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Keith Outten
02-06-2009, 10:46 AM
Our SawMill Creek Server Administrator Aaron Koehl has been at it again, developing a new utility for Corel Draw that creates one click keyholes in Corel Draw and then it automatically creates the ShopBot machining (toolpath) file.
Aaron's new program has a menu that allows you to set the size of your keyhole, the slot length and depth. Every time you click on the screen another keyhole pops in your drawing. Once you have located the keyholes where you want them the menu has a button you click to create the necessary toolpaths to machine the keyholes. You get two sbp files, one for roughing with a 1/4" spiral bit and one for the final cut using a keyhole router bit.

Late last night Aaron tested his new program for the first time and it worked well. We still need to do some serious testing for a couple of weeks and Aaron needs to create an installer for the program.

This is very cool stuff.

Think about it....machining a keyhole hanger means the router bit has to descend into the material, then move in the X direction to cut the sub-surface slot, then move back to the original position (-X) before it rises up.

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Angus Hines
02-06-2009, 10:55 AM
Have him shoot me the file I'll beta test it....

Keith Outten
02-12-2009, 3:36 PM
Here is a Corel Draw snapshot of the Beta version of Aaron's ShopBot Keyhole Toolpath Generator. Its a portion of a 96" by 30" drawing that has 40 sign blanks. Since the keyhole toolpaths are created automatically while your in Corel Draw you don't need to worry about creating them in VCarve Pro or whatever software you are using for toolpaths.

Note that you must keep your sign blanks perfectly centered in the drawing so they will align perfectly with the front side. You start by machining the keyholes on the back of the sheet. You then flip the sheet over, machine any detail then make the perimeter cut. I have already tested a 30" by 48" sheet of sign blanks, I should have the first 96" by 30" sheet machined Monday and have some pictures to share.

Angus, Aaron hasn't created an install file yet. He did a manual install on my computer...in fact he did the programming on my machine. I would like to get a copy of the Keyhole Utility on my machine at CNU but I will have to wait for Rev1 with the installer.
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Steve knight
02-13-2009, 2:30 AM
how practial is this though corel creates the rest of the toolpaths?
myself keyholes are done with one bit. the frued keyhole bit will plunge then cut the keyhole and slot at the same time.

Keith Outten
02-13-2009, 8:01 AM
Steve,

Although the Corel Draw Keyhole script will create two toolpaths you can use only one if you prefer to machine your keyholes in one pass. The reason for two toolpaths is that I use a spindle at CNU and I prefer to limit the downforce pressure on the ceramic bearings, so I do a roughing pass with a 1/4" spiral bit. We make hundreds of door signs every month at CNU, I would like to see the spindle last as long as possible before I have to send it off to be rebuilt.

If I was machinging keyholes on my ShopBot at home with a Porter Cable Router I would use just the second file and machine them in one step. If your material was something very hard you have the option to use both files and extend the life of the bearings in your router.
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Keith Outten
02-16-2009, 9:38 PM
This is the old way!
Standing in front of my bench mill/drill for hours machining keyholes, it works but it ain't fun. Better to let the ShopBot take over this task when there are hundreds of them every month :)

Brent Endsley
03-24-2009, 12:01 AM
Any new updates on this?
Thanks!

Keith Outten
03-24-2009, 7:53 AM
Brent,

There isn't any change unfortunately. I reminded Aaron a couple of days ago that he still needs to create the install file for the Keyhole utility. He had forgotten, not surprising given his schedule at William and Mary.

I can tell you that I have been giving the Keyhole utility a real workout at CNU. The results have been perfect keyholes. This saves me a lot of time and makes a dreary job a no brainer. I enjoy the fact that you don't need any toolpath software and the keyhole files created are independent of any other toolpaths. Even if you just need to machine a couple of keyholes on one plaque this is a cool utility because they are perfect every time. It takes one click to place a keyhole in your Corel Drawing, then you can place the keyhole anywhere you want and that is exactly where it will be on the project.

I will keep reminding Aaron to finish the Keyhole utility. He will be demonstrating it and his Braille script for Corel at Angus's gathering in his Shop on May 9th so he has to get it done before then. I would really like to be able to use the Keyhole utlility at CNU but I can't without the installer, it only exists right now on my computer here in my workshop. I have to make the toolpaths on my computer and store them on the thumb drive to use them at CNU. Its a hassle but its worth it for the time saved and improved accuracy.

Less than two months to go and Aaron will be finished with his course work on his Doctorate. I will be relieved to see him return to work around here. It will be great to have him be able to develop more of these utilities to make my CNC work easier, faster, etc. I could also use some help with Aspire 3D design work these days but Aaron hasn't even had the time to look at the software yet.
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