Category Archives: Open Hardware

The Boldport Buggy

Boldport Buggy

Introducing the Boldport Buggy kit.

This simple and playful soldering kit is based on the on the beautiful Buggy circuit board designed by Saar Drimer of Boldport.

Boldport Buggy

Boldport Buggy

The first version of this circuit board was created as a badge for the hardware security conference in The Hague. This new version of the Buggy is a complete kit, featuring an updated circuit board, with a power switch and six candle-flicker LEDs.

Boldport Buggy

A cool detail is that its six legs are actually the current-limiting resistors for those six LEDs. They are posable (giving it quite a bit of personality) and we have given it little red tubing socks to cover up the otherwise-conductive feet.

Boldport Buggy Boldport Buggy

The Boldport Buggy kit is available now at our store, and you can read more about its design at Boldport.

Thoughts on OSHW and OSHW certification

OSHWA, the Open Source Hardware Association, recently released a proposal for what they are calling Open Source Hardware Certification.  With some paraphrasing and handwaving, their proposal boils down to this:

  1. OSHWA will create a new logo and trademark it.
  2. To license this new trademark, you would need to agree to a contract that says:
    1. We will only put this trademark on open source hardware (as defined in the open hardware definition).
    2. If we use the logo otherwise (and do not stop when OSHWA repeatedly asks to stop), we agree to pay a hefty fine.

OSHWA has not yet fleshed out the details — neither the new logo nor the exact contents of that license contract. It’s easy to be cynical about stuff like this. But instead, let’s please give them the benefit of the doubt and suppose that when those details arrive, it turns out that they’ve done a superb job: the contract ends up to be simple, well thought-out, straightforward and does just what it says.

Maybe the new trademarked logo would look something like this mock-up:

placeholder oshwa certified logo

Given all of that, would there be a good case for some people to use this certification process? I have mixed thoughts on it. But on the whole, I’m tending towards a “probably.”

Continue reading Thoughts on OSHW and OSHW certification

Intel Open Source Hardware Advisory Panel

I’ve been participating in the Intel Open Source Hardware Advisory Panel this year.

… Intel hosted a series of conversations with the company’s Open Source Hardware Advisory Panel – a group of key enablers in the global open source hardware ecosystem – about licensing, best practices, sustaining development communities, business models, path to product, Shenzhen, and the evolving relationship between the global maker movement and chip manufacturers.

We’ve had some interesting conversations and Intel has been publishing video from our meetings. At the session titled Open Source Hardware Communities, Case Studies, and Guidelines, I talked about the EggBot and its communities of users; Adrian Bowyer talked about the RepRap community; André Knoerig about Fritzing; and David Scheltema about Make and Maker Faire. I enjoy seeing these issues being grappled with, and hope that our conversations will help others as they think about these topics. Videos from the sessions can be found on the panel page at Intel.

MakerCon 2015

MakerCon is a short conference put on by Maker Media in the week leading up to Maker Faire about the business of making.

Gael with InMoov

3D printing is a common maker topic, and MakerCon brought a few different twists to it. Above is Gael demonstrating InMoov, an open source 3D printed humanoid robot. There was also an incredibly inspiring talk about applications for medical 3D printing by Dr. Glenn Green.

Gigabot print

3D printing can be whimsical as well, as demonstrated by this “25 mm” drill bit by Gigabot.


The folks from Strawbees had built a quadcopter rotor cage with a clever servo actuator for flapping sculptural wings.

Clever flex design

I enjoyed seeing this attractive laser cut living hinge at the BotFactory demo.

Rogue Rover

Rogue Rovers are electric semi-autonomous ATVs designed for agricultural use to reduce farm injuries and pollution.

More pictures from the event are in my flickr album.

Hands on with NanoBeam


Last fall we wrote about NanoBeam, a new super-miniature open source aluminum T-slot profile construction set that was on Kickstarter at the time. While comparable in design to industrial profile systems like 80/20, its cross section of just 5 mm × 5 mm is comparable to a stud on a lego brick.

We recently got our tweezers hands on a ‘beam, and yes, it’s real, yes, it works, and yes, it’s that tiny. And just wait until you see the fasteners.

Continue reading Hands on with NanoBeam

The 2015 Hackaday Prize

We are very pleased to be amongst the judges for this year’s Hackaday Prize, which was announced today:

Last year we challenged you to build the next generation of connected devices. Six months later, the best teams and projects from around the world battled for the greatest prize of all: the respect of their peers and a trip to space. This year, we’re issuing a call to hackers, engineers, makers and startups from all over the world, to focus their creative efforts on nothing less than solving serious issues facing humanity.

Prizes this year include a trip to space on a carrier of your choice, a laser cutter, a builder kit (pcb mill, 3d printer, cnc router, bench lathe), and tours of CERN in Geneva or Shenzhen in China. New this year is a “Best Product” award. Show a production-ready (and ideally, open-source) device and you can win $100,000 in addition to being eligible for the other prizes.

You can read more about the contest and sign up at

WaterColorBot as a laser engraver

Laser in place of paintbrush on the WaterColorBot

Our friend Schuyler posted on twitter that he got a laser working with his WaterColorBot. He uses the brush/up down function to move the laser up to defocus when he doesn’t want to engrave/cut.

Paperboard marked with the word Laser(s)

He even posted sample output: paperboard marked with the word “Laser(s)”. This isn’t the first WaterColorBot laser mod we’ve seen, but it’s the first with demonstrated output!

Introducing WaterColorBot 2.0

WaterColorBot 2.0

We are very pleased to introduce something that we’ve been working on for most of this year: WaterColorBot version 2.0!

WaterColorBot 2.0

The WaterColorBot is our collaboration with Super Awesome Sylvia: A friendly art robot that moves a paint brush to paint your digital artwork onto paper, using a set of watercolor paints.

Version 2.0 brings it to the next level with some greatly improved hardware. First and foremost, the carriage that holds the brush has been completely redesigned:

WaterColorBot 2.0

The carriage on the original WaterColorBot was made from laser-cut plywood, with nylon bushings and two simple delrin strips that formed the vertical flexure translation stage. (You can read more about the original carriage here and here.)

The new carriage consists mainly of two pieces of metal. The center block of anodized aluminum is CNC milled, and houses crossed linear roller bearings. Wrapped around that is a laser-cut and formed aluminum part that mounts the brush-lift motor, cable guide, and the flexure stage.

WaterColorBot 2.0

The new flexure stage is built with two custom flex circuit boards, used in this case as mechanical flexures. Each board consists of a very thin (0.1 mm, 4 mil) Kapton sheet with a thin fiberglass (G10/FR4) stiffener on its center section. With the two ends of each sheet clamped rigidly and the stiffener in the center, each flex circuit is to flex only along two well-defined lines. And with two boards, it forms a neat parallelogram linkage, without the slop that one might encounter in multi-part hinges. The net effect is that this new flexure stage has remarkable stiffness compared to the old design.

WaterColorBot 2.0

That stiffness, combined with the improved performance of the linear ball bearings makes this a more precise WaterColorBot. Not that you could even detect the improvement with a fat brush and watercolor paints, but things are looking quite good even with using ultra-fine point drawing pens, as you can see above.

WaterColorBot 2.0

The second major change is to the system of Spectra cords that the stepper motors control in order to move the carriage. Previously, the cords were guided around 11 plain bearings (stainless steel solid rivets) and 3 ball bearings.  We’ve simplified this into an arrangement of just 8 ball bearings— four for each motor. The ball bearing pulleys have also been updated to use wide V-groove bearings that are easy to wrap the cords around.

Which brings us to the third (and last) major change. Thus far, WaterColorBot kits have shipped “some assembly required” — with all the major components built, but the cord lacing left to the end user. As of 2.0, WaterColorBot kits now come fully assembled and tested. That doesn’t make them any less hackable, but it does mean that you can get up and running faster.

WaterColorBot 2.0

Version 2.0 includes the same CNC machined aluminum winches that we introduced back in August. Tiny detail: we’ve carved a subtle indentation into the wood around the winch that makes them a little easier to turn by hand.

WaterColorBot 2.0

The new WaterColorBot kits will begin to ship right after Thanksgiving. And a bonus present for the holiday season: Version 2.0 is priced the same as the previous version, it’s just a whole lot more awesome per dollar.

Introducing the EggBot Pro

EggBot Pro

An EggBot is a compact, easy to use art robot that can draw on small spherical and egg-shaped objects. The EggBot was originally invented by motion control artist Bruce Shapiro in 1990. Since then, EggBots have been used as educational and artistic pieces in museums and workshops. We have been working with Bruce since 2010 to design and manufacture EggBot kits, and our well-known Deluxe EggBot kit is a popular favorite at makerspaces and hackerspaces around the world.

Today we’re very proud to release the newest member of the family: the EggBot Pro, a near-complete reimagining of the EggBot, designed for rigidity, ease of use, and faster setup.

EggBot Pro

The EggBot Pro is as sturdy as can be: Its major components are all solid aluminum, CNC machined in the USA, and powder coated or anodized. (And isn’t it a beauty?)

The most common mechanical adjustments are faster with twin bicycle-style quick releases, and repositioned thumbscrews for easier access.

EggBot Pro

The frame also has an open front design that gives much better visibility while running, and greatly improved manual access when setting up.

EggBot Pro

And, it comes built, tested, and ready to use — no assembly required.  Assuming that you’ve installed the software first, you can be up and printing within minutes of opening the box.

The EggBot Pro begins shipping this week. We’ve also put together a little comparison chart, so you can see how it fits in with the rest of the family.