September 13th: Lots of Info on Preorders & Future Sales

Happy Wednesday Everyone!

This week we’ve got an update dense with logistical details both about when kits will be shipping to those who placed a preorder in May or June as well as for those of you who are on the waiting list to order a kit in the coming months.

Preorder Info

First, let’s talk about the first batch of post-Kickstarter kits that we have been working on. We’re happy to say the packing of these kits is going very smoothly. We’ve almost completely handed packing and fulfillment over to Exceed Enterprises (a local nonprofit), and Sean, who has been assigned to our orders, is doing an awesome job of keeping everything organized. Those of you who already have a kit or who have done enough investigation will know that packing the Maslow kit is no easy task! There are many small parts and we feel confident Exceed is doing a great job at packing everything perfectly.

For those of you who like lists (I’m one of those people), here is a list of everything that has already arrived and is in the process of being packed:

  • All parts for the Small Hardware Bag

  • All parts for the Medium Hardware Bag

  • All parts for the small bag that goes in the Large Hardware Bag

  • All parts for the Z Axis Kit Hardware Bag

  • All motor power cables

  • Arduino Shields

  • Power Supplies

  • Arduinos

  • Z Axis Shaft Couplers

Now, here is a list of things we are waiting on to arrive:

  • Stretchy String

  • All motors

  • All brackets

  • Short and Long Wood Screws for the Large Hardware Bag

We want to try to give specific details about the items we’re still waiting on so that those of you who are waiting for your preorder to arrive will hopefully have a better understanding of our timeline and when exactly we’re hoping to ship.

The Stretchy String was on backorder and isn’t scheduled to deliver until October 2nd, at which time it will have to be cut into 230 cm segments and then bundled to be put in your kit. I’m working on finding a different supplier of Stretchy String that can deliver much sooner than October 2nd so that hopefully we can get that cut and bundled by the end of September.

The motors, both for the Regular Machine Kit and the Z Axis Kit are shipping out from China this Friday, September 15th, which is really more like tomorrow for those of us here in the US :) It will take at least 2-3 weeks for the motors to arrive to us by boat. The goal is to have the rest of the kits completely prepared so that once the motors arrive, they will just need to be cut into pairs and placed in your boxes.

All of the brackets landed in Seattle on September 12th and are in transit to Exceed. We’re still working on clearing all of the necessary customs paperwork to get them in our possession, but they should arrive by early next week.

I have an order placed for both the Short and Long Wood Screws which should arrive to Exceed some time next week. Once all of those screws arrive, they will have all the parts necessary to package the Large Hardware Bags as well.

Hopefully this information is helpful and can provide some transparency to our shipping timeline. Assuming the motors arrive in the 2-3 week time period that we’re expecting, we should have kits going out to those who preordered in May or June by the second week of October. We want to thank everyone so much for their patience with us throughout the whole process. There has been a constant learning curve for Bar and I in terms of what it means to get this many of something into the hands of those who want it. Almost everyone has been incredibly understanding of that, and we appreciate it so much. Hopefully by the next update, which we’ll send out September 27th, we’ll have even more good news and specific details on the arrival date of the motors.

Waitlist Info

Now for some details about our thoughts on the waitlist. We very much would like to move away from having a wait list and towards being able to have all the parts for the machine in stock. Until just recently, we had been planning to order a full inventory so that we could offer a kit almost immediately to every member of our waitlist when we open sales again. The last 5 weeks have been busy for our waitlist and almost 500 people have added themselves since the beginning of August. We’ve come to realize that we just don’t have the funds to stock an inventory that would allow us to sell a machine to every single person who is currently on our waitlist, let alone the potential hundreds more who may add themselves by the time all of the inventory would arrive, which would be some time in December.


Bar and I have talked about it, and we’ve decided to order parts for everyone on the waitlist (and the potential hundreds more who may add themselves before we actually receive the stock), place deposits on these parts, and then once again take preorders so that we can afford to pay for all of the inventory items in full at the time of shipment, which is when complete payment is generally due. With this decision, we’ll begin placing orders for the longest lead time items (such as the motors and brackets) by the end of this week. Once we get a shipment timeline on all of these parts with long lead times, this will help us to choose when exactly we will open sales again for preorders. Our goal with this round is to greatly shorten the preorder wait period. For the batch we will be sending out in a few weeks, the wait time has been 4+ months. We don’t like making anyone wait that long, so our hope is to shorten the preorder wait time to something closer to 4-6 weeks. Once we have a better idea of shipment timeline, we will update those of you on the waitlist with more specific dates and details for when we plan to open up for preorders.

Thanks for your time in reading this update! Sorry it was not more fun and interesting, but hopefully you got a lot of good information from it and feel more knowledgeable about your order or future order. As always, feel free to reach out at info@maslowcnc.com and we’ll be back in 2 weeks with more details and news!

Until then,

Hannah & Bar

New Kinematics Options, PlyPAD Progress, and Software Updates: The Aug 30th Update

Hey Everyone!

 

Since this is our first every other week update instead of every week update we’ve got a lot of ground to cover and it was getting pretty text heavy so I made a video version of the update in addition to the text. 

 

The first thing I want to talk about this week is something we’ve alluded too in the last few updates which is the idea of moving the the point where the chains meet on the sled to the center of the router bit.

Locating the intersection of the chains at the router bit has a couple of big advantages. It significantly simplifies the math because now the system makes a triangle where the lengths of all three sides are known. This also makes the calibration process much easier because there is just one variable which matters, the distance between the motors and we already have a good system for measuring that automatically.

There are other advantages too like that if the chains are anchored at the router bit, if the sled twists it won’t affect the cut because the sled twists around the router bit.

Of course we can’t actually join the chains in the center of the router bit because the router is there so we have find a mechanical system which has the same properties. This can be achieved by attaching the chains to something which pivots around the center of the router without actually being there, like a large bearing.

Since even before the kickstarter, the community has been coming up with innovative ways to solve this problem. I was initially not enthusiastic about them because I underestimated how difficult mathematics and calibration process for the current system would be. I also had reservations because most of the early solutions relied on either low cost lazy-susan type bearings which I was worried would fill with sawdust and stop working, or large expensive sealed bearings which were out of our budget.

In the update a couple weeks ago I mentioned that I was playing around with a system where the chains anchor to wheeled trolleys which run along a large metal ring such that the chains always point to the center, and the community response was amazing. Here's a {link: http://forums.maslowcnc.com/t/throwing-my-hat-in-the-sled-modification-ring} to the entire conversation, but the gist of it is that the community did research, talked through ideas, sourced parts, and generally made it happen in the most amazing way possible.

My experimental setup with a steel ring and the chains attached to rollers

My experimental setup with a steel ring and the chains attached to rollers

Within a matter of days the community came up with a system of linkages to achieve the same effect at a potentially even lower cost, and that’s what I want to share with you guys this week. To be totally clear, this system of linkages is the community’s idea pioneered mostly by Logan Needham, and tested by Kevin Keegan.

The general principle is that a system of straight linkages can simulate the same motion as a larger bearing at a fraction the cost. They’ve already come up with the idea, built it, and are testing it. Here’s some photos and footage from the testing process:
 

The design as conceived and tested by Logan Needham:

Demo Build 2.jpeg
Demo Built 1.jpeg
A beautiful diagram of possible linkage systems from Logan Needham

A beautiful diagram of possible linkage systems from Logan Needham

As built and tested by Kevin Keegan

As built and tested by Kevin Keegan

A cat cut by Kevin Keegan using his new rig

A cat cut by Kevin Keegan using his new rig

 

Footage from Kevin Keegan’s testing:

 

 

If you would like to get in on the experimentation, this type of system is now fully supported by Ground Control and the firmware, you just need to go into advanced settings and change the kinematics type to “triangular”.

 

PlyPAD:

I also want to talk a bit about PlyPAD this week. We’ve been working on building this house for quite a while now and haven’t really gone into any details. That’s mostly because we’re figuring it out as we go along, and we’ll do a final recap about what worked and what didn’t at the end. Until then, I want to share a couple of the technical details about how we’re building it.

 

Use of templates:

The first idea I want to talk about this week is the idea of using Maslow to cut templates and then using the templates to cut parts for the finished house.

At Maker Faire a couple months back we were fortunate enough to get to talk to the guys from Shelter2.0, and they gave us the idea of the power of using templates. Templates let you take the CNC machine’s ability to produce accurate parts and multiply it using unskilled labor. It’s easy to follow a template with a router compared to measuring and cutting parts by hand, but it’s also cheaper and faster than cutting parts directly on a CNC machine. In a disaster relief situation where there is an abundance of people who want to help, but limited technology like a CNC router, templates can let one machine produce many parts quickly.

You may notice that our design relies heavily on full sheets of plywood which have tabbed edges. Cutting tabs into the very edge of a sheet of plywood is difficult on any type of cnc machine, and impossible with our design, so we’ve cut those using a template and a palm router with a follower bushing. The template is applied to each corner of the sheet, and routed. The thickness of the follower bushing means that the cut part does not exactly match the template, however this is easily corrected for in the CAD design of the template.

How the router bushing follows the template

How the router bushing follows the template

The template design we’ve been using

The template design we’ve been using

 

This system is working really well for us. The one drawback is that the template can amplify errors in the length of the sheet of plywood because it is applied from each end so any sheets which are cut down in length before the template is applied need to be measured and cut carefully. I would recommend designing using this method with full sheets only. Some very slight changes to our design would let us use only full sheets in the future, which we plan to do on version two.

 

Structural Insulated Panels:

The next idea we have been experimenting with is bonding rigid insulation foam between the sheets of plywood to provide structure. In each of the walls floor and roof of our POD is 3-½ inches of foam insulation which both insulates the building to R28 and greatly increases the strength of the plywood which can be somewhat flimsy on its own. This idea is borrowed from the concept of structural insulated panels (SIPs)  and so far we’ve been very impressed with how strong the structures we’re making are. When we were loading the tall module onto the truck for transport to the museum we had to lay it on it’s side and at one point it was supported only by the tip of the roof and a forklift lifting from one corner of the floor. It was never designed to support its weight that way and I was sure it would break in half, but it didn’t even flex.

 

We will give a full breakdown of what worked and what didn’t once we’ve got the whole house built.

PlyPAD module 1 under construction showing where the rigid insulation goes

PlyPAD module 1 under construction showing where the rigid insulation goes

 

New Contextual Menu:

New since the last update we’ve added a contextual menu that comes up when you click and hold anywhere on the gcode canvas. The menu currently has options to command the machine to move to the clicked location, or place a marker there which can be used to mark out and avoid previously cut parts of the plywood sheet. This feature was an excellent community suggestion. If you have other ideas for location specific commands, let us know!

New Contextual Menu.JPG

Have a great two weeks everyone, and don’t forget to hang out in the forums!

 

-Bar and Hannah

The August 16th Update: Continued Work on the Pod & Software Things

Hi everyone!

Hope this Wednesday is treating you well. It’s cooled off here in Portland just enough to be beautiful again. Overall, we feel really lucky for the weather we’ve had, especially considering we’ve been working long days outside in order to complete the pod!

First of all, we want to remind everyone that this is our last official “Weekly Update”. After this, we will be transitioning to a Bi-Monthly Update, meaning the next update will be coming out on Wednesday, August 30th. Thanks to everyone for being supportive of this change.

Similarly to last week, essentially 110% of our time in the past week has gone toward construction of the pod that will end up at the Kenton Women’s Village here in Portland. We’ve managed to get basic email and forums checks done, but beyond that have been mainly unavailable to our community of Maslow users and we want to apologize sincerely for that. As I write this update, Bar is working hard on a software bug that he just hasn’t had the time to fix until now. After the event at the Portland Art Museum this Sunday, which you can see here, we plan to take a couple of weeks off from the completion of the pod in order to make improvements and forward steps with Maslow both as a machine and as a business. Thank you so much to everyone for your understanding with this.

We’d like to try to go over some of the “lessons learned” from the construction of the pod, because they have been numerous! From what it means to construct a house out of majority CNCed parts, to what it means to work with architects, to what it means to put a roof on a house, the list of things we’ve learned feels incredibly long. Bar and I were just talking, and at the end of the day the value we’ve gotten out of putting our time and efforts into this pod has made the entire venture very well worth it. We now feel confident that we could easily advise on “do’s” and “don’ts” of tiny house construction with a CNC, which we could not say before, and that knowledge is priceless.

We plan to go into more details in terms of lessons learned, possibly in our next update, but for now we just want to thank everyone again for sticking with us through this very busy time. We wouldn’t be doing any of this without you!


Software Changes This Week:
The software update will probably be pretty late this evening. I’m currently trying to figure out a bug which is preventing the machine from loading its position correctly some of the time. The problem seems to be the result of a change to the way the machine dimensions are sent from Ground Control, but beyond that I am not sure yet. I will add the details of what the fix was to the GitHub release page as soon as I’ve tracked down the issue and made the release.


Noah from SERA Architects working hard to sand the inside of the pod. The goal is to have this segment completely finished by Sunday!

Noah from SERA Architects working hard to sand the inside of the pod. The goal is to have this segment completely finished by Sunday!

he inside of the second segment which is under construction. You're looking at the bottom shelf of a built-in shelving unit!

he inside of the second segment which is under construction. You're looking at the bottom shelf of a built-in shelving unit!

The other wall of segment number two.

The other wall of segment number two.

The top half of segment number two from above.

The top half of segment number two from above.


Thanks for reading to the end of our final Weekly Update! We’ll be back on August 30th with our first Bi-Monthly Update. Have a great rest of your Wednesday, all.

Hannah & Bar

The August 9th Update

Hello everyone!

We hope this Wednesday is treating you well. It’s another hot one in Portland, and Bar and I are hard at work getting the first section of this pod put together in preparation of the Miller Family Free Day at the Portland Art Museum which will be on August 20th!

This week’s update is super short as we don’t have too much new to report over the last week. We sent out two specific emails last Friday, one to the group of May/June purchasers and another to those of you who have paid to be on our $1 wait list. If you are in one of those two groups and did not receive a detailed email from us this past Friday, feel free to reach out to be sure we have your correct contact info!

Bar and I have decided that starting after next Wednesday we are going to transition to an every other week update so we can focus on writing more in depth content. We enjoy keeping everyone in the loop with all of our plans and activities, but have found we have less to report now that the Kickstarter campaign has ended. Of course we’ll continue to be in the forums, and will send pertinent information to those who need to know as things come up, but the general Weekly Update will soon be named the Bi-monthly Update.

The pod project in conjunction with the Portland Art Museum, SERA Architects, and the Center for Public Interest Design is chugging along. We’ll be meeting with everyone at the art museum this Friday morning to discuss some final logistics for the day. The pod is being constructed in 4 segments, and the goal is to have at least one of these segments completely finished by the 20th so that it can be on display for all to see. Otherwise, we’ll be constructing another segment on site on the 20th, and hope to complete the other 2 for a total of 4 quickly so we can get the new pod into the Kenton Women’s Village before cold weather comes our way. It’s hard to imagine Portland being cold at this point, and it sure sounds nice, but I’m sure by the time it’s in full swing we’ll be wishing we were sweating once again!

That’s about all we have for you this week. Thanks for keeping up with us, and as always you can find us in the forums or reach out at info@maslowcnc.com for anything and everything!

Until next Wednesday,

Hannah & Bar

Popsicles, the Pod, Software, & some Giant Glasses: The August 2nd Update

Happy Wednesday everyone!

It is a very hot week here in Portland, with highs over 100 degrees fahrenheit, so we’ve been trying our hardest to stay cool, which has mainly included eating lots of popsicles :) Aside from lots of popsicles, we’ve got a fairly brief update this week which includes a small update on the pod build, a sneak peak at a fun little art project Hannah is working on, some details on software updates, and some quick logistical information for those who purchased in May/June and for those of you on our $1 waitlist.

First of all, an update on the pod. Bar has been very hard at work on the pod that will eventually end up at the Kenton Women’s Village here in Portland. Our commitment to this project is something that we’re very proud of, but it’s also a lot of work and is taking quite a bit of time, Bar’s in particular. We wanted to quickly thank everyone for being supportive and understanding of our goals with the pod project. We apologize if it may seem like we aren’t getting to your issues as quickly as you’d hope we would. We promise bettering the machine for everyone will always be a priority, but the construction of the pod does have a deadline so we’ve got to split our time wisely. Thanks to everyone for being understanding about this.

This week, I (Hannah) have finally had the time to execute a fun art project I’ve been considering for quite a while. Back in the very earliest days of the Maslow, Bar thought he would need very large chains to move the sled. He purchased this chain:

Which we still have laying around because how could we possibly get rid of such a huge chain?? It became a joke that we would hang something from the ceiling with this giant chain. Months ago, Bar told me he had a dream that we made a giant pair of glasses and hung those from the ceiling. Ever since that conversation, that giant pair of glasses hasn’t left my mind, and I finally started cutting them yesterday! What’s particularly cool about this project is that we cut a new material for the glasses - pegboard! The front frame piece is made of pegboard while the arms are ¼ inch plywood. The pegboard cut very well, though it is much more “fuzzy” and fragile than even ¼ inch plywood. This project is still in the works, but I hope to submit it to our upcoming ADX gallery show which will be in September. Check out the sneak peak photo below!

Bar’s Mini Update:

Hey everyone! I’ve just gotten a ‘final’ design for the POD from the architects so I’ve been pretty frantically converting the rough drawings into exact files ready to be cut. It’s pretty tedious work, mostly making sure all the tabs in each part line up, but it’s important and it’s important it get done quickly because we’re going to be showing off the first section of the POD at the art museum in just a few weeks. If you’d like to follow along or add suggestions you can see the model in real time as I’m drawing it at this link: https://cad.onshape.com/documents/8d04a283bad09e15e4cd354c/w/5472fc6dd4d7de0ad1f4a9ff/e/8c6b2d228d999cbb04f272ae

Because that’s a bit of a boring update, here’s a video of me testing to make sure that the mockup we built isn’t too unstable to be easily lifted with the forklift:

Software changes this week:

The changes to both the firmware and software this week relate mostly to two projects. One was to track down an issue we’ve been seeing where the movements of the motors has been jerky recently. After a couple false starts investigating the theory that the Arduino processor was running out of memory (it wasn’t) we determined that the issue was with the tuning of the PID controller and the tuning was updated in v0.83. There are also now settings option under the Advanced Settings menu to let the PID values be tuned manually from within Ground Control.

The second big set of changes in v0.83 this week is adding support for what we’re calling “Triangular Kinematics”. We’ve seen a lot of enthusiasm from the community (and me!) about the idea of simplifying the design of the sled so that the chains either meet at a single point, or simulate meeting at a single point using a set of bearings. This idea has a lot of promise for both simplifying the design of the machine, and the calibration process so we’re doing our best to support it in the software. We now have an option under Advanced Settings to switch the machine to using triangular kinematics as well as an option in the simulator to simulate triangular kinematics.


Finally, some quick logistics. For those of you who purchased a machine via our website in May or June of this year, we are still on track to ship in September, though it will be at the end of September. It’s possible you won’t actually receive your kit until October. Be on the lookout for a more detailed email about this with some more specifics from us by the end of this week.

If you are on our $1 waitlist and have yet to actually purchase a machine, we do plan to open sales again this fall, most likely in late October or November. We’ve decided on an order fulfillment option that we believe is going to work out really well, so we’re aiming to ship all future orders that will be placed within 2 weeks after purchase. Again, if you’re on our $1 waitlist, be on the lookout for a more detailed email from us by the end of this week.

That’s all for this week! Thanks to everyone for reading and we’ll be back again next week!

- Hannah & Bar

The Final Kickstarter Update: July 26th

Happy Wednesday everyone!

We hope you’re all having great weeks and getting the chance to assemble and use your Maslows! We are happy to announce that this will be our final weekly update posted and sent out through Kickstarter! From now on, we’ll be sharing a weekly update via our MailChimp list serve. Additionally, you can always find all of our weekly updates posted here on our website. If you want to stay in the loop with what we’re up to, be sure to subscribe to our MailChimp weekly update by clicking here.

Wow, it feels pretty surreal to be writing the final Kickstarter update. Bar and I had the chance to speak with an anthropologist yesterday who is doing research on “makers” and it actually turned into a really nice opportunity to reflect on how far we’ve come and where we hope to go. I can still remember writing the first Kickstarter update back in October. We were full of so many uncertainties back then, and although life for us and for Maslow still has many unknowns, the amount that we’ve been able to accomplish thanks to you all has been truly amazing. We are so grateful for all of the seemingly unconditional support that practically everyone in our community has shown us over the past 9 months. Bar and I can’t thank each and every one of you enough for making Maslow possible. We set out with the goal of getting this new idea out into the world, and we really feel we’ve accomplished that goal thanks to all of your support. We don’t want to get too mushy, and it’s hard to find all the right words to say at this point, but THANK YOU! We know we’ll be able to look back on this whole experience very fondly :)

As a fun bit of commemoration, check out the photos below that our good friend Anna took of us when we were first moving into ADX. The photos feel both recent and a thing of the distant past all at once.

Now onto business! I’ve been getting a lot of emails from individuals who are confused about when their kit will ship. I realize I may not have been clear enough on the shipment schedule, so I want to try to clear that up right now. If you backed us via Kickstarter, meaning you paid for a kit through our Kickstarter campaign in October/November of last year, you should have received your kit by now! The only reason you would not have received your kit is if you didn’t fill out your backer survey.

If you preordered a kit from us through our website in May/June of this year, we are aiming to ship to you by the end of this September. Preorder means that you paid for the full amount of the machine - $350 or $410, depending on whether or not you also preordered a Z Axis Kit. Currently, all of the parts for these preorders are in transit to us from different places in the world. We are currently working to set up more complete fulfillment with Exceed, which some of you may remember reading about in one of our previous updates from a few months ago. Our hope is to have them package and ship all of the preorders we received in May/June, because I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to handle doing it again! That and they are much more efficient than I am :)

If you have only paid for a $1 waitlist spot through our website, you do not yet have a machine coming your way! I’m meeting with someone from Exceed tomorrow to hopefully move things forward in regards to fulfillment. Once I have more information from that meeting, I will send it out to those on the $1 waitlist, but know that as of now our tentative plans are to open sales to those on the $1 waitlist in either October or November of this year, with order fulfillment happening within 2 weeks after the order is placed. Please note that this plan is not yet set in stone, but it’s the ideal we are aiming for.

I hope this explanation clears up any confusion there was surrounding when you will receive your kit and/or be able to order. Of course, if you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to shoot me an email info@maslowcnc.com.

Bar's mini update:

This week there wasn't much progress on the PlyPOD front as we're waiting on a final design drawing from the architects.

I'd also like to say that in the last few days it's come up that there is an issue with the left motor moving jerkily. I'm hoping to have a fix for that in the next few days so stay posted!

Finally, this week I had an idea which I'm pretty excited about which would make the sled rotate around the router bit which has a whole host of benefits from increased accuracy to simpler calibration. It's still a very early in the testing and exploring process, but if you are interested in reading along there's a forum thread here that I think is worth checking out.

Have a great week everyone!

-Hannah and Bar

All kits shipped, Building a CNC tiny house, New Forums and so much else!: The July 19th Update

Happy Wednesday Everyone!  

First and foremost we’re excited to announce that all kickstarter kits have been packed and sent out! The only exception is for kits for which we don’t have a backer survey (because then we don’t have an address!), those will ship as soon as we have an address.

 Now that we’re finishing up fulfilling the Kickstarter kits, we’re excited to be able to focus on supporting the community which leads us to our next two topics.

Router bits and replacement Arduino Shields available in the store, more replacement parts to come 

We heard from the community that we need a good source for affordable router bits, and when we couldn’t find one we contacted a machine shop and had router bits made to our specifications. We also heard from the community that the Arduino shield is a part that people would like to purchase spares of so we’ve made those available also. You can buy router bits and spare arduino shields from our website at www.maslowcnc.com/store right now! 

Redesigned Forums 

If you head over the forums at www.maslowcnc.com/forums you’ll notice that we’ve switched to a new forums system. We heard from the community that it was time to upgrade our forums as the community is quickly growing. The new system is based on Discourse.org, and open source system that gives us a lot more flexibility to expand as the community grows. If you haven’t already been to the forums, now would be a great time to head over and check them out! 

Project of the week: 

This week we’ve got a pretty big project of the week! 

Our intentions with the Maslow project have always been for the machine to have a role in humanitarian work, and we’ve been given an opportunity to explore the machine’s humanitarian potential here in our home city of Portland Oregon. A group called The Center for Public Interest Design has been working with The City of Portland to construct villages of tiny houses to address the city’s housing crisis. The first village to open is the Kenton Womens Village which is aimed at providing a safe space for houseless women. We’re excited to be building an open source Maslow made tiny house (or POD as they are being called) to donate to the project.  We will be working in partnership with SERA Architects, whose design was selected to be constructed from a group of 15 submissions.  We are excited to work together.

A rendering of what the finished POD will look like. Image courtesy of SERA Architects

A rendering of what the finished POD will look like. Image courtesy of SERA Architects

The interior of the POD. Image courtesy of SERA Architects

The interior of the POD. Image courtesy of SERA Architects

The objective is to design and build an open source POD which can be rapidly and affordably replicated. We’re not trying to build an exclusively CNC structure. We’re going to use traditional building materials like 2x4s when it makes sense to do so. We want to use Maslow to make the critical cuts so that someone with limited building experience could realistically assemble the structure.

This will be our project of the week for the next six weeks or so, and each week we will be sharing how we used Maslow on some part of the project, what we learned along the way, and how we’ve used that information to improve Maslow. 

A diagram showing how the POD goes together. Image courtesy of SERA Architects.

A diagram showing how the POD goes together. Image courtesy of SERA Architects.

The test section of the POD redrawn to be constructed

The test section of the POD redrawn to be constructed

The exploratory module we built this week from the CAD model

The exploratory module we built this week from the CAD model

This project pushes the limits of what Maslow can do in big ways. One of the big challenges of this project is that all the parts are aligned with tabs. Calibration (as I’m sure you know by now) has been an ongoing struggle for us, and this project forces us to be sure everything is precise and aligned. Even a small error will magnify over a ten foot span to become a significant issue, and that is exactly what we saw this week. 

 

 I was sure that I had my calibration dialed in. My straight lines were straight, my squares were square, but then something strange happened when everything went together. The tabs at the top aligned perfectly.

The tabs at the top aligned perfectly

The tabs at the top aligned perfectly

The tabs at the bottom aligned perfectly. 

The tabs at the bottom aligned perfectly. Ignore the switch to ¾ plywood, this is a test build so we’re playing with different materials.

The tabs at the bottom aligned perfectly. Ignore the switch to ¾ plywood, this is a test build so we’re playing with different materials.

But in the middle the tabs were off by at least ¼ inch.

In the middle one of the tabs was suddenly off

In the middle one of the tabs was suddenly off

The problem repeated itself on each of the four edges, with the same tab in the same place being off. I was stumped. The only explanation I could think of was that while my squares were square and my straight lines were straight, things were somehow being stretched. 

I tested the theory that long objects were getting stretched by cutting a 1 inch by 70 inch rectangle, and found that my rectangle was 1 inch by 70-1/4 inches. 

To track down the what was happening I wrote a simulator which will let us see how distortions in the measurements of the machine will result in distortions to the parts cut. The simulator is available in this week’s version of Ground Control, you can play around with it yourself by clicking Actions -> Advanced -> Simulation.

The new simulator

The new simulator

The simulation lets you add a simulated error to each of the calibration measurements and then shows the correct grid in green, and the effect of the simulated error in red. 

After a few minutes of playing around I found out that that if both the Motor Spacing measurement and the Motor Mount Spacing measurements are off by exactly the same amount, the type of stretching I was seeing occurs. I adjusted the measurements in my machine’s settings, and suddenly my 1 inch by 70 inch rectangle was suddenly actually 1 inch by 70 inches (at least to the best of my ability to measure). Hopefully in the near future, we’ll be able to integrate the things we learn from the simulator into an improved calibration process. Possibly a process which requires only a single set of strategic cuts and measurements instead of the current process of repeated cuts and measurements.

I haven't had a chance to do enough testing to say that the misaligned tab is completely solved, so expect an update on this issue and any other we run into next Wednesday.

Software Changes

We saw a big improvement to the firmware this week. For the last few weeks we’ve been seeing strange and difficult to replicate behavior where some of us were seeing behavior where the right motor would refuse to move entirely, while other saw jerky behavior and others had no issues whatsoever. The issue as it turned out had to do with the Arduino running out of ram, and the version of the Arduino program which was used to upload the firmware had an effect on if the issue would show up or not which explains why we saw the issue come up differently for everyone. We solved the issue by freeing up some memory, so don’t forget to grab version v0.81 of the firmware this week! 

Have a great week everyone! 

-Bar and Hannah

    All Batch One Kits Sent, The Flu, and We Designed Our Own End Mills: The July 12th update

    Happy Wednesday everyone!

    First and foremost, we’re excited to announce that ALL of the batch one kits have been sent out and are making their way around the world to your doorstep. We know that kits we started shipping last week have already started to arrive, so as you are getting your machine and putting it together, don’t forget to let us know if you see ways we can make the process easier or more clear, and most of all don’t forget to post pictures of the things you build!

    We’ve also shipped almost all of the batch two kits, and those are starting to arrive as well. Unfortunately one of the shipments of motors we received from the manufacturer was a few motors short so we’re waiting on the the rest of those to arrive to finish shipping batch two. Fortunately, the factory was able to track down the missing motors quite quickly after we contacted them so we don’t have to wait for more to be manufactured, only for the ones which were already made to be shipped to us which shouldn’t take more than ten days. This small delay in the remaining motors means that we have to delay our shipment to the school winners as well. We’ll be sending the school kits with the remaining batch two kits.

    The final load going out.

    The final load going out.

    The Flu

    In a tragic turn of events, both Hannah and I came down with the flu this past week. We’re both on the mend now, but it was a bit of a rough week :-). Hannah in particular deserves some sort of award for still making sure all the boxes got shipped even while feeling awful.

    Router Bits

    Feedback we heard from our beta testers has been that router bits can be expensive, or hard to find in some parts of the world. We tried to find a source of quality and cheap bits to recommend, but didn’t find a supplier we loved. The best way to offer quality cheap bits to the community seems like it is to manufacture them ourselves, so that’s what we’re doing. Because we’re designing and manufacturing these bits, we can make exactly the bit we want and tweak the design based on YOUR feedback.

    We’re starting with three types of ¼ inch bits. Based on the community input we’re open to having other sizes (metric or imperial) or designs made. Just let us know what you want to see, and if there’s a consensus from the community on something we all want to try, we’ll do our best to make it happen.

    Our goals with designing these bits are to make low cost, high quality, quiet cutting bits that are designed just for our applications. One way that we’re reducing both the cost of the bit and making it cut MUCH more quietly is that our bits have a ½ inch long cutting surface, while the bits most commonly available have a 1 inch cutting surface.

    Because Maslow cuts by making a series of shallow passes, the tip of the bit does most of the work while most of the router bits available at the hardware store are designed for use in conventional wood working where it is common to use the full edge of the bit when following a template. Reducing the length of the cutting surface reduces the amount that the bit protrudes from the router collet making it vibrate less while cutting resulting in a quieter experience. Reducing the length of the cutting surface also makes our bits cheaper because the time to machine each one is reduced.

    Starting Monday, we’re going to have three types of router bit available.

    Solid tungsten carbide ¼ inch two flute up-spiral bit

    This is the basic bit that we’ve been recommending when we get the question “which bit should I use”. It’s versatile, very forgiving, and works well with most materials. This is a good bit to start with. $8.99

    Solid tungsten carbide ¼ inch single flute up-spiral bit

    Similar to the the tungsten carbide two flute up-spiral bit, but with only a single flute. Using a single flute means that for the same rotation speed and forward speed as the two flute bit, the single flute takes twice as big of a “bite” with each rotation. This can give you a cleaner cut or reduce burning in some materials. $11.99

    Solid tungsten carbide ¼ inch two flute compression bit

    A compression bit is designed specifically to reduce a phenomenon called “tear out” which is caused when the upwards or downwards spiral of a router bit leaves a chipped or fuzzy edge on either the top or bottom of a cut because of the aggressive action of the spiral. A compression bit solves this issue by being a down spiral bit on the top, and an up spiral bit on the bottom which compresses both edges of the wood towards the center leaving a smooth cut on both the top and bottom. $13.99

    We’re going to offer them for sale from our website starting Monday with flate rate shipping of $6.50 anywhere in the US and $29.40 anywhere in the world, no matter how many you buy. We know that the international shipping is a little high, and we’re looking into finding ways to ship internationally more cheaply.

    We hope making good router bits cheaper and easier to find will help the community, and as always your feedback is critical so let us know what you want to see we’ll do our best to make it happen.

    Finally, if you are a beta tester, we will be sending you the new arduino shield as well as the changed hardware parts, which only includes 2 screws and 2 spacers that are meant to be used to help you align your chain in order to prevent the chain from tangling around the sprocket. Be on the lookout for those parts in the next week or so.

    Have a great week everyone and get your flu shots!

    -Bar and Hannah

    Kits Shipping, Instructions Updated and Software Changes: July 5th Update

    Hey Everyone!  

    Happy Wednesday.  

    Kits are shipping!

    Let’s start off with the big news everyone probably wants to hear first. The Arduino Shields we were waiting for came, and they look great. You might remember that our Beta Arduino Shields arrived with one missing diode from each board. This time they they arrived complete, and passed our tests. Even better, because the circuit boards came we’ve started shipping kits! 

     In anticipation of the Arduino shields arriving, we packed as many boxes as we could possibly cram into our work space with everything except the shield so as soon as the Arduino Shields arrived and we finished checking them out we were able to start shipping immediately. We completely filled the available space in first van that the United States Post Office sent us, and they had to send out a second van just for us which we mostly filled with boxes. 

    The second van of the day quickly filling up with Maslow machines

    The second van of the day quickly filling up with Maslow machines

    We’re hoping to have all of the kits for Kickstarter Backers sent out by the end of this week, and we will have all of the kits for schools sent out by the beginning of next week.  

    Assembly Instructions Updated 

     This week I went over the assembly instructions and updated them. As always, you can find the complete instructions at http://www.maslowcnc.com/assemblyguide/ . 

     As I was going through the process of building a new machine from scratch, it really hit me how much our beta testers have redesigned and improved almost every part of the machine and I think this might be a good time to say a HUGE THANK YOU to all of our beta testers. It is impossible to ever overstate how important they are in this whole process. Thank you. Thank you. THANK YOU to everyone of you. There is absolutely no way I could have done what we did together without you guys. Thank you!

     When we shipped to our beta testers there literally weren’t assembly instructions written, and the instructions we have now were based on their pioneering work. Today our community is growing, but your feedback is still critical to making the machine better. As you open the box and put your machine together, remember that our assembly guide is a series of wiki pages. When you find something that you think could be more clear, click that ‘edit’ button in the upper right hand corner and make the instructions better for everyone! 

     Software Changes 

    This week saw a couple changes to both the Firmware and Ground Control. 

    On the firmware side the changes are mostly related to supporting the new Arduino Shield. As part of cleaning up the board layout, several of the pins have changed. Unfortunately, the PWM signal for the left motor is now on a pin which is disabled by default by the internal timer we use to trigger the PID control loops to recalculate. The solution was pretty straight forward, the timer offers a different PWM signal, but at a higher frequency. The result is that the left motor no longer makes the A sharp humming noise that it used to. I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or not. I missed it for a few minutes because that sound always indicated to me that everything was working right, but it is a little annoying also. In any case, as soon as the router or dust collector is turned on, you can’t hear it anyway. The Arduino will automatically detect which Arduino Shield version is plugged in when it powers up, so for our beta testers feel free to keep using your original board, or switch to the new one when it arrives. The performance of both should be very similar. 

     On the Ground Control side two new usability features are added. First, the position of your file is now saved so when Ground Control opens it not only remembers the last file you were working on, but also where it was positioned on the sheet. This means that if you need to close Ground Control (or accidently close Ground Control) in the middle of a cut, you can resume it in the same place on your sheet. This week we also bring back the dashed lines which indicates then the machine is repositioning itself to begin cutting vs the solid lines which indicate where the machine will cut. The dashed lines were lost as part of a push to make Ground Control load large (20,000+ line) files more quickly, and we were able to bring them back with very little performance cost. 

     Have a great week everyone! Hopefully by the next update we’ll be able to report kits starting to arrive! 

     -Bar and Hannah

      Preparing to Ship: The June 28th Update

      Hey everyone! This week’s update is going to be short because we’re full speed ahead getting ready to ship. We’ve received word from customs that our Arduino Shields are about to clear customs in Los Angeles and hopefully should be here in Portland within the next day or two. In preparation, we’ve started packing boxes with everything except the shield, printing shipping labels, and updating the instructions to put the kit together.

      Preparing to ship!

      Preparing to ship!

      Assembly Instruction Re-write

      Based on feedback from our Beta Testers I am going to be re-writing the assembly instructions over the next few days to simplify the process and update the pictures to show the latest hardware. I know some of you are in the process of building your frames in advance of the kit arriving, so keep in mind as you do that, the instructions will be a little bit in flux for the next few days. 

      Software Updates

      This week’s firmware and Ground Control releases, feature minimal changes from last week as we’ve been focusing on shipping and letting the dust settle from all the recent changes. Going forward as we move away from the beta period, we would like to see more gradual changes to make sure we don’t break things along the way. This week we incorporated some feedback from our beta testers about making an error message more clear, and clarifying the wording of one step in the calibration process. We also added a second set of crosshairs which shows the machine’s estimated actual position instead of a circle of uncertainty to give us a better sense of how well the feedback controller is working. 

      Projects

      Projects This week we saw a couple cool projects. First off, right after the release of last week’s software we saw community members blsteinhauer88 and rancher whip out some great projects to test the new software. blsteinhauer88 made this cool sun and moon cut out while rancher made an awesome box to hold records. 

      Sun and moon cutout by blsteinhauer88

      Sun and moon cutout by blsteinhauer88

      Record storage box by rancher

      Record storage box by rancher

      We also saw our friend Ian take the scrap wood from Hannah’s Oregon shaped corn hole boards and make a beautiful piece of art from them. What a cool idea showing off how maslow can be used to create both practical and artistic objects. 

      Oregon cutouts cut from the original 4x8 sheets

      Oregon cutouts cut from the original 4x8 sheets

      Stacked and painted

      Stacked and painted

      Have a great week everyone, and GET READY! We can’t wait to see what you are going to build. 

       -Bar and Hannah

      The June 21st Update: Software/Firmware Bugs & Fixes plus a Shipment Update

      Hey everyone!

      Happy Wednesday, we hope you’ve had a great week, it’s been a rocky one here at Maslow.

      Get ready for our least thrilling update to date. We had a couple pretty significant software issues to contend with this week, and the manufacturer of our Arduino Shields still hasn’t shipped them (but promised us a tracking number for tomorrow). If you are going to skip reading an update, skip this one.

      The Bugs:

      On the software front we had a chaotic week when I let a bug slip through into last week’s release of Ground Control / Firmware v0.76 that broke the calibration process, and spent most of my week scrambling to figure out what I did and how to fix it. The issue had to do with a catch I added which was meant to trigger under circumstances where the calibration process was initiated with impossible conditions such as with negative chain lengths. Unfortunately, the function could be triggered during the calibration process which would result in inaccurate values being reported for the machine’s dimensions causing erratic movements.

      The good news is that I think I’ve tracked the issue down and fixed it for today’s release of version Ground Control / firmware v0.77. I’ve also smoothed some of the movements during the calibration process.

      In last week’s update we reported we were tracking down a bug which was resulting in the machine sometimes receiving garbled lines of gcode. The conditions were rare, some of our beta testers weren’t seeing it at all, others were seeing the issue regularly. I was seeing about 1 in 1000 lines sent to the machine corrupted. Because the bug was showing up differently on different computers it was a tough one to track down, but I think I’ve got a handle on what was happening. The issue was that the Arduino has an internal 64 character serial buffer, while our firmware has a 256 character buffer. The 64 character Arduino buffer is used only for a few thousandths of a second to send and receive information from your computer, while the 256 character buffer in the Maslow firmware is used to store lines of gcode until the machine is ready to run them which can be more than a second in the case of a long straight cut. The conditions needed to see the issue are as follows:

      1. The 256 character buffer is nearly empty because the machine has just finished a series of very small movements meaning it processed a lot of gcode quickly using up its reserve of code

      2. The computer running Ground Control is a fast-ish computer

      Under these conditions the Firmware will request up to 256 new characters of gcode from Ground Control, and Ground Control can send those 256 characters to the firmware faster than the firmware can move them from the 64 character buffer into the 256 character buffer. Once the 64 character buffer fills up, characters are lost.

      I would like to do more exhaustive testing before declaring the issue fully resolved, but I believe that version 0.77 of the firmware/Ground Control fixes the issue by throttling the speed at which new lines of gcode are sent to the machine (credit to andymillernz for the pull request that fixed the issue). A long term solution is to focus on making sure that the the firmware empties the 64 character buffer as quickly as possible. The process of tracking down this bug also involved a good amount of rewrite and cleanup of the serial connection code that I feel really good about.

      No project of the week this week, while battling bugs, I didn’t have a chance to build anything cool.

      Hannah’s Mini Update:

      We still have not received the arduino shields. We received an email from our supplier this morning stating that they would ship tomorrow and we will post in the forums as soon as we have a tracking number. We’re having these shipped by DHL (the quickest means possible), so that should mean they will arrive some time next week. Bar will have to check them out and test them to be sure they’re good to go, but from the photos our supplier sent, we aren’t anticipating any issues with this. Once again, thank you for your patience and apologies for the delay. We’ve started printing shipping labels and preparing to pack up boxes so that hopefully the shields will just need to be added to each box, a label stuck on, and the kits will be on their ways. Realistically, as long as the shields truly do ship tomorrow, we’re most likely looking at shipment starting the first week of July. Thanks to everyone for being so prompt about getting your backer surveys back to us. Believe us, we want to get those kits out the door as badly as you want to receive them!

      Sorry for the bummer of an update everyone, without even pictures. Hopefully we’ll be back next week with some more exciting news.

      Until then, have a great week everyone!

      -Bar and Hannah

      The June 14th Update: Shipment, Projects & Software

      Hey everybody!

      Wow, it’s already Wednesday once again! Bar and I were just talking about how quickly time flies. Must mean we’re having fun…

      This week, we’ve got some unfortunate news about a delay from the Arduino shield manufacturer, plus a reminder to fill out your backer survey if you haven’t already! Also, we’re officially sending the first MailChimp update this week, and all of our previous updates have been archived on the website! Finally, we’ll show off some fun projects we managed to do in the past week.

      The day after last week’s update, I received news from our arduino shield supplier that they will deliver no later than the 21st. Originally we had been told the 16th, but unfortunately production is taking longer than expected so the shields will deliver later than expected as well. We will be as ready as possible to simply add the arduino shield to every box so that we can hopefully get the kits out as soon as we receive the final part. We apologize for this delay, but at this point it is mainly out of our control. We’ll do our best to get you your kit as quickly as we possibly can!

      That being said, this means you still have a week to complete your backer survey! If you still haven’t responded to the survey, be sure to do so by logging in to your Kickstarter account.

      This week we will start sending our update via MailChimp as well. Last week we sent out a link to subscribe to our MailChimp updates so that you can stay in touch when we transition to an email newsletter update in a few week. If you still haven’t signed up but are interested in staying in touch when we stop sending Kickstarter updates, please subscribe to the list here. We plan to keep this update in a very similar style to the weekly Kickstarter updates we have been posting all along - they will include updates to those who purchased in the most recent round of sales, information about software updates, our current events, and of course we’ll continue sharing fun projects that we and other Maslow users create! If you aren’t interested in receiving the weekly update any longer but want to check back in with us at any point, we’ve archived all of our previous updates on our website here. Feel free to check out what we’ve been up to there at any point!

      We try to work with the community here at ADX on projects whenever possible because it gives us a chance to see Maslow in the hands of someone else. This week we worked with our friend Danielle to build a Kayak rack for her to show off her boats in an art show. She did the design in OnShape, and we cut the parts using Maslow.

       A small back story on Hannah: I love ultimate frisbee! For those who aren’t familiar, it’s a really fun sport that can best be explained as a combination of soccer and football, but with a frisbee of course! I’m going to a big tournament over 4th of July weekend, and our team is bear themed, so I decided to cut out a big mascot plus a bunch of little bear heads that will be given out as medals to our MVPs :) Check out the photos below of the bear as well as the remains of the sheet of plywood after the cut was made.

      Software updates this week:

      This week’s changes to both the Ground Control and the Firmware were mostly bug fixes and incremental improvements based on the community feedback. We improved the smoothness of the motors operation during the calibration process, fixed a bug with the way complete circles are cut, fixed an issue with the way the position indicator was working, and added a step to the calibration process to let you adjust the z-axis depth before running the test pattern.

      Unfortunately we’ve also got a new and unwelcome bug that seems to have cropped up in the last few weeks. Somehow our increased serial throughput seems to be resulting in some characters becoming lost in transmission. The resulting garbled lines of gcode ruin a cut, so I’m going to make sure we’ve got the bug fixed as soon as possible.

      We’ve also decided to sync up the version numbers for the Firmware and Ground Control and keep them matched starting this week. We think it will be less confusing. This means that the firmware will jump from v0.73 to v0.76 this week to match the software. As always you can find the latest firmware here and the latest Ground Control here.

      That’s all we’ve got for this week! Again, sorry for the delay in shipment. We promise we want Maslow to be in your hands as much as you do! Hopefully we’ll be back next week with news that the arduino shields have arrived.

      Until then,

      Hannah & Bar

      Backer Surveys Going Out, Updates on Logistics, and Cutting Aluminum: The June 7 Update

      Hey everybody!

      Happy Wednesday! This week we’ve got lots of logistics for you plus Bar had some fun cutting aluminum this week and he’s going to show off the results.

      First and most importantly, the Backer Survey was sent today! Please be on the lookout for that and respond to it as promptly as possible. Just this morning I got word from our PCBA supplier that the Arduino shields will arrive no later than June 16th, and we hope to have the boxes all ready to go by then so that all we have to do is add an Arduino shield and send them on their ways! Please be careful to give accurate shipping information as well as be specific in regard to whether or not you purchased an additional Z-Axis Kit through our website. Providing us with that order number will make the whole process go much more smoothly on our end, meaning you get your kit as quickly as possible!

      In other news, we officially closed sales on Monday morning when we hit our stock limit. We were open for exactly 3 weeks and we’re so happy with the results of sales as well as how much interest Maslow has received. We’re still working on what’s next in terms of the next round of sales, but since the closure of sales the $1 waitlist members have continued to add up, so we’ve definitely got our minds on the future. We’ve started to place orders for parts with the longest lead times already so that we can hit our goal of shipment to this round of sales by the end of the summer.

      Speaking of moving forward, the fact that we’re about to ship to the rest of our Kickstarter backers means the “official” end of the campaign is nearing! It’s hard to believe just 8 months ago we were living up in Port Townsend and working out of a borrowed garage with no idea of where this Maslow idea would take us. It’s been such a fun ride! And we’ve loved keeping in touch with our community, particularly via the updates. With Kickstarter fulfillment coming close and the Maslow community continuing to grow, we’ve decided that at the end of June we are going to move the update from Kickstarter to a blog on our website and a weekly email newsletter.

      We plan to keep doing a weekly update in the form of an email newsletter using MailChimp. If you’re interested in staying in touch with us in this way, please click here to subscribe to our newsletter. Starting next week we’ll be posting to both Kickstarter, and also through MailChimp. Once July rolls around, we’ll only be communicating via MailChimp. If you aren’t necessarily interested in receiving weekly emails but still want to catch up with us once in awhile, we plan to archive all of our weekly updates in a blog-style format on our website.

      That’s all I’ve got for this week! Again, don’t forget to complete your Backer Survey, and check out Bar’s update below.

      Bar’s Mini Update:

      The project of the week was done by forum member rexkelin who is rebuilding a 1970 Chevy C10 truck.

      He is using his beta machine to help with some tricky dash and engine bay sheet aluminum work.

      Here you can see that he did not just one, but two revisions of the engine bay. Because the design was digital he was able to do a second iteration built on the design of the first. You can read the whole forum thread here.

      I was initially skeptical that Maslow would be able to cut aluminum. It’s been on my “to test” list for quite a while, and when one of our backers mailed me some aluminum sheets to test I had no excuses. Encouraged by rexklein’s beautiful work in the forums I decided to give it a go.

      I chose a 1/4in single flute carbide end mill, with a feed rate of 35 inches per minute and a step down of .01 inches. I haven’t played around with other combinations, but this one worked much better than I expected.

      I chose to cut a mini wing cross-section (it was just a test) from a sheet of 1.5mm aluminum of unknown alloy. The black color you see in the pictures is a protective coating on each side of the sheet.

      You can see the raw footage of the cut in progress by clicking here

      I was hoping to edit it into a nicer video, but the footage is pretty unusable because of the camera focus.

      Maslow may never machine blocks of aluminum the way you would in a machine shop, but for sheet aluminum projects it could be a useful tool. Yet another example of our community making the project better!

      Have a wonderful week everyone, and don’t forget to fill out your backer survey! We need those addresses.

      Until next Wednesday,

      Hannah and Bar

      May 31st: Update on Shipment, the Backer Survey, an Awesome Desk, & More Software Updates!

      Hey everybody!

      We hope you’ve all had a good week since last Wednesday. We’ve settled back into the Portland life and are currently gearing up for the shipment of our remaining Kickstarter kits!

      As of today we are still waiting on the Arduino Shields to arrive before we can ship. All of the other parts have arrived, and we’re steadily preparing to pack over 600 boxes to ship out to our remaining Kickstarter backers. As long as the arrival of the Arduino Shields goes as planned, we aim to start shipping on June 15th. The Arduino Shields are supposed to arrive by June 14th. As always, we’ll keep everyone updated on any changes in this timeline that may arise in the next couple of weeks, but hopefully everything goes as planned!

      Since shipment is closing in on us, it’s about time to send out our Backer Survey. We plan to send the Backer Survey next Wednesday, June 7th along with our weekly update. Please keep this in mind and try to respond to the survey as promptly as possible. The survey will most importantly ask for an up-to-date shipping address, but will also include a few other questions including whether or not you purchased a Z-Axis Kit through our website. If you did, please be prepared to share that order number in the survey so that we can be sure to ship all of your parts in the same box!

      In other news, the reopening of sales has gone very well for us. We reopened to our waitlist on May 15th and since then have decided to set a limit to the number of machines we are going to sell in this round. We still have a little over 100 kits remaining, but we imagine these will sell out in the next week or so. We’re so happy that interest in Maslow has stayed high and we’re really excited to have the chance to get Maslow into even more capable hands.

      The project this week is a desk that Bar made! He’ll go more into the details below, plus he made an awesome video to show it off, but I have to say it’s been great to see him making things again! Bar has been pretty buried in software ever since the shipment of Beta Tester Kits, so the fact that he’s got the time to build something amazing again should be a sign that software has been greatly improved and things are generally going well!

      Bar’s Mini Update:

      Hey everyone! Making a desk to go with the chair I made has been on my to-do list for a long time. I chose the Olivia Desk from Open Desk. I liked the clean lines and the simplicity of the design.

      I made a video to show the build process:

      Overall it went smoothly. All the parts were cut in one job over the course of 3-½ or 4 hours (while I worked on other things). All the parts cut smoothly, except that on one pass one of the legs had a corner cut off where the machine ran into a bug. Fortunately, the cut off corner was concealed within one of the legs.

      All the parts which were designed to press fit together did, and after a little bit of sanding, some stain for the top, and a coat of polyurethane I’ve got a new desk.

      The completed desk and chair looking great in Bar's room

      The completed desk and chair looking great in Bar's room

      There were a number of software changes this week also.

      On the firmware front Maslow Firmware v0.72 reduces the time to execute lines of gcode dramatically making files which have a very large number of lines of gcode run much faster. The way arcs are calculated was improved to eliminate some rounding errors, a chattering bug was solved, and some general code cleanup was done. You can find the latest firmware here: https://github.com/MaslowCNC/Firmware/releases

      On the Ground Control front v0.74 adds a number of new features and fixes. The way arcs are rendered was improved, the zoom feature now zooms towards your cursor (I can’t tell you how long I’ve wanted to change that), a bug which was making the machine not respond until stop was pressed after finishing running a file was fixed, a buffer overflow bug was fixed, the terminal is more responsive, the motors respond more smoothly during the calibration process, and an issue with one of the popups was fixed. You can find the latest version of Ground Control here: https://github.com/MaslowCNC/GroundControl/releases

      A huge thank you to everyone who either reported or solved an issue this week.

      Thanks for reading along! We'll be back next Wednesday.

      Until then,

      Hannah & Bar

        Maker Faire, Tested, and Software Updates: The May 24th Update

        Hi Everyone!   

        We hope you had just as fantastic of a week as we did.  

        In the 7 days since our last update we drove 1,200 miles to attend Maker Faire in San Mateo, California where we had a great time meeting some of you. We also had the opportunity to film a video about Maslow with the guys from the YouTube channel “Tested”, and thanks to the community continuing to work on the software we even have some new features to show off. 

        Maker Faire

        We had a great time at Maker Faire. We had the chance to meet quite a few of you which was amazing. It’s a cool experience to shake hands with people from the internet, especially those who have made everything we’re doing possible. We also had the chance to meet teachers from several of the schools that will be receiving Maslow machines.

        Our demonstration item was to cut swords for kids, which was a huge hit. Possibly too big of a hit. Sometimes it felt like we were in the children's sword business.

        Our space was in the larger Kickstarter booth which we shared with some amazing Kickstarter projects. We had a chance to meet the creators of Circuit Scribe (a conductive ink pen), Teensy (a small and powerful dev board), and NeoLucida (drawing assistant). Getting to meet Paul, the creator of Teensy, was particularly cool because I’ve worked with his boards in the past and Maslow relies on his open source encoder library.

        We also had the chance to meet many other significant people in the world of CNC. Our booth shared a wall with CNC Router Parts, ShopBot was across the aisle, GlowForge was just a few more booths down, and next to them was Shapeoko. 

        Thanks to Zach from Kickstarter and Hannah’s cousin, we got a few good photos of us in action at our booth. Check them out below.

        Tested

        While we were in San Francisco we had the opportunity to film a quick video about Maslow with Norm from the YouTube channel Tested. It was so cool to get to see the behind the scenes of the Tested studio. The video already has a staggering 340,000 views which is a little overwhelming. I think it’s safe to say we got our 15 minutes of fame out of the way (well technically 19 minutes and 54 seconds of fame). You can watch the whole thing here.

        Maslow on the set of Tested

        Maslow on the set of Tested

        How we want to welcome new people

        All of this attention we’ve been getting can be a lot to handle. It’s exciting to have people care about what we’re building, and at the same time it can be a little scary. The community we have right now feels very comfortable, but making CNC accessible to everyone means making a community where everyone is welcome. Let’s keep in mind as we welcome new people into the forums, that we’re all the establishment now and welcome everyone. We’re going to get a lot of the same questions that we all asked early on, let’s do our best to answer them patiently. 

        Software Improvements 

        Quite a few new features and refinements were added to both the firmware and software this week, mostly thanks to our amazing community who were able to get some fantastic work done while I was away manning the booth. This week marks the first time that the majority of the changes to both the software and the firmware came from the community, which I think is an exciting milestone. 

        Ground Control Updates

        This week's Ground Control has a couple great new features including: 

        •  Macro buttons which can be set to send any command or series of commands to the machine. Enter the desired commands into the settings and when “Macro 1” or “Macro 2” 
        •  Goto button which allows us to jump to any line number in the gcode file automatically 
        •  The new <Z and Z> buttons can be used to fast forward or jump back to the last time the z-axis moved up or down which makes it easier to jump to the beginning or end of a cut 
        •  Bug fixes for line colors and machine not responding without a gcode file being opened fix those issues 
        •  The “Return to Center” button now lifts the bit from the wood and moves to the center. It no longer lowers the bit, a more desirable behavior 

        Firmware Updates

        This week's firmware also has some exciting new features:

        • This firmware update adds support for a very cool command, the G38.2 automatic tool length detection command. By attaching a probe to auxiliary port #4 and connecting the router bit to the board ground the bit is automatically lowered until it contacts the conductive surface. Details can be found in the original pull request here: https://github.com/MaslowCNC/Firmware/pull/223 
        • The machine can compute its position twice as fast thanks to math improvements. This allows for more accuracy at increased speeds. 
        • The maximum speed of the machine has been raised from 25 ipm to 35 ipm thanks to the improved math this week. 
        • Constant speed is now maintained through straight lines and arcs. You may have noticed that until now Maslow slowed down while cutting arcs, now a constant speed is maintained when executing all gcode lines.

        Have a great week everyone!

        -Bar and Hannah

        May 17th Update: We're on the road and lots of software improvements

        Hello from the Bay Area!

        Bar and I made the long journey down from Portland yesterday and are currently sitting in the beautiful, sunny Mill Valley, California! It sure does feel nice to be in the sunshine :)

        This week we’ve got info about Tested, Maker Faire, and our reopening of sales! Additionally, Bar’s got a not-so-mini update with lots of information on software updates.

        Tomorrow we’ll be heading to Tested to film! We are going to be featured on an episode of Tested in association with our presence at Maker Faire with Kickstarter, which is awesome! We still haven’t been told exactly when the episode will release, but of course we’ll be sure to share it as soon as it is!

        Tomorrow afternoon we’ll make the move down to San Mateo to begin setting up for the Bay Area Maker Faire! The next four days are going to be quite busy, but we’re super excited to hopefully meet some of our backers, future Maslow owners, and to show everyone else what Maslow can do! As mentioned previously, being that we’ll be occupied with Tested and Maker Faire for the next few days, don’t worry if it takes a bit longer than usual for us to get back to you.

        Another exciting advancement that happened on Monday is that we opened sales of the Maslow once again! We sent out an unlisted link to our waitlist and are happy to say that sales are going well. Of course this only adds to the craziness of this week, but it feels awesome to be making big steps and putting ourselves out there.

        Bars (not so) mini update:

        There were a LOT of changes to both the firmware and software this week.

        Software changes:

        This week Ground Control Changes The way in which large files (20,000+ lines of gcode) are rendered in Ground Control has been significantly improved. All files will now load faster and Ground Control uses much less RAM, making it run faster.

        Firmware changes

        The first pass at the new dual level PID system is in place! That means that there is now one PID controller which regulates the speed of each motor, and a second PID controller which controls the position of each axis. Consider rewatching this video here for a technical recap on why this is an important change. This change removes the need for the motor calibration step. Maslow now continuously adapts to the weight of your sled. The way lines of Gcode are buffered was also improved, and the baud rate was increased from 19200 to 57600. All of these factors combine to mean that this week's firmware makes the machine faster, smoother and more accurate. Making this many changes in one week is sure to cause bugs, so let us know as you come across them.

        This next bit gets pretty technical, don’t feel obligated to read if the technical underpinnings of the machine aren’t of interest to you.

        Now that we've got two levels of PID control, we need to tune the controllers to give us the best possible performance. PID tuning can be an interesting process so we wanted to give you the chance to try for yourself (if you'd like).

        As a quick recap, “PID controller” stands for Proportional Integral Derivative controller. Each of those terms is a variable that we can control. In software they are usually called Kp, Ki, and Kd respectively. Each of these variables changes the way the firmware moves the motors in some way.

        Let’s look at the new PID speed controller as an example. In this case controller is continuously reading the motor’s speed and adjusting the voltage applied to the motor until the speed of the motor matches the desired speed.

        In this case:

        The Proportional variable sets how much the voltage changes as a result of the motor speed being above or below the target speed. If the motor speed is below the target speed, the voltage is increased. If the motor speed is above the target speed, the motor voltage is decreased. The voltage is proportional to how far above or below the target speed the current speed is.

        The Derivative variable sets how much the voltage changes as a result of the way in which the motor speed is moving towards or away from the target speed. If the speed is rapidly approaching the target speed, we want to lower the voltage to prevent the speed from overshooting. This term is VERY sensitive to noise on the signal.

        The Integral variable sets how much the voltage changes as a result of a steady and slight offset between the target speed and the final measured speed. If the motor is consistently operating slightly above or below the target speed, the integral term will slowly increase or decrease the applied voltage.

        PID tuning is a bit of an art, and a bit of a science. If you are interested in the topic, I recommend this article (https://innovativecontrols.com/blog/basics-tuning-pid-loops) if you prefer to read, or this YouTube video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXnDwojRb1g) if you prefer to watch a demonstration.

        There are two branches that will let you experiment with tuning the machine’s PID loops yourself.

        The first branch can be found here: https://github.com/MaslowCNC/Firmware/tree/tune-velocity-PID-branch

        When you install this firmware the machine will command the motors to step through a series of speed changes, and will plot the result for you. It’s a good idea to remove your sled and chains before running this process because the machine is just setting the motor speeds, it is not thinking of the sled position.

        To open the plot after installing the firmware click Tools -> Serial Plotter from within the Arduino IDE. Note that the drop down in the bottom right of the plot window has to be set to 57600 to properly display the data.

        Opening the plot from the Arduino IDE

        Opening the plot from the Arduino IDE

        The motor responding to a step change in speed. Units: RPM

        The motor responding to a step change in speed. Units: RPM

        You will see a plot like this as the motor steps through speeds. The yellow line shows the motor’s target speed while the blue line shows the motors measured speed. Notice how the motor “learns” about its own response over time so later responses are better than earlier responses. Try applying some force to the motor and watch as it corrects. Or try changing the values of _Kp, _Ki, or _Kd in the file MotorGearboxEncoder.h line 44.

        Change these values and watch the response change

        Change these values and watch the response change

        The second firmware version works the same way except for the positional PID controller. You can find this firmware here: https://github.com/MaslowCNC/Firmware/tree/tune-pos-PID-branch

        This version will command the machine to step through a series of gcode commands and plot the machines real position vs target position. The machine’s target position is shown in blue, the real measured position is shown in yellow, and the commanded signal to the motors is shown in red.

        Try adjusting the variables in line 69 of the file Axis.h to see the response change

        Try adjusting the variables in line 69 of the file Axis.h to see the response change

        Showing the motor response to changes in position. Units: MM

        Showing the motor response to changes in position. Units: MM

        Tuning these PID controllers is the next thing on my ToDo list, but I probably won’t be able to work on it while I’m manning the booth at Maker Faire, so if you find values that work better than the current ones let us know!

        And most importantly, have a fantastic week everyone!

        -Hannah and Bar

          New Calibration Routine, New Frame Options, Maker Faire, and Beautiful Signs: The May 10th Update

          Hi everyone!

          We hope you’ve had a great week. This week we’re going to introduce our new calibration routine for measuring the machine, talk about some changes to the frame that I’ve been working on, and remind you once again to come meet us in person at Maker Faire.

          Self measuring calibration routine

          One of the biggest issues we’ve struggled with during the beta testing process has been properly calibrating the machine. I didn’t predict that calibration would be nearly as tough as it’s been, and the process of figuring out how to make the calibration process simple and clear has been a constant reminder of why beta testing is so important.

          I’m excited that this week we’re showing off a new calibration process which distills the knowledge we’ve gathered so far from the community about how to make the calibration process easier into one place. We’ve created a walk through “wizard” type program in Ground Control which walks you through the process.

          Step 1 of the calibration process

          Step 1 of the calibration process

          The process uses the chain and gear motor combination in place of a tape measure to record the machine’s dimensions. The measurements gathered this way turn out to be much more consistent than using a tape measure and measuring by hand. Once the machine is measured, the process cuts a test shape and asks you to measure it. Using the information about the dimensions of the test shape, Maslow improves its calibration. This process is repeated until the test shape is within tolerances.

          The process has benefited from the very beginning tremendously from the contributions of our community. Many of the fundamental mechanics of how the process works were determined by the community. As we all learn more about how to make the calibration process even easier, we will incorporate that knowledge into the software.

          New frame design

          Another place we’ve been incorporating community feedback this week is in the design of the machine frame. It seems like the community wanted a frame which was easier and quicker to build with conventional tools. We also needed a frame which was less susceptible to chain slipping. By incorporating aspects of machines we’ve seen the beta testers build, we’ve made a frame which I think will be both simpler to build and (if initial tests stand up over time) less prone to chain slipping.

          The CAD model showing design changes

          The CAD model showing design changes

          Overview of frame in real life

          Overview of frame in real life

          New features:

          Less plywood more 2x4. We’ve added more parts made from 2x4 and removed some made from plywood. This reduces the total part count significantly, and especially reduces amount of time cutting parts. The new design requires eight fewer leg braces and two fewer arm cut outs.

          All the leg braces needed now

          All the leg braces needed now

          Forces in plane. By rotating the motors 45 degrees we can align the motor mounts with the forces on them making them less likely to flex meaning the chain can feed more smoothly.

          More chain wrap. The new design allows for more chain to be wrapped around each sprocket, reducing the chance of chain slips.

          New arm close up

          New arm close up

          Constructable with hand tools. The new design is easier to construct without a CNC router meaning we may be able to do away with constructing the temporary frame altogether as a step in the assembly process. Note, the CNC cut front part of the arm is largely aesthetic, the arm can function without it.

          I will be working on writing up complete step by step assembly instructions for the new design. Until then, feel free to take a look at the CAD files on GitHub here: https://github.com/MaslowCNC/Mechanics

          Maker Faire

          We’re going to Maker Faire! I (Bar) grew up in San Francisco and have been going to Maker Faire since the very first one. It’s one of my favorite events of the year. If you are in the bay area and have a chance to come by, we’d love to meet you. We’ll be manning the booth all day and meeting the community, so we might be a little off the grid next week, but we’ll do our best to check in on the forums, GitHub, and emails.

          Signs!

          This week we saw some fantastic Signs in the forums, and we took it as a sign that should be the project of the week.

          This awesome address sign was built by Rancher

          This awesome address sign was built by Rancher

          This Kombucha sign was made by blsteinhauer88

          This Kombucha sign was made by blsteinhauer88

          We’re seeing a lot of projects by the same few super beta testers, so I just want to encourage everyone to share the things you build in the forums! We can all learn from and be inspired by each other. It can be a little intimidating to share something you’ve built or are working on (trust me :-p ), but we all want to see what’s being built.

          Hannah’s mini update:

          For those of you following along who have yet to purchase a Maslow, we will be opening sales again this Monday, May 15th! If you or someone you know might want a Maslow, be sure to head to our website to place yourself on our $1 waitlist so you’ll be sure to receive the link for purchase this Monday.

          That’s all for this week folks! Have a great week everyone, thanks for staying informed, and start getting warmed up to build some amazing things!

          -Bar and Hannah

            May 3: Open House & Party Recap, a Helpful Video, 2 Machines, and Important Dates!

            Hey everyone!

            Welcome to another Wednesday! We hope you all have been well since last week. We’ve had fun since our last update - the Open House and Party were great successes and an awesome time! In this update, we’ll cover last Friday’s events in some more detail, show off a helpful video made by one of our beta testers, as well as show off some photos of the changes we made to our shop space for Friday’s events. Additionally, there’s a quick reminder about the Bay Area Maker Faire, which is coming up in just a few short weeks, as well as the official announcement that we will be opening sales to our waitlist on May 15th!

            First, the Open House and Party! Bar and I both had a great time on Friday meeting some of our backers as well as some waitlist members. It was awesome to have the opportunity to chat with some of our supporters and community members face to face! One beta tester came down from Seattle and spent the majority of the day with us, while another waitlist members came all the way from Las Vegas to meet up with his daughter here in Portland, check out the Maslow, and enjoy the evening festivities. Thanks to the ADX Campus-wide tours, we also had the chance to meet some people who had never heard of Maslow before but have now placed themselves on our waitlist! Being a part of Design Week and the ADX Open House was a great chance for us to take a day to really appreciate how far we’ve come since October and all of the people who have been by our side along the way. We are so grateful to be a part of the ADX community and we want to give a huge shout out to everyone who made Design Week and ADX’s event day such huge successes. We are two very lucky people!

            Check out this link to see some photos that were snapped by ADX staff member Kristen Manning during the party on Friday night. She really managed to capture the fun of the party and of course got at least one shot of Bar and I being our true goofy selves.

            Now onto some more technical stuff. As I’m sure some of you remember, I’ve been working on and off to make a tutorial explaining how to use Fusion 360 to get gcode from a downloaded .dxf file. Thanks to one amazing community member who goes by the name of “rancher” in the forums, we’ve finally got a video explaining just that! Rancher made a video on how to get gcode from a piece he designed himself in Fusion 360, but upon testing the same instructions on a downloaded .dxf file, I found out that the gcode that is created will indeed open and cut in Ground Control! Check out the video below if you want some instructions. Thanks rancher!

            Ever since we shipped beta kits, the Maslow we’ve had set up in our shop space has been more or less out of commission in terms of actually cutting things because Bar has been putting so much work into bettering the machine. Although it’s been an amazing month and half full of tons of improvements to the Maslow, the month and half has been a bit lacking when it comes to actually building amazing things. In time for the Open House and Party on Friday, we decided it was time to get a second machine set up so that one can be used to make cuts while Bar continues to work on the other one. I personally am so happy to have a usable machine back! I’m making a couple more sets of corn hole boards for our friends at DIY Bar as well as a set that will be given away as a prize at Corn Hole for a Cause, a local tournament benefiting Transition Projects, which will be happening on May 20th! I finally started cutting those boards yesterday afternoon and in the whirlwind of beta testing, I had almost forgotten how fun it is to actually use the Maslow! Check out the photo below of how awesome our space looks with not just one machine in it, but two!

            Finally, I’ve got two quick calendar reminders for you all! The first is that we will officially be opening sales to our waitlist on May 15th! I will send one more email to those on the waitlist this coming Monday as a one week reminder, and then on the 15th the link to purchase will be sent out! As before, if you believe you should be on our waitlist but do not receive the reminder email on Monday, May 8th, please reach out to me at hannah@maslowcnc.com to be sure you are actually on the list. Before emailing me, please double check your spam folder and be sure that you have actually confirmed your subscription to our list. Although I add you, you will not receive the emails unless you confirm your subscription in the initial email.

            The other calendar reminder is for the Bay Area Maker Faire! We’ve already given our complimentary and discounted tickets out to various members of our community, but if you’re around we highly recommend you come say “hi” to us May 19-21 at the San Mateo Event Center. Bar and I will be sharing a booth area with 3 other projects from Kickstarter and we’d love to meet more members of our community and show you all the Maslow! Tickets are still available through this link.

            Bar's Super Mini Update:

            Hey everyone! Huge thanks to everyone who made it out to the open house. Y'all are just as awesome in real life as in the forums. This weeks Software/Firmware versions have some awesome new features, and lots of bug fixes. My favorite new thing is that starting this week your machine will remember where it is when you power it off and back on! No more big error circle. If you are running the software from the source code be sure to check out the new calibration procedure I've been working on by clicking Action -> Calibrate Machine Dimensions. It's disabled in the release version because it's not quite ready for the prime time yet. Something to look forward to for next week.

            As always, thanks for following along with us again this week. We’ll be back with more good stuff next Wednesday!

            Until then, 

            Hannah & Bar

            The Improved Calibration Process, Some Beautiful Box Joints, and Complete Instructions: The April 26 Update

            Hi everyone, happy Wednesday!

            This week’s update talks about how we’re resolving the calibration issues we saw last week, the completed first draft of all the assembly steps, our progress with Autodesk Fusion 360, and some cool box joints made by the community. It’s a big one so let’s get into it!

            Resolving Calibration Issues:

            Right before last week’s update we were struggling with big issues with the calibration and settings process. Things were so dire that we even went so far as to lock the settings in last week’s release because changing them seemed to do more harm than good. I’m proud to say that within hours of the update the community had found the bug that was causing the settings issue. The community then went on to devise and test a calibration procedure that is making it easier to get the machine dialed in. We can and will continue to improve the calibration process, but the amount that was accomplished in the last week is astounding.

            I would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who has participated the 350+ post ongoing conversation into calibration. I say this every week, but I am continually blown away by the insight, quality of work, kindness, and willingness to get involved that our beta testers show every day. You guys make it so every morning when I wake up and check the forums I’m blown away by something you’ve created or thought of since I went to bed. When I go to bed at the end of the day I’m thinking about all the great ideas the the community proposed to make the machine better over the course of the day. Thank you.

            For those of you who don’t want to read all 350+ posts, here’s the summary. Every step along the way was an idea come up, tested and validated by the community.

            The first step was to track down the bug which was messing with the settings. That was done with the help of Keith who worked out the original mathematics for the machine. The issue was a one line issue with the way the settings were being updated (my mistake). The core mathematics of the machine remain exactly as they were when Keith first proposed them.

            The original forum post proposed creating a test shape, possibly a square and a circle which we could cut, measure, and then tweak the machine settings based on the measurements. It was decided that the test shape would be a 6 inch square with a circle inside it. Using this test shape, we were able to determine that by far the most sensitive setting on the machine is the distance between the two points where chains attach to the sled. Better yet it was found that, if the square is taller than it is wide, the settings value needs to be reduced. If it is wider than it is tall, the settings value needs to be increased. By tweaking this parameter we were able to bring the square into true as shown in the photos below.

            The next step has been to explore how our calibration holds across the 4x8 sheet. Early this morning (at least it was morning in my time zone) community member Gero ran a test that I think better than anything else shows the current state of the calibration process. He wrote gcode to run the test shape at fixed intervals across the entire work area resulting in this very satisfying image.

            Gero's test across the board

            Gero's test across the board

            After measuring all of the squares we discovered that we’re seeing about 1 mm of drift across the 4x8 area. Still room to improve, but so much better than where we were last week.

            The test shape at the center of the 4x8 area

            The test shape at the center of the 4x8 area

            Excitingly, this center mark on the middle shape was re-drilled between each of the shapes meaning the hole was drilled 16 times after moving from each part of the work area. That it was drilled in exactly the same location (within .5mm) shows that Maslow isn’t losing any steps or drifting over time.

            The next step is to automate and simplify the calibration process and to improve the feedback control system which is also certainly a factor when cutting test shapes. We’ll keep you up to date in next week’s update.

            Instructions are complete:

            I wrote in my last update that the calibration issues were preventing me from finishing the instructions, and that I would finish them as soon as the calibration issue was resolved enough to let me. True to my word, as soon as the calibration issue was resolved enough that I could cut parts I completed a first draft of all of the instructions. You can find them at www.MaslowCNC.com/assemblyguide. While the earlier parts of the guide have benefited from some fantastic community feedback, the later parts haven’t been read as much. I know many of you have already moved past these steps, but if you have a second to read through them any advice you have that could make them better would be much appreciated.

            Fusion 360:

            We talked in last week’s update about how visitors from Autodesk came see us, we’ve also mentioned in past updates that we’ve been working on making Ground Control compatible with their Autodesk Fusion 360 software. We’re excited to announce that since last week’s update we’ve been in conversation with their technical team and they are going to be giving us our own Maslow post processor option. That means that when you generate g-code in Fusion 360 there will be a “Maslow” option which will format your design just the way Maslow wants it. We’re by far the smallest and scrappiest group to get its own post processor. They were impressed with the innovative design of the machine, the fact that we are an open source project with the goal of making CNC more accessible, and the fact that we have this amazing engaged and creative community. As always, the most impressive thing about us is you.

            Project of the week:

            This week we’re showing off two awesome box joints made by the community this week. Box joints are a good way to test how accurately the machine is cutting and since this week’s update is all about improving accuracy it just seemed to fit (Get it?! - Oh geez).

            First off is a box joint made by community member mindeye as part of a Seattle Maslow meetup. He found that one trick to getting a good cut was to cut all the parts .05 inches larger than desired, then come back in one finishing pass to clean them up. Brilliant!

            We encourage you to consider meeting up with other community members in your area. There’s so much to learn from each other and so much information to share. Thanks mindeye for hosting the Seattle meet up and posting the pictures in the forums!

            Our second box joint of the week comes from community member rancher who not only made this beautiful mailbox, but also made an incredible YouTube tutorial about the process. What a community!

            Have a great week everyone! Thanks for reading all the way to the bottom. We’ll be back next week with more news and until then we’ll see you in the forums!

            Hannah’s Mini Update:

            Hi everyone! All I have to say is that this Friday is our Open House and Party!!!  For anyone who is on the fence, we encourage you to head to Portland to check us out and have some fun with us! And if you can’t make it but know anyone in the area who might be interested, please send them our way! We want to meet as many Maslow community members as possible :)

            Until next week,

            -Bar and Hannah

            April 19: Lots of Logistics and Frame Fun!

            Hey everybody!

            Welcome to another Wednesday! Hope you’ve all been well since the last. We know we've been focusing on our beta testers a lot in the updates so this week, we’ve got all the details on our timeline for shipment to Regular Machine Kit Backers (both Batches 1 and 2!) We’ve also got details on how we plan to get those 600+ kits assembled and shipped in a timely manner, as well as more details on the plans for future sales for those of you who are keeping up with us who still haven’t purchased a Maslow. Of course, we also want to feature some of the awesome advancements our Beta Testers have made in the last week (mainly in the form of frames!) as well as the finished bench that our beta tester blsteinhauer88 made!

            I’ve also got a few details from our meeting with four awesome guys from Autodesk, and Bar’s got a super mini update on fixing the oval circles he talked about last week (so beta testers be sure to read that part, it's at the bottom)!

            First of all, let’s talk about shipment to Regular Machine Kit Backers! As at least all of our Beta Testers know, we ended up shipping beta kits a few weeks later than expected. We planned to have shipped by the end of February, and instead we weren’t able to ship until around mid-March. This few week delay will carry over to the shipment of our Regular Machine Kits because we don't want to rush the amazing work that our beta testers are doing. We originally planned to ship in May, but it will end up being the first or second week of June. We apologize for this, as we know many of our Regular Machine Kit backers are incredibly anxious to receive their kit, but we promise it is in your best interest! Our beta tester community has been doing an incredible job of working with us to better the Maslow in terms of the software, the hardware, the assembly, and much more, and we believe keeping our beta testing phase at least 2 months in length is vital to the success of each Regular Machine Kit backer when he/she receives the kit. Thanks so much for your understanding with this. Bringing a brand new idea and product into the world is not easy task and we appreciate your patience and support.

            So how, you might be asking, do we plan to ship to our 600+ Regular Machine Kit backers? That is a good question, one I have been asking myself ever since it took me 2 whole weeks just to pack around 100 boxes. Thankfully, we were made aware of an awesome local non-profit organization that does just the kind of kit assembly we need to have done in order to ship Maslow. That non-profit is called Exceed Enterprises. Exceed has been around since 1968, and they hire people with disabilities to do a variety of jobs. They employ teams of people who work at various sites around the Portland area. They also have a large warehouse in south Portland where many people work doing just the type of kit assembly we need. Bar and I went to visit their site about a week ago and were really impressed by the work environment, level of professionalism, and organization at Exceed. After working through the details of the Maslow kit assembly with Exceed’s Vice President of Business Development, we decided to have all of the bags in the Maslow kit assembled by Exceed employees, as well as all of the stretchy string cut and bundled. Exceed works with tons of local and national-level businesses, including Bob’s Red MillBoeingFastenal, and many more, and they are ISO 9001: 2008 certified, so we feel extremely confident that the bags will be assembled perfectly. We’re super excited about this partnership, and we hope our backers feel the same!

            Now for a few details on future sales, for those of you following along with us who still haven’t had the chance to purchase a Maslow! We will open sales again in mid-May, but only to those who have added themselves to our $1 waitlist, whether that be via Kickstarter or through our website. If you are one of the people on this list, be expecting a separate email from me today with details on future sales. If you believe you placed yourself on this list but do not receive an email today, please reach out to me at hannah@maslowcnc.com so that I can be certain you are on the list! Come mid-May, we will send an email to everyone on the list with a link to purchase a Maslow. Just like on Kickstarter, the machine will be $350. If you want your Maslow to come with the z-axis add-on, the kit will be $410, and there will be a separate purchase option available. Shipping will still be $13 domestically and $70 for international. Depending on how sales go, we may only keep this link open for about 2 weeks. Bar and I are still just a 2 person team, and just like with our Kickstarter campaign, we don’t want to oversell to a point that we find unmanageable. If sales are slow, the link will stay open longer. Regardless, if you would like to purchase a Maslow when we open sales again, please budget accordingly and keep in mind that you may only have a 2 week window to purchase your machine at the end of May. After sales have been open for about a week, I will send another email to everyone who received the link letting you all know how soon we plan to close the link. If you stay on the lookout for all this correspondence, you shouldn’t miss your chance to get a Maslow! We will plan to ship all kits from this round of sales by the end of the summer, ie in August or September of this year.

            On to the fun stuff! As I said previously, we’ve been really impressed by all the work our beta testers have put into the Maslow so far. One of the coolest things we’ve been able to see are all the different frames our beta testers have constructed for their Maslows. Check out all the photos below, which were uploaded to our forums.

            The frame of forum member blsteinhauer

            The frame of forum member blsteinhauer

            The frame of forum member gero

            The frame of forum member gero

            Frame parts and a cat from forum member mattnelson

            Frame parts and a cat from forum member mattnelson

            The frame of forum member mexicomillionaire

            The frame of forum member mexicomillionaire

            The frame of forum member rancher

            The frame of forum member rancher

            The frame of forum member rexklein

            The frame of forum member rexklein

            The frame of forum member makermark

            The frame of forum member makermark

            Makermark engraved his frame with the Maslow name and logo!

            Makermark engraved his frame with the Maslow name and logo!

            Additionally, we wanted to show off this amazing bench that one of our local Beta testers made. blsteinhauer88 lives in Gresham, which is just outside of Portland. He came to pick up his kit from us the day they were all ready to ship, and has come back to visit us one time since. We think his ability to come pick up the machine versus waiting for shipment gave him a bit of a leg-up when it comes to building amazing things ;)

            Finally, yesterday we had the opportunity to meet four employees from the local branch of Autodesk. Autodesk is a company which makes software for all types of Computer Aided Design and Modeling. Of all of their software options, most of you are probably most familiar with Fusion 360, which is a design software that is free to students and hobbyists. From what I’ve seen in the forums, many of our beta testers are strong supporters of Fusion 360 for the type of design needed to build things with Maslow. Yesterday, we discussed the possibility of adding a Post Processor specifically for Maslow to the Fusion 360 software. The hope is that along with this post processor, we can get a better grasp on designing for 2D projects in Fusion 360 so that designing whatever you want to build can be easy for all Maslow users in Fusion 360! We are still early on in this relationship, but from the meeting yesterday, it sounds like creating a Maslow-specific post processor should be a fairly easy task. This post processor would also make it easier to go from a downloaded .dxf file to the gcode needed to cut using Ground Control. I’m still working on getting a tutorial together for this, but hopefully we can make the process as seamless as possible by working directly with Autodesk employees!

            Bar's Mini Update:

            Thanks to some amazing work and testing by forum users rexklein, scottsm, rancher, blsteinhauer88, gero, makermark, and davidlang I think we've narrowed down the causes of the oval circles we've all been seeing. You can read the whole transcript of our exploration process here, but the gist of it is that we created a test shape and ran it under different conditions to narrow down what was causing the issue. It seems like if you use any dimensions settings other than the defaults right now you get strange behavior like oval circles. To prevent more confusion, we've constrained this week's version of Ground Control to use only the default settings. Regardless of the dimensions of your machine it's best to stick with the defaults this week while we find a solution. For the best results, move your motors to match mine which are spaced 2,978mm apart. If you have any questions, please let us know in the forums!

            Our test shape (a 6in square) once the calibration issue was tracked down

            Our test shape (a 6in square) once the calibration issue was tracked down

            Thanks for reading through all the nitty gritty logistics in this week’s update. As always, we’re glad you’re keeping up with us! Feel free to reach out for any reason, and we hope you have a great week!

            Until next Wednesday,

            Hannah & Bar