More Software Options, Beta Tester Projects, Bug Fixes, and How We're Prioritizing: The April 12th Wednesday Update

Hey everyone!

It was another big week for us. This week we’re going to talk about the newly added grbl protocol support, many bugs fixed, how we’re prioritizing what order we do things in, and showing off some projects that our amazing beta testers built this week.

Last week in the update we talked a little bit about the idea of using the same serial communication protocol as the grbl firmware used by Shapeoko, X-Carve, Carvey, and most other desktop CNC routers. The idea was that by using the same protocol we could make Maslow work with an entire family of software that is already out there. Ground Control will still be our go to software for controlling the Maslow, but we want to make sure that the software that is right for you works with our hardware.

We are proud to announce that after just one week we’ve added support for the grbl communication protocol (fortunately it was similar to the protocol we were already using). This means that you can now control Maslow using a whole host of open source and free programs. I did my testing using the Universal Gcode Sender (free, open, Windows Mac Linux). If you find another program that you like, let everyone know in the forums, and as always if you find any bugs in the way our software works, create an issue describing the problem and we’ll get them resolved right away!

Universal Gcode Sender showing off it’s 3D gcode visualization ability

Universal Gcode Sender showing off it’s 3D gcode visualization ability

Speaking of squishing bugs, this week we merged 16 pull requests which addressed 11 different issues in Ground Control, and 8 pull requests addressing 7 issues in the firmware. Thank you so much to all of our beta testers who are finding problems to fix, and suggesting improvements. I know I say this every week, but I can’t emphasize enough how much of a difference you guys are making. This week I’m going to back it up with data. This is a plot of changes to the software over time. You can literally see when the beta testers suggestions started shaping the software.

Speaking of our amazing beta testers, this week we started seeing some of our first beta tester projects! Leading the pack is a community member who goes by the name blsteinhauer88 in our forums. This week he worked on some carvings for his grand daughter which showed off Maslow’s ability to cut intricate shapes which would be difficult by hand, a bench which showed off Maslow’s ability to replicate the same shape over and over, and a snap together box which shows off Maslow’s ability to explore new types of joinery.

For the intricate cuts on the box blsteinhauer88 said he used a 1/16th inch long reach bit from (https://bitsbits.com/) which is a great resource for bits that I wasn’t aware of. He said that even with the 1/16th inch bit, some cleanup was necessary on the holes for the pins to let the square pins fit in the rounded holes.

Community member with the forum name “mindeye” gets the award for being the first person to build a project and share it in the “Projects” channel on the forums this week with a very cool custom laptop stand. I can’t tell you guys how exciting it is to see you starting to build things. It absolutely makes my day to check in on the forums and see something new that someone has built.

While some of our beta testers are starting to build things, I know others of you are waiting for me at various points along the build process. I want to clarify for everyone how I am prioritizing what I work on. My goal is that nobody is left behind, so I am focusing each week on fixing the issue which is holding people the furthest back. This week that was adding support for the grbl communication protocol, because some of our backers using computers with older graphics cards were having trouble running Ground Control. Using the grbl protocol allows us to chose from many programs to control the machine. This week I will be focusing on the calibration process again. The process of calibrating the machine (especially on the temporary frame) to cut the parts for the final frame is still not as smooth as I would like it to be. I know that it is possible to measure everything carefully and end up with a machine which cuts round circles as I’ve done it in the past as have many of our beta testers, but when I started the process to write the next step in the instructions, I still got oval circles.

I think that the solution is to remove the human factor as much as possible by automating as much of the calibration process as possible.

Hannah’s mini update:

Hi everybody!

I just wanted to remind everyone about our 2 upcoming events! The first is our Open House in partnership with ADX which is Friday, April 28th from 10 till late into the night. Follow this link to check out the event on Facebook, RSVP, and buy tickets. If you are anywhere close to Portland, we’d love to see you there!

Secondly, we will be at the Bay Area Maker Faire with 3 other projects from Kickstarter May 19-21 and we would love to have some Maslow backers (especially Beta Testers) come by to say hi and help us share about Maslow. If you have any interest in attending the Bay Area Maker Faire, please email hannah@maslowcnc.com as we may be able to get you a free or discounted ticket to the awesome event!

Thanks for reading all the way to the bottom everyone! Have a great week.

-Bar and Hannah