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.