GoPro Slider with MakerBeam parts

Stefan from ConstrAct in Austria sent us a new MakerBeam project: a GoPro slider. For the frame 600mm MakerBeam (10x10mm) was used. The linear slide, also 600mm, was attached on top. It is driven by Arduino Nano with some additional parts from his 3D printer and CNC mill.

Below is a small video that shows the slider in action.

Car window fix

MakerBeam is also very useful to temporarily fix your car window. Anton sent us some pictures to show his improvised window using a MakerBeam frame. He was on the road for the ‘Modell-Hobby-Spiel’-fair in Leipzig where he represented (, see picture.

While travelling for this fair he had his car broken into. The car window on the right side was smashed. He made a MakerBeam frame to fill the window space. One side was taped, on the other side some type of glass was put in. The result: he could still make use of his side view mirror.

Turn your coffee table in to an eyecatcher

Alisa sent us this picture above. A coffee table with LEDs inside. MakerBeam black anodised was used to build it’s frame. This coffee table makes for a great eyecatcher.

Below are two pictures showing the build in progress. Plus there is a small clip demonstrating the lights (double click the video).

Team MakerBeam

Overview specifications MakerBeam, MakerBeamXL, OpenBeam

We made an overview for you with the specifications of our three beams put together. We believe this will be helpful in your choice what beam to use for your project.

Below is the picture and here is a link to a PDF-file.


Team MakerBeam


Bracket design

In november 2013 a guy called Aleksandr sent us an email asking our input for a design problem.  He sent us an email with some Sketchup pictures laying down the problem. He also made some sketches of possible solutions.
The brackets he proposes will not be taken into production, but the sketches are great to discuss here.  They clearly demonstrate a design problem we often encounter with MakerBeam. In working on our stepper motor brackets for example we encountered the same problem. The problem in short: MakerBeam is definitely small in size!

First the problem Aleksandr had. Aleksander wanted to connect beams crosswise, see below.

Beams to connect crosswise.

He also made pictures of possible brackets that will solve this problem. He was thinking of what looks like a combination of the 90 degree bracket and the corner bracket. We could see his problem. We could also see that this problem could be easily solved by our right angle bracket. Back then we just had received some samples. This helped to explain Aleksandr we were working on a solution. You can see his drawings below and a picture of our solution at the far right.

The brackets suggested by Aleksander make clear it is not easy to create brackets for MakerBeam. Here is an overview of his suggestions.

Suggested corner style brackets

What is not immediately obvious from these drawing is the problem of space. The corner style brackets leave no room a nut driver. Or, since you do need a nut driver, it is better said they leave no room for the bracket itself.
Let’s do the math. The diameter of the nut driver is 8mm (nut outside dimension: 5,5mm). The width of the beam is 10mm. This leaves for ony 1mm of space on both sides for the material. This is too thin for metal to make a strong corner connection.
The diameter of the screw by the way is 2,8mm (M3).

The right angle bracket is a much simpler solution. It is now available in our shop. Here is a link.

Leaving room for a hex nut driver is something that is overlooked in a number of bracket designs we received. We love to hear ideas regarding brackets and are always looking forward to receive new ideas for brackets.  Or for other products suited for MakerBeam (and OpenBeam) for that matter. If you think of designs remember MakerBeam is a wonderful small and lightweight product with the emphasis on small!

Team MakerBeam

New MakerBeam products: Wing type bolts and Hinge bearings

Wing type bolts and hinge bearings: available in our webshop as of today.

Wing type bolts
On our wish list it still read ‘wing type bolt’.  The possibility to slide in a bracket midway between brackets already fastened was our aim.

When fastening a bracket to a beam the square headed bolts need to be slided into the beginning of the beam. This is not a problem when your project is all clear and you know exactly what you want to fasten. But when you decide to add brackets between other brackets you need to loosen and remove a bracket before you can add another one. This is time consuming and our wish was to come up with a bolt that would make it easier to add screws to an almost finished structure.

We’re happy to introduce the wing type bolt: the rectangular screw head of the wing type bolt gives the possibility to add screws midway. You can insert the screw midway of a beam and turn it  to ensure tightening. This  makes it easier to add brackets.

The wing type bolts come in a bag of 100 pcs and cost € 8,13.

Hinge bearings
We came up with hinge bearings to extend building possibilities. Hinge bearings make it possible to rotate 2 beams relative to each other. You can use the standard bearing to have beams rotate around a fixed point or axis. Making a miniature trebuchet now is possible!
Hinge bearings are an assembled product consisting of
– Bearings (10 pieces)
– Copper saddle band clips (5 pieces)
– Axes (6 long bolts in 3 lengths: 3 cm, 5 cm and 6 cm)
– Teflon tape (18 cm)
– Square headed bolts (10 pieces)
– Nuts (10 pieces)

Hinge bearings cost €17,50.

We plan to include a manual to the hinge bearings soon.


Sam Putnam was the one who came up with the idea of MakerBeam. You can find his story on Kickstarter. He thought of all the measurements, bracket types, quantities etc. and had the first batch made.Johan here thought it was a very good product. He backed Sam his Kickstarter campaign. Unfortunately Sam did not take his idea further. The next step, a website:, remained ‘under construction’ for about three years. In 2011 we created the webshop and made makerbeam available here in Europe. We are happy to announce that is officially in our hands.  It is no longer under construction and redirects to

We innovated the beams and we are planning to innovate the website as well. will pretty much stay as it is. We will renew our webshop on the address. So… we will try to avoid it but maybe you will stumble on an ‘under construction’  notice on the .com website again this year. Sorry!!!


A great time for makers

It is a great time to be a maker! Equipment to make all sorts of machinery is more and more available for a good price. Sparkfun, Arduino and Adafruit have made a name in accessible electronics. More and more modular systems to construct a suitable framework for your own invention are coming on the market as well. Open source hardware is booming.

There are the systems based on a repetitive hole pattern (Bitbeam, Contraptor) and the t-slot style systems (OpenBeam and our own MakerBeam). Makeblock combines both styles. Leaving repetitive hole pattern systems aside, what is the difference between these open source t-slot style systems?

MakerBeam sells beams that are 10mmx10mm and available in different precut lengths. Longest beam available is 900mm. There is a precut kit available (lengths from 40mm to 300mm). The beams are an extruded aluminum construction profile. The profile is a simple mini T-slot. The beams are black or clear anodized. The plates and brackets are stamped metal. The beams and brackets can be connected with makerbeam bolts. Size used is M3. We do not sell electronics. On our website you can find specifications and a link to Thingiverse. On Thingiverse you can find design files for makerbeams and additional 3D objects.

OpenBeam created beams that are 15mmx15mm and normally available in a length of 1000mm. There is a precut kit available (lengths 30-300mm).  The beams are an extruded aluminum construction profile. The profile is an intricate mini T-slot. The plates are injection molded out of a high performance fiberglass reinforced plastic to make it affordable. The beams and plates can be connected with standard M3 nuts and bolts. They do not sell electronics. You can download design files.

Makeblock is an aluminum extrusion based construct platform. The beams and brackets have repetitve hole patterns and a threaded slide combining the two systems widely used. The beams are available in 8mmx8mm and 8mmx24mm in two different colours, blue and gold. They sell several matching brackets, plates and pulleys. There are different kits available, including one that is lego compatible and a kit designed to be used for education. They do sell electronics. According to their website they will be open about their product and release information on their website.

MakerBeam is only just spreading to webshops all over the globe. In 2009 there was a Kickstarter campaign for MakerBeam. This is how we got to know the product. Makerbeam started early but never fully profited from its momentum generated by Kickstarter. Only after was introduced here in Europe it slowly got some attention. We love the size of the makerbeams. 10mmx10mm looks great, almost elegant.
We are working on our product range. There is a servo bracket in the making and a different solution for connecting bearings will be introduced in our shop soon. Brackets, other type of bearings, gears and gear racks are under consideration. The focus here is on ready available products. Manuals are something we would love to add to our product, but are still struggling to make. Kits are something we are looking into as well. Electronics are not on the menu for us though. We want to provide a professional easy prototyping framework that can be used by makers at home or in the workplace. We think MakerBeam is highly suitable for industrial use. The place where the T-slot originates.

OpenBeam started with a kickstarter campaign this year. We already welcomed OpenBeam in April 2012 (see blog post then). OpenBeam is great because it 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. 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. Remember that we are not the creators of MakerBeam. We are selling makerbeam and try to make it available on the market.  It is great that OpenBeam tries to resolve this and it will definitely attract customers with its compatibility to standard M3 bolts. Also we expect Terence Tam, the man behind OpenBeam, to come up with other products and manuals.

Now there is a kickstarter campaign for Makeblock. Makeblock offers just about everything. They are good and their goal is to add even more new components. A small production run took place for most of the parts. For these parts Makeblock is looking to start mass production. They are kickstarting from a different point.
Their goal is to provide a full range of solutions. It looks like they are fully equipped to do so. Makeblock looks more finished. Lego is often used in reference to open source hardware. It provides a recognizable standard. Makeblock gives the feeling of being the aluminum lego version. Absolutely wonderful and very appealing but not sure whether it will suit everyone.

Kickstarter campaigns open source hardware

Backers Goal Pledged Time
MakerBeam 132 10,000 17,922 September 2009
OpenBeam 534 30,000 100,825 March 2012
Makeblock 192 30,000 104,453 (closes end of January 2013) December 2012


In the 2009 MakerBeam kickstarter campaign it is mentioned that MakerBeam is thought to be the first open source construction set made available through crowdfunding. It is not enough to run a good Kickstarter campaign. The product needs to be available to customers as well. Things went quiet around MakerBeam for a long time. By making it available people start working with makerbeams and new components or 3D printed designs are being developed.

Makeblock and OpenBeam make better use of their kickstarter campaigns. The open source hardware community is benefiting from this.

It is a great time to be a maker!


With a very special thanks to Low-Tech Magazine and its article titled: How to Make Everything Ourselves: Open Modular Hardware