I run the risk of sounding a little gushy and dramatic here. but I’ll take my chances:
People who are down with the Shapeoko feel a little bit like David vs Goliath.
Prior to Shapeoko there was a barrier to get into desktop CNC. Mostly the barrier was price. After price, it was complexity and /or a general obfuscation of all the little inner workings of the machine. Intended or not, it seems that one of the key issues we’ve ‘solved’ is an openness about how the machine works and what it takes to get it working.
Having an open dialogue about the machine, from ‘hey this is great!’ to ‘hey, this could be better’ is really important. It seems that everyone in the community is trying to make this machine better. Either by pointing out errors in documentation, or clarifying instructions, or helping with design proposals. I personally take no offense with any of the design critics or suggestions for improvements. In fact, I’m asking for it! From the beginning I’ve tried to be as honest with people as I could be. Whether that honesty was about pricing, or time, or mistakes I’ve made, or the fact that I’m not an engineer by any stretch of the imagination. Part of the openness of this project is the users understanding that we’re doing this together.
We’ve also said “hey, you don’t need to fab anything to make this machine”. Which is a huge bonus. Yes, there are machines available that you don’t have to fab, but those machines *start* at twice as much as a Shapeoko. For all of the machines that you do have to do some fabrication, they are mostly still more expensive than Shapeoko *and/or* they have very poor documentation if any, other than a few pictures.
So, when I hear people who are promoters of Shapeoko, I can only think they feel like someone was listening to them. or that someone was thinking of them when they designed the machine. Which, I can tell you is true 100%. After all, I am one of them So, when the machine was designed I was trying to make something for me. Make something for a regular guy that didn’t have the cash to buy an expensive ‘turnkey’ cnc machine. Make something for a regular guy who didn’t have the skills to drill precision holes or cut precision square lengths. Shapeoko is for us.
Maybe I’ve mentioned this before but the other thing that really makes all of this work is the fact that everyone has the same machine (more or less). Yes, some people have done heavy mods, others have done light mods, but at the core each of these machines are the same: Basic frame, makerslide sytem, and simple electronics. That commonality among all the users, whether the user is in Australia or in Chicago makes this work. When one person finds something new, or learns something, or makes an improvement. That information is DIRECTLY related to every other Shapeoko user in the community. And people dig that. Hard. It’s like they’ve been put on a team. Team Shapeoko. It is very cool.
I’m really proud of this project and really proud of the community that has sprung up around it. I hope with the 500+ people we’ve added to Team Shapeoko over the last few months, we can really kick the project into the next level.
I can’t wait to see what happens next.