I'm assuming you've ALREADY followed the Brother SnC series Post 2 - Machine Upgrades and have upgraded your machine to the most recent available for your model and country. If not, go HERE and do it first. Why? Because machine callibration is something that Brother initially put into the Servicing Area of the Machine, but then realised they needed to enable users to do it for themselves, so some of these activities form part of the Upgrades. There's work arounds in this post where I know about them for those who, if you are unable to upgrade and up against it timewise to get your machine working properly BUT be careful!
Also, if you don't know how to use the CD-Rom Manual that came with your machine, or how to find the Online Manual and Upgrade Release Notes - go to the first post on Box Fresh HERE. Because with this Post, you need the Manual.
And one other thing, I do find it hugely annoying that big companies who now ONLY issue Manuals via CDRom or Online to save on manufacturing and shipping (all very environmentally friendly) don't blooming well number their Manuals from the VERY first page you see. All this non pagination and using roman numerals before you get to the actual start of the meat of the text works really well on paper, but with Adobe PDF or any other reader the page numbers in the Contents and Index are NOT the page numbers that apply when you navigate the PDF by putting the page number in the box at the top and pressing enter. I really must remember to email Brother about this. It's really annoying me! Anyway, be aware, the page numbers I give in this Series are the ones on the Contents & Index pages, punch those into the PDF or CDROM search area and you'll be a couple of pages adrift every single time. Just keep scrolling. Anyway, rant over...
Basically with this series, I'm trying to be logical about the order in which I tell you about stuff, so that if I start talking about something you've never heard of, it should already have been covered earlier on in the Series. If I remember to, I'll link back to such things but I might forget so keep your wits about you! (I've just realised I should have covered Test Cutting before this, or maybe it's chicken & egg, anyway, I'll do that next so this & the next post should be read and followed together. Sorry!)
So, off we go. If you think about it, there's 3 main areas of the machine where outside influences can affect it's operation.
1. The LCD Panel Touch Screen on the top of the Machine - because you constantly dab at it with your Official Pointer or your fingers.
2. The carriage that holds the blade or pen or embossing holders - because you are constantly putting mats up against the rollers and using the carriage to cut or draw on materials of significantly different thicknesses. In addition, it gets shaken around in transit from the manufacturer to the retailer to your door, and also when you move it around your craft space.
3. The scanner - because the mat goes over it every time, shedding fibres and other gunk as appropriate to the material or media you use.
Naturally over time and with use, things get ever so slightly out of whack. Brother, being awesome, have provided us with ways to deal with those 3 things OURSELVES!
You might ask: how often these things go wonky?
Speaking from personal experience of buying a second hand machine on ebay that was advertised as 'unused' but the seller's mil (mother in law) who actually owned it had used it to cut about 5 things (how do I know? every single one had cut through the mat lol. It was all settled amicably with her refunding me the RRP plus P&P of a replacement mat. So all's well that ends well! She was very embarrassed, but that's mils for you, always right until they're not) - mine had not only been through the initial shipping but also been taken by car to the sellers house, and travelled the country by courier. Then I used it and I have strength and balance issues (basically I wibble ineffectually lol), and I've let two local 7yo kids (supervised) do the Touch Screen dabbing and tried all sorts of different thicknesses of paper and card in mine.
So far I've had to calibrate the Touch Screen twice, and the Carriage twice. But not the scanner yet. I reckon if you use it every day, you realise you need to recalibrate every fortnight or so (which is in line with what Jen Blausey of Jam Sessions on You Tube says in her videos on the subject).
BEWARE: One thing I've seen highlighted in FB (Facebook) Groups is that some LCD Touch screens stop working after a while, due to a weakness in the wiring or design of the way it hinges up and down so you can see it more easily. The most sensible solution is to never move it. However, if, like me, that's not possible cos you can't stand up for very long, MAKE SURE YOU FOLLOW THE MANUAL ON HOW TO MANIPULATE THE LCD SCREEN and don't bash it around too carelessly.
Manual: Section 1: Getting Started: First Steps: Adjusting the Angle of the Operation Panel (approx SNC1 p10, SNC2 p14 - I got smart and printed the contents pages from my CM600 online manual AND the CM900 online manual so I can give you an indication of where to find the information, all you need to remember is whether your SNC is first or second generation).
You probably also want to know how to tell if they are wonky?
With the Touch Screen Panel you can tell because suddenly, if you try and do a Test Cut without changing the size of the test shape, your pointer annoyingly won't pick it up to move it around the screen. You need to aim a millimetre or so to one side of the actual thing you are trying to move onscreen. It's less obvious with larger shapes until you try and line them up!
With the Holder Carriage when Cutting or Drawing or Scanning, the machine goes slightly off the line you expect it to go on. The clearest example I've found myself is where I was fussy cutting a Stamped Image to it's outline and it gave me a perfect cut with no white card on all sides except a tiny sliver on the top right. Which I had to trim myself. Not ideal when I bought the machine to do the heavy lifting for me so I can do crafting despite my disability.
With the Scanner, it's when you get odd lines vertically on the whole scan that aren't on the material you are scanning, or it's picking up 'blobs' that you know damn well don't exist in real life on your scanning material. Yes there's ways to delete out that 'white noise' that gets in the way of a clean scan. But it's so much easier to just deal with the initial problem rather than trying to fix the consequences!
Have I sold you on the idea that proper preparation prevents poor performance yet? We spend a LOT of money to buy and run these machines, for me it seems super sensible to get in the habit of doing little tasks routinely to keep it all running smoothly so that little issues are fixed and don't turn into big issues that require expensive servicing!
I did the following maintainance when my machine was still box fresh - partly because it was second hand, but also because I've learned my lesson from nearly killing my hugely expensive Bernina sewing machine in the past. Back then I was able bodied with a very local Bernina engineer. Now I'm disabled and blooming miles from a Brother Service Engineer! Really it's all about taking the time to make my own life easier! Permanently....
- CALLIBRATING THE TOUCH SCREEN
Follow the Instructions in the Brother MANUAL (CD Rom or Online). They are in Section 5 APPENDIX: CARE AND MAINTENANCE: Adjusting the Screen. (SNC1 p60, SNC2 p80 or thereabouts)
Snort! Are you laughing yet? Yeah me too. I bet you thought I was going to explain it in detail. Nope. I'm not. Brother have put a lot of time & money into developing easy to follow instructions, and I'm not a fan of having a dog and barking myself as it were.
Anyway, just to be helpful, the short answer is you do this:
-Switch off your machine with the on/off button.
-Put your finger ON the Touch Screen and hold it there whilst you switch your machine back on with the on/off button
-Use your OFFICIAL POINTER to hit the crosses on screen in the order they come up in. There's a little black square that tells you which cross to hit. Don't like me, try and hit the little black square, nothing happens (and I swear the machine silently sniggered at me for my stupidity LOL)
-Turn the machine off again.
-Turn it on. And your Pointer should now be super precise again. Back to Box Fresh! Cool huh!
Brother don't seem to have done a video on this but Jen Blausey of Jam Sessions has, you may get seasick and eye strain but it's short, HERE
TIP: My LCD screen is MUCH happier when I use the pointer rather than my finger. It's also much happier when the 7yo kids doing the dabbing are using gentle but confident and precise movements. Honestly! Two of them cut out ONE dog each yesterday and I needed to callibrate my screen afterwards LOL. Mind you they do have short arms and were trying to kneel on a stool whilst leaning over the mat without touching it, so I'm not surprised they wobbled!
What if you lose your Official Pointer? My honest answer to that is if you don't lose it you won't have to worry about it. I've got into the habit of having a small traditional pen tray by the side of my machine to put the little bits in like pointer and spatula. That and eyes in the back of my head for which child forgot to put it down before going to glue their dog cuts together...
But these things happen. I've heard online that Nintendo DS type styluses work. Alternatively, personally, I'd be contacting Brother to ask them what to do! They may be super nice and provide another one (at a cost potentially) or at least advice on what else would work!
- CALLIBRATING THE SCAN/CUT/DRAW CARRIAGEThis one feels a little more scary. It's not. It's not actually that hard to do, if you know how to put the paper on the mat, load the mat properly AND have blade depth/ pressure & speed settings right for the paper you are using.
THIS CALLIBRATION YOU NEED TO HAVE A FULLY UPGRADED MACHINE TO DO. If you haven't upgraded your machine yet but still need to do the adjustment, scroll to the bottom of the page, there's a workaround there.
Because it was part of the Upgrades, Instructions are in different places depending on which machine you own SNC1 or SNC2, and possibly cos I'm only looking at CM600 and CM900 machines for the UK, there might be other places to find them. This should give you an indication of where to start looking though!.
For SNC1 people (first generation - your machine only works with a USB stick) - This isn't in your CD Rom or Online Manual as far as I can see, it was added as part of the Upgrades.
There's 2 places you can find the instructions
1. In the Upgrade Notification for Version 1.6 Online PDF. You find these in the SAME place as the Online Manuals for your Machine and Country in the Brother Support Website. It's called Adjusting the Scanning/Cutting Position.
2. In the Online Manual for second generation SNC2 (people who can use a cable to their computer and/or wifi) in Section 5: APPENDIX: CARE AND MAINTENANCE: Adjusting the Scanning/ Cutting Position (approx p81)
(Aaaand I think that answers the question as to whether Brother updates the Online Manual for each Machine that I wasn't sure about yesterdat. No, they don't! So, yes, best to print off the Release Notes for your Machine OR use the SNC2 Online Manual for the bits that apply to all machines.)
Don't just go ahead and do this. YET. We need to go through some basics on how to set up the machine to cut nicely without killing your blade or your mat (or the machine) PARTICULARLY if you don't really know how to get your Blade Depth right!
- Make sure you set your machine up according to the Instructions in the Notification (SNC1) or Online Manual (SNC2) (they're identical so it doesn't matter which you use) for the Blade Adjustment - the first section of this talks about what paper to use and settings, then goes onto the actual instructions for doing the Adjustment.
I personally use 80gsm A4 copier paper on a Standard (well used so not very sticky) Mat, turned sideways (landscape) so that it covers the entire width of the mat at the end I feed into the Machine. On further consideration, it's not that easy to see the scanned cuts on the screen (this will make sense as we go on) so maybe if I used thicker paper or card, I might see the cuts more easily and be able to better callibrate it? I don't know, I'll have a go and let you know! At the moment this is what I do and it works fine!)
I'm going to cover blade depth, pressure and speed in depth later, but as this might be the VERY FIRST TIME you've used your machine, here's some tips on how to load the mat into the machine properly and set the blade up right so that you don't cut your mat in half!
Firstly, go to the Manual: Section 1: FIRST STEPS and read the instructions (again cos you already read them for Post 1 in this series, but this time you will be actually following it and DOING it) on HOW TO
(a) put paper onto the mat
(b) load the mat into the machine and
(c) how to set up blade depth, pressure and speed.
As far as the paper on the mat is concerned, your mat will be super sticky the first time you use it, get a lint free piece of cloth, say a clean t-shirt. Lay it on the sticky mat flat press it down a little bit and then lift it off. This should enable your mat to take the 80gsm paper without leaving a hot mess behind when you try and remove it!
For the mat loading, hold the mat slightly higher than horizontal (but still not bent so your paper doesn't jump off!) and make sure the leading edge that's going into the machine is solidly against the rollers you can see at the far side of each end of the metal bar that runs across your machine and carries the holder. Then press the loading button. I practised loading & unloading without paper on before I put paper on and actually cut anything. Worked for me!
For the blade depth, pressure and speed - Use the BLUE standard blade holder with an official Brother STANDARD blade. Sometimes they come ready set up, sometimes you have to put the blade in the Holder. Look in the Manual: Section 1 Getting Started: First Steps to find out how to deal with putting blades in and taking them out of the holders.
To keep it simple for now, cos all you need to do is make the machine do cuts that the scanner can register you don't actually need to cut through your paper or card entirely in the way you do when you are doing actual cuts:
- Set your SPEED at ONE (look in the Manual to see where in Settings you do these things)
- Set your PRESSURE at MINUS ONE or ZERO (these are based on advice Jen Blausey Jam Sessions on You Tube gives in her videos - you can find details of how to join her FB Group on her Jam Sessions You Tube channel. She has some pretty good resources in her FB Group on settings. Seriously, go join that group!).
- Set your BLADE DEPTH to the normal setting you would use for that sort of paper or card.
IF YOU'VE NEVER CUT ANYTHING WITH YOUR MACHINE BEFORE OR AREN'T TOO SURE HOW TO WORK OUT HOW TO DO THIS WITHOUT MESSING UP. STOP! WAIT UNTIL THE NEXT POST ON TEST CUTS, DO SOME OF THOSE, THEN COME BACK TO THIS POST. Cos I wouldn't want you cutting through your mat. It would make me sad! Alternatively you can google for You Tube videos to see how to do Test Cutting if you just can't wait for me to get my act together lol.
For those of you who DO know how to set BLADE DEPTH carry on reading this post. For me on 80gsm paper my standard blade is very slightly just past 3.
Ok so. The actual Callibration - assuming you've got the right paper set up on your mat in the right place (the leading edge covering the entire width or as close as you can I find A4 paper is fine, it only needs to be a few inches long, doesn't need to cover the whole mat), you know how to load the mat and the right speed/ pressure and blade depth settings sorted out. Short answer goes like this:
- Go into settings (the button with tools on underneath the On/Off button)
-Scroll through the pages until you find the one that says Scanning/Cutting Position Adjustment
-Click on the little tool button and follow the instructions on screen
- Feed the mat in when it tells you to, then press the Start/Stop button that lights up yellow. The machine then busily cuts away at the top of the mat. And also scans what it's cut. Automatically. You just watch. Pause it and start again if your paper gets scrunched up - that means your mat isn't sticky enough for the paper you are using or you didn't put it on properly.
-A rather blurry screen comes up in greyscale, with a little red dot with a circle around it. Use the arrows to get the dot as close as you can to where the scanned cut lines intersect in a cross. Click next once you're happy cos it happens twice. Then click OK.
- That's it, you are DONE! Do a Direct Cut of a basic image, say a circle, to see if it cuts ok if you want to.
One thing to note, in the original screen just when the stop/start button goes green, the reset and manual adjustment buttons are greyed out when you've NOT done an adjustment since you last switched it on. After you've done it, they aren't greyed out. That doesn't mean you need to do it again, though you can if you want.
This is the offical Brother Snc video for this adjustment HERE
If you can't see the Adjusting the Scanning/Cutting Position option in your settings, you probably haven't updated your machine fully. Go update it, or if that's not possible right now, go to the bottom of this post for how to do the adjustment WITHOUT doing the upgrade first.
- CLEANING THE SCANNER GLASSWe're on the home straight of what has felt like a marathon but actually only takes a minute or so once you know what you are doing! This is far more simple.
Follow the Instructions in the Manual: Section 5 APPENDIX: CARE & MAINTENANCE: Cleaning the Scanner Glass (SNC1 p59, SNC2 p79)
Short answer is:
- Switch off the machine, and DISCONNECT THE POWER. Do not blame me if you turn into a crispy cartoon character and electrocute yourself or wreck your power cable cos you think this doesn't matter!
- Take the blade holder out of the machine and carefully put the lid back on so you don't accidentally stab yourself with.
- Use a CLEAN fine brush (commercial or paintbrush) ie never used for anything else, to brush away debris around rollers. This gets rid of any gunk that might otherwise be loose and fall onto the scanner area when you turn it upside down.
- Close the front flap and make sure the LCD screen is fully flat.
-Turn the machine upside down and use the tabs to open the little scanner access hatch.
- Use a CLEAN lint free cloth (barely damp) or microfibre cloth to clean the scanner glass ie never used for anything else.
- Put back the access hatch, turn machine back over, put the blade back in. Ta da! we are done!
It's hard to see what gunk there is on it, so if you have a work lamp, or a head torch, use that to see. Bear in mind you don't want to scratch the scanner glass so be super gentle with it!
So. That's it. The THREE routine maintenance tasks that ensure your machine works as though it's Box Fresh permanently.
Whooo! that was long! but hopefully, you could read it in chunks and understand not just what to do, but also why and when to do it!
Next Subject to be covered will be on TEST CUTTING - about Blades, about Mats and about doing the Test Cuts - Next Post - All about Blades HERE,
EXTRA HELP: Ok, as promised for those who can't do the upgrade yet. This is how you do the Scan/Blade Adjustment (the second maintenance task above). IF YOU'VE DONE THE UPGRADES BEST TO USE THE SETTINGS ROUTE ABOVE.
You do this maintenance by going into the Servicing Area of the Machine. WARNING: if you do this, DO NOT FIDDLE WITH ANYTHING ELSE in the Servicing Area. You'll mess your machine up and have to have it serviced by a proper Brother engineer. And don't blame me for that!
Jen Blausey of Jam Sessions on You Tube has a video called In Depth Scanner and Cut Adjustment HERE.
I'm not going to give you the short answer on this one. Jen knows what she's doing and the video is clear for each step. She's way more experienced than me. Follow what she says to the letter and you'll be fine!
I have done this myself ONCE. And it works just the same. Just be careful!