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STEPCRAFT FAQ

STEPCRAFT FAQ section

We have put together some of the most commonly asked questions regarding the STEPCRAFT 3D CNC system to help you make your journey through the specifications and options easier. CNC can seem very daunting with lots of new jargon and concepts to grasp. Please have a read down through the FAQ and have a good look at the STEPCRAFT product pages.

STEPCRAFT FAQ page summary

The aim of this page is to help you answer questions regarding the STEPCRAFT CNC. More importantly it is geared to help you ask more focused questions for your own project. The more effort and research you do on our site before you contact us – the more information you will get in return. Often each individual requirement is different and specific to the application in mind.

Please feel free to contact us and ask questions when you’ve had a good look through the content shown on the site.

General questions

We provide world class support for our CNC systems

See below for some examples of feedback about our support.

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Why purchase your STEPCRAFT from StoneyCNC?

We are the exclusive point of contact for the STEPCRAFT machines in the UK and Ireland. We provide unmatched support to the UK STEPCRAFT client. We will reply to an email within 24 hours and support you with whatever issue or question you have. We provide full video and PDF based documentation for every step of your STEPCRAFT machines configuration on your PC.

If you have any question at all – please contact us. We guarantee we will get back to you within 24-48 hours. If we have not replied – please check again and resend email address details of give us a call.

What is the advantage of local support?

The STEPCRAFT CNC system is different to conventional CNC systems as the machines can be moved across Europe easily as they are packed in compact boxes.

Therefore it can be tempting to purchase a machine elsewhere?

We buffer a stock of all spares as best we can.

In the case that you damage or lose a part of there is a part missing from your kit – you can contact us – get and answer within 24 hours and usually we can supply the part overnight as long as we have it to hand.

We provide all our customers with a fully illustrated video and PDF suite of tutorials and support materials. every step it documented and demonstrated in our support pack. If you find a point missing – please let us know and we will add it!

As we can provide pointed, timely support specifically to the UK market – you will not get the same level of support elsewhere. Please consider this.

We look after our customers. but don’t take our word for it – have a look at the STEPCRAFT forum.

What is the best way to contact us?

We prefer if you have a detailed look at our website and digest all the information. There is a lot to take in and a first venture into CNC should not be rushed. Once you have done some background reading please outline the scope of your project and any questions you may have in an email. This is the best method of communication as we can then provide you with pointed specific feedback based on your request. Equally – please feel free to call us any time.

How do I order a machine?

Click Here to visit our webshop.

I'm intimidated by building the machine. Can you build it for me?

In some cases we build machines for people. However this is rare. The STEPCRAFT machine has been specifically designed to be built by the end user. The fully illustrated 3D instruction manual is excellent. Every step is documented in fully illustrated 3D colour drawings.

We recommend you build the machine yourself as 1) Its fun 2) its designed to be built by a non CNC specialist 3) You will learn a lot!! 4) its much cheaper if you build it yourself 5) you are best positioned to look after your system and maintain it yourself.

If you have built the machine yourself then you can maintain the machine indefinitely. We will provide you with lifetime support on all parts via STEPCRAFT so you will never be without a working machine.

I see STEPCRAFT have released Version 2? What happens if I have a V1 machine?

The S210 machine is a new model in the range designed specifically for PCB milling. This machine retains the V1 design. Therefore all parts remain supported on V1 systems.

Machine specific Questions

Version 2 has been released? What are the improvements of the V2 over the V1?

STEPCRAFT V2 Improvements
      The frame build and rigidity of the machine has been improved. The aluminium uprights are thicker, the ball screw spindles are thicker, there are now 4 brass rollers on each drive system, The X axis bridge has been increased in cross section.
    Each brass roller bearing and shim combination are individually fitted at STEPCRAFT prior to packing into the machine kits. This results in a play free system out of the box with minimal tweaking
     The machine is now powered by 30V DC as opposed to 19V DC. The drive torque/power of a stepper motor is strongly related to the applied drive voltage. As such the speed the machine can run as is greatly improved. The rapid stable feed rate of a well tuned STEPCRAFT 840 machine is 3000mm/min.
     The cable management is now “through” the machine frame and under the machine instead of towards the back of the machine in a plastic pipe

How easy is the machine to build?

You don’t need to be a CNC specialist to build the machine. The machine has been designed to be built by the end user. The fully illustrated 3D instructions
(See here) document every step of the kit See here .

More and more video related build support is being added to. See the Build Tip Video and the growing number of STEPCRAFT Step by step tutorials (English translations to follow)

There is a growing community of users on the STEPCRAFT forum who are actively helping other STEPCRAFT users out.

What tools do I need to build the machine?

Slotted screwdriver 3 mm

Allen wrench 1,5, 2,0, 2,5, 3,0, 4,0 and 5,0 mm
both ball ended and also square ended is ideal.

Spanner 7 mm and 8 mm

long-nose pliers

Vernier Callipers helps – but a metal ruler can suffice

Scalpel / Stanley blade / Knife of some sort.

Good degreaser (Tec7 degreaser spray is great) its important to degrease all surfaces before applying any decals / adhesive covers. When greasing the ballscrew and slides – grease can prevent decals and adhesive covers from sticking.

Containers and assorted boxes to organise all the parts in prior to commencing the build.

large clean clutter free table.

Plenty of time and a pinch of patience.

Once the machine is built? How easy is it to tune and tweak?

Once the machine is “built” it must be tuned for optimal performance. There are a number of small tips and tricks that help you get the most out of your machine.

See the Build Tip Video

This video is for the V1 machine – however it is just as relevant for the V2 machine. The concepts are the same.

Can I add extras to the machine in future? Or do I need to order a specific configuration for this?

The Standard off the shelf STEPCRAFT machine is compatible with all extras.

You can add a Tslot plate in place of the standard bed

you can add a 4th axis module at a later date. The control card has the outputs to connect directly to the STEPCRAFT 4th axis unit

The 43mm mounting collar allows all the tooling to be mounted. Specifically the V2 machines support

– Dremel
– Proxxon
– Kress
– STEPCRAFT HF
– STEPCRAFT vinyl cutters
– STEPCRAFT pen
– STEPCRAFT engraving point
– STEPCRAFT 3D printer

Software Specific Questions

What does CAD stand for?

CAD stands for Computer Aided Design. In order to compose our designs for the STEPCRAFT we must generate a digital shape of our desired part.

Solid works, Creo, Sketchup, Inverntor, AutoCAD, Illustrator, Corel Draw all have various levels of CAD capacity. Some 3D some 2D.

Mostly 2D CAD drawings are used to generate the toolpaths to machine parts.

NOTE: Cut2D and Vcarve have internal CAD capacity. therefore you do not need to have a CAD package if you use Cut2D and Vcarve. You can do all your designs inside Cut2D and Vcarve. And you also have the capacity to import other file formats from other CAD packages.

What does CAM stand for?

CAM stands for Computer Aided Manufacture. CAM is the proess we use to convert our digitally designed shape (CAD) into the format required to control the machine to produce the designed shape.

For example – WinPC starter has very basic CAM functionality to convert a Corel Draw drawing into a plotter type toolpath and control the machine.

Cut2D – can convert a CAD drawing into a toolpath for the UCCNC controller.

more details SOFTWARE SPECIFIC FAQ LINK

I'm totally lost on Software options... HELP!

We provide the STEPCRFT developed WinPC starter software with all our STEPCRAFT kits as standard.

This is the best starting point – so you will get this with your machine.

Then you have the choice of whether you would like to have the capacity to upgrade to the UCCNC control software with options….

To help clarify this – please study the software section – starting here SOFTWARE SPECIFIC FAQ LINK for specific explanations and comparisons between the two software options.

below are some FAQ’s regarding software which are also presented on the SOFTWARE SPECIFIC FAQ LINK

What PC spec do I need?

Whether running WinPC starter or UCCNC we recommend a windows system with min RAM spec of 4GB.

At least 1GHz

1 USB 2.0 port.

You do NOT NEED a parallel interface. All communications happen over USB with the PC.

What operating system?

WinPC Starter and UCCNC are supported on Windows. XP, 7 8 and 8.1 are supported. Both 32 bit and 64 bit OS are supported by the UCCNC software. We don’t recommend windows Vista as the operation is not reliable.

Can I run my STEPCRAFT on a Mac?

We don’t support the operation of the machine on a Mac – however we do have customers who are emulating windows on a Mac. In this configurations the drivers and software are stable.

STEPCRAFT running on a Mac

Do I need a parallel port on my PC?

No – you do not need a Parallel port output on your PC. The reference to the parallel adaptor is for the machine side. The parallel adaptor is used to connect the UC100 USB controller to the machine.

The connection to the PC is USB only.

Can I use a laptop? Is it stable?

Yes provided the laptop specs are as per the recommend power requirements and you have a USB 2.0 port you can run the machine

There are no stability issues with this configuration.

What do I need to look out for?

Make sure your Laptop/Desktop cannot go into power save mode. This will shut down the UC100 USB controller.

Turn off all screen savers and power save modes.

How easy is it to setup the STEPCRAFT machine on my own PC?

We supply an installer pack with fully illustrated videos and support material. The support pack documents every single step to get your machine moving.

Read SOFTWARE SPECIFIC FAQ LINK for more information.

What happens if I get totally stuck getting the software going?

No probs… If it all goes pear shaped – give us a shout and we’ll login remotely and sort you out.

Whats the difference between WinPC starter and UCCNC?

Briefly – WinPC starter is a simplistic plotting controller.

UCCNC is a full Gcode controller.

We advise all our STEPCRAFT customers to start with the WinPC starter software for first steps and then cross over to the UCCNC software to get the most out of the machine

Please study the software specific FAQ section on the site for more detailed information SOFTWARE SPECIFIC FAQ LINK

Still stuck? drop us an email / give us a call.

Do I need Corel Draw?

Corel Draw is the recommended CAD software to design shapes and parts for the WinPC Starter software.

So in order to make your own designs, using winPC starter – you need Corel Draw.

However – if you are getting the machine going with WinPC starter and then moving over to the UCCNC software you DO NOT need corel draw. WinPC starter has introduction tutorial files included on the CD.

If you do not wish to upgrade to the UCCNC software and would like to only use the WinPC Starter software – then you will need Corel draw to machine your designs.

more details see here
SOFTWARE SPECIFIC FAQ LINK

I already use Corel Draw? What now?

If you already use Corel draw then you can generate the files for winPC starter..

And – if you are using Cut2D / Vcarve as you CAM package with the UCCNC controller then you can import your Corel Draw files into Cut2D / VcarvePro

Whats the difference between Vcarve and cut2D?

Cut2D and vcarve both have excellent internal CAD capacity – so you can do all your drawings internally within Cut2D/Vcarve – or you can import other file types generated in other graphics programs.

The main difference between Cut2D and Vcarve is Vcarve’s ability to generate 3D inlay toolpaths from 2D vectors. this is a very power function and very popular among sign makers etc. See here for an example

Whats the difference between Cut2D/Vcarve Desktop and Pro versions?

There are some advanced features that are in the pro version that are not in the desktop version – but the main difference is the Desktop versions are limited to 600mm x 600mm square parts.

VcarvePro vs Desktop

Cut2DPro vs Dekstop

I use my own Graphics package? Do I have to learn a new one?

No – as long as you can export as a DXF file then you can import your files into Cut2D / Vcarve.

If your using WinPC Starter – unless you can generate a .PLT file then you must go via Corel Draw.

What about 3D machining?

If you want to carry out 3D machining then you need to be able to export from your CAD package as an STL file. You will then need Cut3D to generate 3D toolpaths

Cut3D can export 3D toolpaths to the UCCNC controller.

like this.. 3D machining sample

Note: you cannot carry out 3D toolpaths on WinPC Starter.

Spindle Specific FAQ

What spindles are compatible with the STEPCRAFT machine?

The
-Proxxon Spindle
-Kress Spindle
-and STEPCRAFT HF spindle are compatible with the STEPCRAFT 2.

See here for more information
3D machining sample

What depth can the machine cut?

When running a proxxon and dremel spindle the max tool size is 1/8th inch (3.175mm) shank tooling. This is typically around the 15mm deep limit. You can get special long reach 3mm diam tooling to go as far as 22mm deep but its challenging to get good results at this depth with a 3mm tool.

With the Kress and HF spindles you can get cutters up to 1/4 inch into the machine. this allows deeper machining up to 30mm depending on materials and cutter selection.

You also have to be careful as increasing the tool diameter increased the specific cutting energy and therefore puts more pressure on the machine.

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