Kinetic Control Software Overview

Introduction

Pocket NC’s Kinetic Control is the software that controls Pocket NC’s 5-axis CNC machines. 

Kinetic Control provides a variety of fresh new features to the Pocket NC V2 machines, including a new, updated user interface (UI). This tutorial will walk users through the new UI and demonstrate how to use it and the new control software effectively.

This tutorial does not cover how to install Kinetic Control on machines that were shipped with the original V2 control software and UI. If installation of Kinetic Control has not been done yet, users should follow the steps lined out in the “V2 Kinetic Control Installation Guide” that came with the purchase of the Kinetic Control upgrade. 

Initialization

The startup of the V2 machines remains the same and is outlined in the Quick Start Guide that was shipped with the machine. That guide can also be found in the User Resources space of the Pocket NC website. 

Upon startup, the user interface will open to the PRODUCTION page. From this page users have access to all of the buttons necessary for machine initialization. 

To begin initializing the machine, begin by clicking on the large, red E-STOP button at the bottom of the page. Doing so will provide power to the machine’s motors and prepare them for movement. Once the E-stop is deactivated, its button will change to RESET. The same behavior can be observed when pressing the E-stop button on the front of the machine. 

Next, after ensuring that the machine is clear of anything it may collide with during movement, including hands and fingers, click the HOME ALL button. This will start the machine’s homing process, sending each axis searching for its home switch. The machine will home the Z axis first, then X and Y together and then A and B together. 

Once the machine is homed, the HOME ALL button will no longer have the triangular warning symbol next to it and, if a V2-50 machine is being used, the WARM UP button will no longer be greyed out. 

If the machine is a V2-10, it is now initialized and ready to use. If the machine is a V2-50, a spindle warm up sequence must be run. To do so, ensure that the air pressure to the spindle is 20 psi or higher as read by the gauge in the upper left corner of the page and then click the WARM UP button. The machine will begin the spindle warm up sequence it determines is necessary based on the amount of time elapsed since its last spindle warm up. A notification will pop up in the lower right hand corner displaying the warm up sequence it is going to run. 

Status Bar

The status bar at the bottom of the screen is where users can get information about the active status of the machine. This bar is always visible, no matter what page of the user interface a user is on. 

On the far left of the status bar is the connection status. This is where users can check to see whether a connection has been made with the machine. When connected this text will be green and read “Connected”, when disconnected the text will be yellow and read “Disconnected”. 

Next to the connection status is a list of g and m codes that are currently active on the machine. To see all of the active codes users can hover their mouse over this section of the status bar and the rest of the codes will show up. 

In the center of the status bar is the E-STOP and RESET button. As mentioned before, this button shows up as E-STOP when the machine is first turned on and/or when the E-stop button on the front of the machine has been pushed and is blinking red. It becomes RESET after it or the E-stop button on the front of the machine has been pressed. 

It is important to note that when the machine is in E-stop, there is no power to any of the machine’s motors and when the machine is taken out of E-stop all axes must be homed before the machine can be used. This is different behavior than the RESET button; when the RESET button is pressed the machine simply stops whatever it is doing. This includes any axis or spindle movement that is happening at the time. The RESET button will also automatically take the machine back to the beginning of the program so it should not be used to pause the machine.

To the right of the center button is the machine’s runtime clock. This is where users can see whether the machine is Idle, Running or Paused. It is also where users can view how long a program has been running. This clock will also show how long the last program took to run when the machine is in an idle state.

 

Lastly, on the far right side of the status bar are the message indicators. This space will be clear of indicators when there are no messages to be read but as messages pop up, indicators will show, along with how many new messages there are. 

The “i” indicator represents information messages, the triangular exclamation mark indicator represents warning messages and the circular exclamation mark indicator represents errors. Each of these indicators can be clicked on to read their associated messages and then clear them. 

After a message has been cleared from one of these indicators, it can still be read on the HISTORY page that will be discussed in more detail later in this guide. 

Setup Page

The SETUP page is where users can find all the tools and functionality needed for setting up the machine to run a specific part or program. Each section of this page is outlined below. 

Work Offsets Section

The WORK OFFSETS section allows users to set a Work Coordinate System (WCS) origin to a location other than the machine’s center of rotation and then assign that location to a work coordinate system g-code (G54 - G59.3). 

The values in the DRO column represent the current DRO accounting for any offsets that have been applied. 

The values in the Absolute Position column represent the distance each axis is from the machine’s origin point, the center of rotation. 

The G5x drop down allows users to choose what work coordinate system they would like the offsets to be stored under. It also offers the option to clear all of the current offsets or to zero the DRO for all the axes. This will default to G54. 

Each editable field under the G5x drop down is where the applied offsets will be shown for each of the axes. After performing a touch off to a part or work piece, the three-lined symbol to the right of the field can be clicked to set the DRO to a value. Leaving it at zero would represent setting the WCS origin to the location of the center of the tool where it currently sits for that axis. Entering a value here would represent setting the WCS origin to a point that distance from the center of the tool where it currently sits. This might be done to account for the radius of a tool or edge finder. 

After selecting SET, the row for that axis will update with new values to represent the current position of the axis as it applies to the work coordinate system that is active.

The G92 drop down menu allows users to Zero the DRO in relation to the G92 offsets as well as clear, suspend or restore G92 offsets. The editable fields below this drop down menu function the same as the ones to their left. Using G92 offsets is not as common as G5x offsets and a thorough understanding of how they work should be obtained before attempting to use them. 

Lastly, the Active Tool column of this section will show what tool number is active based on recent g-code execution or selection of the tool in the tool table below. When a tool is active, its tool length offset will show up in the editable field of this column. This value can be altered using the same method as the other editable fields, but caution should be taken to make sure there is a full understanding of what effects the change will have on other pieces of the machine setup process. 

Jog Section

The JOG section of the SETUP page allows users to move the different axes of the machine in selected increments. 

Note: If the user selects metric units the jog section and DRO will read in millimeters, not inches as shown below. The jog increments will also be in millimeters. 

At the top of the JOG section is the readout selector. This dropdown menu allows users to select what values they would like to have displayed in the DRO portion of the JOG section. The “Position” option shows the axes’ position with the work offsets included. The “Actual Position” shows the axes’ position without the offsets included, also known as machine coordinates. 


Next to the readout selector is the HOME ALL button. This button does exactly as it says, when clicked the machine’s axes will begin searching for their home switches. As mentioned before, the machine will home Z first, then X and Y together and then A and B together. 


Taking up most of the JOG section is the DRO (digital readout). Each axis row has 2 functions, displaying the position of the axis and providing a way to jog the axis by decimal place. 


To jog an axis using the readout, users can select the decimal place they wish to jog by and then click and drag the computer mouse up or down to change the number in increments of one. Touch screen users can do the same with their finger. Users with trackpads can simply click on the number once and then scroll. For example, if a .2” move of the Z axis is desired, the first decimal place would be selected and then scrolled up 2 increments. 

 

At the end of each axis row is a small house symbol. This button performs the homing sequence for the specified axis.

Below the DRO is a set of buttons that provide an alternate jogging option. The center dropdown menu allows users to select the increment size they would like to jog in. When the increment matches a specific decimal place, it will change the selected digit in the DRO. Custom increments can be manually entered in the text field. The plus and minus signs on either side of the dropdown menu increment the selected axis positive or negative by the selected increment.

In the upper right Jog menu, there are additional options that affect jogging. 

Jog Mode allows the user to specify jogging in Joint mode vs Axis mode. Joint mode commands the machine’s individual motors. Axis mode jogs the machine in the current cartesian axis. Often, both axis and joint mode will behave the same as axes are, by default, aligned with the motors of the machine. In some cases, they behave differently. For example, when TCPC is active and one or both of the rotary axes are not at 0, jogging the X axis could move multiple motors at once. Furthermore, machines can have software compensation in place to account for very small misalignments of the physical axes, which can result in small movements of Y and Z, when jogging in X, for example. In order to jog with those adjustments in place, the jog mode must be in Axis. When jogging in Axis mode, the machine is not aware of the limits of the joints and can move slightly over the soft limits, which causes the machine to error and movement to be disabled until the offending axis is moved back into its proper range.


Lastly, at the very bottom of the upper right Jog menu, users have the option of turning on keyboard and mouse wheel jogging. Keyboard jogging allows users to continuously jog the machine using the keys on their keyboard. Key bindings can be found on the CONFIG page. Mouse wheel jogging allows users to jog the selected axis by the selected increment using the wheel on their computer mouse without needing the mouse to be over the selected digit (it essentially binds mouse wheel up to the + button and mouse wheel down to the - button). 

Tool Offsets Section

The TOOL OFFSETS section, sometimes known as the tool table, is where users can define and record data on the tools that will be used to run a part. 

At the far left of each row is the tool measure button. When this button is pressed, the machine will begin the tool measuring process. This includes moving the machine to home followed by bringing the spindle forward and prompting the user to install the proper tool and then press cycle/start. From there the machine will position the tool in front of the tool probe button under the B axis and then finish the probing sequence by pushing the button twice. After the probing sequence is complete the machine will return to the position it was in when the tool measure button was pressed and the TLO (tool length offset) will be stored in the TLO column.

Next to the tool measure button is the active tool indicator and button. This button can be clicked to activate a specific tool number, turning it black. The tool number that is shown as active here should agree with the tool that is listed as active in the far right column of the WORK OFFSETS section discussed earlier. 

The TLO column is where the TLO measurements are stored after a tool has been measured using the machine's integrated tool probe. These editable fields can have values manually input if a user chooses to measure a tool by hand. 

The Diameter column allows users to note the diameter of the tool that has been assigned that tool number. This value helps inform the gauge readouts on the MANUAL and PRODUCTION pages and, in some cases, with the right CAM settings, this value can be used to dictate cutter compensation. Information on how to use that functionality should be sourced from the user’s CAM provider.

The Flutes column allows users to note how many flutes the tool assigned to that tool number has on it. This field also helps inform the gauge readouts on the MANUAL and PRODUCTION pages. 

Lastly, the Description column of the TOOL OFFSETS section allows users to add any additional information about the tool assigned to that tool number. Things like type of tool, coating, manufacturer, etc. 

Manual Page

The MANUAL page is where users can manually manipulate the machine in a variety of ways, including jogging and executing MDI (manually written g-code) commands. 

 

Spindle Section

Under the spindle section of the MANUAL page users will find gauges and buttons related to the machine’s spindle. 

On V2-50 machines there will be an air pressure gauge in the top left corner of the SPINDLE section, this is the gauge that must read a certain pressure before the machine’s spindle can be run. This gauge will not be present on V2-10 machines.

In the center of the SPINDLE section is the 4-in-1 radial gauge. The center value is the spindle’s actual spindle speed in RPM. The upper left third of the dial is the spindle’s power consumption in watts while the upper right third is the load on the spindle displayed in a percentage. And the bottom third of the radial gauge is a temperature of the spindle displayed in the units chosen in the CONFIG page. Note, that on the V2-50, the temperature is read from a sensor mounted to an electronics board so it may not reflect the actual temperature of the spindle, but is used as a safety measure to prevent spindle usage in extreme temperatures. Each portion of the radial gauge will display green towards the bottom of its range and progressively change to orange as values reach the top of its range. 

Lastly, at the bottom of the SPINDLE section, there is the WARM UP button. This is the button that was mentioned and used in the Initialization section of this guide. This button is only present on V2-50 machines and is used to warm up the spindle after periods of inactivity. It will be green with a triangular warning sign on it when a warm up is needed and dark grey when a warm up is no longer needed. If it appears “greyed out” it is likely that the machine needs to be taken out of E-stop and/or homed. 

Feed Section

The FEED section of the MANUAL page is very similar to the SPINDLE section, it displays the various values related to how fast the machine is moving (typically through a material). 


In the center of the 4-in-1 radial gauge is the feed rate readout. This value is displayed in the units that have been selected in the CONFIG page. The upper left third of the gauge displays the total power that the machine is consuming in watts. The upper right third of the gauge displays the calculated chip load of the current cut based on the feed rate and the number of flutes defined in the tool table for the active tool. And lastly, the bottom third of the gauge displays the calculated surface speed of the tool based on the spindle speed and the diameter input in the tool table for the active tool. Just like the gauges in the SPINDLE section, the gauges in the FEED section change colors as they reach the end of their range. 

Jog Section

The JOG section of the MANUAL page functions the exact same way as it does on the SETUP page. Refer to that section above for a detailed walkthrough. 

Control Section

The CONTROL section of the MANUAL page allows users to override the velocity of commanded moves as well as the spindle speed.

 

The CONTROL section is made up of four override sliders. Each slider allows users to override the nominal or commanded value of that particular parameter. The percent by which the value has been changed is displayed below the slider and the refresh button to the right of each slider resets it back to 100%. The sliders can be adjusted in 1% increments. Max Velocity controls the maximum speed at which the tip of the tool can move. Max Rapid refers to how fast the tool can move during G0 commands specifically. Feed Rate is how fast the machine is moving the tool during feed rate moves (F values).  Finally, Spindle Rate is the speed at which the spindle is rotating. 

MDI Section

The MDI section of the MANUAL page allows users to manually enter lines of g-code to perform various operations or put the machine into certain modes or positions. 

At the top of the MDI section is the MDI command bar. Here is where users can enter single line g-code commands and then press enter to issue them. Once a command has been entered and issued, it gets stored in one or more of the folders below the command bar. 

The Recent folder shows the lines of g-code that have most recently been commanded to the machine. This folder only shows the uniquely different commands that have been issued recently, it does not show the number of times a command has been issued. Any command in this folder can be selected to automatically populate the command bar with it and issue it again. 

The Log folder displays each command that has been issued and the order in which it was issued, regardless of whether there are duplicates or not. 

The Favorites folder is where any commands that have been “starred” in the Recent or Log folders (by clicking on the star to the far right of the command) are stored. In this folder users have additional options like being able to give the command a name (which saves it to the Quick Access folder) and assigning it to a keyboard key. The date the command was added to the Favorites is also displayed here. 

Lastly, the Quick Access folder provides users a way to quickly select and issue commands by clicking on buttons named for the command they perform. For example, instead of searching for “M3 S45000” in the Favorites folder, clicking on it to put it in the command bar, and then pressing enter to issue the command, a user can simply click on the button labeled “Spindle on - 45K” and the command will be issued. As mentioned above, Quick Access buttons are created by naming a command that has been added to the Favorites folder. 

Production Page

The production page is where users have the ability to upload, start, monitor and manipulate the g-code program that will be run. There is no way to manually move the machine on this page. 

 

Spindle Section

The SPINDLE section of the PRODUCTION page is the same as it is on the MANUAL page. Refer to that portion of this guide for a detailed description and walkthrough.

Feed Section

The FEED section of the PRODUCTION page is the same as it is on the MANUAL page. Refer to that portion of this guide for a detailed description and walkthrough.

DRO Section

The DRO section of the PRODUCTION page is very similar to the JOG section that has been discussed previously. The main difference is that this section does not allow users to jog any of the machine’s axes. The only way to move the machine’s axes from this section is with the Home all button. 

The DRO’s main function is to provide users a way to monitor the position of the machine’s axes relative to the point that corresponds with the selected readout type. The readout type dropdown menu at the top left corner of the JOG section shares two readout options with the JOG section on other pages but also has two additional options, DTG (distance to go) and Velocity.


DTG (distance to go) is a DRO option that allows users to see how far away a programmed move is from its final position. For example, if the program commands a G0 X1.5 move, the DRO (set to DTG) would show X as 1.5 and then slowly count down until the X axis was at 1.5, where the DRO would then read 0. 

The Velocity option allows users to see what each axis is reaching for velocity during the moves the machine is making. This allows users to see if the machine is actually able to reach the feed rates that are being commanded. 

Control Section

The CONTROL section of the PRODUCTION page allows users to start, pause and manipulate the active or running program. 


At the top of the CONTROL section there are several buttons that provide users the ability to start and stop the g-code program that is active on the PRODUCTION page. Each of these buttons has a slightly different way of doing this and some of them can be used with manually written g-code as well. 

The Cycle/Start button starts the g-code program that is active on the PRODUCTION page and will only start or restart (after a pause) that program, nothing else. This button is mimicked by the green button on the front of the machine.

The Feed Hold button acts as a pause button for the actively running program. It is only available when g-code (manually input or active on the PRODUCTION page) is running. This button will pause the axis movement of the machine but WILL NOT stop the spindle. If stopping the axis movements and the spindle is needed, press the RESET button at the bottom of the screen.

Below the Cycle/Start button is the Step button. This button allows users to step through the g-code that is active on the PRODUCTION page one line at a time. The program must be started and then paused (feed hold) before this button is active and available to use. 


To the right of the Step button is the Optional Stop switch. This feature allows users to have M1 commands (program pause) in their g-code programs and choose whether those commands are recognized or not. The slider is green when the switch is “on” and the M1 commands will be executed and it is grey when the switch is “off” and the M1 commands will be ignored.

The rest of the CONTROL section is made up of four override sliders. Each slider allows users to override the nominal or commanded value of that particular parameter. The percent by which the value has been changed is displayed below the slider and the refresh button to the right of each slider resets it back to 100%. Max Velocity controls the maximum speed at which the tip of the tool can move. Max Rapid refers to how fast the tool can move during G0 commands specifically. Feed Rate is how fast the machine is moving the tool during feed rate moves (F values). Finally, Spindle Rate is the speed at which the spindle is rotating. 

G-Code Section

The G-CODE section of the PRODUCTION page is where users can upload and manage the g-code programs that are intended to be run on the machine. 

At the very top of the G-CODE section there are buttons for opening and uploading g-code programs followed by a label that shows the name of the currently active program. If there is no g-code program active then it will say “No File Loaded”. When the Open File button is clicked (the one with the folder icon), the “Open File” window comes up. From this window users can manage the location of the files that have been uploaded to the machine, delete files or select one to be active. 

To the right of the active program text is the Upload File button. This is the button that users can press to open up their computer’s file browser and select a file to be uploaded to the machine.

The rest of the G-CODE section is simply a window that shows the actual g-code of the active program. Here users can look through the code and track with the machine as it runs the code. This window can also be helpful when errors arise and the machine stops running, allowing users to see what line and code(s) the machine stopped on. 

History Page

The HISTORY page provides users with a place to review the various errors, warnings and info panels that a user may encounter while operating the machine.

Message Log Section

Under the MESSAGE LOG section, users can see the chronological log of all the messages that have come up since the machine was powered on. Each log can be expanded by clicking on the small “More>>” text that is at the end of the message title. 

Green messages serve as notifications and confirmation messages, yellow messages are warnings and red messages are errors. 

Config Page

The CONFIG page allows users to adjust the configuration of both the user interface and the machine.

Client Tab

The CLIENT tab is where users have the option to make changes to the way the machine’s user interface looks and functions

Keybindings Section

In the KEYBINDINGS section of the CLIENT tab users can bind the keys of their keyboard to certain machine commands. 

To set or edit one of the bindings, all a user has to do is click on the button with the pencil symbol on it to open up the edit window. From there the desired key can be pressed and the Set button clicked to save the selection.

If a user wishes to unbind a command completely, the button with the trash can symbol can be pressed. 

 

Units, Audio and Language Sections

The UNITS section of the CLIENT tab gives users the option to change the units of the various values that are displayed throughout the user interface. 

The AUDIO section allows users to change the volume of the feedback noises used throughout the user interface. The UI’s audio can be completely disabled using the switch at the bottom of this section. 

The LANGUAGE section gives users the ability to change the base language of the user interface as well as change the dialect (lingo) that is used throughout. The “Industry” dialect option will display components of the UI with their common industry name, the “Intuitive” option will display certain components with their more common-language names. 

Server Tab

The SERVER tab is where users can update their machine’s software and make changes to their machine’s back end configuration. 


Software Section

The SOFTWARE section of the SERVER tab is where users will find the ability to update their software. The active version will be shown at the top. If the machine is connected to the internet, the latest version will be shown below the active version. In order to update the software, the main PocketNC and Rockhopper services need to be shutdown, so the first step to updating is to click the Shutdown Services button. Once the services have shutdown, if updates are available, an update button will be shown that can be clicked to download and install the updates. The update process can be interrupted at any time and will not affect the current state of the machine (i.e. beginning the update process and not finishing it, will not leave the machine in a broken state). After the update process completes successfully, the active version will switch to Pending Version, which will become active after rebooting the machine. The PocketNC and Rockhopper services will start automatically after rebooting the machine. The Shutdown Machine button can be clicked to ensure a complete shutdown of all software services before removing power, but it isn’t required to do so.

Machine Config Section

The MACHINE CONFIG section of the SERVER tab is where users can edit the back end configuration of the machine as well as upload and download the machine’s calibration and configuration data. 

The DOWNLOAD button and “Serial number” box allows machine users to download the INI Overlay that is currently active on the machine, this file includes configuration and calibration data. 

The UPLOAD button allows users to upload an INI overlay to the machine. And the RESTART SERVICES is what makes the new INI overlay active. This button is also used to make any edits to the INI overlay active. 

At the bottom right corner of the MACHINE CONFIG section is the button EDIT OVERLAY. This button opens up the ability to edit the INI overlay by adding a plus and trash button on the left hand side and making the fields in the middle of the screen editable. 

Editing the INI overlay is not something a user should do without a full understanding of the effects it could have on the machine or having consulted a Pocket NC service and support team member. 

Additional Resources and Support

There are additional resources on Kinetic Control and the Pocket NC V2 machines available under the Help tab on the Pocket NC website: http://www.pocketnc.com  

Users with questions, comments or concerns regarding the Kinetic Control or anything else Pocket NC related can reach out to the Pocket NC service and support team at: service@pocketnc.com.