Friday, April 20, 2018

You need an engineering degree for this

So the long arm was disassembled and sent away for its upgrade and spa treatment. It almost didn't get the upgrade, but all that got worked out. Then it was supposed to be delivered on Friday last week, but arrived on Monday instead right in the aftermath of the ice storm!

Two big boxes arrived. I waited two hours before I had the courage to open them up. I knew that it was going to take some time to get the machine back up and running as I had set it up by myself when I first got the long arm. I have to say that every time, I've done some work on the long arm (upgrading the carriage/wheel system and the initial set up) that the installation manuals have been absolutely impeccable. Lots of illustrations and instructions. Never had much of an issue.  I was hoping that this time would be the same.

I managed to get the two boxes downstairs so I could unpack them.

The boxes are in the basement
 Within the two boxes were lots of smaller boxes and bags filled with various bits and pieces.

Lots of smaller boxes within the big boxes

The long arm table was still covered with bits that I had removed before the machine went in for servicing.

Bits of the machine and my tools still lying around from when the machine was disassembled

Here's the instruction manual. Scary at over 60 pages!!!   And it took a wee bit of time to figure out where to start. There have been different upgrades and different features on the Millennium over the years so you had to pay attention to what version/features that were on your own machine. But lots of pictures so that helped.

The manual!
 And then there was this very scary box!  There was this massive huge cable in there. What to do with that?  I'll get to that box when I get to it. Let's not worry about that now.

Box with one huge scary mess of wires/cables

Once I got my bearings with the manual, it was time to get out the wrenches and see what we could. First thing was to remove a couple of bolts. That was easy! Well, not exactly because the nuts for these bolts was "hidden" within a channel on the leg. So some gymnastics was involved to get an angle to view them.

Removing some bolts was step one
 Then a new piece of equipment was attached to that area and new bolts were inserted. Again, not that difficult, but tightening up those bolts was a bit of a hassle.

New piece added and bolted in place

Then more bits were added. I did struggle at one point where I was looking for holes in the carriage that slides along the table when I should have looked for the holes on the bottom of the machine head. Oh boy - I did send photos to the support team, but I ended up calling them to get the information I needed. I felt a wee bit silly that I mixed up HEAD and CARRIAGE. I know what the parts are - I was just confused.

At last, the head of the long arm was replaced onto the frame and the heavy bars were put back in place. I had help for that step because it's a bit impossible to be at both ends of a 14-foot table at the same time.

The head is back on the table
 There were a few parts that were removed from the machine or exchanged and were not to be reused. But I also had this box of bits and pieces that I still had to deal with.

More bits to deal with
 A lot of this was what I had taken off the machine before it left. I had extra spool holders, the laser for doing pantographs and some other stuff.

AHA - now it's time to get the tablet installed on the machine. This is weird because when I'm quilting on the other side, I can see my reflection on the tablet screen. Oops - you forgot to brush your hair today!

Tablet is installed
 It was when I went to install the handles on the rear of the machine that I had a wee bit of a heart attack. You see there are lots of connectors all over the place. When I put the handle on the back end of the machine (where you operate the machine to do hand guided pantographs), I was trying to figure out why the plug from the handle was NOT connected to anything. Why is that? and how will I get it to work?

Then when I read the instructions to install the handle on this side that I realized why. OH NO - this means that when the computer is installed, the rear handles (those that are used to do pantographs) do NOT work. WHAT?????   I was hoping to do some manual pantographs and then some by computer. To switch from one to the other, I would have to remove the handles and switch around some wires. Not a very time-consuming job, but a pain to say the least. I never thought to ask the question of how easy it was to switch from computer to manual for pantographs. However, I've decided that NO more hand guided pantographs. I paid a lot of money for that computer and well - I'm just going to have to learn how to use it!

Hooking up the left side handle on the rear of the machine
 I think I got all that accomplished in two days. It was hard to stick with it as there was so much technical stuff and I didn't have tons of time, but I had a deadline that the machine had to get up and running.

Next, I tackled this mass of cords. Actually, it's one big octopus type of cording. Everything is connected and it was brilliantly laid out by the APQS tech team. It went amazingly smooth to get everything connected.

The umbilical cord
That cord essentially plugs everything into everything else and runs the computer. I'm scared of it!

And here's the long arm, pretty much ready to go.

Almost ready
OH -- I had two more cords to connect and then plug in the power cord.

Three cords to go

Surprisingly, I plugged the long arm in and it worked!  Then I loaded a small table runner that I could try stitch in the ditch. That's what my customer wants on her quilt. The table runner was a perfect example to experiment on. The feel of the long arm is completely different than it was before. It sounds quieter and seems to run smoother. I love the new interchangeable feet that I had installed.

I loaded the customer quilt and things are going great.  I need to get that quilt finished today so that is on the agenda as well as completing the prep for my two classes tomorrow and three classes next week although I can take some of the prep with me to the retreat. I can't say how many times, I've gone for retreat and had so much to do prior to leaving. The timing of this retreat (from weekend to weekend) is NOT good for me. I prefer that it be on a weekend with no classes. Will watch for that in the future.

On that note, I'm out of here. Yesterday was sit n sew and well - some pretty funny things happened - I'll share that tomorrow!!!

Have a great day!!!


A HUGE shout out to all the team at APQS (American Professional Quilting Systems) for making the upgrade so seamless!!!! 

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