Production Update

About a month ago we wrapped up the final changes to the FarmBot hardware design, reviewed the final sample components, and gave the go-ahead to our partner factories and suppliers to produce 350 FarmBot kits. As of this writing we have ordered 97% of the components that will go into the final boxes and we hope to have the remaining few components on their way to us by the end of next week. So far we have not encountered any serious supply chain issues that will cause a delay in shipment, indicating that we’re on-track to send the first batch of FarmBots out towards the end of February! Check out the photos below of some of the production components:

The motor kits (above) include four custom laser engraved NEMA 17 stepper motors with pre-mounted rotary encoders and fully assembled wiring harnesses. The photos below show bulk quantities of extrusions, springs, v-wheels, spacers, and custom cardboard boxes.

Some of the plastic parts in the FarmBot Genesis kits will be injection molded out of gray plastic. The sample white Seed Bin pictured below was the first one to come out of the mold!

What’s Next

Once we receive all of the components at our headquarters in California, we will be assembling a few complete FarmBots to make sure everything goes together smoothly. If we find that anything needs to be changed, we will have a few weeks to order additional parts or make the required modifications. Then we will complete the final quality assurance checks for all the kits, pack everything up, and send them out the door! Note: Before we ship anything out, we will be in touch with all of our customers to ensure we have your correct shipping address.

We’re all sold out! (sort of)

About a week ago we pre-sold the last available FarmBot Genesis Kit as part of our first production run of 350. That means that any pre-orders placed now and into the future will be part of our second production run and ship later than February. We’re still working out the timeline for the second run, but a conservative ship date is in July. Pre-order your FarmBot.

2016 Wrapup

Now that 2016 has come to a close, we’re looking back on what we’ve accomplished over the last 12 months. In the beginning of the year FarmBot successfully grew over a dozen different vegetable crops. During this time we shot timelapse video of the whole process, eventually using it to make our launch video.

In July, we released our debut product to the world: FarmBot Genesis – humanity’s first open-source CNC farming machine. With the help of social media and news outlets, our video was shared and played over 100 million times across the Internet, driving over $1 million worth of FarmBot pre-orders.

Since then we grew from a part-time team of 3 to a full-time team of 6, and have been working hard to develop software features, make improvements to the hardware design, and ready everything for mass production.

Now we find ourselves already in January, overseeing production and getting ready to start shipping the first batch of kits next month.

Needless to say, it was a hallmark year for FarmBot, and we’re looking forward to furthering this technology together with you in 2017!

You can still pre-order a FarmBot!

Want to get in on the first batch of FarmBots set to ship in February? We only have about 10 kits left available for pre-order. If you don’t make the first batch, you’ll need to wait until our second production run. Pre-Order Your FarmBot today.

FarmBot Sales Map – December 4, 2016

Check out this updated FarmBot pre-orders map! Quite a bit more impressive than the first map we made back on July 18, huh? We really are a growing, global community, and we can’t wait to see how everyone uses their FarmBot come February! Want to see yourself on the map and help us pioneer the open food future? You can still pre-order a FarmBot, which will ship out with our first production batch in February.

FarmBot Sales Map - December 4, 2016

Announcing FarmBot v1.1

Over the last few months we’ve been hard at work further refining the FarmBot Genesis hardware design and readying it for mass production. This process has included visiting factories, making part modifications, exploring different manufacturing techniques, and ultimately building some v1.1 devices both big and small!

farmbot-jr

The process has been both challenging and eye opening. We’ve learned a lot about how to mass manufacture products vs just building single prototypes. And what’s most exciting is how the quality of the parts and the overall product is dramatically improving, while the cost to produce it is coming down.

What this means for you is that FarmBot is easier than ever to assemble, looks better, and will last longer. And for us it means we can dedicate more resources to our open-source research and development.

So without further ado, check out the v1.1 documentation and CAD files to see what’s new with FarmBot Genesis. And browse the gallery below for some of the highlights of v1.1, and the process of moving to mass production!

plates-drawings

bearings

compliance-testing

motor-with-engraving

hardware-kit-design

plate-surface-treatment

motor-testing

anodized-tool-bay

plate-samples

seed-injector-v1-2

stamped-plates

packaging-sample

November 2016 Software Update

Since the last software update in October a lot of exciting things have happened here at FarmBot. First, we’ve expanded our team again! Welcome aboard Chris, we’re excited for you to join us as a frontend web developer! Chris has hit the ground running and started making improvements to the web app’s UI and adding new features. Just in the last month we now have:

Drag and drop sequence steps!

drag-and-drop-sequences

A unified login/create account/welcome page

unified-logincreate-accountwelcome-page

A customizable Peripherals widget so you can easily augment FarmBot to control more devices such as LED lights, relays, pumps, or fans.

customizable-peripherals

Other important software updates this month included:

  • Support for SSL throughout the entire software stack (thanks Rick!)
  • Regimens are now supported at the Raspberry Pi level (huge props to Connor for this one)
  • Sequence steps can have custom names
  • Sequences and Regimens can be copied

Public Roadmap

As we gear up to ship out our first hardware kits in February, we thought it would be nice to show everyone what exactly we’re working on with the software, what is done, and what we hope to have completed by February. So today we’re announcing our public roadmap, available as a Trello Board here: https://trello.com/b/AVGR1aRQ/farmbot-public-roadmap.

The roadmap is broken into list pairs, with each pair indicating a specific area of our software platform such as “Controls”, “Regimens”, or “Arduino”. Each pair contains two lists, one for the things that are completed for that area and one for the things we have yet to do.

As we build new features of the next few months we’ll be updating this roadmap regularly so you can keep track of what’s new and what’s coming soon.

farmbot-public-software-roadmap

 

Introducing the New FarmBot Wiki

For a long time now we’ve been using the popular MediaWiki software to power the FarmBot wiki. However, with experience we’ve found that software difficult to use, difficult to maintain, and extremely susceptible to vandalism. Today we’re announcing that we’ve switched to the DokuWiki platform for the FarmBot Project Wiki. This platform is very easy to use and meets all of our wiki needs. So check it out, write or edit some content, and let’s start documenting our collective FarmBot knowledge together!

farmbot-wiki

FarmBot Software Update October 2016

We’ve been hard at work the last few months working on a ton of new features, refactoring old code, and hardening the codebases up and down the stack. Here is a breakdown of what we have accomplished recently:

The Web App

  • Now features continuous integration so that we can deploy faster and more often. This allows us to spend more time developing features rather than doing dev ops. It also allows us to test new features and fixes faster and more often.
  • Sequences and regimens now have a user adjustable color so you can make all of your watering regimens blue, all of the planting sequences green, all of the tool sequences orange, or whatever makes sense to you.
  • The webcam widget now stores a custom URL so you can add any webcam stream you want to your dashboard.
  • You can now create Regimens on the web app (support on the Raspberry Pi is coming soon). Regimens allow you to schedule sequences based on the age of a plant. That means you can make a regimen to take care of a plant throughout its entire life, and then re-use that regimen for all instances of that crop.
  • We’ve readied the app for internationalization, which means that it will soon be available in many more languages other than English. Stay tuned for a call for translation help 🙂
  • The farm designer plants are now represented by the appropriate crop icon (about 30 icons exist so far).
  • The farm designer is now integrated with OpenFarm.cc so that any crop in the OpenFarm database can be searched for and selected for placement on the map.
  • Dropdown widget help text, improved navigation UI, users now stay logged in for up to 30 days, and countless other stability improvements.

app

FarmBot OS

  • We’ve completely rebuilt the Raspberry Pi Controller using Elixir with the Nerves framework. Using Elixir allows the controller to be more reliable, hot reload updates, and all around have better performance compared to our old controller. You can now push over-the-air updates to the Pi Controller and the Arduino Firmware by clicking one button from the web app, and soon enough we’ll have an auto-update toggle so you never even have to press the button to stay up to date with the latest features.
  • There is now a functioning wifi-configurator app that makes connecting your FarmBot to your home wifi network and web app profile a breeze. No SSH or external screen and keyboard required – simply use your smartphone or laptop to configure FarmBot.
  • The new controller and wifi configurator are actually bundled into an entire OS build process which means with one command you can create a ready-to-rock FarmBot OS .img file for flashing onto an SD card. This build process includes all of the FarmBot software so you no longer have to use an external keyboard and monitor and hours of your time to prepare the Raspberry Pi. Soon we’ll be regularly publishing OS builds so you can just download the latest image file, flash it, and fire up your FarmBot right away for configuration.

wifi-configurator

FarmBot Arduino Firmware

  • Now in beta: closed loop feedback control with rotary encoders. This is important so that FarmBot knows when something has gone wrong (such as a vine getting in its way) and it can alert you to investigate the problem. Without this feature, FarmBot’s motors could stall and then it could go and accidentally destroy the whole garden.
  • There is now a pin watchdog feature which prevents the arduino from keeping any peripheral on for too long of a time, which could be dangerous.

Computer Vision (in beta)

  • FarmBot’s built-in camera can now experimentally auto-calibrate itself and map image pixels to coordinates within the FarmBot system.
  • Experimentally locate the tool bay and tools by using red markers and some image processing.
  • Experimentally detect all plants in the bed so that they can be marked for removal when they are determined to be weeds.

 

What’s Next

There are many things still left to do and we have some wildly cool ideas for the future of the FarmBot software ecosystem. Here are a few of the immediate goals that we hope to have released in the next few months:

  • Regimens at the Pi level
  • Third party script execution on the Pi (for image processing and other capabilities) and the ability to call a script from a Sequence
  • Bring back Events (formerly known as Schedules) for scheduling Sequences like calendar events (one-time or on a repeating basis)
  • Custom Sequence Step names so you can make your Sequences easier to read, your Logs more usable, and the status ticker more descriptive so you know exactly what your FarmBot is doing at all times.
  • Device settings stored in the API and synced with the device
  • Customizable tools and peripherals widget for creating new and editing existing labels and pin numbers
  • Drag and drop Sequence Steps for a faster and more fun sequence creation and editing experience
  • Plant objects at the Pi level
  • Ability to reference Plant coordinates in a sequence
  • Sequence parameters, and the ability for child Sequence Steps to reference them
  • Regimen parameters, and the ability for child Sequences to reference them
  • Plant Groups

 

Want to get involved? Drop in to GitHub to check out our repositories and help out where you can!

FarmBot, Meet Onshape

When I started the FarmBot project over three years ago, I began designing the FarmBot hardware using the 3D CAD software that I was trained to use: SolidWorks. While SolidWorks is an industry standard tool and a very powerful piece of software, it unfortunately requires a multi-thousand dollar license to use, and it only works on Windows. This means that most people cannot afford to use SolidWorks, which means they can never access the source files of FarmBot’s hardware design. So while I did publish the source files online for the first ten versions of FarmBot Genesis (v0.1 thru v1.0), these files were effectively inaccessible and useless to the vast majority of people. I got around that for a long time by also exporting the files to other formats (.STL, .IGES, .STEP, etc) for use with other free and low-cost CAD systems, but that was only ever a half-good solution at best because the conversion process is like compiling in software – it renders the files mostly useless to inspection and modification.

The main reason I continued to use SolidWorks for so long was because there were no free parametric 3D CAD systems available that were also robust and powerful. Additionally, I was the only one materially contributing to the hardware design, and so it didn’t make sense for me to compromise my workflow for contributors that didn’t exist. But then along came Onshape. Onshape is actually created by some of the founders of SolidWorks, but it is fundamentally different from the software to the business model behind it. Onshape is the first fully cloud-based parametric 3D CAD system that is not only powerful, but also free to use for non-professionals, and cross-platform because it works in the web browser and has top-notch mobile apps. They have a business model similar to GitHub’s – free for public documents, paid-for if you want a lot of private documents. Because Onshape is cloud-based, it also provides some interesting collaborative features such as multi-person document editing in real-time (like Google docs), and the ability to fork and merge designs. I really believe that Onshape is the future of CAD, and that it is the tool of choice for any open-source hardware project because it is free, powerful, and cross-platform.

So when we added a second hardware engineer to our team a few months ago, the time was right for us to bite the bullet and switch from SolidWorks to Onshape. This required a time-intensive process of rebuilding all of the FarmBot components and assemblies in Onshape while also making changes to the design to go from v1.0 to v1.1.  Additionally, we’re now offering 2D drawings of every component, as well as alternate versions of some components for different manufacturing techniques (3D printing vs injection molding, and flat metal plates vs bent metal plates). All of this is available today in our FarmBot Genesis workspace – check it out! Note: that link will open up a read-only version of the CAD models. If you would like to copy and modify the designs you will need to create a free account with Onshape.

Cheers to the next chapter of open-source hardware!

farmbot-v1-1-onshape

FarmBot Genesis v1.0 Documentation is Now Complete!

Its been a while since we last published an update to the FarmBot Genesis hardware design and the corresponding documentation for it. That’s because we’ve been swamped with our launch campaign, growing our team, and doing other business-ey stuff. But now that all of that work has subsided we’re back on track and making improvements to the hardware design and our step-by-step assembly instructions. Today we’re excited to announce that the v1.0 documentation is now complete! Check it out here: https://farmbot-genesis.readme.io/v1.0/docs.

v1-0-docs

Like all previous versions of documentation, this is our most comprehensive version yet and the one we are the most proud of. Using this resource, we hope that anyone (such as you!) is empowered to build their own FarmBot. Whether that means pre-ordering a kit or making and sourcing all of the individual components yourself, this is the one stop shop for all things FarmBot Genesis. In this version of documentation you will find a whole host of goodies:

  • Step-by-step assembly instructions for every subassembly in FarmBot
  • Comprehensive tech specs for every component
  • Complete bill of materials with prices and recommended suppliers of all components
  • 3D CAD models for every component in various formats
  • 2D CAD drawings of almost every part
  • The ability to see and interact with many of the subassemblies and parts in a 3D browser-based environment
  • Manufacturing files (.DXF and .STL) for the parts you can machine and 3D print yourself
  • New ideas for mods and add-ons to your FarmBot
  • New organizational structure that makes reading the docs faster and easier than ever
  • Improved documentation search
  • Tables of contents on every page!

 

We hope you will find this documentation as high quality and valuable as we do and consider building your own FarmBot from scratch or pre-ordering a kit. Need additional help beyond what is provided in the docs? Strike up a conversation in the forum!