We now have a door between the house and the garage! That makes a huge difference, not having to run all around the house in the rain (or hail immediately followed by snow, as today). I spent all my free time yesterday and today cleaning up the mess, unpacking stuff I had put away, and generally getting the garage ready for business again.

There’s no news on MakerSlide. It’s been ordered from the fabricator a while ago, I accepted a price hike (which I won’t pass on this time), and they should be cutting and packing it.

There’s no news on MegaRail. I got quotes for the extrusion dies, but I’m still waiting for quotes for the rails themselves.

There’s no news on eShapeoko. Now that we have a working area again, we’ll get back to packing and shipping them. We’re a few days behind with the regular orders, too – sorry.

MegaRail Update

I got quotes for the dies for MegaRail 80 and MegaRail Z, but not for the extruded and cut rail itself, yet. The die costs were about what I expected (one can buy a decent second-hand car for that money).

I am going to go with the two-slot version of the MegaRail Z.  It is actually more rigid, which is worth the extra 4 mm in width.

MegaRail Z

MegaRail-Z1-and-Z2These are the two designs I’m considering for MegaRail Z. They’re up on GitHub, also as PDF here and here.

The right side is the same in both cases.  The only difference is that the first profile has an additional T-slot. The side T-slot can be useful for attaching shields (in certain configurations), tabs for limit switches, and other accessories like that. The larger footprint is a disadvantage.

Both profiles have exactly 15 mm between the V centerline and the base. With standard MakerSlide V-wheels, this gives 21.45 mm of space between the carriage and the surface MegaRail Z is attached to. That should be enough for smaller lead nuts (a Tr 8 anti-backlash nut is typically 20 mm diameter).

I sent all variants I’m considering out for costing, and I’m hoping to hear back from the extruder soon.

eShapeoko Update

I have confirmed all reservations.

A few emails have bounced, and there’s not much I can do about those… If you see this but haven’t received an email, let me know! Comment here, email me via the “Contact Us” page in the store, or reserve again with the correct email address, noting that you made an earlier reservation.

MegaRail Profile

The MegaRail family of profiles starts with two Illustration of MegaRail 80members:

  • MegaRail 80, shown here, is a large beam with running surfaces for V-groove wheels on all four corners.
  • MegaRail Z, a much smaller profile with a single running surface, is designed to be attached, in pairs, to a flat surface, for a much wider wheel span than is practical with a single profile.

MegaRail 80

The drawing of the MegaRail 80 profile can be found at GitHub. The overall dimensions are 46.4 mm by 87 mm (not including the slightly protruding ribbing). Walls are generally 4 mm thick, although four small sections are 5 mm thick to provide more “bite” for tapping holes. The four screw ports are M6 at 32 mm × 64 mm centers. The running surfaces are wide enough for both RM1 and RM2 steel V-groove bearings (although it’s not a good idea to run steel wheels on it unless it’s hard anodized). The standard MakerSlide V-wheels work, of course. With these, the wheel span is 104.6 mm centers, the same as for OpenRail on Misumi HFS5-4080 profile, or exactly 40 mm wider than for MakerSlide. The parallel running surfaces are centered exactly 40 mm apart.

For extra strength, two MegaRail 80 profiles can be bolted together. The groove pattern on one side nests into that on the opposite side, for perfect alignment.

The profile is extruded out of 6005A aluminium alloy (to be confirmed), and weighs about 3.2 kg per meter (MakerSlide is 0.9 kg per meter).  MegaRail 80 has area moments of inertia (a measure correlated with rigidity) about 18 times larger than MakerSlide in the wider direction, and 25 times in the narrower one. It is about three times more rigid in the wide direction than in the narrow one. I don’t have numbers for torsional rigidity, but I expect an even larger improvement, because of the unbroken outer wall.

MegaRail Z

I have several candidate designs. I’m still pondering which is the best combination of features. MegaRail Z can be used, as the name suggests, as the Z axis of a gantry-style CNC milling machine, but also as the Y axis of a moving-bed machine. There are several different arrangements for the Z axis, each with advantages and disadvantages, and each favours different features (and dimensions) of the profile.


No idea yet. I am sending the MegaRail 80 drawing to the extruder/fabricator tomorrow. They will give me an ETA, which I’ll take with a small boulder of salt.

eShapeoko and MakerSlide Update


We should have our store completely restocked the week of 19 January.


All but three paid kits are now shipped, and I started working on the next cycle.  If you reserved a kit, you will receive an email in the next day or so.  It will be either the invitation to place your order, or an estimate of how long the wait is likely to be.

Complete eShapeoko Kits

No, we still won’t do them as such, but I’m reminding you that you can read this purchasing guide to find out what else you need to have a complete, working machine.

NEMA 23 Stepper Motors

There are very few of these left in stock.  More are on their way from the supplier, but I made a larger order this time, so I opted for the slow boat.  Very, very slow boat, it turns out: they’re still at least a month out.  When the stock runs out, we’ll continue to accept orders for them, but they will not ship until we get them at some point in February.  This means we’ll hold your entire order until the motors arrive.  (I’ll explain this clearly in the store, but my experience is that at least one in ten customers will not read that, so I have to keep on top of it and send emails.  A warning during checkout would be better, but the store can’t do that.)

The Exciting Bits

New Profiles

I’m designing two new aluminium profiles, one inspired by Edward Ford’s Shapeoko 3, the other an older idea that languished until Edward’s announcement.  I’ll post more about this soon, or you can read about the larger profile here.

3D Printer

I may have mentioned this before: a few months ago, I started working on a new 3D printer.  It’s based on MakerSlide, and it’s superficially similar to Bart Dring’s ORD Bot.  I still plan to finish the second prototype and get it going.  It’s not a revolutionary product by any means; it’s just another option, with similar performance as some existing products.

I also have a design for an extruder (cold end only) that will be very simple and very compact — if it works.  I’m not saying more about it until I have a prototype.