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Which CNC machine to select in DeskProto

What to do when the machine that you have is not listed

When starting DeskProto for the first time the "Initial Settings" dialog will pop up, asking you to select your machine from a list. Many machines are present, alphabetically listed on the manufacturers name. So when you have an X-Carve machine look for 'Inventables X-Carve', when you have a High-Z machine look for 'CNC-Step High-Z', and so on.

Choosing a machine is no problem when your machine is present on the list. However, what to do when your machine is not listed ? It is not possible to add a machine here, you simply have to choose one of the machines in the list in order to proceed.

This same issue is also covered in a tutorial video, on page Machine not listed ?

the Initial Settings dialog
The Initial Settings dialog asks you to select a machine,
a measurement unit and a default project type.

These are the three advised options that we have for you, in order of preference:

Option 1)
Check if you see a machine that is made by the same manufacturer as your's.
Say - as an example - that you have a "Rabbit Nibbler 3040" which is not listed. Looking for Rabbit you find that a "Rabbit Nibbler 3020" is present: simply select that machine and proceed. Even a different model like for instance a "Rabbit Gnawer" can be selected: most machine manufacturers use the same NC format for all machines that they offer.

Option 2)
Find which Control Software is used by your machine (most desktop machines need a PC that runs control software) and check if a generic machine definition for that control software is present. Generic machine definitions for these control software programs are present:
  • EdingCNC based machine
  • GRBL-based machine
  • KinetiC-NC-based machine
  • LinuxCNC-based machine
  • Mach3/Mach4 based machine
  • myCNC based machine
  • NCStudio-based machine
  • PlanetCNC based machine
  • WinCNC-based machine
  • WinPC-NC based machine
When you find one you can simply select that generic machine definition and proceed.

Option 3)
When the above two options do not apply then select the machine "ISO plain G-codes" (the machine that is selected by default) and proceed. Most CNC milling machines use some G-code dialect (which is an international standard), and you have a fair chance that this will work immediately.

Select one of these three options, choose your units and preferred project type, and proceed.
As a next step generate an NC file and test if your machine can read and execute it.

In case you have already made these "Initial Settings" selections when you read this: you can also select a machine in the project parameters for your current project and then perform the test.

Machine library dialog
Machine dialog
In the Library of machines you can Add, Remove, Copy and Edit machine definitions.

If Yes (your machine can process the NC file that you created): the NC format that was used is OK.

This means that you have used a proper Postprocessor: this is the part of DeskProto that formats and writes the actual NC file. However, the Machine definition that you selected still will be incorrect. It is important to understand that in DeskProto Machine and Postprocessor are two different program settings, as many machines can share the same postprocessor.

You can find the machine definition in the Library of machines (Options menu). For the machine that is selected you can simply press Edit: you will see some easy to understand settings about dimensions and speeds. One of the settings is the postprocessor that I just mentioned. However, do not yet change anything and cancel now.

What you need to do instead is select the machine definition that you used for the test and Copy that. Give the new machine definiton a proper name, and enter the correct speeds and dimensions for your machine. Do not change the postprocessor, as that setting was correct. Use the Help button when you need help. The Advanced settings are about the optional rotation axes, as not all machines have more than three axes.

As a last step you can can select this new machine definition as your default machine, to be automatically selected for all new projects:
Options menu >> Default project parameters >> OK on warning >> Select the new machine >> OK.

Postprocessor library dialog
Postprocessor dialog
In the Library of postprocessors you can Add, Remove, Copy and Edit postprocessor definitions.

If No (your machine can NOT process the NC file that you created): the NC format that is used is incorrect, and the postprocessor needs to be changed (or you need to select a different machine definition, with a different postprocessor).

In DeskProto that is an easy task as well, which can be done in the Library of postprocessors (Options menu). Again simply press Edit: the dialog shown above will pop up, with a number of tab pages that allow you to define the format of the NC files that DeskProto will write. You can compare the NC code from DeskProto to code in a sample NC file that runs OK on your machine and make the changes that you need to correct the differences (remember the Help button in DeskProto). Then again write an NC file and test that on your machine.

When you feel that this is too complicated you can email us and ask to configure a postprocessor for you. In order to do this we need a sample NC file that runs OK on your machine. We will then configure a postprocessor for you that generates similar NC code, and send you an NC file to test with. And if OK we will email you the new postprocessor. No charge, this is a free service as the more postprocessors we add the better it is for DeskProto !