Need some help- getting started guide or better information organization?

I can quickly admit I do not have the best of writing skills and conveying all this information pertaining to the CNC is extremely difficult for me. The more information I add to the site the more disorganized it seems to get. I get emails, PM’s, Facebook messages, G+ messages, all asking questions that usually have been answered somewhere. The facebook group is awesome and very active but they are asking and answering questions on repeat there is no way to easily search the Facebook group.

Anyone have any ideas on how to fix this a bit? Could it be as simple as a getting started page with links up the waazoo, or a complete site reorganization? I ask because I have been here since day one, I don’t know what it’s like to start from square one, today. I know most of the questions have been answered but they are scattered throughout the site, some of the information is actually only on the product pages in the shop, Most in the forums, some on facebook.

Be honest please, I don’t get offended by constructive criticism.

It may be asking too much for an average web surfer, though someone who’s interested in building a CNC is hardly likely to be average, but I think everything needed to step through the process of building one should be on the Assembly pages. I’d probably revamp them to link into a step by step instead of take a step, return to the last page, take the next step. I’d also flesh them out a bit with more pictures, perhaps diagrams and more text. Look at what people have been asking, decide if they’re asking just because they haven’t actually look at the instructions, then incorporate appropriate answers into the instructions. There is really not a lot more you can do once that’s as complete as possible, since you’ll always have the builders that refuse to read directions… :slight_smile:

Thanks Bill.

So far the only issues have been with getting the middle assembly square on the actual assembly portion. Most really haven’t followed the instructions, like squaring it and then putting in the Z axis, when the instructions say make sure to build it with the z in place. That step is hard, I still take my sweet time building the middle and squaring it That one is always going to be the sticking point I imagine. I am building another machine today from scratch so hopefully I will walk through the instructions and check for errors again.

I think the biggest issues now are actually use of it. How fast to print, how big to build it, how to mill things, how fast.

Sounds like I am doing okay then? Just more usage videos and articles I guess.

Use Faqs and keep a general idea of which ones you have. When the same question is posted over and over point them to the FAQs and then you will have people check the faqs once they become accustomed to going to them.

Sometimes, it’s faster to make some videos and it’s easier to learn like that. Estlcam’s videos are perfect to quick understand how to use it, it’s the same with Onshape: all tutorials are video tutorials, and it’s really easy to understand.


The FAQ’s are filling up for sure.

I would love to do more videos, they take me forever though. I guess I will get faster the more I do it.

Side note, I forgot about onshape, looks like things are getting better over there. I am going to have to build an assembly of some sort and share it with everyone and see what happens with it.

I would agree that information can be hard to find and sometimes a little confusing in the way in which its presented. However this is a huge project and documenting all this would be a nightmare for a single person, so no one blames you haha. You’re doing a great job all around. Personally, I think the entire site needs reorganized. The site now seems to be all over the place. For example look at . I feel like they have an excellent layout and wouldn’t be a bad thing to emulate. The first thing you see is about the project. Create a brief and general overview of the MPCNC and maybe even the MP3DP if you’re choosing to pursue that. From there you can expand out to a parts page, assembly page, shop, a completed projects page (and projects made with the MPCNC), and finally a support with FAQ and forum page. As a side note for the FAQ, I would like a section on how to change the voltage of the stepper drivers and what to do if your print comes out upside/backwards (flip the stepper connectors to fix this). I found these solutions on other websites, which is no problem, but the more consolidated information on this site, the better.

As for the assembly section, I think there should be a section titled “Things to know before you start” or something along those lines explaining the conduit sizes, materials, end mills, 3D printer requirements, and pro/cons of each choice, and finally what is suggested to start with, etc, and finally links to the part files on thingiverse. Next you can explain that you can either buy from your shop or source their own parts. From there you should have to select what version you are assembling off the bat to avoid any confusion and make it clear that the V2 is the current version with the majority of documentation. Again when it comes to me, I love diagrams. For example this one is great ( If the entire assembly process had diagrams like this, I feel like it would make assembly easier. If you choose to take this route, I’d rather see longer pages that users can bookmark and walk through rather than a bunch of individual sections. The forums are great for finding information but ideally you don’t want to make anyone search through them to find an answer they’re looking for. In a perfect world all their questions would be answered in the assembly/faq section.

Lastly I would like to see more information for what to do after its built. For example the materials you can cut, the settings for those along with the end mill and speeds, etc. Also the laser addon, plotter, dragknife, and any other addons.

I know this is a lot of information and am only trying to help. A whole site rework would be a mountain of work but I know there would be people willing to help. Maybe you should mod some trusted users that could help update some FAQs/ news section. Again this is an awesome project and appreciate everything you’ve done this far. Hopefully I gave some useful feedback.

Mine is hung a bit getting everything perfectly square, I wasn’t quite satisfied with a 3mm difference between diagonals on a meter by meter assembly. I’m trying to get it under 0.5mm or so…

But once I get it built and ready for startup I’m thinking I’ll be looking for expanded tutorials. The software page is a little … sparse. In my case I bought the Mega/Ramps here so I don’t need to set that up, but the process of going from that connected to the MPCNC with a PC sitting next to it and actually milling, burning or printing something needs to be fleshed out. Something along the lines of three tutorials, depending on type, with step by step “plug the USB cable in”, “install Repetier-Host”, “configure software to talk to machine”, etc. until there’s a final finished example part would be ideal.

I don’t have much free time and this is the only site I contribute too regularly, only because I think so highly of your design. I’ve started modding the laser tutorial a bit to include firmware edits for Marlin Laser menus and 11-bit PWM support. I don’t really want to finish it up until you decide on how you want things to be presented. If you really want things to look uniform then maybe you can create a generic document and video template for all contributors to use so all guides follow a similar format and have the same visual theme.

Once I get this toolpath wrapping stuff worked out, I’ll be contributing an MPCNC-ready version of Scorchworks awesome gcode ripper and a tutorial and design for a basic rotary axis too. If there’s anything you’d like to prioritize then let me know if I can help, at my leisurely pace of course:)

I’ll go into a little more detail when I have more time but that is the problem. All of that info is already on the site. I can’t figure out a good way to organize it.

It is all in order under assembly, If you follow it step by step it is all there. Bill all your concerns are there starting at the ramps page, even the flipping the axis.

I like the “Things to know before you start” idea but really that is covered in the specs page, kinda, I guess it could be more clear. I am worried if I put it in numbered steps people will see 98 steps and give up because it looks too complicated. When in reality If you buy all my hardware the steps are very minimal, it is just the people that choose to buy all there own things with a million questions about will it work, is this okay, should I get these, how do I do this?

I can put the tutorials in order kind of like the assembly page, but it is on the software page,

You are right maybe something like the fritzing page,, all the information in order…

As for the assembly views they take a ton of time. Right now I am in a weird spot, Super busy pretty overwhelmed, but not busy enough to be able to afford help yet.

Leo You have been a giant help. I have no way to show my appreciation but to say a million thanks. You have contributed so much already and you are very active and detailed with you support. I try to stay out of your way. Your laser page is one of the highest viewed pages every month.

I can set up a basic page to follow and just rename, really though I just use heading 4 and heading 5 in new pages (basic style). I can make you an author on the site if you aren’t already?

I am committed to this and realize I need to leave the hardware updates alone for a bit and make the site easier to use. This should free me up from answering so many questions and have two fold benefits.

I think I am an author but I’m not too familiar with the web design process since this isn’t something I do regularly. Definitely willing to learn if it helps keep the site more uniform. I’ll check out the fritzing page and keep that in mind when I do the rotary write-up. Thanks for the compliments but the commitment you put into this site, replying to thingiverse comments, answering the same questions again and again with such patience is most impressive. Thanks for everything!

I can’t lie. I type my replies to the repetitive questions and don’t hit send. I come back a few minutes later and retype them. I almost always have to reword my answers so they seem more polite…But that is why I started this thread.

Leo we can work it out. If you get the words down I can tweak things a bit until you figure it out. I keep it basic. Then maybe if we get a good work flow more might be willing to contribute.

Kinda have a date so I’m out for the night. Wish me luck. I’ll pick this up tomorrow.

I already have an idea for a basic outline. Just need to figure out a new home page.

Just to make it clear I could not do this without the help of everyone in the forums. Thanks to everyone!

Ive been with you almost from the start, and love your machine. I have been showing it off as a dedicated 3d printer for larger items. I plan to build a couple more once I get the space for it. the MPCNC is more reliable and predictable than my Kossel 2020 delta and prints just as good in PLA. I want to contribute and help in anyway I can, although I am still kinda learning myself. the biggest area I run into is the milling side, I have all the parts and tools (hope I got the right toolheads, that’s the part I am confused on) to setup the mill, just been scared to try without being certain I have the right stuff. I think a description in the toolheads on the sale page explaining the use and speeds of each bit would be helpful. but like you said, its scattered all over the website, just hard to find sometimes.

May I throw in this thought.
I think it would be a good tutorial describing the workflow process creating a spoil board.
Review various solutions and materials (like using a T-slot board vs. carving your own).
Discuss possible designs and their pros and cons (holes with threaded inserts vs slots vs 3D printed or aluminum inserted slots)
Then the process of preparing the file in Estlcam and carving. All designs pretty much consist of some flat depressions and through holes, and some repeated patterns. In addition, a spoilboard is larger than a working area, so there is an issue of breaking the total work into pieces and repositioning.
The choice of bits and speeds, and how would one approach figuring out this question.

I think this tutorial would be more relevant that the electronics box tutorial, especially since the latter already assumes one has a spolboard.

I think Sergey has a great idea. Those of us not coming from the fabricating world often don’t know what something like a spoil board is, much less how to fabricate and use one. (Though from the name I can assume it’s used to make it so if you cut too deep you damage the spoil board, not the bit or table)

I have been going through the Software pages (estlcam basics jumps from step 6 to 8 without a 7 BTW) and I’ll probably be able to get it working from them. At the end of that estlcam page there is a link to a test file but no info on what the test should produce. I’d like to see a correctly done version with dimensions shown so I could tell if my result is correct, as opposed to doubled in size in all directions or flipped and inverted…

The repetier-host page is written for a 3D printer use, not for a mill or laser. Are the parameters and such going to be the same for each of the three common uses for a MPCNC? I can certainly see not doing tutorials for the edge cases (rotation on the Z axis comes to mind lately) but I would like to know if there substantial differences between milling and printing.

Thanks guys, I started on it today. I have a solid outline and started to fix some things on the assembly page, which will get a name change when it is all done.

So I am trying to figure out why this all has switched lately. This machine is about a year and a half old. The first 9 month or so I didn’t really have any instructions, just software edits and such. I can only assume the lack of clear instructions kept away the new comers an inexperienced. Maybe now I am just starting to get enough info to where the new to the reprap world people are starting to jump in and build an MPCNC. I would guess that is why these information holes are popping up, since nothing has been deleted.

I am finally getting enough information to get people confident enough to try it! So bear with me I am taking notes and slowly filling in the blanks.

I am getting started on Jake’s post and have added a getting started section and need to write up a “size” guide, pros and cons sort of thing. Short but that will save me from answering questions about it several times a day.

Bill, I will clarify some software posts and add a few posts, in order, of the first few steps that should be taken to test the functionality. Then next I will add a “use” section. This is going to take a lot of time but it should help all answer most everything you have brought up. Starting with basics for different tools, router, pen, laser, knife…When there is enough info I will split it up again by tool and material (if I feel I need to get this in depth). That last part just might be a page for each tool with settings and a link. example, once There is a clear wood routing/milling tutorial with a flat end mill to use a different material it is just a feeds and speed thing, nothing else changes. I will probably just start with links to videos that explain it all in depth and only expand it myself If I get asked about it.

So now to clarify everything you have asked about is here just not organized well, my note sheet is filling up. Thank you for helping me find the holes.
-The repetier host page is not 3d printing specific. It is how to set the control software, nothing to actually do with printing. I kept all the print specific stuff on the extruder page (but am going to separate that as well). (PS, that page was the first page I ever made that was the only instructions available for a long time, shows you how far this project has come in the last 9 months or so.)
-I don’t really make a spoil board. As shown I leave a part that is removable but just screw and clap directly to it. No fancy systems. I will make this part of the getting started milling section. I think a lot of people get ahead of themselves in this department and spend too much time chasing perfection. For beginners making some cuts and getting it dirty will teach a lot of the basics. trying to get something to 4 decimal place accuracy is a waste of time. wood expands and contracts, bows and warps with humidity, a lot. The pursuit of extreme accuracy is not the game of woodworkers (you will never see one talking in 32nds, 16ths is pretty crazy for most wood jobs). That is a good idea for another page…tolerances/accuracy/precision, in relation to materials.
-The test file you are asking about is a word (the logo and webaddress), that way you can tell if it is inverted. I will add the expected size, although that tutorial explains how to check for size and how to scale your dxf’s.

Good job! Sounds like you are definitely heading in the right direction if you would like to take this thing up a level. I’m probably one of those people you mention. Though I’ve been looking at DIY CNCs for a while, this one is the first I’ve seen that wasn’t a conversion of something like the Harbor Freight tabletop mill. Your design is so much more versatile than any of those! My mind just spins with all the ideas as to what I’ll use it for, and I expect that what I end up doing isn’t even on my radar yet.

I think projects like these are going to drive a lot of the innovation over the next few years. It’s going to give almost anyone the tools to design whatever they envision.