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What Is It

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How do I hold my Handibot to the material I am cutting?

For light engraving and partial-depth cuts, the weight of the Handibot is sufficient to hold the tool in position on the material. Through-cuts and deep partial-depth cuts require minimal downward pressure on the handles to ensure secure positioning on the material. Many other options are available to you including clamping, screwing, bolting, and adhering. We expect Handibot users to develop a range of useful techniques as we all gain more experience with the tools.

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What size cutting tools (bits) will the Handibot accept?

The router we will provide on the Handibot accepts a 1/4″ shank in its collet. For light-duty cuts with small diameter cutters such as used for circuit board machining, we have 1/4″-to-1/8″ shank adapters that work well.

We primarily use and sell bits made by LMT Onsrud. They have many bits available for all types of tasks. There are many other bit makers with countless bit types and sizes that will work fine, but we and our customers have had good experience with and support from Onsrud.

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What type of bits do you recommend?

We primarily use and sell bits made by LMT Onsrud. They have many bits available for all types of tasks. There are many other bit makers with countless bit types and sizes that will work fine, but we and our customers have had good experience with and support from Onsrud.

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How fast can my Handibot cut?

The maximum practical speed for heavy cuts is 2″/second. Lighter cuts can be done at 3″/second.

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Is there a vacuum attachment to collect my dust?

The Handibot tool has an integrated dust collector with inlet designed to receive standard 1.25” tapered wet/dry vacuum fittings.

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What kind of files will my Handibot need?

The short answer is that your tool will need what is called a toolpath file that contains the movement instructions for cutting or machining a project (this can be a “g-code” file or an “OpenSBP” file). Such files are generated by the V-Carve Pro (CAD/CAM) design software that comes with your Handibot, or by most any CAM program. Toolpath files will also be the type of file that is sent from apps on various types of devices to your Handibot or run from its own PC.

The longer answer is that for the future, Handibot and ShopBot are moving toward a new, open source, motion control system that will support a more generic file type. The planning for this long-term goal is discussed in detail in the “Developers” section of the ShopBot website. Our goal is that all ShopBots and Handibots will have the option of being upgraded to the new system by replacement of their control card (probably less than $250).


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How much will apps cost?

We expect apps to be priced in the $10-30 range — more expensive than typical smart phone apps because the market is significantly smaller and so we’ll need to provide adequate incentive for developers. To help get the catalog of apps started, we expect to seed or subsidize the development of many early apps. Stimulating the creation of wide ranging apps will depend significantly on how successful we all are in building the community of Handibot users.

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When I buy an app, can I use it multiple times?

We assume that for the typical Handibot app, once you own an app it is yours forever to use as many times as you have jobs that need doing. This does not rule out some special-purpose apps that a developer may choose to license in a different manner.

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Do I need to use apps, or can I use my existing CAD and CAM software?

You certainly are not required to use apps. In fact, when you first get your Handibot tool, there will not be many apps to work with yet. The powerful “old-fashioned” way of creating or finding a design and turning into a toolpath with your CAM program will always be available to you.

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When will apps be available?

The number of apps and timing of their availability depend upon how many early adopters start contributing ideas and how soon they begin development. At ShopBot, we are doing our best to prime the pump. We will be launching app developer support pages on the Handibot website in the coming weeks. Right now we encourage you to participate at Apps HQ, a system for collecting, recognizing, and rating app ideas for interested application developers to help stimulate collaboration in the community and get more apps developed.

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How do I learn more about the design software and the software that runs the Handibot tool?

The software suite that is included with purchase of a Handibot tool is the same that is used with full-size ShopBot tools, so you can find extensive descriptions of both design and control software on the ShopBot website. In addition, because Handibot tools are functionally small ShopBot tools, the extensive CNC information resources of the Talk ShopBot Forum is available and will be useful to Handibotters for inspiration. Once critical mass is reached, the Handibot forum will be the primary repository for information on Handibot software. The current ShopBot Control Software is always available as a free download from our website and can be run in “preview” mode to get a feel for how it works. Free demo versions of V-Carve Pro are also available.

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What OS platforms will my Handibot work on?

Currently the Handibot/ShopBot software runs on a Windows® platform (XP-W8). As described in the file-type discussion above, we have a long-range project underway that involves moving Handibot and all ShopBots to a new, open source, motion system that will allow for interfaces from most system platforms. These plans are discussed in the “Developers” section of the ShopBot website.

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Where will I find “developer” information for Handibot tools?

For Handibot software application development, we will be creating a system for developers on the Handibot website. This will include SDKs, examples, and we hope, a growing list of application ideas at Apps HQ with guidance ratings ready for application developers to put into great apps. For Handibot hardware development and control system development, we will host the primary discussions in the “Developer” section of the ShopBot website with much of the core documentation being posted to a GitHub repository.

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What about other options and accessories?

The attractiveness of being able to add capabilities to the Handibot tool is why we’re fitting the tools with a full-featured ShopBot controller, capable of running up to six axes of motors (with additional motor drivers) and with extensive I/O, and why we have not compromised on the tool’s power or rigidity (within the constraints of its practical size). The features and pin-outs for our control card can be found in the “Developer” section on the ShopBot website.

We have already prototyped an automatic indexing/registering device for working over larger areas (see the video section of Handibot.com ) to see videos about this and other applications. We believe that there are a lot of different ways to accomplish this kind of registration. We’ll expect to offer a couple accessories of this type, and we are hoping others emerge from the Handibot community. We expect to also soon offer an optional “rotary indexer” 4th axis that will allow working on projects in the round (the Handibot will sit over the indexer axis – it looks like a small lathe but is digitally controlled), just as with the rotary indexer attachments for larger ShopBot tools.


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How loud is the Handibot?

It’s hard to give an exact decibel number. The router makes the noise of a hand-held trim router, but the louder noise comes from the cutter in the material and is thus dependent on material, bit, and speed.

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What type of power is required to run the Handibot?

The Handibot runs on ordinary 110V power. Just plug it into a non-GFCI, 3-prong outlet and you are ready to cut. It draws (up to) approximately 15 amps.

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What kind of computer do I need to run my Handibot?

You will need a PC that is running Windows XP/Vista/7/8 (Home Premium / Business, or higher). We recommend the equivalent of a dual core or higher, Pentium processor, and a minimum of 2GB RAM (4GB preferred). You will need at least one USB port. We have been running our Handibots with a Win8 tablet having only an Atom processor. These seem to work well if you want to be really portable.

We will be providing an attachment pocket on the front of the Handibot to hold a Windows tablet. If you plan to do real CAD/CAM work, you will probably find working on a tablet a little frustrating. For example, a Handibot used in education might be set up as a mini-desktop tool sitting next to and connected with a full size PC for design and instruction. It is also no problem plugging one type of PC into the Handibot for one type of project and another type of PC for another.

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Will I be able to obtain support for working with my Handibot?

We have almost 20 years experience helping people get going with CNC. We’ll be providing a “Getting Started with Handibot” package developed by our documentation team, Randy Johnson and Nate Zellmer (Until recently, Randy was Editor of American Woodworker magazine, where he wrote wonderful articles on using CNC; see: www.popularwoodworking.com/author/randyjohnson). We also expect to develop videos for those just starting to use Handibots, similar to our “getting started” videos for our Desktop CNC tools that can be found on the www.100kSchools.org website.

One of the most challenging aspects of traditional CNC is mastering the design work with CAD/CAM. For working with V-Carve, Vectric provides wonderful free video tutorials for doing CNC design; see: http://support.vectric.com/training-material/vcarve-pro. Handibot web support will be available on the Handibot Users Forum from ShopBot personnel and Handibot users … “Handibotters” are likely to become our best resource for information and help.

Visit the Handibot Online Support page for detailed information.

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What is the Warranty?

ShopBot provides a limited two-year warranty on Handibot tools. See Warranty section in the Handibot store for details.

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Will you ship internationally?

Yes. We are currently shipping Handibot’s to the United States as well as the following list of countries. We will be updating this list as new locations are added.

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What are the dimensions of the active cutting area?

Without needing to move the Handibot base, the active cutting area is 6”x8”x3.25”.

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What is the Handibot Community?

Our community is free to participate in; it’s a collaborative environment where you can embark on lots of cool adventures:

  • share the projects that you make with the help of a Handibot tool
  • comment on projects you see and add your own creative twists to others’ projects
  • suggest ideas that will help the Handibot become even more useful, such as ideas for apps, accessories for the tool, even ways you’d like to see the tool itself evolve

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You don’t have to “sign up” (join the community), but this will allow you to do more.

Anyone is welcome to look around at projects, galleries and ideas. You can read the forum and blog posts, and sign up for our newsletter.

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When you sign up (for free), you’ll also be able to participate!

You’ll be able to share your projects, photos and videos; bookmark and add your rating to others’ projects; post your ideas for apps, post on the forum, and instant-message other community members.

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Icing on the cake.

Here’s something we’re working on right now: we’re building an initial suite of apps that will make it even easier for anybody to use the Handibot tool. You won’t need to know programming language or be a CNC expert. The goal is: pick an app, click a couple of buttons, get cuttin’! You’ll be able to do this right from your smartphone or tablet too. Check out Handibot Labs now to see the latest news from our developers.

We welcome you to sign up and join our community. We’ll be sure to keep you posted about “all things Handibot,” including ways for you to get involved in both software and hardware development.

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How do I share my files?

Files and formats:
Your motivation should be to make it easy for people to cut and build your project, so you’ll want to include files in formats that make it easy for the largest number of people. We all love Vectric software and include it with all tools, so including those file formats is probably the most helpful. VCarvePro for 2d and Cut3d for 3d machining

There are however ShopBotters that…gasp!…might not have VCarvePro or Cut3d, or haven’t kept their copies up to date. so we recommend that you also include an additional format for those folks. A Universal vector format like .dxf or .eps works well for 2d cutting, and .stl for 3d models. 

What about ShopBot files? Feel free to include them, and they make a lot of sense for Handibot projects where all the tools are the same size with the same cutting capabilities. There’s a wide range of other ShopBots of different sizes and speed capabilities, though, so be aware that a file that cuts great at 6″/sec on your brand new PRSAlpha won’t be too useful to the ShopBotters with a 10 year old PR!

At the minimum please include a readme.txt file that includes details like materials, bit size, and any extra supplies that are needed. Add a little about yourself too, especially how someone can contact you with questions. For anything but the simplest projects though, including a little more complete set of instructions…maybe with some pictures…will be very helpful. And just like design files, use formats that are universal and accessible like .pdf and .html.

We REALLY don’t want to be the copyright license police, so to make it simple any files that you offer must not include any copyrighted designs. Before uploading your project you’ll have to agree to an Open License, so no Micky Mouses or NFL logos please!

When you’ve got all your files assembled, zip them up and share them here

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