Suggestion for presenting info to brand New SO3 owners

This was getting way TLDR so I hit delete and here we go.

I think there are some real opportunities to present the new user with a more cohesive early experience from the day the machine arrives to their first weeks of operation.

One example of the assembly experience that I can tell you was difficult is the Wiring Harness. The images are not clear at all and it’s pretty confusing for someone that has never used a gantry style machine. Some very friendly users posted very clear images to the Facebook page that showed me what I was trying to accomplish. I am not sure I would have gotten this completely correct using just the online docs.

Another is that the initial docs on the quick start guide seem to move you pretty quickly into running the machine before the user is exposed to items like “tramming” or “belt tuning” - those two items you don’t seem to learn about unless you specifically go looking for it. Items like this should probably be presented to the user prior to running tutorial projects

The last suggestion I would like to mention for now is you should have a clear cut Maintenance schedule posted for the SO3 - something maybe in chart form, with runtimes where a machine should be checked for specific wear/required adjustments and then links that take the user to a tech doc picturing the steps you would run in-house on your own machines. Alternatively, and preferably, videos of these maintenance schedules would be ideal - i.e. the excellent video for adjustment of the eccentric bolts on the x/y and z carriages - this was another piece of information that should be inserted directly in the assembly docs. I only found out about the video because I started asking questions on the Facebook group.

There is a lot to learn with the system. All the info seems to be out there but it’s a bit scattered and might not be seen by someone that doesn’t immediately go to the Facebook page or forum to seek help. Considering the price point of a machine like the SO3, there will be many people that have never used a CNC of any type jumping in and if the info isn’t all there in a clear and logical order problems arise that could be prevented.


As someone who is still learning (got my machine in December), much of the readily available info was helpful though some was muddled. But lots of digging on my part has been common in my learning process. I agree that belt tuning and general maintenance would be helpful info for a newbie in a better way than it is presented.

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When I built my machine they omitted the ‘squaring your machine’ step so I was technically told to run the machine before I was told to tighten the screws (the ones they tell you to leave loose during assembly). So I do agree any improved document is nice.

I suspect the answer for ‘how often should I examine the machine for wear’ is going to be ‘every time you use it’ though.

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That would be an affirmative:

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Could not agree more with this topic. We also received our xxl in dec and the directions/guide/pics need some attention. Some of the issues we faced was the boxes being 'unmarked" or no lables on hardware which did not match pics. We spent much more time {days} trying to figure everything out than it actually took to assemble the machine{hours}. At first we were kinda wondering if we had made a mistake or not, but we got it going. Not trying to dishearten anyone, it is a great machine and we are very happy with it.

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Yes. of course… But what I was really saying is each part has a lifespan… I am sure there is some relatively known time at which a Stepper motor should be either replaced or rebuilt… Belts changed, Bearings changed… that is the type of stuff I am referring to that I would love to see a chart with what the in house Carbide people say is the right time to consider ordering replacement parts to have on hand. Everything has a lifespan :wink:

Here is a link to such a set of information for the last machine I was using for many years… they developed a pretty solid set of routines you specifically looked at above and beyond the every day visual checks. - everything has a suggested life span to change/rebuild or tear down and clean. Along with specific documents on how to.

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I mentioned this in passing in the 3d printer thread going on now but I’d love to see Carbide 3d adopt this:

Prusa uses it for their machine assembly instructions, here’s a link and you can see the nice overview but also each of the sections is broken into steps with clear pictures AND a comments thread where people point our errors or make suggestions for clarity.

Yeah, we had a similar dynamic for the Shapeoko 2 instructions:

Folks would comment on the forums (ISTR we had specific threads set up) and they kept getting better — the big breakthrough came after the full page mention in Popular Mechanics which had us getting folks assembling the machines who couldn’t find all the parts, so we made interactive diagrams such as:

(you’ll probably need to open that in a new window)

Also new / upcoming for instructions, see the video for Nintendo’s Labo add-on for the Nintendo Switch — I’m pretty sure we could do something similarly interactive as a single SVG for the Shapeoko 3/XL/XXL, since the parts count is so much lower.

I am also a new user (took delivery in early December 2017) and my “experience” from start to now has met or exceeded my expectations.

Assembly: I thought the included online documentation was very adequate. I made a couple of minor mistakes, but those were just as much my fault as the directions. Order of assembly, direction of assembly, etc. those sorts of things. I can tell you I took my time and went from cutting the box open to running “hello world” in about 4 hours uninterrupted. That was also taking my time. The directions were as good or better than any I have seen for tools and equipment of similar complexity.

Cutting first parts: I think the “least” well documented and/or translated to a new user (again my personal experience) is in the “method” of use. I am a fairly technical/mechanical guy and I still had to crash the machine a couple of times before I internalized what all has to happen for a successful cut. Im actually in the planning stages of (yet another) YouTube channel and I was going to use the SO3 as my first few videos. I was hoping to make a “first cut” video as well as the design, cut and use of a dust shoe. I was also going to do a calibration video as I have not seen too many of these. Problem is, I am new to YT videos so I hope my efforts end up doing more good than harm.

Comfort level: I currently feel like the steps are intuitive enough that I can use the equipment like I do any other piece in my shop. Again, I have no prior CNC hands on experience and I continue to make minor mistakes, but thats how you learn. I have made several successful simple projects out of wood (sugar skull carving, iphone stand, dust shoe (that works really well btw :grin:) and a bunch of blast gates for my dust collection system. I have not ventured into plastics or metals, but I feel equipped to start those. The stability and design of the product has gone a long way toward this relatively fast progression.

I guess my point is I think what is out there is good to get from box to hello, but maybe need more from hello to real use. I hope some of the videos I plan to make can help this in some small way.