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.
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:
- Allowed users to get to the documentation on the tools and equipment
- Allowed users to report about the the tools and equipment
- Organically collect “Logs” during the reporting process
- Allow users to do all of this on their phones
- Track assets for taxes
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:
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”
@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 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
@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
Search the asset number and you will get a to the asset page with basic information like
- Documentation links (either ours or manuals online)
On the website
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
In the height of summer it can get mighty toasty upstairs. Here is how you can beat the heat with these different tools.
Fan and Heater Controls
Like all the things in the space we have hacked the environmental controls.
This fan is a little loud but venting the air is a very important thing. If noise isn’t an issue or maybe even if some white noise would be a good thing this is the fan to use.
This is a standard cabana Fan. This is the switch. Not sure why but it is wired to go faster when sent to a lower number. Warning it gets really windy right under it.
This is a “swamp” cooler. That means that requires water to get the maximum cooling effect. You can use any vessel you like to fill it up on the side hatch and we use the tap water from the sink in the hallway.
If you use the 5 gallon drinking water container to fill it up, please refill it for your parched fellow members.
This air conditioner give the maximum effect if it is positioned in proximity to the running cabana fan. It also has a handy timer so you can set it and not have to worry about running down the water with nobody there to enjoy the cool air.
Ace Monster Toys will occasionally get asked how we operate and why are we successful. Quite frankly it really comes down to awesome people who care about the community. But folks often want to know how our systems work. In this post I am going to attempt to describe how our communications work. The caveat is that this system, like all the others we use, works because of those awesome people who care.
Tools and Platforms
- AMT Website
- We use our website to blog, post about projects to the public. We also have a members only section with newsletter archives, a directory, a membership add-on shop. Members can also manage their accounts including things like laser bills.
- AMT has a slack team with, as of this post, 133 members and 25 topic specific channels. We use slack as our main chat platform. It has a fairly good phone app and makes sharing images and files easy. It also makes for easy private message conversations between individuals and small groups. This is the quickest way to get crowd sourced responses from the group.
- We use Asana.com to manage projects for the org that keep us operating. It is the main tool for task assignment used in monster corps. It is also used to manage large events and initiatives, like build outs and maker faire. We have one master account that folks share to access our asana instance.
- Meetup.com is used to list our classes and manage RSVPs and RSVP money.
- Google Calendar
- Google calendar is used to manage operational meetings and visits and tours from other hackerspaces and organizations.
- Discuss List Serv
- This email list used to be our chief method of facilitating group discussion online. We have seen slack pretty much take over that function though some folks still post to this list.
- We use our face book page to talk about upcoming classes and promote blog posts and member projects.
- We tweet about cool stuff we do or like.
- We use this to share pictures. We have a camera in the space that has an eye-fi card in it that will load any picture taken to this stream.
- We use mail chimp to… you guessed it … send emails. We send regular newsletters to the membership with updates about how things work or what is new. We send another newsletter to a public list of folks who signed up.
How the tools and platforms work together
AMT Website integrates with the doors and the laser as well as the standard complement of e-commerce functions. This website emails new members instructions when they pay membership dues for the first time. Once they follow those instructions the site also emails out vital information like the access codes. The list of members is sent to Mail Chimp to be added to the member list for the newsletter and other mailings.
Slack integrates with asana. When things happen in an asana project it posts a notification to whatever slack channel it is mapped to. For example, if a new task is created in the woodshop project a notification is posted to the woodshop channel in Slack.
Meetup.com is integrated with the AMT website and upcoming classes appear in the sidebar of many pages. It is also integrated to the google calendar and upcoming events appear on our google calendar.
Google Calendar is integrated with the AMT website by being embedded on its own page. Upcoming meetup.com events also appear on this embedded calendar.
Flickr stream is integrated with the AMT website via a widget that shows a random image stream in the sidebar of the blog and many other pages.
AMT has a variety of different types of members. We have hobbyists, artists, students, entrepreneurs and small business people. We have members who are a little bit of all of these things at once. We have conversations every so often about what kind of org are we when we are weighted more one way than another. So we are going to take a stab at describing how we are different from service bureau’s and contract facilities in a Q&A format.
Service bureau provide services for a fee (PSPrint, Ponoko, etc).
One can rent space/equipment in an contract facility for a contracted fee (example: commercial kitchens).
AMT is neither of those things. AMT is a member based non-profit organization dedicated to education and make culture. AMT can also be described as furthering those goals by having a shared workspace and tools.
Q:Do we want to foster and support business incubation in our community?
A: Yes. We don’t police the motivations behind folks joining AMT as long as it is to make, teach, or learn. If you are doing those three things as a hobbyist great. If you are doing any of those three things as a entrepreneur that is great too.
Q: Is fostering and incubating businesses our primary reason for being here or how we are structurally set up?
A: No. We are here to help people make things, help people help each other to make things and to learn.
Q: Can you work on your small business or incubate your start up here?
A: Yes, as an individual member with all the rights and responsibilities of a member. AMT’s relationships are with individuals who make, teach or learn. AMT as an entity does not offer memberships to businesses. That would be contrary to our mission and reason for existing. We don’t offer membership or create contract relationships with business entity’s because that would endanger our 501(c) status*.
*At some time in the future we may be able to engage in a fiduciary relationship with other organizations that have a mission to make, teach or learn such as the public library or other non-profits, but that would require research and lawyering.
Q: Does working on your small business or incubating your start-up change your membership?
A: Nope. Membership is offered to individuals. Those individuals get the same privileges (guests, tool use). They also have the same obligations as individuals… pay your dues, follow the rules, mind your guests, keep things clean, be responsible for what you use, etc, participate. Expectations should also not change just because you are in individual who happens to be working on a business. Expect this to be a community space built by the good will of the folks who volunteer their time and expertise.