Tag Archives: Kickstarter

Makeblock Is A New Modular Aluminum Extrusion System

Makeblock is here to solve your robot problems. The t-slot aluminum extrusion is a tried-and-true way of building modular frames, and even simple mechanisms. It works, but it has an Achilles Heel…the nut.

t slot nut boltThat nut has to be inserted into the slot so that the bolt can torque down on the beam. Some designs include a nut that can be inserted straight through the slot and twisted instead of needing to be slid in from one end (FAZTEK). Others turn the bolt around so that the head of the bolt takes the place of the traditional nut and the nut tightens down from the outside of the bolt (MakerBeam).

A new Kickstarter campaign does away with the nut all together. Instead of using a t-slot, they have a slot with parallel sides and just the right threading to allow you to screw in a nut at any point along the slot.

Makeblock looks like an extremely well integrated system for prototyping cyber-electro-mechanical systems. They have the modular beam system itself, but they also have their own electronics with the correct footprint to fit on the beams and adapters for common things like Lego and servos. Additionally, they have it working in the real world and appear to have the manufacturing muscle to produce a lot of the kits.

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Makerbot Gets Cloned…Again

Well that escalated quickly.

Open source hardware hasn’t really been a thing for very long, so it doesn’t have many success stories. Arduino is probably the only obvious one. Makerbot is quickly becoming the second. How can you tell when an idea is successful? Easy, it gets copied.

Matt Strong figured out how to source the parts for a Makerbot Replicator from China and joined Kickstarter with a proposal: if he could gather $500,000 he would offer his TangiBot (a clone of the Replicator) for 30% less. How that turned out and what it means…after the jump.

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Kanyi Maqubela Interviewed Jessica Jackley of Kiva About Crowd Funding

Kanyi Maqubela of Collaborative Fund interviewed Kiva co-founder Jessica Jackley for The Atlantic (how’s that for maximum name-dropping in minimum space).

Read the article, or continue reading for some highlights.

Maqubela: It seems there will soon be platforms to raise money for almost anything, from the local bakery you hope to start in your neighborhood, to your high-technology startup idea, to donations for a church mission trip. What will such an economy look like? To answer that question, I spoke with with my colleague Jessica Jackley…

Jackley: Not all things can or should be crowdfunded…The ventures that keep things light and fun, easy to understand, that have a compelling story, a sexy retail product, will have an easier time getting people to rally around them and contribute. A start-up doing something that’s difficult to communicate or doesn’t offer any kind of retail product will have a tougher go at it.

Maqubela: This seems to line up with your Kiva philosophy: crowdfunding as a way of validating, or manifesting, an emotional connection to an individual or a narrative.

Jackley: Investors in big and in small deals tend to invest in people and in stories that resonate with them.

Maqubela: Kickstarter provided more than $150 million in funding to the arts in 2012, outpacing the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), but is that a lot of money?

Jackley: One of the smartest things Kickstarter has done, in my opinion, is give people a great shopping experience related to the arts, that funds the arts. In essence, they’ve gotten people to pay $200 for a t-shirt plus the feeling of participation in another artist’s endeavor…Healthcare professionals don’t make art (in any traditional sense).

Maqubela: Endowing important projects requires sustained interest over time, and the Internet trends heavily towards short term thinking. I’m skeptical that crowdfunding could sustain longer-term projects…

Jackley: I wonder about that too.

Maqubela: But is the wisdom of the crowds really good?

Jackley: I see no problem with opening up more ways for entrepreneurs get capital — in general I think the more the merrier on this front — but again, we need to respect the place of crowdfunding in a very big market, and not try to make it more than it should be.

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FreedomBox is Vaporware. Maybe. Maybe Not.

Wired’s Threat Level reported on the threat that Eben Moglen’s FreedomBox will never actually exist in any meaningful way.

They got $85K in funding from a Kickstarter campaign and set up an organization to develop the concept, but it’s been like a year since then and, you know, it’s not like they haven’t done anything…but there’s nothing they can really show to the community as a milestone.

From the Wired post, “In an e-mail, Daly told Threat Level that setting the end of the year as the goal for the initial beta-release is intentionally ambitious. He hopes that “people will see the fact that we probably won’t make it without additional developers as an excuse to join the project.”…“FreedomBox is not going to be saved by the enthusiasm of those who care about freedom,” he said, while pacing in his office at the Software Freedom Law Center in Manhattan. “It’s going to be saved from that fate because that software stack is going to be useful to all kinds of people for all kinds of purposes.”

That seems like a reasonably solid argument. Open source projects are particularly successful when they are flexible tools. The sort of person who can develop a technology is the same sort of person who wants more and better tools for developing technology. The best people tend to focus on projects that are useful in a general sense. However, I suspect that the FreedomBox idea might be fundamentally flawed.

More… Continue reading

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QU-BD Open Source Design & Manufacturing Startup, Interview

Teamwork is a wonderful thing. Frequently the world has to put up with 1) inventors who don’t market their product or interact with their community enough to be successful or 2) marketers who don’t engineer their product enough to produce something of real value. Occasionally the stars align and people have the sense to build a team with overlapping skills rather than try to go it alone.

QU-BD is taking the teamwork approach. They are a four-person startup, Chelsea Thompson is majoring in communication and is the (active and prolific) face of QU-BD, Nathan Meyers is a serial entrepreneur, Courtney Kinggard has a background in architecture and interior design, and David Mainard brings not only a 35 year career in machining and industrial design, but also his own machine shop. From the back-end David and Nathan bring experience, design expertise, and decades-long relationships with suppliers; from the front-end Chelsea brings an infectious excitement and real-time interaction with the community.

Their “little indie 3D printing and milling company” is 100% committed to being open source. not only does the philosophy determine what they design/build, it also informs their business model. They are pricing their wares at the minimum responsible margins. That way they can focus on high volume which will get open source rapid prototyping technology into the hands of as many people as possible.

More after the jump.  Continue reading

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Crowd Funding Dump

Kickstarter has subdivided their “technology” category into “open software” and “open hardware” which makes my job a little faster. There aren’t very many things in it…but I suppose that also makes my job a little faster.

Summary:

Details after the jump.

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Open Source USB-Based Power Supply

Normally power supplies are AC-powered, and big, so they aren’t portable. They also tend to have more power and/or features than you need for most tasks. Is that fact ruining your life? Open source hardware to the rescue!

You can find this little marvel, and fund it, at Kickstarter.

Related Links

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Crowd Funding Dump

So, apparently the JOBS Act officially sanctioned “crowdfunding” (yes it’s a real word now).

The catch is that “investors” can only work with “issuers” through the services of a “portal” which has to be registered with the SEC. What this means is that Indiegogo and Kickstarter will have some competition and we’re about to see a lot more innovative ideas pitched (more or less) directly to the public.

Anywho…that’s fascinating and all…but what will it do for open source hardware? I dunno; lets find out. Assuming there’s enough activity (seems like a safe assumption) the Crowd Funding Dump (CFD) will become a regular feature on Openalia.

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