I’ve been working on a custom frame for a while now, in preparation for my kit arriving with the February/March batch. I placed my order right when the current batch of orders was opened, so I knew I would have a bit of a wait until my kit arrived. I decided to use that time to begin building my frame, in hopes that I could get up and running quickly when my kit arrived!
I have enjoyed looking at other people’s frames and seeing the new ideas they were coming up with, so I wanted to share my progress as well.
I began building this in December, and have spent time here and there as I could. From that point I knew I would have a couple months before the kit arrived, so I decided to try building a custom frame that incorporated a few extra features along the way. This is much more complicated than it needed to be, but I had time so I figured I would give it a shot!
Here is my frame as it stands today. I do plan to put a plywood face on it, but wanted to take these pictures before so you could see the inside too.
My first concern was regarding flexing of the frame. Given that I had time to kill, I decided to try to build a frame which did not utilize the front plywood sheet as a structural member. This led me to building a frame boxed to match the dimensions of a piece of plywood. The dimensions of the center rectangle are designed to have the work area extend about 1 inch beyond the frame on all sides. I also elected to use 4x4s for the front legs and motor arms, as well as add some additional 2x4s for more support.
I liked the idea of being able to hang my sled above the work area, especially to assist in loading material onto the machine, so I decided early that I wanted a top cross bar. I’m guessing it helps improve the stiffness of the motor arms a little, but the main reason I put it there was to hang the sled.
I also decided to keep the bottom 2x4 to support material being loaded. My thought process here was that between my plywood face, waste board, and material being worked on, I would almost always have my work material extend beyond the front of that bottom 2x4, hence it wouldn’t limit the travel of my sled at the bottom of the bed. It also serves as a support for the computer mounting as well as the dust collection.
Next, I focused on the computer mounting brackets. I decided to build a workstation into the machine, for a few reasons. First, space is at a premium in my garage (and that’s one of my favorite parts of Maslow!). Having a separate computer stand would just be another thing to store. Plus, I frequently perform my own car work as well as other projects, which could benefit from a garage computer. For those reasons, I decided to build it in. The dual monitors is less for Maslow and more for things like car work, where having a diagram along with torque specifications visible can be very helpful.
I used some generic wall mount brackets for the monitors and keyboard tray:
I decided to use the same wall mount for the keyboard tray, and this meant I needed to make an adapter to attach the keyboard tray to the mount in the correct orientation:
I mounted the computer itself to the side of the machine, using leftover parts from the monitor mounts:
Next, I began thinking about power. My plan was to use a dust collector with the machine to minimize dust. I did some testing on my router, and found that it consumed in the range of 11-12 amps when running. My main garage circuit is only 15 amps, so this left way too little reserve for a dust collector. I got lucky though, and found that my garage door opener outlet was on a separate 15 amp circuit, and happened to have an extra outlet available! That let me get my wiring for my two circuits:
I then needed to have a method of distributing power from the two circuits. I decided to use two surge protectors, one for each circuit, as a starting point to build off:
One issue I found was that, when complete, the Maslow was going to block or consume all of my available power outlets in my garage. I decided therefore to install an accessible power strip to use for other tools:
My next focus was on dust collection. I had two objectives here: have something that was as compact as possible, and be as flexible as possible for other uses. I decided to use a small but relatively powerful shop vac, combined with a cyclonic dust collector. I built this into the other side from the computers:
I was a bit concerned with static electricity, so I decided to use a grounding strip on the cyclone separator:
In the spirit of making it as useful as possible, I decided I wanted to make a vacuum selector. This would allow me to connect the dust collector to the sled when I’m using the Maslow, or have it available for other tools. I ended up making this contraption from a few blast gates:
The bottom selector goes to the sled:
The top selector is for other tools. I haven’t finished this part yet, as I plan to use the Maslow to make a mounting bracket for this piece, but the plan is for it to terminate just below the front-facing power strip. This would provide power and dust collection side-by-side for other tools.
My plan was to use the Maslow to automatically control the power of the router. Along with this, I wanted it to also automatically control the dust collection, because I was bored and needed stuff to do. But this also meant that I would need some external switch to turn on the dust collector separately to use for other tools. This led me to installing a separate on/off switch on the side of the machine, along with a basic circuit to isolate it from the Maslow:
The “circuit” (I’m being generous with that term) is really just a couple diodes, a power supply connector, and then connectors for the Maslow, switch, and then out to the relay. The diodes are there to prevent this switch from turning on the router power when activated. The idea is that the router control aux output from the Maslow will be connected to both the router and the dust collector. So without these diodes, the switch would have turned on the router too. This prevents that.
The actual power to the dust collector is then switched with a PowerSwitch Tail.
I used another PowerSwitch Tail to power the router:
I needed to use separate relays for two reasons. First, I wanted the dust collection switch on the side to not power on the router, but I also wanted the dust collection and the router to be on separate electrical circuits to prevent blowing breakers. This led me to two relays.
My next step was more of a safety one. I wanted to have a kill switch in the event that anything went really wrong. This kill switch would control the power for the Maslow board as well as the router, so that if it was turned off the motors and router would stop. I added this to the side above the auxiliary dust collection power switch:
Finally, I added some wire management to make sure everything was safely tucked away:
I also added cable management for the power (and later other wires) going to the sled:
Giving me my power and vacuum ready to go to the sled:
Power management and safety was a big concern, and proved a bigger challenge than I first expected. Both electrical circuits having 15 amp breakers on them, so I wanted to ensure that every power carrying component was rated for at least 15 amps. This meant 14 AWG wire, at a minimum, for the extension cords, power strips, electrical relays, etc. The power strips and relays were the toughest components, but everything here is now rated for 15 amps. That way I don’t have to worry as much about what I’m connecting to the front power strip for instance, or how much energy the router or dust collector consume.
Next, I wanted to address the topic of motor mounts. I added an extra 4x4 spacer to the end of the motor arms to provide extra support for the motor mounts and hopefully reduce flexing. I also wanted to provide some mechanism to allow the motors to relatively easily be moved in and out. I anticipate most of my usage of this machine will be with 3/4" plywood, but wanted the option to utilize thicker material as well. I decided to make some motor mounting holes with accompanying brackets:
The idea here is that I can make my motor mounts with this hole pattern at multiple points, essentially allowing the motor mount brackets to be unbolted and moved. The holes go all the way through the 4x4s to the plywood on the other side, allowing a nut to be attached to a long bolt securing the motor mounts. I hope this will be sturdy enough, but time will tell!
Next, in my effort to utilize my garage space as efficiently as possible, I added a back guide to allow plywood sheet storage behind the machine:
The idea here is that I wanted to allow partial sheets to be stored. The guide in the middle of the legs is to prevent the sheets from moving inside the machine as they are inserted or removed.
Finally, I added a finishing touch, one of my environmental sensors based on a Raspberry Pi:
This let me be extra lazy and see what my garage was like without even going outside:
And that’s it so far! Shortly here I’ll be getting my plywood face in preparation for the kit arriving, which will make it more presentable. Hopefully this gives others some ideas too!