The trend around here seems to be to blog your build-up for others to use as guidance and drooling, so here it is.
My buddy and I have been looking into building a RepRap for a month or so now, and we've finally decided to get started. We were originally going to start with a McWire bot and use that to build a Darwin, but got distracted by the new shiny Mendel build last minute. With the years of backyard mechanics, basement electronics, and twin electronic engineering technologist degrees, we decided the fact that we have no way of printing Mendel parts and no real clue of how to start was of little discouragement and that we'd give it a go anyways.
Our "Mendel" (in spirit mostly) won't be made out of precisely printed plastic parts, but rather cobbled bits of 5/8" plywood custom engineered to work as close to the original plans as possible (Did I mention we have no access to a wood/machine shop, and do most of the work on my apartment balcony with an old school drill and jigsaw?). Let this be a lesson to anyone who is ambitious enough to give it a try, with enough stubbornness you can accomplish anything ;).
OK, enough babbling, on with the build. We have completed our first night of building (last Friday after work) and I think it went pretty well; we got the main support structure and the Y Axis rail system in place (Pics attached).
We already have the Arduino Dev Kit this project uses, and a slew of stepper motors and other fun bits; we did however have a hard time finding the stepper motor driver boards (the ones specifically for this kit are sold out in kit form and pre-assembled), and digikey seems to be sold out of all the useful bits we needed. We ended up finding driver boards from Sparkfun, we'll let you know how they work out.