It’s an exciting day! You’ve got your software and materials ready to go so it’s finally time to set up your Cameo 4 machine. I’m going to walk you through each step of unboxing everything and getting ready to cut. Go ahead and lift the machine out of the box and remove all the other goodies in there. (To begin with Lesson 1 in this series, go here).
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What’s in the Cameo 4 box
There are 2 cords in the Cameo 4 box . These are the same for all Silhouette cutting machines and therefore interchangeable. That means if you can’t find your Cameo power cord you can use the one from your Cameo 2, Curio, Portrait, etc. They are not the same on the Mint (stamp maker), but I believe they are on the Alta (3d printer).
Use this to connect your machine to your computer. This is a fairly standard cord similar to a USB printer cord. Specifically, it’s a male to male USB 2.0 cable with one A-type connection and one B-type.
This is less generic than the USB cord. There are 2 cords that plug into the adapter (the white box in the package with the cord). Make sure you have the cord fully inserted into the adapter. Also make sure you remove the cover on the tines of the plug.
If you need to replace this one, I strongly suggest getting one from Silhouette America (you can find them here). In a pinch, you can sometimes find another cord that works if you have a project to get done right away and the dog ate your cord. Here are the specs:
Adapter (the box in the middle of the cord) —
Input: 100-240V~ 50/60Hz, 1.2A
Output: +24V – 2.0A (or as low as 1.25A will also work)
Output polarity: positive center
Figure 8 cord end (Type A)
Go ahead and plug both cords into the machine but don’t turn it on yet or connect it to your computer. Trust me — this is important.
If you purchased a bundle, you may receive extra tools. But here’s what’s in every box:
The self-adjusting blade. This can only be used in the left tool-holder. That’s why it has a 1 one it that corresponds to that tool holder. The Cameo 4 AutoBlade is NOT the same as the AutoBlades for the Cameo 3 and Portrait 2. We’ll get into this more later when we discuss the blades in depth.
There are 4 of these in different colors. Each has a specific, separate purpose, but in general they allow you to use tools other than the ones made specifically for the Cameo 4. You’ll see a silver sensor plate on the back and those are different sizes. That’s how the machine knows what you have loaded, which helps the software alert you if you have the wrong one in for a given material or action. The AutoBlade has one as well.
White — for the 2mm Kraft blade.
Black — for ratchet blades. That includes the premium and fabric blades (the latter just has a different color casing — you probably won’t see those for sale any longer).
Blue — for sketch pens, including the older style pen holders.
Gray — for the deep cut blades. Don’t confuse that with the Kraft blades of different depths.
Notice that the adapters and AutoBlade all have a #1 on them to remind you that you can only use them in the left hand tool holder. This is unique to the Cameo 4.
The Bluetooth removal tool
Since this isn’t a great name for this tool, lots of folks have no clue what it is.
This tool has 3 uses—
The hole on the end is the most useful part. This helps you unscrew the cap on the end of the blade, which allows you to clean out around the blade. You want to do this periodically, particularly when cutting tiny pieces or materials that have lots of fibers.
The hole in the middle is for adjusting a ratchet blade. However, there’s a hole right on the machine to do that so you really don’t need it. I’ll still show you how to do it just to satisfy your curiosity.
The prongs on the end are the things that perplex folks the most. This is for helping to remove the Bluetooth adapter when necessary (which is rare). The prongs help you pry it out ‘cuz it’s tricky otherwise.
The adhesive cutting mat is what you use for cutting any material that does not have its own adhesive backing. The blue paper is a removable cover – don’t throw it away. You remove that cover, then the adhesive on the mat holds a material such as cardstock.
Materials like vinyl or HTV you can cut without a mat on any machine except the Curio. (You can learn more about that in this series, but it’s not for beginners). That’s because they have their own adhesive backing that hold the pieces once they are cut, which is what the mat does. The gamechanger with the Cameo 4 is that you can cut other materials without a mat by using pop-out cutting. The machine leaves little tabs that connect the cut pieces to the background so they don’t go floating around in the machine. HOWEVER — cutting without the mat on any type of material is an advanced feature so I do not recommend it until you have a lot more experience.
You register your Cameo 4 machine on the Silhouette America website (more on that later). However, you might want to keep this for the back side of the page, which has the warranty information. You can also find the warranty info on the website here.
Yeah, don’t use your machine in the bathtub. Duh. This is one of those things they are required by law to include but which you don’t really need unless you have absolutely no common sense.
In this day and age, everything is digital. That means things that used to be included in the box are now just things you download from the website. We’ll cover everything in this series.
Let’s take a look at the machine itself. Don’t turn it on quite yet. Let’s just get to know where everything is. There’s going to be LOTS of packing materials and you’ll need to remove them all for the machine to work properly. I’ll show you as we go along. If you miss a piece and turn the machine on, it could make awful noises, making you think you broke it.
Outer right side of the machine
Power button is on the left.
Power Cord plug is in the middle.
USB Cord plug is on the right.
Outer back of the machine
Before you do anything else, remove that piece of blue tape on the back.
On the back side of the machine, on the right, will be a little sticker with a bar code. That’s your machine serial number, which you’ll need in order to register the machine.
If you haven’t yet registered your machine, do it now. You’ll need an account with Silhouette first, so see this post if you haven’t set one up. To register, go to the Silhouette America website here.
Once you register, you’ll get an email about your 1 month trial subscription to the Silhouette Design Store. It’s only good for 30 days so I recommend waiting just a bit until you have some more experience with designs and know what to look for. That and waiting for a sale will get you more bang for your buck. However, the clock starts ticking the moment you create an account, register your machine and sign in. You can check your credit balance (see this post to learn more) to find the date those credits expire. You’ll want to use them before that.
This is useful for when you’re cutting a material like vinyl or HTV without a mat. I’ll show you how to use this when we start cutting vinyl without a mat. I just want you to know where it is because if the clips are not fully closed here in the back, it can cause cutting problems.
Underside of machine
Make sure your machine is turned off (you shouldn’t have turned it on yet if you’re following directions, but I want to say it just in case some of you are rebels) and then flip it over. You’ll see a small drawer with a screw.
That’s where your Bluetooth dongle lives. If you ever need to change it out, you open the compartment and use your Bluetooth removal tool to remove the dongle. You probably won’t ever need to do this.
Under the lid
There are 2 pieces of blue tape holding the lid. Remove those.
Then pull the little green tabs to remove the clear cling film on the left, right and top of the machine body.
The Cameo 4 has a retractable lid. It slides back into the machine rather than lifting. It’s nice because you don’t need as much clearance above the machine. However, you will need to pay attention to the clearance behind it as when retracted the lid sticks out behind the machine. Since the mat or material will stick out the back as well, it’s not too big of a deal. Lift the lid to horizontal and slide it backward.
It is CRUCIAL to get all the packing material here and some is hiding. First, look in the back. There are 2 pieces of blue tape holding in a strip of corrugated plastic. Remove all of that.
The motor box will be on the right side of the machine. Look on the left side of that for another piece of blue tape. Get both the tape AND the piece of corrugated cardboard.
Remove the piece of blue tape that’s behind the roller bar lock lever. That’s holding in another piece of cardboard. Pull the lever toward you if needed. Just make sure to put it back UP after that.
Take the blue tape off both of the tool holders.
To get the last piece of foam we need to move the motor box. Do not EVER do that with the machine turned on. If you’re following my directions, you haven’t turned it on yet. I just want to make SURE. When the machine is off, you can safely scoot that box along the bar. Do that now and get out the piece of foam.
The front platform in the section in front of the forward silver roller bar. It has raised lines on it and some arrows.
The hole on the left side is a ratchet blade adjuster. You’ll only need that if you have an older blade style. You don’t need it with the AutoBlade. But I’ll show you how to use it later just in case.
The arrows and line on the left indicate where you place the left edge of your mat or material when loading it into the machine. That makes sure it is gripped correctly by the rollers.
The small square hole is where the AutoBlade taps as it adjusts.
We’ll talk about the other arrows more in depth later, but they indicate the right edge of standard widths of materials and mats.
This is where the motor is housed. It holds the blades or other tools and moves left and right as you cut. On a Cameo 4, there are 2 numbered tool holders. This will make more sense as we begin to cut. For now, you just need to know that the Auto-blade, the new style sketch pens and any tool in an adapter can only be used in #1. Only the rotary blade, punch tool and 3mm kraft blade can be used in #2. When we’re ready to make the first cut, I’ll show you how to properly adjust and load a blade.
The motor box runs along a round silver metal bar that’s above it. If grease or dust builds up here, clean it gently with a cotton swab.
There’s a black serrated band in the back (it’s hard to see, but it’s at the top of this pic). That’s the belt that moves the motor box side to side.
The front roller bar controls the mat or material – it holds it and moves it in and out.
The rollers at the outside hold the mat or material. They have a very tight grip because of the tension on them and the secondary roller bar underneath the first. The roller on the left does not move, but the one on the right does. That right one has a lock on it and you move it when you cut without a mat or on a smaller mat. We’ll go into that more later as we do some of our beginner projects. Trust me — don’t move it yet.
Roller bar lock lever
This lever is above the right white roller. You ONLY need to unlock the bar with this when you need to move that right white roller. You don’t unlock it to load your mat or material. This is a common mistake beginners make.
These are a combination of plastic and springs and they do slide along the roller bar. The rubber or spring rollers in the middle help hold the material down as it’s cut, but are really just a back-up measure. The stickiness of the mat or the backing paper on an adhesive material is what should hold the material and cut pieces in place. If you are cutting a delicate material like metal clay, you can move these so that they don’t make indentions in the material.
Notice there are grooves in the front roller bar. These will become important when we start to cut without the mat or use a smaller mat.
Peek behind the roller bar and look for a long white strip that looks like tape. That’s your cutting strip. When the blade drops and is cutting, this area provides the resistance. This is the only part of the machine itself that may occasionally need to be replaced (find them here), particularly if you cut without the mat frequently. Grooves here are normal. Deep grooves or gouges indicate it’s time to replace it so you get even pressure on the blade. You won’t need to for quite a while, so just tuck this tidbit away in your brain.
This helps keep a material from popping up and catching the motor box if for some reason the mat or backing isn’t holding it securely.
Before we turn it on, make sure you’ve got a pile of packing materials like this. There’s still 1 piece of blue tape that we’ll remove in a bit. If you don’t have each of these pieces, check again for any you missed.
Now turn the machine on so we can see the controls. When you first turn the machine on, the name “Cameo” will light up at the top of the machine. On the right side panel are your control buttons. Right when you turn it on, the arrows in the middle of the panel will light but then stop. Then the 3 controls at the bottom will light and stay lit.
You’ll push this to load your mat or material. Once you do, that light goes out.
Compass point arrows
After you’ve loaded, these 4 light up again. We’ll talk more about these later, but you use these to move the mat or material in or out of the machine (north and south arrows) or move the motor box side to side (east and west arrows).
When your cut job is finished, you’ll push this to unload your mat or material.
This shows you that you can cut via Bluetooth instead of a USB cord. You push this button to turn it on and if the connection is working, this light turns blue. I recommend that beginners cut with the USB cord instead. Once in awhile there’s a problem with the Bluetooth connection and you don’t want to be dealing with that right out of the gate. So we’ll discuss this more later.
In the middle of the compass point arrows is a pause button. This will only be lit when the machine is cutting. I nabbed this pic right when I turned on the machine so you could see it.
The Cameo 4 has a built-in roll feeder you can use with materials like adhesive vinyl or HTV that come on a roll. You save material because you don’t cut it off the roll. It helps in 2 ways–
- Preventing the material from rolling off the table.
- To help keep the material straight as it’s cutting.
We’ll talk more about using the roll feeder later, so just a bit here. One of the biggest improvements from earlier Cameo models is the increased downward force of tool holder 2. Unlike the Cameo 3 and Curio, the Cameo 4 does not have another means of stabilizing the machine to keep it from rocking when you’re using that massive amount of force. BUT — by pulling out the roll feeder, you can help stabilize the machine some. And it helps support the mat.
There’s a piece of blue tape on the front platform. Remove that now.
Look for the hand hold in the middle and gently pull that.
Make sure to pull it out fully (first pic), not partially (second pic), for that stability.
While it’s open, let me show you the roll feeder. First, you lift the feeder lid.
Then you pull up the supports on the left and right ends.
Only my left one is up here.
The roll of material sits between those supports and rests on the silver rollers at the bottom.
The support on the right end can move inward. That allows you to cut the 2 standard widths of rolls — 9″ or 12″. If you are cutting a different width, you’ll use the mat. That’s because those are the only 2 widths where you can set the right hand roller as we discussed above (the one that moves).
Go ahead and close that all back up now.
One more little thing to notice on the machine. There’s a small storage drawer on the left side in the same area where the control buttons are on the other side. It slides to the left and is the right size to store a blade.
Now that you know where things are on your machine, you are ready to connect it to your computer to update the firmware and check out some things there. That’s in the next lesson.
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