System Requirements

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With today’s advancements in computing hardware, most users will have no issues using their older computers to run their CNC machines. This page specifies the hardware requirements and considerations to make for running your CNC machine.

Many of our users have successfully designed, created g-code and operated their machine with mini PCs and laptops. However, your system requirements may vary depending on:

  • Size of your g-code files
  • System requirements of your CAD and CAM software
  • gSender version you are using

Internet Connection

An internet connection is not needed to run your machine. However, you will need an internet connection (at least once) to download the required software onto your computer. Some design and CAM programs such as CAMLab and Easel require an internet connection to work, but you can do those steps on a computer connected to the internet, and then transfer the g-code file to another computer without internet. 

Requirements for Design and CAM Software

Generally, design and CAM software are the most resource-intensive part of making CNC projects. System requirements can vary widely depending on the complexity of the software. For example, Solidworks, an industry-used design software, recommends at least 16GB of RAM. On the other hand, cloud-based programs such as Onshape and CAMLab only require access to the internet and could even run on a smartphone. If you are using more advanced software programs, please consult their documentation for computer specifications.

Requirements for gSender

gSender is the recommended software for use in sending g-code to your machine. It is free and can be downloaded from our website at any time. gSender is designed to be lightweight and has been tested to run on both low and high-end hardware. Generally speaking, if your computer was made in the last 5 years, you should be able to use gSender without any issues. 

Operating system: 64-bit Windows 10* and higher, Mac, and Linux*
CPU: Intel or AMD processors 2Ghz and above or Apple Silicon (M1, M2…)
RAM: 2GB
Ports: USB 2.0 or higher
Memory: 200Mb of hard drive space

*Note: After gSender version 1.2.2, support for 32-bit systems and Windows 7/8 had to be dropped since most new software packages can no longer support systems 10+ years old

Many users have chosen a “dual computer” setup where they will dedicate a spare, inexpensive computer to run their machine in their shop, and use their higher performance, internet-connected home computer for design and CAM. G-code can be transferred between computers just like any other file, such as via USB stick, email, or the cloud.

Computer Setup

A computer must be plugged in via USB and awake while the AltMill is running. Here are some additional considerations on your computer setup.

Dust
Having a computer located close to your CNC machine may expose it to dust, so we recommend placing it in a location that is out of the way. Each machine comes with a 1m USB cable, however, if you wish to extend the distance, a longer USB cable can be used. 

Battery life
Some jobs can take multiple hours. If you are using a laptop, ensure that you are plugged in or have enough battery life to complete your job.

Raspberry Pi (advanced)

Computer/tech-savvy users can run a g-code sender using a Raspberry Pi. A Raspberry Pi is a low cost, single-board computer that can be used as a dedicated computer to send g-code and operate the machine. Some benefits include

  • Being fairly inexpensive, with Raspberry Pi’s typically costing around $30 to $50.
  • Being unaffected by dust as it has no moving parts
  • Allowing for more advanced features such as remote monitoring and control and cameras.

There are many different ways to set this up, and more information can be found online. While many users have successfully set their machine up with a Raspberry Pi, it can be complicated and may create new technical issues.