Print Your Own Vertices for Quick Structural Skeletons

3D printing is great for a lot of things: prototyping complex designs, replacing broken parts, and creating unique pencil holders to show your coworkers how zany you are. Unfortunately, 3D printing is pretty awful for creating large objects – it’s simply too inefficient. Not to mention, the small size of most consumer 3D printers is very limiting (even if you were willing to run a single print for days). The standard solution to this problem is to use off-the-shelf material, with only specialized parts being printed. But, for simple structures, designing those specialized parts is an unnecessary time sink. [Nurgak] has created a solution for this with a clever “Universal Vertex Module,” designed to mate off-the-shelf rods at the 90-degree angles that most people use.


The ingenuity of the design is in its simplicity: one side fits over the structural material (dowels, aluminum extrusions, etc.), and the other side is a four-sided pyramid. The pyramid shape allows two vertices to mate at 90-degree angles, and holes allow them to be held together with the zip ties that already litter the bottom of your toolbox.

[Nurgak’s] design is parametric, so it can be easily configured for your needs. The size of the vertices can be scaled for your particular project, and the opening can be adjusted to fit whatever material you’re using. It should work just as well for drinking straws as it does for aluminum extrusions.

THP Semifinalist: Farmbot

The FarmBot team has been pretty busy with their CNC Farming and Gathering machine. The idea is to automate the farming process with precise deployment of tools: plows, seed injection, watering, sensors, etc. An Arduino with an added RAMPS handles the movement, and a Raspi provides internet connectivity. Their prototype has already experienced four major iterations: the first revision addressed bigger issues such as frame/track stability and simplification of parts. Now they’re locking down the specifics on internet-of-things integration and coding for advanced movement functions.

The most recent upgrade provides a significant improvement by overhauling the implementation of the tools. Originally, the team envisioned a single, multi-function tool head design that carried everything around all the time. Problem is, the tool that’s in-use probably works best if it’s lower than the others, and piling them all onto one piece spells trouble. The solution? a universal tool mounting system, of course. You can see them testing their design in a video after the break.

If the FarmBot progress isn’t impressive enough—and admittedly we’d have called project lead [Rory Aronson] crazy for attempting to pull this off…but he did it—the FarmBot crew started and successfully funded an entire sub-project through Kickstarter. OpenFarm is an open-source database set to become the go-to wiki for all things farming and gardening. It’s the result of [Rory] encountering an overwhelming amount of generic, poorly written advice on plant growing, so he just crowdsourced a solution. You know, no sweat.

SpaceWrencherThe project featured in this post is a semifinalist in The Hackaday Prize.

Continue reading “THP Semifinalist: Farmbot”

Open Rail, or, why didn’t we think of this?

Hackaday readers familiar with the with the CNC and automated machinery scene will be familiar with MakerSlide, the open-source linear bearing system. This linear movement system composed of special aluminum extrusions and mounting plates riding on v-wheels has been used in a lot of awesome builds including the Quantum ORD Bot 3D printer and the Shapeoko CNC router. If there’s one downside to the MakerSlide, it’s the hard-to-source aluminum extrusion with the requisite v-wheel guides. [Mark] and [Trish] of Phlatboyz have an ingenious solution to this problem: just have bolt-on v-wheel guides. It’s an idea so simple we’re kicking ourselves for not thinking of it first.

Open Rail is completely compatible with the MakerSlide linear bearing system. Instead of requiring a special aluminum extrusion, the Open rail system uses regular, plain-jane aluminum extrusions available at any reputable hardware store. Just pop a few t-nut into the Open Rail and attach it to your extrusion. Couldn’t be easier.

Considering how easy it is to find surplus aluminum extrusion, we’ll expect a few gigantic MakerSlide and Open Rail derived CNC projects in the very near future.