Instructions update suggestions

New Home Forum Mostly Printed CNC – MPCNC Troubleshooting – MPCNC Instructions update suggestions

This topic contains 10 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Ryan 6 days, 1 hour ago.

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  • #95978

    Pieter
    Participant

    Since I’m a complete and utter newbie when it comes to CNCs (or even 3D printers) but have all my parts on the way I’ve been going through the documentation and would like to suggest some changes/updates that will help any newcomers like me to avoid any confusion.
    While some pages may just need their content refactored a bit for readability, others are somewhat out of date (e.g. Estlcam & Repetier screenshots) or are a bit vague when you don’t have any context to go from.

    The clearer the documentation the less time needs to be spent on support 🙂

    I’ll be adding a post under this topic for each article I’ve updated. Any feedback is welcome!
    Since I currently don’t have my MPCNC set-up yet, let me know if I got any concepts wrong.

    All these blockquotes are todos (like updated screenshots) or general suggestions

    #95982

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    The clearer the documentation the less time needs to be spent on support ? I’ll be adding a post under this topic for each article I’ve updated. Any feedback is welcome!

    Agreed, I will pay attention.

    a bit vague when you don’t have any context to go from.

    I hope if you work through them in order it is much clearer as you build and use your machine at the same time. If not I love to make it more clear. Just remember, More words usually means either less clear or people will not take the time to read them (not sure which). More precise words is always better.

    As for screen shots and stuff that is a moving target. If anything changes significantly I try to update it.

    #95983

    Pieter
    Participant

    Page link: https://www.v1engineering.com/assembly/software/

    Software

    Control Board Firmware

    If you bought a system from me the firmware is pre-loaded and you do not need to make any changes. Marlin is the firmware currently used and it is pre-flashed on the control board included in the kit (download the pre-configured files here). If you are building your own feel free to use any board/firmware you want.

    Control Board Software

    Since we’ll be operating the machine directly connected to the control board over USB you’ll need to download and install the latest Arduino IDE. You might need its included drivers, so it is best to let them install. Do this before you plug in your control board.

    MAC User? – It should work as is but here is some info if you find you are having issues you might need to change the firmware baud rate and perhaps a different driver.

    Machine Control Software

    For beginners, it is best to start with the Repetier-Host software (do not use Repetier-Server). It’s an easy to use program that can move the machine along any of the three axis and can also process gcode generated in any program (Estlcam, slic3r, Image2Gcode, Fusion360, etc.) but we’ll get to that later.

    Once installed here are some basic settings.

    Alternatively you can also use an LCD screen but for beginners the software is usually easier to learn.

    CAM Software

    In short, CAM or Computer Aided Manufacturing software allows you to define the tool paths and generate the gcode for the machine control software.

    We’ll be using Estlcam because it’s easy to use and will get you results with the smallest learning curve (while still being extremely powerful software).

    Setup Estlcam following these settings.

    The Estlcam page imo should only contain the first part (installation & settings; up until the sentence “For this 2D or 2.5D work .DXF files are used.”). This way the Crown test can be moved to its own page and be made part of the 6-Machine Usage page (see last remark at the bottom to understand)

    Testing

    Never plug or unplug anything into the control board while there is any power, USB or power plug connected!

    Open Repetier-Host (see settings above) and move your gantry to the center of your build space and make sure the z axis is roughly centered in its travel. You never know which way it’s going to go!

    With all the motors plugged in, plug in the USB cable and the power to the control board and hit connect in the upper left corner of Repetier-Host, it should take a few seconds and turn green to indicate it is connected.

    Current version of Repetier-Host (v2.1.3) has a different icon for Connect. These screenshots should be updated (Can’t take any myself since I don’t have my board yet)

    You can now use the controls in the Manual Control tab to move the machine. The arrows allow for .1, 1, 10, 50mm movements. Start small 1 mm at a time. The arrows should move it in that direction.

    X positive (Right arrow) should move Right, X negative should move Left,

    Y positive (up arrow) is back or away from you, Y negative is towards you.

    Z positive (Z up arrow) moves the z axis up, meaning the tool away from the work surface.

    This screenshot is also out of date (+ verify if info above is still valid)

    If it doesn’t move as expected hit Disconnect and unplug the power and USB.

    For any axis that is moving the wrong way simply flip the plug. If one stepper is moving the wrong way power down and flip it’s plug. Power back up and try again.

    On the original page the content continues with Step1, 2 and 3 but – imo – these should not be here since this is no longer Software but rather Machine Usage. I would suggest adding a page in the menu after 5-Software called 6-Machine usage. This page can then start with Step 1 – First use: Crown test (linking to the bottom half of the Estlcam Basics page), followed by Step 2, Step 3 and the Milling Basics pages

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    #95988

    Pieter
    Participant

    I hope if you work through them in order it is much clearer as you build and use your machine at the same time. If not I love to make it more clear. Just remember, More words usually means either less clear or people will not take the time to read them (not sure which). More precise words is always better.

    As for screen shots and stuff that is a moving target. If anything changes significantly I try to update it.

    The biggest hurdle I found so far was to understand how the different programs interact with each other or the hardware. Also it seems some pages have organically grown over the years with some additions & extensions here and there which breaks the logical flow (for me at least).

    Totally agree on the amount of text, am trying to reuse the original as much as possible.

    #96219

    Pieter
    Participant

    page link: part of https://www.v1engineering.com/assembly/software/ (starting at “Step 1 – First Use”)

    See remark at the bottom of the Software page suggestions post to see where this page fits in

    Machine Usage

    Now the machine should be moving around and once you finally get bored of manually moving it around it is time to put it to work!

    Step 1 – First Use (the Crown test)

    Let’s start with Estlcam. I have put together a little walk through using Estlcam as a plotter. So strap on a pen, (or a “spindle” if you know what you’re doing).

    The infamous Crown… Follow the Basic instructions on how to actually use the machine. Test code available at the bottom of that page.

    If you ask for help I will ask about your crown test (see also this sticky before asking for help).

    As mentioned before I’d split that page into a page with only the first part (‘Setting up Estlcam’ -> see Software page suggestion) and a second page with only the Crown test. Split at “For this 2D or 2.5D work .DXF files are used.” where the crown file is loaded

    Step 2 – Getting dirty

    Now the machine can draw pictures it is time to get it dirty. Hope you didn’t make a white one…

    When you are ready to try and cut something, here are some Intermediate instructions.

    Step 3 – Getting serious

    You should now have a firm grasp of the machine and how it works.

    The Milling Basics page has a lot of info on where to go from here.

    Step 4 – Getting to work

    This page has all sorts of things to try.

    Step 5 – Getting creative

    See what you/your machine can do right here.

    Step 6 – Get in touch

    Have a great idea that you want some feedback on? Feel the need to share some knowledge or help out a newbie?

    Look no further

    #96540

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Pieter.

    Thank you, I am not ignoring you. I spent all day yesterday trying to fix the website. Everything should be good now, I have you suggestions at the top of my todo list. I will work on it as soon as I have a little time.

    #96552

    kd2018
    Participant

    What about a wiki?

    #96554

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    That would be great. There is/was one no one other than me contributed so I do it here as formatting is a million times easier here than a wiki.

    #96560

    kd2018
    Participant

    I honestly couldn’t personally commit to much, but I have noticed typos and thing when reading through the instructions that I would have just corrected had I been able.

    #96591

    Pieter
    Participant

    Pieter.

    Thank you, I am not ignoring you. I spent all day yesterday trying to fix the website. Everything should be good now, I have you suggestions at the top of my todo list. I will work on it as soon as I have a little time.

    No problem at all, they’re just suggestions. Yesterday I was able to start assembly now that everything has been delivered and with the website down I had to use Google cached pages without pictures. Luckily I had read through them a couple times beforehand 🙂

    I’ve read several of your posts in the last couple weeks where you mention it being very busy with the increased amount of orders. Since this will expand the userbase even more (and also reported issues) the wiki suggested by kd2018 could really help here. The community will then be able to contribute, expand and keep all documentation up to date. It can be set up in such a way that you have to approve changes before they are “live”. In reality you’d just have to periodically go through the moderation list. Over time more active community members can be made moderator to lighten your workload.

    If you would be willing to set up a Mediawiki instance as a testcase I’d be happy to help move some of the current instructions over there. Formatting is not so bad once you get the hang of it 🙂

    Worst case nothing comes of it and it is removed. Best case you have your own up to date community driven wiki.

    What do you think?

    #97091

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Would the github wiki be an option? I have a little more experience with that system, and it is hosted outside so I think I could have a backup?

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