Offline Use

qa

#1

In my workshop i don not have internet. Is it possible to use GlowForge offline?


Real talk: what happens if Glowforge goes belly-up?
#2

No. But you could create a wifi hotspot with your mobile. That should work.


#3

This is my biggest concern with the product …

What if GF disappears one day? Will cloud services disappear as well?

Likelihood : probably low but it is indeed a risk.


#4

@Dan mentioned this possibility, and their solution to it here: We’ll release a GPL-licensed firmware for Glowforge


#5

As @septimus39 shared, this open source firmware means that the community will understand the code that is running on the Glowforge itself. This means that it is entirely possible for 3rd parties, community members, etc to understand how Glowforge talks to the cloud, control the laser, spin the motors, etc. Of course doing so will void warranty of the Glowforge.

From what I can tell, I think open sourcing the firmware enables 2 primary things:

  • Scenario 1: Perhaps folks are brave enough to modify the firmware that is running on the Glowforge itself to make it operate independent of the cloud
  • Scenario 2: Perhaps folks are able to see how the Glowforge currently receives commands from the Glowforge (Google-based) cloud server. Once they understand the “protocol,” folks may have the ability to create their “own cloud” that would communicate back down to the glowforge in the same manner as the “official glowforge cloud”

In short, by open sourcing the Glowforge firmware, it opens up the door to enable the community to come up with an “escape route” if (heaven forbid!) something happens to the Glowforge cloud service.

I’d love to get @dan 's thoughts on this.

Cheers!
Adrian


#6

Pat, look at Powerline Converters to bring some Wifi to your garage the easy way.

@adrianf: With Wireshark and other methods of sniffing communication through your router, mock cloud generation isn’t too hard to accomplish even if GF wasn’t planning to release information for us. Though most of the crowd around here seems more designer than tech, and the tech people seem more hardware than software. So I am not absolutely sure we have anyone who would be inclined to work on such a project initially.

And there is no need to risk your GlowForge when they do give us the opensource firmware. It should be possible to acquire a board just like the one inside the Forge and run custom firmware on it to work out any issues without actually being inside your functional cutter.


#7

While you could create an alternate cloud, there are a number of open source laser firmwares that could be adapted to run locally on the GF with the existing hardware, I believe. Then you wouldn’t need to depend on another cloud, after ours evaporated. (sorry, bad pun)


#8

LaOS?

I would guess Lasersaur, but that is a bad choice until they figure out rastering.

And would any of the open source firmwares be capable of incorporating the camera capabilities?


#9

Many thanks to all for you answers and ideas how to get internet to my workshop.

Cloud computing is a good idea, but still i hope that Glowforge will release an offline Software for there Printer so we can work independent from the grid.

This is also question of security. We don’t know where our data is sent end who can read it. If i produce some prototypes which are confidential, nobody can guarantee that they are safe when they are sent to the cloud.

The open Firmware idea is nice, but as Jacob said, what does that mean for the camera and the recognition and all the other cool things which Glowforge offers and could be used offline.


#10

I have to agree with Pat. I do the occasional trade show where there is no (or restricted( network access. The ability to operate independently of the cloud.


#11

Agreed n6fmon. Offline action would be most helpful. Note that the wording in the main promotional video is somewhat misleading… “your favorite apps like photoshop and illustrator can print directly…” To me, direct means direct, no cloud involved. I’d like to see a GF printer driver that integrates the major features of the device, including registration, power and speed adjustment, autofocus, etc. Given that GF had a record-breaking 30-day fund drive, hopefully some of that extra income can be used on a little software development towards that end.

I totally get the cloud proposition, I support it, and I look forward to it. But I fear it’ll be too limiting for “power users” who really want to push the envelope AND not have to depend on a cloud.


#12

This question shows no signs of going away and I’m hesitant to jump in and draw fire, but here goes… :grimacing:

  1. It’s probably safe to say that most of us were motivated to purchase
    the GF by its price point and some of its software features, such as
    draw-n-cut.

  2. Dan & company have stated repeatedly that one of the
    primary reasons that they can produce and sell the GF at this price
    is that it will rely on software running in the cloud to do some
    pretty spectacular processing without requiring a onboard processor.

  3. The most commonly used Chinese laser control board costs about $500
    per unit in bulk, and they would of course have to pass this along
    to us, the consumer, along with a reasonable markup (their great
    folks, but aren’t doing this out of the goodness of their hearts).

  4. Even if they did bump up the price to include the board, it still
    wouldn’t be able to do many of the innovative things that they plan
    for the GF, unless they modified its hard/firm/software, which would
    then drive up the price even more!

  5. Finally, they’ve been 100% up-front about the requirement of a wi-fi connection from day one.

So…

If your use-case for a laser cutter absolutely rules out the ability to connect it to the internet via wi-fi (location, security, etc.), then the GF might not be the best solution for your particular situation. There are many other units on the market that might better serve your particular needs.

Likewise, if you are concerned (or possibly freaked-out) by the online requirement, it might not be the best solution.

Just my 2-cent’s worth… YMMV!

Cheers, Dennis
(Day one supporter, not associated with GF in any way)


#13

I like the Glowforge concept, though I admit I bought it in spite of the cloud computing aspect rather than because of it. I’m wouldn’t advocate that the machine should have a built-in controller, obviously that was a deliberate design choice in order to minimize costs and improve the potential growth of features, as well as avoiding the obvious headaches of multi-platform development.

What I would like to see however would be for Dan and the team to offer the software to users for installation on their own local computers/servers, mostly as future-proofing. While the Glowforge is obviously doing well at the moment, that is no guarantee of the company’s future well-being or even that Dan & co. will continue to control the direction of their company and creation (investors can be annoying like that), both events that could, essentially, brick the Glowforge.

I expect that the software is written to run on Amazon Web Services and that with time (and money) it could be ported to run on *nix (Including Mac) and PCs. Most of the issue wouldn’t be in the base algorithms (though depending on the libraries used…) but in the interfaces between the software and hardware. Computing power *might* be an issue, but likely only means a few minutes before a print can be run.

I don’t need it to run without a computer or a network connection. I don’t need it to be open-source. I would just like the peace of mind of knowing that the use of and (effectively) ownership of my tool is entirely in my hands should anything happen.


#14

Most of that is marketing, especially the bits about how the cloud enables all of this amazing functionality. The only thing the cloud is saving over local offline functionality is software development time. Your points about the control board are completely irrelevant since a local computer could run their software.

As an aside, I am getting pretty tired of GF staff and now some customers responding to criticism with “maybe this isn’t for you.” I completely get that especially @Dan is trying the cool and friendly approach, but I’d like more “I hear you, but it’s not on the roadmap at this time,” and less “Maybe this isn’t for you, let’s get a refund.”

I mean, I’m super excited, obviously; I ordered it a few minutes after the page went up. And I’ll make do. But criticism helps companies make better products, and there aren’t any technical reasons why offline functionality can’t be enabled, it’s just not something they’re choosing to focus on. I super hope that changes in the fullness of time, even if it’s something that would require me to have a linux box with a bunch of web stuff running on it.

This is generally how I feel about it. Despite living in a technologically advanced country, my internet is still not thaaat reliable. And while I don’t need four 9s of uptime, it’s going to be murderously frustrating if one of those times I want to do something on the 'forge overlaps an ISP issue.


#15

I will say I think opening the FW is a brilliant first step. But it is a first step, not a final one. It’s not the most important thing on the agenda right now, of course - getting the darned things developed and built is rightly taking all the bandwidth. I’m still hoping to see it happen within the first year.


#16

I agree with @dwardio 100%.

Although it would be nice to run it locally from my desktop, I don’t see it happening anytime soon (and I don’t see Glowforge creating anything to help). I’m sure because they are releasing the firmware that work-arounds will be developed and that if the company goes away we’ll have that as a backup. Also it has been alluded that it may become a subscription service. @dan said in the first Tested video that it will always remain free for the initial backers of the project. I think once it goes retail they will have a subscription attached to the purchase of a new machine.

It has also been declared that the tube will need to be replaced in 2 year (under normal use - will vary obviously) and cost $500. I know - for me anyway - that when my tube dies it will be the time to reassess what I’m doing with a laser, what other lasers are out there (hopefully GlowForge 2.0) and if the company goes belly up then thats the time to jump ship.

Basically were not going to get an offline version of the software from GlowForge.

And for a final note. I think some people are missing the point. GlowForge has always been about ease of use and meant for the Home User because of the ease of use. The ease of use factor goes out the window when you start having to deal with g-code and motion plans. And honestly because Im going to be using this in my spare time I don’t want to have to worry about it. I just want it to work.


#17

Dan seems like a good and honorable guy, but statements that a service will remain free (or even available) in perpetuity really need to be taken with a large grain of salt. Several years ago one of the higher ups at Alibre (3D CAD now called GeoMagic Design) promised that current users would be locked in for annual maintenance at $199 or some similar price. Management changed and a few years later maintenance went up to $400. Sometimes promises just can’t be kept, especially from a company that needs enough revenue to pay their employees, let alone profit for the investors.


#18

Yes, always be suspicious of anything free. Stop and think how the business model works.

In this case, the guarantee was only to the initial backers. So if at some point the google cloud fees were not covered by income from the catalog sales, then a subscription fee for non-initial backers becomes likely.

Though the change of management breaks previous guarantees issue always looms.


#19

So what constitutes an initial backer? Someone who got in during the initial 30-day fundraiser, or also those that pre-ordered at 40% discount?


#20

I’m assuming anyone who buys one of the things before they’re shipping.