I finally have the computerized Innova fully up and working!
Here’s an acronym for the day: BLUF (Bottom-Line Up Front). I will challenge any other computerized system to have the same stitch quality as the ABM Innova AutoPilot. It is fantastic! The detail of the stitching, and dead-on accuracy, is beyond what I have seen before. That alone should make you buy this system.
Key useful pieces of information: The robotic system consists of two x-axis belts (very tight tension for high accuracy), a y-axis belt. a modification to the carriage that does not take up any more width than your original carriage, a set of motors on either side of the frame, and two computers: One is the HP touchsmart computer that you see hanging from the frame, and another is a dedicated “grey box” running the robot itself. The advantage of having two computers is that if Vista decides to do something “interesting”, the dedicated robot computer just keeps on running. This is the right way to run a computerized robotic quilting system. The touchsmart computer can either be run by wireless mouse or by actually touching the screen — this seemed a little cheesy to me at first, but is actually a good interaction method when you’re running the robotic program and need to make minor changes.
The software itself has some nice features — you can flip a pattern on the x-axis or y-axis, connect multiple patterns together with groups or without, scale, rotate, set sequences, crop, resave patterns that you have manipulated, etc. All the core features that you would want to have on a robotic system. For example, if you are doing a 6″ tall edge-to-edge, you can set up one run, copy a second run below it, reverse the stitching order, and sew multiple passes back and forth in one programmed sequence, rather than having to re-program in each pass.
The sewing itself is outstanding — the AutoPilot has an active feedback mechanism that the robotic computer knows where the head is at all times and therefore will not skew the pattern due to drag on the machine. This means that your 68″ long pattern will stitch out to exacltly 68″ long, not 67″, not 69″. Because I can see the head location on the computer screen, I know exactly where my pattern will stitchout as the robot executes the pattern. There are other systems out there for the Innova, but I think that this feature is what justifies the higher price-tag for the AutoPilot system.
The AutoPilot software is being developed in-house by ABM International — that means that if you have a feature request, it goes right to the programmers for evaluation and implementation. Some major improvements have been made since I first saw this system in February, and they are not stopping development. Try to get that from Statler!
Summary: I am exceedingly pleased with the AutoPilot and highly recommend it to any Innova owners who are looking at robotic systems — it’s well worth the money!