Pulled the trigger! Bought RhinoCAD/RhinoCAM today.

I’ve been using CamBam for a while now, and I like it, but I’m running into its limits, when it comes to non-geometric shapes. CamBam is fine for rectangles, round-rects, circles, etc, but just doesn’t cut it for more complicated shapes.

So, after talking with a few other CNC folk, I’ve decided to get RhinoCAD and RhinoCAM. I’m a bit daunted by the learning curve, and the huge number of commands, but it should work out OK. Loads of support, and many videos on line.

I’ll still be using CamBam, for anything simple, or where I just need to machine some simple shapes, but I’m hoping to migrate to Rhino for anything complicated.

Rhino prices out like this:

  • RhinoCAM 2012 Standard $1250
  • Maintenance Service $300/year
  • RhinoCAD $499
  • Shipping $35 (apparently, it comes with a USB dongle, which I hope will work with my mac running parallels)
  • Visa Service Charge $65.
  • Total: $2,249.52

Which is more than I’ve paid for just about any piece of software, ever. Yikes.

Quick project: A small box

I decided to test out the updating wiring and limit switches on the router today by building a small wooden box. The wood I happened to have lying around was some purple-heart – a hard and resiny wood, sure to be a test for the router.

I designed the box quickly using CamBam – simply two rectangles with 0.25 inch rounded corners. I made the outer rectangle 1.5″ wide, by 2″ high, and an inner rectangle 0.125 inches smaller. This made the walls of the box a very thin 1/16th of an inch in thickness. I added machining operations – an outside toolpath to a depth of 1 inch, and an inside pocket toolpath to a depth of 0.75 inches. This fit well within the dimensions of the block of wood – 1.75″ square by about 6 ” long.

I started the router going, and it immediately started generating a ton of smoke! The bit was smoking like crazy going through the wood. I tried adjusting the feed rate (I had set it at 10″/minute) to make it faster and slower, but it really had no effect on the burning. So, I opened windows, and turn on all the shop vacuum and air cleaning systems, and just let ‘er go.

The top part of the resulting box did not go well – unfortunately, I sanded it off before I took a photo of it, but you can see the remains of the problem around the top edge of the box. I think the wood cuttings in the deep groove that was machined simply ate away at the top edge of the box. I ended up sanding off about 0.25 inches of the top of the box.

I then simply sawed the box out from the block of wood using the table saw.

The box went pretty well, so I decided to make a lid – using the same CamBam drawing, I simply used the same two rounded rectangles and set a depth for an outside cut at 0.1 inches, then 0.25 inches on the larger rectangle. Unfortunately, this didn’t allow any space for the lid to actually slide into the box, so I made another (really easy with the CNC router!) with the inner rectangle scaled down in size a bit. This fits nicely.