Guide for DIY formicarium HappyAnt Klasik

HappyAnt Klasik was the first commercial model of HappyAnt, designed to be a practical and nice product that will be extendable as your colony expands (so-called modular formicarium). After a long development and many prototypes, this goal has been accomplished and the product now serves to many satisfied users!
Due to relatively laborious production, however, it is not possible to produce this type in larger series and at an affordable price. That’s why I’ve decided to release a free DIY tutorial to those who want to keep ants and save some money.
Along with the tutorial, all production data (.stl files and other drawings) are also available for free download.
Some material and parts are expensive and difficult to purchase in smaller series, so we offer to buy them on our e-shop.
I wish good luck and success to all makers and ant keepers!

Module and arena description

Formicarium consists of two main parts:

  • The module in which the ant colony lives, spends winter, stores food, and cares about the queen, eggs, larvae and pupae.
  • The arena which serves as an outworld and into which all food and liquids can be placed.

Module

consists of a 3D printed plastic body made of PET-G black material, a cork filling with corridors, plexiglass, and a red cover, also printed on a 3D printer, that provides darkness inside the module.

Modules can be connected to each other by magnets, and so you can increase the size of your formicarium as is needed.

The cork inside provides to ants the natural environment that they can modify themselves.

Dimensions: 130x130x12 mm

Aréna

Consists of two 3D printed frames using PET-G black material, 4 plexiglass walls and one plexiglass lid. The arena is therefore nicely transparent and easy to maintain and clean.

Thanks to the magnets, multiple arenas can be connected to each other, but also the modules can be connected.

You can connect up to four modules to one arena.

Dimensions: 130x130x70 mm

Tools you will need

  • Set of raspers
  • Drill bit Diam. 1.5 mm
  • ZCountersink 90 ° x4 – available at bigger hardware stores
  • Carpet knife
  • Two-component glue – high quality, eg BISON
  • Small screwdriver
  • Wood burner – or other metallic tool that can be heated to a high temperature / can be replaced with an glue

Material and individual components

  • Prints from a 3D printer (PET-G)
  • Laser cutted parts made of plexiglass. 2 mm
  • 6 mm thick cork desk – can be composed of multiple layers
  • Neodymium magnets 10x5x2 mm – ordinary (ferrite) magnets are not strong enough
  • Neodymium magnets 5x5x1 mm
  • Neodymium magnets Diam. 3x2 mm
  • Countersunk screw head M2x8 (DIN 965 ZN )
  • Špuntíky pr. 5 mm
  • Jemná kovová síťka

General recommendations

 

3D Printing

I can recommend a Prusa 3D printer that is already tested for this product. Even more important, however, is the chosen material – I recommend PET-G, which is dimensionally stable, as opposed to ABS. Of course, you can choose the color you want.

The tested layer height is 0.2 mm

Orientation and gluing of magnets

Neodymium magnets are really strong, so good glue is needed. The 2 component BISON epoxy glue was tested. You also need to remember the orientation (polarity) of the magnets, so  the modules, the arena, and other parts could be freely connected to each other!

On each side of the product one magnet is need to be turned by the north pole and the other by the south. And on all sides and products as the same.

 

Tips:

  • after gluing, you can secure the magnet positions by another magnet or by a metal object located on the other side of the plastic
  • to preserve the correct polarity, it is good to make a pre-made product that you will use to orient your magnet before gluing
  • magnets are attracted to long distances!

Module

 

  • 1x .STL file (Modul_Telo.stl)
  • 1x .STL file (Modul_Viko.stl)
  • 1x plexiglass cutted part 2 mm (Modul_Plexi_viko)
  • 1x cork 6 mm thick (130 x 130 mm)
  • 8x neodymium magnet 10x5x2 mm
  • 5x neodymium magnet Diam.3x2 mm
  • 5x screw M2x8 DIN 965 ZN
  • 4x white plug Diam. 5mm
  • 1x fine metal grid (approx. 55x10 mm)

1) Module body and lid

1.1 3D print
Print 1x Modul_Telo.stl and 1x Modul_Viko.stl

More tips:
set the number of bottom and top full layers to a minimum of 5 to make the product firm.
– When printing a red lid, it is good to set the layers so that all layers are full and no filling pattern is created.

1.2 Adjustment of printouts

  • clean the model from small fibers and undesirable plastic residues
  • Thoroughly grind the top surface on which the plexiglass lid sits
  • clean and grind the space for the magnets so that the magnets stay up to the back surface and do not come over the sidewall of the module
  • grind the holes by a circular rasper so that the white plugs can be easily removed and pulled out (make sure the holes are not too large)

1.3 Drilling the module
The plexiglass is attached to the plastic body by five M2x8 screws. There is no need to create a thread, it is enough just to drill a 1.5 mm diameter hole at the corners of the module.

   

Tips:

For exact positioning of the hole, it is good to place the plexiglass lid on the plastic part with already has cutted holes
It is good to use a stand-up drill with a height lock (so you don’t drill the  module through)

1.4 Attaching of metal mesh
The mesh is placed in the bevelled corner of the formicarium and serves as a vent and at the same time it passes the water into the nest. The mesh can be either glued or fused into plastic. Fusing is technologically a bit more demanding, but much more reliable. An ideal tool for this can be a wood burner.

Attach the mesh to the desired location and squeeze it by the heated up tool. The plastic is melted at about 80 ° C, so a short amount of time is needed to allow the mesh to slide into the plastic. Repeat this all around the mesh.

  

Tip: When melting, keep the plexiglass part inserted in the plastic – prevents plastic from being too distorted

1.5 Magnets gluing

Glue the magnets on all sides of the module. Be careful about the correct orientation!

1.6 Magnets in the red lid
The 3D printed red lid has pre-made holes for the magnets of Diam. 3 mm. These holes will probably need a bit of filing with a round rasper. With a good estimate, round magnets can be squeezed into the hole without gluing. Be careful, however, that your lid does not crack in the corners!

2) Plexiglass lid

Plexiglass must be cutted with laser according to the attached drawings. Than it is only necessary to drill a recess for M2x8 screw heads. For this purpose, a countersink can be used. Again, I recommend drilling on a stand-up drill and checking the correct depth of the recess

   

Tip: The plexiglass is provided with protecting foil, which should be removed only during the assembly phase so that the part does not scratch during production.

3) Cork

3.1 Cutting the shape
Print the Korek.pdf file with the cork drawing, cut it out and plot it on the cork board. Then cut off the shape with a carpet knife.

Tip: When printing, be sure to keep the original dimensions (do not “fit to the paper”)

3.2 Corridors and chambers
You can pre-made the corridors for ants in the cork, which is especially suitable for smaller colonies. I will leave you with the choice of the ideal tool to scratch the corridors.

Tip: It is possible to purchase “Rotary rasp”, clamp it into the drill and milling it.

4) Assembly

If everything has been done as planned, now insert the cork into the plastic body of the module, using a plexiglass lid (remove the protective foil) by screwing it in with five small screws. Plug the holes and place a red cap on the upper part, which should be attached to the screw heads to ensure its position.

Tip: Be gentle with the screws that they do not tear the thread.

Arena

 

  • 1x .STL file (Arena_Zaklad.stl)
  • 1x .STL file (Arena_Horni_ram.stl)
  • 4x plexiglass cutted parts 2 mm (Arena_Stena)
  • 1x plexiglass cutted part 2mm (Arena_Viko)
  • 8x neodymium magnet 10x5x2 mm
  • 8x neodymium magnet 5x5x1 mm
  • 4x white plug Diam. 5 mm
  • 4x fine metal mesh (approx. 95x6 mm)

1) Base of the arena and Top frame

1.1 3D print
Print 1x Arena_Zaklad.stl and 1x Arena_Horni_ram.stl

   

Tip: For the Horni_ram.stl print, the bottom print area on the finished product is viewable, so it is good to print this part on a clean and well-prepared surface, ideally for Prusa MK3 with a magnetic pad.

1.2. Úprava výtisků (pilování)
clean the model from small fibers and undesirable plastic residues
clean and grind the space for the magnets so that the magnets stay up to the back surface and do not come over the sidewall of the module
grind the holes by a circular rasper so that the white plugs can be easily removed and pulled out (make sure the holes are not too large)
Check and clean the groove in Arena_Zaklad.stl and in Arena_Horni_ram.stl

1.3 Attaching the metal mesh
The meshes are placed on the sides of the top frame so as to cover the printed grooves. The mesh can be either glued or fused into plastic. Fusing is technologically a bit more demanding, but much more reliable. An ideal tool for this can be a wood burner.

  

Attach the mesh to the desired location and squeeze it by the heated up tool. The plastic is melted at about 80 ° C, so a short amount of time is needed to allow the mesh to slide into the plastic. Repeat this all around the meshes.

1.4 Magnet glueing – Arena_Zaklad.stl
Glue all 8 magnets 10x5x2 mm at the sides of the arena. Remember the right orientation!

1.5 Magnet glueing – Arena_Horni_ram.stl
Magnets 5x5x1 mm are glued into square recesses. The polarity does not matter here, but it is advisable for all to be oriented in the same direction.

2) Arena lid

Plexiglass cutted part 2 mm. On top of the lid glue 4 magnets 5x5x1 mm to secure the lid position.

Tip: Place plexiglass on Arena_Horni_ram.stl with already glued magnets. This will make it easier for you to secure the correct orientation and position of the magnets on the plexiglass lid.

  

3) Assembly

Insert the plexiglass (Arena_Stena) into the Arena_Zaklad.stl printed grooves. The thickness of the plexiglass may vary, so it will sometimes require grinding, sometimes gluing.
Tip: The plexiglass parts are not symmetrical. One side goes to the very corner and on the other side they have a 2 mm gap for the other plexiglass.

  

Attach Arena_Horni_ram.stl from the top and press the plexiglass into the grooves.

Tip: Do not be afraid to press a little harder on a flat surface. Plexiglas must be pressed to the bottom of the groove so that the plastic parts do not distort.

  

Now you just have to plug the holes and cover the arena with the lid!

Tip: Any gap in the corners can be sealed by silicone.

Other components

 

Miniarena

consists of a 3D printed plastic body made of PET-G and an plexiglass lid. It is used to transfer a colony from a test-tube to a module and also provides a room for water and food. The module is connected by magnets.

Dimensions: 80x40x26 mm

  • 1x .STL file (Miniarena.stl)
  • 1x plexiglass part 2 mm (Miniarena_Viko)
  • 4x nneodymium magnet 10x5x2 mm
  • 2x white plug Diam. 5mm
  • 1x sealing (Wiper ring 16x22x3 / 5 Dimer)
  • 1x test-tube

1) 3D print

Print the Miniarena.stl file

1.1 Adjustment of printouts
clean the model from small fibers and undesirable plastic residues
clean and grind the space for the magnets so that the magnets stay up to the back surface and do not come over the sidewall of the module
grind the holes by a circular rasper so that the white plugs can be easily removed and pulled out (make sure the holes are not too large)
– clean the large round hole so that the sealing snaps into place (especially at the top)

2) Inserting the plexiglass lid

The lid should be sliding, so it is necessary to grind the groove in Miniarena.stl so that the ideal friction will be created. When grinding, remove loose fibers from 3D printing.

3) Magnet glueing

Put 4 magnets 10x5x2 mm in the correct orientation.

4) Glueing the seal

Insert a seal ring into the printed Miniarena.stl, which should fit easily. The part is quiet stressed, so use more glue.

5) Assembly

Once the glue has dried, it is enough to plug the holes, insert the plexiglass lid and put the test-tube into the sealing ring.

Reductor

If you need to move your ants to a new module, the reductor provides the opportunity to connect other tubes with different diameters.

Dimensions: 50x12x23

  • 1x .STL file (Reduktor.stl)
  • 2x Neodymium magnet 10x5x2 mm

1) 3D print

Print the Reductor.stl file

1.1 Adjustment of printouts
clean the model from small fibers and undesirable plastic residues
clean and grind the space for the magnets so that the magnets stay up to the back surface and do not come over the sidewall of the module

2) Magnets glueing

Apply 2 magnets 10x5x2 mm in the correct orientation.

Vertical connector

If you want to extend your formicarium in a vertical direction as well, there’s a Vertical connector! This is a metal prism to which you can connect the module from all four sides ,thanks to the magnets, and choose the direction in which the ants can go through.

Other tools needed for production
– Metal drill bit 3 mm and 6 mm
– Hacksaw
– Iron raspers
– Sandpaper

Material and parts
– 1x .STL file (VS_Jadro.stl)
– 1x Metal square profile length 126 mm and 10x10 mm profile
– 2x 10x10 Metal square profile stopper

1) 3D print

Print the VS_Jadro.stl file

1.1 Adjustment of printouts
The VS_Jadro.stl needs to be grinded on the sandpaper so it can be moved inside the metal profile. Then you can even enlarge the holes in the core.

2) Metal square profile 10x10

Using a hacksaw, cut the the length of 126 mm. In the middle, drill a hole on each side with a diameter of 6 mm. Use the rasper to avoid sharp edges.

Tip:

– It is also necessary to grind the inside so that it does not interfere with the moving core. For that, it is good to have a rasper of the appropriate size.

– The metal usually has no surface treatment, so it can easily corrode. That’s why it’s good to spray it with an anti-corrosion paint, or ideally let it galvanized.

3) Assembly

Insert a plastic core into the Metal square profile. Adjust the holes so that the ants can go in the desired direction, and plug the both sides of the metal with stoppers.

  

Contact

Martin Kust
VAT ID: 07511710
Is registred to the Czech Trade Licensing Office.

T.G.Masaryka 328
Nove Mesto nad Metuji
549 01
The Czech Republic

info@happyantshop.cz
+420 731 901 065