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Visolate is an application for calculating machining toolpaths (G-code) for manufacturing printed circuit boards (PCBs) by isolation milling. As an outstanding feature, this calculation is done on the computer's screen, using the features of 3D graphics drivers.
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README

Visolate is an application for calculating machining toolpaths (G-code) for
manufacturing printed circuit boards (PCBs) by isolation milling. As an
outstanding feature, this calculation is done on the computer's screen,
using the features of 3D graphics drivers.


USAGE

To use Visolate, run it in a terminal with the Java engine:

  java -jar visolate-3.1.1.jar

If this results in tons of error gibberish, see installation instructions below.

The most simple use case is to load a Gerber file at the top of the window,
then clicking "Fix Topology" and "Make Toolpaths", then saving the G-code
file. For all the options in between, move your mouse over all the buttons
and fields. Tooltips appear which shall be helpful.

Accuracy of the G-code is adjusted by adjusting the DPI value of the display.


NEW in 3.1.1:

- Make command line options more consistent.

- Avoid misbehaviour when a requested file can't be load (load the demo
  instead).

- Make sure freshly loaded files respect X and Y flipping.

NEW in 3.1:

- Use a slightly modified Douglas-Peucker algorithm for path optimisation.
  This reduces the number of G-code lines by some 20% while increasing
  accuracy and prettyness.

- Make path optimisation more coarse, as in some cases stair-steps weren't
  optimised away. To re-gain the same granularity, you have to increase the
  resolution of the drawn image (dpi value slider). Together, this results
  in even better accuracy at the same granularity.

NEW in 3.0.1:

- Make it work on Ubuntu 12.04.

NEW in 3.0:

- Toolspaths now respect the thickness of elements. Earlier, only the centers
  of tracks/pads were taken for calculation, now the entire perimeters are.
  
- Path junctions are now kept accurately.

- Much faster path optimisation. So fast one of the progress bars went useless.


INSTALLATION - Debian/Ubuntu Linux

Visolate it's self needs no installation, but it requires some dependencies:

  sudo apt-get install --no-install-recommends openjdk-6-jre
  sudo apt-get install --no-install-recommends libjava3d-java
  sudo apt-get install --no-install-recommends libjava3d-jni
  sudo apt-get install --no-install-recommends libvecmath-java
  
Getting this to work on Ubuntu 11.10 and earlier requires a few additional tweaks:

  sudo update-java-alternatives -s java-6-openjdk
  sudo ln -s /usr/share/java/j3dcore.jar /usr/lib/jvm/java-6-openjdk/jre/lib/ext
  sudo ln -s /usr/share/java/j3dutils.jar /usr/lib/jvm/java-6-openjdk/jre/lib/ext
  sudo ln -s /usr/share/java/vecmath.jar /usr/lib/jvm/java-6-openjdk/jre/lib/ext


DEVELOPMENT

Unfortunately, there are no makefiles available. Development is currently done
in the totally overfeatured, but well working Eclipse IDE:

1. Make sure you have all dependencies. Easiest way to find out is to
   run the JAR executable, see section USAGE.

2. Install Eclipse:

     sudo apt-get install eclipse

3. Grab sources:

     git clone https://github.com/Traumflug/Visolate.git

4. Launch Eclipse, select Menu -> File -> Import... ->
                          Existing Projects into Workspace.

   Find the just grabbed sources; avoid copying them (see checkbox there).

5. Create a Run Configuration:

   (essential, as applet and/or application, to be defined)

6. Turn off useless warnings:

   By default, a large number of warnings about missing privileges in system
   libraries appear. This is counterproductive, as it hides real warnings.

   (non-essential, to be defined)

7. Tell Eclipse to always update externally modified files:

   This is essential when using Git.

   (non-essential, to be defined)

8. Tell Eclipse to show the TODO list:

   All known flaws and a wishlist are marked as TODO in the sources. This is
   really helpful when developing and better than Eclipse's "bookmark" feature.

   (non-essential, to be defined)

9. Compile and run the executable

   Select Menu -> Run -> Run.


SOURCE CODE OVERVIEW

Please take this with a grain of salt. All the code is well crafted and easy
to understand, even for C programmers. However, I (Traumflug, early 2012)
learned about the workings of Visolate only when enhancing from version 2.1.6
to version 3.0, so I very likely missed the parts not needed for these new
features.

Whatever, it's big fun to learn about the workings as you hack away. Clear
design, excellent base for further enhancements. Starting points can be
found by searching for the texts displayed in the GUI.

What I found out so far:

Main.java is the launcher and does the command line stuff. Display.java does
all the handling of the 3D display while Visolate.java handles the remaining
GUI. All this is in the visolate package. Model.java in the visolate.model
package has some GUI code as well(?!?).

When a Gerber is loaded, it's parsed and it's geometry is stored as a simulator
object. The simulator is in the visolate.simulator package, one class for
each type of element.

All the track and pin drawing stuff is done in the package visolate.model,
namedly in Net.java. There are different types of drawings, like flat geometry,
cone geometry or line geometry. For each GUI checkbox you'll find an almost 1:1
corresponding method there. Hack this if you want to change the appearance
of your elements.

Path creation stuff is done in the visolate.processor package. Basically, the
elements are drawn as needed (ToolpathsProcessor: processStarted()), then
the "real" work is done in ProcessCompleted(). Pixel-sized toolpath nodes are
found by searching color differences between adjectant pixels. After assembling
them to larger paths they're optimized, to be written out as G-code later.
Very straightforward.


MAKING A RELEASE

1. Find the APPNAME variable in Main.java and adjust the string to the new
   version.

2. Update the NEW section above in this file.

3. Update the name of the JAR file in the USAGE section above.

4. Create a JAR:

   - Eclipse-> Menu -> File -> Export... -> Java -> Runnable JAR file

   - Click "Next".

   - Locate the destination into the "releases" folder.

   - Check "Extract required libraries into generated JAR".

   - Click "Finish".

   - Accept repackaging the libraries.

5. Commit the JAR file with the message "Make release x.x." and a short
   description of the new features, starting in subsequent lines.

6. Create a signed tag of the release:

     RELEASE=x.x  # e.g. RELEASE=3.0
     git tag -u 806F3A3E -m "Release ${RELEASE}." "release-${RELEASE}"

   Note: This "806F3A3E" is my own (Traumflug's) GPG key. On how to set up
         your own key, consult Google.

7. Done. Push the stuff out to Github:

     git push && git push --tags

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