FarmBot Express XL 1.0
There are a lot of little things throughout the assembly instructions that make assembly painstakingly longer than it should be - definitely a lot longer than the advertised ‘1 hour’ assembly time. I will give some examples here. I know some of these things may seem ‘duh’ to those with more experience working with FarmBot, but for new users this is not obvious.
There should be a list naming each part and visually showing what it looks like (ideally included in the box). I lost count of how many times I read the next step in the instructions and then fumbled around in the box trying to figure out what part it was talking about.
Another one was the screws - a simple labeling sticker on their bags could have saved time measuring to figure out what screws it was talking about. And since most English tape measures don’t include metric, that also involves an online search to figure out what the conversion rate is. This may seem trivial, but the time adds up. (I realize the metric system is nice for designing from the ground up in a CAD program, but most U.S. users aren’t great at estimating with metric like they can with English. And since construction, such as building the raised bed, is based on the English system - e.g. nominal wood dimensions - we are going to have to live with both. All that to say either the individual screw bags should be labeled with their size or the instructions should offer the same information in English units.) I understand if you disagree with me on this specific point, but if so, then please update the ‘1 hour’ assembly time to something more reasonable for a general consumer. Even if I knew all the part names and had practice assembling the kit I seriously doubt I could have finished in just an hour.
Regarding the installation of the cross-slide and z-axis:
When I went to put this piece on, the tool head would hit against the side of the garden bed. It took me quite a while to realize that I could manually twist the motor to get the tool head to raise up high enough so I could slide the cross-slide/z-axis on the main gantry.
Another example - see this post about a problem with the dowel pins. This problem alone took hours to resolve.
Another problem is the lack of paper instructions included in the kit. I realize that FarmBot is intended to have good Wi-Fi access and therefore wherever a user might be assembling it should also have good Wi-Fi access. But trying to read the instructions off a little phone screen or laptop (which I would prefer to not take outside at all) in sunlight is difficult to say the least. A project this big really should include a paper copy of the manual.
Thanks for considering these (hopefully helpful) criticisms. I am still excited to start using FarmBot, but was pretty disillusioned when putting it together. I think the biggest problem here was the advertising. If I had been told there was a lot of work and troubleshooting in order just to get the FarmBot installed, this wouldn’t have been as big of an issue. But I was led to expect an easy, straightforward setup. It may get there in the future, but it just isn’t there today.