Skip to content

Ground Control Users Guide

Matt Bonneau edited this page Apr 6, 2018 · 18 revisions

MaslowCNC Wiki: Electronics | Firmware | Mechanics | Software | Community Garden


Ground Control is the program used to control your Maslow CNC router.

The objective of Ground Control is to provide a simple interface which allows you to position your machine, open and run G-code files, and observe the machine while it is running.

The main Ground Control interface is broken into four parts. These are the gcode preview area, the machine control buttons area, the machine feedback area, and the Actions/Settings menus.

Gcode Preview Area

The center of the window is the Gcode preview area. Here you can see the 4*8 work area of the machine and any parts you have open and ready to cut. The machine's position is indicated with a white cross indicator. You can pan by clicking and dragging and zoom by scrolling. On touch screens you can touch and drag to pan or pinch to zoom. The cross hair indicator is made from three concentric circles.

preview overview

The outer circle is a scale reference and is 50mm in size. Within that circle is a second scale reference 1mm in size. The third concentric circle changes size and indicates the positioning error currently experienced by the machine. This is a check to see if something is going wrong, and a reminder of how much the PID control system can be improved.

Cuts are drawn on the canvas as solid lines. When the machine will re-position between cuts, it is indicated with a dashed line. Points where the depth of the router changes are indicated with green dots for the bit retracting and red dots for where the bit goes deeper.

gcode preview

Machine Control

Maslow can be manually moved around the work area using the arrow and home keys in the machine control area. The distance moved is controlled by clicking the Dist to move button. The Z axis can be controlled using the "Z-Axis" button. The open file can be run by pressing the Run button, and the machine can be stopped by pressing the Stop button. While the Stop button halts the machine immediately and exits the G-code being executed, the pause || button halts the machine after it finishes the executing the current line of G-code allowing the program to be easily resumed by pressing the Run button again. The <<10, <1, 1>, and 10>> buttons will jump forward or backwards by 10 lines of code allowing the program to be fast forwarded or resumed later.

The Z-Axis popup (accessed by clicking the Z-Axis button) controls the z-axis if one is attached. The Z-In and Z-Out buttons move the z-axis in and out by the distance set in the distance listed and by the units listed. To change either the distance or units, click their respective buttons. The Define Zero button sets the zero height for the z-axis (usually the surface of the wood), and the Done button closes the popup.

Machine Feedback

The current machine position is displayed in the digital position readout. The connection status is indicated, and if a program is being run, the current line number and the percentage that the file is complete is indicated. An overview of commands being sent to the machine are visible in the command log.

Actions / Settings Menus

Settings Menu

The settings menu allows you to change machine settings like the dimensions of the machine.

Actions Menu

The actions menu allows you to open a gcode file, connect to Maslow, or calibrate the motors.

View Menu

  • Open File-Open a new G-code file
  • Update Gcode-Reload the current G-code file
  • View Gcode-View the text of the current G-code program
  • Reset View-Recenter the G-code preview canvas

Run Menu

  • Quit Ground Control - Exit the program
  • Return To Center - Move the machine to the center of the plywood instead of the home position

Connect Menu

  • Connect-Connect to Maslow on the selected port
  • Ports-A drop down menu with all of the connection options
  • Update List - Update the list of available ports. Automatic on most operating systems.

Diagnostics Menu

  • Test Motors/Encoders - Run a diagnostic on all motors and encoders. Each motor will move, and the test results will be printed to the terminal
  • Calibrate Machine Dimensions - Use the machine to measure itself, coming soon
  • Calibrate Chain Length - Automatic-Measure out a known length of chain. This is done by hooking the first link on each chain to the gear tooth at 12:00 o'clock. Note that while the chain is short it can become tangled easily so it's important to keep an eye on it.
  • Calibrate Motors-Calibrate the machine to compensate for the non-linear response curve of electric motors.
  • About - Information about this version of Ground Control
  • Advanced - Advanced diagnostic features
  • Advanced -> Calibrate Chain Length - Manual - To use this feature, manually set the chains to be of length 1900mm measured from where the chain attaches to the sled to where it meets the gear.
  • Advanced -> Test Feedback System - Run a small test shape while monitoring the feedback system performance. The results of the test are displayed in a popup
  • Advanced -> Wipe EEPROM - Erase the calibration values held by the machine in the Arduino's internal memory. These values are not erased by flashing new firmware or by disconnecting power.

You can’t perform that action at this time.