I have had the acorn powered machine operating for a year now and it has been working great but there are some things I would really like to see in a future version.
1) Torch height control or THC. I never did have this even when running MACH3 but it would be really nice to have it as an option. I agree with planning around the Proma 150 as it seems to be somewhat of a standard. I know that there are stand alone options available now but software integration seems to be a much better route.
2) Show the target and actual travel speed on the virtual control panel. I know the relative percentage is shown but I'm never quite sure of what 110% or whatever is because it changes based on my post processor. Sometimes its nice to be able to recut a piece with different thickness material from the same gcode and I don't want to run the CAM post again. It would be great to have a quick visual inchs per minute indicator so I could see what the percentage actually means.
3) It would be good to independently be able to control the cut speed and the travel speed while running. Specifically It would be nice to be able to quickly alter the speed of travel between cuts while the gcode is running. For example, if I have a number of small cuts very close to one another the table will attempt to move very quickly between them and it can get very violent. Sometimes a speed that otherwise has worked well on projects in the past get really jumpy on another. I know that this can be done in the CAM but I don't always do everything perfect in setup and sometimes it is nice to just be able to compensate on the fly.
4) This may just be me and maybe it can already be done easily and I just don't know it... I would like to be able to set run time graphics to default on. I always use it and I don't like having to always turn it on. It especially sucks when I forget and the program is running.
5) The real world is never perfect and especially not plasma cutting. It is quite common to loose an arc for whatever reason. It would be amazing to be able to visually select a point on screen or jog to a location and run the gcode from there (or in the case of jogging which is imprecise, start from the nearest codded location). Going line by line can be really tedious. Also sometimes on nested cuts I would like to recut only a specific element or part.
6) This may also just be me but I'll ask anyway. I would like to have the option natively to control outputs simultaneously with gcode and manually. Normally plasma systems run fully automatic, and this is good when things are perfect but in our operation sometimes we are doing repairs or fabricating with less than perfect materials. We like to manually start the cut and then visually verify the pierce and then run the code. Then have the code automatically shut off the torch at the end of the cut, jog to the next spot and wait for the operator. I know this sounds slow but it is reliable and necessary in some circumstances. The Centroid Guys were able to set us up with some custom code that allows this but built in is always better. It also comes in handy when we switch to an oxy/fuel torch. This allows us to visually judge the preheat and toggle the cut on and off if it does not pierce. I know in a professional production line shop this would all be silly but we are far from production line.
7) Most plasma systems only need one output to control the cut. Many just seem to use the spindle controls to activate the torch. For our application using the oxy/fuel torch it is necessary to control two outputs for the cut. One for preheat and one for pierce. Dedicated virtual control buttons for these functions would be appreciated. Currently I use the flood and mist coolant buttons which are nice because they allow toggling with a single button and are visually somewhat appropriate. Like I said before though I had to have the plc code custom modified to make this work.
The most amazing thing to me is that for software that was never really designed for plasma these are the only things I could think of. We have been using it a year now and overall are very impressed with things. A few tweaks and it would be even better.
Thanks for the already great product and thanks in advance for the updates.