Plotters on Arduino and MakerBeam

From one of our customers we got back some great pictures and videomaterial he made of a polar plotter and a live plotter. He made great blog posts with several detailed photographs.

In this post we highlight the two videos. Here is the video of the polar plotter:

And you can watch the video of the live plotter here:


Shipping 900mm beams

For shipping our 900mm beams we have two options: a tube or a long box. Usually we choose the box. The box offers plenty of room to add more products, like bearings or brackets or beams in other lengths. This box measures 100cmx10cmx10cm and weighs 200 grams.

As you can see with 12 900mm beams there is still room for more. With shipping however there is also weight to think of. Right now shipping 2 to 5kg is roughly 6 euros more expensive than shipping under 2kg.


NEMA 17 bracket problems (& updates)

Update (20121122) It is very hard to make NEMA 17 brackets we find. Here is a link to a new blog post. Good news is we still expect some in by the end of November.

Update (20121113) Currently there are two companies making brackets for us. We hope to have them on stock before the end of November 2012.
26 October 2012

The long awaited new batch of NEMA 17 brackets arrived today. We were excited to open the package and have a look. What a disappointment!!

At first we were just a bit disappointed. They did not look as smooth and nice as the one we got from B-Electronics. But then you could also say we were a bit spoiled by Joel’s good work. Let’s just try the brackets. We got some screws and … they did not fit!!

Four useless screw holes.  And then it hit us. Four? Only four? We need eight!

If anyone knows a manufacturer who is able to make these brackets for a good price. Let us know! Here are pictures of what it should look like.


Bolts and washers

In our posts ‘buttons to suit makerbeam’ we already made clear finding or making the right bolts for MakerBeam is not that easy. In the end we chose to have our bolts custom made. Now we find there is still room for improvement.

Working with beams and brackets you want to secure a tight grip. To perfection the screws is almost impossible. That is why we now look at a combination of bolts and washers.  Sometimes you want to just really have a tight grip and this will make it possible.

Here are some pictures of the things we are looking at.


Buttons to suit MakerBeam 4

We are proud to introduce MakerBeam version 2.0. The new improved version is anodised in black and has a thicker core.
Remember our blog posts ´Buttons to suit MakerBeam 1, 2 and 3´? In these posts we describe our difficulties finding 12mm length button head screws that fit the MakerBeam profile. We finally had them made especially. This experience also made us reconsider the profile. Would it be possible to make a new and improved MakerBeam profile?
We also wanted the beams anodised. This to increase corrosion resistance and increase surface hardness. As a bonus it also allows dyeing. We immediately thought about black. It looks good, but more importantly could work well in fields that use photography.
It was difficult to improve the profile and still completely stay in line with its distinct MakerBeam T-slot profile and width and height of 10mmx10mm. We think we succeeded.

The design of the MakerBeam profile was changed. The new design has a thicker core. We hope this will strengthen the beams. The thicker core definitely has other bonuses.
It gives you the possibility to thread wire on top to fit a M3 bolt. This will make MakerBeam even more versatile.
Changing the core also made the slides a bit wider. This increases the chances that standard, of the shelf, M3 6mm button head screws will fit. Whereas they just did not fit before.

On the left there is the old profile. A regular button head screw does not fit this profile. The screw does not even get in. On the right is the new profile anodised in black. The regular button head screw does fit. We tried several screws and most of them slided in quite nicely. This is different from the situation with the old profile where we had such a hard time to find some screws that would fit.

We have to add a word of warning here.  We only tested some M3 6mm button head screws that we still had lying around. These screws were already selected to possibly fit the old MakerBeam profile. MakerBeam bolts ofcourse have a perfect fit.



OpenBeam – another addition to the family

Everything makerish and beamish – and this new post is definitely beamish. On Kickstarter there is a new and exciting new project to back. OpenBeam – An open source miniature construction system.

OpenBeam looks like  a great addition to what is already on the market: Microrax and of course MakerBeam.

We love it because is addresses the problem we came across. Since the MakerBeam profile uses the M3 standard we had hoped M3 bolts available in any hardware store would do. As mentioned in our blog posts (1, 2 and 3) we could not find a steady supply of M3 bolts. We got lucky on a few occasions, but finally we had to resort to making our own 12mm MakerBeam bolts. Nice as this sounds it is not what we aspire. It is great that OpenBeam tries to resolve this.

It is also the reason why we are currently working on MakerBeam version 2.0. The first samples are in and look promising. The freedom open source gives people is great.  We would love to bring OpenBeam overseas as well when time comes. There are a lot of things still waiting to be made!

MakerBeam version 2.0 original, black anodised, blank anodised, non-anodised


MakerBeam as a tool

We always love to receive pictures or video material.

Here is a video and story by MSquare.


on 12-02-2012 Msquare wrote:

Attached a few snapshots of, not so much a project, as a short-and-quick tool: I needed to wind a handful of electromagnetic coils. One motor to turn the coil, and something to move the winding wire to-and-fro so the wire is densly packed. I have plenty of spare motors and other stuff .. if only I could get something to hold them in place that was simple yet effective…? ! Yes- The new Makerbeam stuff!

The first picture shows the first evening (an hour or so) mounting the first stepper motor. Pure Makebeam stuff.

Then the second motor was mounted and for that I cut a little aluminium strip and drilled a few holes. The plate was attached to a makerbeam using the usual screw/nuts.  Although I prefer to keep my Makebeams “unharmed” so they are resuable, “the exception proves the rule”: So I drilled a 6mm hole in one makerbeam, which made an aluminium tube/axel fit very snugly. (no additional screws required. It wont budge). It only took a handful of hours (this weekend) – and it is the best piece of mechanical infra structure I have made for any of my projects. That makes me a very happy Makebeam owner.

The last picture shows a truism of most (of my) projects. They are a mixture of Mechanics, Electronics, and Programming. So the Makerbeam bit, although as essential as the rest, is just one part.  It is not quiet finished yet. It needs to prove itself. The software needs a tweak or two and something to hold the other end of the coilcore.

Kind Regards,

MakerBeam in a box

Do you send the starter kit in a storage box as shown in your demo kit posts we were asked. The answer is we do not. In order to ship the starter kit as an envelope we chose to pack the starter kit as neatly as possible. We want to ship the kit in an envelope because it really helps to keep the shipping cost reasonable. Especially since we want to ship MakerBeam throughout Europe. First we used cardboard envelopes to pack the starter kit. Now we have boxes with a lid that still fit a post box.

We find they look a bit better than the ones we used before. For the kit to arrive safely we need to keep everything in place. Padding material sometimes raises the lid a bit making it bulkier. This could prevent the package from fitting a post box. Since this is the most important requirement for a package to be shipped as an envelope we want to avoid that. We use gaffer tape instead. It does not really look nice but certainly does the trick and does not leave any sticky residu. Very important! Here is how it looks like. Pictured are a starter kit and a little extra: a hex nut driver and a package of bearings. This still all fits.

Team MakerBeamEU