple products though it’s about the new Microsoft Surface Pro 3 and it’s only fair to let you know where I’m coming from. The Surface Pro 3 I am using was purchased from Costco as a package with the click keyboard and stylus. It’s a mid tier model with the following Specs:
- Core i5 4300U CPU
- Intel HD4400 Graphics
- 4 GB RAM
- 128 GB Internal Flash
- Click Keyboard
- Windows 8.1 Pro
- MicroSD, USB 3.0 and MicroDisplay ports
- Docking/Charging port
This is just a word of caution for anyone throwing away, donating or otherwise discarding a computer or hard disk. You may think that your data was removed with a format but you are mistaken. There are many free and easy to use forensic recovery tools that can be used to recover your data. Case in point I found a 20 GB hard disk at the dump in the swap shed. I plugged the drive into my garage/utility computer and began examining the drive. The first thing I noted is there was no partition table and several bad sectors (likely the reason for it being discarded). Being it was a parallel ATA drive I assumed that it was a PC based drive and began recovery using a tool called testdisk on in Ubuntu 10.04 LTS (CNC). This tool can recover otherwise deleted partition tables from a variety of systems. I tend to use Linux for tasks like this to reduce the risk of infection from viruses and it can be done with a Live CD if necessary.