Help me understand the computer end of what is needed

Hello. I am still researching the Longmill, and I am very impressed. With all of the choices of CNC Routers, I am most impressed by the Longmill.

I have some questions regarding what computer systems everyone is using. I had always been a WINDOWS family, but a year ago when our last Desktop became hopelessly outdated and my wife’s laptop became, quite literally “no man’s land”, we replaced our computers with Apple/Mac computers.
I have checked the Sienci page on system requirements and it indicates Window’s 7/8 or 10, IOS, or Linux. Is anyone using a MAC with their Longmill? Are you able to find the CAD/CAM programs that work well within IOS? Are there any drawbacks to doing any of this on a MAC? Any benefits either way?
Thanks for any thoughts or opinions on this.

Mossberg

@Mossberg152 Hello and welcome to the forum! This is a great forum and the contributors are very willing to help. With that said, I am a Mac fan who swore I would never, ever buy another windows computer. Have been a Mac guy for over 10 years. I did get windows to run on my Mac and downloaded the trial version of VCarve Pro. It worked well. When I ordered my LongMill MK2 in the end of January, I had planned on using my Mac to run the CNC. The more I thought about it, the more I didn’t like the idea of my expensive Mac in my workshop environment. Just this last week, I purchased a refurbished windows computer and it arrived on Thursday. This weekend I will buy my VCarve Pro software and do the many tutorials while awaiting the arrival of my unit.

I hope that helps. I am sure someone who may use a Mac with their LongMill currently will chime in.

Enjoy the journey.

Jake

Good morning Jake.
Thanks for the welcome! In reading over the threads it is very clear that this is a group of helpful, friendly and encouraging people. Glad I found the forum while doing my due diligence before a purchase.

That is more or less where I was going with my thought. The cost of my computer is pretty close to the cost of the Longmill. I have been looking at used Macs but even 4-6 year old MacBooks are not in the “inexpensive” category. Which would put me in the market for a used WINDOWS machine, since I don’t have an old one sitting around I can repurpose to the task.

Next question that seems obvious to me…… are more people tending to put their software on a laptop so their creativity can be portable, or are the majority having designated work spaces to do their design work, meaning stationary desktop computers with bigger screens, etc?

What would be the pros and cons to either firm factor?

Again, thanks for any input.

Mossberg

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Ugh. Not sure what I did to that last post but it looks hard to read. Sorry.

Mossberg.

Hi Mossberg152, welcome to our forums.

I have an old refurbished Lenovo Thinkpad with 4 gigs of RAM, with Windows 10 on it.
Not only is it capable of running the gcode to control my Longmill, I have used it to model 3d objects in Blender 3d(an open-source 3d modelling & animation program). It cost 180$ a couple of years ago.

I also have a Mac I bought new in 2009, which I still use but there are very few Cad/Cam softwares that run on Macs.
I would not buy another Mac again, personally. Overly restrictive & overpriced.

Recently I bought a new Windiws based machine to model high rez 3d objects, since the old Levono RAM cant be upgraded sufficiently.

I do all my work on laptops, most have HDMI outputs that I can send to my TV when needed.

Software- I highly recommend Kiri:Moto, it does excellent dimensional carving and conventional 2d cutting as well. Its only lack is Vcarving support, but Carbide Create (free version) does that well enough for my needs at this point.

Hope this helps you.

@Mossberg152 Welcome to the group. As you’ve already seen first hand, it’s a very helpful bunch.

I took the liberty of fixing the test/format of your post. :grinning:

To reply to your question, and speaking only for myself, I do almost all my CAD/CAM in my upstairs home office, using VCarvePro. I save the gcode on a local network drive. In my shop, I have an old refurbed desktop with a monitor on a arm. My keyboard is on a drawer under the Mill’s table. I can open the gcode from the shared local network drive. I started out with a laptop in my shop, but old eyes wanted a bigger monitor. Rather than run an external monitor from the laptop, I bought a $50 desktop, which works just fine.

@Mossberg152 Hey Tracy! Hope I don’t violate any forum rules by posting this. Not wanting to subject my MacBook Pro to the rigors of a woodworking shop, I opted to purchase a refurbished Windows 11 laptop. I went to the outlet store at Dell. (you can google it and I don’t get a penny off the recommendation). There, I saved at least 400.00 off the price of new (under 600.00) and got a really nice Dell Inspiron 5000 series I7 11th Generation laptop with 16gb or ram and 512 gb solid state hard drive with 15.9 inch screen. It was classified as refurbished and to be honest, I can’t tell it from a new computer. I had a 22" flat panel monitor from my last Windows computer in 2008 that I got a cord for and connected it for a much larger screen. Once I finish my table, I may get a wireless keyboard and mouse to improve my workflow. But I really don’t know if it will be needed as of yet. VCarve Pro can be put on 4-5 computers in the same home, so I can design in my home office and much like Grant, put it on a network or cloud drive and open it up in the shop.

I hope this helps you!

Respectfully,

Jake

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Gwilki: thanks for fixing that. It looked very hard to read, to me.

Gwilki, Markus and Jake: Thanks for the replies. That is exactly the information I am looking for. I am trying to get my infrastructure in place before I get a machine and what I considered to be some of the easiest to do would. be to get started with the computer assets and programs, but like I said, I ended up with a macbook… we had been considering that for a number of years because of recommendation from a close friend who is a professional photographer (better for photo editing, I guess) and when the time came, my wife surprised me with the computer. I am a HACK photographer, at best! But I digress…

SO. I have no problem with dedicating a computer to this. I could go with a small form factor computer and mount it under the table top and do a keyboard in a drawer and a monitor on an arm.(great idea, Gwilki)… that sounds like a good plan to me. And based on the fact that I could put VCARVE PRO (thanks Jake) on several computers, I could easily work on a laptop if I want to and transfer via thumb drive. Lots of possibilities. I will go look for a computer or 2 this weekend while my wife is out of town.

Next big infrastructure task=. is there any consensus on table designs? Solid yet not 600 lbs? On casters vs NOT on casters? Are 2x4’s good enough or is the whole boxed platform table really the way to go? I cannot read the forum fast enough!!!

and yes, I agree, this is a bunch of friendly helpful people.

A little history: I took a two year Machinist program back in 1983-1985. Skilled Machinist prior to CNC becoming common. Everything I knew was manual, from lathes, to vertical mills to shapers to surface grinders. I ground my own tool steel lathe bits, none of those carbide inserts for me! I was wicked good at freehand regrinding of drill bits of any size. People would LOVE to bring me everything from a brand new bit to a completely broken bit.
I went to the military and when I got out NAFTA had happened. Hard to get a job as a manual machinist at that time. I worked at it for a couple of years, and welded/brazed. Finally moved on. So learning CNC will be a bit of a challenge, but hopefully the machining part will be a fun blast from the past.

Mossberg

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@Mossberg152 I think that you are going about this in fine fashion, Tracy.

WRT to your question about table designs, a search on here will show you all kinds of designs/solutions, all of which I’m sure work very well. Mine is made from construction lumber, milled to be square and un-twisted. The top is 3/4" MDF, with another sheet of 3/4" MDF as the spoilboard. That one is actually strips with t-track between the strips. I made a drawer unit to hold bits and bobs. Mine has to be on wheels as the table blocks access to storage cabinets. (All my woodworking machines are on wheels.) So far, I’ve had no issues.

There are many more sophisticated designs on here that really look fine, so I suggest that you look at them all and take the best from them. Have fun.