Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Long Distance Relationship with Taz

There’s a new kid in town that goes by Taz, short for Tasmanian Devil.  You know the one, yea that one, eats everything and anything in its way no matter if it’s wood, plastic, or metal.  Taz comes to use through our good friends at Craig’s List and before that started life right here in good ole Chicago at the home of Inventables where it got a nice black coat and a sticker that says X-Carve.

Taz lives in the garage (who in their right mind would bring one into their actual house) and has a nice little house that even folds up against the wall to keep him tidy at night.

The problem comes in when you want to get Taz to do some work and feed it you must take that nice and shiny MacBook Pro into Taz’s house.  Taz doesn’t play well with others and there is always the concern he will reach out and smack the poor innocent expensive Pro.  Not to mention when the Pro is bossing Taz around, the Pro can’t do much else.

I read this article and really appreciated it.  For my birthday, the bigger set of kids got me a super sweet Raspberry Pi.  Within 30min I had the OS loaded and within a few more hours of playing around I had a set of CNC programs running.

Taz plugs in to the RPI over Usb and I can talk to the programs running on the RPI over wifi. 

I’m trying out a few different programs and can report back on how I like them if anyone is interested.

First on the list is CNC.js which looks very promising.  It picked up the Arduino/GRBL immediately and controlled Taz beautifully.  There is even a nice Pendant web page where I’m hoping to use an old iPad to control Taz.

I did a cut for Tornado to give as a birthday gift and I must say I was very happy with how it all worked.  I drew the piece in Easel, exported the gCode, and uploaded it to the CNC.js webpage on the RPI.  I jogged Taz over to Work Space Zero, reset Work Space Zero, and hit play.  As soon as I was sure Taz wasn’t going to rip itself off the wall, spit at me, and dive through the neighbor’s house, I took the Macbook Pro back inside and started putting Tornado and Hurricane to bed.  I checked on the page a few times and could easily tell where Taz was in the cut and how things are going.

A few things I might work on:
  A camera connected to the RPI that will show up right in the CNC.js page to watch Taz and make sure he isn’t misbehaving.
  A case for all Taz’s controls including a great big red STOP button and pause/resume, stop buttons.
  Some better lights.
  A nice dust collection boom arm.

I'm also going to try out these software programs:
ChiliPepper with the JSON Server serial on the RPI

In the end, Taz and I have a much better relationship when we are a little farther apart.

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