Introduction: Open Manufacturing - (How to Build 30 (SERB) Kits)

Welcome to the first foray inside the factory.

At oomlout we are focused on producing "delightfully fun open source products" this commitment to open source extends to our manufacturing process as well. So what follows is step by step what we go through to fulfill an order using our Arduino Controlled Servo Robot - (SERB) kit and an order size of 30 as an example.

You will find everything you need to get up and making your own SERB's in semi industrial volumes, ideally you won't decide to. the real purpose of this Instructable is to act as a repository for our methods, jigs, and tricks and to help anyone looking into producing similar style kits. (or simply for those who like to see how a product is made).

updates to come
This will be an evolving Instructable to be updated with new tricks as and when we come up with them. Hopefully slowly changing from the small tabletop factory we now operate towards something much grander.

The steps to follow
We have broken down our manufacturing process into five main categories each with sub-steps.
  • Before we Start - Tools, materials and other little bits needed before commencing. (steps 1 - 3)
  • Laser Cutting - Taking large 4' x 8' sheets of acrylic and turning them into the individual SERB parts squares. (steps 4 - 9)
  • Hardware - All the supporting elements going from mad heaps of bolts and stacks of Arduinos into nicely labeled and organized envelopes. (steps 10 - 14)
  • Instructions - From on screen to lovely printed booklets. (step 15)
  • Packaging - Putting it all together and getting it ready to ship. (steps 16 - 18)

(shameless plug)
Not looking to build your own? Lovely pre-packaged kits are available from (here)

Step 1: The Product

First off what we will be making.

We will be producing 30 Arduino Controlled Servo Robot - (SERB) - kits. The SERB is our open source Arduino powered robot platform.

Details on how to make your own can be found- (here)

Or if you'd like to purchase a kit they can be bought from our online store - (here)

Step 2: Tools

Our ultimate goal is to have our very own oomlout rouge (except with less environmental impact). What this means is trying to bring all things feasible in house. Reducing dependence on outside suppliers allows us huge flexibility as well as keeping our costs (and ultimately the price of our products) as low as possible, however this does come at the expense of a degree of polish (apologies for no colour packaging).

The Tools:

Laser Cutter - (Brightstar LG3040tt 35 watt Laser) (details)
  • A lovely small laser cutter, a fraction of the price of the Epilog lasers with very similar functionality, and Jim at Brightstar is a star when it comes to helping out with any questions. Used to cut down 9.5" x 9.5" acrylic sheets to lovely collections of SERB parts.

Table Saw - (standard table saw ours is a DeWalt)
  • This is used to cut down the large sheets of acrylic we receive from our supplier into 9.5" squares.

Laser Printer - (standard laser printer ours is a Dell)
  • Used for printing out all the packaging as well as instruction manuals.

Bubble Jet Printer - (a modified inkjet printer allowing us to print on small envelopes)
  • An old ink-jet printer with the paper feed modified to allow the feeding of small envelopes.

Scales - (a surplus lab scale (0.01g) and a surplus kitchen scale (0.1g))
  • We use these to help with counting bolts and quality checking before we ship.

Miscellaneous Tools
  • drill press
  • soldering iron
  • wire snips
  • screw driver
  • pliers

(oomlout specific tools)

Wire Stripper - (a DIY wire stripper details found (here)
  • This produces small strips of wire with the insulation removed from either end for plugging into breadboards.

Sticker Sheet Cutter - (a DIY machine that advances a programmed amount of sticker sheet details found (here) )
  • To lift the acrylic sheets out of the laser cutter we use a sticker sheet, to produce these we need to measure out 9.5" lengths. This machine makes that easy.


  • Corel Draw 11 - What we use to design our products as well as prepare our packaging (an amazing open source equivalent is Inkscape (we are in the process of transitioning to this product))
  • Adobe Acrobat - Used to convert our Corel Draw files into lovely PDFs
  • Open Office - Used for note taking, spreadsheet'ing and the like

Step 3: Materials and Suppliers

Rather than recreate the parts list here, ordering parts is as simple as going (here) and multiplying each item by 30.

In addition to the robot parts we need to throw in a few additional packaging items.

  • Box - 10" x 10" Pizza Box (important to realize that a 10" pizza box will not in fact hold a full 10"s of pizza (or plastic for that matter)
  • Envelopes - Large parts envelopes (#6 Coin Envelopes (3 3/8" x 6") and Small parts envelopes (#1 coin envelopes 2 1/4" x 3 1/2")
  • Labels - Standard 1" x 2 5/8" Address Labels

Acrylic - Surrey Plastic Works
  • our local plastics shop, more than happy to sell sheets of acrylic out of their inventory or order in any special requests.

Packaging - Great Little Box Company
  • a standard box company of special interest because they keep the 10 inch pizza boxes we use in stock.

Packaging - Office Depot
  • For envelopes and labels

Hardware - McMaster Carr Industrial Supply
  • an online industrial supply company with an amazing online catalog and surprisingly reasonable prices on metric hardware.

Arduinos -
  • The manufacturers of Arduino boards.

Servos - Parallax
  • they have continuous rotation servos custom made for them.

Electronics - All Electronics
  • For the electronic parts great prices and a wonderful inventory.

Step 4: Laser Cutting - Large Sheets to Little Sheets

With everything prepared lets get going. (attached to this step is 03-OPNM-Acrylic Cut Summary.pdf this is the formalized steps we go through when manufacturing)

The first step involves taking the full 4' x 8' sheets of acrylic and reducing them to a stack of 9.5" x 9.5" sheets.

This is quite straightforward, if not slightly time consuming. Set the table saws guard to 9.55" (a little extra for safety) and saw away.

This creates quite a lot of plastic chips and an awful smell, so an exhaust fan is a must and vacuuming of each piece afterward is also called for.

Step 5: Bulk Stripping

With all of the rough handling done we remove the protective sheet from both sides of the acrylic.

This is one of the funner steps as you can make any number of bizarre noises by peeling it every which way.

Step 6: Sticker Sheet Cutting

Just one more step before we fire up the laser.

Removing pieces from the laser can be quite a struggle if done by hand. To get past this what we do is lift everything out by using a sheet of sticker. This makes removing the pieces from the laser quick, and also gives the final product a very neat feel, as all the extra acrylic bits are also shipped.

To cut these sheets we have a specially built machine to measure out 9.5" strips. (details can be found (here) ).

A quick video of it in action (here)

Step 7: Setting Up the Laser

This step is crucial to the entire process working smoothly. What is involved is taping in a piece of acrylic and cutting an "L" out of it so you can place your acrylic sheets at the origin of the laser. This jig allows you to quickly change pieces without having to reset the machine coordinates between sheets.

  • 1. Reset Laser
  • 2. Tape down foundation (to bed not machine)
  • 3. Tape down t-square blank
  • 4. Jog Machine (300 mm left 270 mm down)
  • 5. Focus Machine
  • 6. Load T-Square pattern
  • 7. Cut T-Square pattern (origin lower left)
  • 8. Jog Machine (242 mm right 242 mm up)
  • 9. Set Origin to top right

Step 8: Cutting

Finally the time has come.

Place in a sheet, close the top, and press start. What follows is ten hours of every ten minutes (60 sheets) lifting out the cut pieces, replacing with a fresh sheet and pressing go.

To help with timing we use a little program (egg timer) which plays a wav file when it runs out and allows you to do other things while the laser is at work.

(we fill all the little hardware envelopes)

Step 9: Finished Cutting

Ten hours has elapsed and you have completed all your cutting.

Step 10: Hardware - Printing Envelopes

While the acrylic is being cut you have plenty of time to stuff the various envelopes full of the goodies that come with each kit.

We start by printing what is inside each envelope. As the envelopes we use (#1 and #6 Coin envelopes) are quite a bit smaller than normal mail envelopes finding a printer that will print them happily is nearly impossible. Our problem was solved when we happened across an old ink-jet printer at our local thrift store ($2.50). It's absence of a paper presence sensors, and easily modified paper feed tray made it perfect.

Quick Envelope Summary

ENV 01 3 mm Hardware - small
  • BOL-03-10 3mmX10mm Machine Screw (x12 +2)
  • BOL-03-15 3mmX15mm Machine Screw (x20 +4)
  • NUT-03-01 3mm Hex Nut (x34 +4)
  • WASH-03-01 3mm Washer (x12 +4)

ENV 02 8 mm Hardware - small
  • BOL-08-25 8mmX25mm Hex Bolt (x2)
  • NUT-08-01 8mm Nut (x2)
  • BEAR-01 Skate Bearing (x2)

ENV 03 Arduino - large
  • ELEC-01 Arduino Board (x1)

ENV 04 Breadboard - large
  • ELEC-07 Breadboard (x1)

ENV 05 Wire - large
  • ELEC-06 Quad AA Battery Box (x1)
  • Wire-99-P-15 15 cm purple wire (22Awg Solid) (x2)
  • Wire-99-R-05 5 cm red wire (22Awg Solid) (x2)
  • Wire-99-B-15 15 cm black wire (22Awg Solid) (x1)
  • Wire-99-B-05 5 cm black wire (22Awg Solid) (x2)
  • ELEC-09 2.1 mm Plug (x1)
  • ELEC-10 9V Battery Cap (x1)
  • ELEC-11 3 pin header (x2)

ENV 06 Servo - large
  • SERV-03 Continuous Rotation Servo 2

ENV 07 O-ring - large
  • RING-01 11.7cm ID O-ring (3/16" bead) size 349 (x2)
  • RING-02 2.2 ID O-ring (3/16" bead) size 315 (x1)

Attached Files:
10-OPNM-Envelope Summary - Summary of each envelope's contents
(ENTL) - Large SERB Envelopes.cdr - Large Envelopes
(ENTS) - Small SERB Envelopes.cdr - Small Envelopes

Step 11: Nut and Bolts

Envelope #1 (3mm Hardware) - if you are counting each item one by one this envelope is painful to fill. Because of this we purchased an old laboratory scale and now measure by weight (ensuring a twenty percent safety margin, we don't want anyone being short a washer). Add a couple of acrylic funnels and envelope filling becomes quick and painless.

Envelope #2 (8mm Hardware) - With only a couple of large items this envelope fills quickly

Bolt Weights
  • BOL-03-10 3mmX10mm Machine Screw (x12 +2) 0.78g each (10.77g)
  • BOL-03-15 3mmX15mm Machine Screw (x20 +4) 1.03g each (24.81g)
  • NUT-03-01 3mm Hex Nut (x34 +4) 0.31g each (12.09g)
  • WASH-03-01 3mm Washer (x12 +4) 0.12g each (1.99g)

Attached Files"
(ACFU) - Acrylic Funnel For Bolt Handling.cdr - Acrylic funnel used to help with handling the small nuts and bolts

Step 12: Arduino and Breadboard

Envelope #3 (Arduino) - This envelope is slightly more complicated than the others in that we pre-load each Arduino with a test program. To do this we slice an opening in the antistatic package and load "_SERB_Test.pde" onto each board before sealing the opening with an oomlout sticker.

Envelope #4 (Breadboard) - Simply slip the breadboard into the envelope.

Attached Files:
(V 1.0) SERB oomlout labels.cdr - Labels used to cover up the cut

Step 13: Wiring

Envelope #5 (Wire) - This envelope takes several steps.
  • Apply double sided tape to the back of the battery box
  • Strip and cut the wire pieces - (using our DIY Wire Cutter and Stripper (details)
  • Solder the 9 volt battery clips to the 2.1mm plugs (using an acrylic soldering rig (attached))
  • Ready to stuff

Attached Files:
(BACL)-Battery Clip Jig.cdr - Used to help solder the 9 volt battery clips to the 2.1mm plugs

Step 14: Servos and O-rings

Envelope #6 (Servos) - Just one step before stuffing these in their envelope. Drill two 1/8" (3mm) holes in the servo horn to allow attaching to the SERB's wheels

Envelope #7 (O-rings) - Slip the O-rings in and close the flap.

Congrats your Envelopes are stuffed, your acrylic is cut, and you're ready to produce instruction booklets.

Step 15: Instructions - Printing the Booklets

To keep things in house and costs down we produce our instruction booklets on a laser printer.

Doing this takes only a few simple steps:
  • 1. Print out the manual using Adobe Viewers "booklet" printing function"
  • 2. Collate
  • 3. Staple - this is a bit fun as it takes you back to elementary school when you were only very rarely allowed to use the long armed stapler. To make this process more precise we have also produced a jig to keep the spacing consistent. (attached)
  • 4. Fold - Using the stapling jig as a guide fold the books in half.

Attached Files:
(BOST)- Booklet Stapler- Jig to help with booklet stapling
04-(SERB)-Assembly Guide.pdf - The Assembly Guide
05-(SERB)-Wiring Diagram.pdf - The Wiring Diagram
05-(SERB)-Wiring Diagram (Cover).pdf - The Wiring Diagram Cover

Step 16: Packaging - Getting the Boxes Ready

We are all but complete. Time to get everything packaged up and ready to ship.

First off the boxes.
  • 1. Print out the cover sheets.
  • 2. Glue a cover sheet on each box (it is much easier to do this before the boxes are folded)
  • 3. Fold and stack your boxes (optional: pretend you own a pizza restaurant, it adds to the fun)

Attached Files:
(V 1.0) SERB Packaging Cover.pdf - The Cover Packaging.
00-SERB Packing Summary.pdf - A summary of everything that is packaged inside each box.

Step 17: Putting Everything in the Boxes

It all comes together simply follow the packing list below, add packing peanuts, close, tape and repeat 30 times.

Packing List:
  • SERB-SQ-01 SERB Acrylic Square one
  • SERB-SQ-02 SERB Acrylic Square two
  • SERB-INST-01 SERB Instruction Booklet
  • SERB-INST-02 SERB Wiring Guide
  • ENV-01 3 mm Hardware
  • ENV-02 8 mm Hardware
  • ENV-03 Arduino
  • ENV-04 Breadboard
  • ENV-05 Wire
  • ENV-06 Servo
  • ENV-07 O-ring

Step 18: Final Quality Control

With the utmost care taken at every step this one is really not necessary. But in case a simple mistake was made and it is easy to catch we weigh each completed kit. As a result you can be certain that the kit you receive will weigh somewhere between 852g and 859g.

Step 19: Finished

You've done it, produced thirty kits, all that is left is shipping them out. I assure you the nuances of shipping require at the very least an Instructable to themselves so i will leave you with inventory.

If you have any questions, suggestions or would like clarification on anything please feel free to leave a message or send us an e-mail at

(shameless plug)
or if you'd like to check out our delightfully fun open source projects trying visiting