Sunday, May 24, 2015

Running into the Learning Curve

There's the loom line up.  A beautiful day with patio doors and windows open for the warm breeze, good tunes on the player and the room freshly tidied.    There is a possible offer on the Woolhouse down at the far end and I won't know for sure until July.  (The loom is available again The Louet Spring in the middle has a silk warp under way.   Yes, that is a live weaving program on the screen there next to the Megado and weaving is once more under way!

It was quite a process to get it to this point. First of all you avoid dealing with it for months, then you make a feeble attempt just before you have surgery and Christmas and it was obviously doomed to fail. 

Then you have two friends who gently, very gently embarrass you into looking at it again.   :)

I worked on getting the sixteenth shaft aligned properly.  Then next up was making my mind up as to which version of Fiberworks I was going to use.    PC or Mac.   Having seen both versions of the program, I decided Mac all the way, in both design and weaving operation.   

I think part of my previous 'rut' was that I designed in the Mac program and wove (or tried to) in the PC on a tiny notebook and I was trying to learn and run two programs and two operating systems.    Double the Fun!  (Um, not really.)

This Megado is one of the earlier models from 2002 and so it uses a serial port to USB cable between the interface and the computer.  That requires loading a driver onto your computer to run it.  Simple enough to do right?    Not really...   My Mac Air has no disc drive internally and so I must add one externally. But after buying an Apple external hard drive,  it would not accept the small mini cd, only the normal sized cd's.    So then  you plan to take it to the local technology store and get them to load it onto the computer.   Simple right?   not really...

The chain of stores ALL closed their doors as they under go a reorganization and will remerge as another chain of technology stores.      "We thank our customers for their patience".

Finally they got the stores re-open, and my computer and mini disc all together at the computer 'geek'  desk and it took one really nice tech guy five (5)  minutes and  no charge.   Geesh....

Next up in this little drama is the various diagnostic testing to see if everyone is happy and shaking hands with each other!    Found the right comm port right away!   Since I only have two USB ports I had a 50/50 chance of getting it right.     Yeah me!

Then I ran the solenoid test. The solenoids are like little 'wack-a-moles' that fire when the computer tells them to, from the pattern it has in the draft, pic by pic. They jump out and hit the back of what looks like piano pegs and then a knife like blade moves up and down as you treadle and collects the screw heads on the other side of the pegs that are sticking out proud and then releases the screws  when the blade moves past another sensor.

Well its supposed to....  the treadling sensor diagnostic test failed.  

So it wasn't the computer at fault,  and all parts of the loom were functioning properly except for the blade and the magnet.   The magnet is what tells sensors to release the 'pegs' at the right time.   Its small, very strong and apparently in the wrong place. 

So my next test is to double check the sensors to see if the fault lies with them. So off comes the interface and I run the magnet by them and ....presto.... they work!  Huge sigh of relief!   They would be very expensive to repair or replace and involve a road trip to be fixed to eastern Canada.    If I can't get a holiday there, they sure aren't if I can avoid it!  :)

So? place the magnet on top of the blade or underneath?   A simple question right?  no....      I had to read through the older manual that came with my loom. A second newer manual for later models, surf You Tube in vain for Megado how- to videos, join a multi shaft  comps / dobby group on Facebook and spend time browsing on the internet looking for pictures.   

Finally I found a how to guide in Dutch for the older model interface  on the Louet European web site and found that the magnet goes on the inside of the blade.   They show a white magnet in this picture, but mine is black on a black bar.

You can see the piano pegs that the solenoids hit and below you can see the interface (like mine) placed back on the side of the loom. The magnet is tucked behind the cutaway.

photo credit: Louet NE

Except on my loom the blade and magnet won't freely slide by  the sensors and it jams up.  The fact it would not slide freely is what caused my confusion as to which side it belonged.

So we undo two small dark screws at the bottom of the interface out by one small turn and put it back on and the bottom edge is now out a smidgen  and the blade / magnet combo clears!    

But it still didn't work.

We had a break and a discussion about the various possibilities.  Bruce had mentioned something about positive and negative polarities and so I just reached in and flipped the magnet over.   

....* and it worked!* 

We cautiously smiled to our success as we were worried about what was next to go wrong. Earlier that day I had dropped my iPad onto a tile floor corner point down and it was not turning back on.  It was a "black screen of death" for hours until I gave up on it.  Of course later the same day when I took it in to be looked at by a techie, it worked perfectly like nothing was ever wrong. In fact if it wasn't for the slight ding at the corner, you would never know. 

So was it worth going to all the this trouble and steep learning curve?   Yes.... the Mac program and its commands are much simpler than the PC version, well at least to me me that is.  I was able to set the ranges for what portion of the draft I want to weave right away and  now I have to learn the finer points of un-weave  vs. reverse and few other points.   

I have a narrow 2 inch warp on the loom for 12 shaft twill book marks and the neat thing is I can start and stop where I need to as I learn and makes mistakes.  If I do get a full one all woven up, then its a bonus!    I'm already thinking of what to weave next on the Megado and I think it might well be more towels as they are a great fresh start experience until you get all the nuances of the loom and the way it feels as you operate it.  

On a personal note:

My Dad is still with us and is enjoying a new, more modern, brighter hospice, but the fact remains that its a hospice...

The grand kids are growing:

Ethan's first haircut

Thomas the Tank bicycle for  Ethan's 3rd birthday.

...and little Madison is now 2 1/2 months old and very much all girl. 

I hope your 'April showers' brought you 'May's flowers'.


Dianne said...

Well done to persevere with the loom. So frustrating trying to get them going with limited IT knowledge, in my case anyway. Grandies are growing so fast.

Cindie said...

Phew on the loom, so glad it's all working for you now. I still feel like I have such a big learning curve to climb on my AVL/software - I know I'm much slower at designing because I don't have the time to spend 'playing' - I just learn as I go.

barbara said...

Hi Susan - I have said it before, I stand and applaud you for sticking with learning not only a new computer program, but a new loom as well. Wow, not for the feint of heart. I can hardly wait to see what the finished weaving will look like, no doubt in my mind it will all be beautiful. How neat to try the loom on 2" bookmarks. Enjoy!!!! Yes, the grandchildren are sure growing, Ethan looks like such a little man!!!! Glad to hear that your dad is settled in a new, bright care facility; that must give you a little peace of mind. Happy Weaving and just think of the projects you will accomplish once you get your new knee! All the best - flowers look great. Our spring has arrived, though we are being tested with some cool (downright cold) winds!!! Anyway, these too shall pass. Weaverly yours ....... Barbara

Peg Cherre said...

I consider myself pretty persistent, but ready posts like yours is why I can't imagine dealing with a computer-controlled loom. That does limit my designs to 8H, 'cuz I also can't imagine the physical challenges in manually lifting the shafts for a 12 or 16, but there are still about a zillion things I can do.

Sorry to hear about your dad, but enjoy the pix of the grands!

Susan Harvey said...

A weaver really needs to know their loom inside and out to really operate, tweak and repair it properly. So that also includes understanding how this Megado works. I feel like I know much more now and can do much more with it as a result. Learning the program is another task but that's a matter of repetition and trial and error. The insides of the interface? it s 'no-go zone' so all I had to do was understand the basic function of the operation.

In short the worst is behind me now and I can enjoy 16 shaft patterns with very light treadling (one treadle only) For someone with joint issues, it just makes sense.

I guess I also like solving things ..... and so dive in (eventually) It boggles my mind that some weavers are timid about their looms and 'afraid' to make changes or tweak them. They are tools..... big and fancy, but tools to do a job.

Judy said...

It's great to see that you're ramping up on the weaving a bit. I think I would have been frustrated to tears by the problems you were having with your Megado, but I'm glad you worked through them. For future reference, I have a Megado with the computer dobby if you ever need pictures again. :)

(TorchSinger on Ravelry)

Anonymous said...

A beautiful studio. Thanks for your detailed account of your adventures with the Megado. I've just ordered a Delta. But it probably won't be long before I'll want to try a Megado.