Arduino Stepper Shield From Reactive Substance

For those searching for a solution for the control electronics of the eShapeOko, search no more!  We have the Arduino Uno-compatible stepper shield, the Reactive Substance version.  We have only the bare PCB for now, so you still need the parts (eight capacitors, one resistor, an optional reset switch, and assorted headers) and three or four Pololu A4988 driver carrier boards (available in the UK, for example, from Proto-PIC).  Thanks to Bart Dring for designing this board, and to Reactive Substance for letting us distribute it in the UK!

While the yellow on black is not my cup of tea (and I drink coffee anyway), the black helps with heat dissipation, and the board is very good quality, 2 oz copper (double the usual thickness), very nicely made.  Pololu also make a slightly more expensive version of their driver carrier board in black, also with 2 oz copper, which helps with heat dissipation.  Still, a fan is essential for higher currents.

We’re trying to get all the components for a complete kit, hopefully soon.

This is the link to the store.

MakerSlide Being Manufactured

Finally, the die has been fixed, a good sample produced, and a batch of MakerSlide is scheduled to be extruded today.  It still needs to be cut, anodised, re-cut, packaged and delivered, which could take anywhere between one and three weeks, so we’re still not sure when we’ll have it.

The toothed belt pulleys haven’t arrived yet either.  The UK distributor, who imports them from the US, told me last week that the factory in New York was still without power following Hurricane Sandy.  I’m not sure who will win the race of delaying the second batch of eShapeOko kits, the pulleys or the rail…

MakerSlide Profile To Change

The extrusion sample looks much better this time, but the extruder reckons that the imbalance of pressure around that hole will break the mandrel again very soon.  They proposed a change in the profile of the rail to work around that.  You can read about it in Harry’s Ulule update.  I don’t mind the change, but I don’t understand why there was a problem in the first place.  Some standard extrusion profiles (for example, the 4060 and 4080 profiles in the MISUMI HFS5 series) have holes just like the MakerSlide, with three webs meeting at one square core with a rounded fourth corner without a web.  I would have imagined that this was a known problem with a known solution, not something that came as a surprise and required repairs and changes after the die was manufactured.

It is cold comfort to know that Bart Dring’s original MakerSlide, and later Inventables’, have been plagued by the same type of problem at one point or another.  It only reinforces my opinion that the problem is common enough that it should have been foreseen and taken into account when designing the die.

We don’t know yet how much this change will delay the availability of the rail.

Getting Closer To Reap Locally Grown MakerSlide

The extrusion die has been repaired, and the extruder ran a sample through it. However — and I can’t stop thinking of the opening credits of The Simpsons — they clocked out before someone had a chance to inspect the result, so we don’t know whether it was good or bad, yet.

If the sample was good, we should have a harvest of UK-grown MakerSlide in about two weeks, and the second batch of eShapeOko kits can ship soon after.  The other missing piece, the toothed belt pulleys, is due to arrive before that (but it has already been delayed once, so I’m taking that with a grain of salt).