My first impressions of the new ShopBot DeskTop
After having this machine for almost two months now, all I can say is WOW!
What I like about the DeskTop
It's QUIET! I no longer have to wear hearing protection when the router is running, unless I have a really noisy cutting tool installed.
Why is it so quiet? Its a combination of the Porter Cable 890 Router and the enclosure that surrounds the Z axis.
Construction: Simple, it's built like a tank! No frame flex noted as I wrestled it up on the bench.
Porter Cable Variable Speed Router. For a small router this sure packs a punch. I cut several pieces of ¾ ply with a ¼ in bit in 2 passes with no problems. Had I known about the capabilities of this little router I probably would have adapted it to my PRS. It would have been worth it just for the noise reduction alone. I particularly like the fact you can change a bit with only one wrench.
When running a file the router automatically starts and stops at the beginning and end of the file. Nice!
Accuracy: In a word, Fantastic! Although I have no way to measure accuracy, I did however, route a design using a v-bit into hard wood at .005 the results were out standing! I turned off the machine and came back the next day. With the piece still in position I re-cut the file. It was dead on. I could not detect any movement in any axis while gently pushing on the individual axis. To me accuracy is the biggest plus for this machine. It's also a testament to the rigid construction of this machine.
Enclosure: Here I’m a bit critical. The dust foot is contained within the enclosure. I find it difficult to adjust the foot height as well as the brushes attached to the enclosure. There is not much travel available on the enclosure to adjust for unusual materials. One could of course remove the enclosure. That’s a task in its self. I think the door hinge will be subject to early failure due to the hinge material. Maybe ShopBot will do a redesign in the future. The dust extraction works great, what the dust foot does not get the enclosure does.
Harmonics and stepper noise: In the PRT and to a lesser extent the PRS one would observe an annoying harmonic sound at certain speeds and cut patterns. But not with the DeskTop!
Miscellaneous: I keep forgetting to turn the DeskTop off. A pilot light on the front would be helpful.
Static discharge and lost connections: Here I have absolutely no problems. With my other machines they would occasionally hang when I turned on the vacuum. I cured it with extensive grounding. I haven't gotten around to grounding the new machine as there have been no issues with loss of communications or hangups
Prox Switches: Prox switches are installed at the X and Y 0/0 points. There are none at the 24 and 18in end points. I found myself repeatedly crashing against the end of the lead screw when cutting several pieces of 18x24 material. Additional prox switches would be a welcome touch
Documentation: The trend now in industry is to provide minimal printed documentation be it Cell Phones or computers, etc. and so it is with the DeskTop. The DeskTop arrived with a folded sheet with simple instructions for un-crating, making it operational, a CD and memory stick. Had I not owned several full size ShopBots in the past I would have found this a bit perplexing. In actuality the setup went quite well. About two weeks later I discovered a setup and operational guide in the Documents section of the ShopBot web site. Maybe a reference to the document could be included with each machine shipped.
I looked at other desk top machines. Although the other machines were quite a bit less expensive I chose the Shopbot.
Why? The quality of construction, all metal frame, support and of course the ShopBot reputation of turning out a quality product.
In closing I think this machine would make a great investment not only for the serious hobbyist but for various industry and business applications.