[hackerspaces] Fwd: Fwd: Hackerspaces panel at Maker Faire

Bryan Bishop kanzure at gmail.com
Sat May 29 19:06:29 CEST 2010

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Ray Dillinger <bear at sonic.net>
Date: Sat, May 29, 2010 at 11:55 AM
Subject: Re: [hackerspaces] Fwd: Hackerspaces panel at Maker Faire
To: bay-area-reprap at googlegroups.com

On Thu, 2010-05-27 at 11:37 -0700, Jim Newton wrote:

> Ben, I agree with you completely.  Hacker spaces are all about community.
> At first I thought it was odd when I observed the same thing at HackerDoJo
> (everyone nose-down in their PowerBooks with the small CNC mill and the
> electronics bench sitting idle).  But then I understood it was because
> humans want community.

Yeap, I'm no different.  I want community too. But most of the
tools, if I don't own 'em and therefore have the power to modify
them (and, indeed, possibly even ruin or destroy them) are sort
of superfluous to me.  I'd be entirely happy with a regular meet,
as I said, for dinner, coffee, and demos.

<snip ad>

> Ray, I'm surprised by your statements.  I personally don't understand
> what you find appealing of deliberately limiting yourself to using a
> single home-built CNC machine and a small handful of other mall
> machines, and working alone in your garage...in order to save $100
> a month.  You're missing out on participating in the tremendous
> creativity of the other 700 members at TechShop Menlo Park, and
> you are artificially limiting the enormous potential of what you
> can do with such a smaller tool selection.

Here's the thing.  Just using the machines isn't the main kind
of interaction I want from them.  I want the experience of
building them, the knowledge that comes from experimenting with
and building different designs for them, the understanding that
comes with soldering together controllers and writing drivers
for them, and the freedom to experiment by building larger
automated processes around them.  My techshop membership got
me access to a lot of tools and a great community, and if
that's all I'd really wanted, $100 a month would be cheap for

But it isn't.

For example, I want to see what kind of milling and fabber
accuracy I can get (and how much better than the current reprap
1/10 mm accuracy standard I can get) by using a PWM controller
with DC gearmotors and optical positioning feedback.  You can
get precision by gearing down stepper motors, of course, but
accuracy is a lot harder, and my current thought is that it
requires a CCD to track laser light and be able to tell exactly
where the head actually is.  I can't imagine that it's okay for
me to take apart one of the machines at techshop to replace the
motors and experiment with new controller hardware and driver
software to do this.

For another example, I want to set up an arm robot on a track,
moving together with a platform to put parts on, so that it can
move parts, workpieces, and prototypes into and out of different
tools -- the drill press, the vacuum former, the mill, the fabber
I'm building this year, and whatever else I build in the future,
as part of a goal of building a larger-scale automated construction

I don't imagine that it's okay to tie up a set of mills, lathes,
and fabbers at techshop in the middle of a tracked monstrosity
where human beings can't easily use them while I'm working out
the bits, nor to modify them (including at *least* the removal
of  safety shields) so that the arm can get parts into and out
of their workspaces, nor to remove their manual slide vises and
replace them with my homebuilt, motor-driven contraptions so
that they can clamp and release parts as needed.

> Ray, I think your TechShop membership actually expired about 4
> months ago, so it has already lapsed ... Also, if I recall
> correctly, you only live about 10 minutes from TechShop Menlo
> Park...

Uh, Jim.  I want to be clear about this.  In general, you
should avoid giving specific information about present or past
membership status, and especially about where people live, on
public forums.  That sort of thing is considered confidential
by most, barring a specific disclosure agreement.  I don't really
want to think that my garage might get burgled, but try not to
make it easier to imagine, okay?

No harm done I don't think, because I'd already said I let
the membership lapse and "ten minutes" isn't all that
specific, but .... You have information belonging to other
people which has  been entrusted to you, and with that trust
comes a responsibility to treat it very carefully.

> But TechShop is not for everyone.  If you prefer to limited
> yourself to a small set of tools and work alone, then there's
> not much that TechShop or any other hacker space has to offer
> you.  ;)

As I've said, I don't prefer working alone.  And the issue
about tools isn't about a larger or smaller set, it's about
the power to design and experiment with and integrate the
tools the way I want.


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