Over the past two days, I completed the setup of my new CNC Plasma cutting machine (also see PlasmaCAM Part 1), and man is it awesome!
After physically constructing the cutting table, I needed to do a little wiring in my Hypertherm PowerMax 1000 plasma torch so that it would interface with the control box of the PlasmaCAM in order to allow the machine to turn the torch on and off. The instruction video had me really worried because it kept talking about needing to have a professional electrician install the wiring and then perform a huge batch of tests in order to ensure everything was OK.
But when it finally came to the portion of the video that deals with my plasma cutter, the instruction was all of about 10 seconds in length. This is not because the topic was not covered well, but rather because the simplicity of the install did not require more. In about 5 minutes the plasma cutter was wired up, and I summarily mounted it into the holder on the PlasmaCAM to prepare it for test cutting.
My final task, after wiring and mounting the plasma torch, was to provision a dedicated PC to handle all of the computer control functions of the system. I purchased a brand new PC to dedicate to the PCAM.
I systematically deleted all the pre-installed crap (AOL, MS Office trial, MS Works, etc.) using the Add/Remove Programs that came pre-loaded on the machine. I then installed a firewall, anti-virus software and a Linksys wireless NIC. Finally I installed the PlasmaCAM software.
Now, all of this went very smoothly with the exception of one little thing. Although the PlasmaCAM software instructed me to log into my computer’s BIOS and set the parallel port to EPP 1.9, that particular setting did not work for me. A quick call to the tech support line, however, and George had me switch the setting to SPP and everything began working immediately.
After spending a little time setting up and tweaking the machine’s settings, I was able to make a very nice cutout after only the 3rd try. I consider this quite a testament to the simplicity of the use of this machine. I had anticipated a much longer learning curve, but it seems that I’m already able to use the machine, so my loyal art fans out there will start seeing photos of new art designs I have in the works very soon!
Edit: I also added a review of the PlasmaCAM sales video which many people have found useful for separating fact from fiction.