IndustrialAutomation@home

Jacob Valdez
6 min readJul 20, 2020
A loud machine in my bedroom
A loud machine operating in my bedroom

Soon after examining and purchasing some manufacturing equipment (a 3018 CNC router and aNET A8+ 3D printer), the practical challenges utilizing these machines began to set in. The CNC machine was very loud but required a tethered USB connection to operate. The 3D printer also made considerable noise and generated unpleasant fumes as it heated polylactic acid thermoplastic. Additionally, I would often check in hours after starting a job to discover machine failure (once, the 3D printer severed its own extrusion nozzle by scrapping the build plate for several minutes). Finally, even when the machine executes its instruction perfectly, my imperfect understanding often required experimenting with dozens of different parameters for each job. Each of these specific challenges demanded different particular solutions, but more generally, I observed, this system would benefit from industrial automation. As gpt2 told me (prompt “Industrial automation”):

Industrial automation and the rise of robotics have been the most important innovations in the industrial economy since the 1950s.  The technology is used in many industries, including manufacturing, transportation, and transportation systems . . . Industrial automation and the rise of robotics have been seen as a boon to the economy.

That was just the encouragement I needed to begin my journey. Besides meeting extrinsically defined objectives, this project also became an opportunity to interact with Linux, Handlebars, VNC, and Node.js.

Building the factory

My dad had recently given me a Raspberry Pi 4. The Raspberry Pi 4 is a single board computer with four USB ports, a CSI camera slot, and Wi-Fi. This seemed like the perfect controller for my 3-D printer and router.

Next I needed to located a suitable space outside the house for this equipment. After exploring I discovered a shelf in the garage that could accommodate more junk, so after an hour of moving stuff I had a workspace to build my factory on top of

The factory begins to take shape

When I operated the CNC from my laptop, I had been using CNCjs. It’s one of those applications that runs in the background…

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Jacob Valdez
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I’m an artificial intelligence researcher