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My LazyCam(tm) Z-Optimizer
Copyright (c) 2014-2015, all rights reserved.

I've been playing with a little CNC machine project (I'll write more about it later) and use Mach3 to control the machine.  Mach3 is CNC software which "interprets" gcode files and moves the motors.

Mach3 comes w/ a limited version of LazyCam, which imports DXF (AutoCAD) files and converts them into suitable gcode (the codes which Mach3 interprets).

So basically the drill is this:  You draw your project in a CAD package capable of saving files in DXF format.  You import that file into LazyCam and set your feed speeds and cut depths, and now export a resulting gcode file to Mach3.  Finally, in Mach3, you run that gcode file to make your part.

People either like LazyCam, or hate it (I don't think anyone actually loves LazyCam).  Many people get frustrated with the software and move onto other CAM packages.

One thing I think a great many people hate about LazyCam is excessive up/down motion of the Z-axis.  If you need to make 10 passes to cut a profile, LazyCam "raises" the router to the safe "plunge height" position between each pass.  All this excessive up/down really slows the process and results in a great deal of eye rolling.

So I wrote a little macro that removes the redundant up/down Z action.  This can greatly reduce runtime.  LCZO basically "reads" through your gcode and removes the unnecessary Z travel.  This works great.


Install LCZO

Download the LCZO macro (LINK)

Place a copy of this file in your Mach3 "macros" folder, name it "M1000.M1S" (no quotes).

In Mach3, click "Config" and then "General Config."  Add "M1000" (no quotes) to your initialization string.

Finally, place a check in "Use Init String on ALL "Resets"" on the same screen.

Note:  You may need to adapt these instructions depending on your current config (like if you already have an M1000).


Now use LCZO...

Use LazyCAM to generate some G-Code, and load this into Mach3.

In Mach3, click RESET once or twice (depending on current mode) to activate LCZO.  LZCO is run when switching from Emergency mode to run mode.

You will be asked if you would like to optimize your G-Code and can click "OK" or "Cancel."  Go with "OK."

The macro will create a new, optimized version of your G-Code file.  This new version will have "_lczo" appended on the filename.  The macro will tell you how many lines were commented-out, and when you confirm this value, will then reload the new optimized version into Mach3.  Pretty seemless.

If you load an already-optimized version (with the "_lczo" appended to the filename), the macro will see that in the filename and won't run again.


If you run into trouble...

Send me some E-Mail (address below) and let me know what is going on.


The Beg...
I'd like to raise $75 to purchase the "Pro" version of LazyCam.  There are features I could really use personally but even more so when demonstrating my machine in classrooms.  I've got $34 in my PayPal account now.  Send me some money!



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