Say Hello to FarmBot Express and Express XL

Hi FarmBot community,

Today we announced two new FarmBot devices available for pre-order: Express and Express XL! We’re hoping to bring this technology to many more people with this product line by bringing the cost, setup time, and learning curves of FarmBot down. Check it out:

Both Express and Express XL are targeted towards people who want more of a farming robot appliance, rather than a farming robot project. These devices will be in addition to our more fully-featured and customizable Genesis lineup that we still see as a more premium and fun option for enthusiasts and prosumers.

Some notable new things about the Express hardware:

  • The Farmduino Express board features integrated Trinamic TMC2130 stepper drivers for ultra-quiet operation.
  • We’re modularizing the cables and tubing at the Y-Z cable carrier interface which facilitates assembly, disassembly, and later mods.
  • Farmduino Express also features a real-time clock so we can better support offline setups.

Many of the hardware improvements we’re making with Express will also be carried over to the Genesis v1.5 devices, though we also have even more things in the works for that release :wink:

You’ll notice in the video I highlighted the long-awaited variables feature. Expect a beta release of FarmBot OS v8 this month, as well as a host of other software and documentation announcements!

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Awesome, a cheaper farmbot!
Q: what exactly did you have to do to lower the price that much? (What are the compromises/what differentiates the current (more expensive) models?)

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Huge CONGRATULATIONS to all the folks at FarmBot!
I (and we - the FB community) know you all have been heads-down working on this and all things FarmBot.
This looks totally cool, and I cant wait to see the detailed tech specs!
Is that a cool new weeder tool?
How smart to take the seeds with the UTM and save the time to travel back to get seed #2, #3, etc…!
Now, on the edge of my seat waiting for FBOS V8!

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Great question! Here are the biggest differences/tradeoffs between Genesis and Express:

  1. Express has no universal tool mounting system/interchangeable tools. While many people are drawn to Genesis for its interchangeable tooling (lots of room for future upgrades and custom tools), that system adds a lot of cost, complexity, and setup time. If one is not interested in making their own tools and expanding their FarmBot’s hardware capabilities over time, they can save themselves time and money by going with Express.
  2. Express has no aluminum extrusion tracks. Instead, Express rolls directly on the wood raised bed. With this change, Express is a little less precise in its movements than Genesis, though without a UTM and tools to carefully pick up and put away, that loss of precision is acceptable. Without the tracks, the cost, setup time, and overall complexity is again reduced compared to Genesis.
  3. The Farmduino Express electronics are better in some ways, but make sacrifices in other areas. Notably, the Express units will not have rotary encoders (which are quite expensive). Instead, they’ll utilize the stall detection feature of the Trinamic TMC2130 stepper drivers. There is also no UTM cable/connector, no extra powered peripheral outputs, and only one external push button for E-stop (as opposed to the 5 push buttons and 4 LED indicator lights included with Genesis v1.4 kits). We’re also using the Raspberry Zero W mounted directly via a pin header to the microcontroller board, instead of the Raspberry Pi 3 connected over a USB cable.
  4. Without the UTM or encoder cables, we were able to reduce the size of the cable carriers, which in turn reduces the size of their supports and other components throughout the system. This reduces weight, cost, and complexity.
  5. Express gantries are slightly narrower than Genesis bots. We’re using a max extrusion length of 1.2m for Express so that everything can fit neatly in one box that will fit on a standard sized pallet. This, along with substantially reduced overall weight saves on shipping and logistics.
  6. Express bots will come 95% pre-assembled. Because Express is so much simpler, we’re able to do a lot more pre-assembly, and this (combined with not having to install tracks and toolbays) leads to a setup time of about one hour. This is a huge departure from the 30, 40, 50+ hours needed to assembled Genesis bots!

Take a look at the tech specs section on the homepage to see a detailed breakdown. And later this year (shortly before Express bots start shipping to customers) we’ll release all of the CAD models, bill of materials, and documentation.

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Thanks for that announcement Rory, I really like what you all did there. It looks like I wasn’t wrong thinking that the x-axis needs some kind of a rework, but I’m a bit curious if this will be more solid than the V-slot rails. At least this version will be cheaper and affordable for more people. Sadly this design didn’t convince me to rebuild it or make similar changes to my current bot. Guess I’ll have to walk my own way again until the next fancy Genesis version comes up :slight_smile:

Now I’m looking forward to that V8 beta :+1:

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Hello everyone!

I have few questions about the new FarmBot Express.
If I understand correctly FarmBot Express is not equipped with a soil sensor. Am I right? Why so?
How does the FarmBot detect whether a plan need more water?
Which strategy the FarmBot Express uses for watering a plan?

Thank you very much!
Best,
Guglielmo

@Guglielmo, correct - FarmBot Express does not include a soil moisture sensor.

Because Express doesn’t have interchangeable tooling, all of the functions that are regularly used need to be permanently mounted on the z-axis. Of the core functions of FarmBot, seeding, weeding, and measuring soil moisture all require tooling that accesses the soil. Having three implements all permanently mounted in that fashion would likely result in poor operation. For example the seed injection needle would clog when weeding, and a soil sensor PCB might get in the way of an even spray pattern, or damaged if FarmBot ran into something.

For v1.0 of Express we opted to go simpler and lower cost, and that meant two decisions here: foregoing the soil sensor and the cabling required between the tool head and electronics box, and making the user manually mount and unmount the seed injection needle whenever they are putting seeds in the ground. We think this is a fine tradeoff because you don’t usually need to put seeds in the ground more than once or twice a month, and the user already needs to go out to the garden to put seeds into the container anyways.

In future versions of Express, it may be possible to integrate the soil sensor functionality into the more robust spiral watering nozzle/weeding implement (rather than using a PCB), but that will require some very custom work that’s currently out of our realm.

So, how does FarmBot Express plan how much water to spray? You can do that with regimens and a few different watering sequences. So depending on the type of crop, it will be taken care of differently based on its age. Or, if you gotta have soil moisture sensing, go with Genesis :slight_smile:

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Hi there,

Congratulations on this new product and reaching 1,000 sales with Genesis!

I also have a question how good are the Trinamic TMC2130 stepper drivers? Would you ever consider replacing the encoders on the Genesis with them?

Thanks!

The Trinamic drivers are very good - they offer smoother movements, quieter operation, and can be tuned via software. We plan on using them for Genesis v1.5+ kits as well, though we will not get rid of the encoders. Encoders still offer position tracking while the Trinamic drivers only offer stall detection.

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Maybe being able to link it to weather data to determine amount of rainfall would help with this as well?

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Congratulation for genesis successful projects ! I’m wondering when it will be possible to access the new Farmbots express and express XL documents, specifications, CAD and BOM files. Anyway I wish you an even greater success with these 2 new versions.

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The Express bots are still in the final stages of design and testing, and starting next month we’ll be focused on kicking off the manufacturing. The final CAD models, BOM, and of course the step-by-step assembly instructions will be released shortly before the new kits reach customers towards the end of this year :slight_smile:

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