One of the things we found at Makerfaire Rome and were eager to try is the FabScan 3d scanner by Wetterott. It comes in a kit, and is really cheap (126€). So we bought the kit and assembled it a couple of days ago. As always, here comes the review.
As soon as you open the box you realize that the construction is really really simple. There are the arduino and the shield, the laser module and the webcam, a motor with its driver. Add the wooden parts, some nuts and bolts and the power supply and you are finished. To be fair if you sum up the prices of all the pieces you reach a sum that is really near the price of the kit.
But let's start building it! Where are the instructions???? There are NO instructions!!! Or at least some parts are described, some have old descriptions pointing to the previous kit and some other are just plain missing. And everything is on different pages-websites and all mixed up. Yuck, hate it.
I was building it with Carlo this time, and he just started with the arduino shield that was the most difficult (and less described) part.
So part 1: the shield. The shield must be soldered, and it's a ton of components to solder together (well, maybe I'm an electronics newbie but it really scared me!). The really ugly part is not that you have to solder all the pieces, but that there is no clear instructions on how to do it. The website has a nice description on how it works and a video on how it was manufactured, but no description on how to assemble except on the instructions page where it states to start soldering the female headers (nice pictures at the beginning) and to go on with the male and lastly the interconnect headers (no more pictures…). We also had to break some of the headers. So be prepared to solder, and quite a lot! Actually, this shield has space for 4 stepper motors but we will be using just one right now, so if you are lazy you can just solder the corresponding connector and leave out the others.
Then just place it on the Arduino board provided.
Part 2: the Pololu stepper motor driver carrier. This part is probably so easy that they decided not to spend a word on it… Anyhow this is how it should look like, and you can read all about it on the website of Pololu. So solder it, and it's ready to be placed on the shield.
Now on to step 3: dismembering the poor webcam. We are given a Logitech webcam but need to separate it from its case. This time we have nice instructions to follow, and though it's kind of scary to open it up and “gut it”, you can do it easily. The only very tricky part is the unsoldering of the cable to move it out of the case. you then have to re-solder it, so if you are not interested in saving the webcam for possible other uses, you might as well try and break the plastic to free the components. But do it at your own risk
Step 4: the laser nothing to assemble here, you just open the box and solder the 2 wires to the shield. Wait to do this part because you will find out that the cable is too short and just doesn't reach the shield when in its final position! Again we couldn't find a clear picture so here you, go, this is how the wires should look like.
Step 5: assembling the wooden enclosure
and adding the components. This is where things start to be really funny, because the instructions manual you can download in pdf here
, states that the new Cube version will have wonderful interactive instructions
available soon, but the last update is of february 2013. Not soon enought for me, I would have preferred simple easy instructions NOW instead of wonderful, interactive ones in the misty future… So we had to follow the older assembly guide and look at the pictures and renderings! No fun… First of all the motor enclosure, this is pretty different from the original one, take a look at these pictures.
BTW there are no instructions on how to connect the stepper motor to the shield, in the older version the motor just has 4 wires, while the new one (described on this page) has 6. So… What to do with the other wires? And which are the right ones to connect? Again no clear photo, we had to squint and guess a little bit and in the end we cut away the yellow and white wire and soldered the remaining 4 on a connector (that we had in the lab). They were probably meant to be soldered on the shield, but we preferred a removable solution.
Here you can see the colors of the wires, without squinting
On with the case, the laser enclosure is again a little bit different from the previous version, could be because with this assembly you could add a second stepper motor to turn the laser. The software already has the possibility to control this second motor and the corresponding wooden piece has already the holes to screw it.
On the other hand, the laser wires are too short, and we had to do add another piece (in a horrible way, or at least Carlo says so)
The webcam has to be screwed directly on the wall of the enclosure (again, no pictures for the 2.0 version) with 2 M2 screws that are easily misplaced. They barely fit, so carefully enlarge the holes on the webcam PCB before screwing them.
The turntable fits nicely on the stepper motor axis, and the walls of the box are easy to assemble though some more screws would have been a good idea, the top and bottom have no screws and can easily fall of if you move it around.
The power supply is a general purpose multi-voltage one and you have to set it to 12v (it's not written anywhere though) and you have to choose the right connector.
And you are done, you can plug it in you computer (no usb cable given, but we always have tons lying around), power it up and hope you have done everything correct
And here we are!!!!
Marco helping us understand WHY the step motor was not working… Turned out the voltage on the power connector was wrong… Sometimes the easiest solutions are the best ones
Next time, the software set up and the first scans.