Monday, July 25, 2016

Moar Software Integration!! and much else

Its been a while since I have updated here,

Much has happened:

I began helping to implement a large-ish solar PV array (200+ panels)

I started a small indoor kitchen "solar-panel/grow-light, automatic waterer/timer farm-ett"

TheDAO was formed and raised about 160 million in a month.

Much Investment occurred

TheDAO was hacked for about 50 million, much KAOS ensued.. ;-) been trading crypto's as furiously as time permits

I wrote up the beginnings of a proposal, but in light of events, suspended efforts on it post-hack

The PC controlling the CNC mill I use for CubeSpawn part prototypes died and was rebuilt - its better than before!! :-) But ate up about 2 weeks of downtime/parts/bugs.. :-(

My Auto broke down and took nearly a week to fix, disrupting two weeks work

All this is now behind me and we continue, with indomitable determination!

During some of the downtime - I was able to begin constructing some of the docker templates needed to create the control system for CubeSpawn see the early beginnings on github:

I also cleaned up the main github account moving interesting, but marginally relevant forks of projects to the CubeSpawn-Research Account and moving all mechanical info to the CubeSpawnParts account

I also have made substantial progress on the 4 3D printers z Axis prototypes

The 4 Z Stages

Wiring Detail

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Software Integration

Since the hardware is deterministically approaching a usable state, its time to begin the Software integration...

To that end I have setup 5 ROS machines to begin creating and testing the first phases of getting a CubeSpawn machine into a virtualized State

 The 5 Physical machines have remote desktop sessions to cut/paste commands from the tutorials

The integration will focus on getting ROS and Rviz setup, then building a URDF for one of the Cartesian machines.

The integration consists of ROS, Machinekit, MTConnect, and possibly STEP-NC

I'll be focusing on getting some State machine info out of ROS and Machinekit via a very simplified MTConnect configuration, Since SwRI has built a MTConnect instance for ROS Industrial, there is a fairly solid foundation for that half of the channel...

More info here

On the Machinekit side, it appears this has been discussed, but not implemented, however, I'll be dissecting the MTConnect/Makerbot repo

For while I have no love for Makerbot, a MTConnect to serial Cartesian device code base of some sort should provide a basis for retrieving state info, which should make hacking together a Beaglebone/Machinekit 3D printer example within the scope of this preliminary effort.

Thanks to John Morris, (A Machinekit Developer) I have this nifty System Diagram:

The "CubeSpawn Coordinator" is probably beyond my skills at this point, but if I can hack some basic communication FROM the machines with the available pieces, then writing a simple polling loop to push info to them should at least make some rudimentary control possible - then we'll bring in a professional.. ;-)

An' inch at a time...

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The End of Prototyping is The Beginning!

Closing in on the end of trying out ideas and starting the control software integration efforts

The Electrical Module houses the control electronics for a range of Cartesian machines.

Although much module evolution is expected, this gets the idea out of our minds and into yours ;-)

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


As with the last few posts, I am finishing off the part runs for 8 Cubes,

This leads to 16 modules: 8 electrical modules and 8 mechanical modules..

Five of these are 3D printers, one for the array and 4 for various kinds of testing

All the driveshafts
The four pieces of stock, and additional parts to make the "Z" axis

 All in all, quite a lot of grunt work to get all the setups together, cut the stock, prep the fixturing, write, then validate the Gcode, run the parts, deburr, drill and tap, deburr... I REALLY look forward to the automation part... ;-)

But grinding through this portion is helping to shape how the modular fixturing for the milling machine will need to look if a robot is going to have to set it up

4 sets of  modules and  frames

A lot of work, for an automated, form factor based, self extending, recursive, on-demand network of inter-operable manufacturing machines, but probably worth it... ;-)

Monday, March 14, 2016

Marching onward...

Since the design work is substantially over, ( for the first-cut, tested design) nothing to do but make the parts for the first batch of enclosures and modules...

Blocks for the backplane
Front and Rear side panels test-fitted

Cube module frames - stacked to conserve bench space.

A stack of module side panels

This amounts to (essential) grunt work, but is starting to bring the modular fixturing together and helping to define process steps and other less tangible elements of the part production process together.

I am excited about the near future, when the modular fixturing can start to come together for the mill, and the 2nd gen lathe design prototype can be built.

Much to do!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Chrono-insectile Tau depletion

Time Flies! but its not running out...

During the course of the last month several important steps forward have been taken:

the 3D printer has been running with all the minor issues one would expect cropping up

A nozzle jam, leading to the hobbed bolt eating the filament, some issues with bonding to the currently cold bed and all the usual growing pains for a new printer.


Meanwhile, another engineer has embarked on building the lathe module out in a preliminary form, having a partially complete mechanical presence on the bench has begun to inspire a whole list of issues to consider and better methods of handling a turning machine in this small space even before the controls and electrical system has begun...

Alongside that effort, the majority of the parts for the milling machine module are collected with a similar high rate of improvements being added to the design even before implementation has begun

Needless to say, the days have been full and long, and I have a lot of semi-completed models to polish up and add to the 3DWarehouse in the coming weeks..