Old Machine Needs A Work Surface

My first prototype of a video-based measurement instrument was a bit of a bust, as I discovered my motion control precision was poor and my camera can’t resolve to the level of detail I wanted. But there’s another problem: I don’t have a working surface on this former 3D printer. For the initial test, I taped a ruler to the Y-axis carriage and that was enough to get some data, but the Y-axis carriage is not an adequate working surface given how it has protrusions from bolts holding Y-axis rollers and the ends of the Y-axis belt.

In a fully functioning Geeetech A10 3D printer, there is a heated print bed bolted to the Y-axis carriage. However, I got this machine in a partially disassembled state and I do not have that print bed or any of the associated hardware. Since I don’t intend to use this as a 3D printer, I don’t need a full-on replacement heated bed. So my replacement surface doesn’t need an electric heater. I don’t yet know if it’ll be useful to have adjustments to level the bed, it will likely depend on the precision required by whatever project happens to be at hand.

To take the next step, I need something relatively flat that is approximately the correct size. Digging through my graveyard of past projects, I found my candidate: the front panel from the first draft of my FreeNAS box project. Easily removed, as it was only taped in place. And since it had a rectangular slot cut in the middle already, it was easy to break off at the slot to form a roughly rectangular piece of acrylic at approximately the right size.

The pandemic has cut off my access to a laser cutter, so I could not cut holes for mounting bolts. Drilling brittle acrylic requires specialized drill bits or risk shattering the piece. While contemplating alternative ways to support this work surface, I started thinking it would be cool if these supports could be more than just spacers. What might I do to make it a little smarter and more interesting?

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