CNC Explorer 1.0 I think is a good start and going forward I plan on adding features and accessibility for CNC enthusiasts. I really believe there is a need in offering a tool to make setting up a CNC cut more understandable and easy, That was my goal when I created my first Speed and Feed Calculator. Before I had to search a number of locations for bits and pieces of information. CNC Explorer tries to make all that information available in one easy to use tool.
1 – CNC Explorer 1.0 Introduced Mid-July 2020
Introduced as an Excel application with ActiveX controls and limited VBA use. Knowing that a lot of potential users don’t have Excel installed I was happy to learn my application would run fine on LibreOffice a freeware office sweet. Excel might not be the best choice for an application but I know the tool fairly well so it became a good starting place.
2 – Started Researching Different Ideas for a Stand-alone Application
I knew from the beginning I would eventually have to figure out how to develop a stand-alone application and get away from Excel. This is something way out of my league though, I knew I wanted it to be able to run on phones and desktops. I am a Windows 10 and Android guy but I sure wouldn’t want to exclude Ios or Mac users. After reading a ton of stuff I started to learn a bit about Progressive Web Apps (PWA). Seems like they are getting more popular these days. The advantage is the app runs locally in browsers like Chrome. Any data needed is either downloaded once in the background or can even be stored on your device. Once loaded it doesn’t need the internet to run. The app can even be docked to your system for easy access when needed.
It all sounds pretty good for what I want to accomplish. Thinking about my application and could it work on such a platform I am fairly sure it would work. If and it’s a huge *IF* I can learn how to make it. I have upgraded my system memory to start playing around with a development system and we will see where it goes.
3 – Version 1.1 will have an Amana Tool Data Base Built-in!
I use Vectric Aspire to model my CNC designs. One nice feature is you can install a tool database from Amana Tools and you can select a particular bit for every tool path. Don’t let me mislead you my collection of CNC bits is rather small so for the most part, I don’t use much of the library. But there are times I need to make a different toolpath and my collection of tools doesn’t work out I can search the database for one that would and if I can get it past the Boss I would buy that tool.
But I must say you really can’t use the database to search for anything there is no way to sort. So I jump on our Affiliate Partner’s TOOLSTODAY website and search for the tool I want. I really want to add that tool database into Explorer. But the database you download for Vectric or Fusion 360 is in some weird format you can almost read but it’s pretty much not helpful. At first, I started to hand capture published tool tables but that quickly got old after making a number of typos. So I looked into trying to decode the Amana tool database files again. I was about to give up and go back manually capturing table data when…
I figured out how to read the Amana Tool Database. And this is now an EdwoodCrafting “double trade secret”! So don’t ask how but you will be able to use the data in Version 1.1. Here is a sneak preview!
The database has 261 tools and a lot of information that Vectric doesn’t use like suggested Chip Loads! Perfect for my Explorer! I needed to do some custom filtering pull out some of the information and working out how to integrate it into Explorer. But I will be sending out a new 1.1 version when it’s completed to owners of 1.0. If you were on the fence maybe this will put you over.
4 – Metric Version? Probably not until the WEB App
I have had some requests asking if Explorer supports Metric. I did put in a couple of metric converters but no. I actually mostly work with inches being American but some of my bits are metric so I am going back and forth. I know if you are used to working in metric it is more straight forward. Trying to make the current excel app run both would be quite an undertaking. It would be easier probably to make a special version. But then I would need to maintain two versions. If there were demand I could do it but I would rather leave it until I can make the stand-alone app. From the beginning, I can add a switch to change from inches to mm
What’s your idea for a new Feature? $2.00 Credit if I add it to the list!
If you have a good idea for a future feature or direction I should go send it to me. If I use it or add it to the wish list I will give you $2 credit for the purchase of either versions 1.0 or 1.1 when released. Of course, 1.1 is a free upgrade