Before You Buy A CNC Router
Why is My UCR201 Jog Pendant Not Showing Up In UCCNC?
The UCR201 Jog Pendant requires the user to enable the plugin in the configuration window in UCCNC. If you are running version 1.2037 of UCCNC, you may find that the Jog Pendant does not show up in the configuration window. If this is the case, you simply need to update UCCNC to a newer version which can be found below…
UCCNC Version 1.2049 – http://www.cncdrive.com/UCCNC/download_UCCNC.php
After downloading and installing version 1.2049 of UCCNC, the Jog Pendant should now be visible in the configuration window and you can proceed with the rest of the setup!
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).
Understanding the Homing Procedure
Whenever you open UCCNC, the very first movement you should make with your machine is “Home All”. On a STEPCRAFT, the homing procedure begins with the Z-Axis, then the X-Axis and finally the Y-Axis. Each axis will run towards its limit switch until it engages the switch, then will run the opposite way until the switch disengages. Once all three axis have hit their limit switch, your machine is now ready to travel the full length of each axis!
This is known as a reference movement for the machine. Without this reference movement, the machine has no idea where it is along its axis and may not travel the full length back and forth. If your machine is stopping short of the full length of travel and you aren’t noticing any binding, make sure to “Home All” and try running again.
One important thing to note is that if any axis ever travels in the opposite direction of its limit switch when homing, check to make sure a limit switch is not engaged somewhere on the machine. All of the limit switches are on the same circuit, so if you tried to home your machine and the Y-Axis limit switch was pressed, the Z-Axis would travel in the OPPOSITE direction. This happens because the machine is going through the stage of homing when it backs away from the switch until it disengages. Because the Y-Axis switch was pressed, the Z-Axis will infinitely try to move away but it will never disengage.
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.