Category: Operations

REWARD: Team members for the AMT FATT Project

About the project

Fob All The Things! (FATT) is an AMT project to add fob integration so members can use their accounts to charge laser time, buy vending machine items, use sensitive equipment and get access to the space.

While doors and the laser are currently fob accessible those system are starting to show their age. So we began looking for a solution that was :

  1. maintainable — documentation + language / platform that isn’t too specialized)
  2. repeatable — The results of the project should be able to be repeated down the line should a new thing need to be fobbed.
  3. scalable — simple = doors > complex = vending machine) .
  4. affordable — While it is true that you get what you pay for we need affordable solutions
  5. sustainable — As in modular enough to repair easily and with work arounds/redundancies built in when possible

FATT Products

FATT Products are centered around AMT initiatives that solve problems or allow for access to tools and system for making. This project is under development with a great team of folks but we need more help Here are the current initiative including the New Laser Fob box:

Laser Fob Box

We have a glorious new laser being worked on a few blocks away. 120watts of infrared glory with a more user friendly and safe interface/controller set up. In order to get this project into a ready to use state we need to build a fob box that:

  • Talks to the controller and tracks firing time
  • Allows a use to fob in, validate authorization and track that laser firing time
  • Send various bits of use data back so that it can be used to bill and manage the queue for use

Our current laser as a similar fob box that was developed over time. So we know this can be done.

We have a nice crew of folks on the laser team but we urgently need somebody to take the lead on building the laser fob box if we are going to have a working laser in the space in the next 2-3 weeks.

Vending Machine

The vending machine is a true hackerspace project along the lines of what Nottingham Hackspace, NYC Resistor and ATX Hackerspace. We acquired an old vending machine we are hacking to hold things that facilitate making. The crew of folks working on this has made great progress with the machine hardware and the back end interface but now we need to join the two with FATT “product”.

This project is slightly more complex than the laser fob box but not by much.

Doors

The doors were the first fobbed project at AMT way back in the day (6+ years ago). Yeah… and also it is time to replace them as sensor are failing and technology has advanced.

Honor Bar

The honor bar is what you think it is. And assortment of snack products and coffee upstairs. The idea with this project is to be able to fob in, select your products and have it go to your account to be billed once a a month with the other billable things like laser time.

Keggerator

This is what you think it is. This will allow users with ID on file to get beer during meetings and work parties using there fob. We will not be selling beer though.

Wide Format Printer

We got a lovely donation of a wide format printer. It was awesome and now we need to be able to gate-keep it similarly to the laser and charge folks for their consumables.

How to sign up and join the team

Team players should have some or all of the following to offer:

  • Leave a legacy (document)
  • Sees project as product (not prototype)
  • Experience microprocessors (Arduino, Rpi)
  • Solid electronics knowledge including PCBs (custom and off the shelf)
  • Python + Experience working with APIs
  • Can start now and see the project through to at least the Laser Fob Box and the vending machine

Contact [email protected] or chime in on the #fob-all-the-things channel on the AMT Slack team.

The Reward of 25k minuets of laser time

AMT originally got the laser and had it up in running because a dedicated group of volunteers invested their time and money in the laser and were paid back in laser time as well as money. We are following in the footprints of that successful model to offer a reward to those that want to contribute to the next stage at AMT when it comes to not just laser use but automation in general.

The reward of team will be split amongst the core team members for this project.

 

Goals for 2017-2018

As an organization every fiscal year (July-June) we choose 5 goals to serve that inform how leaders run and direct the org. For decisions big and small the decision are informed by “how does this serve the goals”… and if the answer is it doesn’t… well then we don’t do it.

The goal creation process starts by surveying the membership. That information is then taken into a workshop with the board and the top 5 goals are chosen. After that the leadership team works together to define what actions we will take to support those goals and what success might look like.

For more information on how you can contribute to achieving these community goals ask questions on the #general channel on slack and ping @officers.

These are the goals for the 2017-2018 Fiscal Year.

Diversity

Goal: 25% women by June 2018

Goal: We will reach out to diverse groups 6 times over the next year.

Action:

  • Reach out consists of going to their events as representatives of AMT.
  • Contacting to leaders about mutual support
  • Offering beneficial internship/membership
  • Invite outside group

More Leaders

Goal: Be fully staffed

Action:

  • Tell one positive leadership story a month
  • Celebrate one leader a month – with specifics about contribution
  • Post a job opening on the door/in space per month.
  • Changing signage in the space – see LED signs
  • Recruitment effort for a Fundraising Coordinator  focusing outside the org
  • Reward leaders

Stronger Community 

Measurements:

  • Slack statistics
  • Weekly meeting attendance
  • Vote participation
  • Door logs (door closers)
  • Blog entries

Actions

  • Do 3x med-large social events
  • Redo member meeting format
  • 1 Group Build
  • 6 Build along events a year (every other month)

 

Streamlining

  • Auto charge cards for AMT Bills by August 31st
  • Eye-fi like cameras in the space for users
  • Instagram (check out that)
  • Press – This (education) – tentative ( research)
  • Process Mapping – Map 1 process per month and analysis for efficiency (officers)
  • FATT

 

Documentation

  • Standard template for tool documentation – Templates for documentation types
  • Document 3 things a month
  • Revisit 3 Wiki pages a month
  • Define desired documentation TAP and process by 3 month

Perception vs Hard Data in Laser Performance

Human beings are conditioned to remember negative things more readily than positive.  When it comes our laser the times it is not working stick out much more than the times it is. I got curious about how often it was really down vs how much it “felt” like it was down. So I went searching the logs for the real story.

What I found out was that for a heavily used volunteer run and maintained piece of equipment out laser does pretty good. When you factor in the make and model, years of community use and that it is all run and managed by volunteers 80% up time is nothing to sneeze at. This is thanks to great stewardship by Peter and a lot of effort by dedicated volunteers.

AMT 360º How to use the New Cyclone

We have a new dust collection system!

Our previous system (which used to live in the closet) has been replaced and we now have a cyclone dust collector.
The cyclone lives in the metal shop and is hooked up to the ducts in the workshop.

To turn it on, currently you need to plug it into its extension cord. Look for the blue stickers on the right side of the cyclone:

 

We are interested in your feedback regarding this new system.
You can use our equipment feedback tracking with the asset tag AMT140 to report issues.
Ping us ( @fitzhugh or @pierre ) on slack in the #workshop channel if you have questions about this system!

Summer 2017 Board Election: Candidate Interviews

We have two seats open on the board of directors this election cycle. Five great people have stepped up as candidates! Get to know them:

Chris O

Chris O’Sullivan

@sullimech

Why you want to be on the board at AMT?

To follow through on groundwork laid down over the last year.

What are one or two things you would get done if you were elected?

Update Bylaws to enable smoother operation of organization.


 

Devin Schorger

@devin_isdevin

Why you want to be on the board at AMT?

I want to help AMT keep growing and improving. I am very interested in the goal for a stronger community, which is part of why I would like to get more involved. My use of the word grow wasn’t meant as strictly membership acquisition. Diversity leads to a stronger community, and the goal to be fully staffed and to show more appreciation for the AMT leaders would greatly benefit from more socialization.

What are one or two things you would get done if you were elected?

I would like help organize a periodic social event for members and guests.


Nico Scherm

@nys

Why you want to be on the board at AMT?

I’ve been an AMT member for about a year and I like the community and am interested in seeing AMT grow. Being on the board seems like a good way for me to be more involved in AMT’s community.

What are one or two things you would get done if you were elected?

I’m particularly interested in seeing AMT meet its goals for more diverse membership. I’d love to see that happen and to be a part of making it happen.


Connor Bennette

@Connor

Why you want to be on the board at AMT?

Feeling more comfortable with my current duties, I’d like to elevate to a formal leadership position. Have a say in guiding the organization towards efficient data process!

What are one or two things you would get done if you were elected?

Establish process around network, tech, data, support, and documentation.


Brendan Doherty

Why you want to be on the board at AMT?

I am interested in steam education, self taught vacuum tube maker and am a marketing and PR pro. I have served on school boards at charter public schools and believe in science.

What are one or two things you would get done if you were elected?

Strengthen communications and community engagement, as well as integrate school involvement.

AMT 360º – Equipment Documentation at AMT

So at AMT we have a lot of stuff. And we needed a tracking system for all that stuff. Our goal was to create a system that:

  1. Allowed users to get to the documentation on the tools and equipment
  2. Allowed users to report about the the tools and equipment
  3. Organically collect “Logs” during the reporting process
  4. Allow users to do all of this on their phones
  5. Track assets for taxes

Skip to:

How to report stuff
How to look stuff up

About 2 years ago a group of folks led by Will B. our former network lead designed a asset tracking and reporting system. Over time 98% of AMT Equipment has been tagged with stickers like these:

QR Code Samples

How to report information about equipment

What to report

Maintenance – Anything you did to take care of our equipment (thank you!)

Performance – Is the took acting funny? Report it

Broken stuff – Is it totally not functional? Report it and put a note on it.

Repair – Where you the awesome person who fixed something? Report it.

Always start any reporting with “Up” or “Down”

On Slack

@toybot the robot in slack can update the data base

  • Go to Private Messages and choose @toytot
  • OR go to the channel for the area (ex: workshop)
    • Type !asset and the AMT Asset number  and  Status and @toybot will update the status

Example:

Example of what how @toybot responds when you report something:

On the Website

Login and go to the Tool and Equipment Status page. Use the form to report about the equipment.

How to Look Up Helpful Information

On Slack

@toybot the robot in slack can report back any information in the data base. Go to Private Messages and choose @toytot

Type !asset and the AMT Asset number and @toybot will return the latest bit of information.

Example of what to type:

Example of what @toybot should return:

 

On the wiki

Sample of an AMT asset wiki page

Search the asset number and you will get a to the asset page with basic information like

  • Item
  • location
  • Pictures
  • Documentation links (either ours or manuals online)

On the website

AMT Tool and Equipment Status Page

You can access information, report information or look up logs on the website. Login and go to the Tool and Equipment Status page.

 

On the wiki

The wiki has a bunch of ways for you to look up information. Searching by the asset number works great there is even a page listing all the assets in the database.

To learn more about how to look up assets go here and to learn about how to add assets to the system go to this wiki page.

 

AMT Board Election Polls Now Open

Winter Board Election: Candidate Interviews

We have three seats on the board open this election cycle. Five awesome folks have stepped up as candidates. Get to know the candidates:

Mark Johnsen headshot photo

Mark Johnsen

@floppydisk

Why you want to be on the board at AMT?

I love what AMT offers to the community and want to see grow and expand. Also, I think I can add to the vision and operations of AMT.

What are one or two things you would get done if you were elected?

I’d like to ensure AMT can continue to grow and function by driving pragmatic fire and safety policies as well as acquire grants and funding.  Also, I’d like to video tape some training sessions and more complicated ‘how-to’s” for equipment such as the Laser, 3d Printers, and CNC equipment to assist the community.


 

Jacob M

Jacob Mowbray

@jacob

Why you want to be on the board at AMT?

I love AMT, and I’m dedicated to supporting our space’s continued success. Having served in two different leadership roles, I know the positive impact I can have as a Board Member. My aim is to serve AMT in the best way I can.

What are one or two things you would get done if you were elected?

As Board Director, my focus would be on improving the processes and procedures which govern AMT. Specifically, I would work to clarify officer roles & responsibilities, stabilizing a healthy leadership. Additionally, I would build a structured fundraising system, allowing our space to upgrade vital equipment, cover operating overhead, and raise the quality of our shared Maker Life.


Jacob LaBay

@jacoblabay

Why you want to be on the board at AMT?

What I lack in technical knowledge, I make up for in nonprofit knowledge. I would like to offer my fundraising skills to AMT. In my current job in development, I work with a board, and have always wanted to sit on the other side of the desk and see what it is like to serve on a board of a nonprofit.

What are one or two things you would get done if you were elected?

I would like to find additional sources of funding for AMT, such as grants and scholarships.


Pierre Grandin

@pierre

Why you want to be on the board at AMT?

We still have some work to finish. Being part of the board has been a rewarding experience for me so far, and I would like to continue to contribute.

What are one or two things you would get done if you were elected?

Bylaws update, and trying to better support the officers.


Dylan C

Dylan Cheasty

@dylan

Why you want to be on the board at AMT?

Ace Monster Toys is an amazing community and an excellent hacker resource. As the organization has grown, we need to change some parts of how we do things. I want to help see that those changes go well and make sure AMT continues to thrive.

What are one or two things you would get done if you were elected?

Officers and stewards do so much good for AMT. However, many positions get overburdened, and need easier ways to get support. We can help AMT accomplish more maintenance and improvements, and keep our stewards and officers happier, by revisiting how those roles are defined. Additionally, many people at AMT want to help out, but the current positions do not work for them. Adding a lower commitment way, but with some structure, such as “apprentice steward” groups, could be a neat option for people to help out and learn about the areas they are interested in, while enabling stewards to implement the special improvement projects they otherwise don’t have time for. Alternatively, stewards could be assigned special overhaul days throughout the year. Also, I’d like to increase AMT’s ability to get revenue from outside sources. The roles of President and Treasurer are already quite full, so creating a new officer position may be necessary.

Visting Boulder’s “Building 61” Makerspace

I hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m in Boulder Colorado this week visiting family. On Friday afternoon I took some time out to visit the new Makerspace at the Boulder Public Library. It’s always interesting to see how other maker communities do things. I thought I’d share a few photos.

I barged in with no warning and introduced myself to Adam Watts, one of two library employees in charge of the space. The remainder of the staff are volunteers. Adam seemed happy to meet a kindred spirit and was kind enough to show me around.

There are three main rooms at Building 61; a small office-like room, a main workspace, and a (nascent) wood shop.

bms_map

I took no photos of the little office, but it’s a small room with a few standing-height desks and seems to be devoted to design work.

The main space has a work area in the center surrounded by specialized machines. They have three nice Lulzbot 3D printers.

bms_3d-printers

Next to them lives an Epilog 40 watt laser and its console computer.  Both LulzBot and Epilog are located in Colorado, not far away.  Adam says they like to deal locally when possible  … As do we!

bms_epilog-laser

On the opposite wall lives a new ceramics kiln; not quite operational yet.

bms_kiln

And, next to that, an electronics workstation, complete with a small CNC machine dedicated to circuit-board machining.

bms_electronics

The wood shop features a Table saw, chop saw, drill press, thickness sander, and jointer among other things.  The centerpiece is a brand new CNC router, about the same size as ours.  The wood shop is not quite up and running yet, but Adam says they’re getting close!

bms_shopbot bms_thickness-sander bms_table-saw

bms_chopsaw

The Makerspace is a relatively new offering at the library, made possible by a foundation grant. That explains where all those the shiny machines came from! They don’t have as much space as we do, but they seem to be making pretty effective use of the space they do have. Adam reports high public interest in all the programs offered so far.

Access to the space is free for everyone with a library card. Materials cost extra. Adam explained that he’d love to offer 24/7 access like we do, but that’s just not in the cards. The library requires them to have an employee present when the space is open, which is probably to be expected when dealing with a public entity. The offerings generally seem to be more structured as well: organized classes complemented by ‘drop in’ hours for various functions in the space.

But a lot of issues sounded very familiar: They’re figuring out how to set up the ceramics kiln without setting off the fire extinguishers; they had to cut a new hole in the wall for ventilation; … etc. I’m sure snags like this are common to every hacker space!

While I felt envious of all the spiffy new machines, I also felt proud of the volunteer spirit we foster at AMT. I think the energy we generate with our open-to-the-public classes and innovative programs like BoxBots makes up for a lot of grant money, and enables us to serve our community remarkably well. Of course, I don’t mean to suggest that we’d turn down your money, if you happen to be in a position to help!

Thanks Adam for taking the time, and best of luck with your new Makerspace! Boulder is lucky to have you!

 

AMT 360º – Dust collection in the Shop

You may have noticed that we have no windows or doors with direct access to the outside. That mean that air quality can suffer especially in the shop. We have some systems for ameliorating dust and poor air quality. Even the best systems though will fail if folks don’t use them. Below is a little visual guide to turning on the 3 systems in the shop.

The Honeywell Air Filter

honeywell-filter

This is the Honeywell Air filter is a HEPA filter that is great for normal-use larger rooms. You should run it when you are NOT using one of the big dust making tools. It is most effectively used to get all the little bits of dust that the big system makes and to generally filter and freshen the air when things get stale.

The Over-head Dust Filter

overhead-filter   filter-switch-close

You should run this whenever you are working in the shop. It circulates and captures dust floating in the air. The switch is located on the same wall as the door to the shop next to the shelves with the safety gear.

The Big Dust Collector in the Closet

dust-collector-switch

You should always always always connect this to the dust making tools. Seriously always. It can also be used to suck the dust out of the air but opening the gates and just letting it run a bit.

dust-port

Safety Gear

Last but not least there are dust masks. Use them when you make dust.

See the wiki or contact a shop steward for more information and details around dust collection.