The veggie patch is expanding

We’ve decided to convert approximately 1/3 of our backyard to veggie patches. We’re not the best gardeners in the world, but we’re keen to get better. I’m not sure of the best way to remove the grass without losing the topsoil, so we have an experiment in progress.

I’ve turned the soil with the garden fork and I have erected a temporary fence around the section to keep the chooks in. I’m hoping that they will scratch around and loosen the grass up. Eyebrows were raised at the creative use of the garden fork in place of a star picket, but it does the job.

I’ll give them a few days and see how it goes. If it looks like its bothering the girls or just not working, I’ll pull the fence down again. At the very worst, the new beds will get some extra manure.

I would love to get a greenhouse in somewhere, but I’m just not sure where it will fit. Yet.

Smoothie board on Kickstarter

The Smoothie board is a controller board for 3D printers/robots/CNC machines. It’s been touted as the best one around for a while now, but has been difficult to get hold of as it’s been limited to prototype or DIY models. This looks set to change with a launch on Kickstarter to sell the Smoothie as a real commercial offering and with 11 days to go they are already funded to 150%.

The smoothie comes in 3 variants on kickstarter:

  • 3 axis CNC – CNC routers (shape OKO or zen toolworks), laser cutters, and potentialy lathes. There isnt a mention of lathes, so you’d need to look into software support before you commited to that.
  • 4 axis CNC – Four axis mills or printers with a single extruder.
  • 5 axis CNC – Five axis mills or printers with dual extruders.

If you need to drive a motor at over 2 amps, you can hook larger drivers onto the board using pre-mounted access points. So if you have a big mill and a little one you can run them off the same hardware.

The ability to change paramaters over USB, without reflashing the firmware or working with eprom sounds like it will make intital setup and configuration much less painful.

Based on a 32-bit ARM microcontroller ( LPC1768 Cortex-M3 ), the smoothie board has more than enough hardware to allow for future software upgrades and enhancements. One of the things I’ve never liked about my makerbot is the curves made up of a collection of lines. It sounds like this will not be a problem with the smoothie board, but I’m not sure if this is due to the faster processer supporting many more lines or if it is handling true curves. Either way, I’m keen to find out.

There is also a front end panel in development that looks like it’ll be a nice add-on.

[via Hackaday]

Kossel Delta printer

After many attempts to get my venerable Makerbot Cupcake CNC to print reliably, I’ve had enough. Its been a great learning experience, but I’m just not willing to put any more time into it. I’ve decided to make a reprap derivative, as I’m not willing to be tied into a brand that may or may not leave me high and dry again.

I’ve selected the Kossel delta printer¬†for my build, for the very technical reason that it’s fun to watch them print. It looks like a spider spinning a web.

One of the apealing design features of the kossel is that it uses basicly the same motion system for each of the 3 sliders. No more shall I be debugging the X and Y motion, but having a complete new set of problems when I get to the Z.

I have some concerns around wear to the vertical colums of MakerBeam where the bearings roll accross them, but there are some ways to reduce these, and replacing the extrusion with new ones isn’t too expensive either.

The Kossel printes are still being activey developed with updates on http://deltabot.tumblr.com/ and https://github.com/jcrocholl/kossel, and has excelent community support through http://groups.google.com/group/deltabot.

With the last of my parts now arived, its time to start the assembly!