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  #1  
Old Sat 25 July 2009, 11:16
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
The front page index of this forum needs a makeover

I am looking at tidying up the forum structure to make it more logical for newcomers. Below is the front page, which should be a logical index for someone trying to get to grips with the MM. I think there is lots of room for improvement. Some things need re-positioning, better titles and better sub-text. Some can be combined....others may need splitting.

Where are the technical authors among us that can lend a hand?
General - MM Build
Welcome to this forum for folk with an interest in building MechMate CNC gantry routers that typically take about 3 - 5 HP routers for tables of 4 to 12 ft (1200 to 3700mm). This forum is exclusively for MechMate builders or people seriously interested in building them.

About this Forum
What makes this forum different to others, how to use it, what to avoid, etc.

The Market Place
A forum where any vendor of CNC products even remotely associated with MechMate router/plasma/laser machines may unashamedly promote their products.
Personal Build Histories
A place where individuals can start and "own" a thread about their personal experiences and endeavors. Feel free to start your own support group in your location.
Introduce yourself and start planning
Tell us who and where you are, your skill levels and the future application of your MechMate.

Construction started, but not cutting yet
Start your own build history in this thread. Photos are appreciated.

MechMates already cutting
Personal threads will be moved here once a machine moves and cuts under command. Serial#'s will be given to machines that are neatly finished (painted, preferably MM blue if you don't want to be teased ;-)) and have the MM logo applied.
Structure & Mechanics
10. Base Table
The big non-moving part. Also how indexers are mounted.

20. Gantry
Rides on the main beams of the table, moves in x-direction

30. Y-Car
Rides on gantry, moves in y-direction, carries the z-axis.

40. Z-Slide
Plunges tool in z-direction

50. Toolheads
The mounting of routers, spindles, plasma cutters, engravers, drill, pencils, etc.

55. Dust Management
Dust collection feet, skirts, height setting, hoses, cyclones, gates, blowers, filters, anti-static, anti-fire, electrical control, etc.
Common Assemblies & Parts
Mechanical parts and assemblies common to more than one of the above components
Profiled (laser cut) & bent steel plate

Motors

Motor Mountings

Rails & Rollers

Driving Mechanisms: Rack/pinion, gears, screws, belts & chains
Electrical & Electronic
60. Wiring & Cable Management
Selecting the right types and sizes of cables & wires. Managing the bundles of moving cable. Cable chains. Good wiring practice.

70. Control Systems
Typically the wall-mounted box that accepts mains power, transmits control signals between the PC and the table, and drives all motors to correct positions and speeds.

701. Motor Drives
High current electronic devices that control the position and speed of electrical motors. For steppers, servos and spindles. Includes Geckodrives.

702. Power Supplies
The devices which convert incoming mains AC to the correct DC voltage and capacity for powering the 701. Drives of the steppers or servos. Part of the Control System.
Computing, Software & Programming
80. Computer Hardware & Software
Generate control signals fed to the Control Box

Graphics & CAD
These types of software typically give an output in .dxf format

CAM
These types of software typically accept .dxf and give an output in g-code format

CNC motion control software
These types of software typically accept g-code and give electrical output signals

Utility software
After Building the Beast - Operating , Troubleshooting and Maintenance
General - MM Operating
General methods and techniques for doing CNC routing work

Cutting various materials - bit selection, feeds, speeds

Troubleshooting

Maintenance

The Show Room
After you have shown us pictures of your MechMate, please show us some of the stuff you made with it.
.90. Miscellaneous hardware and software
Human Interface Devices (HID's)
The positioning and housing of keyboards, monitors, pushbuttons, etc.

Miscellaneous / General / Whatever / Catchall
Anything not directly connected to constructing a MechMate CNC table system

Golden Resources

Test Area for this forum
Please bounce this thing around . . . . . .

Downloads

Dxf Library
Share your vectorised files

Archives
The dusty place for dead threads and superceded subjects.
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  #2  
Old Sat 25 July 2009, 19:59
servant74
Just call me: Jack
 
Nashville (Tennessee)
United States of America
You might add under Toolheads...

Scanners, probes, panel saws, grinders

I know the 'comment line' does not limit what is discussed,
but it might help encourage some out of the box thinking.
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  #3  
Old Sat 01 August 2009, 20:18
Doug_Ford
Just call me: Doug #3
 
Conway (Arkansas)
United States of America
Gerald,

For the last 9 years before I retired, I did A LOT of technical editing and I'm pretty critical of how websites (and technical manuals) are organized. In my opinion, the forum structure would be tough to improve. You might consider adding a button that is more conspicuous that says "download the plans here." There are also a couple of things that I think you might think about adding.

#1. You wrote once before about including a thread on how to operate the MM and I think that would be a big help to guys who have never seen a CNC machine operate. We all have strengths and weaknesses and for some guys, operating a computer is kind of scary. I've been giving thought as to what the thread ought to contain. Over the next two weeks, I'll try to put together something if I can work out the screen shots problem. I won't bore you with details but my CAD, CAM, and MACH3 programs are spread across 3 computers. This kind of thread might also be useful to a guy who has just finished building his MM.

#2. This suggestion is probably impossible and might not be a good idea but I'll add it anyway for the sake of generating input. I think guys (and gals) that are new to this website would like to see a list of stuff to order rather than digging through the forum. Since we are an international group, coming up with a list of parts to order would probably have to be organized by continent rather than country. Plus, the stuff we order depends on how we want to configure our machine. However, like I said, even if we came up with several lists, it might not be a good idea. 99% of the guys on this forum need to read and read and read before they start ordering parts. If a list is available, we might end up with lots of guys that spend several thousands of dollars and find out they don't have the skill to build a Mechmate. Building a MM takes dedication and if you don't have enough "stick-to-it-ness" to read for a few weeks, you probably don't have what it takes to make it to the finish line.

Last edited by Doug_Ford; Sat 01 August 2009 at 20:24..
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  #4  
Old Sun 02 August 2009, 00:23
lumberjack_jeff
Just call me: Jeff #31
 
Montesano, WA
United States of America
I have to agree with Doug.

In my past professional life, I helped manage a business with a core competency of developing knowledge bases for support websites. The main building block of a good tech support web presence is the taxonomy of navigation.

If I were building something from whole cloth, I would eventually settle on a hierarchy very similar to the one you now have.

maybe something like this;
Code:
welcome, using this forum
 - downloading files
 - personal sections
    - introduce yourself
    - planning
    - builds in progress
    - show off your work
    - completed builds
         - serial number database
 - technical instructions
    -  table
          - rails
          - beams
          - assembly
    -  gantry
          - rails
          - beams
    -  y carriage
    -  z setup
    -  drive
          - motors
          - racks and pinions
          - gear reduction/belt reduction setups
    -  electronics
          - drivers
          - power supplies
          - limit switches
    - toolheads
          - routers
          - spindles
          - other
    - computer/software
    - using your machine
         - maintenance
         - tips and tricks
         - business
         - operation
 - ask an expert
          - mechmate specific
          - general cnc
 - suggest drawing changes
 - archives (this would only be for obsolete topics that could mislead new builders)
I find that it's not fundamentally different from what you currently have.

... but while we're on a related topic, it took me some time to get my head around the drawing organization within the PDF files. Once I realized that the drawings were (with the basic exception of the assembly drawings) generally organized in inverse order of fabrication (drill, followed by weld, followed by cut). I became able to better navigate them.

Last edited by lumberjack_jeff; Sun 02 August 2009 at 00:38..
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  #5  
Old Sun 02 August 2009, 01:11
rnixon
Just call me: Rick #45
 
Vic
Australia
Gerald,
You probably need to have a section on the forum with a heading - Start Here.
At the moment it is buried in - General MM build.
As a new member, it took some time to get around the posts and drawings. After reading a post regarding printing 2 sets of drawings, one set for working order of drilling, welding, profile etc - it became clear.
Just a thought
regards,
Rick
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  #6  
Old Sun 02 August 2009, 01:17
bfauska
Just call me: Brian #30
 
Seattle, WA
United States of America
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug_Ford View Post
#2. This suggestion is probably impossible and might not be a good idea but I'll add it anyway for the sake of generating input. I think guys (and gals) that are new to this website would like to see a list of stuff to order rather than digging through the forum. Since we are an international group, coming up with a list of parts to order would probably have to be organized by continent rather than country. Plus, the stuff we order depends on how we want to configure our machine. However, like I said, even if we came up with several lists, it might not be a good idea. 99% of the guys on this forum need to read and read and read before they start ordering parts. If a list is available, we might end up with lots of guys that spend several thousands of dollars and find out they don't have the skill to build a Mechmate. Building a MM takes dedication and if you don't have enough "stick-to-it-ness" to read for a few weeks, you probably don't have what it takes to make it to the finish line.
I think that something along these lines would be great, and I understand Gerald's reluctance to include something that lets people get in over their head so easily. Maybe the solution is a pinned thread that includes a list made up of generalities.
For example:
To build a MechMate you will need:
  1. Steel for actual construction (consult the drawings for specifics)
  2. Motors to move the machine (link to a starting point thread in the apropriate section)
  3. Drives for said motors (linky)
  4. Power supply (link)
  5. Wireing (link)
  6. etc...

The idea being that the list isn't of actual parts that could be ordered but a starting place with a run down of each TYPE of item you will need and a link to threads that will help the builder choose wisely for their specific needs.

Overall I think the site is arranged really well, like the drawings it just takes a few minutes to figure out the structure and then it's pretty solid and complete.

I've been to many forums centered around building something and in addition to the build threads it's nice to have a singe thread somewhere that is for each person with a finished product to post a few pictures and describe anything that is unique to their machine and then link over to their personal thread where people can comment. Basically a gallery of finished MechMates. Sometimes they get littered up with comments, but if there is a fairly well defined structure and people link to their personal threads it should work fairly well. One advantage to this setup would be that if we browse that single thread and see somebody has done something special that we are interested in we can jump over to their thread and find more details or ask for them if they aren't already there.
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  #7  
Old Sun 02 August 2009, 02:43
sailfl
Just call me: Nils #12
 
Winter Park, FL
United States of America
Doug,

I do not agree on providing a list of parts. You see it all the time. Newbees ask a question that is answered if they would take the time to look at some of the builds. You provide a list then the next question will be what do I do with wedgit NN. When you don't have a list, builders have to search out with the plans for what they need and how it all goes together.

Gerald, could provide a kit to go along with the plans and charge $9000 USD.

Just my thoughts for what they are worth.
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  #8  
Old Sun 02 August 2009, 03:08
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
Okay, we running the risk of deviating from the topic. For now, I am simply seeking a neater index of content that we have here already. ie. a re-write of the front index page of this forum.

For example; We have Motors and Motor Mountings as two sections of equal prominence, yet the latter hardly contains anything. I think I can combine those two into one.

Another example; Spindles have a lot of threads, but where is logical place to index them as just one of the toolhead possibilities?
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  #9  
Old Sun 02 August 2009, 10:39
domino11
Just call me: Heath
 
Cornwall, Ontario
Canada
Gerald,
I think the motors and motor mountings could easily be combined. The spindles look fine in the toolhead section as well. I will see if I can find some others as well. The layout is pretty good the way it is for the most part I think.

Maybe move the downloads section to the top of the forum , first in line or at least in the first seciton with a description of this is where the plans are so its a little easier to find?

Last edited by domino11; Sun 02 August 2009 at 10:41..
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  #10  
Old Sun 02 August 2009, 11:22
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
Actually, there are far too many people just downloading the plans and doing nothing else! (The link is prominent at the very front page www.mechmate.com)
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  #11  
Old Sun 02 August 2009, 11:59
servant74
Just call me: Jack
 
Nashville (Tennessee)
United States of America
Plans: For many folks the plans are how they do a 'quick first look' at a possible build. The plans themselves could be put in a 'download' section near the bottom like you have, but a 'What it is' section that is a set of good pix and drawings (eye candy, not DXF, and without dimensions) to let folks see what it is MechMate is about. Possibly a few 'cherry picked' pictures of projects folks have use a MM to accomplilsh (big and small, personal and business, etc).

You might consider a 'user suggestions' section where users could post drawings, sketches, wild ideas, on MM evolution and what could be 'ancilirary' equipment (grinding skate, sheet stock movement, 'new' ways to use, different kinds of heads or mounts for routers, drills, deposition tools, laser measurement, ... actual 'how to' kinds of things)

General Organization: Jeff's suggestion as to reorganization has some great points in it. Parallel to the 'Business' section, there might be a 'Hobby' section, where the Hobby section would focus on the recreational use of MM (stuff for grand kids, DIY aircraft / hovercraft, etc), and business might relate more to productivity increases and $$ making efforts.

Other: A 'water cooler' section for non-MM (still non-political and non-religous) topics could be covered. ... I still like to see pix of other folks shops, inside and outside, MM shown and other equipment and layouts. Even talking about 'competition' offerings, like the new SB tool changer (more with and idea of enhancing the MM not support of other vendors).
Even Gerald's vacation pix of SA is great, but it indirectly supports the esprit de corps of the MM community.
The 'water cooler' should be 'out of the way' in the tree, near the bottom like things are now is good.

Sorry if this is to rambling. ... Brainstorming often happens that way.
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  #12  
Old Sun 09 August 2009, 19:18
domino11
Just call me: Heath
 
Cornwall, Ontario
Canada
OK Here is an idea. What about having a world map with countries highlighed that have Mechmates cutting in them, that are documented on this site? Might be nice for all to see. Just a thought.
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  #13  
Old Sun 09 August 2009, 20:35
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
Have loked at world maps before, but couldn't find a decent one that is an independent product which we could own. You normally need to sign up at their websites as well.
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  #14  
Old Sun 09 August 2009, 23:07
lumberjack_jeff
Just call me: Jeff #31
 
Montesano, WA
United States of America
I seem to remember that google maps has a function in which group members can post their location on a shared map.\\

On edit;
I've done a brief search, but I'm not finding what I remember.

Last edited by lumberjack_jeff; Sun 09 August 2009 at 23:15..
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  #15  
Old Mon 10 August 2009, 00:13
bfauska
Just call me: Brian #30
 
Seattle, WA
United States of America
maps.google.com there is a section called "My Maps" you can create a map with pins placed in custom places, you can allow everybody to see it or just invited people and you can allow invited people to edit it or just the creator.

This is the help section about creating custom maps
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  #16  
Old Mon 10 August 2009, 02:52
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
Here is a supposed "easy" option:

vbgooglemap3.0.1.pdf

. . . . . but that is too much drama for me!
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  #17  
Old Mon 10 August 2009, 02:53
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
Anyway, we have drifted off topic again. I am not looking for new features to add, rather, I want to tidy up the existing stuff.
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  #18  
Old Mon 10 August 2009, 07:03
domino11
Just call me: Heath
 
Cornwall, Ontario
Canada
Gerald,
Sorry, just came to mind.
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  #19  
Old Fri 21 August 2009, 08:34
Doug_Ford
Just call me: Doug #3
 
Conway (Arkansas)
United States of America
It just occurred to me this morning that we had a member who built a MM in 3 weeks!! That speaks volumes for the layout of this website.
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  #20  
Old Fri 21 August 2009, 10:56
domino11
Just call me: Heath
 
Cornwall, Ontario
Canada
Doug,
Yeah it can't be too hard to find stuff if you can get it all together in three weeks. Even if it was two people working on it.
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  #21  
Old Fri 21 August 2009, 11:01
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
Hey, I couldn't care about newbies finding stuff here. . . . . I cannot find everything anymore!
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  #22  
Old Fri 21 August 2009, 11:48
lumberjack_jeff
Just call me: Jeff #31
 
Montesano, WA
United States of America
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug_Ford View Post
It just occurred to me this morning that we had a member who built a MM in 3 weeks!! That speaks volumes for the layout of this website.
Absolutely right. Although it took me more like three months, there was very little that I needed to know that I couldn't find here.
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  #23  
Old Fri 21 August 2009, 17:00
sailfl
Just call me: Nils #12
 
Winter Park, FL
United States of America
Gerald,

Your problem is age - Old age.... that memory harder to find..... I know how that is!
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  #24  
Old Fri 21 August 2009, 18:23
smreish
Just call me: Sean - #5, 28, 58 and others
 
Orlando, Florida
United States of America
Maybe would should ask GOOGLE to index the site!
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  #25  
Old Fri 21 August 2009, 20:06
Doug_Ford
Just call me: Doug #3
 
Conway (Arkansas)
United States of America
Improving the organization of this site reminds me of one of my buddies. He competes in triathlons and is always trying to shave a few seconds off his completion times that are close to an hour long. I guess everything can be improved but....
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  #26  
Old Sat 22 August 2009, 00:10
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
Google does index the site, but only every couple of days or so. This page was last indexed 10 August.
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  #27  
Old Sat 22 August 2009, 19:42
domino11
Just call me: Heath
 
Cornwall, Ontario
Canada
I have found that if you use Google to search this site you get much better results on your searches. It really bugs me too when you want to find that little piece of info you know you saw not that long ago .... and I am quite a bit younger than Gerald.
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  #28  
Old Sat 22 August 2009, 19:45
servant74
Just call me: Jack
 
Nashville (Tennessee)
United States of America
The only trick I know to ensure the response is from a particular site is to include

site:mechmate.com

in the search criteria, in addition to other key words.
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  #29  
Old Sat 22 August 2009, 19:46
domino11
Just call me: Heath
 
Cornwall, Ontario
Canada
Yeah, sorry Jack, that is what I do as well. Should have put more info in my post.
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  #30  
Old Sun 23 August 2009, 05:02
jhiggins7
Just call me: John #26
 
Hebron, Ohio
United States of America
Great tip, Heath and Jack. I was unaware of this feature of Google. I'm sure it will come in handy in the future.
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