Each year I try to take some time during the year to make G-Wizard easier to use. This is typically when the biggest User Interface changes are made, and so I like to provide them initially as a Beta Test and get feedback before folding the changes into the mainstream.
I have just uploaded G-Wizard version 5.070 and it’s a real doozy this year. Let’s go through and see what’s changed!
Before and After Pix
Let’s start with some Before and After pictures. Here’s is G-Wizard v5.067, the most current non-Beta release:
And here’s the 5.070 Beta Release:
At first glance, it looks a little simpler, doesn’t it? There are fewer widgets on the screen. Also, the big round “traffic light” percentage indicators are now a trimmer horizontal thermometer style.
Here’s what’s changed and why:
- The big round “traffic light” percentage indicators are now a trimmer horizontal thermometer style. They convey the same information, but they take up less space and look a little more elegant.
- In the Tool row, the Geometry button is gone. It had duplicated the Tool Menu’s function for a long time, so why have 2? There’s still a label there that will tell you the Geometry (ballnose and such), but you can just use the Tool menu to change geometry.
- The TEA calculator is gone. It was getting almost no use, was taking up valuable space, and was potentially confusing. HSM toolpaths work as they always have, just click the HSM checkbox and you get HSM feeds and speeds.
- While I was at it, I moved the coolant options up with the HSM option. There was room there, and all three basically accelerate the feeds and speeds.
- The Limits column is gone. Use the Machine Profile to set all that up. You can still see exactly where you are versus your machine’s limits. In fact, it makes more sense to have the RPM limit information hanging right near the RPM indicator. You get both the thermometer and a percentage number. Same with the Feedrate and the machine’s Horsepower.
That’s pretty much it for this main Feeds and Speeds screen.
The CADCAM Wizards also got some mild tweaks. I moved the finish pass out of the Options area and put it with the main inputs. I will be making a pass over the Tool Crib to simplify it as well, but I haven’t gotten there yet.
That’s all fine and well, but the full G-Wizard is still very full featured. What about Radical Simplification for Beginners who aren’t ready for all those knobs and levers?
I’ve got you covered!
If you go to the Setup tab, you’ll find a new Easy / Powerful button cluster at the top right:
By default, G-Wizard comes up in “Powerful” mode. But, if you click the “Easy” button, G-Wizard takes away everything that isn’t absolutely essential for basic feeds and speeds. Here’s what things look like right after clicking:
First thing to notice is many fewer tabs along the top. Nothing is there but CADCAM, Feeds/Speeds, Tool Crib, and Setup.
Easier CADCAM Wizards
As I recommend in the G-Wizard training videos, the right way to approach Feeds and Speeds is to start with the CADCAM Wizards. They’ll give you a fast answer with very little input that you can then fine tune with the Feeds / Speeds tab. Here’s CADCAM Wizards in Easy mode:
CADCAM Wizards are already simpler than Feeds / Speeds by design, but the Easy version is a little simpler still:
- No Alloys, just the basic materials. Beginners ought not be messing with exotic hard-to-machine alloys just yet, so we don’t need this.
- Likewise, the Options button is only available in “Powerful” mode. Beginners don’t need that level of control, it just makes things more complex.
- No SFM/IPT fine tuning from the Machine Profile (the % indicators under the machine selector).
Easier Feeds / Speeds
The most radical simplification happens on the Feeds / Speeds tab:
Ignore the Tool Torque, it will be gone in the next release for Easy Mode. What’s left are the things I think are essential for a Beginner to get good usable Feeds and Speeds. Remember, the Beginner is all about not breaking tools. They’re not trying to get the most optimal cycle times. The less they have to know to use G-Wizard to get usable Feeds and Speeds, the better.
Basically, they have to tell G-Wizard what machine is being used, what’s being cut, what the tool is, and what Cut Depth and Cut Width to use. And, if they use CADCAM Wizards, they can have it figure out the tool, Cut Depth, and Cut Width in exchange for telling what type of cut it is (pocket, profile, hole, etc.) and answering some simple questions about the cut.
Can it be done simpler?
Maybe, but I feel like we’re really going to go past cutting the fat and start cutting some valuable muscle if I take anything else out of Easy mode. Beginners need to know when cuts have too much Tool deflection if we let them have this level of flexibility. CADCAM Wizards will avoid giving them a combination of parameters that leads to Deflection, which is another reason I suggest Beginners start there.
I kept the Optimize buttons (the little speedometers) to make it easy for Beginners to adjust the inputs to get rid of Tool Deflection issues.
Beginners need to know when a cut may be getting close to (or exceeding) the limits of what their spindle can handle. Those limits are power, minimum, and maximum rpms. Again, CADCAM Wizards will avoid those limits on its own, but once the user can specify tool, Cut Width, and Cut Depth, they may enter combinations that won’t work because of the limits.
I have kept the Cheat Sheet because it does a good job of helping beginners understand what knob to twist to get some desired result.
First, this is a Beta Test and I’d love to hear what you think. Feedback (both positive and negative) is welcome as are suggested changes. Just send them in an email directly to me: bob @ cnccookbook.com.
Second, I have more work to do here. In particular, I haven’t really tackled the Tool Crib at all, and it also needs to simplify when Easy mode is selected. You might ask, “Why have a Tool Crib in Easy Mode?” The answer is CADCAM Wizards. Beginners have relatively few cutters available and the Tool Crib is how they tell CADCAM Wizards what tools are available for a particular cut. So, we keep the Tool Crib.
Once I’ve been through sufficient UI Feedback and Refinement, it’ll be time to begin the rollout process. First step there is to make the training videos match the product. New users will be invited to decide if they want to start out as Beginners or Experts / Pros. They’ll get different videos. Those choosing to start as Beginners will be guided to set things to Easy mode right up front and they’ll be walked through how to use G-Wizard in Easy mode.
So, download the Beta if you want to participate and tell me what you think?
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