Launching another project gallery site

Okay, I’m going to do this, despite there being many such as noted in: Using Easel designs and gcode and as prompted by: Shapeoko-specific project/furniture designs

I have a domain which is suited for this, and would like to launch this on Kickstarter (of course). I’m hoping for some support from the folks at Carbide 3D as well as the larger community here and on the Shapeoko forums.

I’d be grateful for any thoughts, suggestions, comments, criticisms, warnings, or other discussion anyone might want to share.

In broad strokes, it’ll be:

  • focused on opensource and sharing
  • may have a monetization option where one can purchase enhanced privileges (I’m thinking one would have to be a paid member to upload a non-opensource design)
  • allow searching designs by machine capabilities
  • will initially be focused on creating designs to collect and publish in a book (available both in print and electronic form, with the designs for the book forming the initial content for the site)

I think you are the person for this job. Your dedication and effort will cause me to visit this site on a regular basis. Go for it and good luck. Thanks for stepping up to the job.

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In looking at some other items, searching/browsing by machine capabilities is a critical factor, but I also think you might need to include the file design program the files were made in (Carbide Create, Fusion 360, V-Carve, etc) and perhaps even the machine programming (Carbide Motion, etc) if g-code is offered directly, Honestly, I’m not entirely sure as I’m totally new to the workflow and have yet to cut anything.

Also sorting by license type (MIT, CC BY-NC-SA, etc.) and readily-modifiable designs would also be needed.

I do think having a defined set of standards and curation will be required to ensure that each project has a complete set of files, tags and links.

More power to you for taking it on!

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I’m sure Will, You can do it !!! You could have a lot of fun too.


What value will your idea offer over the plethora of existing platforms? The problem with this kind of idea is that it is very difficult to generate a large enough user base and enough quality content to motivate people to take the trouble to try yet another platform.

From your description above I don’t think you have the pitch down well enough to motivate change. I couldn’t really tell what you are offering by the description you gave.

I’m not saying that to criticize, just to let you know where you might want to invest some more time interviewing people to get your pitch and idea nailed down. Inventors start with an idea and hope people like it. People almost never do so they repeat the process over and over. Entrepreneurs start with learning what people really want and develop an idea around that. You can’t know what people really want without interviewing hundreds of them and then iterating your interview questions as you learn until you have something that people are begging you to take their money. This idea has a lot of established competition. It will take a lot of time to nail down an idea that offers enough missing pieces to overcome the pain of switching.

Thanks! Yeah, communicating the idea is tough. One of my ideas got shot down, but I think I may be able to work it in. Notable features of the site:

  • metadata for projects including max. part size (so that one can enter one’s working area and only get plans which work within it)
  • the ability to generate customized PDF book(lets) of selected sets of projects, say for the textbook for a course (this will likely be a paid / enhanced feature)
  • strong opensource focus for free accounts / users — but paying gets one some commercial-oriented features, or the ability to create private projects
  • integrated endmill / machine log — your account will allow you to track your endmills, and when you mark a project as made, you can select which endmills (by a user-defined ID) were used to cut it it, and they will have the linear inches of cutting which they did for said project added to their record — similarly, note which machine was used, and the site will track the # of hours the machine was in operation
  • parametric designs for CNC routing projects — I’m working on a technique which will allow one to work up a project so that it uses OpenSCAD to do previews, but which will get one a .pdf or .svg which may be sent to nesting software to create cut files.

The big thing which I’d like to see is a centralized effort for making fund-raising easier for schools and non-profits — one idea which wasn’t spelled out is that it should be possible to have a given donation earmarked for a school / non-profit — at the end of the campaign, groups receiving said donations would have the option to add funds so as to buy a machine if they don’t reach that threshold. I think it would be cool to run this Kickstarter on an annual basis to do new editions of the book, and allow additional schools / non-profits to raise money for machines.

Trying again, to simply describe the Kickstarter:

A Kickstarter for a website / book of CNC projects and tutorials funded and selected by the community.

(numbers below pulled out of the air)

  • $1 — (virtual reward) a $1 pledge gets one vote on a project to be done and included in the book and will receive access to all the opensource projects which are done and placed on the website
  • $25 — (virtual reward) gets one 25 votes, one project suggestion, and an ebook copy of the book, and a membership on the website which allows one to create private / non-opensource projects for a year (any such private projects become read only for that account when the paid membership expires)
  • $50 — (physical reward) gets one 50 votes, two project suggestions, and a paper copy of the book
  • $1100 — (limited physical reward) gets one 1100 votes, a project which is guaranteed to be designed to completion (design will be opensource and placed on the website and must comply w/ Kickstarter rules), a copy of the paper book (and is a custom version which includes one’s design if not selected for the book), and a Shapeoko 3
  • $1500 — the same as the above, but one gets an XL
  • $1700 — XXL
  • $2500 — Nomad

Virtual reward levels may be designated as donations to schools or non-profits — at the end of the campaign, all donations for each school or non-profit will be added up, and the organization will receive a suitable number of votes, project suggestions, books, and have the ability to add funds so as to achieve any physical reward level (so they may receive as many books or machines as they can come up with money for).

There would of course be additional reward levels for machines, and they would be provided on a schedule which I would need to meet to create said projects.

The second description was a lot better but its still tough for me to picture it well enough to be willing to click on it. After reading it twice I still couldn’t say what you are offering in my own words.

I think you will probably need to distill your value proposition down enough to convey the benefit in less than 8 seconds to have a good chance of getting feedback.

Interview people face to face and ask them questions about the problem you think you are solving without telling them your idea. In most cases people find that they thing they thought was a pain point for others really isn’t compared to something else they learn during the interviews. After that you can conduct interviews with the same people regarding your 8 second value proposition to see if they ask you when they can buy it. If they don’t ask when they can buy it then you haven’t found the right product/market fit.

Just some thoughts. You have the advantage of being in the center of this kind of market so if you can make yourself start with unlocking what the market wants vs. starting with a product you think they might want, you are in a great position to home in on the right fit.

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Thanks for bearing with me. I’ll think it over a bit, and try bouncing some ideas around and see what can be done to simplify it yet.

I recently read a book called"Running Lean" that discusses techniques for doing interviews that lead to product market fit. I think it would give you some good ideas.

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Simplify is the big thing. I am sure it kills the carbide guys seeing this, but Easel is does many of the things you want in one swoop. It seems no two people go about things on the shapeoko with the same set of software tools. Lots of people work in inkscape or illustrator or cad or some other program before bringing it to carbide create to do cam.

For example, a friend saw my shapeoko. He flipped about how great it was. He wanted a sign made. I pointed him to Easel, and told him I’d cut anything he designed. Within 3 days, he had a decent design back to me. I was able to cut it.

I don’t think that’s possible with carbide create. When I need to modify an AutoCAD design and try carbide create, I always get frustrated. It’s just not easy. And the plethora of tools needed to get a design out complicate that.(though to pay compliment carbide creates cam is more robust)

Sharing designs that aren’t .c2d files just becomes a hassle in my opinion. That way you can scale if necessary and cut.

Thanks, that’s a good point. FWIW, even though I was invited to the initial beta test of Easel, I wasn’t able to run it for want of a computer which would meet its requirements at the time. Not inclined now due to my mislike of cloud software — an evaluation only reinforced by the outage a bit ago.

I think most people just use Carbide Create and don’t have the need to comment on it — it’s simple enough for basic tasks and just works — the problem is when one wants to do anything beyond its built-in tools, a problem for any interactive tool. Really, it just needs a few more tools / options:

  • it needs more reliable import for DXFs and SVGs
  • for squares and regular polygons it should be possible to round the corners — it would be cool to have a path option which would do this inflex and reflexively for acute and obtuse angles for arbitrary paths
  • Boolean operations should not result in polylines
  • it should be possible to inset / offset paths
  • Bézier curve tool needs to be more flexible — editing paths should be easier/more flexible

Okay, trying again:

A Kickstarter for a book of customizable CNC projects

  • $1 (virtual) a vote for which projects are included in the book, get electronic access to the projects
  • $25 (virtual) vote for projects (x25), suggest one project for voting to be created for the book, and get a PDF copy of the book
  • $50 (physical) vote for projects (x50), suggest a project, get a printed book (and a PDF)
  • $1100 (or more) (physical) vote for projects, suggest a project which will be added to a custom copy of the printed book (and to a PDF), receive a machine capable of making the project

Virtual reward pledges may be made on behalf of a school or non-profit, in which case the reward is doubled and both the person making the pledge, and the organization on which it is made on behalf of receive the virtual rewards — the pledges may be totaled, and if sufficient in funds, used for physical reward(s) by the recipient organization.

EDIT: at the end of the Kickstarter, all suggestions are put up on the site for voting, the highest voted projects are fully drawn up, and detailed instructions, cut lists, and b.o.m. for hardware prepared, and a professional quality book, w/ professional illustrations, proper table of contents, and professionally prepared index is made of the selected projects. As machines are shipped out, any projects which need to be created for them will be, each person/organization which receives a machine will receive a book which includes their suggested project in addition to all others.

Hopefully that’s simple enough?

I’d like to see a poll on users that strictly use carbide create. Based on what I’ve seen in the forums, I think more are using a sampler of software like I suggested.

I’m unclear on who would design the project in what you suggested above. I’d love to be able to buy someone else’s tested designs that inexpensively.

That would be me doing the designing, on request for the initial set of projects for the book — of course, if the site were to get launched anyone who registered on the site could upload any design. Using an opensource license for free accounts, commercial licenses, and the ability to get paid for downloads for professional accounts. Ideally I’d like the site to have a user agreement where users assume responsibility for the legality of any information transfer.

I’ve edited the above and added a section — does that make things clear?

No need to wait for that though — if there’s a project design you’re having trouble w/ feel free to post here, or e-mail to and we’ll help you get it worked up.