4 Axis Hot Wire CNC (Arduino + Ramps1.4) - Complete Solution - RC Groups
Shop our Airplanes Products Drone Products Sales
Thread Tools
Jul 02, 2017, 11:39 PM
Registered User
Mini-HowTo

4 Axis Hot Wire CNC (Arduino + Ramps1.4) - Complete Solution


Looking for a cheap and easy solution for hotwire foam cutting? I was too!

Found some programs online to control a 4 axis CNC machine but, none of them would do everything I wanted so...I started working on my own versions!

It 's all based on open source softwares I found on the internet which I adapted for hotwire wing cutting.

Hardware (easily found on "fleabay"):
- Arduino Mega
- Ramps 1.4 Board
- 4 DRV8825 Stepper Drivers
- 4 Stepper Motors
- Power Supply

Software:
- GRBL 0.8c MEGA RAMPS. Which was firstly adapted for 4 axis by Letartare, further improved by Skwee and adapted to work with the Ramps1.4 board by myself. There are currently new efforts to make 4 axis GRBL version based on the latest 1.1 version, but those are not finished yet.
- GRBL HotWire Controller. The program is a modified version of Grbl-Panel, adapted by myself. It handles 4 axis, controls the hotwire temperature and visualizes Gcode being executed graphically.
- FoamXL 7.0 (Extra): The best Excel solution to generate 4 axis GCode for Wings (very nice tool! It can cut 2 wings out of the same board). A big thanks to our Forum mate Vincent (a.k.a Prop-er) and Mark Drela, the tool is heavily based on their work! Just open your preferred airfoil pattern, input your wing dimensions, machine dimensions and voilá! It calculates Sweep, Twist and Dihedral; Lets you choose the letters for each axis; Allows to specify cutting speed and rapid movements speed; Shows the wing positioning on the foam board and emulates the Gcode graphically.

Setup:
The machine axis are as follows: (at this moment the letters are "hard coded" and can not be changed by user - not a big problem though, specially if you use FoamXL 7.0 to generate GCode, which lets you choose the letters)
- Left Horizontal Axis: Letter "X", connected to "Extruder 0" output on Ramps1.4
- Left Vertical Axis: Letter "Y", connected to "Estruder 1" output on Ramps1.4
- Right Horizontal Axis: Letter "U", connected to "Y Axis" output on Ramps1.4
- Right Vertical Axis: Letter "Z", connected to "Z Axis" output on Ramps1.4

Features:
- XY and UZ are completely independent. Very important to proper calculate machine acceleration.
- Hotwire can be fully controlled (M3/M5 to turn ON/OFF and S"xxx" command to set the voltage output). It can be done in the GCode program or manually (via scroll bar in the software). The hotwire should be connected to "D8" output and is supplied by the power connected to the "11A" input on Ramps.
- Independent jogging control for all axis, including homing.
- Gcode graph visualization.
- Ability to save your own macros.

As of right now it does not support limit switches. Although there are enough pins and is completely doable, I just did not have the time/need to implement it.

Instructions:
- Set up machine connecting steppers to correct outputs (following the diagram/table attached).
- Open and load GRBL8c2mega2560RAMPS.ino to your Mega2560 board.
- Open Grbl HotWire Controller.exe and connect at 115200 baud rate.
- Change the GRBL settings accordingly to your machine (steps/mm etc) on the "Settings" Tab (just change the value and hit enter).
- If you need to reverse the axis use the "step port invert mask" configuration. There are 8 bits (b0 to b7, from right to left), being: b7(Z axis) b6(Y axis) b5(X axis) b4(nothing) b3(nothing) b2(nothing) b1(nothing) b0(U axis). Ex: your configuration is 00000000 and your X axis is inverted. So you need to change the b5 bit: 00100000
- Load your GCode, check if it is what you want on the graphs, adjust the temperature and hit the play button!
(I don´t recommend changing the temperature manually in the middle of the cut. This version of grbl does not support it! only the new version can handle it)

Both FoamXL 7.0 and Grbl Hotwire Controller are quite self explanatory...just mess around a little bit and you'll get the workflow...(if not, just share your questions here, I'll be glad to help).

This package has been working great for me and I've cut some nice wings with it already! Hope you guys find it a simple, easy and cheap solution!

If you have any trouble or find any bugs (the software has a lot of room for implementation), please let me know! Or, if you like, improve the code and share! all source-codes are attached!

Happy Flying!
Last edited by rasciodc; Jul 29, 2017 at 04:19 PM.
Sign up now
to remove ads between posts
Jul 03, 2017, 02:48 AM
Registered User
acicuecalo's Avatar
This is awesome.
Thanks for sharing with us.
I'll try with my home made cnc cutter and comment my experiences.
Rasciodc, thanks a lot!
Jul 03, 2017, 03:46 AM
Launchpad McQuack
Prop-er's Avatar
Amazing work! Well done! I'll have to check this out, and thanks for the credits!
Jul 03, 2017, 06:35 AM
Registered User
Congratulations! Great work and I am excited to try your approach. Seems to fill out most of the holes in my own solution.

Would you please share your tower construction plans as well?

And maybe this could be a separate thread, as I find the tower construction crucial to a good result, and it can be done in so many ways. Even cheap ones that are doing the job weel.
Jul 03, 2017, 08:53 AM
The "pro" in procrastination
Steve85's Avatar
That really does look good. I've always been intrigued by hotwire cutting, and maybe this will be just the shove I need to build a machine! Thanks for sharing.

Steve
Jul 08, 2017, 05:05 PM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by acicuecalo
This is awesome.
Thanks for sharing with us.
I'll try with my home made cnc cutter and comment my experiences.
Rasciodc, thanks a lot!
My pleasure....my pleasure... Hope it makes your rc experience better!
Quote:
Amazing work! Well done! I'll have to check this out, and thanks for the credits!
Tks! Wouldn't be possible without your help!
Quote:
Congratulations! Great work and I am excited to try your approach. Seems to fill out most of the holes in my own solution.

Would you please share your tower construction plans as well?

And maybe this could be a separate thread, as I find the tower construction crucial to a good result, and it can be done in so many ways. Even cheap ones that are doing the job weel.
Hope it is what you need! About my machine, it is actually a very interesting one... It is a 4 axis hotwire and a 3 axis milling on the same machine and same controller. To use as a milling machine the nichrome wire is removed and a horizontal axis is attached to the towers throuhg some very beefy bolts and it has got a spindle on it. All of it is controlled, again, by the same ramps board, using the 5th driver (so it is 1 driver for X, 2 drivers for Y and 2 drivers for Z). It cuts through MDF, plastic and etc very easily.
Right now I am adding a 15W laser to it, so it should be able to cut some depron and EPS boards and do some engraving also...
I'll take some pictures, maybe a video of the machine later if you are interested!
Jul 09, 2017, 08:44 PM
Registered User
Now this is TOP!
My (ancient) foam cutter hardware was collecting dust for almost ten years now . It was running then from LPT port and some PC software on Win98. Outdated totaly, I threw away everything but mechanical parts and steppers.
I already had all Aduino/ramps hardware parts ("on stock", intended for never realized for 3d printer) and after downloading and installing ArduinoIDE, flashing Mega and some wiring, this setup is running! Only few hours of work and machine is ready!
I just had to tune parameters for all axes for my configuration and that's all. Crazy amazing simple efficient. Fantastic!

Thank you rasciodc and other contributors, this is awsome! Great work!
Jul 13, 2017, 11:09 AM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sigismund
Now this is TOP!
My (ancient) foam cutter hardware was collecting dust for almost ten years now . It was running then from LPT port and some PC software on Win98. Outdated totaly, I threw away everything but mechanical parts and steppers.
I already had all Aduino/ramps hardware parts ("on stock", intended for never realized for 3d printer) and after downloading and installing ArduinoIDE, flashing Mega and some wiring, this setup is running! Only few hours of work and machine is ready!
I just had to tune parameters for all axes for my configuration and that's all. Crazy amazing simple efficient. Fantastic!

Thank you rasciodc and other contributors, this is awsome! Great work!
Glad to know it worked for you! Let me know if you find any glitches/bugs...

I'll post some pictures of my machine later, maybe a video. Would be great if you could post too!

Happy cutting!
Jul 13, 2017, 05:27 PM
Registered User

Problem running Grbl Hotwire Controller.exe


Hello !!!
I congratulate the very sought after project !!!
I have a problem running Grbl Hotwire Controller.exe
Should he start on XP widows?
Displays the message:
It is not a valid Win32 application
Thank you and best regards from Poland !!
Jul 15, 2017, 11:42 AM
I can fix that ...
scottsdalejohn's Avatar
Thanks to everyone - it looks like you have the electronic side of the build covered. Any recommendations on a DIY physical unit? I have a reasonably complete wood shop and friends with metal shops, so no I have preference as to construction materials

John
Jul 15, 2017, 01:09 PM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by dj.pietrek
Hello !!!
I congratulate the very sought after project !!!
I have a problem running Grbl Hotwire Controller.exe
Should he start on XP widows?
Displays the message:
It is not a valid Win32 application
Thank you and best regards from Poland !!
Yes, it should run on windows XP as it is a simple Basic Language program. I just ran it in XP compatibility mode and it opened just fine... If you have Visual Studio on your machine I could send you the source files for you to compile it under XP environment. I am not a very experienced programmer so, if anyone else knows how to solve this, any help would be appreciated!

Quote:
Originally Posted by scottsdalejohn
Thanks to everyone - it looks like you have the electronic side of the build covered. Any recommendations on a DIY physical unit? I have a reasonably complete wood shop and friends with metal shops, so no I have preference as to construction materials
You'll have no problems building the machine itself on your wood shop, as I build mine inside my apartment using just a skill saw! If you want just a hotwire cutter you don't need a very sturdy machine as the cutting force is almost negligible.

Since my machine can be adapted to be used as a milling machine it has more structure than a simple hotwire would need. I've attached some pictures but basically, for each tower, the horizontal axis sits and slides on 3 drawer slides and is driven by a GT3 belt for speed. The vertical axis slides on 2 drawer slides and is driven by a threaded rod. The setup is cheap and dirty but does an excellent job for both hotwire and milling.

The drawer slides adds some jogging/imprecision but it's what I had on hand and I'm very happy with it. I don't know where you live but, if you (differently than in Brazil) can buy stuff on internet and not get taxed on all of it, just go online and get yourself some linear slides and proper leadscrews... unless you are more like me and is on the cheap side of things.... on that case the threaded rods and drawer slides will suit you well.

If anyone is interested on the GRBL version modified to drive 5 axis (2 Y, 2 Z and 1 X axis) I can share it too. It can be controlled by any controller that supports GRBL (I personally use bCNC but Universal GCode Sender and other will work).
Jul 16, 2017, 05:40 AM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by dj.pietrek
Hello !!!
I congratulate the very sought after project !!!
I have a problem running Grbl Hotwire Controller.exe
Should he start on XP widows?
Displays the message:
It is not a valid Win32 application
Thank you and best regards from Poland !!

Yes, it should run on windows XP as it is a simple Basic Language program. I just ran it in XP compatibility mode and it opened just fine... If you have Visual Studio on your machine I could send you the source files for you to compile it under XP environment. I am not a very experienced programmer so, if anyone else knows how to solve this, any help would be appreciated!


Hello!!!
Thank you very much for the hint
I checked with my son on win7-64 and it works
In my case I tried to run in vista compatibility mode, and the problem seems to lie in the lack of the Net-framework because it asks for it,
I guess it's time to change the system to Win7
Thank you again !!!
Jul 16, 2017, 06:27 AM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by rasciodc
Yes, it should run on windows XP as it is a simple Basic Language program. I just ran it in XP compatibility mode and it opened just fine... If you have Visual Studio on your machine I could send you the source files for you to compile it under XP environment. I am not a very experienced programmer so, if anyone else knows how to solve this, any help would be appreciated!


You'll have no problems building the machine itself on your wood shop, as I build mine inside my apartment using just a skill saw! If you want just a hotwire cutter you don't need a very sturdy machine as the cutting force is almost negligible.

Since my machine can be adapted to be used as a milling machine it has more structure than a simple hotwire would need. I've attached some pictures but basically, for each tower, the horizontal axis sits and slides on 3 drawer slides and is driven by a GT3 belt for speed. The vertical axis slides on 2 drawer slides and is driven by a threaded rod. The setup is cheap and dirty but does an excellent job for both hotwire and milling.

The drawer slides adds some jogging/imprecision but it's what I had on hand and I'm very happy with it. I don't know where you live but, if you (differently than in Brazil) can buy stuff on internet and not get taxed on all of it, just go online and get yourself some linear slides and proper leadscrews... unless you are more like me and is on the cheap side of things.... on that case the threaded rods and drawer slides will suit you well.

If anyone is interested on the GRBL version modified to drive 5 axis (2 Y, 2 Z and 1 X axis) I can share it too. It can be controlled by any controller that supports GRBL (I personally use bCNC but Universal GCode Sender and other will work).
Of course it's interesting !!!
Styrofoam could be cut in the following way:
Fusion Ultimate Swarf 5 Axis Toolpath - Tutorial 1 of 2 (8 min 46 sec)


Of course, after adding a moving milling machine and changing to a hot knife
As the fifth axis in this way

homemade mini cnc 5 axis Wood sculpture (2 min 1 sec)


Such a hot knife as below
Regards!!!
Jul 25, 2017, 08:26 PM
Registered User
rasciodc - I don't have Microsoft Windows running on anything. Would you share the source code to the Hotwire Controller so I could take a peek and attempt to port it over to something I can use on Linux/Apple? Perhaps a Github link?

I purchased a new RAMPS setup just to give this a try and it all works perfect except the fact I don't have a Windows computer to run the darn controller on. I haven't tried to cut anything yet but that will be the next step. It seems I can get by without the controller (for now) with some G-code-fu. ^_^

Thank you for your work here!
Jul 27, 2017, 07:51 AM
Registered User
dpot's Avatar
there is good reading her and runs on linux

http://www.theremino.com/en/downloads/automation


Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Category Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Discussion Software for 4 axis hot wire Jasongib Foamies (Scratchbuilt) 5 Jul 03, 2017 11:33 AM
Build Log 4-axis Arduino based CNC hot wire foam cutter Søren Vedel CAD/CAM 195 Jul 02, 2017 11:55 PM
Discussion Arduino and Ramps 1.4 for hot wire cutting jerome_ CAD/CAM 3 May 08, 2017 04:05 AM
Discussion Simple but mighty DIY 4 axis CNC Foam Cutter - Theremino Controller (Not Arduino)! pieri70 CAD/CAM 127 Apr 16, 2017 04:50 AM
Discussion FoamCasualty: 4 Axis CNC Hot Wire Cutter tvcasualty CAD/CAM 35 Jul 12, 2010 10:12 AM