[Disclaimer] I see that the description of this category is more focused on the hardware and software feedback of the Snapmaker products, but the documentation is just as important, and I could not find a category that seemed more appropriate than this one. If there is a more appropriate category for this post, I will put it there.
All of my comments below are based on running the 1.10.0 firmware and Luban 3.9.0.
I received my A350 and Enclosure last week and in general I am pretty happy. I set out to try each of the three capabilities. I spent many years during my career proof reading technical documents, so most of what follows will be comments on the documentation provided with the Snapmaker - both in print form and online.
I didn’t have much issue getting the 3D printing capability up and running, but after reading several posts about getting a good first layer adhesion, I will need to go back and do some more research and tweaking.
I skipped to the CNC capability since I found the section of the Quick Start Guide (QSG) for the Laser confusing. More about that later. I was able to make the Cell Phone Holder once I figured out how big the pattern should be - found that in the User Manual (UM) for CNC, but it’s not mentioned in the QSG.
My biggest challenge was with the Laser capability. I initially tried following the steps in the QSG to set up the Laser head and try and make the supplied sample Gift Box.
I understand the need for setting up the Focal Length and appreciated the image of the test lines, but what would have been helpful was a description of which of the test lines represented the correct focal length. My first attempt at performing the Auto Focus procedure failed and the guidance on the display was to pick the best line. But I didn’t know what criteria to use to make that judgement. I later updated the firmware (primarily to enable the Enclosure features) and redid the Auto Focus procedure again and it passed. But some knowledge about how to distinguish between the test lines for “good” versus “bad” would have been helpful.
In the QSG there’s a process for calibrating the camera. But strangely, this is not shown in the UM even though it is mentioned in the workflow list. I would have expected that this would be included in the more in depth UM rather than existing only in the QSG. And now that I understand this better, I realize that there are two parts of calibrating the camera. The first is done using the touchscreen (as shown in section 4.2.2 of the QSG). This burns a square onto a piece of paper. The second part of this process is to use the Luban UI and its Camera Capture feature to view this piece of paper and use the burned-in square to align the nine pictures the camera has taken. But these steps are shown Section 4.3 AFTER you’ve been instructed to Fix the Material to the platform. So there’s a disconnect here. These two parts should be documented in one section, not separately.
Where I really went off the rails with the QSG was Section 4.3 - Prepare the G-code File and Start Cutting. The steps in this section are clearly intended for when you have a drawing of the Gift Box sample that you use the camera to capture and then cut. One of the images in this section shows the Luban UI with an image of the Gift Box in the upper right corner. But the problem is you don’t have such an image printed out. So I scratched my head for a while on this one. I didn’t understand this until I really spent some time going over the Laser UM.
Then it became apparent that there are two ways to cut or engrave. The first is to use a file (like the one provided with the Snapmaker for the Gift Box and use that as your design. The second is to use a printed design and use the Camera Capture feature to get this into the workspace. This is not at all clear from the QSG. The QSG seems to be a mash-up of these two approaches. The QSG should choose one or the other and clearly delineate the steps required to get there. My choice would be using the file as the design since that file exists as part of the sample files.
I did follow the instructions in the Laser UM using the “Setting Work Origin” approach (i.e. using the file as the design) and was successful in making the Gift Box. I did find some issues with what is documented in the Laser UM. They are:
Step 4.1 - The first line here is missing the numbered items that correspond to the image below it.
Step 4.1 - The UI image shown here includes an area (numbered 2) that shows “Preview Settings”. Luban 3.9.0 shows no such area in the UI unless you click on the “Add” button and import some sort of graphic - black & white or grey-scale.
Step 4.1 - The Luban UI shows two buttons above the grided workspace area - “Editor” and “Process”. These are not shown in this step, nor are they described anywhere in the UM.
Step 4.2.2 - Cutting Mode - The section mentions Multi-pass and Fixed Power settings, with text that says “… you can set the Multi-pass and Power settings to a desirable level based on the materials you choose.” Some guidance on what settings would be desirable for various materials would be handy to have here. Or, at least, a link to a reference that would provide some general ideas.
It is clear that the available-to-download Laser UM is based on a previous version of Luban code. And that many changes and UI re-arrangements have happened. This makes the UM very difficult to use as a guide since it doesn’t reflect what a user will actually see. I know from working in the field for many years that it is hard to coordinate User Manual content with code that changes often up until the actual release date. But when the software and manuals are this far out of sync, it’s very difficult for users - especially new users - to figure out how to make the software work.
The more I look at the UI and try and figure out how things should work, the more questions I have. For example, if using the Camera Capture feature to bring in a design, you can drag the design into the center of the workspace. But while editing circles are shown around the periphery of the image, you cannot rotate or scale the image. Wouldn’t that be a logical next step? How would that be done?