If you’ve added a Bluetooth wireless module to your CNC machine, you might be thinking of using an Android tablet, or even a smartphone, to do some wireless routing or LASER cutting. If so, you may be wondering what software to choose. So I thought I’d write a short post about my favourite go-to Android app for controlling my CNC machine: G-Code2GRBL which is available on the Play Store. While I can only give my personal opinion, I find it excellent. It gives all of the functions I need in a nicely designed interface, as the screenshot below shows.
Once connected over Bluetooth to your CNC, G-Code2GRBL gives you a range of screens to choose from. The main ‘GRBL Control’ screen gives you buttons for jogging the XYZ axes (with step adjustment controls), buttons to zero XYZ positions, pause/reset buttons and a text-display of the GCode file being sent for routing/LASERing. The file to be sent can be chosen from the ‘Select files’ screen with just a few taps, which is nice. And another useful screen is the ‘Send Commands’ one. It lets you send your own one-line GCode commands for simple control, which is very handy for things like turning on a LASER (on low-power, obviously) for focussing, and turning it off again. Overall, I think it’s well worth a look if you’re after a way to control your CNC wirelessly from Android devices.
Recently I bought some 1.5mm thick Walnut sheet as I wanted to try it out with my CNC router and see how good the results would be. Walnut is quite a dark wood with a nice dense grain, so it seemed like an excellent opportunity to take my CNC intergallactic by making a small inlayed Darth Vader from Star Wars. Hopefully George Lucas will approve if he happens by, so below is my completed Darth Vader head (at around 10% water content, in case you’d like to know).
I was quite pleased with the results, the details being routed to 0.75 mm deep in two passes, and the edge being cut in three passes, using the 1.2mm diameter end-cutting bit shown above (which gave finished grooves almost 2 mm wide). As the image at the top of this page shows, the Walnut sheet cut quite well and cleanly with the spindle at 1000 rpm and a feed rate of 50 mm/min to minimise potential breakage of the bit. The above photo is then after I’d given it some sanding with a fine grit paper, which took little work. Even sanding out the recesses with folded over sandpaper was quite easy, with a little patience. So overall I’m looking forward to some more small projects using this lovely wood.