Volume 4: Rise of the CNC

Comprehensive CNC resource now available on Amazon

Here is some great news for the digital manufacturing community. As a CNC evangelist Jon Cantin is in a league all of his own, and he has put in a huge effort to share his knowledge and expertise in the latest publication, volume 4: Rise of the CNC.

Imagine an encyclopaedic compendium of CNC know-how, covering topics from laser cutting and CNC routing all the way through to plasma cutting and 3D printing. It’s perfect for people looking to do their own laser cutting in wood, acrylic or metal and covers topics that even advanced makers will find insightful and valuable.

In this volume, infamous hardware hacker and DIY inventor extraordinaire Ben Heck kicks things off with a foreword that highlights how CNC technology influenced his own workflow and creative career.

So if the sound of 400+ pages of CNC knowledge has you on the edge of your seat, jump over to to find out more about volume 4: Rise of the CNC. The publication is now available as a digital download or in printed format from Amazon as well.


Laser cutting wood to make the Stewart Platform

Keeping projects in balance with DIY robotic device

The Stewart platform is an ingenious robotic device that provides flexible movement of a working surface across six degrees of freedom. Often used to support flight simulators and telescopes, they are also an essential component of many serious university projects.

After observing that more time is often spent on preparing a reliable platform than on the project itself, Dan Royer has set out to build a standard platform that universities can make use of across a range of projects.

Large Stewart platforms use hydraulics to manipulate heavy loads quickly and precisely. Currently, Dan’s version works on a smaller scale using a platform built from laser cut wood with stepper motors providing motion control.

It is quite a challenge to deliver mechanical precision that is also strong and smooth when in motion. The test rigs that Dan has constructed are powered by Adafruit’s stepper motor controller boards, all driven by an Arduino. The task of keeping all six stepper motors working together is particularly tricky, so in pursuit of the most stable outcome the Gcode demo software is available as an open source download on github.

Marginally Clever via Hack a Day

Spin your own Wool Yarn with the Electric Eel Wheel

Maurice Ribble designs a hardware hit for fiber hobbyists.

Spinning wheels always bring to mind fairy tales: Rumpelstiltskin spinning straw into gold in exchange for a maiden’s first born child, Sleeping Beauty cursedly pricking her finger on the spindle.

But luckily, Maurice Ribble’s story isn’t so grim (pun intended.) Maurice is a computer engineer who lives with his wife Emily in the Boston area. “I always say my wife’s first love is knitting because she’s done it for much longer than she’s known me,” he says.

Emily often spins her own yarn for her knitting projects and totes a manual spinning wheel to her knitting group. “The mechanics of the spinning wheel were fascinating to my engineering mind and her need to travel with it gave me some great reasons to set about making a very portable, electric spinning wheel,” Maurice explains.

Soon he had requests from Emily’s friends to make them one too. “One thing lead to another, and now you can buy them on the internet,” he says. And lots of people are buying them.


MakerBot Digitizer is almost here

Add a 3D scanner to your workflow

The easiest and fastest way to create your own unique 3D models is about to be released by MakerBot. Eagerly anticipated ever since an early prototype was unveiled in March, the MakerBot Digitizer is just about ready for action. This neat little device will turn almost any (smallish) object you can get your hands on into 3D designs you can share and print.

In an email alert from MakerBot this week, the following info was released that outlines some key features of the Digitizer.

– Simple, yet sophisticated software creates clean, watertight 3D models with just two clicks.
– Get a 3D digital design file in just minutes.
– No design skills, 3D modeling or CAD expertise required to get started.
– Outputs standard 3D design file formats that can be modified and improved in third-party 3D modeling programs, like Autodesk’s free software MeshMixer.
– Easily upload your unique scans directly to

Could the MakerBot Digitizer fill a gap in your creative workflow? Hide the cat, and keep an eye on MakerBot for further updates including pricing and availability.

MakerBot Digitizer via The Next Web

Arduino boards run an industrial machine

If you can build it, Arduino can run it.

Arduino’s massive success among the maker and hacker crowd is undisputed, but it’s usually seen more as something for experimenting and prototyping than a component for professional applications. JF Machines Ltd has handily proven that idea wrong with an industrial printer run by five unmodified Arduino boards.

Stratasys acquires MakerBot

$403m in stock takes MakerBot into the big, big league

There are some who say that MakerBot has done more for DIY 3D printing than almost any other company. Likewise, the venerable industry stalwart Stratasys has long held its own in professional circles. So it kind of makes sense that they should team up together.

The two companies have announced a proposed $403 million in stock to merge MakerBot into the Stratasys fold as a subsidiary entity. MakerBot would continue business as usual, with Bre Pettis remaining at the helm. The same goes for, MakerBot’s online portal for sharing user-generated 3D design content.

“…Partnering with Stratasys will allow us to supercharge our mission to empower individuals to make things using a MakerBot, and allow us to bring 3D technology to more people. I am excited about the opportunities this combination will bring to our current and future customers.”
– Bre Pettis

If you’re in New York, you can head down to MakerBot’s headquarters in Brooklyn on Thursday, June 20 at 10am for a joint news conference with Stratasys. The rest of us can access the event live at, and an archive will be made available at

Read the full press release from Stratasys here.

via Engadget

Tracking the 17 year cicadas with an Arduino

Prepare for the coming swarmageddon with an excellent introduction to Arduino.

If you live in the Northeast USA, you probably know that the 17 year cicadas with soon emerge from the ground to serenade you with their surprisingly annoying mating calls. If are not lucky enough *cough* to live in the path of what has been called “swarmageddon”, the video will catch you up on the basics.

Radiolab, a podcast and public radio show, has put together an easy-to-follow set of instructions on how to build a soil thermometer with an Arduino and some basic parts. They even have the code ready for use. The cicadas emerge when the soil 8″ below the surface reaches 64º F (18º C). After the building the kit and measuring the soil temperature where you live, upload the result and your location on their site to help track the great emergence.

Via Hack a Day

Taylor Gilbert is a proponent of creative technology including Arduino, Processing, and repurposed hardware. Follow him @taylor_gilbert

Custom circuit boards with an Othermill CNC mill

Easily make circuit boards, jewelry, and other detailed objects with this new desktop CNC.

There are a lot of options for CNC mills right now (and I mean a lot), but it’s rare to see one with the precision necessary to mill a custom circuit board. Finding one at a reasonable cost is simply unheard of.

The Othermill from Otherfab fills that need nicely. With it you can quickly and easily mill any circuit board your heart desires. Now all of your projects can have circuits seamlessly integrated into the design. Since it is compatible with any 1/8″ bit (like a dremel), it can also be used for a variety of other applications from jewelry to precisely machined mechanical parts.

Currently raising funds on Kickstarter, the Othermill started at $1000 for early adopters.

The return of shop class, accessible CNC for everyone

guest post from Danielle Appletone of Otherfab

This is the story of Otherfab. I doubt you’ve heard of us, but I think our story is a good one.

Four months ago, we were working on the future of this country: digital design and computer-controlled manufacturing tools for the STEM education of our children.

So many people in government had worked very hard to carve out the funding for a truly radical program to put shop class back into high schools with a focus on integrating modern technology. It was the first time I had worked so closely with a government organization, and I was blown away by how much they cared about our mission. Maybe that says more about me then them, but either way, it made me happy.

We were about to begin deploying our program into 1000 high schools when the sequester hit. For a small company like us, a sequester-induced delay and complete financial uncertainty of several months was crippling. We had very little buffer and a young team that absolutely could not be furloughed.

But here’s where it gets good.


Tap your foot to set a beat with drum effects using Arduino

You tap your foot, Arduino does the rest.

Beat Feet was concieved, designed, and prototyped in four days by a team participating in MIT Media Labs Design Innovation workshop at PESIT Bangalore. The project uses a sensor attached to the bottom of a shoe to control the tempo of MIDI drum affects. The idea is to allow musicians to add and control a background rhythm while continuing to play their instrument (presumably not a drum).