Costs - DIY or purchase a kit?

What’s the cost saving of going DIY? I’m tempted to buy a kit so I’m not faffing, but then again I have the resources of an entire hackspace available 5 minutes down the road. I get a kick out of building stuff, but I don’t necessarily have the time. Is there a significant saving in cost going DIY?

I’m based in the UK.

Edit, might be substantial tax. I’m not sure I understand the difference between the genesis and the express other than the lack of track

I went Express XL thinking I didn’t want to spend the time building the Genesis or do much in the way of customisations… so might as well save a few pounds…

Really wish I’d gone Genesis…

  • had to add aluminium rails in any case
  • the motors and accuracy on the Genesis are way way better
  • I enjoyed doing the little bit of express construction and like lego could have done with more of that
  • Not sure I NEED to switch heads… but not having the option is annoying me now
  • the Pi Wifi on the Express is rubbish… had to go ethernet + wifi relay
  • Pi Zero on Express has no expansion options
  • you can not upgrade an express without a lot of work (printing new housing for a start)

Someone did a longer list on reddit that I wish I’d found before ordering

That said… almost got the kinks out if my express and generally enjoying having a FarmBot… but next year will be the test as only growing a couple of winter things at the moment

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I just finished my DIY build, and I can’t say the savings are significant. It really depends on what you want out of it and what you value your time at. Between all the soldering, crimping, firmware, printing, and part sourcing I have a absolute ton of time into my build. I can’t tell you yes I saved money or no I didn’t because my machine falls in the middle of an express and a genesis. Basically as mentioned above mine is a express tool head on aluminum rails, and Encoders instead on stall detection. Basically a genesis with out the UTM. With everything it came out to roughly $2000 USD. I also would say if you do not have prior experience with a project of this nature to buy an express kit. The added benefit of customer support is absolutely priceless. Now if your like me and get excited when $100 worth of wire gets delivered so you can spend an afternoon soldering connectors on, yes you can shave a bit off. How much depends on what you can do in the electronics realm, if you have access to 3d printers, and your ability to mill parts. However I will say you’d be hard pressed to save more than %20.

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I think the big issue is going to be import tax into the UK

I think really then it comes down to import tax or time if your confident in your abilities. In my case I’d say It came out to roughly 200 hours of printing, maybe 10 finding the parts online, 20-30 of electrical work, maybe 5-6 for part cleanup and pre assembly, then another 100 or so for final assembly. So maybe 350 hours total of what Id consider billable time.

For the Farmbot Expess XL I had to pay £327.66 in import tax - that was Nov 2022

That was on a purchase price of $1,772.46 USD (inc $177 for shipping to UK)

Might be worth costing out the Genisis which means you just source everything from FarmBot team in one go and no faffing, just build time… all depends what experience you are after and your budget :slight_smile:

Ps remember to cost the bed and soil/compost

I’d second the bed/soil thing, I didn’t factor it in at first and honestly that cost alone almost grounded my project. I ended up using grow bags as a compromise, but it definitely needs to be considered good lumber and soil gets very pricey.

Though I have to disagree with you on ordering individual parts from Farmbot. (Sorry guys) Unless you are ordering the kit. The kit is a pretty solid deal on parts alone, not counting the labor that went into them before they get to you. That being said there is one real exception, and thats the plates, unless you can do it yourself or have a buddy to do it for you, you will lose out a huge margin of any potential savings, I had to pay $50 to have a shop cut the cross slide plate for me, and I brought the stock, which I cheaped out to 1/8th inch instead of 5mm and still was a $20 piece. So nearly triple for an easy plate. Buy your Cross slide, 2 wheel plates which ever of the 3 you choose, 2 corner brackets, and z motor mount directly from Farmbot if their available.

One thing that will absolutely put you in the red on a diy build if ordered from Farmbot individually is the electronics, look into the Genesis v1.2 and it’s ramps board firmware. I used a MKS gen L a 24v capable ramps variant, an idea pilfered from another thread here. Even getting the molex connectors for custom cabling to accommodate the Farmdunio is difficult.


I run a hackspace, so I have access to machinery including a waterjet cutter & CNC (we’re in Essex if anyone is wondering - East Essex Hackspace) so making everything isn’t that bigger deal. It’s just time!

I already have 4 rotting raised beds, so plenty of soil. I’m wondering whether I go down the route of 4 small beds or one huge automated one. I got 12 years out of the last ones. Soil needs some enrichment though.

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