February 23 – March 1, 2024 “Guitar/Guitar-Related Projects” Contest

It’s weekly-themed contest time! Thanks for sharing your cool clock projects made with the LongMill.


Last Week’s Winners

We are happy to announce that Chris Sutherland, Gerard Cochrane, Craig Stevens, Sheryl Thompson, Jeffery Bates, and Jim McKane are the winners of the clock projects contest. Watch out for a prize!


This Week’s Theme: Guitar/Guitar-Related Projects

Share your best guitar or guitar-related projects made with your LongMill for a chance to win prizes in this week’s contest! Think guitars, guitar trays, charcuterie boards, cutting boards, and more.

Have ideas for themes? Let us know by commenting below!

Happy crafting!

#siencilabs #longmill #lovemylongmill #longmillcnc #siencilabslongmill #longmillmk2 #longmillcontest

February 16 – February 23, 2024 “Clock Projects” Contest

Happy Friday! Thank you for sharing your fantastic sports-themed projects created with the LongMill.


Last Week’s Winners

We are happy to announce that Dave Alexander, Jonathan Silva, Matthew Greg Blenhart, Steve Kuzmak, James Russell, and Andy Just are the winners of the sports-themed projects contest. A prize is on its way!


P.S. We will be closed on Monday, February 19th for Family Day and back in the office on Tuesday, February 20th.


This Week’s Theme: Clock Projects

This week’s theme: “Clock Projects.” Share your LongMill-made clock creations for a chance to win prizes in our contest!

Have ideas for themes? Let us know by commenting below!

Happy making!

February 9 – February 16, 2024 “Sports-Themed Projects” Contest

Hey everyone! Thanks for sharing your terrific LongMill tray projects with us.


Last Week’s Winners

We are happy to announce that Kenneth Key, Maxime Belanger, Pascal Therrien, Luis Sanchez, Christopher Weaver, and Ralph Matile are the winners of the tray projects contest. Look out for a prize!


This Week’s Theme: Sports-Themed Projects

Show off your sports-themed LongMill projects this week! Share with us for a chance to win prizes!

Have ideas for themes? Let us know by commenting below!

Happy building!

February 2 – February 9, 2024 “Tray Projects” Contest

Happy Friday! It’s contest time! A big thank you to everyone who shared their fantastic LongMill cribbage board projects with us.


Last Week’s Winners

We are happy to announce that Sarah Morley Selstrom, John Sawatzky, Colby Browning, Jennifer Purper, Henrick Morin, and Allan Sedgwick are the winners of the cribbage board projects contest. A prize is on its way!


This Week’s Theme: Tray Projects

This week’s theme: “Tray Projects”. Share your LongMill-made tray projects for a chance to win prizes!

Have ideas for themes? Let us know by commenting below!

Happy creating!

The Saga of the Spring Loaded Anti-Backlash Nuts

IMPORTANT: This blog post will be updated with more details once we receive the first batch of prototype nuts. They are expected to arrive in the first week of February.

UPDATE TO IMPORTANT: We received the nuts for testing. Good news is that the T8 nuts are pretty good, but the T12 nuts have threading issues. We should be able to fix some of them and have them available for sale pretty soon, and we are working on making sure for full scale production they will have this ironed out.

Back in August 2023, we shared with the world a new “spring-loaded anti-backlash nut”. The basic idea was to address some of the pain points of the original Delrin Anti-Backlash nut which we’ve been using on LongMills since the first machine was released.

Early prototypes showed a lot of promise, so we decided to move forward on iterating on the design and moving it forward. However, throughout the project, we ran into different issues and roadblocks like all development projects.

We now are in the process of producing the first batch of nuts, and we plan to eventually phase in this new design for new machines. Additionally, customers can purchase ones to replace the nuts they already have in their machine. In a way, I hope that this can be sort of a “best-of-all-worlds” solution, over belts and ball screws because:

  1. Unlike belts, lead screws don’t stretch over time
  2. Unlike ball screws, they don’t need lubrication and are dust resistant.
  3. A lead screw plus spring-loaded anti-backlash nut is cheaper than a ball screw and easier to assemble, and also pretty comparable in cost with less complexity compared to a belt drive system (personal opinion kind of)

The only downside of this system is that technically this system is less precise than a ball screw, but in the context of hobby CNCing, totally acceptable and in practice, indistinguishable in this type of woodworking.

My hope with this new design is to primarily address two main issues with the old version of the Delrin anti-backlash nut. The first is the need to adjust the nut. Because the old version uses a screw to push apart the threads and is fixed in place, the user must adjust the screw as it wears down. In practice, this isn’t a big deal since the nut wears down slowly and the difference is minimal, but the issues arise when they are adjusted too tightly, causing premature wear, or not tight enough, introducing more backlash and thus sloppier machining.

The “original” T8 Delrin Anti Backlash Nut and the history behind T8 lead screws

So this is my sort of knowledge behind the history of this lead screw design and how it came to be, at least in our context. Back when we first started the company in 2016, home consumer 3D printing was still a pretty new concept but had established itself in the market enough to have some standardized components used between most 3D printers. One of these standard components was the T8 lead screw.

At the early days of building CNC machines, notably the Mill One, we used standard 3D printer components, namely the T8 lead screws as power transmission for the gantries. We also used these brass nuts that were also standard between 3D printers like the one below:

One of the main issues with these nuts was that since they had no backlash compensation, they would lack some accuracy, especially if it wore out.

We also used some spring-loaded versions of these as well, but they also sort of sucked, mainly because the springs were not strong enough to resist backlash at higher loads.

Spring loaded brass anti-backlash nuts

Going into designing the LongMill, we recognized that using the brass nuts wouldn’t cut it for a larger more powerful machine, so we found another nut design created by OpenBuilds that addressed the backlash issues. And they did work pretty well without many issues. Additionally, there were a lot of manufacturers that were making these for cheap so it was a pretty affordable option in the application, although, over time, we ended up manufacturing them custom to improve the quality of the nuts.

The idea behind the spring-loaded nut

One of the main weaknesses of the original Openbuilds nut is that you need to adjust it over time using only a single screw that is easy to under-tighten or over-tighten, causing issues due to being adjusted incorrectly. We see the issue of motors stalling because of this, especially for first-time users. If we could design a long-lasting nut that didn’t need any adjustment, then we could eliminate this main pain point.

We found some interesting designs in the market that use a “radially” loaded design, which basically pushes the threads into the root of the lead screw. Some of the main benefits of doing so is more even wear in the nut, leading to a longer life and higher precision. Here’s a good example of another radially loaded anti-backlash nut.

The initial designs that we came up with uses two split-threaded “arms” to pre-load the nut. We chose this because it allows us to keep the profile that we need to drop into where the old nuts were.

Prototype 1

In August 2023, we launched the first version of the new, spring-loaded anti-backlash nut. This was a limited batch of 100 sets, which were sold as working beta version of the product so that we could get real-life testing and feedback. Out of the 94 orders shipped to customers, we had fairly promising results.

Forms response chart. Question title: What are some improvements you've noticed with the new Spring Loaded Anti Backlash Nut (select all that apply)?. Number of responses: 21 responses.

The main feedback that we got was that the nuts feel a bit “loose”, and the main suggestion was to use stiffer springs, as well as a lot of people wanting a T12 version to come out as soon as possible.

Here’s some thoughts and notes on the responses and results from our own internal testing:

From our testing wearing down the nuts, the springs were able to account for backlash, but because of the angle at which the forces were being applied and the stiffness of the springs, there was a concentrated area of wear that would affect the performance of the nut.

Concentrated wear on the top edge of the nut

Overall, they did work, and pretty well for the most part. However we felt that if we were going to invest in this system in the longer term, that improvements to the design should be made before full scale production.

Prototype 2

To address the issues from the first prototype, we tried a whole bunch of different ideas to find ways to improve the nut. Some of these include:

  • Using a flexure, but due to the limitations of injection molding and machining, was scrapped
  • Using a circlip as a spring, which worked well but was not easy to determine and adjust the spring force.

We did however try making changes to the bending areas of the arm by tapering them down and having the spring push horizontally rather than vertically.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that one of the other main differences between this nut and the old version is the manufacturing complexity. We have several slots and features that make it a bit more complicated and expensive to make, so we started exploring making injection molding a blank for the nut itself and machining in the critical features.

#image_title

This allows us to reduce the bulk of the machining, which is a significant part of the part cost, enough so that we can keep the same cost for the new nuts as we old ones.

The main issue with the first batch was that there was deformation in the nut itself causing the dimensions to be warped. This meant that the threads were ok on some nuts and way too tight on others. Secondarily the threaded hole did not center properly causing the lead screw to be off-center as well. Thus through testing, we found that this would cause issues with binding.

After discovering this, we went back to the manufacturer, who made changes to the mold, machining, and clamping processes. We also sent them additional documentation for proper mounting to share the context of where the critical tolerances were. After a week of tweaking, you can see in the new video from the manufacturer that the nuts thread on much more smoothly.

Conclusion

At the time of writing, the first batch of final production nuts is on the way, and we will test, assemble, and post them available for sale when they arrive.

We plan to sell this first batch to current users, and if the nuts work well and people are happy with them, we can transition to having them available for kits as well. However, we don’t expect this to be the case for another 6 weeks since we are in production for the complete batch.

February 2024 Production Updates

Hey everyone, welcome to our February 2024 Production Updates.

Media Room and Workshops

Since we’ve moved into our new space, we’ve dedicated an area as a “media room”. The idea is to build a space that allows us to make content more quickly with dedicated space, lights, and machines for filming and education. Additionally, we’ve gotten a lot of interest in doing workshops, and so we’re now looking into planning workshops in the space as well.

If you’d like to provide some feedback and let us know what sort of workshops and content you’d like to see, please check out https://sienci.com/2024/01/10/fill-out-our-cnc-workshop-survey/

LongMill MK2s

Production for the LongMill continues to move smoothly. Orders are shipping out within one week, however we are running low on controller boards. Lead times may get longer this month.

Check out this new racking we got for all of the rails! It looks very visually satisfying.

Injection-molded middle feet that are used for supporting the rails have finally completed production and are on the way to us. We expect these feet to arrive in early Feburary. For those who haven’t been following along on this change, we decided to start injection molding these parts since we make a lot of them using the print farm and we crossed the point where it would be faster and more economical to injection mold them. It should be noted that this change is to improve production efficiency and reduce costs, but won’t make a difference to the LongMill’s performance.

Injection molded feet

The bristles that we use for the LongMill dust shoes have come in earlier this year but we have been dealing with quality issues. We have been able to use some of the good bristles, but we’re also working on sourcing a new manufacturer to improve the quality.

#image_title

We are now starting production on Batch 9 LongMill MK2s. We currently have around around 750 LongMills in stock, and expect to start shipping Batch 9 machines in the spring of 2024.

Spring Loaded Anti-Backlash Nut

Second batch of prototypes

I know a lot of people have been anxiously waiting for the spring-loaded anti-backlash nuts. While they seem simple, these have been a really fascinating but challenging project as we needed to make changes and considerations to the design and manufacturing process of the nut.

For more details about the process of design and making the nuts, I wrote another blog article. The first 200 sets of T12 and T8 nuts are expected to arrive in the first week of February. Please note that the blog article will include more updates once the first batch of prototype nuts arrives.

Vortex Rotary Axis and LaserBeam

Parts for the Rotary Axis have arrived and are being packed and assembled. We have another 300 units in stock now.

Ikenna and Abeiku are also working on a new magnetic mount design and also a riser mount to be used with the Vortex to allow for easier laser engraving on round objects soon, so make sure to keep an eye peeled for that.

AltMill

We have our major components arrived here and are working on putting together and testing the first prototype. Based on looking at the linear motion and extrusions, everything looks great and we’re excited to get everything in to start building the first batch.

AltMill table, Daniel for scale

If you’re interested in ordering an AltMill, make sure to fill out our form.

Here are some other updates:

  • While we have received one set of extrusions, the full batch of 50 sets have had some QC issues and are being worked on now. We expect them to be finished in the next 2 weeks and get prepped for shipping
  • We have received a few additional closed-loop stepper motors for testing and will be working on having them set up for testing
  • We are working with Andrew at Expatria to figure out what modifications we need to make for the SLB to allow for use with AltMill.

Also, check out this new logo that Leandro made for the AltMill.

We are tentatively looking at a launch date for the end of March. We’ll keep people updates so make sure to follow along on the development through the blog and such.

CO2 Laser

Ikenna and his team have been continuing to work on the CO2 Laser. Here’s a photo of the mockup in progress.

I probably won’t be continuing to put updates for this project on the production updates here because Ikenna will make a separate post as updates come. Make sure to sign up for the CO2 mailing list for all updates as they come.

Sienci Router

Testing with the 400 watt motor looks to show that using BLDC is a promising technology and shows that power output even at 400 watts is comparible to the Makita router. However, we feel that to bring the most value to users, having a bit more power will be beneficial since:

  • Cutting using larger bits, such as the surfacing bit causes the Makita router to bog down
  • Additional headroom allows us to run the LongMill faster alongside other future improvements to speed and rigidity
  • Potential to be a viable option for higher-end machines and the AltMill.
  • Creates a differentiation between our router and the Makita router

Having a larger motor is more expensive, but still within our budget. Pricing is still yet to be determined, but we believe that if we have an option around the $250 mark will allow us to provide a tool that sits somewhere between a traditional router like the Makita RT0701 and a 3 phase spindle.

A second batch of motor samples are expected to ship in the first week of Feburary. We are also in the design and sourcing stage for the motor body and bearings.

A section view of one of the router designs

SuperLongBoard

Development continues for the SLB and third version prototype is currently in testing. Here’s some news:

  • SLB resources continue to be developed ahead of shipping
  • E-stop injection molded case, buttons, and circuitry have arrived for testing, and have started on full scale production
  • Enclosure parts are getting prepared for shipping

Otherwise we are just working through general bug fixes and testing as usual.

Demand for the SLB has been strong, and we are expecting to sell out of the first batch before we start shipping, so we are working on

If you haven’t checked out Chris’ last update, make sure to read it here.

January 26 – February 2, 2024 “Cribbage Board Projects” Contest

Hey there! It’s that time of the week again – contest time! Big thanks to everyone who’s been sharing their awesome 2.5D/3D projects with us.

Last Week’s Winners

We are happy to announce that Adam M Lehman, Chuck Gosselin, Greg Simpson, Norm Emery, Johnny Sykes, and Matt Loll are the winners of the 2.5D/3D projects contest Watch out for a prize!


This Week’s Theme: 2.5D/3D Projects

This week’s theme: “Cribbage Board Projects.” Share your LongMill-made cribbage board creations for a chance to win cool prizes! 

Have ideas for themes? Let us know by commenting below!

Happy crafting!

SLB January Updates

Hey all! Chris here again with some more juicy SLB updates

There’s been a lot of great news to come since you last saw me with my major SLB update post at the start of November, and then our very successful SLB launch on December 4th. If you missed them feel free to look back and get caught up:

What an Exciting Start

Firstly, thank you to all of you who have pre-ordered! We sold almost half of our first batch of 500 in the first 3 days, and are now at 357 total pre-sales, we might be sold out before we’ve even shipped the first board! Me and the whole team behind this effort really appreciate the trust and excitement we’ve seen for the SuperLongBoard and will keep working diligently to come out with something that we’re proud with and in a timely manner.

Thumbs up from one of our test setups at the new Sienci HQ!

Just a reminder that we’ll still be sticking to our word and offering anyone who orders an SLB before Jan 31, 2024 a reduced price, this means that if you’d like to show us some early support in this project and save some bucks while you’re at it, you’ve only got less than a week left to join the pre-orders 🙂

Some Meat and Potatoes

SLB Beta testing and board development rolls on 🚂. Since you last heard from me late December, nothing notable was hinted to since there’s A LOT of complexity to timing a product like this that has been going on behind the scenes. The one fun you might’ve seen was an SLB-powered Christmas Tree display which was a great break for me to enjoy a hands-on project, especially after the many countless hours I’ve spent recently behind a computer on documentation, emails, bug testing: https://www.facebook.com/groups/mill.one/posts/1811830652621591/

Happy SLB-mas!

Getting along to the juicy stuff, the SLB production progress has been continuing to pass more milestones:

  • SLB Enclosure 3D design finalized
  • E-stop PCB finally designed after the hurdle of the E-stop connector not being able to be tracked down so we got around it by attaching a connector to the other side
  • Enclosure samples arrived, tweaks made, production started
  • Major slowdown in receiving new SLB prototypes because of shipping confusion from UPS since we moved offices
  • Now at 5 Beta testers who are all talking on an the expanding private SLB Forum (will become public at launch)
  • E-stop samples and sample 2.5m E-stop cable arrived (longer length allows for more options on where to place the E-stop)
  • Found we won’t be hitting any major roadblocks when it comes to certification
  • Manufacturing of E-stop wires and injection molded E-stop enclosure complete
  • Manual & documentation now reaching reasonable progression in outlining all board features and testers now having hands on with the majority of options the new board makes available
Most-finalized SLB design, basically ready to go!

I hope you’re all as excited as I am about all those major steps that have been taken. We’ve also been iterating very quickly on improvements to the SLB’s firmware and bringing gSender up-to-speed to properly support the new board. These we know we have more time to complete since physical production is the MOST important to move along ASAP, but software and Firmware is still great to put our minds at ease to ensure everything works as expected as soon as possible:

  • 6 new SLB firmware versions since my last big update, now at 5.0.1 which fixes and improves some great stuff
  • Status light overrides
  • Improved PWM switching with separate inversion control
  • TLS inversion should now be fixed
  • SwitchBank control now happens over software
  • Laser will be changed back to not be default behaviour for safety reasons, but gSender is being worked on to support easier changing between Spindle and Laser
  • 3 more gSender Edge builds and now the new 1.4.0 Main version to better support SLB (see more about it here: https://sienci.com/2024/01/23/gsender-1-4-0-release-rotary-grblhal-jobs-stats-and-more/)
  • Controller jogging finally smoothed out, improved time estimation, more progress to resolve HAL Rotary behaviour, among other things
  • Whole ordeal now almost straightening out where we had massive delays due to software certification regulatory changes, requiring us to reapply and have our costs doubled to $800/yr just to be a trusted distributor

Here’s some more detail you can see on some of those points. Please read to the end if you want to see information about the remaining steps we have ahead of us and where my thoughts currently lay for the delivery timeline ↓

Finalized SLB Enclosure and E-stop

Sooo much iteration we went through to try to make a from-factor we were happy with

To give some context, we started ideating the enclosure the SLB would fit inside before the board even existed! We wanted to make sure it would accomplish a range of things to accomodate all the new plugs, keep wiring clean, look nice but also robust, not break the bank since the value should be coming from the board itself, and much more. A while ago I even started a thread on our forum when I thought I’d finally reached the end of our design vision (https://forum.sienci.com/t/official-call-for-feedback-on-new-board-in-development/8519/)….. aaand it was met with mixed reviews. In light of this we went back to the drawing board and I hope what we came up with will be able to meet everyones needs.

Finalized aluminum SLB enclosure and cable, E-stop to be injection moulded

This new design should give the best of both worlds! Universal flat mounting via flanges to accommodate a range of setups or machines inside enclosures, with a subtle bracket that will allow for Y-axis rail mounting for any LongMill MK2 owner if they want to keep all their wiring tidy and together. The front is easy to open and allows some wire management inside the enclosure itself, with most wires going out the rear, and I’m sure you’ll be happy to see how the status lights turned when we do a final reveal. You can also see the detached E-stop with it’s longer cable and 3 customizable Action buttons! These will all come standard with each SLB kit

Beta Testing

We’re in our final push on Beta testing to see if we can find any last issues with the board. This process has been ongoing for several months now with us finding little quirks here and there – but luckily most of these have been easy fixes that weren’t due to the boards themselves and instead the software or firmware. Below you can see a new setup for one of the testers, and if you pay close attention you’ll see some of them posting updates on their testing experiences on our Facebook group or Forum (like https://www.facebook.com/groups/mill.one/posts/1829844527486870/).

I rotated this picture to fit better onto the page, sorry Ian 😐

Documentation

A labour of love to keep our level of product support to the standard you’ve come to expect from us, we’ve now passed 50 pages of documentation covering all aspects of mounting, features, configuration and more for the SLBs. Another thing I wanted to let everyone know of is that one of my goals for this year is to transition all of Sienci’s documentation to be publicly contributable so that anyone can submit improvements or entirely new write-ups on how to use our products and just to share CNC resources in general. I’m very excited about this prospect and hope that I can do it in a way that best honours our ever-growing community.

Ongoing work on over 50 pages of documentation on all aspects of the SuperLongBoard

What this all Means

It means we’ve been working hard and seeing results! There’s still many more steps to go though, and with now everything in production except the boards themselves, I have to admit that the March delivery date might push into the end of March or start of April depending on our luck with slowdowns overseas from Lunar New Year. The board design as of tonight is fully complete with any other small tweaks we felt it needed to be ready for production, so the last thing holding us back is any remaining feedback from Beta testers that might tell us that there’s anything else we might’ve missed on the boards – otherwise if we have the confidence then that would be the last big piece of the puzzle completed. We want to try the best we can to not miss anything and have been trying to run Beta testing and in-house tests for over 5 months now to gain the confidence that we hope to see play out once everyone else gets their hands on the SLB.

Most recent round of prototypes being sent out to Testers to collect as much feedback as we can

Any other remaining steps and timeline as we start to see the light at the end of the tunnel:

  • Ongoing Internal validation on the new batch of boards, between Johann on General checks and Ikenna on LaserBeam compatibility alongside Expatria on their own setups we’re doing one last big effort to ensure boards can begin production and Firmware is as progressed as possible 
  • As of the start of this week and until the end of next week, the -hopefully- last version of the board prototypes arrived in the hands of Beta testers alongside the mostly finalized E-stop, enclosure, and new firmware. We’ll be looking for any remaining feedback to hopefully conclude any remaining findings they can provide before we begin production: using the E-stop and Action buttons, the form-factor and fitment of the enclosure, anything else they’d still like to see improved or fixed with their SLB experience
  • Continuing to order full 500 quantities of anything we’re sure about like the thumbscrews that just arrived today and will soon be starting to vet USB-C cables
  • Board PCB production should begin the last week of January or first week of February, and in the meantime we’ll be pre-ordering all the board components to hopefully reduce production time
  • Design box packaging
  • Start to prepare jigs and processes for QA
  • Throughout February and until we begin shipping, continue to make updates to FAQs, short videos to show board capabilities, SLB Manual, gSender HAL support, and SLB Firmware

Me and the SLB and gSender teams have been, and will continue to be, working diligently as the March delivery window continues to approach. This has been an especially big project for us to undertake so we want to do whatever we can to set up the SLB to succeed. As 2024 starts to pick up steam, I’m really excited for the impact that the SuperLongBoard might have on the future of hobby CNCs and hope to be proud of the 1.5 years spent to bring it to life.

Watch out for more videos I’ll put out to show what the board can do and feel free to keep asking questions 👍

gS release schedule

Please let us know what you think of the new 1.4.0 (https://sienci.com/gsender/)! It’s an accumulation of over a years worth of work in a package that we called “Fundamentals”. We wanted to bring new things to the table but also really take the time to go back into what fundamental things we could improve about gSender to make the day-to-day CNC experience more pleasant and reliable. This included new joystick controls, touch plate probing on all corners, much more accurate time estimation, faster file loading, endeavouring into maintenance reminders, and more. We know it may have a couple bugs in it here and there but we’re committed to fix those in the coming weeks and make 1.4.0 the new, best version of gSender for everyone to use!

Our next big push we’ve decided to call “New U”, where we’ll be aiming to take everything we’ve learned about the CNC control experience and put it to work in doing a complete overhaul on gSender’s UI. I know this may be a polarizing topic but we do feel like we can take something that we already felt we’ve done so well on and push it even further. We hope to take plenty opportunities to get everyone’s feedback as we begin this process but we feel hopeful that once we come through on the other side this will certainly be for the better and a better gSender overall.

Thanks yall for your time and hope to see you more soon!

-Chris signing off

gSender 1.4.0 Release – Rotary, grblHAL, Jobs Stats and More 

gSender 1.4.0 is now released, officially supporting grblHAL, rotary cutting and much much more!

The official theme for this update was fundamentals, which means improving and iterating on existing features to address any shortcomings, reliability issues, or add long requested functionalities.

As always, thank you to everyone involved in using, testing and giving feedback on Edge releases over the past 4 months. We’ve been working hard to address your feedback and are excited to bring these new features over to the general userbase!

Without further ado, let’s get into this update!

A New Spin on Carving – Rotary Support

Turning to some positive news, we’re finally bringing support for Rotary axes on both grbl and grblHAL based controllers into gSender! Whether you own the Sienci Vortex or some other rotary solution, gSender has you covered in everything you might want to do.

Once enabled in preferences, the user is able to control, probe, surface and carve using the A axis!

#image_title

We’ve also updated the visualizer to better show the final result – so you can see your A-axis carving in all it’s glory!

Pushing Your Buttons – Better Gamepad Functionality

We’ve expanded and changed how gamepad works to give the user a whole host of new options for controlling their machine.

Joysticks are now able to jog the machine along any axis with variable speeds based on how far you’re moving the joystick.

We’ve added a new MPG mode which will let the user jog in a specific direction by rotating the joystick similar to physical MPG units.

There is also new alt modifiers for gamepad buttons, letting you map multiple functionalities to a specific button. Users are also able to assign a lockout button, preventing any gamepad buttons from firing until it is unlocked again.

Finally, we’ve altered the workflow for setting up a gamepad, letting the user map an action to a button instead of the opposite. We hope this lets users set up their new controllers quickly and easily and get back to cutting.

What did I just do? In-depth Job Stats and Maintenance Reminders

We’ve greatly expanded the job stats section to give you even more information about past jobs. Not only do we now track time run per com port, there is more in-depth tracking of individual jobs and any problems encountered.

We’ve also added maintenance reminders to keep you on track for keeping your machine in tip-top shape. Reminders are set up with expected run time before needing completion, and once you’ve approached that warning you’ll start to get reminders. Maintenance reminders are entirely customizable – set up your own tasks to keep on top of anything personal to your workflow.

Some Old Favourites and New Favourites

We’ve brought back code blocks for tool change to much fanfare!

Remote mode has received a number of improvements, including workflow controls and unit selection on the remote interface on phone screen size and a QR code in-app for easier navigation on your handheld device.

We’ve also added an easier way to go to a specific location – clicking the Go To button will now let you select a incremental or absolute position to move your machine to.

Touch Wherever You Want – Multi-corner Probing

No longer a one-trick pony, gSender now supports probing off any corner of your workpiece using both standard and auto-zero touchplates!

Selecting which corner you want is as easy as clicking a button – simply press the corner selector and the probe routine will automatically update offsets to both run and set the zero correctly at the selected corner!

Technical Notes – 32 bit no longer supported

We are officially dropping support for 32bit versions of gSender. It was a hard decision but continuing to support 32bit was a security concern for several libraries we use and we can’t be shackled long term to out of date libraries without alternatives. Version 1.2.2 should continue to work fine for the small subset of users (sub 1%) that we show as using 32 bit operating systems.

Firmware options – grblHAL Firmware Support

Our first non-grbl firmware officially supported is grblHAL – an up-and-coming solution that works on a wide variety of hardware.

Firmware flavour is selectable in the connection dropdown – by default most users will continue to use grbl, but swapping controller types is a simple click away.

We’ve updated the UI in a number of places to support all the new functionality available in grblHAL – including single axis probing, ethernet connectivity and more.

USB is no longer the only way to interact with your machine using grblHAL – so we’ve added a way to connect and run jobs using ethernet, which is more reliable overall.

grblHAL is also a bit more fluid when it comes to EEPROM options – so the firmware tool has been rebuilt to dynamically support all options are reported by the firmware itself and rebuild the table so you’ll always be able to easily update your EEPROM configuration no matter which plugins you have installed.

This is just a taste of new updates we’ve added – for all the details and changes, full notes can be found below!

Release Notes

  • Added Rotary Mode
    • gSender is now able to run 2+1 axis files on grbl and 4 axis files on grblHAL
    • Visualizer updated to support 4 axis rotations
    • A-axis DRO and jogging
    • Rotary probing
  • Added grblHAL controller support
    • Connect to and run jobs as normal on any grblHAL device
    • Connect over ethernet where hardware is supported
    • New grblHAL specific firmware tool that is dynamically generated based on reported settings
    • New UI elements where appropriate to support new functionality such as single axis homing
  • Gamepad improvements
    • Restructured logic and mapping of buttons to actions
    • Add secondary functionality to buttons
    • Added joystick MPG mode
    • Added lockout button to deactivate gamepad when needed
  • Improved job time estimation
    • Significantly improved initial time estimation algorithm based on machine acceleration and max speeds
    • Mid-job estimation uses initial estimate per line for more accurate remaining duration
  • Multi-corner probing – touch off any corner using both standard and auto-zero touchplates
  • Added Go To UI button to quickly go to an absolute or relative workspace coordinate
  • Clearer distinction on planned lines vs cut lines – planned lines show up as a (customizable) yellow instead of the default cut gray
  • Remote mode improvements
    • Added QR code for easier navigation to remote address on phone
    • Added workflow controls and unit selection to remote mode UI
  • Added preference to prompt on Zero to prevent accidentally resetting zero on any axis
  • Code block toolchange again supported
  • Firmware active modals now displayed in diagnostic tab
  • PRB values available to use in macros
  • Files are now parsed once per run time
  • Fix for DRO precision in some situations
  • Improved job stats area – now tracks jobs per com port, more information about each job run and the number of problems encountered
  • Maintenance reminders – set up and customize maintenance reminders to prompt tasks after specific run time totals have occured
  • Improved alarm and error recording

Download gSender 1.4.0

As always, releases can be found on Github!

January 19 – January 26, 2024 “2.5D/3D Projects” Contest

Happy Friday! Thanks for sharing your amazing inlay projects with us.


Last Week’s Winners

We are happy to announce that Jarrod Richards, Paul Mathers, Adam Chin, Matt Frickx, Rob Blondeau, and Mike Shouldice are the winners of the inlay projects contest. A prize is on its way!


This Week’s Theme: 2.5D/3D Projects

Share your top 2.5D or 3D carving/relief projects with the LongMill this week to win free prizes! Whether it’s nature relief, multi-sided carving, guitars, flags, or any innovative use of 2.5D/3D techniques – we want to see it! 

Have ideas for themes? Let us know by commenting below!

Happy making!