Calibrating Hell again, diagnosed: warranty return

My perspective on this (cash value: 0):

As a company introducing a new product to the world, you don’t necessarily know how it’s going to break or the questions you’re going to get until you put it out there. It’s worth trying to anticipate the obvious, but for the most part you pave where the grass gets worn away.

What puzzles me about Glowforge is that they now have more than enough data to see some consistent patterns. There are subjects on the forum that pop up multiple times per week. Failure to calibrate is one of them. We pretty much know that when you turn the Glowforge on, it boots into Linux, tries to connect to your WiFi, then get an IP address, then connect to the Glowforge cloud service, then does its calibration dance.

Now I have a decent amount of experience with embedded hardware and WiFi, and one thing I can say with confidence is that it is not reliable. Even in laboratory conditions. And when I build some widget that won’t connect or won’t stay connected, or works at home but not in the office or vice-versa, it’s super frustrating, and all the more so when I have zero diagnostic aids to understand where it’s going bad.

There’s one straightforward thing here that is so obvious I just can’t understand why it hasn’t been done yet. The only real indicator on the Glowforge is the multi-color button. So why doesn’t it change color as it goes through its startup process? That way when someone experiences a failure to calibrate, we can tell them that if the light is yellow, it can’t find their WiFi, whereas if it’s blinking blue, it’s on the WiFi but not receiving instructions from the cloud. At least you’d have a fighting chance of knowing where to focus your efforts.

Here’s an example of a $20 IoT device that does exactly this: It’s fairly common for these sorts of things.

Once it gets online, Support can pull the logs to tell you what’s wrong with it. But that doesn’t do any good if it isn’t getting that far. Little things like this benefit everyone, by making troubleshooting less of a stab in the dark.


Hi there. Correct me if I am wrong but is this the first international GF that is being returned on warranty after more than a month of use?? As a waiting Norwegian customer one of my biggest worries has been a GF that works fine on arrival but breaks down after a couple of weeks. If you case indicates that shipping in such a case is covered by the warranty (despite the explicit statement by GF to the contrary) I am super relieved!! International Customers had to accept the “warranty with no schipping included” but it has not been entirely clear how much time we have to find out whether the GF he have received actually works- and to my knowledge there is no established test protocol that runs you through the most common issues in the first couple of days.

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No. They offered to replace mine (Switzerland) under warranty because it’s not cutting through PG consistently, then sent me a 600+€ request for shipping on PayPal. I mailed them to check about their promise to comply with EU (and - I assume, by extension, the similar Swiss) law, but haven’t heard from them again in more than a week now…

Now that is scary: I had the clear understanding that GF would deliver a fully functional Product and assume responsibility (i.e. shipping and replacement) if this was not the case. For faults occurring some months down the line we internationals would have to pay shipping. If your unit never cut PG material reliable it was faulty on arrival and should be replaced with no charge to yourself. For me one big uncertainty is the lack of information on how I go about checking the quality of my unit and an indication on how much time I have to qualify for “faulty on arrival “.

Hear hear! That’s a great suggestion @chris1, and to that I would add that the addition of an RJ45 port would do wonders as well. If he can calibrate consistently with the GF plugged into his router, but not on Wifi, then we’re cooking with gas. We’d all tell him to buy a booster, change the Wifi Channel, move the router and/or GF closer together, remove obstructions and on and on. Or just keep it plugged in… If it didn’t calibrate with the RJ45 plugged in, that would reveal a great deal too. Wifi is awesome, until it isn’t.

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Thing is the logs show packages being sent and received both ways and my laptop picks up the machine from the cloud. They communicate but doesn’t calibrate.

I’m not familiar with Switzerland consumer law as Swiss is not part of the EU. Consumer protection in the EU is a very big thing and I’m sure that’s one law that will be upheld by Glowforge.

I know of a case in the Netherlands where his machine arrived broken. He had to ship his machine to Ireland (where a lot of international companies house there tech support departments for Europe) and received a new machine within a week. My guess is that I’ll have to ship back to that same address in Ireland.

I did have a phone call from DHL in Ireland, but couldn’t talk at the time. Next time they called, the guy on the other end just went “Oh, hold on a moment, I see that’s been cancelled.” and that was that - presumably as I hadn’t paid yet. And yes, consumer protection is a big thing in Switzerland too - I think we have more or less the same laws as the EU.

juli 13th Still no shipping labels or reply from support.

Friday 13th juli; addendum

And out of nowhere a new Glowforge appears! No shipping or tracking confirmation. Just showed up at my door today. No customs too which is another nice surprise! One handle missing but no fluids leaking. I’ll try to set it up tonight. Still pretty weird but at least I have another machine to try.


Quick update: I received an email from Glowforge apologising for the delay (trying hard not to make a joke here), and with my return shipping labels. I meant to reply the next day asking about the shipping cost situation, but was preempted by a notice from DHL that a package was on the way to me… I have now just set up my replacement machine and everything works fine. If anybody from GF is reading: A huge thank you!


Fantastisk! Thatwas good to hear and a big relief- thanks for posting the update!!