Hi DBRON, welcome to the zone, best advice I can offer would be to read, read, read, as you mentioned there is a lot of topics and can be a bit overwhelming, but well organised and the search function helps.
My sister has a quilting machine (manual type) and I have already looked at it to see how hard it would be to automate it. From what I can see you would need X and Y control which is simple enough, accuracy wouldn't really be that much of an issue, so backlash probably wont be that much of a problem. The problem is that you will have to pause the program when the needle goes through the fabric, so as not to try and move everything with the needle in which could end in disaster.
My thoughts were to have an interrupt type of action that pauses the program operation somehow, and waits for the needle to clear, then resumes once it is clear, maybe using an optical pickup or similiar (search for hacking optical mouse)
This way you could use standard g-codes without too much modification, though I'm not sure how to implement it. I guess the "simplest" method could be by using a microcontroller, storing the patterns and driving the steppers/servo's directly. From what I have seen it is a matter of sewing the pattern (following a stencil type thingy) then moving the fabric along and repeat and repeat, cnc would be a good addition to that.
I intend to get into the micro side of things once my router is built, but that might take me 12 months to get the micro's sorted (I'm a bit sloooow) hehe
Thanks, My first thought was that the up and motion of the needle would literally have to be part of the program just as the motion of the servers so as not to have the problem you mentioned.
Did you have a white paper or any type of resource like cnc for dummies ?
I know I need to work on drive motors, would a stepper motor or servo motor be best ? What would make one go one way or the other? I'll continue to read like you said for a little while before I start acquiring pieces parts. Thanks again.
Lol no cnc 4 dummies that I am aware of, servo vs stepper will open a can of worms, basically the stepper will be the cheaper option, I don't think you will need to go to servo's for this, it is the control that will give the headache, as it will not be a standard setup.
The DIY router logs will give you an idea on what people are making at home, should help you see what you will need to do.
Can you keep the thing moving by hand as it is working ?
If so then a simple X-Y table would probably work and let the needle sort itself out.
Then and importancly, learn how to use the SEARCH function. Pretty much every question you may have has been asked and discussed, sometimes in multiple threads. Even so, there are new wrinkles that crop up once in a while.
I've thought about trying to come up with a package to do the quilting by cnc/g-code, more than once. I think it would benefit a lot of zone members. I think you could build a plain old "X" & "Y" table, then control the needle up/down in a couple different ways:
(1) Like epineh said, with a sensor.
(2) Replace the sewing machine motor with a servo/stepper. Then you could treat the needle as a "Z-axis", that would give you more control over the entire setup.
My main interest is to control the "quilting machine" with Only g-code/Mach3.