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MakerBeam: An Open Source Building Kit's video poster

Is it the Erector Set of the Internet Age? Or is it the bones and gristle of an open source revolution? Mini-T, by MakerBeam, is both. Read more

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This project was successfully funded on October 24, 2009.

Is it the Erector Set of the Internet Age? Or is it the bones and gristle of an open source revolution? Mini-T, by MakerBeam, is both.

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About this project

MakerBeam is a toy and tool for the open source imagination. Build a fire-breathing robot dinosaur, a miniature CNC machine, a remote control car, whatever your overclocked brain can produce! Or build a castle, or that perfect enclosure to hold the circuitry for your custom electronics project.

If you want to, scale it up! Scale by a factor of 2.5, 4, or 6, and your design can be rendered full-sized with easy, automatic conversion of parts.

Not only a tool for adult geeks to make incredible fun stuff, it's also a fantastic way for children to do the same thing! If they're getting a little tired of Tinkertoys and are old enough for LEGO, they're ready for MakerBeam.

Mini-T is a miniature version of larger T-slot building systems. It consists of extruded aluminum beams, 10 mm on a side, and various connectors and panels that slot into the sides of the beam, making up the full MakerBeam system.

MakerBeam got started when Sam was designing a drafting table for his workspace. T-slot was a perfect choice, and browsing a catalog of parts, Sam daydreamed about a scaled down toy version of T-slot, something that had all these great building components but in a desktop form. Even better, what if it was all open standards...

Sketches turned into technical drawings, and Sam called Glenn and James to turn it into 3-d renderings and hard numbers. MakerBeam was born!

MakerBeam is developing the Mini-T standard for open source hardware. Mini-T is a scaled down form of T-slot, an existing standard in building. T-slot is widely used for prototyping, automation, and enclosure; Mini-T will do all that, and a whole lot more.

Panels such as breadboard or printed circuit board (PCB) can be slotted directly in place without connectors. Everything, connectors, beams and all, can be reused hundreds of times, and recycled at the end of their duty life.

With your KickStart funds, we can pay for tooling and extrusion of enough Mini-T to really get started! We will also provide prototype connectors to our Alpha and Beta testing teams, to get you started building with MakerBeam right away!

From there, we intend to develop a variety of connector hardware, which will also be developed and released as an open hardware standard. Pivots, hinges, wheels, pulleys, cable actuators, even pneumatics and hydraulics are envisioned as possible with Mini-T.

Even an $8 pledge gets you a piece of the first production run of a brand-new open source hardware standard! This is the first time we're aware of that anything like this has been made available. Pledge more, and you can participate in alpha and beta testing, as we develop further connectors and kits.

Again, this is an open standard we're developing here, not just an awesome toy or a useful tool. Anyone will be able to extrude Mini-T, or develop MakerBeam compatible hardware, without hassle. MakerBeam intends to stay at the forefront of development, offer a quality product, and let the results speak for themselves. We've never seen a hammer company go broke because hammers aren't patented; we think we'll do okay.

For more details visit the MakerBeam site.

We aim to go public with kits at Maker Faire 2010. We hope you're as excited as we are!

Happy Hacking!


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  • You selected
    Pledge $1 or more

    4 backers

    Exclusive early-download access to the Mini-T standard in progress, sneak peaks behind the scenes, and more!

  • You selected
    Pledge $8 or more

    23 backers

    Your own 10 cm piece of the original MakerBeam production run!

  • You selected
    Pledge $32 or more

    23 backers

    Gold-tone anodized 10 cm piece of MakerBeam, laser etched with serial number! PLUS: Signed certificate of authenticity, framed in MakerBeam! Thanked as "Contributor" in standard.

  • You selected
    Pledge $128 or more

    54 backers

    All $32 perks plus a Beta kit of 50 beams of varying lengths and Beta connector kit! (est. delivery date: February 2010). Thanked as "Beta Tester" in open standard credits.

  • You selected
    Pledge $256 or more

    20 backers All gone!

    Receive special Alpha kit by Christmas! 50 lengths of MakerBeam, Alpha prototype connector kit, PLUS special 3-d printed prototype of our plastic connectors! Thanked as "Alpha Tester" in open standard credits.

  • You selected
    Pledge $1,024 or more

    4 backers

    Institutional Level: receive at LEAST 50 meters of MakerBeam, plus connectors, during beta release, AND Alpha kit in December. Why not have your spring semester 2010 class join us in beta testing? Thanked as "Institutional Sponsor" in open standard credits. Bigger pledges get you more beam and connectors, and more. Contact us!

Funding period

- (48 days)