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Thread: Free Doors Update

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Posts
    252

    Default Free Doors Update

    Dear Free Doors Users:

    I have finally updated the Free Doors website to include the latest Free Doors 4.0U Beta installer. This includes the latest Doors.EXE from Mike Richards, the new Cutters Editor (taking into account the feedback that I got from the early alpha testers) and the UNIVERSAL version of Free Doors. Free Doors now exports ShopBot code, G-Code, and DXF format.

    The website address is:

    http://home.centurytel.net/bwclark/

    I have also updated the "Getting Started Tutorial" to include how to use the Cutters Editor. So, please read that FIRST! Also, I am including the updated portion of the FreeDoors_ReadMe.TXT file, which included some more indepth information about the Cutters Editor.

    Thanks,

    Bruce Clark


    ---------------------------------------------------------------
    First off, I would like to thank Michael Richards for making his cabinet door software available to everyone. THANK YOU!

    ---------------------------------------------------------------
    What's New? [04-30-2007 Version 4.0U]

    It has been a while, but the wait should be worth it. There are some major changes to Free Doors. First off, Free Doors now supports G-Code and DXF file exporting. G-Code opens up Free Doors to be usable by a lot more CNC router machines. The DXF option allows you to open up the cabinet door paths in a CAD/CAM program for further embellishement such as V-Carving (we like VCarvePro by Vetric www.Vectric.com) or 3D carvings.

    Since you have a choice if 3 types of output, you are also offered a choice of "Previewers". The ShopBot previewer we recommend is the ShopBot control software. This portion of the program has stayed the same--it opens up the ShopBot control software in the preview mode. For the G-Code, if you are a MACH controller user, use your Mach software (www.artsoftcontrols.com) or, as we recommend, NCPlot 1.1. It is FREE and it integrates very nicely with the FreeDoor's preview. It is available here: http://www.ncplot.com/ncplotfree/ncplotfree.htm . As for the DXF, any CAD/CAM program that can accept a command line file name, can be used to preview the DXF output. If not, just select something like Notepad.exe. With the way the program is currently implemented, you need to have a program selected. It does not matter which, but something.

    The choice of cutters for Free Doors was a major sticking point with a lot of people. Mike's original tools, while commonly available, where not that common to a lot of users. Also, tool depths, tabs, and sizes were a big "trial and error" in getting the settings correct. This has been made a lot easier with the new plug-in called "Cutters Editor". This CUTTERS.CSV editor allows you to "preview" what the groove between the panel and the stiles and rails will look like without being at your machine. You can experiment with different size cutters, tool types and depths. When finished, you can save your tool set (tool selections and all) for a later recall. This also allows for different tool settings for different jobs (make a copy of your new tool set and then copy--or save--the tool set as CUTTERS.CSV so that Mike's DOORS.EXE can find it).

    Also, if you want to preview what a special tool's cutting profile will look like, you can create it (if it does not currently exist) with any CAD or drawing program that can export DXF files. To make a custom tool profile, you need to draw it at true to life size AND the cutting point or tip must be at 0,0. Otherwise, the tool will be draw off location in the preview. For a better explanation, please open one of the provided DXF tool profiles in your CAD/CAM/drawing program. The V-Bit tool is the best example.

    Lastly, Mike has updated his doors.EXE program to 7.14b. This has a few enhancements and some cleaned up code.

    This release is BETA but we feel it should be stable enough for production work, if that is what you are using it for.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Posts
    252

    Default

    Opps.

    Paul Neilsen was kind enough to point out that the ShopBot preview was not working. It turns out that some code was commented out while I was working on the G-code and DXF previews and I forgot to uncomment it. I assumed that the ShopBot portion had not changed and did not test it out--a big NO NO!

    The upside is that there is a new version on the Website, FreeDoors 4.01U. So, if you got the latest, please get this new one.

    The website address is:

    http://home.centurytel.net/bwclark/


    Thanks,

    Bruce

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Posts
    252

    Default

    Dear Free Door Users:

    There is a new tutorial on the Free Doors website on how to actually USE Free Doors to cut cabinet doors.

    Between the two tutorials, you should be able to go from knowing nothing about cabinet doors to making your very own set.

    Again, the website address is:
    http://home.centurytel.net/bwclark/


    Thanks,

    Bruce

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    7,830

    Default

    Bruce and Michael,

    I know how much work just the tutorial is to put together, let alone the FREE program. So I wanted to at least say THANKS for all the efforts.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    , South Jordan Utah
    Posts
    1,693

    Default

    Jack (and many others),

    Thanks for for saying thanks. Many of you have written me personally, with tales and descriptions of what you have built. In the world of free software, that is considered a payday. I hope that everyone who has downloaded the program has also personally thanked Bruce Clark. It was his efforts that made the program usable. Had he NOT volunteered countless hours to write a GUI frontend for the program, an excellent tutorial, the extremely valuable Cutter Editor program, and, just this week, an excellent how-to tutorial, no one would have ever been able to cut a door - except me. (Some of you have written and asked if you could use a certain size cove cutter with a certain sized groove cutter. Before responding, I would sometimes go to AutoCAD LT and draw the cutters so that I could visually see whether the cove cutter would nick the V-cut. Bruce, on his own initiative, wrote the Cutter Editor program that does that, and much more.)

    Every once in a while, just to remind myself of what if would have been like without Bruce's program, I create a doors.csv file from scratch, just using the spreadsheet and then run doors.exe from the command line. Let me tell you all, it's not any fun.

    So, if you haven't sent Bruce an email, get on it! He's a great guy.

    -Mike

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Ellettsville, IN
    Posts
    346

    Default

    I like this software a whole lot. I've not cut anything with it, just getting my feet wet. There is one upgrade that would be great and I suspect it would be relatively easy. It would be nice if on the preview it showed your material size as a colored box or something. The software is set up for 4x8 and you can select different material sizes, but I have a small machine (32x32) and its hard to tell without reading the spreadsheet if I've gone outside my limits. With a highlighted material box on the preview, I could easily see if i've stepped outside the cutting area.

    I think I've found a bug in the nesting, but that might be my lack of experience with the program. It seems like if I lay down a few doors that mostly fill my material area, then add another, it wants to place that one on top of the other ones, even if I hit nest again. That might be my bad, not sure yet. If I can get it to repeat reliably, I might have something you guy can work with.

    thanks again for a great program,
    John

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    , South Jordan Utah
    Posts
    1,693

    Default

    John,

    Thanks for the feedback. I think that you've found a genuine bug. When I generated four doors, each 15 X 24 and then selected a 32 X 32 sheet of material, the program allowed four doors to be nested, even though only two doors would completely fit within that size of material.

    If you 'generate' the doors and then 'preview' the doors (with the table limits set to the size of material that you're going to use on your machine), you'll get an 'out of bounds' error in SB3. If you over-ride that error, the simulator will show which door(s) need to be deleted.

    The 'work-around' for this bug is to set the table size to the size of the material that you're going to use and then 'generate' the SBP files and finally 'preview' the SBP files. If they display properly on the SB3 simulator, then the files should cut properly.

    Thanks again for the feedback.

    -Mike

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Findley Kitchens, Crossville TN
    Posts
    12

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    Bruce,

    I have just got my SBot and have not even downloaded free doors yet but plan to this week. I want to Thank you for letting everyone use your free doors software. If more people were like you thier would files for almost anything needed to be done. Thank you again for sharing so grasiously.

    Anthony

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Posts
    252

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    John,

    Also, a work around for the nesting not fixing the door on door situation. Press the "Recalculate ALL Offsets" and then press the "Nest Doors". That should take care of things.

    As for doing the cutting area versus changing the material dimensions, yea maybe. You can change the material size to 32x32 and while your doors will appear twice as wide as they would in real life, it will nest and draw correctly.

    Anyways, there is going to be a fundamental reworking of the Free Doors program in the future. Right now, the program is a major screen hog and running it at 1024x768, you get part of the window cut off. So, I plan on redoing it. Eventually....

    Hope this helps,

    Bruce

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Posts
    252

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    Anthony (all everybody else):

    Glad I can help people out. I enjoy programming (though some times it seems like work) and glad that I can give back to the ShopBot community. It helped me out a LOT nine years ago when I started.

    Now, I have to be honest. Not all of my work is Free and I am not totally altruistic. There _MAY_ come a day when Free Doors becomes something other than "Free". I don't know if or when that will happen, but Mike and I have talked a little about it.

    The big problem is that the project has grown so much from its original inception. It was a small program that made CSV files for Mike's Doors.exe program. Now, it does much more and it has grown so much that it is becoming a major undertaking just to keep the project current.

    So, that leads to two options. One is to let the project stagnate (something I am personally against) or find a way to make it worth my while to keep spending the time to make sure things are the latest and greatest.

    My current hope is to find a CNC router manufacturer(s) (ShopBot and/or others) who would like a Router Manufacturer branded version that they would include with their machines. Similar to what most router manufactures do now (such as ShopBot) by including design software with each machine. We are just looking for a modest licensing fee, not a per copy fee. This would have the benefit of keep development current and new features added (Mike and I would be getting compensation for our time) and users would get a "Free to them" version of the program.

    Anyways, that is the idea for now. Like I keep saying, "Get it while you can".

    Bruce

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