We hope you are having a great Christmas/Hanukkah/Winter Solstice/anything else you are celebrating. We know what we’re celebrating… my (Bar’s) birthday!
Hannah snuck into work early and made everyone in the building matching t-shirts that celebrate my love for both our aging forklift and terrible jokes.
The last two weeks have been amazingly productive ones for Maslow. The community has really hit its stride in terms of making major software contributions almost every day, and the community in the forums is flourishing with nearly 160k page views to the forums last month. There are still issues and kinks to work out, but batch two machines are starting to come together and we’re seeing more and more finished projects in the forums.
This week we’re going to talk about the release of firmware and Ground Control version 1.0 and all of the bug fixes that went into it, we’re going to highlight some new things in the store (motors!), and we’re going to show of a lot of amazing community projects. Happy Wednesday everyone!
We’ve been incrementing the version numbers of the software by .01 with each release for years now. This week we happened to increment up to 1.0, and while it might not have been planned that this week would be the 1.0 version, it feels right.
Version 1.0 has a whole slew of improvements over 0.99, but two stand out as particularly significant. Those are the improvements to the machine calibration accuracy and the new user interface look.
Significant Calibration Accuracy Improvements:
It seems like every week has an example of the community coming together to find and solve an issue. It’s usually the same core group of collaborators working in the forums to accomplish in a matter of hours what would have taken one person working alone days. This week we saw a particularly good example. In the time between when I went to sleep and woke up, they identified a critical problem, came up with several possible hypothesis to explain what they were seeing, tested those theories, identified the source of the issue, and proposed a solution which is incorporated in today’s software release. In talking to regular software contributor Kevin Keegan about the process he said, “It was an ‘escape room’ like atmosphere, collectively searching for the problem and racing to find the answer everyone contributing in their own way.”. The way this community works is amazing.
Here’s the story. Forum user madgrizzle identified the issue that the automatic calibration process was disagreeing with his very carefully done measurements of his machine by hand. To quote the original post here:
This seems like a huge difference (I did this step twice and got the same difference. In order for maslow to measure the same as I did with my tape measurer, the chain pitch needs to be 6.386 mm, not 6.35 mm.
So, are we really confident the chain pitch is really 6.35 mm?
Data sheets were pulled up and it was confirmed that the chain pitch is correct, but it was also confirmed that others were seeing the same discrepancy between the measurement by the automatic calibration and the tape measure. Rounding issues in the floating point math, missed encoder pulses, typos, unit conversions, and other potential sources of the issue were discussed and ruled out as the answer. The issue was found to be perfectly repeatable ruling out something random like signal noise meaning it had to be in the machine itself. The number of people working on the issue by this point was up to five and they started going through the relevant code line by line discussing and testing it along the way. The code seemed to be working correctly, but the issue was still there. Finally krkeegan floated what seemed like a wild idea:
“Is it at all possible that the gear ratio is 290 and not 291? Has anyone taken the gearbox apart to count the teeth? ”
User JDogHerman was pulled into the conversation because he had taken apart one of his gearboxes all the way back in July and photographed the insides. User dlang would end up taking his motors appart three more times before the night was over, and it was determined that the actual gearbox ratio is 289.776234568:1 and not the value listed in the data sheet of 291:1. This slight miscalculation from the manufacturer resulted in an extra 0.27mm of chain being extended with each rotation which became a measurable error over the distance between the motors.
This bug so complex and difficult to track down. Only a community open minded enough to float ideas like “has anyone actually counted the number of teeth in the gearbox” and dedicated enough to actually take apart their motors to find out could have possibly solved it. Amazing.
Ground Control 1.0 and firmware 1.0 have this fix, along with several others including a new kinematics math which takes into account the sprocket radius when using a linkage kit (thanks to reecej!) are included so it’s a great time to update, and a great time to do a calibration if you would like to see improved accuracy!
New User Interface Look:
Ground Control 1.0 also features a new look! The central goal of the Maslow project has always been to make CNC accessible to as many people as possible, and we felt that our old UI looked a little bit intimidating. We want to create an experience where anyone feels comfortable to walk up and use the machine, and part of that is having an inviting feel to the software. Originally we were planning to have just one new look to the software, but based on feedback from the community in the forums we added a second look so now you can choose between a ‘light’ theme and a ‘dark’ theme in settings. We designed the system so that adding more themes is easy to do so if you have an idea for another look I am more than happy to help with getting it built into version 1.01!
Here is what the new light and dark themes look like:
Motors and Kits in the Store
We are so happy to announce that we have many new items available in our online Store! Perhaps the most notable of all of these new items is the Regular Machine Kit itself! After two weeks of having sales open exclusively to those on our $1 waitlist, we decided to move the Regular Machine and Z Axis Kits to the Store page on our website so that the opportunity to preorder is open to the public. If you purchase a Regular Machine or Z Axis Kit now, there is an approximate 2 month lead time for these kits, meaning we plan to ship them out in February. We over ordered parts for batch three to make sure everyone on the waitlist had a chance to get a machine, but supplies are limited so these will probably run out soon.
Aside from the 2 kits, we also added the Regular Machine Motor + Cable bundle and more of our most current Arduino Shield, version 1.1. Since the Kickstarter, we’ve had numerous people reach out about whether or not we sold just the motors or just the shield as these 2 parts are the most difficult to track down as stand alone items. Because Maslow is open source, we wanted to provide these people the opportunity to take an even more DIY approach to Maslow - by only purchasing a few of the parts and sourcing the rest on their own. We can finally offer this by selling the Motor+Cable. Alternatively, these parts are also available to those who have previously purchased a full kit but want these parts as replacements for if their current parts wear out.
We’re starting to see more and more projects getting posted in the forums. Seeing what you are making is our favorite thing, so when you make something don’t forget to take pictures and post them so that we can all enjoy!
Badaboom Berlin posted this awesome sign from their Berlin space on instagram. We don’t know any details but it is beautiful!
Community member MeticulousMaynard and his brother put their Maslow to work this week cutting a replacement for a portable generator panel which was damaged by a careless driver. They cut the panel from 0.04” aluminum sheet.
Community member madgrizzle also put his machine to good work this week helping his kids with their social science projects. He made these beautiful replicas of the liberty bell and the american flag for them to paint and bring for their presentations. Pretty awesome!
One of the parents of madgrizzle’s children’s classmates was so impressed with his handiwork on the flag and liberty bell that she asked for help creating a monogrammed jewelry holder she had seen a Pottery Barn. She wanted one as a gift for her daughter, but was unimpressed by the price at Pottery Barn price. What an awesome gift!
Forum member onelonedork has been cranking out great work at an astonishing pace. Since the last update where we showed some of his other work he made this cool piece inspired by the 2017 movie The Dark Tower
He also made this absolutely incredible keyboard cart to hold the keyboard and mouse that go along with his Maslow
Bryce put together this awesome interlocking cat figure this week. I have seen this type of slick interlocking 3D construction before online, but I think Bryce is the first to give it a go with a Maslow. We should have some sort of award for Maslow firsts
Have a great two weeks everyone. Don’t forget to update your software, and until the next newsletter we’ll see you in the forums!
-Bar and Hannah