View Full Version : Where do we start learning how to use Vector?

Gerald D
01-11-2001, 04:45 AM
I had a bad start to Vector, but now I want to try a fresh start. . . . . The Vector manuals are not supplied as hard copies, but are printable off the ShopBot CD. There are 647 pages divided into 7 manuals, guides and addendums listed below.

Which of these are recommended for printing, studying and/or discarding, and in which order?: (Here I tried to list them by publication date)

1. CAM User's Guide - Vector version 2.0 (145 pages)

2. Learning Vector CAD - Vector version 2.0 (199 pages)

3. Learning Vector 6.0 - 60 new features for CAD & CAM (60 pages)

4. Learning Vector in 2 hours (165 pages)

5. Vector 6.5 upgrade - Manual Addendum (11 pages)

6. Vector 7.0 upgrade - Manual Addendum (44 pages)

7. Vector 7.3 by Centriforce - Manual Addendum (23 pages)

It would appear that there is no manual (or addendum) for the Vector 8.0 which some of us have today, however the readme.txt file in Vector 8.0 states: "The new changes in Vector 8.0 are outlined in the Vector 7.3 addendum manual found on the CD"

So, where do I start?

01-11-2001, 08:20 AM
#4 is available as hardcopy, it's the only manual I received when I bought it. if you follow along with it, you'll have a better understanding of Vector but you won't know it.

if you're competent with general CAD programs, Vector will require a radical change in your thought processes. it's not difficult, wrong, right, better, or worse, just different.

I'd start by reading #2, then following along with #3. scan the others and only print out those pages where you're having problems understanding.

after a good 100 hours of use, I'm comfortable with it and can see its utility, but it's not my first choice for general design.


Gerald D
01-12-2001, 06:04 AM
David, thanks for the input. Last night I scanned bits and pieces, and a couple of things were seen in the docs that were interesting. The version 7.3 addendum is particularly interesting and I have the impression that most ShopBotters do not even know about the latest features of Vector 8.0. (My impression is formed by the absence of a discussion on this Forum) Briefly, this extract from http://www.centriforce.net/ summarises the features:

1) The Ctrl-w key allows a Walk Forward from a starting element. Although I still think customers and especially beginners have to learn Shift and pick (the end) this new feature is cool.......
Pick one element and Ctrl W will seek the end of the contour. Why is this different?
If a customer makes an approach on the wrong side he can do 2 things: make the approach distance value negative Or press F9 to reverse the contour. but.................
The element he started from will not be the element he will get as the new start element (F9 now has the last element as the first)
A rectangle with small fillets in this situation is a pain because the approach to the leg will be changed to an approach to the fillet.
With the "Walk forward" function one can unselect all and pick the rectangle leg in the other direction. Press Ctrl w and Vector runs the opposite direction.

The whole idea is that this feature is more compliant to the from-to approach or the "From-here-forward" which is more intuitive than "shift from-here-backwards"

2) Open File shows Vector Objects in full feature. Not as a square object rectangle only.
Open Symbol for instance now shows the complete symbol rather than just a square as long as these are once opened and saved in Vector 7.3
Meaning that our 2900 DIN symbols have to be opened and saved once in Vec7.3 which I might get to in the summer
3) Plus minus zoom keys and panning arrow keys keys
4) Pop-Up. Right hand mouse to contain Quit on top op box list and Cut Copy Paste as new options= very fast
5) Draw arc has a very pleasant preview, making first time right answer much more reliable.
6) Draw dimension Horizontal and Vertical are now fixed functions rather than vector taking the largest value in X or Y to draw a parallel dimension
7) Draw Fillet, and Trim are now also possible without having active elements selected. This is the dual interface which supports Microsoft (Object-Action) and the old DOS (Autocad) Action, Object
8) newly redone Help functions now better and complete
9) New offset feature finds twizzles, butterflys and max radius (parrallels) so much more reliable for offsetting scanned or true type data.
10) Draw, Other Curves now grouped according to NC-functions and according to CAD function
11) Draw Chamfer or selected chain now available under the Trim-all Fillet-all Chamfer-all reorganize feature.
12) Better TTF Text Absolute error to support machining
13) Send-Receive fully supported for WinNT. This long-time
problem is advanced to settings in Vector.ini to support
SERIALMONITORING=0 (No monitoring)
=1 Wait after transmission for specified time
=2 additionally to option 1 Trigger start of //
transmission in case of hardware flow
=3 Monitor hardware flow is nothing works.

In above options customer MUST have a full modem cable thus not only 2 and 3 crossed and 7 but also 4 and 5 crossed and 6-8-20 closed or looped

14) DXF improved.....settings in Vector.ini
DXF inch scale automatically looks at the settings in options, special units. If units are inches Vector imports according to correct Inch scale DXFOUTENTITIESONLY default is 0 (= off)
DXFOUTDECIMALPLACES=6 default should be high enoug DXFINMAKEGROUPS=0 allows parts, groups from Autocad to be imported as objects, thus allowing large files to be imported.
15) Preview of Script questions in a simple bitmap See bmptest.msk enclosed. bmptest.bmp must have same name in same directory but extension bmp instead of msk
16) NC-context text color...very cool, Can show G00 in red, G01 in green
Max Feed in Red
G40 in blue as warning
G02 G03 G41 G42 in Green
(end of extract)

The comments on the "coolness" are direct from the developers at Centriforce - do we agree?

Gerald D
01-12-2001, 06:26 AM
The "radical change in the thought process" that David mentions above is quite true! I think that I am starting to understand the mindset of the Vector guys - they seem to be coming from the shop environment and look at shapes in terms of cutting sequence, tool diameters, etc. I picture them as the very essential "blue-collar" guys down in the dusty shops, quietly cursing the drawings which the design office send to them. You know those drawings where the corners do not always meet exactly, and where double lines are on top of each. The designer can't see the doubles on his screen (or paper), but the shop guy sees the tool repeating the same cut without removing more material.

Some of us (myself included) come from the "white-collar" design side, with our AutoCads and TurboCads etc. And we know that we often delete a line on our drawings only to find a duplicate line underneath - well, if this went direct to ShopBot's DXF input, it would take twice as long to cut!

I certainly cannot see that I would personally use Vector as my primary CAD system, but I do think that I would run most of my drawings through Vector to clean them up and produce the toolpaths for ShopBot.

01-12-2001, 01:36 PM
Another side.
I use Vector only to draw. I had no mindset when I started. I simply wanted to draw and cut.

I will agree that Vector is set up to get the cutting done and not to just draw pictures. It is a CamCad system. You are right that it is intended for the shop floor. It strongly leans toward tool path geometry and cutting time. I happen to think that this is a plus.

As far as the docs. Stereo and VCR docs translated directly from chinese are eaiser.

On another note, Vector 9 is going to be available soon. Some of the changes are great. The following are directly from their mailing:
1) Unlimited Editor and Drawing entity counts
2) Pocketing of submerged islands
3) Waterline Swept Curve Pocketing
4) Pocket multiple contours with a single selection (like letters)
5) No-snap rotation and dragging of Vector objects
6) Drawing info, searchable by Windows Find function.
7) True-Type Stroke Fonts for engraving.

I still feel that Vector, like any other tool has a learning curve. The fact that it writes native shopbot code and that shopbot supports it was enough for me.
My 2 cents.

John Forney

01-13-2001, 10:34 AM
John, I have a small advantage in reading the Vector docs - our second language is a form of Dutch (called Afrikaans here), so the grammar (and humour) is quite clear.

Where did you find the press release on Vector 9? Was it from Imserve or Centriforce?

01-13-2001, 12:16 PM
I bought my Vector from Imserve and get stuff directly from them. If you got yours from Shopbot I think you need to contact them for upgrades or info.
The new pocketing seems to be a real step up. To be able to make 3d letters with contoured sides and do different depth letters (i.e. the capital a z=o and the small letters a z- and pocketed around them z-more) seems to be a major step up.

I think that Fred Smith must be bugging Centriforce for more and better text handling.

I have Dutch friends so I have been exposed to a little of the fractured english. I think that everyone would be happier with a rewrite of the docs. At least have them pulled together instead of scattered over the CD. I guess as long as they keep upgrading the program I should be happy.


01-26-2001, 08:17 AM
IMService is starting a monthly training class on everything Shopbot and Vector. The class will include how to put your shopbot together, shopbot software, vector cad/cam,3d...oh heck here is the web page


By the way, the short guy with the white mustache and not so much hair is yours truely.

John Forney

03-01-2001, 11:52 PM
For any shopbotters that might be interested, the Shopbot-Vector training class, web page, has just been updated. At the bottom of the page is a gallery of photos from the last class.

03-02-2001, 04:34 AM
When is Vector 9 going to be available for shopbotter ?
And what is new in it ?


03-02-2001, 09:23 AM
The new features were posted earlier in this thread. They are accurate. Vector 9 has been released and Shopbot has it on the price list. I expect they will ship it soon.

A couple of items that might be of interest:

1) The Swept Curve Pocket is a 3D tool for developing concentric rings around a closed shape and in 3D. It will make nice rings for creating a bowl for instance that was mentioned in another thread today. However, the bowl does not need to be round, and it can have nearly any cross sectional shape that you can draw. It's also great for making raised letters with "contour map" style tool paths.

2) We wrote a lettering, signmaking, engraving tutorial that is included in the Vector 9 manual. It includes some tips for using raster to vector tools, tracing, DXF import, also how to use all the various lettering tools included with Vector and some available as optional extras with Vector. (Like Vfontz)

03-02-2001, 04:04 PM
I called shopbot this afternoon to order the upgrade. they said that they won't have the disks for a couple of weeks.

03-07-2001, 04:13 PM
I assembled my machine 2 weeks ago and was fortunate enough to have John Forney come down to my shop and give me four days of "total immersion training" . when I decided to buy the bot in October I downloaded Vector and made a point of fooling around with it for about an hour every day, as I knew zero about CAD. By the time John came down I had a glimmer understanding. By time he left on Tuesday I could draw a 1 3/4 x 4 x 48 louver shutter stile with all mortises and dados (26 dados), write the cut file, and produce a finished part that I must make hundreds of every year. The best way to learn Vector is to invest in a few days of good training. It will save you many headaches and avoidable mistakes. Most important, it allows you to use the machine in you r day to day, bread and butter applications...Vector does exactly what I want it to do....cut parts with a minimum of fuss....my 2 cents worth

03-07-2001, 10:16 PM
What was the cost for the 4 day in home training?


03-08-2001, 09:11 AM
Since I did the training for Ed, let me answer.
I charge $325 per day plus expenses. This training is specifically tailored to the clients requirements. I also keep in touch with and answer questions for clients by e-mail and phone. Vector training at the class room in Michigan which I also co-teach is $600.00 for 2 days for the 1st person and $450.00 for others from the same company.

Many business find that personalized training cuts their learning curve by an large factor and is actually a cost of the machine.

John Forney

03-08-2001, 10:50 PM
John that sounds like a fair price for a service, I feel you will be getting a lot of calls.


03-09-2001, 12:19 PM
Given the amount of time I spend with each training it is in fact a good price.
For those that are considering the 2 day training at the Imservice training facility, I am told that there are a limited number of spaces available and that a "great deal on Vector 9 upgrade is included". Exactly what that means I don't know but you can call Vector at 1 800 386-1670, click the yellow link on shopbots home page or email them on their web site www.vectorcam.com.

I hope to see some of you there, especially if you are using Vector, see its cam (cutting) strengths and are having trouble putting it all together.

John Forney

04-08-2001, 07:22 AM
New info on a single integrated manual. Check the forum on Imserve sight. Go to http://www.vectorcam.com/ then support and vector forum.

Also a couple of new tips not documented in the old manuals.

John Forney

06-03-2001, 06:08 AM

1.I tried cutting the part file Example at vector. I noticed that when you convert it to g code, the translation of the code seems to be short compared to the example in the book? (About 3 lines only)

2.I tried importing a dxf file from casmate (a 3 inch height letter), to vector.. The height increased 5 X from the vector. ?

3.Why is there always a hole beside a part file I usually cut.and always generate a short convertion to Gcode (EX. letter A , theres 2 holes in it , one in the outer Portion of the letter A and the second hole is in the Inner part of the letter A)

thank you


06-03-2001, 09:26 AM
I have no idea what examples you are cutting. Perhaps you should email me the file for the example and a separate file for your casmate letter.
I also don't understand question 3. Are you saying that when you cut a letter a in shopbot there is/are circles cut into the letter. If so, this topic has been covered extensively on this and Vectorcam.com forum for Vector. Simply do a search on this forum. The short answer is that shopbot sees a small arc with a starting and ending point within its accuracy as a circle. Just go to change-break-interpolate and change your toolpath to line segments and this problem will be eliminated. If this isn't your problem, please explain it more fully and I'll try to help.

John Forney