Thing-O-Matic Automated Build Platform

Estimated Build Time: 1 Hour

Tools You'll Need

Here's a few simple tools that'll help you along.

  • Included with Kit
    • 0.035" Hex Wrench
    • 1.5 mm Hex Wrench
    • 2.5 mm Hex Wrench
    • Kapton Tape
    • Sandpaper
  • Supplied by You
    • Scissors
    • Razor Knife
    • Tweezers
    • Soldering Iron
    • Wirestrippers
    • Ruler
    • Solder
    • Sharpie, or other permanent marker
    • Hot Glue Gun*

*Superglue is an alternative, though more permanent.

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Available Video Tutorials

Parts You'll Need

The Automated Build Platform v2.0 kit contains all the parts you need for assembly. Let's take a look at what comes in the kit.

  • 20 mm dc gearmotor
  • 6 x Nylon spacer w/ flange
  • 8 x Nylon washer
  • 5 x zip ties
  • 2 x M2x8 bolts
  • 2 x 18 tooth spur gear
  • 1ft silicone tubing
  • sandpaper strip
  • 20 mm wide kapton tape
  • 2 x 3 mm x 140 mm stainless steel shaft
  • Silicone nozzle wiper
  • Thingomatic Heater Board v1.1
  • Thingomatic Heater Board Wiring Harness
  • red/black wire
  • 2 pin female header
  • Aluminum tape
  • conveyor belt

You'll also need to locate some things from other kits:

  • Four 3/8" self-aligning bearings
  • 7 M3x12 bolts
  • 29 M3x16 bolts
  • 36 M3 nuts
  • 228-tooth continuous timing belt (the short one) or cut down a larger belt (read number silkscreened onto belt before trimming - we offer 272-, 267-, and 265-tooth timing belts)

The M3 hardware will be found in the hardware burrito; the rods are in the Drive Rod Kit, and the belts and bearings are in the Belt & Pulley kit.

In the Kit

Lasercut Parts

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20mm DC Gear Motor

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Conveyor Belt

We are transitioning from belts you tape together yourself to manufactured belts. A shipment of experimental belts arrived the day before Thing-O-Matics began to ship, so we've included one in each kit in addition to the old style die cut belts. If you have to make your own belt follow the automated-build-platform-v2-0-diy-belt instructions.
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Kapton Tape

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Electronics Kit

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Custom Bits Kit

Note that the silicone tube might also be clear!

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Heat Spreader

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Hardware Parts

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Now Build It!

Assemble the Motor

To complete this step you will need the following tools: Soldering iron, solder, Kapton tape, and wire strippers
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20mm gear motor, 10" black/red wire, and one 2-pin connector.

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Strip approximately 5mm off both ends of the black/red wire.

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"Tin" the wires on one end of the cable by adding a little solder to the the exposed end.

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Your result should look like this.

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Solder a 2-pin female header to one end of the black and red cable.

You will need to hold down the wire as you solder.

As of January 3rd, 2011 we are now shipping the ABP v2.0 kit with heat shrink tubing. This is our preferred method of insulating the 2-pin header to the black and red wire.
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However, if you still prefer the Kapton tape method, then you may do so as shown in the picture.
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Insert the wires into the motor terminals

Place the red wire in the hole of the terminal near the colored dot. Some batches of motors have a yellow dot. Place the black wire in the hole of the other terminal. Bend the ends of the wires, so they grip onto the terminals well.
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Solder the wires to the terminals.

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Your motor is now complete

It should look like this when you're done.
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Add Heat Spreader to Heater Board

To complete this step you will need the following parts: Thing-O-Matic Heater Board 1.1, pre-assembled cable, and the aluminum foil heat spreader.

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Remove QA Sticker

Before you add the heat spreader to your heater board, check both sides of the heater board. There may be a small sticker on one side of the board that was added during the inspection process. If you see a sticker, remove it.

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Attach Foil to Heater Board PCB

In this step it is important that you peel the paper away from the aluminum foil rather than peeling the foil from the paper. This will help keep the foil nice and smooth.

Locate an edge of the aluminum foil and peel away part of the paper backing from underneath the foil's edge.

Place the edge of the foil along the edge of the heated build platform such that the corner of the foil lines up with the corner of the board beneath the holes. Rub your finger against the foil along this edge to secure it.

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Peel back some more paper and rub down the aluminum foil.

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Rinse and repeat: Peel back some more paper and rub down the aluminum foil.

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You're almost there…keep going!

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Rub down the aluminum foil to get it to stick nicely

Continue to rub back and forth along the aluminum foil as you add the remaining foil to the heated build platform. Your result should look like this.

Fold the paper backing into quarters. Use it to rub in small circles around the surface of the aluminum. This will help the foil stick well.

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Your result should look like this.

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Cut the Tube

To complete this step you will need the following tools: razor knife, ruler. You will also need the following parts: rubber tube.
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Cut your tube into two 100mm pieces.

Keep the extra tube with your spare parts. Your result should look like this.
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Assemble the rollers

To complete this step you will need the following tools: none. You will also need the following parts: eight nylon washers, six flanged spacers, two metal shafts, two 100mm pieces of rubber tube.

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Cut each 100mm piece of tubing in half

You will end up with four pieces of 50mm tubing. It's important that they are each almost exactly 50mm. Push one piece of tubing over the shaft. The tube must be pushed on rather than pulled on. It gets a lot easier when you heat and moisten the tube with your breath, by warming it in your hand and blowing through it. It is a bit like a finger trap toy.
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Add Washers and Flanges

Place a washer, a flange, and then another washer on the inner side of the tube so that your stackup looks like this.
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Put the other 50mm tubing on

Push it flush against the inner flange and washer.
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Locate two plastic washers and two flanged spacers.

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Place the plastic washers over the shaft

Make sure they are against the rubber tube. Place the flanged spacers over the shaft such that the flange is against the washer.

Move the parts around the shaft such that the end of the shaft is almost flush with the end of the flanged spacer. The shaft should protrude mostly from one side and only slightly from the other.
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Repeat the above steps to make an identical roller.

Your completed rollers should look like this.
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Assemble the Body

To complete this step you will need the following tools: 1.5mm hex wrench, 2.5mm hex wrench. You will also need the following parts:

  • laser-cut parts
  • 1 M3x20 bolt
  • sixty-five M3x16 bolts
  • seven M3x12 bolts
  • sixty-five M3 nuts
  • two M2x8 bolts
  • assembled motor

Sand the belt channels

Place the Idler rib into the back and front to help identify the area that must be sanded. Sand only the larger of the two gaps approximately 1 mm deep as shown. This will provide clearance for the belt as it moves through this gap.

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Sand both pieces.

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Insert the bearings

First, sand away the inner rim of each of the four circular openings in the pair of inner side pieces, removing the laser cut char so that it is possible to insert the four 3/8" self-aligning bearings without straining the wood. Make sure the rough-edged sides of the bearings face outward, and the two side pieces have an identical space on bottom for the belt.
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Use three small spots of hot glue around the edges of the bearings to fix them into place if they are too loose and fall out. (Be careful not to get hot glue on the brass insert of the bearings.)
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Attach the timing belt to the drive rib

This is the smaller of the two belts. Tighten it down with both clamps and four M3x16 bolts and nuts. Due to the variance in wood thickness, on January 1 2011 we started shipping 2 extra low profile M3x16 bolts to avoid interference with the rods. Use the low profile bolts on the lower holes if necessary.
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Attach the left and right inner sides to the ribs

Use four M3x16 bolts. Tighten them down with 1/3 turns past hand-tight. The one with the belt goes towards the side with the cutout. Make sure the loose side of the belt goes on the inside.
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Attach the inner front and back using two M3x16 bolts each.

These are interchangeable.
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Attach the top to the assembly using eight M3x16 bolts.

It will only fit one way and may be a bit tricky to get it on at first. Try loosening the bolts securing the sides to the ribs and you'll get a better fit. Don't force it or you'll crack and break the wood! Once firmly on, tighten all bolts with 1/3 turns past hand-tight.
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Attach the left and right outer sides to the assembly

Use eight M3x16 bolts. If using acrylic outer sides, make sure to sand tabs first. The belt should be closer to the front (which is sloped at 45deg and facing left below).
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Attach your completed DC motor to the assembly

Using two M2x8 bolts secure the motor to the left side. Make sure it's the left side and not the right.
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Route the lead through the right side hole

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Now slide the faceplate on and secure it using two M3x12 bolts

These are in the M3 Hardware Bag in the Thing-O-Matic Hardware Burrito. If the T-slots of the faceplate seem a little too tight to fit the M3 nuts, then use your sandpaper or a file to widen it enough to slide them in.

Make sure the connections on the heater board will be facing to the right of the build platform.
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Put it All Together

To complete this step you will need the following tools: 2.5mm hex wrench. You will also need the following parts: assembled body, assembled belt, assembled heated build platform, five M3x12 bolts, one M3x16 bolt, six M3 nuts, two assembled rollers.

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Place the belt in the body.

Make sure that you've separated one belt out for installation — you get three in the package and sometimes they're rolled together tightly. You can actually get all three belts on at once, but they'll be too tight to move well.

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Place the laser cut support plate in the belt and on the body.

Make sure that the nubs point forward and back, and that one of the larger cutouts is on the front right side, so it will line up with the connectors on the board.

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Place the heater board over the support plate.

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Bolt it together

Prepare the silicone nozzle wiper

Thread an M3x16 bolt through the wiper. It should look like this:
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Use M3x12mm bolts on all the slots except for the one on the front right, which has a silicon wiper as in this photo. Leave them loose until you have the rollers in position. You may notice as you mount the heater board to the support plate that it's slightly off center from aligning properly with the t-slots on the sides of the build platform. This is why you must not tighten down any of the bolts until you've properly aligned it.

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Slide in your rollers!

This can be a tricky step. Take one roller and slide it underneath the belt on top of the heating plate, near the front of the assembly. Then roll it over the side into place. Watch the tab in the middle — if you cut your rubber tube properly, you should be fine.

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Now do the same for the back roller.

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With both rollers in place, tighten down all the bolts except for the wiper bolt. leave the wiper bolt snug.

Plug in your motor.

The motor lead plugs onto the first two (smaller) pins of the heater board. Be sure to place the red wire on the second pin (next to the remaining pins). If your lead is a little too long, simply coil it between the two sides so it fits neatly behind the faceplate.

Place one of your two gears on the motor shaft.

Ensure the set screw is aligned with the flat part of the shaft. Tighten the set screw but be careful as tiny hex wrench is very delicate and can break easily.
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Place the other gear on the roller shaft at the front of the platform.

There is no flat part on this shaft. Move the roller shaft gear until it aligns with the motor gear. Tighten the set screw firmly.
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Your automated build platform should now look like this.

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Next Step: Y Stage Assembly

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