V3.1 - sources for North American builder

I’m planning to build a V3.1 rotator & controller. I found the parts list and I’m working on finding suppliers. I’m currently in Mesa AZ USA, but we will be heading back to Invermere BC Canada in 2 months, so I’m wary of ordering things from China because the shipping might take longer than 2 months.

  1. Where can I order the 40mm x 1.5mm 6063 aluminum tube? I have tried numerous places (Amazon, Ebay, Aliexpress, and others). The closest I could find was 40mm x 2mm x 600mm for US$19, with free shipping in USA. Is that the right ballpark cost? Are there any European sellers that I should check? Also, who sells the 40mm U bolts? or can I just use an Imperial size and bend to fit?

  2. For the T-slot corner connectors, I found these:
    They look right, but the unit cost ($0.32) seems ridiculously low; everywhere else they are about a buck each. Also, delivery is estimated at 40 days, so I really need to know if they will work.

  1. From the same supplier as 2) I found a bag of 100 nuts for $7.14. Also seems too good to be true.
    Is it the right part?

  2. For all the 3D printed parts, I plan to print them myself. Are there any tips or guidelines or words of experience?

  3. The worm gear says to use an acetone vapor bath to smooth the part. How difficult is that? Is it better to just buy the Shapeway part? What is the cost for the Shapeway part?

Thanks for any advice.

Funny… I lived/worked at Panorama Mountain for a season, many many years ago.

I’m in the process of ordering parts for my V3.1 as well.
I already have all the electronics functioning
I bought the same pipe as you mentioned, will be here tomorrow actually (shipped to canada, wasn’t cheap). it’s a bit thicker (2mm) but OD is the same… I don’t see an issue as long as you can figure out how to affix your antenna to this.

I was going to just order 3d parts but decided this was a good excuse to get a 3d printer… just ordered the Anycubic i3 Mega-S.

Acetone is pretty easy to find From watching youtube vids the acetone vapor bath seems insanely simple, as long as you’re careful and do it in a well ventilated area. I’ve never done it before but this is my plan

  1. My memory is fading so please disregard if I’m daft here. I can only assume these will be elements for a yagi? If so then it’s time to color outside the lines. Tubing that size will be relatively costly, just get solid rod/round bar. 1/8" (.128") is fairly common. http://www.onlinemetals.com (they regularly email 10%-15% discount codes if you get on their spam list), http://www.speedymetals.com, https://www.metalsdepot.com. U-bolts work just as good if there’s slight slop from an imperial/metric miss-match, just tighten down harder. Also, a local hardware store usually has a lot of the generic parts for cheaper than you can order online. If it’s possible to hit some where you are that will save you money too.

2+3) My experience with AliExpress is that the longer the estimated ship time is the more likely it will be nearly exactly the quoted ship time. Only in maby 1 case over the past 5 years have I had something take an extra 20 days over the quoted 40+ days (ignoring lost shipments, which is also a single case in that time). For the price, perhaps it’s worth the risk?

Here is an update. Most parts ordered on Feb-04 and many parts received.

Threaded rod ordered from Amazon, but turns out it was shipped from China. ETA 2 more weeks.

T-Slot corner connectors and T-Slot nuts ordered Feb-04 from AliExpress; payment has processed but still has NOT even shipped. The order will automatically cancel if the vendor doesn’t ship in 4 more days. Contingency plan for the nuts is to buy from Amazon. But all the corner connectors available on Amazon are about a buck each. Any alternatives?

I found some 40mm 1.5mm thickness on onlinemetals.com and ordered it. They are 6060 instead of 6063 and are in 60" sections and come in pairs.

Also China is doing their New year which is why you are expeiencing the delay. its just bad timing. the entire country shuts down for 3 weeks. they are all coming back online now. i see most of my items beginning to ship.

I have been using ebay, aliexpress, pololou, and onlinemetals as my sourcing. I am in Seattle and am always down to sway any items i have bulk of. The tubing for example.

Also, for the printed parts. I am personally thinking of having a friend print the screw with his resin printer just to get that much better of a part. Ive never done any smoothing of parts with acetone, but just figured that i can print all other parts with my printer here at home, and just have a friend or makerspace resin print the screw for me.

Hey! In the wiki page of rotator, it exists a table with vendors for the parts and materials. Feel free to populate it.

Here is another update.
Items #2 and #3 of my initial post have still not arrived from China. It has been ~55 days since they emailed me a shipping notice. I have given up on those parts and I’m back to shopping.

If you are in Canada, or USA, please tell me where you bought your corner brackets and slot nuts.



Can you get those from McMaster, MSC, or Grainger?

I’ve checked all those, and the sources in the wiki, and can’t find a reasonable price on either of those two items. So that’s why I’m asking what others have found.

Here is our BoM where we have links to all of our sources: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1MVOunpKmXpXsne6TfvqzbBkZVnMiu4FX1A-K3R5W1eQ/edit?usp=sharing

Our Aluminum tubing is 2mm thick, but I’m not sure that affects anything in the overall build.

For the acetone finish, we used a large glass jar, put some acetone in the bottom, and hung our parts from some string. We put the jar in a larger container (a crock pot for us) and filled the larger container with boiling water. We then held the part in the glass jar above the acetone but in the vapor, and it only takes a few seconds for you to see noticeable differences in the finish. You may have to move the part to get even coverage.

Do this in a well ventilated area, and wear a breath mask if you can so you don’t breathe in the vapors.

A note about the ABS parts – when it comes time to apply Loc-Tite to the threaded rod, do NOT get any of the Loc-Tite on your ABS part. It will disintegrate it.


Thanks for that info - exactly what I was looking for.
I have one followup question: For the Corner Brackets and the Slot Nuts, which shipping option did you choose? and what was the delivery time for each?


I wasn’t the one who did the ordering, but from what I recall it took approximately 2 weeks from the time of ordering to receiving the material. There was a bit of down time while we waited for ordered parts to arrive.