Versiones adaptador aspirador Stepcraft

Design of a vacuum adapter for my Stepcraft CNC router

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Today I bring you through the design process of a vaccum adapter for the HF500 spindle from my Stepcraft CNC router. I have shared the files at Thingiverse for those who want to 3dprint it or modify it. Everything done with the trendy CAD tool: Fusion360.

I frequently work with a CNC router from Stepcraft, built as a kit more or less a year ago. It has an add-on to connect a vacuum cleaner directly under the spindle and around the mill, so you can reduce the amount of dust small pieces fo wood floating around.

But short after I started using it I found a problem. At Artecitos I cut a lot of MDF and since it’s pressed fiber it makes a lot of dust that tends to stick everywhere, so the original adapter got clogged quickly.

Since then I spent quite some time cutting the “manual” way, which means I hold the vacuum tube 😉

But it’s not practical at all. You cannot leave a CNC router working alone, this is clear, but it would be enough to stay around with attention.

The design process

So I started hands on to design with Fusion 360. Since I wanted to reuse the rest of parts I used my digital caliper to measure anything that came to my mind.

It’s not a piece of engineering, so I made it quick and dirt as you can see from my notes…

cotas adaptador aspirador stepcraft       adaptador aspirador Stepcraft

From there I went to Fusion360, to create a sketch and have this first plane drawn in 2D. You can import pictures as canvas and I used that with this picture from above. Works better the higher you are because the camera lens deforms the perspective. You can see it a bit in this one, but I used it mainly as a guide to know where the big parts were located. For the rest I had my measures.

Interfaz Sketch

Form there it’s just a question of making extrusions and some more complex operations until you get the shape you want.

Designing is synonym of iteration

It’s very difficult to make something perfect at the first try, you usually have to make iterations, and in my case I made several. You can see here the six prints I tested with the original part.


Versiones adaptador aspirador Stepcraft

From left to right, back to front:

  1. first test to verify measures for the main holes are correct.
  2. almost final model, without magnets. The lateral clamp breaks and I need to reinforce it. The internal tubing is still not wide.
  3. design with holes to insert magnets. I thought I could warm the magnets with a soldering iron and push them down to their place but it was to much distance to travel and I made a mess.
  4. four magnets inserted (pause the print, insert the magnets and resume printing on top), lateral clamp thickened but still breaks.
  5. five magnets inserted, internal cavity improved, clamp reinforced and everything well adjusted. But the magnets do not hold with enough strength the curtain (don’t know in English…) so I can use it reliably.
  6. the one mounted: 8 magnets inserted, reinforced clamp is nearer but still leaving some space to mount it easily.

Well, there are more changes between versions but this is the main stuff. The point is that I got a functional part in the end and I am pretty happy with ito 😀

This is how the final design looks like.

Interfaz Model

Since I know other people found the same issue, I shared it in Thingiverse.


And this is the final look that it has. Cutting happily again 😀

Stepcraft HF500 spindle vacuum adapter


PS: you may be interested in this, only for Spain. At Artecitos Instagram we are making a draw with a price of earrings or keychain, up to the winner. Check the draw terms in the post. Everything is cut with tho machine!


ET final

Trying wood crafting

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This summer while I was in Razecueillé, my grand-father little village in the French Pyrenees, I took the opportunity to craft an object from a wood trunk. Away from my digital fabrication machines and my computer, it was about making something in a more classic manner just to try.

In fact I had never done something like this and I hadn’t looked for information on the applicable techniques, just the pictures in the western movies where someone uses a knife to carve a figurine from a branch. The thing is that they do this to kill time!!! and it is not much efficient, but I will discover this later 😉

The objective is to make a mate recipient for Natalia, a mate addict as a good Argentinian!

Crafting the recipient

So I started by the beginning, choosing a wood trunk at home and sawing it by hand with an approximate size for the recipient, of course leaving some margin in case I mess something up.

The next step was to empty the inside to create the concavity for the liquid. The wood in this country area is hard, chestnut, oaks and so on.

I think the trunk was oak, and really tough oak. I started very optimistic to carve with gauges that I had there. And I spent several ours with no real progress. This job would have been a neverending thing.

Then I got the suggestion to try a chisel, more effective but nevertheless the hole bottom was a mess of splinters and it was difficult to move in.


From there, the third try was quite effective. My father has a shed for his DIY hobby where he practices a lot of wood work, so I had plenty of tools. I moved in to the most effective system up to then, to use a drill with wood drill bits. And this allowed me to quickly empty the recipient inside by making many holes in it.

There was a problem though, the drill had no way to adjust the depth of the holes, and with all the chips accumulating I wasn’t able to see how deep I was going. So I ended up with holes at really different depths, and I was worried about this having in mind my objective was to make a uniform concavity.

At this point in time I was able to see how much wood I could spare, measuring form the deepest hole, and I made another cut with the saw to reduce the height.

Next steps, the sander. With one if this hardcore sanders thought to be used in big surfaces I sanded the bottom side to smooth it and also try to make it perpendicular to its vertical shape.

After that I had to deal with the outer and inner parts, and for this I used the Dremel, a rotary tool.

For the outer part I just had to sand a bit to get the bits and pieces of bark and any other irregularities, but I left some to keep some personality.

For the inside, I got a real fight! The wood was super strong inside and I had to make the inside bottom consistent dealing with all the irregular holes I made. I was not finding theNo acababa de encontrar la herramienta adecuada para la Dremel. As the tool is rotary the majority of tools work laterally, but I need something to go straigth inside. In the end I finished it with these spheric tools mainly, but spending plenty of hours:

Rolson 24680 - Fresas para Dremel

With this I finished the recipient, after sanding it by hand with fine grain sanding paper.

Now comes decoration.

Decorating the outside

I usually work with digital fabrication technology (3D printing, laser cutting and engraving, CNC routers), and it’s been some time since my partner Natalia asks me things in this style. Pacman wood ghosts, E.T. in 3D, her name painted, etc… check my Instagram to see those examples…

So the ideal decoration was clearly to make an E.T. Talking about E.T. by the way reminds me she recently watch the TV show Stranger Things and she loved it. I had already watched and I recommended it to her, and I watched it again, of course! A must watch if you love the movie icons from the 80s…

Back to the topic, for the outside what I liked best was just to engrave the wood, no paints. Just the engraved wood and the picture can be guessed.

I searched the Internet and I found this pic. If you look for “stencil” with whatever you are looking for you will find what you need to make it in two colors. In my case it was “et stencil”.

E.T. prepared to be carved from a pumpkin

Then I traced it as usual with the open source tool Inkscape. When you trace a bitmap into vectors you transform a picture in bitmap format which is a bunch of pixels into lines and curves. If you enlarge the first picture you loose resolution, and the image becomes pixelated, you see small squares instead of points, the more large the bigger.

However the vectorial image is a group of straight lines and curves that make up the image. If you enlarge it it keeps the relationship between those lines and curves and the surfaces they define so you can enlarge and shrink without loosing any resolution. It’s the ideal format for any later treatment.

In Inkscape it’s the option “Trace bitmap”.

ET vectorizado en Inkscape

The result looks like this [I added the red line later by hand]. After that it is just a question of defining the document properties to the size you want, so in this case the recipient side, and scaling the vectors to this size. In this example the image was inverted, what shows in black should be white but to engrave on wood I thought it was going to be less painful and people would get it anyway.

Here comes the botched job. I have an engraving tool for my Dremel, so I thought I could use it by hand. I printed the image in the appropriate size, kept it stuck to the recipient with tape and started hands on.

I was short on time since Natalia was coming the day after, so I sped up. I just applied the engraving bit directly on paper, thinking that I would be able to eliminate easily the remaining black pieces of paper. But in fact I lost definitio, in addition to the small definition the tool already had. So I was not seen properly where I was carving.

Grabando con Dremel
Engraving with Dremel

The result was quite tough. With plenty of imagination you could guess who it is, if you identify the long finger…

ET grabado
E.T. engraved on the recipient

It as not the result I expected in any case. So with Natalia we tried to save it, first thing was to paint in black the carved parts. But something was missing anyway, specially on eyes…Natalia got inspired and she added a moon and an “explanatory” 😛

It was still ok, but after that we tried to give a touch to the eyes, with a bit of blue. But it just was not fitting the eyes size and the shape so instead of an E.T. it looked more like Chucky!

ET pintado
The chucky E.T.

So nothing more here, undo and start again. In this case it was easy because we could sand it, it’s like the CTRL-Z but on wood as long as you have enough wood thickness haha.

Thsi time we were going to do a transfer. I modified the vector image in Inkscape to invert it and got this:

ET vectorizado en Inkscape inverso

It’s just not black replaced by white, I also mirrored it. The transfer method is to apply the image in paper on top of the material where you want it to stick. It has to be printed with a laser printer, because the trick is that the toner powder sticks to the material below with a substance you add on top. That’s why you have to make a mirrored image to get it on the correct side once transferred. An horizontal flip does the job with Inkscape 😉

We also had problems with the transfer, because the surface was not flat. It was curved either in vertical and horizontal directions, and the paper was not staying stuck to the wood at some points, creating fails. I think Natalia tried something like seven times. She had a “magic” pen for transfer that she had already used some time ago and I think it was not working as well as the first day. The usual way is a liquid you apply on top of paper. But I believe the problem was mainly due to the curves.

After these attempts and the “Undo” sanding afterwards, Natalia finally decided  to paint it with a pen on top of the messed transfer using it as a guide.

¡¡And it worked!!

ET final
E.T. final result

It was a bit off from the center after so many tries, but there is no doubt it is E.T., otherwise just read the text next to it!! 😛

After this she applied a layer of spray lacquer just in the outside, and now we just have to treat the wood inside having in mind that it will be exposed to hot water and yerba when she uses it.


Well, we learned plenty of things:

  • the usual one, use the appropriate tools…if you have access to them, of course.
  • to empty the inner part a drill is very effective. But ensure you can put a depth limit stopper so the hole is homogeneous.
  • If you are going to do something like this don’t take very hard wood, with pine it would have been really easy.
  • Using the Dremel with round bits is too slow, still have to find something more effective to polish the inside. But it is perfect for the outside.
  • The gauges were not much useful.
  • Inkscape works perfectly for the job,to use a stencil, trace the bitmap, rotate, mirror,scale it, etc. And in addition it’s open source.
  • Engraving with the Dremel si a very delicate job that requires a lot of precision with hands. Can work with things that do not require much detail. If I had a planar surface i could have used the CNC router, but for an object like this you need something I don’t have yet: a probe to obtain a 3D representation of the object and then be able to apply the engraving on this surface.
  • The transfer is a good technique to apply something quickly, using a laser printer. If you retrace with a pen it will not have the vintage looking that is typical from transfers, but on the other side you get a hand made touch.

Here is an an example of a transfer made by Natalia with a nicer result:

No molestar


I will be exhibiting at the Printer Party

If you follow me for some time you will know that I am the founder of 3D Print Barcelona group. And we organize the Printer Party to be held on Saturday October, 28th. A full day event we make every year dedicated to 3D printing and other digital fabrication techniques used by makers. You have more details and the agenda schedule on the web. It covers all levels of knowledge from those who want to know about the topics to those that are pretty involved, with workshops for all ages, presentations and exhibition.

I am mentioning this because in addition of being there as organizer, I will also have a stand exhibiting some of the stuff I make and other I will prepare for this day, helped by Natalia.

I ammainly focused in decoration objects and/or geek stuff in wood or 3d printed, usually customized, and painted or not at your wish. A bit of everything 😀

¡More details shortly!

Stepcraft kit

Starting with the Stepcraft CNC router

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About three months ago I bought a Stepcraft CNC router, following the advice of a friend that already has it.
It’s not an industrial CNC router, but you can play quite with some stuff given its size and the ability to cut aluminum.

Stepcraft is a German company that also has a branch in the USA. The machine went through a kickstarter campaign successfully.
Since then they have improved documentation and the available information, and have also added optional upgrades to perform tasks such as laser cutting, wood engraving, vinyl cut, 3D printing, etc.

What I liked more from Stepcraft is the community behind their product. The Facebook group is very active and there is a lot of sharing, ideas to make, suggestions, solutions, etc. And of course there is the brand support.

I bought the 840/2 kit version, the biggest one. And with this the HF500 Spindle and aluminum base to add sturdiness.
Assembling instructions are excellent, with step by step videos.
So the assembly did not have any relevant issue.

Stepcraft kit

Stepcraft kit in the middle of the assembly

I did some screw ups, like tightening one of the axis too much to the point of making it bend without noticing because it was covered.

Or break the first mill out of stupidity. Looks like the “Hello World” for coders applied to CNC routers 😛

First cuts were done with MDF, making basically siple 2D cuts. I painted and varnished them afterwards.

I made names, hashtags, logos, PacMan and its ghosts, etc…

First thing Natalia name, my girlfriend 😉

Next steps are testing with other materials and other mills. But I’ve been over a month now tied in a 3D project for a multinational company where I am 3D modeling a prototype and 3D printing several versions and materials options. When this is over I’ll come back to the CNC router.

I leave a small gallery of stuff I’ve been making or still work in progress 😉

Nexus 5 sin cámara

Nexus 5 camera replacement

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It looks like planned obsolescence is quite applied to smartphones, since they don’t last more than a couple of years without issues. It may be because the battery slowly dies or because or failures that are piling up.

Nexus 5 camera

In my case the rear camera started to fail. Looking at the screen before shooting you were seeing the image vibrate, and the pictures were all blurry. It was not happening with the front camera, and the same issue was happening with other camera apps, so I assumed it was a hardware issue.

As usual Internet is the knowledge source, and pretty soon I identified a video explaining the replacement process.


Same as I did with the sticky button issue, you have to take out the cover and unscrew more covers until you reach the camera. This time there is no need to take the battery off 🙂

So don’t follow all the step in this video. In the Sticky button post you have the video with with the part explaining how to get access to the camera without disassembling the battery.

I bought the camera at Repuestos Fuentes and it had a price lower than 20 Eur. At least it’s a cheap way of extending my smartphone life…

A couple of pictures:

Nexus 5 camara

You can see here the location of the camera once the covers are out, with no need to unplug battery or connectors.

The camera gets out easily, disconnect and lift it smoothly. You only have to replace it.

Nexus 5 sin cámara

Same picture with the camera out

Then you just mount everything back and that’s all.

Nexus 5 microphone

The bad thing, after so much opening and closing of the phone, is that some connector suffered in the process and one day the microphone stopped working, well intermittently.

Looking up again in Google it seems it is not an isolated problem.

It’s simply because the connector stops connecting properly. All solutions applied were about adding more pressure to keep the connection well joined.

And I decided for the option that seemed more clean and simple. To add a piece of duct tape on top of the connector to put more volume and ensure proper contact under pressure.

Micrófono Nexus 5

You can see the piece of red duct tape, with the protection on the upper side kept. Anything that keeps there and adds volume works well.

Mochila reparada

Backpack repair with 3D printing and the Delta Black

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3D printing is so polyvalent, that one gets lost with the amount of things you can do, be printing existing objects from repositories such as Thingiverse or Youmagine or create new designs.

My view is that at he beginning people get caught with printing things from those repositories, but quickly discover he part that brings more passion in 3D printing: to imagine something, to model it and to print it. What I like most is to build small solutions. Quick and pragmatic. And I applied this to several things at home or with mountain equipment. Knowing that the strength of pieces is almost zero compared to what is required in mountain activity, just be careful. No belay material. And don’t dare to print a carabiner!

The problem

The other day I broke a backpack, one of those you get in courses, a piece of cloth with metallic parts that did not last long. But looking at the design, it does not surprise me.

Mochila rota

The metallic supports for the small ropes had a very small contact surface, so the cloth just broke apart from the metallic piece. Then I took the caliper, and started measuring the current piece in order to have a starting point to improve it.

The solution

I just had to do a top for the small ropes that as enough wide to avoid breaking the cloth again.

I keep using MOI for modeling, especially when you look at something more organic. In fact it’s a spin-off form Rhino…

MOI tope mochila

I uploaded the model to Thingiverse here.

Mochila reparada

This is what I really like from 3D printing, the capacity to solve things. You will see plenty of jars and figurines 3D printed in the fairs. But what really adds value is the ability to design, model and create useful objects, and not talking about prototypes. In my case what gives me more satisfaction i exactly this, to repair or to improve something in a matter of minutes of design work. And some more to 3D print it.

3D printing at ultrafast speed 500 mm/s

In addition, since I co-founded Natural Robotics I have plenty of Delta Black 3D printers at my disposal. If there is something to mention that makes them special its their speed.

In less than four minutes I had the object printed. I took the opportunity to record a video, the first ever that I am talking :O

And the thing is that it went very improvised, and so you notice because yes, it’s totally improvised 😛


This is the perfect use case to print at maximum speed, the amazing 500 mm/s. The piece was a top that goes inside the backpack, and is not visible so if the print finish is not completely perfect nothing happens. My goal is to print it in the lower possible amount of time.

This is also applicable to prototypes where you only want to check the shape, more than details. We have performed quality printings at 350 mm/s, which is a speed highly outstanding already if we take into consideration that a cartesian 3D printer usually prints at 100 mm/s.

New spool holder

Updating my 3D printer – spool holder

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I have a BCN3D 3D printer that starts to be a relic now. I built it three years ago in a workshop from bcn3dtechnologies, reprapbcn at that time.

And during these years I did several upgrades at different moments: layer fan, full metal extruder, and an auto bed leveling that I have not finished yet because I need to tweak the firmware. Hardware is in place and I am waiting that we organize the next 3D Printer maintenance workshop in 3dprint Barcelona group to finish the job.

The Marlin firmware provided by RepRapBCN had several functions skimmed, so I need to pick up a recent Marlin version and transfer all the configs from my printer, plus check if there is any function out of standard that I need to transfer.

It’s in my ToDo list…

In the meantime, some weeks ago I upgraded the spool holder. The original one broke in several points, due to a design shortcoming. This is clearly due to

moving the 3d printer around, to different events such as maker faires, printer parties and so on. By the way, we are organizing a Printer Party in Barcelona for October 8th.
I took the original spool holder STL files from BCN3D+ 3D printer and reused some of the material I had in my broken spool holder.

Old spool holder

Final result is here. I would have liked something more flexible to change the holder position according to the spool size, but I do not have time to work on it right now. In fact with independent screws for both sides it’s probably easy to adjust.

New spool holder

Anyway this is more for nostalgic feeling, I got now plenty of Natural Robotics 3D printers at my disposal 😀

Check the Delta Black, a fast FDM 3D printer…

Nexus 5 back

Nexus 5 sticky button solved

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One day my Nexus 5 started to reboot in an endless loop, I was just heading to a via ferrata so no way to look for a solution at that moment. We managed to stop the behavior. But it was happening over and over again later.

Checking in the internet I found some misleading comments in forums about the issue caused by a software update and things like this.

The fact is the issue comes from a design problem. With time, dirt gets into the switch inside the cellphone. Not the button but the switch behind it. And it gets sticky.

So when you push the button, the switch gets activated but stays there forever or not. No predictable behavior. If can happen that it stays activated and creates a never ending loop of reboots, or that it just shuts down.

At the same time, the cellphone battery had gradually lost its power capacity. It’s usually the same timing, about two years 😛

There is a simple solution for the sticky button. Simply clean the switch properly to eliminate all the dirt.

The process is explained in detail here:


First release the cover gently. Be careful if you use a screwdriver. In my case I scratched a bit the cover.

Nexus 5 cover

Remove the screws and then the plastic cover.

Nexus 5 back

Now take all the connectors out, I count six.

Nexus 5 cover out

This is the switch to clean

Nexus 5 sticky button

As I was also in the same process, I changed the battery.

First cleaned the switch, checked that it worked, and then changed the battery.

Don’t apply several changes at the same time otherwise you cannot troubleshoot where the problem is in case of an issue.

It has been working fine for several days, so happy to extend my Nexus 5 life 😀

Lasercuter engraving

Lasercut workshop in Betahaus

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Recently I attended a lasercut workshop in Betahaus Barcelona.

Gerard was in charge, and he put a lot of effort to make everybody happy about the outcome, giving even the chance to cut something nice for each one. We could bring our own project.

They have a big Chinese lasercutter, I don’t remember the exact size but the largest side was sort of 130 cm.

We saw the process step by step to prepare the file for cutting or engraving, requirements from this particular lasercutter and the software to manage it.

In addition, we saw the particular aspects that are usually learnt by trial and error. Which speed and power is needed for each material and the impact you can get by the combination of those into a same material.

There was a really interesting tool for engraving on wood, a wood piece that had engraved on top a matrix with all the combinations of speed and power, so you could have an idea of the outcome for this lasercutter and easily pick what you need depending on the effect choosen.

The workshop was planned for the morning plus lunch, but we continued in the afternoon to do a couple of things, an engraivng in acrylic for another participant, and in my case an engraving of LynxCross gym logo. With color!!!

Lasercuter engraving

Lasercutter engraving the LynxCross logo

Thanks to the matrix piece we decided how much engraving we wanted, so how much deep we were going to burn the wood. Then with this we could cut a similar pattern with some coloured thin wood to get the perfect effect.

I have pictures of the piece engraved and the coloured woods glued on top, but I cannot state its finalised yet because I need to protect it with some varnish.

You can see here a pic of the logo in our gym. Love it!!!

Logo LynxCross

The logo, before gluing and polishing. The brown marks around the letters are due to the resins when wood burns, they disappear with polishing.

What do you learn in this workshop?

In addition to learning how to use this specific machine and you get access to it at a lower rate, you see all the process starting at the design and you need to adapt it to define the areas for cutting or engraving.

And an overwhelming world opens up with plenty of things you can make: from simple logo engravings on wood, to objects in three dimensions with 123d Make by mounting object sections. And if we start with other materials, yay!!

Thanks Gerard for all the effort and help!

Wall yesterday

LynxCross gym is ready

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So much time of silence…

In fact I did not stop writing but I’ve been publishing somewhere else: I was writing on my mountain activity blog sisifoescalador about the stuff I do in the weekends, and on blog, well, because we have to put interesting content there for our clients and this is the most important SEO activity you can perform.

The lynxcross gym is ready!

Building the gym has been an interesting experience, because I moved away from the more or less clean digital fabrication world to the traditional maker jobs: wood working, painting, furniture assembly, boulder wall setup, climbing holds fixing, etc…

Here are some pics of the evolution of the space.

Playing the first days

Playing the first days

Mounting climbing holds

Mounting climbing holds

Building the Wall

Building the overhanging wall

The Campus fully mounted

The Campus fully mounted

It feels great to see the accomplishment, although there is still work to do to make it nice. Pics taken yesterday night

Wall yesterday

Wall yesterday

The space after painting

The space after painting

The grey painting was really difficult to get read of. In the case of the columns they will be covered by some smooth protective material, so nothing to worry on.

If you live in Barcelona or work there, we are in promotion period so you can try a class for free. Check at


New project LynxCross

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I got involved in a new project LynxCross


This time it is not much Tech oriented, but in fact I plan to integrate some Tech elements in the future. I cannot do otherwise 🙂

The idea was started by Christian, my climbing trainer, a year ago. He wanted to mix functional training with climbing or to be more specific, with vertical moves.

You don’t need to be a rock climber to do LynxCross activities. But you can benefit from all the advantages of vertical movement: balance, strength improvement on hands and arms, core improvement.

I remember when I started climbing, I was astonished by the increase in strength in my hands. Suddenly I could open any kind of jar. Nothing resists to my hands!!

The second thing was balance, It was not even conscious, my body reacted to look for the best balanced position at any moment, I was quickly reacting to changes that put my body in an unstable situation. Loved it!! well, you don’t need to go rock climbing to get this, some exercises in a boulder will do the job.

Of course if you love rock climbing, that’s also a good place to train. We will have several walls with different difficulty levels.

But the best is to mix functional training with vertical movements.

This will be unique in Barcelona.

Some benefits I can think of coming from functional training: agility, flexibility, full body strength. This is not to get a body like a pack of muscles!



Currently we have a location, but it is not already open for public. Check our website for updates.

The biggest milestone to achieve, and the one that is delaying us at the moment, is to obtain all legal permits to be able to open.

This implies some works to be done in our place, and of course plenty of face lift.


I added some unprofessional mobile pics taken when testing the concept and gear with friends

Fit LynxCross ball

Playing with a 9 kg ball


LynxCross jump

Myself – jumping time!



AllWall – new innovative concept for symmetrical moves, quite some DIY here

Here a sneak pic of one of the boulder walls under construction…



I think we will open to public by April, although this is a quite optimistic timeline 😉