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MakerBeam Crowdfunded Open Source Building Kit Answered

MakerBeam is a project to build a toy and tool for the open source imagination. Based on Mini-T, a new open source standard, MakerBeam will develop a construction toy for our times: open source precision hardware equally at home doing desktop fabrication or serving as a drawbridged castle for action figures.

The fully developed MakerBeam line of connectors will make for an unsurpassed builder's toy and maker kit. Connectors, pivots, hinges, pulleys, cables, wheels, slot-in PCBs, and ALL of it open source, with the models published under Creative Commons licenses.

Mini-T is a scaled-down version of T-slot, a building system widely used in automation, prototyping, and machining. This miniature building system will bring the strength and precision of T-slot to a modeling system, allowing serious robotics, CNC machines, and more to be built at a desktop scale.

MakerBeam is being built now; we are raising funds and building our Alpha and Beta teams through Kickstarter, an innovative site for crowdfunding. We are nearly 80% of the way to our funding goal, and every extra dollar we raise will go to improving the project for public release, aiming for Maker Faire 2010.

For more details including 3-d video of MakerBeam in action check out our Kickstarter page. Alpha kits, which are going fast, ship by Christmas, while Beta kits are projected for February. For even more info, and to contact, stop by the main site.


"Crowdfunding" = "lots of people pay for it in small slices with not much hope of a return"?

And how! He should go on a street corner playing a guitar made of MakerBeams, and have a bucket on the ground in front of him so people can Crowdfund his next meal. Also, kids who are spanked have lower IQs. Did you know that?

>presents award for the evening's most random comment

Did you hear about the Russian geneticists who bred domesticated foxes in less than a dozen generations?

Grabs random award trophy and runs off-stage

Not quite!

Kickstarter takes a lot of the risk out of raising funds for a project, because if the funding goal isn't reached, no one is charged anything. With MakerBeam, for example, we're aiming to raise $10,000; if we fall short, we don't get anything, and no one is charged a dime.

If we do achieve our funding goals, and it's looking good, we'll have enough money to fulfill our pledges.

It's a good model. We'd hate to raise, say, $4,000 and not be able to deliver for people. We can raise more, but not less.

So I would say "crowdfunding" = "lots of people pledge small contributions, and if enough people are interested, the project happens".

We still have an invite left for a good open source hardware project on Kickstarter, if anyone is interested.

fischertechnik is good stuff alright, and works on a similar 'T-slot' profile.

MakerBeam is going to be 10x10mm rather than 15x15mm, and made of extruded aluminium rather than nylon, making it at least an order of magnitude more rigid. Fischertechnik is more like blocks, being usually 30mm long; a typical piece of MakerBeam will be on the order of 100-300 mm long.

MakerBeam is also an open source standard, which anyone will be able to build. There are thousands of aluminium extruders capable of making the beam and hundreds of thousands of machinists who can make the slot nuts and brackets, so no one will be tied to one particular company and its whims and fortunes.

We're basically a team of three geeks who like to make things, and want a platform for doing high-quality and reusable rapid enclosures, robotics, and machines.

The open source hardware community is well served with component sensors, microcontrollers, servomotors and the like; the usual solution for enclosures and mechanical linkages is to homebrew them or use CNC. MakerBeam is going to bring down the cost in time and money to assemble this great collection of components into whatever you're doing with them.

Also, everything is reusable and recyclable. That's a bonus.

That's the basic idea. Our Beta package will ship in February and will consist of 50 pieces of beam in various sizes (somewhere between 5 and 10 meters total, we're dialing this in) and enough connector hardware to get building with it.