So, I finally have my shop all setup and everything's working. The mill is nestled in it's little enclosure with flood cooling and I'm ready to make parts. I tried Alibre a few months ago, had an absolute nightmare installing/uninstalling it, and never got it to do anything useful. I researched a bunch and people seemed to have a good response to Partmaster so I thought I'd give it a try. My older computers were kind of an unknown and I need to get to work immediately so I ordered a new computer from littlemachineshop.com with Dolphin Partmaster included. The install went relatively smoothly and drawing is extremely easy with it but I can't get it to make acceptable code to save my life. I've had every issue listed on the first few pages of this forum and this is clean install, on a brand new machine, provided and setup by a machine shop tool supplier. I don't have time to sit with tech support and really don't want to have to pay someone to come work the glitches out of something that should have worked properly in the first place so I think I'll be spending time researching alternative software and getting a refund rather than wasting any more of it on this software.
So others considering Dolphin know what they might be getting into, and hopefully to give Dolphin the chance to improve their product, here is a brief list of my first time user issues and impressions:
1. Must have internet access-I am HIGHLY DISAPPOINTED by this, would DEFINITELY NOT have purchased the software if I had known this and don't appreciate being treated like a criminal by a company I do business with. It should come with a dongle. Period.
2. Keeps saying I need to reinstall CAD when I switch to CAM- Wasted lots of time reinstalling, didn't fix it.
3. Server Busy error loop locks up program when I try area clear on anything. Program is useless at this point.
4. Cutting tools are setup/saved in CAM but the tool dimensions are all 10mm and must be changed/entered every time I open the milling dialog boxes. I have to enter complete tool data each time and can't pick it from the list.
5. The descriptions for the tool dimensions are not clear. Had to research to find out length was non critical.
6. Radius Offset, and Length Offset??? Now I know, shouldn't have had to search a forum though.
7. How do you slow down the tool animation in cam? I tried the up and down arrows next to the little clock thing and clicking on the clock thing. It runs 1200 lines in 2 seconds.
8. What's the deal with the Mach3 post? Switching back and forth between INC and ABS does nothing. Everything I generate in Partmaster draws big circles in Mach3. I've downloaded a different post to try tomorrow. Hopefully that works.
Anyway, I'm highly considering selling my CNC setup and replacing it with manual tools. I've tried G-Simple(too limited), Alibre(too glitchy, overly complicated), and now Dolphin. I'm months behind on the most important project of my life so far and totally disgusted. I've been in the shop for two days straight, watching tutorials, reading and rereading manuals, and fiddling with software..............does anyone make good software that actually works, installs easily, doesn't need to be connected to the internet, and most importantly, is intuitive to MACHINISTS to use?
I definitely appreciate the advice but it sounds to me like CNC is just not for me. If I can't pick up a program and get at least something simple done within a few days, I don't need it. So far, between the different programs I've tried(Alibre, Heeks, G-Simple, Mach-3, and Dolphin), I've probably spent 200 hours slamming my head up against walls chasing bugs that should have been worked out before the software was put up for sale. It's not like I'm just blindly pushing buttons either. I watch the tutorials, read the manuals, etc. I know what I'm TRYING to do, the software just doesn't work correctly for long enough to do anything. There's always some little glitch, some little box in a random menu that cancels this, ignores this, and changes that, and by the time I've found it, something else has usually changed in the meantime. I did get to play with the top of the line Solidworks a few years ago and was able to do anything I wanted on it dang near intuitively. Just can't afford it. With the technology I can afford, apparently CNC is too unreliable and time consuming for me.
I just ordered a rotary table and dividing head for the G0516 and am seriously considering putting the DSLS3000 up for sale.
Also thought I'd add that the bugs usually don't show up until you ante up for the full version so it doesn't matter if you try it first. Dolphin's interface isn't too bad. The CAD is really easy to use, the CAM, not so much. I even followed a tutorial video step by step and got completely different screens and results.
Anyway, I'm highly considering selling my CNC setup and replacing it with manual tools. I've tried G-Simple(too limited), Alibre(too glitchy, overly complicated), and now Dolphin. I'm months behind on the most important project of my life so far and totally disgusted. I've been in the shop for two days straight, watching tutorials, reading and rereading manuals, and fiddling with software..............does anyone make good software that actually works, installs easily, doesn't need to be connected to the internet, and most importantly, is intuitive to MACHINISTS to use?[/QUOTE]
Three years ago, I bought a ShopBot CNC router.
It came with their versions of Vectrix Cut2D and Cut 3D.
Within 30 minutes of installing the software, I already had my first pieces cut out. Since then I have made at least 1000 parts out of plastic, aluminum and wood and have not had a single software or hardware glitch.
I use mostly Cut 2D and it is the most friendly, intuitive design and cut program that I have come across. It has its own very easy to use highly capable drafting program that is about 100 times easier to understand than Auto Cad. The CNC portion of the program is built into the CAD program.
It doesn't do 4th axis stuff, but I do a lot of flat wrap on my indexer by mechanically switching the X axis for the A axis.
I understand your frustration.
I have been wanting to buy a Tormach, Novakon or IH mill for a while, but after previewing their software, I lose interest. It just looks like too much work. I will never get as much out of the machines as I will have to put in.
Vectrix software is now available for the Tormach. Cut 2D is only $150.
No dongle, no Internet required and I know that it works.
The fact that it is available may just push me into buying a Tormach.
I have no interest in Shopbot or Vectrix other than being a very satisfied customer and am willing to pass the info on to a fellow machinist who ask for it.
Well, I'm about 35 hours into the Dolphin learning curve and I think most of the issues I'm having with the software are common bugs and pretty easily fixable. I guess we'll see in the morning. I've read my eyes out and I'm definitely not the first person to have trouble, but maybe the first to have this many problems at once. I'll be speaking with LMS in the morning about either getting a replacement system with a dongle, the software installed, setup, and fully tested. If they can't do this, I'll be machining manually until better/more reliable software is available.
I'd also like to add that my intention is not to slam the folks at Dolphin, only to inform people of software bugs so that those in my position don't delay their projects by purchasing the software. They seem nice and very willing to support their products. The program looks really cool.....if it would work. If I were retired, I would spend the time with them to get all of the bugs worked out but I can't spend any more time on stuff that doesn't work right out of the box. There's also the possibility that the new computer has hardware issues. Either way, the troubleshooting is not worth the effort.
The situation is figured out! This morning, I tried a few different post processors, changed back and forth between abs and inc, set up file associations basically, tried all of the stuff I learned here, just to make sure I wasn't the problem. I had one simple drawing with four contours for a customer that I wanted to save so I tried to export a dxf. Well, my wife had the aircard so no luck for me. It wanted to be activated and was in demo version...no exporting. I'm also 100% sure at this point that something's not happy hardware wise with the PC. Probably got shaken up in shipping or something but like I said before, it's brand new and I can't spend any more time troubleshooting. It made for an easy decision.
The guys at littlemachineshop are beyond awesome! I know without a doubt that they could easily fix the computer and get me going with Partmaster if I had more time to deal with that type of thing. Even though it is out of their standard return policy time frame, they recognized my unique situation and have gained a dedicated customer! I ordered a bunch of stuff for the manual mill/lathe from them and am excited to get working with it.
On the CNC front, I guess I'm just not a quitter. I had to do some reading, then get friendly with the calculator but I just wrote the code the old way. It didn't take long but I have to move the part around in the vise and do it in a few sequences to simplify the code....and deal with my tiny tools. Anyway, I cut a recumbent bicycle crankshaft hanger out of wood WITH MY CNC MILL TONIGHT!! HA! WooHoo! I'm going to cut it out of aluminum in the morning once I clean up the mess and will post pics.
I picked up a mint honey sweet tea the other day when I was fighting Dolphin and under the cap, it said, "Don't make a mountain out of a molehill." I realized that I could make my mountain of a project a lot easier by breaking it down into molehills and this philosophy trickles right down to the construction of the individual parts!
Last edited by Dolphin USA; 02-16-2011 at 09:39 PM.
rEVolution - we sincerely thank you for taking the time to spend with Dolphin Partmaster software. We are sorry that things didn't work out as planned for you. Should you ever run into a problem, please contact us at anytime. We are here to help you in any way, shape or form. We strive daily to help users from all ranges. From the hobby user to some of the largest shops worldwide. We wish you all the best in the future and once again want to thank you for spending the time with Dolphin Partmaster!
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