n00b confusion



I've been following the project from a distance for a while now after seeing some of the stories on the Make blog.

I have a pretty well equipped shop with a laser cutter and also a 6 acre pond in my back yard so I thought this would be a fun project to tackle with my sons (and our local hackerspace for backup).

Lately I've spent quite a bit of time studying the pictures, blog entries, and other resources linked here trying to come up to speed. I thought I'd post some of my impressions as a complete n00b. I don't want this to be bitchy, just helpful. This is a really cool project but somewhat difficult to jump into.

  • First, I'm still quite confused by the current state of the project. The design files (pdfs and Coreldraw and BOM) are all for a 2.0 design but all the recent pictures are 2.2. It's very difficult to find the github link from the main site and even then, the physical design files don't seem to be complete but only reflect the laser cut parts. Are most builders still building a 2.0 or moving to a 2.2 design? What were the problems with 2.0 that 2.2 is addressing?
  • As you move forward, I hope that the design files will be posted in an open standard. It seems a bit strange to me that the design files for an "Open" project are all done in a closed standard like Inventor. Please consider exporting these to STEP or Iges so they can be imported into Blender, FreeCAD, HeeksCAD etc.
  • I find the forum system difficult to use. When I'm viewing the top level of the discussion forum, it says there are 16 discussions in the Builders forum, but when I click in, I see only two messages. Am I missing something?
  • Some other online communities (buildlog.net for example) have had a lot of success with allowing dedicated forums for individual builders to document their projects. This is incredibly helpful to a newbie since we can see the linear progression of projects. It's also a pretty easy way for someone not comfortable contributing to the main project to add to the community knowledge base by documenting procedures and answering questions of other new builders.
  • Back on the main site, please consider revising the top level menu to include a link to the blog, an FAQ and also a direct link to the github repo. As a newbie, I'd really like to avoid posting to the forum with questions already answered elsewhere. Adding some off-site links to supplies, other projects, and resources would be a bonus.

Some project have success with a wiki but I think that's overkill for a young project. As the project matures and stabilizes, though, consider adding that so the community can share the burden of maintaining the blessed documentation.

Thanks for launching this cool project!



Thanks for the comment and for bringing this up, as I'm sure it's on most everyone else's mind when they come to the site. To put it simply: we completely agree with every single point you make. When I say we, I'm talking about Eric Stackpole and I. Eric and I started this website albeit a bit naively, when the project was just a dream. We're completely committed to making this a totally open hardware project, but this is still a part-time thing for both of us and most free time goes into developing the robot. For instance, we have some design changes we want to make based on our last test, which is the reason we haven't posted the latest designs.

It's a bit of a chicken and the egg problem, as people can't collaborate unless we're working on something similar, and we can't get something similar unless we collaborate to finish the robot. We're working hard with the goal to make a s standard, basic kit available in the next few months.

I love the idea for a link to the blog, and I'll work on a FAQ this week. We'll do the github link as soon as the info is up. Off-site links are also a good idea.

Overall, and most importantly, the site needs to be redesigned. We've been putting it off due to a focus on robot work, but it's clear that it's a high priority.

We're on it! Thanks again for the great feedback!



Thanks for the reply. I'm still in the early stages of planning but I'll post my updates on my blog. I'm a real fan of FreeCAD and have started porting the 2.2 design. Figuring out how to model that bent shell will be a trick!

Here's my first post http://sliptonic.com/?p=663


Awesome!! Do you mind if I re-blog it on here? Agreed, the modeling of the bent shell is tricky, but actually doing it in real life is a piece of cake (well, after you get a few bad folds out of the way ;) ). Eric is trekking in the amazon for a few weeks, but the 2.3 design will be up shortly after he gets back. Sorry for the delay!

Thanks again! This rocks! Very, very helpful.


No problem. Re-blog away. I'm sure I'll post some updates (and plenty of questions) here too.


I just wanted to say that what you've done adapting to FreeCAD is awesome! I apsolutly agree that making everything COMPLEATLY open is ideal, but in the interest of CADing efficiently, It's just be much easier to design everything in Inventor. I'm going to be working on 2.3 over the next week or two (still in Inventor) but I'll try to release the files in multiple formats to allow people to use them with a variety of programs. Also, sorry for the sloppiness releases. During development, it's hard to keep everything well organized. I hope to release 2.3 very cleanly.

Thanks again for helping us make the files clean and avaliable!