Gadgeteer "Base Camp"

I’ve been trying out several ideas for a type of Base to ‘plug’ all of my Gadgeteer modules in while working with them. I was after something that was bread board like where you could just pull a module out and stick it down on the Base, being able to easily move things around. After tinkering with several types of stand-offs, board sizes, hole sizes, etc, etc I think I found something that works really well.

The “Base Camp” is 1/4" Baltic birch aircraft plywood that is 20cmx17cm with holes on the proper 5mm centers so any Gadgeteer module will fit. The standoffs are a M-F type so they ‘plug’ into the base, the fit is easy enough to just plug in but snug enough to hold the modules in when the base is turned upside down. For a permanent placement a F-F type stand-off would be used. Using the aircraft plywood gives it a good weight and feel.

I plan on making up a few smaller ones this week for holding modules that you might want to separate from the “Base Camp”, like if you wanted to move the camera to a different position. These smaller (would they be called a “Bivouac”?) bases will probably be from 1/8" thick material with some mounting holes so you mount them easier (like to mount a camera in a forward position for a robot.)

If there is interest I can look at making these up to offer for sale. I imagine a kit that includes a “Base Camp” and a few “Bivouacs” with a good assortment of hardware would be handy.

Excuse the poor cell phone pictures. I’ll get a couple of better shots later.

Second pic from an angle

Looking nice.

Wood - classic.

Did you drill those holes or did you get them like a “peg” board ?

I might be interested, depending on the price. I’m certainly finding leaving all the parts flopping around awkward at best, and unsightly. Would be helpful for more semi-permanent rigs to have something like this.

Are you using a CNC machine for this?

Yeah, it was made on a CNC machine. It would take forever to drill all those holes by hand :slight_smile: (it takes long enough for the CNC machine to do it).

Something like that in acrylic would be nice. Also, stand-offs that snap in would be nice for easy repositioning without worrying with screws. Not sure if they make them or not. I’m thinking something like automotive clips.

There are snap in type stand-offs but not small enough ones. The 5mm spacing leaves room for only very small holes without removing making the material too weak.

Acrylic would be possible…

Hmm. I think I’ll go and make something like this on my Sherline. Work envelope is small, so can’t make something quite that big.

Andrew, if they come out well (or at least usable), I’ll bring you one on Saturday.


That would be great, Pete! Thanks!

I do like the looks of the wood!

@ ianlee74 - I went with this approach in acrylic. I think I put a link to the design somewhere here. Search for Spider Web. I found some decent F-F plastic standoffs with 4-40 threads in different lengths. Works well, but you do have to fiddle with lots of screws.

@ Pete: With some creative jigging you can machine it half at a time and flip it along the X axis. Use the holes drilled in the first half to line it up after you flip it.

@ ransomhall: I like the wood too. The cost is similar to a good machinable cast acrylic and it is not as brittle.

@ Jeff

Yeah, thanks. I just want to knock something out quickly tonight as a break from writing, so I’ll take the lazy route for now. :slight_smile:


@ ransomhall I remember the Spider Web. I believe I’m the one that gave it that name :wink:

Ok, that was a good excuse to learn to write some GCode from scratch, and to finally get my Sherline up and running again. @ devhammer, your board is being made :slight_smile:

Pics shortly, assuming this thing doesn’t turn out to be so loud upstairs I have to shut it down for the night :stuck_out_tongue:


I haven’t worked with that type of plywood before. It tears out something awful. I’ll need to use a different drill bit and some better support for the next one.


Did you use a backer board behind the plywood? (My guess, based on the photos, is no). Putting a piece of scrap behind your “good” board can do wonders to prevent blowout like you experienced.


@ Pete: Glad to see you got your mill up and running again. I think Dave hit the nail on the head, a backer board would help prevent the tear out on the back.

I used a #35 carbide drill made for PCB work: [url][/url] (my website). This type of bit has a point that is, well, less pointy :), it is designed to reduce splintering in hardwoods and PCB substrates. The quality of plywood makes a big difference as well. I use some cheap luan plywood for my first tests, the 5 ply aircraft plywood came out much nicer.

I used my CarveWright machine with a ‘sled’ (fixture board) which is a piece of counter top material left over when they cut the hole for the sink. A bit of carpet tape holds down the thin stock quite well and since i have a dust collector hooked up to the machine there is little mess to clean up. The one downside is that the CarveWright is slow, really slow, at drilling a bunch of holes like this. It inserts a pause after every couple of holes to let the bit cool down and that really increases the time it takes. All in all though the software and machine make it really easy to make stuff like this. I suspect that my Monster Mill would do the same job in half the time but it would take a lot of clean up to get the sawdust out of the nooks and crannies.

Speaking of CNC has anybody own/tried this one:

Be warned the entire frame is plastic. There are a few others out there built like this and they all have the same problem; they flex and twist as the machine runs due to thermal expansion and mechanical stresses. Most of them use a Dremel type tool which makes a horrible spindle motor (lots and lots of run out.)

Thanks Jeff!