I, like you, am a proud GF owner and user. As I read through the forums, I am in awe of all the projects being done,all the support and encouragement given, and all the assistance being provided to new memebers all the time. As more and more folks get their GF and start to discover all the amazing things it can do, I notice more and more new folks join the forum all the time.
A gentle reminder to everyone, and especially the new folks – read the manual. Pay attention to the safety instructions, the operating instructions, the cleaning instructions, and especially the Do’s and Don’ts.
I think you will find this can save you a lot of headaches – and prevent a lot of grief. With such an expensive, complicated, and amazing piece of equipment, it will be well worth your time.
I’ll add that everyone knows about the manual but I’d say fewer know about the forum rules:
Ideally we’re in eternal September here, it’s necessary if GF is to thrive.
Not saying that the manual should not be read by all, and I’m not trying to launch a complaining rant on Xmas eve, but the manual is woefully sparse in my opinion. There is a lot of stuff that I’ve discovered that is not mentioned in the manual. It was useful the first day, when setting up the unit and getting connected to Wifi, but nearly all of the actual day-to-day operation is not covered in the manual.
For example, there’s no description of the UI, no tips on what settings to use for various materials, no suggestions about what order to undertake operations, no details on fixturing, jigs, repeatability of cuts… As far as I can tell, there’s not even a table to tell you what the various colors and blink patterns of the start button indicate. If you search the manual for “user interface” or “software” there is no mention of those items.
Thus far, the absence of a complete and thorough manual has not posed a problem, and I guess that’s what the forum and the Jules tutorials are for? Just seems like there could be a lot more official documentation. Hopefully this will be coming, right after repeatable prints and saved settings for jobs.
I completely agree. A permanent link to the matrix from the UI, and a more organized and standardized set of Glowforge-specific tutorials (especially how to use the UI itself) would be really helpful.
@Jules and so many others have posted a lot of great information, but it’s not a true substitute for a professionally written/edited and maintained set of documentation.
While these are good observations, it does tell you how to care for thehardware which is incredibly important: proper cleaning of lenses and windows, not moving the head or carriage while it is turned on, cleaning the crumb tray, packing and unpacking the unit, use of the pass-through, eye safety, etc,.
The UI is an evolving thing – any description would be outdated over and over and over again and so we pay attention to the side notes on changes and advancements and alterations…and to be honest, with PG, all the proper settings are automatic and not needed in the manual. Non-PG material is like with any laser – variable at best. GF isn’t going to tell you how to cut non-PG material – they don’t know what you are using and how it will work (just see the comments when someone tries varying types of non-PG plywood). Two pieces of slate will require different settings and could never be accurately recorded in a document. This is why you make use of the forum – especially the “beyond the manual” section. A lot of info on jigs, magnets, potential starting points for various materials, what has worked and what hasn’t. Power users like @Jules have spent a great deal of time and effort to provide an amazing and ever growing “beyond the manual” which can be searched on and can help guide you as you navigate the world of your new laser.
We have to remember that this is a laser and a new world of maker tools – it is a powerful tool with powerful requirements and powerful responsibilities.
That’s exactly why I said GF should be documenting the ui and maintaining the documentation. We shouldn’t have to guess at or cobble together a full set of instructions about something as basic as “this is how you use the UI”, yet basically here we are.
You make a point about GF not telling us how to cut non pg materials; that’s counter to their business model. But to say that you’ll always use pg settings even when using pg materials is just not how it will play out. There are lots of cases where you’ll want to modify the default settings so I think a guide for how to do that and the implications of setting changes is definitely in order.
A quick example: when engraving, 100/50 is not the same as 50/100. There’s no way to know this without digging through tons of posts or by expending materials to test it yourself. We’re all doing a bunch of the same tests to yield the same conclusions; there is no way that GF didn’t alteady do this testing and document the general way that settings affect the final resut. I think they should share at least the most essential parts of that. “Glowforge’s guide to starting with custom settings” would be a great starter doc to accompany “Glowforge UI instructions” and “Glowforge proofgrade settings and example photos”, among probably more.
(For those that might not known that: slower engraves tend to yield more contrast for the same depth. Slower cuts tend to yield wider kerfs. Also cardboard will burn your house down, use it cautiously.)
I think an online wiki would be an excellent way to maintain the manual.
[a wiki] Which has been discussed before and definitely has its uses (especially for a standardized way to look up community-derived non-pg material settings which irks me every time I have to dig through the forums…) but I don’t think a community-driven documentation set is ideal for core stuff like UI instructions. I think that sort of core documentation should be written and professionally edited and maintained in a consistent style by Glowforge staff.
I completely agree. I should have clarified I was not suggesting the wiki be publically maintained but rather maintained by the Glowforge staff and accessible to the Glowforge community.
It’s a lot easier to update a wiki than it is to continually update a .PDF and hope everyone downloads the latest version.
Websites are a pretty good way to display up-to-date instructions as well, if you can get users to read the dang things.