February 1: Nightstand and Z-Axis Info

Hey everyone!

This week we’ve got two main items to cover in our update, the first being the awesome nightstand that Hannah built this week, and the second being the much-anticipated z-axis! We’ll go over some of the new things we learned about the machine from cutting the nightstand as well as give everyone the lowdown on where we’re at with the z-axis and when it will actually be available for purchase.

The design of the nightstand came from a great guy named Jerrod. Hannah found his design files online here a month or so back, and decided to spend the 5 bucks to purchase them online. Unfortunately, the files did not come as .svgs, and Hannah was having trouble uploading them into makercam.com. Instead, Hannah decided to attempt to replicate the design in Sketchup herself, which turned out to be a lot of fun, but we wanted to acknowledge that the original inspiration came from Jerrod!

A few members of our community expressed an interest in hearing more about what went wrong each week, so here are a few different lessons were learned in the making of the nightstand. The first was that it is indeed possible to send the machine off of the frame. Although initially this “send-off” seemed like a huge problem to Hannah, Bar was able to cut and reattach the new piece that had broken in less time than it took Hannah to redesign a new style of leg for the nightstand. This in itself is something that we think makes Maslow so awesome; that it can reconstruct itself! Check out the photo below to see the mangled piece being held up next to the newly constructed and attached piece. Since nightstand construction on monday, software limits have been added to prevent the machine from leaving the 4'x8’ work area in the future.

Another lesson that was learned via cutting the nightstand was about heat dissipation in the motor controller. Bar has been testing heat sinks, and Hannah’s choice to cut the legs high and in the center of the plywood (see image below) was a good chance to get a big test in, and to discover that the issue was just as much about heat dissipation as it was about calibration. At the top center of the sheet tension in the chains is the highest and the motors have to work the hardest.  To compensate the software needs to give the motors more power at the top center to keep them operating at peak efficiency. More and more is learned with every cut that we make, and we can’t wait to see that multiply when Beta Testers get the Maslow into their hands.

The legs being cut high and in the center of the sheet.

The legs being cut high and in the center of the sheet.

A final lesson that was learned during the cut of the nightstand was the best way to go about placing a cut on your piece of wood before starting. When you are using makercam.com, the location where the X and Y axis cross is the same as the “origin” in Ground Control. It’s best to place your design strategically around the origin in MakerCam so that when you go to define your origin in GroundControl you will know where the design will be in relation to that point. This may seem like an obvious point to some, but it’s incredibly helpful when you’re working with a small area on your plywood and trying to make the most out of each piece (see image below to explain what we were working with).

In this image, the nightstand top is strategically placed with one corner at the point where the X and Y axis cross, or the origin. When you click “Define Origin” in GroundControl, you know that the cut will appear in the same location as it was saved in MakerCam, ie; above and to the right of your defined origin.

In this image, the nightstand top is strategically placed with one corner at the point where the X and Y axis cross, or the origin. When you click “Define Origin” in GroundControl, you know that the cut will appear in the same location as it was saved in MakerCam, ie; above and to the right of your defined origin.

We were cutting on quarter sheets of plywood, making the precision of the starting point very important.

We were cutting on quarter sheets of plywood, making the precision of the starting point very important.

The finished product! It came out exactly as desired :)

The finished product! It came out exactly as desired :)

Ultimately four bugs were found and fixed while working on this project. They were:

  1. Added software limits to prevent the machine from moving outside the 4x8 area

  2. Fixing a bug where if a file was opened, moved on the wood, and then closed and a new file was opened and moved the second file wouldn’t move the correct distance

  3. Fixed arrow key behavior after clicking the “home” button

  4. Fixed an issue with the connection timing out during motor calibration

Now onto the z-axis! The z-axis will be available for purchase through our website with next week’s update on the 8th. We want the z-axis kit to easily interface to as many routers as possible. Each router can have a different size shaft which the motor needs to attach to. This week, we wanted to get a survey of which shaft sizes are most common among our backers’ routers so that we can supply the correct shaft coupler sizes. We don’t plan to supply the correct shaft coupler for every type of router, but we’re hoping to stock 3-5 different sizes so that we can cover most of our backers’ needs.    

See the image below to understand how to measure the size of your router’s shaft.

Please follow the link below to submit the size of your router’s shaft.

Shaft Coupler Survey

Other details on the z-axis:

The z-axis will be $60 as promised. It will include a gearbox/motor/encoder, a 360cm (140 inch) cable to connect to the motor controller, two adjustable motor mounting brackets, a shaft coupler, and the necessary bolts and nuts to mount the motor and brackets and allen keys for the set screws and bolts. Because we chose to upgrade everyone to a 4-axis controller board no additional electronics are needed to make the z-axis work.

We have done our best to make the assembly easy to adapt to your router design as possible. The motor has an offset shaft allowing it to be positioned close to the body of your router and the brackets are designed to be adjustable allowing the drive motor to be moved vertically or rotated sideways to accommodate either vertical or horizontal adjustment mechanisms.

As much as we have done our best to make it easy to adapt to your router we can’t guarantee that every router will work well. Some router designs lend themselves more easily to being automated than others. It is up to you to decide what’s right for you, but as always you can find guidance and a community to share ideas with in the forums.

If you are a Beta Tester: we aren’t certain we’ll receive the parts for the z-axis in time to ship them in the same box as your kit. If this turns out to be the case, we will ship you a second box with the z-axis parts for no extra charge as soon as we get all the necessary parts in stock (which should be very shortly after the kits ship).

If you are a Regular Machine Kit Backer and purchase a z-axis through our website, expect to receive your parts in the same box as your kit.

Here is a close up picture of the z-axis fully assembled.

Finally, thank you so much for all of your suggestions for future updates! We’ve heard you and will take your comments into account with our future updates.

Hope you all have a great Wednesday, and we’ll be in touch again next week!

Hannah & Bar

The Maslow Team