MakerSlide delivery, and other news

Many things have happened since I last wrote here, but few that affected the store or the products directly.

Late last year I quit my day job, partly so I could focus more on this business. I still have a few essential things to sort out, so I’m still working what amounts to a full-time job, but that’s for a limited time. By the end of March, I should be able to dedicate myself to designing and selling CNC machines, including the long-promised MegaRail-based machine.

As you probably noticed, some sizes of MakerSlide had been out of stock. Last November, the fabricator and I realized that there had been some confusion, and they produced less MakerSlide than I had ordered, so they had almost none left to cut for me. I had a new batch extruded, and it arrived, unannounced, last week.

Delivery of eight pallets of MakerSlide and T-slot extrusion

That’s eight pallets of MakerSlide and T-slot extrusion on my driveway. I had to scramble to get it out of the rain (and snow) and into the garage immediately.

First, I built one of these:A new rack for MakerSlide, empty

That’s a pallet, some plywood, six or seven lengths of CLS timber, about 80 screws, some wood glue, and three or four hours of my time. By storing the rail vertically, I can load four to six pallets worth of MakerSlide into the space taken by a single pallet — and it’s easily accessible too.

Both the old and the new rack, with MakerSlide and T-slot extrusion

Here’s the new, larger rack (on the right) with the contents of six of those pallets, plus most of the older stock; and the old rack with the remaining two pallets and a lot of empty space (which I’m going to use for MegaRail 80). The shorter lengths of MakerSlide are stacked vertically in twos and threes, to save space. Thankfully, the MakerSlide profile makes this arrangement quite stable. In fact, when I moved two years ago, I hired a van with a tail lift, I borrowed a hand pallet truck, and I loaded the smaller rack straight into the van, with some 500 m of MakerSlide on it (and plenty of packing to keep it from moving about).

All MakerSlide sizes are available: 250 mm, 375 mm, 500 mm, 750 mm, 1000 mm, 1500 mm, 2000 mm. We still can’t cut custom lengths, but we’re getting there.

20 mm × 40 mm T-slot extrusion is also back in stock in all sizes: 435 mm*, 560 mm*, 670 mm, 810 mm*, 920 mm, 1060 mm*, 1420 mm. The odd lengths are because that is what we need for the various sizes of eShapeoko; it doesn’t make economic sense to stock other lengths. Sizes marked with an asterisk are also available with pre-drilled access holes for blind joints, as required for the “deluxe” eShapeoko frame.

One more thing: we’ve got some very nice 625-2RS bearings, with less axial play than all I’ve seen elsewhere, including some fairly expensive brand-name bearings. Standard 625 bearings tend to be quite loose, even those used inside NEMA 17 motors (those are preloaded, though). All eShapeoko kits now include the upgraded bearings at no extra cost. The better spec bearings should translate into more rigidity in the YZ and XY planes.

The new bearings are also available in the shop.

MegaRail 80 and MegaRail Z Have Arrived!

I got the MegaRail 80 and the MegaRail Z from the supplier. They look great! They’re both very beefy. They’ll be a huge improvement in rigidity over MakerSlide.

I have added them to the store, pretty much at the price I had anticipated a while back. The listing is very bare-bones at the moment, but I’ll add drawings and more information about the features and uses of the profiles as I find time over the next few days. In the meantime, here are some older posts: a description of both profiles, the two candidate MegaRail Z profiles (I chose the one at the top), and the post where I guess at prices.

Many people have asked whether I will design and sell a machine using MegaRail. Yes, I will! I have already started, in fact. (More on it soon.)

MakerSlide back in stock

500 mm and 750 mm MakerSlide are back in stock.

All lengths are now available: 250 mm, 375 mm, 500 mm, 750 mm, 1000 mm, 1500 mm and 2000 mm.

I’m able to cut MakerSlide accurately now, so I’m considering offering a cutting service again. I need to make some room for the saw and the facing machine (and add chip collection to both, because they make a horrendous mess). Even so, it’s a bit of a hassle. If I do it, the price of the cutting service will reflect my dislike of doing it.

MakerSlide Camera Slider updated

The popular MakerSlide camera slider is now a little better: the carriage plate is 4 mm instead of 3 mm aluminium, making it more than twice as stiff.

Both the motorized camera slider (motor and electronics not included) and the basic slider (which is just a carriage with four V-wheels) are also available now without MakerSlide, as a courtesy to our Australian friends. The kits without rail can be posted inexpensively, and they can buy the MakerSlide locally. Belt (for the motorized slider) must be ordered separately, 100 mm longer than the rail.

Stepper Shield Kits

As you know, we have the buildlog.net stepper shield from Reactive Substance.  We want to sell complete kits too.  We ordered good quality electronic components, but the connectors were a little more difficult to find at reasonable prices.

Arduino Headers

We have everything now except the stacking Arduino connectors (they’re still on their way).   I’m thinking of offering the kits with ordinary male headers (the ones on the right in the image) for now; they work fine, but the proper Arduino shield stacking connectors (left) have the advantage that you can use the sockets to make additional connections (e.g. limit switches), using wires like the one in the image.Male-Male Jumper Wire

Funny story: each board needs four four-way screw terminals (for the motors) and one two-way screw terminal (for the power supply).  In the quantities we ordered, the price breaks worked so that the two-way terminals ended up costing a little more each than the four-way terminals (those were four times as many).  4-Way Screw TerminalsImagine my surprise when I noticed that the four-way terminals were simply two two-way terminals mated together.

Buildlog.net Arduino Stepper Shield From Reactive Substance

For those searching for a solution for the control electronics of the eShapeOko, search no more!  We have the Arduino Uno-compatible buildlog.net stepper shield, the Reactive Substance version.  We have only the bare PCB for now, so you still need the parts (eight capacitors, one resistor, an optional reset switch, and assorted headers) and three or four Pololu A4988 driver carrier boards (available in the UK, for example, from Proto-PIC).  Thanks to Bart Dring for designing this board, and to Reactive Substance for letting us distribute it in the UK!

While the yellow on black is not my cup of tea (and I drink coffee anyway), the black helps with heat dissipation, and the board is very good quality, 2 oz copper (double the usual thickness), very nicely made.  Pololu also make a slightly more expensive version of their driver carrier board in black, also with 2 oz copper, which helps with heat dissipation.  Still, a fan is essential for higher currents.

We’re trying to get all the components for a complete kit, hopefully soon.

This is the link to the store.

Store Changes Name

I have joined forces with Harry Raley, owner of the MakerSlide Europe Ulule campaign, so that we can sell our wares alongside each other.  The eShapeOko and the ShapeOko parts and upgrades are a very good match with MakerSlide, V-wheels and eccentric spacers, so I think this is a good idea.

We are renaming the store MakerSlide Europe.  I am working on updating the branding and the look of the store.  The old store.amberspyglass.co.uk URL will continue to work.

If you would like to know when MakerSlide becomes available, please go to the store, register, and choose to receive the newsletter.