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Re: Powerpro Competition

Posted: Mon Dec 31, 2018 11:31 am
by Ed in Tampa
RFGuy wrote:This is my first post on this forum, but I have owned a Shopsmith for 2 decades now and before that used my Dad's Shopsmith. I have always been a fan of Shopsmith, but unfortunately my Shopsmith has collected dust in the intervening years as work and family took precedent for a while. I have recently started using it again and became aware of this forum. I have nothing but respect for the users of this forum and I am excited by some of the unique solutions I have seen members come up with, e.g. fixes to dust collection issues on the lower saw guard, sliding saw table, etc. I want to thank all of you for creating this great collection of advice and debate on many aspects of Shopsmith.

Having read the comments on this thread, I felt that I had to offer my 1.5 cents here. Like many of you, I have some concerns about the viability of Shopsmith. I continue to be a fan and supporter. A few years back when it looked like they were going out of business, I bought accessories that I needed and some that I didn't...just to make sure that I had everything should the unthinkable happen to them. I have been salivating over the PowerPro the past few years, but I just have not been able to pull the trigger for the following reasons:

1. It is just too expensive. The Striatech guts can be had for about a third of what Shopsmith wants. I have been unemployed all year since having a double bypass heart operation last year, so now I really can't afford it. If the DIY version from Shopsmith was maybe a grand then I could consider it, but it costs practically as much as a brand new PowerPro headstock now.

2. It "can" overheat (not to mention RFI/EMI issues). As an engineer, I understand the problems here so I am just not quite ready to jump on board with the PowerPro...not unless I have some backup controls for when it fails. Keeping my existing, lower power headstock should last the rest of my lifetime with routine maintenance.

3. I hate the controls. I know this might be my own quirk, but I hate membrane keypads. Tactile feel is not good and they often fail prematurely compared to other switch choices. Honestly, for the price of a PowerPro, I should get a decent size LCD screen with touchscreen control.

Does this PowerPro competitor solve all these issues? No, but at least someone is making an attempt. I know there will be legal challenges, but either way this alternative solution won't survive. The PowerPro has been out long enough that those who can afford it and want to switch have already done so. As a result, Shopsmith continues to hike the price of the PowerPro since its debut to maximize revenue on limited sales volume. I would guess that the number of people on the sidelines, like myself, are relatively few. I predict that he is selling to a niche of a niche market and before long will decide this isn't worth it. At least he made an attempt to address some of the weaknesses that I perceive of the PowerPro. Sorry my first post was kind of long, but just wanted to give an alternative viewpoint. I am looking forward to the future when we hopefully have a PowerPro Model 2 version and I can afford it then.

Finally someone said it! See the above post point number 1. I believe when the initial Power Pronwas released this figure was even closer to three times the price.

dusty talked about SS being secretive. Again I concur they have too to maintain our confidence.

My belief is Shopsmith could have and should have produced the Power Pro and sold it for around $1000. They would have sold a ton more than they have. I would have owned at least one possibly two alone.

Since the price was three times actual cost to produce, I figured/hoping they would offer top notch warrantee service. However as we have all seen here on the forum the warrantee service is far less than any of us expected.

I think Shopsmith needs to get their head straight and come out with a Power Pro Two. One that cost $1200 has the power supply and main circuit board out of hot box head stock and dump the membrane touch pad either for knobs or touch screen. Any warrantee work on the original should include an offer to upgrade to the Power Pro Two.

Re: Powerpro Competitor

Posted: Mon Dec 31, 2018 12:04 pm
by dusty
First of all, I don't believe we know enough about ALL of the machines that are in service to declare that5 warranty service has been less than we should expect. Yes, there have been problems but are those problems significant enough in number to warrant coming down hard on Shopsmith.

Is the price for an upgrade (or for a new unit) too high? Yes, it has been too high for me to justify. My remaining woodworking years are somewhat limited. But that is a whoe is me that can not be passed to Shopsmith. Is the profit margin unreasonable? I don't that. I don't know the "real cost" to manufacture.

I bought my first new automobile for $6000. I have been shopping for a new smaller automobile (probably a sedan). Compared to the price of my new Barracuda everything I have looked at is outrageously expensive. We are now debating a $20,000 vehicle. Expensive, yes. Unreasonable profit margin -- I don't know but I am going to buy something.

Features and warranty are out of my area of expertise. I have been removed from the manufacturing environment too long to know. So, I will not comment.

Re: Powerpro Competitor

Posted: Tue Jan 01, 2019 6:44 am
by RFGuy
I agree that we don't know how many Shopsmith units are in service, how many have the PowerPro, how many have been returned for warranty service, etc. There have been some anecdotal reports of overheating and RFI/EMI concerns and these could be outliers. A DVR motor employs a switching power supply and it appears there is insufficient line filtering and shielding based on my engineering expertise and the symptoms that I have read about, but I admit that I may not have all of the facts. Even if the overheating is an early production unit issue and/or an outlier, for me the bottomline is adding electronics to any machinery will shorten the life of that machine due to failure of said electronics. Has anyone gotten more useful life out of a dishwasher, washing machine, etc. with an LCD panel? In the consumer market, most electronics are only designed with a 3-5 year lifetime with respect to parametric performance. It may be functional for 20-30 years, but it likely will only meet all specifications for 3-5 years. Is this a concern for the PowerPro? Maybe not, but I am not ready to roll the dice on this kind of product without knowing when the electronics fail in 5, 10 or 15 years that I can get an exact replacement or that an aftermarket community has sprung up to support replacement parts. This is one potential for this new dvrplus, i.e. as replacements should Shopsmith cease business. Maybe I am holding this product to a very high standard, but remember this is what Shopsmith's image/reputation has been: A product that has been around for many, many decades and will be around for many more so that when you have a problem down the road you can get it fixed and/or buy the newest accessory they create for it.

Granted I can't comment on Shopsmith's profit margin and number of units sold. My main point was that for a high end (for me) price of $2k, I expect to be getting all the bells and whistles. I don't think it is unreasonable to get a much larger LCD screen with touch interface and an emergency stop button. Shopsmith could have re-designed the headstock housing to allow for future expansion and add features like this. They have opted to change from the old with several items in recent years, such as the 520 table & fence, new casters, double-tilt, lift assist, etc. They could have changed the headstock housing to accommodate, but chose to stick with the original housing. Why not a PowerPro+ headstock with bigger, better controls and a PowerPro for budget minded users? The PowerPro membrane touchpad is what like 1.5" x 4.5" in size? There are thirteen buttons crammed into that small space. This with a 2 line LCD might work if it is in drill press mode and it is right in front of my face. When I have to look down almost 3' to see it and then find the right button to press, it just has to be awkward to use. Compare this to the button and display on a Felder machine. Now, I know the price points are not the same, but the Mark VII is supposed to be Shopsmith's top of the line, but the PowerPro controls are from the 1990's.

The inflation argument is a good one, but for me it would only help me to rationalize my purchase. There's a difference between rationalizing a purchase and just flat out overpaying for a particular function. Perfect example of this is the Shopsmith Dust Collector. For example, who still pays nearly $600 for the DC3300 when the DC330L is half that and appears to be superior? Why hasn't Shopsmith end of lifed the DC3300 in favor of the new model? The DC330L is comparable in price to similar units from Jet, etc. so that pricing seems reasonable even though a higher performing unit from HF can be had for $160. The first $2k that I have available once I am working again will go towards a decent cyclone and blower in my shop, not a PowerPro. I know this is my choice but if the PowerPro checked off a few more of the boxes for me, I would pick it.

Re: Powerpro Competitor

Posted: Tue Jan 01, 2019 7:26 am
by dusty
Happy New Year, RFGuy.

I might not totally agree with all of your comments but I do appreciate the feedback and I do agree that Shopsmith needs a development program that will keep up with the times (technological changes). You also make a very good point regarding the reliability of today's "high tech consumer products". We moved into a newly remodeled house in May. The kitchen had all new appliances. The brand spanking new microwave has been replaced because of a touch pad failure.

Welcome to the forum. Please do keep your observations and comments coming.

Re: Powerpro Competitor

Posted: Tue Jan 01, 2019 7:38 am
by RFGuy
Happy New Year as well, Dusty.

Thanks. I appreciate your response and the warm welcome. Maybe I expect too much. Like I said with the first post, I just wanted to add my viewpoint on the PowerPro versus competition for it. I think part of it is the fear of the unknown. With the economy the way it is, especially since 2008, you just don't know what companies will still be around in the future. We all want Shopsmith to do well and continue to be in business. I will continue to support them and hope to one day own a PowerPro, but I just felt that I had to share my rant because I would love for it to be perfect. Thanks for listening. Take care.

Re: Powerpro Competitor

Posted: Tue Jan 01, 2019 7:42 am
by dusty
Not crazy. Just concerned and cautious.

BTW, I too am in the holding pattern on a PowerPro purchase for most of the same reasons.

Re: Powerpro Competitor

Posted: Thu Jan 10, 2019 3:16 pm
by RFGuy
I finally got to check out a PowerPro at a local demo. I was able to use the controls for a few minutes. I am still not a fan of the membrane touch controls. I know I am still probably in the minority on this one and if I had bought my first Shopsmith today I would have probably not focused on this. The instructor/sales guy did say he had been using his demo PowerPro for 9 years with no problems in the touch buttons which is good to know. However, my dishwasher with membrane touch controls goes bad every couple of years, but I am sure Shopsmith did a much better job engineering theirs for longevity.

I am sure that I will get some negative feedback for this as well, but I don't like the safety feature of having to confirm every speed choice that I make. Even if I hit the pre-programmed speed options on the top, I have to hit confirm and ON to get it to start. Compared to what I have now, it is a simple 2 step process of flipping the switch and turning the dial. Hitting multiple buttons to get a desired preset speed is less than desired. Is there any way to change default settings of the PowerPro to where the confirm step can be removed? Can the owner customize the PowerPro for any of this?

I am sure I will own a PowerPro one day and I don't want to seem ungrateful because I really do love most things Shopsmith...just wish I could afford one right now and that the controls were simpler, larger and a bit higher quality.

Re: Powerpro Competitor

Posted: Thu Jan 10, 2019 3:44 pm
by reible
The confirm button is not needed for anything below 1500 rpm.

Dishwashers have a lot of moisture which might contribute to failure.

We have a microwave oven that has a similar touch panel and it has been going since August of 1999. I'm guessing it has a lot more touches then my shopsmith will see in a very long time.


Re: Powerpro Competitor

Posted: Thu Jan 10, 2019 5:23 pm
by jsburger
Can someone in the know speak to membrane touch switches. I don't think internally they are any different than things that have "discrete" buttons like some remote controls. The internal contact is pretty much the same. It is a conductive "rubber" membrane. I am with Ed. I have a stove and fridge with membrane buttons that are 17+ years old with never a problem. The microwave is around 10 years and no problem. My Power Pro is 6 years old with no problems.

The thing about the membrane is that it is sealed on the outside. A good thing for something like a SS and pretty much everywhere else they are used.

Discrete mechanical buttons MAY last longer but they would not physically fit in the SS application.

Re: Powerpro Competitor

Posted: Thu Jan 10, 2019 6:53 pm
by RFGuy
At least one user (Fred Sheldon) already commented on having a PowerPro fail in less than 5 years (link below). Not sure if this was due to the membrane touch pad or the electronics behind it. Membrane touch pads are typically one of two types, either a printed silver ink on a polyester substrate or a printed circuit board (PCB) with metal snap domes on top. My guess is the PowerPro uses the latter. Almost always a good mechanical switch will have significantly longer lifetime than a membrane keypad. I have had multiple consumer products with failures in the membrane keypad and that is with me being very gentle on them, i.e. I am not heavy handed. Even if I give Shopsmith the benefit of the doubt that they have engineered the membrane keypad and electronics to automotive or even military grade, the bottomline is I still don't like the "feel" of a membrane keypad. Kind of hard to get excited about a $2k motor when you can't stand the feel of it. Again just my viewpoint as others love their PowerPro and membrane keypads don't bother them. ... 22137.html