With today’s advancements in computing hardware, most users will have no issues using their old or new computers and laptops to run their CNC machines. Generally, as long as your computer is newer than 5 years old, you should have no issues running a g-code sender like gSender or UGS. This page discusses hardware requirements and considerations to make for running your CNC machine.
Your system requirements may change depending on
- Size of your g-code files
- System requirements of your CAD and CAM software
Basic Requirements for gSender
gSender is the recommended software for use in sending gcode 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. If you are not sure if gSender will work on your computer, we suggest downloading it and testing it directly.
Operating system: Windows 7/8/10 and higher, MacOS, Linux
CPU: Intel or AMD processors 2Ghz and above. Apple Silicon (M1, M2…)
Ports: USB 2.0 or higher
Memory: 200Mb of hard drive space.
An internet connection is not needed to run and operate your machine. However, you will need an internet connection at least one time to download the required software to operate your machine. Some programs such as CAMLab and Easel require an internet connection to work, but you can do design and g-code creation from one computer and use a separate computer to run the machine. If you require a setup to work completely offline, programs such as Vectric V-carve and Carbide Create offer the ability to design and generate g-code without an internet connection.
A computer must be plugged in via USB and operating while the LongMill MK2 is in operation. Here are some considerations on your computer setup.
Having a computer located close to your CNC machine may expose it to dust. We recommend placing it in a location that is out of the way of dust. Each LongMill MK2 kit comes with a 1m USB cable, however, if you wish to extend the distance, a longer USB cable can be used (USB A to USB B).
Dual computer setup
Some users may choose to use a spare or inexpensive computer to run their machine and use a higher performance computer for CAD and CAM design in a different location. Because the system requirements for most g-code senders are quite low (we’ve managed to run machines on AMD Athalon and Raspberry Pi’s), a less powerful computer can be used solely to send g-code and run their CNC machines. G-code can be transferred between computers just like any other file, such as via USB stick, email, or the cloud. This allows users to do their design and CAM work in one place and do their CNC work in another.
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.
Requirements for CAD/CAM Software
System requirements for design / CAD and CAM software can vary widely depending on the complexity of the software. For example, Solidworks, a full-fledged, industrial CAD 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 can even run on a smartphone.
For users that are just starting out, our recommended basic system requirements should provide enough brunt to handle most software. If you are using more advanced programs, please consult the documentation for the software that you plan to use.
If you’re not sure what software you should use for making gcode or design, we strongly suggest checking out our software resources.
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.