Introducing the UConduit h-bot 3D printer / reprap!


What is the UConduit?

The UConduit 3D printer is an h-bot 3D printer, with a frame built from electrical conduit (steel conduit that you can find at the hardware store). It was designed by SSD member Lee Miller and is open source hardware via the Creative Commons Share-Alike license. It is hosted on github at All printed parts are designed using OpenSCAD (which is an open source CAD environment) so that parts can be freely compiled and modified.


Why electrical conduit?

There are many options for framing. Most higher-end 3D printers these days are using aluminum t-slotted extrusion or specialty laser cut parts. While I think these options are achieving excellent results, I wanted to build a printer that also had a solid frame, but went back to the hardware store mentality of the earlier Mendel and Prusa printers. Conduit is extremely inexpensive ($3.50/5ft) and plenty stiff for a printer. It created some extra challenges in design work, but has an additional payoff.

The printer is held together using o-rings and compression flanges. Each end has two rubber o-rings. There is a “hard clamp” and a “soft clamp”. The hard clamped o-ring creates a pivot point and firmly holds the conduit in place. By adding a second “soft clamped” o-ring on each end, vibrations are very effectively damped. As a result, the printer is not only fast, but also super quiet! As a physicist, I’ve used this type of connection to create vacuum-tight seals on tube furnaces, which is where I first got the idea. Additionally, wiring can be neatly routed from the top to the bottom of the printer (using the conduit for its intended purpose!).


What is an h-bot?

Think etch-a-sketch! I’ve never deconstructed an etch-a-sketch, but I’d guess that it probably works in a similar way. Two motors are connected to a single belt, which is wrapped in an H shape. If you turn one motor and hold the other fixed, the print head moves at 45-degrees. Combinations of the two motors turning the same way or in opposite directions gives movements in the x and y directions. An advantage to this geometry is that all of the motors in the UConduit remain fixed. Because motors are the heaviest objects in a printer, the inertial forces are significantly reduced by keeping them stationary. I worked with SSD member Free Beachler to modify the popular open source 3D printer firmware “marlin” in order to accommodate the h-bot geometry. I’m very pleased with the results so far, but 3D printing is very competitive in the maker world right now, so you be the judge!

Here is a youtube video of it in action:


Learn How to 3D Print Workshop

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3D printing has started to become the talk of the town; so why not throw a workshop and teach others how to use it for their own personal projects? After all, we have 2 of them and have spawned about 18 of these self replicating machines with many other prototypes, trinkets, gadgets, and gizmos that members have made along the way.

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Saturday, June 1st, the first formal 3D printing workshop at our new location was held with an excellent turnout. A great group of 8 people with a broad spectrum of backgrounds showed up to add this useful skill under their belt and bounce ideas off each other; certainly a stimulating and entertaining environment.


The main point of this workshop was to set you up for success; how to set up the printer correctly:




Calibrate it:



And then how to use the programs necessary to make your idea into a tangible object:


final product



Having access to this emerging technology is nothing short of…Awesome=) I’ll be hosting another workshop June 15th at 3pm; proceeds go towards helping SSD become a better place to Make, Hack, Learn, and Play! Sign up quick because there’s only a limited amount of spots left:

Looking forward to teaching you how to 3D print successfully and make some cool things=)

Hack on,

Bryant Hadley




Member Project of the Week!

This is not shameless self-promotion. This is what happens when no one sends me a project to post by Thursday — I post a project of my own! If you’ve been at the space over the last week or two, you’ve seen this taking shape:


It’s a desk I’m making using reclaimed pine boards. They started life as my parents’ fence, looking like this:

A few passes through the auto planer, and voila! A finished desk. Well, almost finished. I’ve got a couple more rounds of sanding to do, then I’ll stain it and install. The legs in the picture above are just saw horses; it’ll be mounted on black steel pipe with flanges for feet.

Member Project of the Week!

Welcome to a new blog section where we feature the work of our incredibly talented members! Look for a new hack every Tuesday, and learn just what we all get up to at SSD.

This week, Skyler Fly-Wilson shared this video of a dancing LED demo he put together using Arduino. It’s super cool, and he’s got some great thoughts on where to take it next. Check it out!

Grand Opening Extravaganza April 27

We are having an event to celebrate our move to our new space:

WHAT: The Solid State Depot Grand Opening

WHEN: Saturday April 27, 2013 from 3pm to midnight

WHERE: Our new location at 1965 33rd. St. Unit B, Boulder, CO

WHY: To celebrate moving into our new space!

COST: Free for everyone to attend; donations appreciated*


We’re here to show you what kind of projects people have worked on, what tools we have available for your projects, and introduce you to a proactive community of awesome makers making things at our new location!

If you are already a member, bring some friends who might enjoy our company. If you’re new to our group, stop by, say hello and check out our new digs.


3pm- meet and mingle
4:30-6:30pm – food & drink**
7:30 – Special Project Surprise event to blow your mind!
8:30-12 – Live music, hang out, have fun


***At the event there will be a sign up for 2 workshops held the next day that you can only sign up for at our Grand Opening
***We have 3D Printed prize giveaways and a raffle.
***Awesome music will be playing and you can even get your hands on a theramin!
***We’ll be presenting an awesome project at 7:30PM that will blow your mind!!


*Currently we are trying to raise funds to become a legitimate nationally recognized 501c3 Non Profit and to fund for the adjacent space next to us so we can build an even more solid hacker foundation here in boulder. For the biggest contributors we will mill out a piece of aluminum with your name on it and hang it on the wall for all to see in gratitude for helping SSD succeed!

**SSD will only be providing non-alcoholic beverages. If you would like alcoholic beverages feel free to BYOB, or you can visit the Twisted Pine tap house right around the corner from us. They will be open from 12pm-9pm the day of the grand opening.

Solid State Depot is Moving!!!!!! (again)

We have outgrown our current space and are moving into a new, better space. Come help us get settled in.

We can use all the help we can get. Whether your a long time member or just recently found the group, you’re welcome to come join moving party. You can check out our new digs and see what we’re all about.

Here is the tentative plan:

Packing has already commenced. If you want to come in tonight to help pack that would be great. Friday day will also be packing time for anyone who can make it. Friday evening after the bulk of us are off of work, we will begin taking small loads to the new space and continue packing anything else left over. Saturday, We will be getting a rental truck to move most of the furniture and equipment. Times for the rental truck have yet to be determined, but I’ll update this post as soon as we know. Most of us plan on being there starting at 8-9am and working most of the day. If you can come at any point during Saturday, this is when we will need the most help.

5311 Western Ave. Suite 115 Boulder, CO 80301
1965 33rd Street, Building E B*, Boulder, CO 80301 (located around the corner from Twisted Pine, and on the backside of The Spot, next to Anco Engineers). It’s a U-shaped building, we are inside the U.
*oops – our lease said E, but it is actually unit B.

We plan on having people at both locations throughout the day (mostly the old location in the morning), if you show up at either location, I’m sure there will be plenty to help with.

We will be supplying beer and pizza.

Bring your friends, bring your family, come check out the new space, and most of all come help your local hackerspace!

If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask.

March Workshops

We have a few workshops scheduled for March:

Monday, March 11, 6-9 pm: Arduino Hack Night
We will answer (hopefully) all the questions you have about Arduino, and potentially getting you started (or finished) with an Arduino project. This is a free BYOB (Bring your own board) event open to members and non-members alike. See the meetup page for full details and to RSVP.

Saturday, March 16, 1-4pm: PCB Etching Workshop
We will teach you how to etch your own PCB prototypes using common household supplies. This class is free for paying SSD members. For non-members the cost is $20. See the meetup page for full details and to RSVP.

Saturday, March 23, 1-4pm: PCB Design Class
Learn how to make a schematic and layout a PCB to create your own electronics projects. Bring a laptop – we’ll install and use Eagle (in Linux, Windows, or OS-X), circuit CAD software with a free version. Cost: $10 for non-members, free for members. See the meetup page for full details and to RSVP.

All events will be held at our space at 5311 Western Ave, Suite 115 in Boulder. Happy hacking, hope to see you soon!

LulzBot 3D Printer At Our Space

This past fall we had a visitor from the Loveland-based company Aleph Objects, Inc. which makes Lulzbot 3D printers. After the visit, they offered to sponsor us by providing us with a LulzBot AO-100 3D Printer Package.

The printer was basically ready to go – nearly no assembly time and already calibrated. We were printing within 10 minutes of taking it out of the box! For most other printers, it takes many hours to assemble and calibrate.

The LulzBot AO-100 is similar to the MendelMax but with LulzBot’s own printed parts. It prints faster than the Reprap Prusa Mendel we have had at our space since last spring.

Stop by our space in east Boulder on a Tuesday night and chat with us to find out more and perhaps see the LulzBot in action. If you want to use it, become a member and get some instruction from one of our 3D printing gurus. Also, if you are in Denver this Thursday afternoon, you can chat with the LulzBot team and see some of their printers in action at a 3D printing open house, which is being held from 3-6 pm at the 3D Printing Store at 4603 Monaco Street, Denver.

For more information about LulzBot, please visit their website at Thank you to Jon and LulzBot for sponsoring us with a new printer!

Arduino Night @ BHS

We had Arduino night last Thursday. The big win was all the mentorship happening around the room on Arduino, projects and discussing the how’s and why’s. It was a terrific buzz with a wide range of activity.




From simple beginner projects…



to “The Midi Mushroom”, a really cool project Chris is working on that sends Midi instrument signals when you hit it.



We saw more of the hardkernel Odroid. It runs either Android or plain Linux.


Looks like some “projects waiting on the shelf ” were there too.

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Most of the rest of us got some LEDs blinking or hooked up some device. Except the LED project which shone with the light of a thousand burning suns, but didn’t get a picture of that.

And hey, if anyone has a spare bipolar stepper motor (4 wires), post on the list! For everyone else, see you at the next Meetup or at the next Arduino night.

Open House January 22

We had a great turnout with still more new faces. Big shout out, we also passed the 100 member mark on our Meetup Group. Great projects continue to kick off! Thanks to Chris and Kenny and all the other new folks who came out. We saw some hardkernel ARM Odroid boards. That was pretty cool, driving LCD, ethernet, bluetooth, you name it. The ARM revolution continues (and accelerates).



Open house again next Tuesday!