Sprutcam Licensing Trick

I do not recall how much I paid for my Sprutcam license, although I imagine it must have been somewhere in the vicinity of $1500.00. There are many CAM software suites out there, and although Sprutcam has managed to piss me off countless times, I am still confident it is one of the best deals out there.

What truly pisses me about Sprutcam, as well as any other software based on the ultimate form of mistrust, is the darned dongle crap. It truly bugs me for two reasons:

1. Dongles imply that you can only use the SW on one computer (which is of course the main reason why there is a dongle in the first place) and

2. I still wake up at 3:00 AM in the morning fearing my dongle has been lost in which case I have miserably wasted whatever amount of money I paid for in the first place.

Item #2 will plague me forever as there is no legal way of copying this dongle in case something heinous happens. Item #1, however, I set myself to solve.

But why?

Well, as it turns out, Murphy’s law makes it imminent that the most that you need a software to run in only one computer, the more that you will need to use it in two.

My main computer is inside the house, on the second floor, might I add. This is where I work my designs and do the CAMing. As I specified, it is in the second floor which brings us to the Murphy’s law stating it is 100% certain the better you have done a CAM in the second floor of your house, the more probable it becomes you will find bugs while you are in the first floor.

Of course I can’t have my PCNC1100 milling machine in my second floor, but I can’t have the main computer on the first floor either, so what to do?

Well, I decided to install a second computer to do quick fixes whenever I am running a job in the garage, where the CNC machine is located. Unfortunately, for this to work, I would need to be moving the dongle up and down on a continuous basis. This is a clear violation to the Murphy’s law which states that as soon as you start moving up and down that ridiculously expensive item you dread to lose, you will either loose it or misplace it whenever you need it the most!

Once again, what to do?

I thought of installing an USB switch so that I could remotely specify which computer is entitled to use the USB dongle. It doesn’t work 100% perfect because every now and then the USB switch develops a temper, but for the most part it has become the solution.

This is the USB Switch I am using, and you can find it here:

This solution still poses a problem. Sure, you can now have two computers to claim the dongle, but how on Earth are you going to hook two computers into this thing when one of them is on the second floor and the second one is on the garage? USB standards forbids such a long cable!

No worries! The solution comes in the form of an USB cord expander which utilizes a CAT5 cable connection, or this:

I have been using this solution for three years. In that time, one of the USB extenders died so I had to replace it. But man, at less than $10, who is counting?

So here you go! An entire solution for less than $30 which beats buying two licenses of Sprutcam. Now, if I were a Rockefellarian, then I could buy 2 licenses. Although the truth is if I was a Rockefellarian, I would have a shop so awesomely big, my main computer would be besides the milling machine.

CNC Milling

You Don’t Need To Be An Expert To CNC

Listen, dude! CNC, or Computer Numeric Control, can be utterly intimidating. Heck, machining overall, can be intimidating. You hear all these gurus out there talking about tenths of a thousandth and one thing is clear: Are these guys from another planet?

I started machining stuff in 1996 when I took a Machine Shop night class on a local college. I have been machining ever since. It’s been almost 20 years and I am still at the Hobby level. I know a few things. Compare these few things to the ones I don’t know, and the ones I do know become either transparent or invisible. They are squashed by the sheer volume of ignorance!

The point is I am not an Expert. Let it be said, accepted and repeated. I am not an expert by any means!

You know what I am an expert of? Eating! I am really good at it, damn it! But when it comes to machining…

So I am not an expert, but you know what? I can CNC! I am not telling you that I can CNC good or I can CNC well. I think it is not even that important. Because at the end what truly matters is that I can CNC. The machine does the hard part!

And if I can CNC, so can you!

CNC requires a learning curve like anything else. This is just how things are! But it is truly my honest opinion that anybody can do it!

Check out videos, learn how to draw in 2D and 3D. Learn about machining processes. Get a good machinist calculator. Read books and blogs. But most importantly, set yourself to practice and fail. CNC is about failing until you get it right. There is not a single CNCer out there who just turned ON their CNC machine for the first time and jewels came out from the other side. It is a continuous evolution in which we are trying to correct mistakes. By eliminating them one by one, we reach perfection!

There are so many software tools out there, the cost of CNCing is not a problem either. There are supremely expensive tools, and there are also free ones. There is no budget on this planet, as paltry as it may be, for which a CNC solution cannot be assigned to.

So stop thinking about it and start CNCing!