Blog Archive

At the end of a long day of upgrade the Z-Axis on our new CNC machine with Mark and Swiss, Mike decided to test everything out by playing us a little mood music.

29 Jan 2013

New Look

We’ve migrated away from our old Posterous website onto a new WordPress platform.  Our goal was to present a more professional put-together look to the public, and to facilitate better dissemination of information to our members.  We welcome all user-submitted content and comments.  Your participation is what will make this awesome!  Look for exciting changes to the website in the upcoming weeks.

If you have any requests or suggestions, let us know!  Add a comment and we’ll see what we can do.

Want to show off one of your projects, and maybe even win a prize in the process? Get your cameras ready, and prepare to blow us away with your hardware project’s Epicness and get it posted front-and-center on our new blog!

What kind of project may I enter with?
For this contest, your project does not have to include a significant hardware component. It should either be original, or a significant addition you made to an existing project that you have permission to post for the world to see.

Who is eligible?
Anyone who has been to SB Hackerspace. Ever. True story.

How do I enter?
Send an email, with a brief description of the project and attached photo, to

By when must I enter?
Friday February 15, 2013 @ 11:59pm Pacific time. The judging will occur at SB Hackerspace (map, video) the following day at our Saturday meeting.

How will the winner be determined?
The SB Hackerspace Board of Directors and the community will each nominate a winner. If these two groups nominate the same entry, then said entry is the winner. If the Board and community vote for two different entries, there will be a second vote where only individuals can vote (no Board). Whoever ends up with the most votes shall reign victorious.

What are the criteria? What makes a project good?
There is but one criterion — Epicness — to be subjectively determined by all judging parties.

Is there a prize?
Yes! The winner will receive a $25 gift certificate for Home Depot.
Between now and the next contest, we’ll be looking for sponsors to partner with to offer prizes, providing exposure for the sponsor, greater recognition of the hackerspace, and a cool gift for the winner! Everybody wins. (If you’d like to sponsor an SB Hackerspace contest, contact us.)

A few weeks ago Mark went above and beyond and donated an old Domiteaux Powerbase CNC engraving machine to the Hackerspace. It’s a late 1980’s vintage CNC engraver and came complete with the original controller and an ancient laptop to run it. The original controller included ROM cartridges that contained the fonts and symbols, and a parallel interface. It has a 14″ x 16″ work area, a diamond engraving head and a rotary cutting tool driving but a belt / motor set up. The machine has an acme screw X / Y table driven by a pair of sizeable steppers, a third access which is pneumatic and is only capable of binary up or down control. There is also a 4th rotary access below the working surface for round items. The original software could not be located so work has begun to retrofit it with a modern controller and USB interface.

We have a number of planned upgrades for the machine, including adding a proper Z axis and replacing the belt motor setup with a dremel or similar rotary tool to create a 3 axis mill. The Z axis is based on the Ponoko shapeoko mill ( We have a decent length of maker slide and v groove wheels with bearings (also donated by Mark, really cannot express how thankful we are for everything).

A good deal of progress has been made making a replacement controller. The best setup we have so far is an arduino uno running GRBL ( and a PC running GCode Sender ( and have had decent results. Using this setup we have engraved a handful of PCBs and some acrylic with good results. We are currently wusing a stepper motor controller that was donated with the machine, and while functional it has some very interesting (read borderline dangerous) wiring so efforts are underway to develop a new motor controller built around the ST L6480 ( we are working on. There will be a number of updates as we add more features to the machine and develop the stepper motor controller.

Update 1/27/13:

The Z axis we are working on used a 1/4″ thick piece of polycarbonate which proved too flexible in practice to be a good mount. We purchased a 1/4″ thick piece of steel from a local supplier to replace the polycarbonate.

Just got an order of PLA from the folks at so I thought I’d take it for a test run. It’s slightly pricier than the options at makershed, makerbot, and a few other suppliers, at $48 per kilo . They claim it was purpose made for 3D printing so I thought it would be worth a try, the order shipped quickly and came with a hand written note apologizing for the delay in shipping. is based in LA and gets their plastic from a supplier in new zealand. I’m glad to say my initial fears of the pack arriving upside down (bad southern hemisphere joke) were unfounded.

Previously we had printed exclusively with ABS so there will be some adjustments needed to our profiles before we get really good as good a print as we had with ABS, news theothermike and Dr John will not enjoy. Initial results are promising, the PLA is much more gooey compared to ABS and stay soft quite a bit longer when the print has finished. Also of note, the 3% shrinkage we got with the ABS is not an issue, which is nice when mocking up designs in cad. It also sticks to the heated build platform and shows no warping on the bottom corners (at least one the couple of test prints I’ve done thus far. Below are some pictures showing the PLA in black and ABS in blue for comparisons of print quality.

Courtesy of John Gomm et al the Santa Barbara Makerbot is ready to rock.

This is a chair.

That is all.

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What is the Hackerspace?

We are a group of makers and developers in the Santa Barbara community who love building things. The Hackerspace has a Makerbot printer, piles of Arduinos, and much, much more. Learn More →
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Goleta CA 93117

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