September 20, 2017 AUTHOR: Donald Bell CATEGORIES: News Tags: , , , , , , ,

Goliath Router Robot [Maker Update #52]

This week on Maker Update, a giant AT-AT made from foam board, the Goliath CNC robot, embossing your notebook, affordable addressable LED strip, a software update for your knitting machine, and World Maker Faire. This week’s Cool Tool is WS2812b LED strip.

Show Notes

Advanced Project

Large-Scale Star Wars AT-AT Walker Build by kylegilbert

Photo and project by kylegilbert.

Design Template based on Wooden AT-AT Walker by seamster

Photo and project by seamster.


Goliath CNC Router Robot Announced

More Projects

Easy Embossed Moleskine by mikeasaurus

Photo and project by Mikeasaurus

Cool Tools Minute

Generic Arduino/Pi-Compatible Addressable LED Strip (ws2812b)

Photo by Donald Bell.


Level Shifting 3.3V microcontrollers and NeoPixels by John Park

Level shifting diagram by John Park.


Image courtesy of Hackaday.

AYAB v0.90 is here! By Lenore Edman

Maker Faires

Maker Faire Milwaukee Milwaukee
Aggieville Mini Maker Faire Manhattan, Kansas
Rogue Valley Mini Maker Faire Ashland, Oregon
Champlain Mini Maker Faire Shelburne Farms, Vermont
Raleigh Mini Maker Faire Raleigh, North Carolina
Mayersche Mini Maker Faire Dortmund
Thalia Mini Maker Faire Nürnberg

You’ve Got My Eyes show in San Francisco 9/30

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This week on Maker Update, a giant AT-AT made from foam, the Goliath CNC robot, embossing your notebook, affordable addressable LED strip, a software update for your knitting machine, and World Maker Faire.

It’s Wednesday, September 20th, I’m Donald Bell and welcome to another Maker Update. How are you doing? I’ve been feeling pretty motivated recently to wrap up some projects. I was invited to show off some new stuff at a maker party in San Francisco in a few weeks, so that’s lit a fire under me to get some things done. I hope you’re feeling fired up too.

On with the show, let’s started with the project of the week!

This week on Instructables I came across a gigantic 17-foot prop of a Star Wars AT-AT by Kyle Gilbert.

The constriction is made mostly of pink foam insulation boards that have been cut and glued to an interior skeleton of plywood and 4x4s in the legs. All-in the project took up about $1,000 in materials, but I mean — you get an AT-AT in the end… or at least half of one.

One thing I love about this project is that it was made possible by another Instructable. In order to get useful blueprints for making this giant AT-AT, Kyle’s team referenced the design for a small wooden desktop AT-AT by Seamster on Instructables.

By projecting these shapes and tracing them onto foam board, the team was able to rough out all the parts needed and then take the extra steps to make it their own. Using a jigsaw and a sander and a sawzall, they were able to whip the design into shape.

One tip I bookmarked from this project is the Loctite foamboard adhesive they used to glue everything up. It sounds like it takes awhile to cure but it’s strong and won’t eat into the foam.

Time for some news, last week was the official announcement of the Goliath CNC robot. Instead of fixing a board to a router table, the Goliath is basically a robotic router you plop right onto the board you want to cut.

It uses three omniwheels, allowing it to instantly travel in any direction. The router clamps in, and a cable pops out from the top carrying power and data to the system.

On video it looks pretty sweet. And aside from it having a significantly smaller footprint than a CNC router table, and being portable, the other big advantage is that you can presumably use it on infinitely large sheet stock.

But what everyone’s wondering (aside from the price — which hasn’t been announced) is how can it possibly cut accurately without vibrating out of position? Is it super heavy? Does it somehow compensate or calibrate while it’s working? What are the limitations?

We’ll know more details when Goliath officially launches in a few weeks, but this could be the most talked about new maker tool of the year.

I have one other project to to share with you. This one comes from Mikeasaurus, maker of the legendary flamethrower skateboard. It’s a cool trick for embossing letters or a design onto a Moleskine notebook.

By taking any kind of hard, plastic letterboard letters, sanding off any nubs, taping them down and then clamping them in a sandwich of wood to evenly distribute the pressure — you can create permanent embossing on your notebook.

It’s a neat effect and I’d be curious to see what you could do with 3D printed text or designs. After Diresta’s tip on 3D printed movable type from a few episodes back, I’d have to think you could really have some fun experimenting with this.

It’s time for another Cool Tools review. This week I’m going to show you a 16-foot reel of WS2812B LED lights. I got these for under $30 on Amazon. And by picking some up using the link in the description, you help support my videos and the Cool Tools blog.

There are an incredible range of maker projects out there that take advantage of Adafruit’s Neopixel Arduino code and Neopixel brand of LEDs. Using the code, or a competing code library like FastLED, you can control and animate the color and brightness of each LED on this strip using just a single data wire.

The WS2812B variety of addressable RGB LED strip is compatible with both Neopixel and FastLED code. It works with Arduino or Raspberry Pi. They run off 5 volts, though you can get away with 3.3 for short runs. And you can cut it to whatever length you need using the cut lines on the strip.

This strip in particular has a black backing and comes with a waterproof casing. Both ends are wired with a 3-pin JST connector.

Best of all, with 16 feet of this stuff for under $30, it’s an incredible savings over the name brand stuff. I bought this specifically to give my Kitty car some animated underglow so it will look cool at night. This, a $10 Arduino-compatible Gemma board, and a battery pack were all I needed. I even had LEDs left over.

Now the downside to using this stuff is that it’s not enough to just wire it up to power — you have to have a board of some kind sending it instructions over the data wire. So if you’re not at all comfortable with Arduino of Raspberry Pi project boards, these are not the LEDs for you.

For me though, having a cheap, quality source for these has really opened up some project possibilities. If you’d like to get some for yourself, using the link in the description takes you right to Amazon. And remember, you can see thousands of reader recommended tools like this at

A few more tips to share with you this week. While I was hooking up these LEDs and figuring out the right way to power both the board and the lights, I took a moment to refamiliarize myself with John Park’s guide on Level Shifting. The best way to get a 3.3v board to talk to 5v LED strip is to shift up the voltage on the data pin to match the LEDs.

John’s guide on Adafruit shows how to accomplish this with an 8-channel logic shifter board. As an alternative, for the Kitty I just wound up running both the board and the LEDs at around 4 volts, and they seem happy for now.

Over on Hackaday I found The Noob’s Guide to McMaster-Carr. For the unfamiliar, McMaster Carr is basically God’s own hardware store. They have everything, but the interface for finding the exact thing you want can be intimidating. This guide helps a little, or at least helps you feel like you’re not alone in both loving and hating them.

And for all you fans of CNC knitting, a new version of the AYAB software is out, version .9. AYAB stands for All Yarns are Beautiful. It’s an open source project that is an alternative for controlling old Brother knitting machines. The new software update fixes a number of bugs. There are no new features, though it will give you a little beep now when it’s done knitting.

Maker Faires! This weekend we’ve got World Maker Faire in New York. I’ll be watching the action from my couch on the live stream, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some announcements or product launches at the show.

Overshadowed but not forgotten, we also have Faires in Milwaukee, Manhattan Kansas, Ashland Oregon, Vermont, Raleigh North Carolina, Dortmund Germany, and Nurnberg Germany.

And for those of you in the San Francisco area, I’ll be showing the nightmode on my Kitty gokart at the You’ve Got My Eyes science faire, swap meet, dance party on Saturday, Sept 30. It’s a free event at a semi-secret location that you have to figure out by plugging in the latitude and longitude just to keep things nerdy. As a tip, don’t forget that minus sign in front of the longitude.

And that’s it for this week’s show. Be sure to subscribe, give me thumbs up or leave a comment. I love hearing from you guys. Pick up some of that LED strip — it’s great for Halloween projects. And that’s it. Thanks for watching, and I’ll see you next week.


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