Where can I download UCCNC?
UCCNC is the machine control software that moves your STEPCRAFT machine and interprets G-Code. In order to use your STEPCRAFT machine, you will need the UCCNC software as well as the STEPCRAFT machine specific profiles. You can download and install both from the STEPCRAFT Multi-Installer that comes on your orange USB flash drive, or download here. STEPCRAFT will always have the latest compatible version of UCCNC included in the Multi-Installer. If you are looking for the newest released version of UCCNC, you can download here (note: UCCNC may release versions newer than those included on the STEPCRAFT Multi-Installer. These versions may not have been fully tested and may cause some bugs/issues with your machine. It is reccomended to use the version of UCCNC included on the STEPCRAFT Multi-Installer).
What software comes with the machine?
STEPCRAFT, Inc (USA) includes UCCNC machine control software with each CNC system. The only software you need to additionally purchase is a CAD/CAM package like Vectric Cut 3D or V Carve.
STEPCRAFT in other parts of the world gives you the option to purchase the machines with UCCNC, WinPC-NC or without any machine control software.
All STEPCRAFT software, including UCCNC and Vectric products require a Windows-based computer system or a Mac running Parallels with Windows.
- 2 GHZ multi-core CPU
- 2 GB RAM with Windows XP (SP3), Windows Vista, Windows Version 7, 8, 8.1, or 10
- 300 Mb Disk Space (Vectric)
- 100 Mb Disk Space (UCCNC)
- 1024 x 768 graphics display
- OPERATING SYSTEM
- Windows XP (SP3), Windows Vista, Windows Version 7, 8, 8.1, or 10 with 2 GB RAM
If you wish to run Fusion 360, that can be run on both Windows machines and Mac computers natively.
If I use Solidworks CAM or Fusion 360 CAM, do I still need to use UCCNC or Mach 3?
The purpose of any CAM program is to take your design file and turn it into G-Code by assigning tool paths to your project and outputting it in a format that a CNC machine can understand.
That being said, you still need a method of controlling the CNC machine, which is where programs like Mach 3 and UCCNC come in. They are designed to connect to the CNC machine and the G-Code files that you create in your CAM program are loaded into Mach 3 or UCCNC to run the machine.
With any CNC router, you have three main steps to creating a project:
- Design your project in a CAD/Drawing program
- Use a CAM program to assign tools and tool paths to the project
- Use a machine control program to load the G-Code files and run the CNC machine.
There are three basic software program types that you will need to have some knowledge of when getting ready to use your STEPCRAFT CNC system:
- A design or CAD program. Design programs like Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape, Corel Draw. CAD programs like AutoCAD, Fusion 360, Sketchup, Solidworks, etc. STEPCRAFT supports these and many more of the popular CAD/vector design software programs on the market. Depending on what you are looking to do will determine how much knowledge you will need to have on a CAD or design program
- A CAM (computer aided manufacturing) program. A CAM program will take the vectors or 3D model that you have designed and allow you to tell the program which tools you intent to use as well as the material size and the speeds and feed rate that you wish to run for your project. The CAM program will output a G Code file, which is basically common machine language for CNC machines. Vectric programs like V Carve and Cut 2D make this process pretty easy. STEPCRAFT sells and supports the full line of Vectric programs as well as Deskproto Multi-Axis CAM software.
- UCCNC (or machine control software). This program is used to setup, job and zero the STEPCRAFT CNC as well as loading and running the G Code file that was created from your CAM program.
So answer the question as to how easy it is to learn, really depends on what you are looking to do.
For example, if you are looking to do projects that are pretty complex and require that you design them in Fusion 360 or Illustrator, and you DON’T know how to use these programs, then you will have a longer learning curve since you will have to learn the design program as well.
Assuming that you already know how to use a design or CAD program, then the next program you would need to learn is a CAM program, such as Vectric V Carve. The nice thing about V Carve (or Cut 2D) is that the interface is very easy to learn so you can be on the way of making your first CNC project in a matter of minutes. However, as you progress, these programs have a lot of powerful features that will extend the limits on what you can create on your STEPCRAFT CNC machine.
As for UCCNC, this program takes about 15 minutes to learn how to use. Much of what you see on the screen are buttons and features that you will not use (unless doing advanced features like automatic tool changing, etc). There are only about 5 buttons that you will need to focus on to successfully start creating projects on your STEPCRAFT right away.
This video gives you a basic overview of the software programs and how easy it is to get started right away.
Does the machine need to be connected to a computer or can it access files directly from a thumb drive?
STEPCRAFT CNC systems require that they are connected to a computer via a USB cable. Having the machine connected to a computer may not be as convenient but the ability to make file changes and reset parameters of the CNC from the computer saves a lot of time.]
Can I use a Mac with a STEPCRAFT CNC?
Yes! While the UCCNC and Vectric Software both run on Windows platforms, you can use a MAC as long as you run Parallels software which allows you to install Windows on your Mac. You can not run UCCNC or Vectric natively on a Mac (without Parallels). If you use Fusion 360 for CAD/CAM, then you can install that natively as they have a Mac version of that software. However, UCCNC will still need Parallels with Windows.
NOTE: Since a Mac computer is typically much more expensive than a Windows system, and the fact that UCCNC does not need a powerful computer, we recommend using your Mac for the design work and then getting an inexpensive or refurbished computer (desktop or laptop) to use to run the CNC, since the area around the CNC can potentially have dust and chips that might get on or near the computer.