Build your automated machines and robots with this high-quality advanced modular metal construction system.
Iconic toy systems like Tinkertoy, LEGO and K’NEX have served as building blocks for the Maker Movement for decades, inspiring young do-it-yourselfers to piece together bricks, interlock rods and connect wheels to whip up some incredible projects. And, it’s clearer than ever before that today’s DIY culture is spurring an appetite for modular tools, as seen with the advent of littleBits, Printoo, Quirkbot, and other open-source machines.
Embodying many of the same principles, the UberBlox Systems team has launched a Kickstarter campaign for a new high-quality metal construction set for Makers looking to devise rigid structures and automated machines. The prototyping system features a unique single-connector locking mechanism that uses a common tool to quickly and precisely lock each block to the next. While traditional plastic pieces are perfectly suitable for simple creations, they typically can’t handle the necessary sturdiness and accuracy of automated machines. And that’s where the aptly-dubbed UberBlox comes in.
Aside from the basic blocks, the kit includes a growing catalog of compatible and reconfigurable parts, such as static and moving components, sub-assemblies, motors, electronics and controllers (referred to as “Brain-Boxes”), which are based on popular boards like Arduino and Raspberry Pi, for a complete solution. These can all be placed inside a standardized UberBlox box that houses the rest of the system, either as a separate control unit or as an integral physical part of a design.
This provides even the most sophisticated Makers the ability to build, power and command impressive machines, ranging from 3D printers and CNC machines to various forms of robots as their knowledge and understanding of the UberBlox system increases. As more elements are added to their platform, users will continually be able to update their hardware for a variety of new purposes just by simply unlocking the metal structures and rebuilding them based on a new design idea. Beyond that, UberBlox allows Makers to quickly and easily test out new design concepts for either entire 3D printing systems or portions of them for that matter, without getting bogged down in the fabrication process. Not only printers, the versatile system can also come in handy for those seeking to construct different types of robots, including manipulator arms, rovers, and humanoids.
“As useful as they are for certain applications, today’s readily available aluminum T-slot extrusion systems still require you to have some fabrication know-how. You likely need to cut, drill or mill, worry about fit, and possibly have to re-try to get to your desired structure, and you need to do all this accurately with tools and equipment that you may not have easy access to or fully know how to operate properly and safely,” the team writes. “UberBlox eliminates all that. You simply imagine a machine idea within the context of the UberBlox system, and you start assembling parts, mostly with a single small tool. You don’t need to have great fabrication skills or know about different types and ways to create joints.”
UberBlox is based on a Node-Bar construction method, collectively named “BLOX.” Nodes are UberBlox parts that represent the end of, or a connection point within, an UberBlox structure. Nodes come in a variety of forms depending on their use and function, with the most rudimentary being a six-sided one. These are spanned and connected using Bars of one or more UberBlox-Unit lengths, using UberBlox Connectors. The sides of a Node and Bar that are ready to accept connections each have a feature called an “UberBlox Interface,” or iface for short. A Connector plugs right into a Node or Bar’s iface and is locked in place using one to four of its embedded set-screws. All of these pieces are comprised of metal for strength, mostly aluminum, zinc-aluminum or steel alloys.
In order to enable flexibility in designing structures with UberBlox, the system boasts a variety of supporting components, such as sub-assemblies and modules, that can either be static, dynamic, or in some cases, fully-functioning. For those times when a structure requires more than just Nodes and Bars, UberBlox also permits the use of off-the-shelf parts to be incorporated on an as-needed basis.
“We believe the time is right to bring a sophisticated high-quality construction system and prototyping set, backed by great support and community engagement, to Makers of all levels,” explained UberBlox founder Alex Pirseyedi.
Indeed, the creative nature of the UberBlox concept makes the innovative system an ideal project for Kickstarter, where the team is currently seeking $100,000. Pending all goes to plan, delivery is expected to begin in November 2015. Whether you want a set of your own or to explore it in more detail, hurry over to its official campaign page here.