How do you like your instructions?

General Discussion about anything!

Do you prefer instructions as...

Plain text only
0
No votes
Text with drawings
17
40%
Text with photographs
13
30%
Images with minimal text
0
No votes
Interactive images
4
9%
Video
9
21%
Audio
0
No votes
Other
0
No votes
 
Total votes: 43

DesertRunner99
Posts: 6
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2014 8:42 am

Re: How do you like your instructions?

Post by DesertRunner99 » Sat Dec 27, 2014 2:50 am

There is a lot to say here. I have purchased ShapeOko2 and attempted to assemble with the present and available instructions.

The instructions are not adequate. They are lacking in certain areas.
In some areas, they are total crap, and I want the makers of ShapeOko to do better.

I agree with several of the previous posters; you need a combination of instructions.
a) for every step, you need a set of photographs of that completed step, with satisfying text describing what you did, and where you are in the process.
b) for every major piece completed, (mounting plates, z-axis, gantry, and so on...) a photo array of all perspectives, with accurate text accompaniment.
c) as build progresses, a video that shows completed parts, in relation to each other, with any movement (wheels, pulleys, ) described and displayed in motion.

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Postby cvoinescu » Wed Jul 16, 2014 2:58 am

One man's excessive detail is another man's "I wish they said more about this". :) It's difficult to strike a balance.

It's hard (and relatively unrewarding) to write good documentation.
I think Will is doing an outstanding job (although he does err on the side of excessive detail sometimes).
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It is not hard to write good documentation; It is a duty to reward your customers for buying the product.
Can you imagine potential customers reading a really well put together manual? nothing like a sales device....
It is not unrewarding; it rewards the company by displaying what quality of docs can mean to the competition. Shows a good example.
I looked for 4+ months a dozens of websites and a lot models. I decided on ShapeOko 2. A fine manual will sell more.

I have read several thousand posts on the assembly and quality of ShapeOko.
I have attempted to follow the current 'instructions' for assembling the device.

The videos which are linked to from the ShapeOko site are not true company videos. I cannot build a machine from what is available.
The closest to quality of any kind are the set from Winston Moy. ( I commend them, I learned a lot; but they are not enough)

I was drafted in 1971, so I joined the Air Force 1971 - 1974.
I have been building computers since 1985. I have worked on workstations, servers (of many flavors), dialers, various network devices, PLC's, to name a few.
I have worked for Department of Defense ( as a civilian) at BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin contractor sites.
So this is not my first rodeo.

cvoinescu
Posts: 4442
Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2012 6:50 pm
Location: Camberley, UK
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Re: How do you like your instructions?

Post by cvoinescu » Sat Dec 27, 2014 4:20 am

Thank you for taking the time to post and explain your point of view.

I think we agree on the benefits of great documentation. When I say it's relatively unrewarding, that's from the point of view of the designer, not the company; and I mean it's unrewarding relative to designing the stuff. I'd much rather think about an upgrade, or the next version, than put together drawings or photographs of the assembly process. I've been working as a software developer for quite a few years now, so I understand the value of documentation. I saw some otherwise great projects hobbled by lack of good documentation. With experience, and with having learned some patience over the years, comes the understanding that a product is not anywhere near done until the documentation is decent.

In an email exchange with a good customer of mine, documentation came up. He said that he chose the eShapeoko in part because of the "clear and understandable" assembly drawings. This proved your point that good documentation was good for business, and definitely worth the effort! It also made me feel unreasonably proud of myself. :)
Proud owner of ShapeOko #709, eShapeOko #0, and of store.amberspyglass.co.uk

DesertRunner99
Posts: 6
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2014 8:42 am

Re: How do you like your instructions?

Post by DesertRunner99 » Sun Dec 28, 2014 1:48 am

the entire point of the posting is to address a lack of communication.
I received the package Monday. This is Saturday evening 12/27. I have disassembled the Y axis three times now to address items which can be inserted, applied, attached incorrectly.
I have spent the last three days comprehending how the parts are recognized, the completed sections relate to the whole, and planning for the next move.

In essence, your instructions are a total clusterF**k when it comes to this. I hope that was clear enough.

The machine is still not assembled.

cvoinescu
Posts: 4442
Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2012 6:50 pm
Location: Camberley, UK
Contact:

Re: How do you like your instructions?

Post by cvoinescu » Sun Dec 28, 2014 2:06 am

My question was general, not about a particular machine. I'm afraid I'm not responsible for the Shapeoko instructions -- my machine is the eShapeoko (link to my assembly instructions for the eShapeoko 1.2).
Proud owner of ShapeOko #709, eShapeOko #0, and of store.amberspyglass.co.uk

tjshape
Posts: 155
Joined: Wed Oct 01, 2014 1:59 am
Location: Madison, WI

How do you like your instructions?

Post by tjshape » Sun Dec 28, 2014 2:36 am

Personally, I felt the instructions were adequate just as long as I took my time and read through them as a whole before starting.

The diagrams were invaluable and helped me the most. I printed those out, which was the best idea as I was easily able to lay out the parts in order of assembly. It would have been nice to have multiple angles on the diagrams though for some of the steps where all the pieces couldn't be seen entirely. That said, I was able to assemble the entire machine just over a three evening period, which I thought was pretty good considering the many distractions I have around my house.

I wouldn't call the instructions a "cluster****" by any means though, but I can empathize the frustration when something just isn't as easy as it should be or when you're forced to redo something that you've already done - that's definitely not fun. And to be honest, that feeling won't go away once the machine is all 'complete' either. It takes patience, and a lot of it to fine tune the machine. It took me a lot of iterations and head pounding to get to a point where I am confident in the machine.

For example, when I first started cutting, I could not get a job longer than 15 minutes before something would catastrophically fail. I wrecked a lot of wood. Tonight though, I ran a job for a solid 2.5 hours without any issues and am confident I could turn around and run another even longer.

Part of the fun is sadly the frustration. Without it, you simply won't get to know your machine as well, which I truly believe would be detrimental to the entire CNC experience. I for one am extremely happy I didn't buy a turn-key machine and opted for this one instead. I've been able to truly understand how things work the way they do instead of just taking them for granted. I'm also able to troubleshoot issues with this (or other) CNC(s) more effectively.

If there are specific examples in the instructions that need clarification, please post those steps and ask the forum. We are all more than happy to help figure things out with you.
Shapeoko 2, ACME upgrade, Belt Drive Z-Axis upgrade, Dewalt DW660

vegasloki
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon May 19, 2014 4:19 pm

Re: How do you like your instructions?

Post by vegasloki » Sun Dec 28, 2014 4:03 am

DesertRunner99 wrote:the entire point of the posting is to address a lack of communication.
I received the package Monday. This is Saturday evening 12/27. I have disassembled the Y axis three times now to address items which can be inserted, applied, attached incorrectly.
I have spent the last three days comprehending how the parts are recognized, the completed sections relate to the whole, and planning for the next move.

In essence, your instructions are a total clusterF**k when it comes to this. I hope that was clear enough.

The machine is still not assembled.
I understand your frustration but it doesn't appear you fully understand how an open project works or who is responsible for any given thing. Shapeoko is is an open hardware project that requires you to do a great deal of the work and have an above average mechanical ability. The open part of the design is to allow you to be able to build your own from parts you source. Companies in turn sell you the parts. In this case the docs are provided independently of any parts you may have purchased from any specific vendor. It's the standard for open hardware projects. In terms of open hardware the Shapeoko wiki is one of the best in the open hardware realm. Will and the community have done an outstanding job.

I think much of the frustration from new builders of any open hardware project is the management of expectations. Looking at a Shapeoko as just an inexpensive CNC router that comes as a kit misses the point. The build is a journey, some enjoy building more than using the tool. It's as much about the build and learning as it using the machine. For some it's too frustrating and a better choice would be to buy an assembled machine. With regards to expectations, you are building a CNC router. It's not going to go together like Ikea furniture and it's not realistic to expect that it will.

The docs are compiled by people volunteering and donating their time. Offering constructive suggestions and critiques is a great way to add to the community. I don't see that in the tone of your post, though. My suggestion would be not to insult those that have contributed to the documentation by venting your frustrations as you did. The collective knowledge base on this forum is ground zero for Shapeoko. If you are getting stuck or frustrated there are people here who are more than willing to help. Interacting in a positive manner with the folks here is a much better way to insure you have a pleasant build experience.

MeanderBolt
Posts: 560
Joined: Mon Nov 04, 2013 6:45 pm
Location: Georgia
Contact:

Re: How do you like your instructions?

Post by MeanderBolt » Sun Dec 28, 2014 4:30 am

tjshape wrote: Part of the fun is sadly the frustration. Without it, you simply won't get to know your machine as well, which I truly believe would be detrimental to the entire CNC experience.
Exactly! Great point.

I personally thrive on video. If I am investigating some new interest (which happens a lot), one of my first directions is to head to youTube and pray, that my best info is not coming from a 9 year old (which happened last year when I decided that I would learn how to solve the arf'n Rubics cube once and for all). The great thing about video (in many cases) is that if it is a visual explanation, the audio can be turned off and you can concentrate on the actions at hand. If the topic is complex, I will watch with sound a few times, then without for reference. Sometimes you might be able to find the answers you are seeking from videos submitted in a foreign language because the imagery provided went just that step further. Many times, you can scrub the video and find little details that will not show up in speech or directions, those are the little things that sometimes bridge us between success and failure. Here I am trying to explain why I like video more and feel as if I am writing a pile of mud in the process. Another reason for video I suppose...

Also, when I was waiting for my S2 to show up, I could not get enough video examples of people milling with their machines. I would search endlessly for yet one more horribly wobbly piss poor video, just to try to get just a hint more understanding of this thing. Most of it makes sense now, but there was some real magic happening (prior to receiving the machine).
Shapeoko 2 # 3569 - DW660
Current tool chain > Draftsight > CamBam > ChiliPeppr
Build log

pepik
Posts: 32
Joined: Sat Nov 22, 2014 11:35 pm

Re: How do you like your instructions?

Post by pepik » Sun Dec 28, 2014 5:52 am

vegasloki wrote:
I understand your frustration but it doesn't appear you fully understand how an open project works or who is responsible for any given thing. Shapeoko is is an open hardware project that requires you to do a great deal of the work and have an above average mechanical ability. The open part of the design is to allow you to be able to build your own from parts you source. Companies in turn sell you the parts. In this case the docs are provided independently of any parts you may have purchased from any specific vendor. It's the standard for open hardware projects. In terms of open hardware the Shapeoko wiki is one of the best in the open hardware realm. Will and the community have done an outstanding job.
I agree with basically everything you said, especially appreciating Will and everyone who's contributed to the wiki. The only thing I might quibble with is that when I buy a kit from Inventables, I expect them to provide documentation on how to assemble it. They put together their version with their upgrades, why didn't they tell me how to put it all together? For example, I figured out how to use drag chains because of this forum, not because of any documentation Inventables had. (And I will be improving the wiki's documentation when I get back from vacation.) Ok, time for bed, /rant.
Shapeoko 2 #7266
DW660 spindle
Upgraded wasteboard
Drag Chains

MeanderBolt
Posts: 560
Joined: Mon Nov 04, 2013 6:45 pm
Location: Georgia
Contact:

Re: How do you like your instructions?

Post by MeanderBolt » Sun Dec 28, 2014 2:51 pm

tjshape wrote:And to be honest, that feeling won't go away once the machine is all 'complete' either.
No, it doesn't, but you do start to get a 'feel' for the thing. And, yes, it is a combined effort of reading lots of posts, many of which do not give you the answers. And sometimes you have to blaze your own trail. Even then, you will tinker, as this is a tinkerer's toy. I used to tell my son that there is a difference between a tool and a toy. This really blurs what I was saying as we have a robot doing our bidding (which is just 100% cool).
tjshape wrote:It takes patience, and a lot of it to fine tune the machine. It took me a lot of iterations and head pounding to get to a point where I am confident in the machine.
We (well most of 'we') have been through the same things. For me, it was how the Z axis comes together and the fact that the nuts they sent me were not right at all, so the threaded rod had a horrible wobble. But that's where the feedback comes in, I documented the heck out of it here on the forum so perhaps the next guy/gal has the possibility of getting it together a little easier. I know that there was a few days in there that I questioned if I had made a mistake. It is just the inner need to push through it. I think it is a great exercise on multiple levels.
Shapeoko 2 # 3569 - DW660
Current tool chain > Draftsight > CamBam > ChiliPeppr
Build log

vegasloki
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon May 19, 2014 4:19 pm

Re: How do you like your instructions?

Post by vegasloki » Mon Dec 29, 2014 8:33 am

pepik wrote: I agree with basically everything you said, especially appreciating Will and everyone who's contributed to the wiki. The only thing I might quibble with is that when I buy a kit from Inventables, I expect them to provide documentation on how to assemble it. They put together their version with their upgrades, why didn't they tell me how to put it all together? For example, I figured out how to use drag chains because of this forum, not because of any documentation Inventables had. (And I will be improving the wiki's documentation when I get back from vacation.) Ok, time for bed, /rant.
When you buy parts from a vendor for an open hardware project you get parts. If I go to the home improvement store they aren't going to tell me how to build the house. They might have some tips but I'm going to shoulder the bulk of the knowledge. I can buy the parts to rebuild my cars engine at Autozone and other than some rudimentry things, they aren't going to show me how to do it. Though they will sell me those docs. When you buy parts you have the option of seeing if they provide any docs for the open hardware kit you are getting. Your choice. If you don't see if they have docs but you buy anyway that's on you, not the vendor. That's part of doing your homework on an open hardware build.

I agree that offering docs is great customer service, particularly for in house mods. Vendors that offer docs and contribute to doc projects add value to a project. Most vendors kit the right parts (or in a perfect world are supposed to) so you don't have to track them down on your own. If you sent sheet to be cut and source all your own bits on a one off basis, you'll spend more than what you will for a kit and may or may not get the right bits the first time. All those parts are available at vendors other than Inventables and there are job shops that will cut your plates for you. What you are paying for is the value of not having to source your parts, not for assembly instructions. What has happened in recent years many have come to see open hardware projects more as a way to get something cheap, in this instance a CNC router, rather than experiencing the journey of the build. They look at the space how they want it to be, not necessarily how it is. There is no obligation for vendors to provide anything other than parts and I see the issue as one of expectations rather than how things work. By having vendors sell parts and having the community as a whole document, support and iterate the project is the main reason open hardware projects can be affordable to those that otherwise wouldn't have the means.

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