Why do I need one? How do I make one? What do I do if it does not work?
Innova Longarm Robotics -- Navigator, AutoPilot (pre-Mach 3 generation) and Mach3 AutoPilot
For Innova Longarm Robotics a Sew Zone is a “safe area” for the sew head to move within. Setting the Sew Zone is necessary for the computer to triangulate the location of the sew head within the throat space of the machine. When setting a Sew Zone, two points are used: an origin and a maximum.
Background: The origin is the rear right, if you remember creating graphs in school this coordinate would be 0,0. The maximum is the front left and is the highest number possible on the x and y axis. After setting these two points, as the sew head moves within the space you just created, the computer (in the background) is constantly calculating it’s location relative to the origin point. This happens instantaneously allowing you to see the exact position of the sew head on the screen seamlessly as you move it, or as the computer moves it when quilting.
To put it plainly, a Sew Zone is necessary to “light up” the buttons that allow you to sew and use the location of the sew head in all the tools (trimming, pushpins, etc.).
A Sew Zone is a huge advantage! Not all quilting robotics brands have Sew Zones. Some products just have quilters drop patterns in space and hit go. This creates many challenges. For Innova owners, a Sew Zone combined with a quilt grid on screen makes life so much easier! Quilters tend to be visual people, and Innova recognized that. They introduced the Sew Zone and quilt grid so that you can feel confident in your pattern placement and movement of the sew head with extreme precision and little effort, every time! You can even plan your whole quilt ahead of time, edge to edge or custom.
For setting your Sew Zone a few things are worth noting:
Your belts (all 3) must be attached! The origin and maximum points are determined by the optic encoders inside your robotics motors.
You can set it the size of your frame; however, you want to set it at least to the size of your quilt backing, the Sew Zone MUST be larger than the quilt top. Remember for longarming, ideally, your backing should be about 4” wider on each side of the quilt.
A tight Sew Zone (set only a little larger than the quilt top), while it may work, only leads to headaches.
Click the Sew Zone icon. It is light blue and has a white rectangle in it. It is found on the left side of the tool bar, on the bottom of the screen labeled the “SEW” toolbar. After clicking the icon, follow prompts to create the Sew Zone. The back right corner that you mark with the sew head should at least be farther out than the quilt top, ideally you would use the edge of the backing AND push the sew head all the way to the back roller, to maximize quilting depth.
The front left corner that you mark should also be at least farther than the quilt top, again ideally you would use the edge of the backing AND pull the sew head all the way to the front roller. As you move the machine from the first point to the next you should see a box start to grow on your screen.
Click on the green “Full View” icon to see your quilt grid with the Sew Zone.
Note: The quilt grid on screen may not immediately match the placement of your actual quilt top on the frame. The computer places the quilt grid. The quilt grid is always dropped in the center of the Sew Zone and a half inch down from your origin point (back roller).
*Repositioning to the top left corner of the quilt top to line things up may be necessary before continuing with your project.
The actual quilt top in real life should be coupled to the “virtual quilt”/quilt grid on screen for best results, ease of designing/layout, quilting with borders and precision custom quilting.
If you do not see a Sew Zone box forming:
Be sure to hit “Accept” at the rear point, before moving to the front point.
Check that all three belts are attached. The two side to side belts are called “x” belts, the front to back belt on the carriage is called the “y” belt.
Check in the lower right corner of the software window, DRIVE should say “connected” in green.
Make sure you do not have two windows of the software open at the same time.
If your Sew Zone shrinks instead of grows:
Fully and properly shut down the whole system (Sew head and Computer) wait one FULL minute and then properly bring back up.
Classic Machines order of operations for power up:
Sew Head – White Box – Push Yellow Button – Computer – Open Software
(Sew Head and white box can be toggled on and off together with the surge protector switch) *Check that red button is pressed, twist to pull it out*
M Series Machines order of operations for power up:
Sew Head – Black Box (press green button) – Computer – Open Software
Run an Update/Repair. Exit the software, connect to the internet, click the APUpdater icon. Follow the prompts to either update your software or run a repair. Finish and disconnect from internet again.