September 2015 Update

We are continuing to make good progress here at Pocket NC.  This past month we shipped out our hats and stickers.  If you pledged for one and didn't get it, be sure and check your email to make sure you didn't miss the survey for your address!

 We'd also like to take time to thank all those who backed us at the $5 level.  All of you combined helped to give us a little extra wiggle room in our first run of production and we really appreciate all of your support!  So here goes, big thanks goes out to Keith Reffell, Eric Weinhoffer, Heri Sim, Ryan Lackey, Frank Wiebenga, GP Yee, 3Dsimo, Javier, Jotham McMillan, Mathieu Monney, Matt Stultz, Tim, Jason Webb, Michael Curry, Christian Klemke, Dustin Sell, cubergreen, James S Beckman, 3devo, Brian Ware, Thorkil, Jondale Stratton, R. D. Childers, Gavin Bath, L.M. Oliver, Scott Seivert, CHERCIU Mihail, Niall Barrett, Michael Ukabam, Edispin Inc, Grzegorz Jagla, Dag Henrik Bråtane, Laurens Laudowicz, Phoenix, Gerald Fuller, Daniel M Simser, David Perry, Affan, Wolfgang Klich, Nathan Stephens, Tyler Lindsay, Kristen Dyrr, R.M., Lauren Schmitt, JV (John) Pumphrey, Dean, Anthony Bergelt, Amanda Z, Filippo Toso, Celtic Hotel, London (Deb), D.LINK STUDIO LLC, Elias Dinter, Stephen Coates, Andreas Rozek, Ove Andersen, Carlos Poon, Lorenzo Frangi, Sean Hall, David Proffer, Jason Bird, ben shultz, Chris E, Darin, Adam Phelps, Mcontrem, Andy Holmstom, Victoria A., Simen Kjærås, EJ Strauss, Nathanael Nunes, Philip Barishich, Ryan, Jesse, and Wes, Aaron G. Sauers, CLP, NEEO Inc., Evgeny Hotulev, Peter Csontos, Ng Wai Sing, Hamish Patel, Natalie Freed, Ilya Smirnov, Andy Mills, Ernest Ho, CrystalKB, Carsten Spranger, Andrew Sand, Dmitri Don, Brandon Zurek, Justen Judd, Gion Manetsch, Center for a Stateless Society, Kean Maizels, Jonas Rabbe, Jordan, Katrina L. Halliwell, FastEddie, Shaun Redsar, Rob Scott, Vincent Poirier, onelife, Leonard@TM, waquier, Christoffer Wallén, Ryan Oberfield, SeltzerKick, Calvin Chu, IPD DESK Ltd, supervexi, and Alya.

We are continuing to work hard on machining and are over halfway through the machines.  We also have a steady flow of parts coming back from anodize and will soon have the custom machines back!

 We also have all the components we need to begin the assembly process for the first batch!  We are excited to finish assembling a few soon so that we can test them and make sure everything is good before cranking out the rest.

You may have noticed that the machine we advertised on our Kickstarter campaign required an ethernet connection to a computer to operate.  We have realized that this is one of the weak points of our machine because who really wants to deal with an ethernet connection in the 21st century?  So we have been working on a few prototypes to add more ports including a micro USB, HDMI, and USB.  What this means for our users is that they will have three options for operation.  Users can SSH into the machine from another computer using the ethernet connection, SSH using the micro USB connection, or use a stand alone mouse, keyboard, and HDMI compatible screen.  You can also use the USB port to load Gcode files to your machine with a USB stick.  We have tested 3 iterations of the prototype boards and things are going really well.  Thanks again to OSH Park for helping us work through these prototype boards quickly!

We also want to thank our programmer, Duane Bishop, who has been working very hard to iron out any bugs we have in our setup and make our user experience better.

 We are also working on rounding out our website so that by the time we begin shipping machines, there is ample information to get our users started.  You can find this information on our resource page.  This includes things like tutorials on how to use the machine, dimensions of the machine for those of you building custom enclosures, as well as diagrams describing the home position and travel of the machine.

August 2015 Update

Pocket NC has been very busy since our last update!  After receiving our Kickstarter funds, we have been purchasing all of the components necessary to build your machines.  Many of the components are starting to come in, including some of our linear bearings(shown below).  We will continue to see more components arriving over the next few months.  We have worked hard to develop relationships with our suppliers over the past few years to ensure that this part of the process goes as smooth as possible and they are definitely putting forth their best effort to get us this first round of components.

We also took shipment of the remainder of the aluminum for your machines and are running our Haas every day to get the parts machined.  We are about a third of the way done with the machining.

Once we had enough parts, we brought the first round of machines to our local anodizer to get the signature green and black color scheme.  We currently have ten machines ready to begin assembly as soon as the necessary hardware comes in to get going.  We'll also be sending out the machines with the custom color schemes soon.

Before sending out our electronics boards to get made, we realized that we had enough extra space on the boards to design a custom ruler to include with each machine.  The rulers are 6 inches long with a 0 to 6inch scale on one side, and a -0.875 to 5.125 inch scale on the back side for referencing the A axis center line(see second photo below).  We also included a tooling quick reference chart to assist in determining the diameter of your end mill.

 

We have also been working with Autodesk to get them trained using our machines, including putting together tutorials on the various aspects of using the Pocket NC.  We will begin releasing those soon so that our users can get a head start on figuring out what it will take to run the Pocket NC.  Below is a picture of our B axis table with our custom vise modeled in Fusion 360 that our users will have access to in order to help with getting your setups done right the first time.

We also received our trucker hats today and will be sending those out over the next few weeks, so if you backed us at that level make sure you fill out your shipping information in the survey we sent out through Kickstarter.  Thanks for tracking with our progress!

That's a wrap!

Since we have wrapped up our Kickstarter campaign, we wanted to take a post to say a huge thanks to everyone who backed us!  We are really excited to have the go ahead to move into full production.  We have got a head start on the process since we met our goal a few weeks ago and are machining through some aluminum while we wait for our funds to come in to finish ordering our components.  We have been producing about 200 pounds of aluminum chips a week.

 We also have the boards for our BeagleBone Black capes on order.  The photo below is one of the left overs from the last batch of working prototypes that we produced and saw no issues with.  We owe a big thanks to the folks over at OSH Park for all the help they've been through our prototyping process.  If you are looking for a place to get small batches of boards prototypes, we highly recommend working with them!

 One issue we have been struggling with for a while has been finding a way to cover the fastener holes on our linear bearings that is functional, looks good, and won't add an hour to our assembly process.  We weren't too happy with the plastic caps that are made for this purpose and even tried out essentially a hot glue gun and plastic which didn't work too well either.  We finally got around to prototyping some very thin laser cut shims that we are very happy with on all fronts.  It's all about the details, people!

Old rail covers.

Old rail covers.

New rail covers.

New rail covers.

Sold Out!

Wow!  What a week it's been.  Thanks so much to all of our backers who came out to support our campaign!  We are SO excited about the machines sold and ready to head into production.  So ready, that today we took delivery of about 1000 pounds of aluminum so that we can get to making chips on some of your frames.


 For those of you wondering if we will be adding more machines to the campaign, the answer is that we don't plan to.  The number we limited the campaign to is based on the manufacturing plan that we have developed and our capacity to grow over the coming months.  While it kills us to not sell as many machines as we can through the campaign, we want to make sure that we are well equipped to follow through with the delivery dates that we have set.  If you missed out on a machine and you want us to let you know when we launch preorders, or if you are outside the US and want to know when we launch preorders, leave us your email address in the box on our homepage.  Another option, if you are very determined to get a Kickstarter machine, is to watch over the next few weeks to see if another backer cancels their pledge.

Since we have done so well in the campaign, we decided to develop a custom vise to include with all of your machines!  It is a simple dowel pin vise that attaches to the table made from 6061 aluminum.  With what we will include, the width of part it can hold is 0.2-2.25 in.  This width can be easily extended by using longer dowel pins and a longer bolt. 

May Update

We have had a very busy and productive couple of months here at Pocket NC!  

Besides continuing testing on our machines, we have been working on building two more machines that we will be sending out to our partners at Autodesk.  This has been very beneficial because it has allowed us to film the whole manufacturing process to show as part of our video for our Kickstarter campaign, test out a new supplier for our anodizing, as well as a new supplier for the pick and place manufacturing of our electronics boards.

We have been very pleased with how the machine has been performing cutting metal.  Our main project has been machining an engine block out of 6061 aluminum.  We've been running around 20 inches per minute.  The typical cuts have been 0.01 inches step over and 0.1 inch depth.

PocketNC_Aluminum_Engine_Block

We are still on track to launch our Kickstarter campaign later this summer.  We will be tying up some loose ends before pulling the trigger, so stay tuned!


PocketNC and Fusion 360

We have had a very exciting couple of months here at PocketNC.  Our last round of capes for our BeagleBone Black have full functionality which has enabled us to FINALLY move ahead with testing our hardware.  It also allows us to further explore the capabilities of Autodesk's new, cloud-based CAD/CAM solution, Fusion 360.

We are really excited about the offerings of Fusion 360 and believe that it will make a huge difference for our users as well as a ton of makers, educators, and start-ups the world over.  Autodesk has committed to offering the software for free (including 3+2 machining capability!) for hobbyists, educators, and businesses making less than $100,000 per year.  See this great blog post by CEO Carl Bass for more info on their vision.

We've worked with Autodesk over the past months to create a post processor for Fusion 360 specifically for PocketNC, but given the state of our electronics haven't been able to test it until now.  So we've spent the past couple of weeks working through writing tool paths to machine a duck call(based off an open source design by Doug Lanter on GrabCAD) and proofing out the PocketNC post processor.  We are really happy with the results and looking forward to moving on to more testing!


Happy Holidays from Pocket NC

We hope that the holidays found you all happy and healthy and that you're now tinkering with any new toys that Santa may have brought you!

We had a great Christmas and were delivered the last components we needed to complete our second round of prototype Beagle Bone Black capes on Christmas Eve day!  We have been working hard even since then to get everything connected and soldered and ready to go.  We began testing on the machine yesterday and we are happy with the results so far.  We have the machine moving around, and we are very happy to see the boards are staying cool.  The last round of prototype boards were getting pretty warm so that was one of our design objectives this round.  

So everyone is thinking the same thing,   "That's great, so when can I get a machine?!"  Well we have some more kinks to work out on these boards and that will determine whether we continue on with this set to do the fun testing or if we need iterate again on the capes(which will add more time to the process).  

We are excited to keep on testing, and hopefully put out some good videos for you all once we get to making some chips!

 

Testing our second round of cape prototypes for our 5 axis desktop CNC mill. First section is homing, second is just movement. Third is small movement with a dial indicator to show positional accuracy.

PCB Progress

We have had a very busy month placing all the components on our first round of PCBs for our BeagleBone Black cape.  As expected, we ran into a number of issues and bugs on the first round but so far nothing that we haven't been able to address.  We are getting close to sending out the next rev of boards to be made which should have the functionality to continue our machine testing.  

Here's a snapshot of one of our fully assembled Beta 2.0s:

PocketNC_Beta2_5Axis_CNC_Mill

We also had the opportunity to travel to NYC to participate in the Blackstone LaunchPad Demo Day along with 20 other ventures from universities around the nation.  We had the opportunity to have a cocktail hour on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and get our picture taken with the opening bell (see below).  We learned a lot over the couple days we were there and were excited to get back home to keep moving on Pocket NC.

Green Beta 2.0 and Purple BBB Capes

Quick update to let you all know how we are doing with our Beta 2.0's.  We got them back from anodize and were pretty happy with the results.  This is our first run with a shop here in Montana so that is always nerve wracking, but they did a great job so that was a relief.

PocketNC_Beta2_Desktop_5Axis_CNC_Mill

Bannor finished the design of our cape and we had the boards made.  The guys over at OSH Park did a great job of doing a rush set for us so that we can keep the ball rolling.  This week our purple boards came, and we have been working hard to get them populated with our components.  Like any prototyping process, we already know of some changes that need to be made to the boards but we are really happy to be making progress.

Also wanted to update you all on the timing of our Kickstarter campaign.  Once we get the boards up and running, we will need to run some good tests on the machines before launching the campaign.  If everything goes as planned, it is looking like December would probably be the earliest launch date for the campaign.

Beta 2.0 Progress

Since we got our Haas up and running last month we have been working hard at machining the frames for our Beta 2.0 machines.  We are close to finished with one of the machines, and the next one will go much faster since the programs are proofed out now.  It is such a blessing to have a machine available to us to make our own parts and learn along the way.  We can't wait for our machines to get out there so others can have that experience too!

Here's some pictures of the Beta 2.0 parts next to our original Beta parts so you can see some of the improvements we have made:

The base of our machine(left) was previously a box composed of 4 half inch walls.  To add rigidity to the machine and simplify assembly, we have moved to machining a solid billet of aluminum(right).

The base of our machine(left) was previously a box composed of 4 half inch walls.  To add rigidity to the machine and simplify assembly, we have moved to machining a solid billet of aluminum(right).

Our previous X/Z stage(right) was composed of 2 parts,  lacked rigidity, and was difficult to align.  Our new one (left) is a single, rigid part and greatly simplifies alignment.

Our previous X/Z stage(right) was composed of 2 parts,  lacked rigidity, and was difficult to align.  Our new one (left) is a single, rigid part and greatly simplifies alignment.

Our previous A/B backing plates(required) required the wires to be routed through the center where they could get kinked and made it impossible to disassemble if repair was needed.  The new plates(left) have the wires routed through the side and includes a second motor for additional torque.

Our previous A/B backing plates(required) required the wires to be routed through the center where they could get kinked and made it impossible to disassemble if repair was needed.  The new plates(left) have the wires routed through the side and includes a second motor for additional torque.

Our previous spindle mount(left) lacked rigidity.  Our new spindle mount (right) has added rigidity and simplified assembly.

Our previous spindle mount(left) lacked rigidity.  Our new spindle mount (right) has added rigidity and simplified assembly.

Our old linear bearings (upper right) for the Y rails were very difficult to assemble because of the fastener size so our new ones(upper left) are easier to assemble, have better seals, and are made in the US.  Our new rotary bearings(lower left) are bigger and easier to assemble.

Our old linear bearings (upper right) for the Y rails were very difficult to assemble because of the fastener size so our new ones(upper left) are easier to assemble, have better seals, and are made in the US.  Our new rotary bearings(lower left) are bigger and easier to assemble.

We are also making progress in developing our cape for the BeagleBone Black.  The initial design is finished, and we are now working on finding a board house that will be able to get us a few prototypes quickly and at a price that we can afford.  Hopefully the first boards will come back around the same time as we get the frames back from anodize and we can get this second round of testing going!

We wanted to let you all know that we will not be attending the World Maker Faire in New York this year.  Those of you who present or attend Maker Faires know that not only are they expensive to do, but you also end up spending a few weeks getting ready, attending, and recovering from them.  We have so much to do to get through this last push of development that we are deciding to spend the time and money to get us closer to our Kickstarter campaign instead.  Thanks for understanding, and we hope you have an awesome time at the Faire! We will miss it!

Welcome Home Haas!

We have had a big month here at PocketNC!  After 6 months, we have officially moved out of Matt's parents  basement into a house of our own with a 3 car garage and an office to house our company in our next phase of starting up.  Our friend and board designer Bannor has been working relentlessly outside of his day job to get our cape ready to go for the Beagle Bone Black.  We also are very excited to have purchased a Haas Minimill 2!  This is a big step for us to work towards the capability to finish up our testing by building 2 new and improved Beta machines and to be able to head into our Kickstarter campaign ready to knock it out of the park.

We have also been working hard with the folks over at Autodesk to get to know their CAM software package and make sure that we have a post processor in place for our machine so that it will pretty much be plug and play with their software.  They have some great solutions coming down the pipe line to offer affordable CAD/CAM software.

The summer in Bozeman has offered some great opportunities to get involved in our community and help educate people about desktop machining.  We showed our machine to a group of Tech Ed teachers from around the state and had great conversations about how it could fit into their classrooms.  We also attended a maker event at our local library.

For those of you looking for an update of when our Kickstarter campaign will be, if our next round of testing goes well we are still on track to launch the campaign this Fall with the first deliveries going out in early 2015.  We will keep you posted as we test to let you know if we come across any speed bumps that will push us out.  

Beagle Bone Black and Beta 2.0

A lot has been going on for us in the past couple of months!  We attended the Bay Area Maker Faire in May and had a great time.  We ran demos of a wax ring casting on our new Beagle Bone Black setup for pretty much both days straight.  We had some family join us and our friend Gary came to help us answer questions at the booth.  

We are moving forward with a real prototype of a Beagle Bone Black cape which could enable us to release the machine with encoders on all axes.  We are also doing one final run of updated hardware on the machine, which we are calling Beta 2.0.  Once the boards and the hardware are done, we will do one last round of testing on the machine before launching a Kickstarter campaign(still aiming for fall).  

Another exciting piece of news for us is that we have ordered a Haas mill that will be delivered in July.  This will be the machine we use to produce our Kickstarter orders as well as machine the Beta 2.0.  It will be a huge asset to be able to prototype our work in house.

Below is a picture of the Beagle Bone Black running LinuxCNC that we showed at Maker Faire.  We have been seeing great results testing our machine with this setup and we are really excited about all of the opportunities it allows for us to increase our functionality and usability.   Big thanks to Duane who has put in many hours to help us get rolling on it!

PocketNC_Beta_Desktop_5Axis_CNC_Mill2



Testing Update

Our last couple months have been spent inching towards the capability of physical testing on our machine.  We are finally to the point of being able to successfully run some complete tool paths(sometimes for hours on end) which is pretty exciting because the build up to this has been hundreds of 10 second runs before having to stop to address bugs.

That being said,  you can see in the video above that we still have a ways to go in refining the 5 axis motion control with our TinyG2 boards.  We are happy to be on our way, and in our down time of getting software bugs worked out we are looking into an alternative motion control solution that would be based off of a Beagle Bone Black.  We are excited to have multiple motion control solutions in progress in the hopes that at least one will work out and we will be able to get machines out there with a stable solution at our Kickstarter campaign.

The other good news about starting our physical testing is that we are fairly confident our machines will still be running in a month from now(possibly with a Beagle Bone Black too) and we will make the trek to the Maker Faire in San Mateo.  We love meeting other makers and hearing what's going on outside of our corner of the world.  Thanks as always for your interest in our project and for your patience in waiting for it to develop!

February Update

Well it's been a while since we last updated, sorry for that.  The reason why is that we have been always feeling so close to getting our bugs worked out and having some awesome videos of the Betas running for you all.  We have been struggling with bug issues with our electronics since our last update, and are still struggling with them but we are still working hard at fixing them, and most importantly getting our customers a machine that just works.  We want to have all this worked through before launching a Kickstarter campaign so that you all can spend your time making cool stuff, not debugging your machine!

The state of our machine for the last few weeks...

The state of our machine for the last few weeks...

That said, there have been some positive things that have come out of our struggles.  One being that we realized we needed a better way to take the electronics in and out of the machine because its inevitable that it will happen, and having the mess you see in the above picture only adds to the frustration of having issues. So we designed a console that pulls out of the back of the machine much more easily .  

PocketNC_Arduino

The other good thing that has been happening is that we have been starting to make more connections here in Bozeman with other makers and entrepreneurs,  which always helps to give us new ideas and to push through these technical problems.  As always, thanks to everyone who is keeping up with our progress.  We hope to get these bugs fixed soon, and once we do we will be posting as many videos and pictures of our testing process as we can.  Wish us luck!

Happy New Year from Pocket NC

Starting the New Year off with a fresh new website!  

Matt and I are both loving being full time at Pocket NC.  Over the holidays we shipped one of our Beta machines off to the guys over at Synthetos so they can help us with testing their TinyG boards.  Now we are working on assembling two more, while the other two are off getting anodized this week.  Pretty excited to get them together in the next few weeks and see what they can really do before getting our Kickstarter campaign rolling.

PocketNC_Matt