Tag Archives: FarmBot

Rewind: 15 mind-blowing machines from 2015

… that are NOT your typical 3D printer.

Although 3D printers have received most of the buzz in recent months, these next-gen machines are doing much more than just spitting out ABS and PLA objects. In fact, you can expect to find one of the following 15 gadgets on your workbench, desktop, kitchen counter or inside your man cave in the not too distant future.


A big hit at this year’s World Maker Faire, the Glowforge is a revolutionary 3D laser printer that uses subtractive technology rather than additive methods. With one press of a button, the device cuts and engraves a variety of materials — including wood, fabric, leather, paper, cardboard, food and acrylic — instead of constructing items layer by layer. During its crowdfunding campaign, the team impressively garnered a record-setting $27M in 30 days.


With X-Carve, Inventables offers several new elements to the 3D carving kit concept which they’ve been associated with over the past few years. This customizable piece of equipment is ideal for the workshop, and can create precision parts from plastic, wood and metal. It comes in two sizes, 500mm and 1000mm rails, which provide a 12″ x 12″ and a 31″ x 31″ work area, respectively.


Zippy Robotics’ Prometheus is a milling machine that rapidly produces prototype PCBs from your desk in minutes, so you no longer have to wait weeks for a delivery truck. It works by carving through the copper layer of a standard copper-clad board (FR-4 or FR-1), as well as drilling holes and routing the shape of the board itself if it needs to fit a specific enclosure. Prometheus boasts an extremely low runout error that cuts traces down to .007 inches in diameter, meaning you can design with pretty much any surface mount component.

Voltera V-One

Born out of their own frustrations with traditional fabrication processes, Voltera has come up with a unique way to reduce development time from months to days. Winner of both TechCrunch’s Hardware Battlefield and the 2015 James Dyson Award, the V-One can print out circuit boards, dispense solder paste and reflow.


Voxel8, in partnership with Autodesk, introduced the world’s first 3D printer for electronics ranging from fully-functional drones to hearing aids. Designers and engineers will now be able to actualize three-dimensional parts with embedded circuitry for the first time.

The PancakeBot

A perfect example of an idea that has gone from the ‘MakerSpace to MarketPlace,’ the PanakeBot is exactly what it sounds like: an automated appliance that can whip up pancakes in virtually any shape you can imagine.


A team of MIT researchers has opened up a new frontier in 3D printing: the ability to build optically transparent glass objects. The G3DP consists of two heated chambers. The upper chamber is a crucible kiln that operates at a temperature of around 1900°F, and funnels the molten material through an alumina-zircon-silica nozzle, while the bottom chamber works to anneal the structures.


There are 3D printers. There are engravers. There are CNC mills. However, BoXZY is different — it’s all three. Hoping to usher in a new age of ‘modular manufacturing,’ this triple-threat mini FabLab empowers Makers to alternate between the tools with quick-change heads. Oh, and did we mention that Justin and Joel Johnson raised more than $1.1M on Kickstarter?


Instead of having to run out to your local package store or brewery, Pico allows you to craft fresh, personalized beer right from home. One notable feature of the coffeemaker-sized appliance is its new PicoPak system, which includes conveniently pre-packaged ingredient combinations.


A finalist in this year’s Hackaday Prize, FarmBot is an open source CNC farming machine capable of weeding, seeding, feeding and watering crops. What’s more, its web-based application lets growers graphically design their farm or garden to meet desired specifications. This makes the process as simple as playing a game of FarmVille.

Ripple Maker

The Ripple Maker leverages 3D printing and inkjet technologies to adorn the top of your morning latte with complex artwork that could take the form of someone’s name, their face, or even a personalized message to the customer behind you. The unit itself is rather small, measuring just 8.5″ by 10.5″, and connects via Wi-Fi to a library of designs. Users have the option to choose from a menu of themes and text to stamp onto the milky foam canvas with natural coffee extract.


Bistrobot wants you to bid farewell to long lines and wrong orders, and say hello to an automated assembly line that can make peanut butter sandwiches on white bread with your choice of honey, blackberry jam, sweet chili, chocolate sauce and Nutella.


What if you could design ready-to-wear garments straight from your desktop? Thanks to Electroloom, you can. The team’s electrospinning process makes it possible for anyone with a small bit of CAD ability to create seamless fabric items on demand.

Circular Knitic

The artist duo of Varvara Guljajeva and Mar Canet has devised an open source, automated circular knitter dubbed Circular Knitic. In true Maker fashion, the idea was brought to life with 3D printing, laser cutting, MakerBeam and Arduino.


Like a Keurig for cocktails, the Bartesian is a capsule-based gadget that enables anyone to expertly fix their favorite alcoholic beverages in a matter of seconds.

Shapeoko 3

The Shapeoko 3 is an affordable, heavy duty, three-axis CNC machine designed to “do real work, out of real materials.”


Geared towards everyone from the DIY community to the industrial-savvy crowd, Evo-One is a sleek desktop CNC mill that can engrave, carve and cut complex shapes with incredible accuracy.

1:1 interview with Hackaday Prize finalist Rory Aronson

Did you know that 80% of the 2015 Hackaday Prize finalists are powered by Atmel? With only days left until we learn which project will walk away with this year’s crown, we recently sat down with each of the potential winners to get to know them better. 

A finalist in this year’s Hackaday Prize, FarmBot is a prime example of how the DIY Movement can make a long and ever-lasting impact on our world. The brainchild of mechanical engineer and social entrepreneur Rory Aronson, the project is an open source CNC farming machine that hopes to one day make an open food future more accessible to everyone. Using a web-based application, users can graphically design their farm or garden to their desired specifications by dragging and dropping plants into a map, as if it were a game of FarmVille. Other features include storing and manipulating data maps, a decision support system to facilitate data driven design, access to an open plant data repository, and real-time control and logging.


We recently had the chance to sit down with Aronson to learn more about the project, his inspiration and what the future holds following the Hackaday Prize.

Atmel: What is FarmBot?

RA: FarmBot is an open source CNC farming machine and software package designed for small-scale precision food production. Similar to 3D printers and CNC milling machines, FarmBot hardware employs linear guides in the X, Y and Z directions. This allows for tooling such as seed injectors, watering nozzles, sensors and weed removal tools to be precisely positioned and used on the plants and soil.

FarmBot is controlled by an Arduino/RAMPS stack and an Internet-connected Raspberry Pi 2. The hardware is designed to be simple, scalable, hackable and easily produced.

Atmel: How did you come to the idea for FarmBot? Moreover, what inspired you to enter the contest with your project?

RA: The idea for FarmBot came to me while I was taking an agriculture class in college. One day, a guest lecturer and farmer spoke to us about his newest tractor — one that used a camera and computer vision system to detect and remove weeds. I thought it was pretty cool, but also viewed the system as a band-aid solution. Rather than building something new from the ground up, the agriculture hardware industry is tacking precision systems into historically imprecise tractors at an immense cost. What’s more, there is virtually no equipment available to empower small-scale food producers. This is where FarmBot comes in as a low-cost, small-scale, precision-first system.

In these early days, FarmBot needs a community to become early adopters and help build the open-source technology core. This is why we are on Hackaday — to rally a community that believes in our vision of an open food future, where the consumer is control of the food production process.


Atmel: In line with the Hackaday Prize’s theme, how are you hoping FarmBot changes the world? What’s the mission?

RA: The FarmBot Project vision is to create an open and accessible technology aiding everyone to grow food and to grow food for everyone. In order to achieve this vision, our mission is to establish a community that produces free and open source hardware plans, software, data and documentation enabling everyone to build and operate a farming machine.

Atmel: What’s your vision for FarmBot over the next five years? Where do you see it going? Who would you hope will pick up the project and use it?

RA: Over the next five years, I hope for FarmBot to take a similar path as the RepRap project, where there will be an explosion of innovation from thousands of individuals and entrepreneurs who hack FarmBot technology to work for them, engineer better hardware, write more software features and build more companies that cater FarmBot to the masses.

Atmel: As we know, the Maker Movement has opened the door for everyone from hobbyists to tech enthusiasts to hardcare engineers to tinker around. What’s your personal background?

RA: I grew up tinkering and building myself. I definitely identify as a Maker. As far as technical background goes, I studied mechanical engineering at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, CA.


Atmel: Why pick Atmel (and Arduino) chips?

RA: We chose to use an Arduino as FarmBot’s microcontroller primarily because of the community support — most Makers are familiar with Arduino from other projects. We chose the Arduino Mega (ATmega2560) specifically because it pairs nicely with the popular RAMPS shield from the 3D printing world, which includes all of the features that we needed in a driver board.

Atmel: What advice would you offer other Makers when getting into hardware and embarking on a new project?

RA: Do a lot of research on the different hardware available. Everything has tradeoffs, especially when it comes to compatibility with other components. Strongly consider how large and active the community is behind the hardware you choose. I often find that a more popular hardware product is a better choice than the ‘better’ hardware product.

Hardware development is often stifled by the time it takes to ship physical goods like screws, raw materials, tools, and electronics. If you have the budget available, go on a shopping spree! Buy more than you think you need, and get a variety of components that you can play with, even if you don’t think you need them. Simply holding the materials in your hands will lead to new ideas that you would not have had staring at a CAD model or product photos.


Atmel: As you know, we love to help entrepreneurs take their ideas from the MakerSpace to MarketPlace, so we’re wondering… any plans to launch a startup and perhaps even take FarmBot to Kickstarter?

RA: Yes! In addition to creating community resources for the FarmBot Project community, I have started a company, FarmBot.io. We are planning on launching the first ever FarmBot kits on Kickstarter in 2016. FarmBot Genesis is 1.5m wide and 3m in length, perfect for getting started in a small space. Meanwhile, Genesis XL is 3m and 6m in length and capable of growing four times the food of its small sibling.

Atmel: And, we’ve got to ask. If you win, are you heading to space or taking the cash?!

RA: Cash! As fun as space would be, I’m pretty certain I’ll be going in the future when the price comes down. In the meantime, the cash prize will help me bring FarmBot to the masses more quickly.

Don’t miss our other interviews with fellow HaD Prize finalists Chris LowOpenBionicsEric WilliamEyedrivomaticRadu Motisan and Reiner van der Lee!

FarmBot is the world’s first open source CNC farming machine

FarmBot is an open source CNC farming machine and software package designed for small-scale precision food production.

A finalist in this year’s Hackaday Prize, FarmBot is a perfect example of how the DIY Movement can make a long and ever-lasting impact on our world. The brainchild of Rory Aronson, the project is an open source CNC farming machine that hopes to make an open food future more accessible to everyone.


Essentially, FarmBot is like a giant 3D printer that, but instead of extruding plastic, uses seeds and water to grow crops. Similar to 3D printers and CNC mills, FarmBot hardware employs linear guides in the X, Y, and Z directions, which allows for tooling such as seed injectors, watering nozzles, sensors, and weed removal equipment to be precisely positioned.

Not unlike many RepRap printers available today, FarmBot is controlled by the Arduino Mega (ATmega2560)/RAMPS stack, along with an Internet-connected Raspberry Pi 2, NEMA 17 motors and rotary encoders. The open source device can cultivate a variety of crops all in same area at the same time, and can impressively care for each one in an optimized, automated manner.

According to Aronson, the outdoor XYZ unit can be constructed to fit each owner’s individual needs. It can scale from a garden as small as one square meter to as large as a farm that’s 20 square meters. In terms of cost, the Maker estimates a FarmBot to run anywhere from $1,500 to $4,000, depending on the size of the installation. And since it’s comprised of corrosion-resistant aluminum, stainlees steel and 3D-printed plastic components, it’ll withstand Mother Nature for years.


Using the web-based app, a user can graphically design their farm or garden to their desired specifications and then synchronize the numerical control code with its embedded hardware. With its sequence builder and scheduler, FarmBot combines the most basic operations in custom sequences for seeding and watering, and even enables you to build complete regimens for the plant throughout its lifetime.

What’s more, a drag-and-drop interface lets users graphically design the plant layout in a game-like environment similar to FarmVille. Aside from that, additional features of its software include storing and manipulating data maps, accessing an open plant data repository, and real-time control and logging. Moreover, an integrated decision support system can automatically adjust water, fertilizer and pesticide regimens, as well as handle seed spacing and timing based on soil and weather conditions, sensor data, location and the time of year.


Looking ahead, the team is experimenting with sensors, drills and a camera tool, and more importantly, hopes to expand its community of hackers and DIY food enthusiasts interested in developing the platform. FarmBot will come in two different kits, Genesis and Genesis XL, 1.5 meters by 3 meters and 3 meters by 6 meters, respectively. The latter will be capable of growing four times the amount of food as its smaller sibling. Both models can be used outdoors, inside a greenhouse or even on a rooftop.

Intrigued? Head over to the project’s page on Hackaday here, or watch its overview video below!