Moving the business forward

I was talking to my neighbor last night and this thread came up. He’s a member of the local woodworkers guild (bunch of grey beards) He’s scared to death of the electronics aspects of the build.

How about offering an electronics package that includes a control box, with external jacks for the steppers and power supply. Also include the steppers with matching jacks and maybe some extension cables. Everything comes pre-configured for a vanilla build that you define.

Use a fluid nc board like Barts 6 pack controller and you have built in wifi connectivity and a friendly ui out of the box PLUS you can load alternate configs via a YAML config file instead of having to flash a board which would lower your support needs AND reduce the # of boards you need to stock.

This would give a branded product that would knock a lot of the complexity and confusion from the build.


I like the idea of a test that fits together, so it checks tolerances as well as just the shape.


Idea here…
How about a 1/4 plywood box on one sheet using dog-bones, tabs, or similar must fit joinery to assemble. Do two files using 1/8 and 1/4 milling bits, add maybe a light shallow engrave using bit for file.
It would take long enough to be a good bench mark. It would test tolerances, as the tabs/dog-bones have to fit. like this 3x3 inch box maybe:


A hole and stepped pin…see what fits, that could be super fun.

Can we just do each piece identical, so you could just keep making them from different materials and fit them all together when you have enough? I think you can do that…


We are pretty close to this now, finding a new board has been a serious challenge. I am 100% open to GRBL at this point, might even prefer it. We have most of the wires, it would be nice to have some fancy connectors though. 5 driver board, GRBL, that is mass produced, wifi.

1 Like

That’d work. I said 1/4 ply because its kinda cheap. The parts could also be nested

1 Like

One board I keep looking at since long before you posted that you had one is the SKR Octopus Pro 1.1. Similar pricing to the old SKR Pro 1.2

I have the octopus here, with wifi. They sell a few versions but actually are only going to produce the one I have here for a while. That board will be headless and save a bunch of money. I will be actually working on the firmware over the next few days.

A GRBL board would be cool too, or getting GRBL on the octo.


Use GRBL on the little 3018 Pro I have. At this point I have gotten so used to Marlin, eh, either way

1 Like

For the boards, for me it is best if I could actually settle on just one. Right now I buy $15-$20k BTT and Rambo’s. If I consolidated that to a $30-$40k order to one vendor the price drops a bit more per board. Having two is good but does increase the price. I could get a open source board manufactured and save some money but then The extensive testing would probably offset that savings. I do not have the skills to make my own…I am fairly certain.

1 Like

The rambo uses GRBL or Marlin extremely interchangeable. Pretty sweet but they are still deep in the supply chain issues. They did tease a new board a while back but no news about that in a while.


I think which board is less important than defining that there is a “stock” supported board (whatever brand) with stock config settings that can be restored when something gets broken… Some of us will stray from the path but at least you can build detailed directions for the stock choice and not have to support a bunch of misconfigured one-off boards we salvaged from an old 3d printer.


This may be slightly off topic but is there a repository of open source cnc projects somewhere? I was searching around and found this:

It would be great to have a collection of projects that people could start making immediately. Right now cnc projects are like the old school days of software development where you had to code everything from scratch.

It would be great to have a collection of cnc projects posted on github and maybe provide the designs in open source formats such as openscad or freecad.


Projects are hard because of joinery and material thickness. I mean bunnies and outlines are pretty easy but something like generic sign works but you would still need to get into some sort of program and add letters.

So far we currently support every board I have ever sold, expect the archim. It never got properly supported by anyone and I do not have the skills to do it. It works, but updates are not working for it.


Kinda crazy but I am kinda confirming what I thought. I am not doing anything glaringly poorly, and I am also not doing anything super perfectly. Slight tweaks on everything should make it better.

I am good with that.

Figure out some incentives to make some more social posts or videos for everyone is the major point I will be working on. The crown is cool for step one, but we need something a bit more ambitious to show off.


Oh and in the background I have been tightening up shipping. I am getting more accurate shipping rates passed on. There is still a bit of an issue I need to figure out but it is a special case type of thing. International orders are very hard to price, and they are usually kinda odd so they are hard to get perfect. If they ever charge more I refund it but that is certainly discouraging sales. So now it should be getting better.

Hitting this from all angles.


I’m trying to visualize someone buying a kit from a big box store like home depot. Or just having one arrive with everything in it. Sort of like buying a roomba.

We know how to solve cost of the challenges from including tubing, and a router and a controller. Making a printed manual would be hard, but possible. There are probably some manufacturing techniques to reduce the amount of tuning or fiddling needed to get started. If we had a big price and a large enough qty, we could make this happen now.

But once you did everything, inserted the sdcard that comes with it, and drew the crown in a piece of MDF, what would the user expect after that? How would they learn to do CAM or CAD?

This is why things like Easel are important in a higher production environment. The software and firmware are very expensive to develop and they are a key piece of the user experience. More important than the logos on the box. If you include networking and wifi in the mix, then you either need to do it perfectly right away, (think chromecasts) or have a lot of support set up to debug networking (which is super hard)

Also, the more professional and expensive it is, the more support you expect. I love helping here, and I know others do too. But we expect a little bit of trying from the users. If you had someone who expected it to be as easy as a dewalt table saw, or else it is support’s problem, then there would be trouble (we occasionally deal with this, but it is rare now).

It makes sense to want to open the door to everyone and get as many people into the hobby as possible. But there are significant costs to that growth. V1 has opened the door for a lot of people. But the cost/benefit just isn’t there (to me) for making this a mass produced purchase. Software development and support are going to need a lot of investment before trying to find a larger (less motivated) market.

Ok. So what can we do that keeps the DIY attitude, but makes it more appealing, or breaks down some barriers to entry?

More appealing: Demos, media, makers making entertaining videos that makes the process fun to watch. Competitions. Projects with instructions and source files. All good.


Cost, always. But not necessarily a negative to everyone. How many ultimakers were sold because people saw the price tag and assumed that meant it was more professional?

Replacing the screen with wifi chips is good, but I am a little nervous there will be a lot more people asking how to work their router. I’m excited for the improvements. I am also nervous about people being intimidated.

Reducing cost mostly means more people can accept the consequences of buying, without the guarantee it will pay off. I can’t afford $1500 for a cnc unless I have some projects that will either pay me back, or be valuable enough to buy this tool. I can afford $500 if it means I will be able to learn and enjoy the process, with a reasonable chance I can make some fun things later. Some people would be more likely to jump in at $400 than $500, for sure.

Too many choices: This is a constant battle. We decided to sort of approach it with a few basic choices, and also keep standards and COTS parts so people can wander in whatever direction they want. How many times have we seen the question of which controller to use? What about the size of Z or the router vs chinese spindle? If you can’t answer these, then you can’t buy/build a CNC. Having a bundle A, B, C gives people some choice, and they can also make a decision quickly, without understanding every pro/con/exception to the rule.

People are intimidated by electronics, firmware, wiring, or torque wrenches: Yeah. It can be intimidating. Most of us don’t even understand how big this could be. I’m sure there are people who want to “be in the club” but they are convinced they aren’t good enough to join. And that really sucks. We should be doing everything to drop barriers for people. Good docs, reliable parts, preflashed cards are all major improvements. This is maybe the biggest advantage the V1 store provides. That advantage allows everything else to live. A box that you don’t ever have to open, with connectors labeled, and wires with keyed connectors would help a lot.

Availability of parts, number of parts: This is very good, ATM. With the exception that people outside of the US have a harder time getting parts from Ryan, or the parts Ryan can recommend.


Sorry if this is a dumb question but do you sell anything on ebay or etsy? More sales channels would help, except I stopped doing business with a company that goes by the name of a major river in south america - they are horrible to sellers. Also, paypal provides competitively priced shipping options to all destinations including international. I would take a look at paypal for international shipments.

Another channel is offering some type of special deal to makerspaces. My local makerspace was very interested in having a large format cnc setup in their woodshop. The first question they asked is if I could provide lessons on how to use it.

1 Like

You are definitely underselling the performance. I said it when you released the primo, and I agreed with your rationale for doing it, but I’m saying it again. And I think you’re doing it while certain others are implying that THEIR machines are everything a cnc should be.

I think, even if it’s the designer/engineer/head-marketer/sole-proprietor making the claims, video is video, results are results. You can make flagship videos with known specs and construction to show what’s possible as advertised and disclaim and end-user’s mechanical abilities, printer squareness, pla quality, tubing straightness, or whatever, then point to a repository of community videos (like your YouTube playlist).

Tests are well and good, but where the glowforge gets ahead (imo) is showing projects being made and convincing viewers that they TOO can make things with the push of a button and sell them for thousands of dollars in their own side business. I don’t like the idea of convincing people they can do a thing, but it would certainly be useful to show the things that are being made by other people. A curated collection of generally useful items to start with, and maybe some general instructions that could serve as an intro to cnc and/or design would be a useful reassurance to new users, too. Like “At the end of this project/series” you’ll be able to do xyz".


I would love to find someone relatable, inexperienced, but willing to learn and just see how far they would get if the V1 bundle got delivered to their doorstep.

It’s fun seeing Ryan make a bunch of chips in 2 mins in his shop. But the number that really matters is the (nonexistent) median user.

I bet the results would surprise almost everyone.