View Full Version : Can I open a TAP file in Aspire 9.5?

05-22-2019, 11:09 AM
I have the TAP files generated by Fingermaker and wanted to open them in Aspire, hoping to shift the pieces for optimal placement on my lumber piece.

I didn't see how I could import it (other extensions yes, but no TAP file).

I can't get a satisfying view on Shopbot 3 (I downloaded the latest version to my 'new' laptop), and although I can preview the TAP files, I don't know how to shift the pieces, if that is possible.

I just found this on the Vectric forum: You can optionally output a CSV file that in turn can be imported to Vcarve/Aspire with Paul Rowntree's CSV importer, although it requires additional effort. If you happen to have the Shopbot control software (with or without the machine), you can import and simulate g-code files directly...

I emailed Tailmaker, as I seem to only be able to generate a TAP file, the CSV option still gives me a TAP file. Other ideas welcome.

so I will see if I can figure it out.


05-22-2019, 12:33 PM
I guess I've learned that Aspire can export to a G-code, but not open a G-code file...
I find SB3 frustrating, although I am somewhat comfortable in viewing files that I made with Aspire (dxf to sbp).

Wish I could be more confident the parts will cut without falling off the lumber. I think I will have to use a larger piece and experiment. ( I was going to trial 4 inch width boards on a 5.25" actual lumber piece... the layout looks like it won't work in SB3 view...

05-22-2019, 04:06 PM
Carolina...virtually certain you can't, and never spent much time previewing in SB3, so that's always a struggle relearning it each time for me.

Made my first box almost 5 years ago and didn't even know what a .tap file was.....so scared I did multiple air cuts and finally read the instructions.
Depending on the type of joint you're cutting, the origin point will change.
You have to Zero off proxs as normal, then go to the origin point and use a temporary Zero X,Y, then Zero off proxs again and got to the new origin and Z2 again. Rinse/repeat.

I did the "box/drawer" which was the simplest for me almost 5 years ago for the first box, and given my sleep dep today lucky to remember my name, BUT...
I made a VCP7 file with my material dimensions/put my box size into the board material/drew a circle and centered in the box size/and wrote those co-ords down.
I did the VCP file so I could do the cutout in VCP with my choice of bit, and later made VCP files as I wanted to add stuff to the projects.

Been quite a while, but hope this helps.....DO AIR CUTS:) :)

05-22-2019, 04:06 PM
You could try www.ncviewer.com to see if the preview shows up there... That'd get you an idea of what you're trying to cut.

But let's back up...

FingerMaker, Aspire, and any other CAM software spit out GCode, TAP files, NC files, or SB3 files (and many more). What they all have in common is that they're text files essentially that give your machine move instructions, that's it.

So think about this: If you drew a 10" square and wanted to cut it out of a piece of material with a 1/4" bit, the moves in those files might look like "Move X 10.5" Move Y 10.5". The extra .5" is accounting for the diameter of the bit.

That being said, it'd be pretty hard for CAM software like Aspire, or any others to take those text files and rebuild a drawing from it. Not impossible, but hard.. (and ultimately not that useful)

So your best bet is to get your head around FingerMaker and get it to do what you want, manually editing that text file is an option, but you might be looking at tens of thousands of lines of code. Even if you pull it off once, it's not sustainable.

If I were you I'd try NCViewer, it's totally free and that'd let you see what the heck your machine is going to cut before you cut it. You could also try this: http://chilipeppr.com/tinyg This is a web based CNC controller. It won't work on a ShopBot, but it might let you preview your TAP file.

There is also the built in preview in the ShopBot controller itself, you can put it into Preview mode. I don't know if ShopBot supports TAP files however, I've never tried. I've always used their native SB3.

05-22-2019, 04:12 PM
Just a couple more, but brain is not with me today to help more.
Most everything you need is in the instructions, but like when getting a new machine...you have to make a few mistakes...IN the AIR is better:)
Thanks Eric...Yes it does support .tap files when you select all files option so you can see them.
Good luck Carolina!

05-22-2019, 08:28 PM
You can export a .csv file from Fingermaker when you choose the .csv extension (yes the name field goes blank) and then specify a file name explicitly with a .csv ending (not just the file name without ending).

If it is just for visualization of the results, I found importing the .tap g-code into the SB3 software works quite well. I suppose this feature is anyway a stripped down version of the Vectric cut simulation. Looks very similar.

Really a shame that Vectric does not support that in their standard software. I would pay for that.

05-23-2019, 12:11 AM
Eric, thanks for the explanations, some of it way over my head, but most made sense.

Mr. Burkhardt, thank you, yes I am able to now save it to a .csv file... but guess I won't be needing that now. I reread the manual and tried again, and have now completed a rough box (haven't dialed in the adjustments).

Scott, your explanation of your workflow clicked for me, and I was happily able to trial a cedar box employing multiple Z2 changes and view it satisfactorily in SB3. Thank you so much. I guess I don't know how to do an air cut either, as I thought it was about tricking the zero level (I had placed a 1/4 in. scrap piece of mdf on top of the lumber and the zero plate on top of the mdf), but was quickly surprised when the first bit maneuver was to plunge way past that 0.25 in and into the lumber.

I also learned by trial/error that the 'board width' in Fingermaker refers to a box dimension, not the literal lumber board width that I wanted to cut the pieces out from. But I love the box I made and hope to do many more. Love the random generator.

05-23-2019, 06:53 AM
Glad you made your first box Carolina:)
My first still has a special place in the house.
Wait till you buy(?) the Full version and start playing with 1/8" straight Ball Noses...the joints get nice and funky:)

You ALMOST had it with your 1/4" scrap...Right idea, BUT it has to be a thickness MORE than your deepest cut(plus the radius of the bit and any overcut you specify in Fingermaker).
For almost the first year, three .3" thick sandstone coasters lived by my machine....until I got used to SB3 and SB3.8.14 and up gradually got the glitches out, and I started using shortcuts like MZ and ZZ.

Exact material height and flatness is key to tight joints like G. mentions in instructions.
Fingermaker has come a Loong way since Beta 2:)
Keep meaning to make an extra sacrificial board I can just bolt onto my spoilboard using my threaded inserts and existing clamping so I don't have to screw stuff down.
One of these years:)

05-23-2019, 10:14 AM
Yes, I have a paid license for Fingermaker. Agree on wood prep to make the most of what I consider exquisite mathematical calculations of the software. I joint, plane, and drum sand my boards, and use calipers for measurements. It makes even rough cedar fence pickets left over from a toddler Adirondack chair build look special. I ordered another supply of the long non tapered 1/8 BN bits hoping to beat any 'tariff increases'.

Your air cut comments help solidify my musings on future work. They are really helpful and make progress on the ShopBot DOABLE and fun. I still work full time and so am grateful when I can progress and accomplish more CNC duties in my small and too infrequent chunks of time. It has helped me turn out projects/gifts that are fun and challenging to make and meaningful to the recipients. I appreciate all the comments that folks here so generously share (time and knowledge) which help to keep us moving along in our CNC journeys. THANKS!

05-23-2019, 10:33 AM
The easiest way to do an air cut is to choose 3D offset in the fill-in sheet when loading a file. First, raise the z axis high enough to keep all depth of cuts above your material and choose 3D offset in the fill-in sheet. Where the tip of the tool is located is now considered X0 Y0 and Z0. When finished, this offset it canceled and the next time you run the file, the fill-in sheet will show no offset. Be sure you don't have the Z so high that it tops out with any safe Z heights (generally 1 or 2 inches to spare depending on your settings and/or file commands).

05-23-2019, 11:17 AM
Congrats on the Full Version Carolina! :)
Make SURE everytime you see one of the randoms that you like....SAVE it..or if you're like me...you'll never see it again:)
IF you take the chicken way out and make an Aspire file like I did with VCP.....make sure Home position is somewhere near 0,0 so you don't hard stop when working near your limits.

Like I said..planning to get back into it with 5/4 lumber...and stumbled across this when re-ordering from Drillman1;
https://www.ebay.ca/itm/1-8-1250-CARBIDE-2-FLUTE-ENDMILLS-BALL-END-LONG-FLUTE-1-125-PLASTIC-WOOD/152441631628?hash=item237e3ab38c:g:x8gAAOSwx6pYqJL 8
NOT in the same price category, BUT made by Oliver in the US, and shipping is Drillman's usual excellent speed of delivery....I bought 2, but haven't used them yet but machining at 10X looks GREAT:)
Just mentioning.

Also look at G's box clamping system...Gotta make me one of them!

Thanks Scott!
ONE of my MAJOR muck ups when I began was with the 3D Offset...so avoided it like the plague....maybe time for me to try it again.
I have upper Z limit switch(saved my butt countless times) and pretty sure all Max's and Desktops come with Z limits now?
Took me forever to take your tip on MN, and now I use it almost everytime I cut:)