How/when to turn on the router?

I finally got WebControl to work. Working on getting calibration set up.
To be honest, I’m a little afraid of making this first cut.

There’s seemingly tons of documentation on the software, but I haven’t found much on what y’all are doing with the actual router and wood in order to make cuts.

It seems that some folks have fancy setups in which magically the router turns on when it starts to make a cut. Is this what everyone does, and if so, where do I begin to set this up?

Are other folks just setting a bit depth manually and then turning the thing on before running the cut?

Are you just using your frame board in order to run calibration cuts or do you have scrap boards to run them on?

Do you tend to screw board into your frame back when making cuts?

Advice and explicit descriptions of what you are doing would be super helpful. This complete newbie thanks you for your patience in advance.

My setup:

Raspberry pi: Raspberry Pi 4 Model B - 2 GB RAM (from Adafruit)
Imaged with: Raspberry Pi OS Lite (32-bit)
SD card: SanDisk 64GB Ultra MicroSDXC Class 10 / U1 / A1 Flash Memory Card (from Microcenter)
Power supply: Official Raspberry Pi Power Supply 5.1V 3A with USB C (from Adafruit)
WebControl version: Latest as of 1/4/24 - webcontrol-0.94-rpi-singledirectory.tar.gz
Maslow kit: MakerMade Basic Maslow CNC Kit

most people have a motorized Z axis, so they are not manually setting the depth.

most people don’t have anything to turn the router on and off, they just prep
for cutting (including setting Z=0 and making sure the bit is above the wood),
then turn the router on and issue the command to start moving

David Lang

These are great questions that we all asked early on: the basic how’s. I’m not sure if they are all covered in some of the videos in the manual wiki or not, but I would refer you there for some overview perspective and add that a healthy fear/respect of the system in use is a good thing.

Here is how I most often use my maslow:

  1. draw, cam work done, I power the maslow and upload the gcode file.

  2. I mount my board to the spoil board with a drill and wood screws. Typically I try to align it with the top or bottom edge or I use a tape measure to ensure the cut will fit on my workpiece. Often in my design software I will make a 1/4" hole as part of the design and then use the position of that hole with respect to my machine to home or measure from the edges. The best quality cuts are in the middle, so if you can center stuff and stay away from the top center and lower corners, your success probability is higher

  3. My maslow has 3 light switches on it. one turns on the raspberry pi and controller, one powers an outlet mounted on the system the router plugs in to and the other powers the 12V brick for the motor movement. After the board is mounted, I power on the motors.

  4. I then use my phone to “drive” the sled to first set the z zero position so moving the sled doesn’t drag the bit.

  5. I drive the sled to the home position for my particular cut and save the home position.

  6. after home is set and the bit is at zero, I will flip the router switch to start the router and go into the z section and manually drive the bit down 5 mm and back up to home so if something goes south, i know exactly where home is should it need to be restarted. This has saved several cuts over the time I’ve been using Maslow. Stuff happens.

  7. start the dust collector and press play while keeping an eye on the tabbed pieces as it cuts to make sure they don’t fall out, catch, or otherwise cause issues with the sled movement during the cut. During this time my phone is open and ready with the web page loaded to stop or pause should something not look right. I’ve been known to pause a job, power off all but the raspberry pi (router, motors) and continue the next day without issue. There is an error that pops upon resume, but it still cuts. I often keep an eye on the gcode line number as a mental note should anything go south, I know approximately where to start looking to restart.

You can do this. Try something small first. Realize that if you are cautious and slow, your first cut will work, but going extra slow may also quickly dull your first bit, so i use cheapo 1/8" bits that are like $1 each.