Bernie Daraz

A precision sheet metal anniversary of sorts... for me anyway.

Discussion created by Bernie Daraz on Jun 2, 2017
Latest reply on Jun 2, 2017 by Todd Blacksher

It is with a touch of pride that I share this with you guys and gals on the 20th anniversary of my article contributed to The Fabricator magazine. Of course this is just me bragging about a former time so feel free to ignore this post.


I, like many of you (old guys and gals) probably started with AutoCAD. I do remember going through the tutorials on my first attempts in SW, 1996 I believe. I remember the tutorial for the attached picture and my absolute confusion when I looked for the combine option. In AutoCAD 3D (back then) this was a separate option required to merge solids. Of course I laughed at myself when I found that it was automatic through the Merge checkbox in SW.




I wrote a Visual Basic program back then that allowed you to 'read' your NC and CNC tape (as text or ASCII) files, those typical of earlier programming systems. As my program 'read' your tape file it asked you to 'describe' and input the blank size and tools. I then 'drew' the tools and plotted the result scaled to fit the screen. I believe it was the first effort at doing so and it allowed for an immediate visual verification of your program. This of course before Windows and other graphical programs became the norm.


I understood some graphics were available but they were just screen plots at the time, pretty much the same as mine, but I had colors! Soon my customers asked if they could view in more detail and inspect the program output as plotted. It was an easy consideration to 'convert' the drawing output to DXF and importing the results into AutoCAD and Cadkey. Both allowed you to use your drawing and dimensioning tools to 'virtually inspect' your programs without setting up the turret and running a blank.


A former coworker had started his own precision sheet metal business and was using a Strippit offering that ran on the Mac called Multipunch. He asked if I had a version for that, I didn't at the time but bought a Mac and converted my Visual Basic program. Now imagine my surprise when I found out that XY zero was in the upper left hand corner on the Mac as opposed to the lower left hand corner on the PC! The whole plot was upside down! A complete redesign was required for the drawing commands. Think about the 'math' for a trapezoid with corner radii on an angle! I had to develop the start and end points of all the lines and place the radii in the corners while accommodating the rotation angle. A little bit of a bear back then.


I started the conversion that evening after dinner and found myself finished in the morning not realizing I worked through the night!


All in all a fun and very profitable project!


A crude, very, very crude video is here on YouTube: FAB5 Movie - YouTube  It is running in DOS on an old (486) laptop hooked to one of my desktop monitors. I had to run a CP/M emulator to use the compiler from the original programming system. I’m currently and intermittently fooling around with it and will attempt to run the system in VirtualBox on my Win7 desktop in DOS. The original article is here Bernie Models (CAD): Preview "Strippit FAB5 Programming For Turret Presses" along with my first blogging attempt. Of course it has very minimal interest and may not be interesting to you at all.


Not one year later I find myself working at a job that had a Windows based program called PunchPad. It was unique to me in that the system was integrated, text in one window and the inspectable plot in another. We did not physically inspect parts coming off the turret at all. While one programmer would write the programs another would ‘inspect’ your program before ‘sending’ it to the turret. The other attached picture shows the program running in VirtualBox in Win2000. It’s a 16 bit program and will not run in Win7 regardless of the emulation selected.


pp capture.JPG


Of course now the programs allow import from virtually all of the CAD systems and no text is required. MetalSoft or FabriWin is the only current one I have minimal familiarity with having left the fabrication end before becoming a CAD guy.


Yeah, I'm old! LOL!