Easel Update - Now featuring a troubleshooting guide!

Hey everyone, my name is Eric and I'm a web developer here at Inventables. The dev team and myself have been working on a killer feature for Easel the past few weeks, and we think its so awesome we feel the need to share it here on the blog!

Easel is continually improving- we release updates almost daily improving performance, adding features, and fixing annoying bugs. This latest update includes our troubleshooting guide. The goal is to guide users through fixing any technical problems they may have.

We've all been there (yes, even us)- trying to cut a beautiful sign but something went wrong and it didn't turn out the way you wanted. There are lots of reasons why something can go wrong and often times a single cause can manifest itself in different ways. This can be very frustrating when all you want to do is carve your project. While this doesn't provide as comprehensive guidance as a phone call with our CS team, it is meant to provide a first step and fix common issues fast.

Our goal with Easel is to have the user go from idea to finished product as fast, easily, and consistently as possible. Nobody wants to deal with technical issues, but working through them is necessary. The troubleshooting guide aims to expedite that process and get you carving ASAP.

So what is it, and how does it work? Let's say your design is made and you're ready to get carving. You've clamped your workpiece, selected your bit and zeroed the machine. All thats left is to push "Start Carving!" You push the button, and the machine comes to life. It starts its first pass. Everything is going well; a few layers of cutting goes by and you start to notice something. The layers are getting offset. Compared to where the machine started, its now cutting a few centimeters or maybe an inch further down on the Y-Axis. You think, "Crap! Better stop cutting!" and you hit the X in Easel.

As usual, you will be prompted asking "How it went?". Before the troubleshooting update, when you clicked "No something went wrong" it would preset a text box for you to submit a bug report. That's great and all, but it doesn't solve the problem. Chances are if you start the job again, on a fresh piece of material the same thing will happen, and you will have wasted time and material. Definitely not want we want you to experience.

Now, with the troubleshooting update, instead of just a text box, we will ask what happened. In our little example, you would select "Carving is offset".  You are then presented with a list of potential causes. Each one of these potential causes has its own troubleshooting steps, which will guide you through fixing the underlying problem.

In this case we would have you start by jogging the machine long distances up and down the rail making sure it runs smooth, with no binding or odd noises. If it doesn't run smoothly, we provide the steps to solving the problem. Or if it did run smooth, there are other causes for this problem. Hopefully you don't have an issue that isn't listed, but if you do, clicking "My problem isn't on the list" allows you to submit the usual error report (we do read those by the way!).

Oh, and the list of problems and their solutions aren't static either. We can add or update the list as other issues arise. The community has been a tremendous help in identifying the issues and letting us know via phone calls and the forum. As the machine evolves and as the community helps us identify these issues we can update this feature. The more contributions from the community the better this feature will get. We try to test our machines in our lab but the real world has this habit of throwing a wrench in the works (please don't do that to your machine).

Good luck and happy carving!

A dream from Inventables... a 3D carver in every school

By the end of the decade we want a 3D carver in every school in the USA. To kickstart the project we have committed to President Obama and the White House to donate a 3D carver to a school in every state.

Carvey pilot product run was a success!

We’d like to give you a quick update on the two issues we reported last time.

The new LED boards came in, and they work flawlessly. We’re really happy with the brightness and function.
New LED Board with Fixed Panels

We received the second set of Acrylic Door Panels to replace the ones that were initially broken in shipment. The vendor’s packaging improved but is still not 100% up to our satisfaction. 5 of the 30 panels arrived broken again, and there were issues with the size and finish. We are working with the supplier to find the root cause of these problems, and we will get a corrective action implemented as soon as possible.
Acrylic Door Panel Broken in Shipment

The Inventables engineering team has been back and forth to our contract manufacturer a lot this past week, helping them get up to speed with the first Carvey pilot production build.

The process worked like this:
  • Our engineer Bart worked alongside the manufacturing engineer to build a Carvey at the facility, discussing issues as they came up
  • The manufacturers then spent the next few days tearing it down again and documenting their process
  • The manufacturer built two Carveys according to their documented process
  • Bart got the call that they were finished and went out to inspect the final result

Here are a few photos from that visit:

The Carvey manufacturing line.

Bart inspecting one of the finished units.

A third in-progress machine and the Carvey parts bins.

One of the finished machines in raw aluminum. If we had waited for anodizing to be finished, this production run would have been delayed several weeks, so we decided to split the processes and work each one in parallel. We will be receiving a set of anodized parts shortly and will be making final decisions on the color and finish.

The new connectorized controller board and wiring harness. Look at those clean wires!

The front panel button, with wiring and connector attached.

We brought one of the finished machines back to the Inventables workshop, and Bart and Tait are already at work testing the electronics and inspecting the assembly. Early reports are that it works perfectly!


Overall, we’re very impressed with the manufacturer’s work so far. These first units look great and they’ve already provided us valuable feedback to help make the manufacturing process easier and more efficient.

Expect to see some video over the next few weeks as we continue testing this new Carvey’s performance!

Next steps:

  • Run tests on the machine. Tait will be putting this new Carvey through its paces over the next several days, running 3D Carving jobs designed to test the limits of what the machine can do. We’ll be documenting those tests and sharing the results with you all.
  • We received a lot of great feedback from the manufacturer as to how the design of the machine can be improved, to cut costs and to make it easier to assemble. We are discussing how to integrate these suggestions into the next round of revisions.

Thank you again for being a part of this process, and stay tuned for upcoming Carvey test videos!


Zach and the Inventables team

Inventables Shipping Update May 22nd - 1 day ahead of schedule!

When I got into work this morning at about 8am I saw this stack of 12 X-Carves.  I knew it was going to be a good day, because part of our team had started an hour earlier and had already done this before I got my coffee.

Inventables Maker Faire Party 2015

During Maker Faire 2015 Inventables hosted a party Saturday night at Windy City Pizza.  We come visit the Bay Area from Chicago so we couldn't think of a better place to host a party!  It was close to Maker Faire and had some delicious pizza. 
We invited everyone to come sit down, rest their legs, and have some great conversation with other folks in the community.  We were honored to have a number of special guests come out and join us for all the fun!  We'll get to that in a bit.
In addition to pizza, soda, and beer we also had a few demos on hand for people to get their hands on.  The first was our new X-Carve 3D Carving machine, next to it was the new X-Controller, and finally a bunch of cool samples that had been 3D carved.

The response to the party was amazing.  We packed the restaurant and overflowed into the patio of the place!

A Sneak Peek at the X-Controller

A while back we we did a blog post about a powerful TB6600 Stepper driver shield and asked you if we should “Carry it or Bury it”. We got a huge positive response, so we decided to move forward with the project.

We were concerned that the project relied heavily on a third party product.  We were not able to find a supplier with whom we were fully comfortable. Additionally, most of the driver boards were designed for use with a PC parallel port, had a lot of unneeded hardware, and had awkward form factors. Therefore, we decided to custom design our own.

Once we had complete control of the design, we created the ultimate Grbl based, high power 3d carving controller, the X-Controller. This is a complete, high power 3d carving motion control system in a strong, compact chassis.

Functional X-Controller in a 3d Printed and laser cut prototype housing.

New Product: Solder Sleeves!

A common issue we hear from our customers is that wiring is difficult- terminal blocks can wiggle loose, and soldering can be intimidating if you haven’t done it before. We struggled with how best to help our customers solve this problem, but then the golden solution appeared before our very eyes in a solder fume-induced vision:

Artist's depiction of solder fume-induced vision