By now we are all quite aware that 3D printing is allowing for some very serious work, discovery, and progress in labs and hospitals all around the world. As you read, researchers are somberly working on transforming everything from dentistry to plastic surgery, and doctors on numerous continents employ a variety of 3D printed models to assist in complex procedures like separating conjoined twins or prepping for kidney transplants. Thanks to the new technology, amazing impacts are being made through incredible human innovation and effort.
With all the hard work going on in the world, however, also comes the need to play—and 3D printing is no slouch in allowing for that either. A culture of hobbyists that used to spend time relaxing by meticulously building model planes, drones, and more has on many accounts been melded in with the maker community of 3D printing-loving tinkerers, hackers and novices excited about creating—and flying things overhead.
BoxBotix is a perfect example of what thrills a contemporary hobbyist. An open source 3D printable robotics system developed by Coby Leuschke from Rocketship Systems, BoxBotix can be a copter, plane, or rover. Perfect for the desktop enthusiast, this aerial fun can fabricated easily at home, with some materials required using basic tools such as metric fasteners, extruded carbon fiber shapes, aluminum, and foam.
The project was part of a successful Kickstarter campaign last month, raising a total of $17,558 and giving the team the opportunity to get well familiar with launching their business as they shipped out 69 kits to those who pledged. If you are interested in 3D printing the BBots, you can now find the design files, as well as full documentation, on Wevolver. Two kits, each containing over 130 parts, are available, in either the ‘Bring Your Own Printer’ version or the ‘Full Frame’ kit which contains all the 3D printed parts ready made.
“Our vision is to form a global network of artisans who specialize in the design, manufacture and support of open source robots at the local level. We get a lot of emails and phone calls from people trying to fly sensors but lack the robots to put them on. So we decided to see if we could design something that was easy to hack, make, use and sustain,” said Coby Leuschke, CEO.
Leuschke’s project is perfect for the DIY crowd as the open-source design means once you’ve mastered the basics, you can take off on your own and make custom configurations, with suggestions like boats, monster trucks, or even droids. You can mix and match the parts to make your own robotic frame, and the BBots team made sure to design all the connections for modules requiring only thumbscrews, promising easy assembly and easy maintenance while in the field.
“Need a ground-based rover? Need a long range flyer? Need vertical takeoff or hover capabilities? The BBRover, BBPlane, and BBCopter are sets of modules that are all compatible with the same BrainBox frame, and can be interchanged quickly and tool-free for multifunctional capabilities in the field,” states the BBots team on Wevolver.
“We have developed a base design for each variant, but with a little 3D CAD knowledge and some creativity, these modules can be altered to integrate sensors and payloads of your choosing. You can even start with the Lid or Arm Module interface, and come up with a whole new module concept of your own.”
The BBots design is meant to be both dust and waterproof, and Leuschke explains that they made the system so you could be outdoors flying your craft in the ‘worst case scenario.’ Leuschke, obviously passionate about pursuing his craft in any weather (ahem!), explains that for his team that means out at night, in the rain, wearing gloves. Whether that is something you want to do or not, you do have the promise that these designs are durable. Check out Wevolver for specifications on each BBot configuration. And, BBon Voyage!
See the video below for information on the typical power, signal, and electronics installation for a BBot BrainBox. Is this a system you’d be interested in having? Discuss in the 3D Printed BBots forum over at 3DPB.com.