Technocopia

Make it your space!

Technocopia is maker space located in Worcester, MA.  We provide our members with workspace and access to a bunch of tools to work on whatever they can dream up!

Feb, week 1, Meeting of the Membership News

Here's Febuary's update:

Important stuff first: Meeting of the Membership

This month, 9 Members (including myself) who have been with us since month one will be gaining voting rights as part of Technocopia's Voting Body.  (If you are part of this group, I will send you an email.)  The Voting Body functions, and is legally, the organization's Board of Directors.  It controls all of Technocopia's corporate powers, and will effectively take control of the organization at the end of this month.

The Meeting is Saturday, February 22nd, at 6pm until 10pm.  It will be at Technocopia.

If you are able, it is very important you attend the meeting.  If you are unable to be there physically, contact me if you would like to try to join the meeting virtually, over the internet.

How Technocopia is organized, basically:

Voting Body

The Voting Body acts as the legislature, it controls all of the powers the company has at it's disposal, and may delegate these powers to company agents/officers as needed.  The basic system is the Voting Body makes decisions through a direct democratic model, based on Robert's Rules of Order.  Any member who is active, and has been a member for at least 6 of the last 12 months, earns one vote to be used at monthly meetings of the membership.

It is pretty straight forward, but effectively all of the corporation's powers lie in the hands of the Voting Body.

Volunteers

There is no executive branch, aside from volunteers who have been temporarily delegated powers by the Voting Body.  Among others, these volunteers will include the "officer" positions (a state legal distinction): Treasurer, and Secretary.  Aside from the legal distinctions, all volunteers exist as peers, as there is no hierarchy here at Technocopia.  All positions are accountable to the Voting Body directly.

A volunteer, a Member granted any powers by the Voting Body, does not have to be a Voting Member, but does have to be a Member in good standing.

Steward

The Steward (a limited executive director) position acts as a sort of Judicial branch of the organization.  It holds the power to veto actions taken by the Voting Body, or its agents, should they violate Municipal, State, or Federal law, or the company's bylaws. 

The Steward also serves as a single contact for Technocopia, monitors volunteers on behalf of the Voting Body and can veto their delegated powers as a whole, should they act outside the explicit purpose given by the Voting Body when the power was granted.

All exercises of power require the Steward to answer directly to the Voting Body, where they can be overturned after the fact.

Up until this point I have acted as the company Steward, and effectively everything else.  Ideally, this meeting will serve as the first opportunity to delegate some powers from the new Voting Body to new volunteers, specifically a Treasurer and a Secretary.

Bylaws

The Bylaws will be available at the next Meeting of the Membership, and will be posted online around that time.

Technology!

We have made a lot of progress on the 3D printer design, ServoStock, is nearing completion.  There will be a Kickstarter for the launch of the new printer, should you want one.

The big milestone is Kevin has completed the open-source auto-didactic robotics controller.  In addition, there is a WPI research team working with him on the forward and inverse velocity kinematics for the printer a huge advantage to our printer.  Obviously it's robotics black magic. 

Talk to Kevin about it, or email me and I can put you in touch

Projects Happening in the Space

There are a number of impressive projects going on in the space, many of which are open for collaboration.  If you have a project that you would like in the blog, let me know.  I will be compiling projects, and there will be another blog post, soon.  But we have at least one moon rover.

Main Street Advertising Opportunity

The city of Worcester has offered us a storefront this summer on Main St., for the purposes of advertising our space and the work of our membership. This is a big opportunity for growing the membership.  Anyone who wants to help us make an awesome display, or would like us to include examples of their own projects, can contact me.

Desks, Shelves and Displays

A few members have been working on designs to create new desks, shelves and displays for the space.  We have some materials available to make them.  Anyone who would like to help furnish the space, contact me.

Training Classes and Engineering Classes

We will be running weekly training classes so more members will be able to operate the machinery themselves.  Keep checking the calendar for updates.

We are offering classes on skills.  They are listed on the calendar as they are created.

Members who have a skill, and would like to help others teaching that skill should contact me about creating a new class schedule.

That's it for this post, thanks for reading.  I'll have more posts soon regarding more that's happening.

New Year, Jan, week 1

Happy New Years!

In an effort of starting off the new year right, we are going to try and start a few new traditions with the new year.

First, some announcements:

  • I am going to start trying to write one blog post per week each Saturday, and this blog post will keep everyone up to date.  Want to keep up to date?  It'll all be here.  Fewer spam emails, the relevant stuff will be here.  I will also try to get these blogs set up through Twitter and Facebook so you guys can get them that way.  These updates will include everything from machine status, to our progress on new R&D, to local events, to how our space is doing and what happened at membership meetings...
  • We will be having our first "Meeting of the Membership" on the last Saturday of January (1/25/14).  The meeting will be held at 6p and will likely run late, as it is our first meeting.  Monthly meetings will continue following that pattern, occuring on the last Saturday of the month @ 6p.  For now, meetings will be "advisory" but will soon become the working decision making body of the organization (i.e. will act as the Board of Directors) with each Voting Member garnering one vote for the purpose of making decisions on behalf of the organization.  Please attend, and make time each month to keep attending, these meetings will become very important.
  • The Long Hall Gallery, our neighbor, will be closing up the gallery and the art will be going home.  Last day to see the art is Tomorrow, Sunday (1/5/14) @ noon-7p.  Support art, support Worcester, support Technocopia start-ups, and if you have time pop in and see the art.  I saw the opening, and it was remarkably good and I don't usually go in for that sort of thing.  Link to LongHallGallery.
  • Kevin got invited to be on a local panel of tech experts, as a 3D printing expert.  The panel is on Monday (1/6/14) @ 5:30p-8p.  $30 at door, comes with food.  I have fun when I go, and often meet/network with  interesting local (central MA) people and its a good place to learn about tech start-ups.  Link to TechSandBox.

Machine updates:

  • 3D printer:
    • New printer is available, generously paid for by Marcus, a member.
      • Capable of printing with two materials, allowing for two color prints and single color prints using support material to achieve more complex shapes with overhangs.  Let us know if you have a desire to be the first to try either functionality.
    • All Printers are online and running well.
  • Laser cutter:
    • The laser is finally back online, and Alex is back from vacation.  If you have been waiting to work on the laser cutter, please send your files to queue@technocopia.org and/or talk to Alex in person to make sure your projects have not been forgotten and are making progress.
    • I apologize for the lengthy downtime on this machine after the laser tube exploded.  The laser continues to prove itself to be a terribly difficult machine to service in house.
    • We have made significant improvements to the laser, including better cable and cooling management systems, to prevent another laser tube explosion.
    • Coming soon, a new adjustable nail bed which will give the cuts a higher consistency, and improve safety.
  • Injection Moulder:
    • New injection moulder is available, generously paid for by Marcus, a member.
      • Capable of creating plastic products with very high resolution using a mold.  Let us know if you want to be the first to use the new machine.

Research and Development:

This section will talk about the new machinery and open-source technology that Technocopia is involved with developing.  If you would like to get involved in any of these projects, we would be happy have to on-board.  Just talk to Kevin about how you see yourself helping.  Alternatively, if you feel like you might want one of these new machines for yourself, talk to me about getting put on a list to be notified when they become available.

  • 3D Printer Prototype - ServoStock v1
    • We are working on a new delta-style 3D printer that will provide a higher speed print, without sacrificing any accuracy as compared to the average consumer grade 3D printer. 
    • Price range will be in the $200-$400 region, much cheaper than alternatives.
  • CNC Router - UberRouter
    • Designed by Kent, a member, this new router will have a larger bed size and more functionality than our current router. 
    • It will have traditional router, like we have now
    • A (huge) laser on board so you can router or laser your wood/plastic/metal/etc.. 
    • And, it will also have a lathe attachment so you can use your router/laser to lathe your materials too. 
    • Whole design will be modular so you can get as much or as little as you want. 
    • Designed to stand on it's side, it will take up less floor space than our current router
    • $Price to be determined after prototype is made and proven.
  • Aquaponics
    • Technocopia has found basic funding to build an aquaponics prototype here in the space.  Anyone looking to learn about urban farming, permaculture, aquaponics, sustainability, the 2nd green revolution, etc., should consider getting involved in this project.
    • Our goal will be to prove out new technologies we are applying to aquaponics, like a new LED high efficiency grow light system.
    • We will also be experimenting with certain plants intended as food and material sources to collect data on aquaponics systems, and how we might apply robotics and automation to maintain an aquaponics greenhouse.

January Classes and Training schedule.

We will be hosting classes and (finally) training courses for members on Saturdays from noon-6p.  Please check the calendar for dates and times.

  • Kevin will be teaching a 3D object design class.  Skills will be taught through a project based learning style.  You will be using CAD software to create a design file for a robotic arm.  Bring a laptop to the class.
  • We will be holding two training classes this month to teach members who wish to become volunteers how to run jobs off the queue.  You can also use this class to learn how to run your own jobs on the machines, and how to better design your files around the constraints of our machinery.  We will be hosting one class on 3D printers, and one on the laser cutter.

Building the Space

We are currently working on building our membership, so we can increase revenues.  We need help going around the city and getting local storefronts, colleges, organizations, institutions, etc., to put up our fliers.  Publicity of any kind would be hugely useful in bringing in the revenues we need to help build this space.

The community is also in need of people to do work of various sorts, work includes:

  • Design and building of new furniture for the space.
  • Finding new members
  • Finding new institutional members
  • New volunteers who could be responsible for aspects of the space.

Many people have stepped up already, Thank You!  Our space is as good as the community we build around it...

Community Building

We would like to start a tradition of hosting potlucks at Technocopia on Sunday evenings around dinnertime, 5p-ish.  We think this would build our own community, and give us an opportunity to get to know each other, talk, play games, etc..  We hope this tradition will grow into something greater in the future as we grow and have the resources to do more.

We are looking to start speaking locally to people about how robotics, automation, the hacker movement, open-source, sustainability, hands-on education etc., are important to and affect local communities, and Worcester.  We would like to advocate and build support for the kind of technology and change we would like to see more of here in Worceseter.  If you have ideas for venues and community organizations that would like to entertain guest speakers, please let us know.  We will carefully select the first venues based on what we feel we can responsibly handle.

Closing

In the spirit of the New Year, may we all find enough happiness and peace for ourselves and to share with everyone we meet.

Stay warm.  Happy New Year.

Nick Bold
The Verbose
 

December, week 1

Hey everyone,

I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving, and all of your loved ones survived another Black Friday.

We have some news, and a few new capabilities to announce.

The Good

  • A new members section of the website is done.  We have a method of submitting jobs online directly to the job queue.  This manual queue will eventually turn into the fully automated queue we are developing.
  • The members section also has a "New Hacker Resources Page" for people looking for resources on how to get started taking advantage of a space like Technocopia.  Kevin will be filling it out with information as he can find time; for now, there is just some basic information there.  Keep checking back for updates.
  • We also have a few other pages that have been up, but I don't think I ever really publicized.  For example, the Calendar (which is usually up to date) has Technocopia's schedule.  Either way, poke around the site if you have time.  There are a few more things up than there used to be.  I usually try to work on it for an hour every day.
  • We have an injection molder that members can now use.  Please see Nick or Kevin first, in regards to using this machine.  We have yet to run anything through it.
  • We now have a huge projector and screen that is available for members, either for work or play.  Host a group meeting, watch a movie with friends... it's here, and under used.
  • We have new classes for Saturdays in December!  Please mark your calendars:
    • Kevin's Computer Aided Design (CAD) 101
    • Kevin's JAVA (Computer Lanugage) 101
    • Alex's Circuit Board Design 101
    • X-mas 101... aka no classes, go spend time with your families!
  • Curiosity Hacked (aka "HackerScouts") will be holding an information session tomorrow (December 5th) at 7pm in our space.  They offer project based science and engineering learning opportunities for children of all ages.  If you would like to get involved as a group leader, or are interested in a program for your own children, please make time for this event!  Please support local educators, they need all the resources they can get to better prepare our next generation!
  • The Long Hall Gallery will be having their opening event Saturday, December 14th from 6:00-10:00 PM, next door in 99 Prescott.  If you are a fan of fine art, local art, local start-ups, Technocopia start-ups, or refreshments... stop in and support your fellow Technocopian!  Bring rich friends, with fine and refined taste.  More at http://thelonghall.org/
  • Kevin has made significant progress with the development of the new 3D printer.  It is now officially a living robot.  If you're interested in seeing it, or helping develop it.  Please contact me or Kevin.

The Bad

  • The laser cutter should be online by the end of tomorrow.  We shall withhold food, water, and sunshine from the engineers if this is not the case.

The Other Stuff

  • We now have someone coming in to clean the space.  We would like to remind everyone this is a community space, and any mess you make has to be cleaned up by someone else, hinders others, and creates unsafe situations.  Please observe notes regarding the usage of common spaces, be respectful of others, and spend an extra minute cleaning up after yourself... before you expect someone else to do it.
  • We have a handful of new, potentially epic, opportunities on the horizon.  While I probably shouldn't discuss them... one involves dinosaurs.  Yea, you heard me, moving, breathing, dinosaurs!
  • A few new companies have been considering utilizing our space.  New revenues will mean better service, and new machinery.
  • Enjoy your holidays.  -Nick

I Hate Talking Money, Cool Stuff, and What's Happening in October.

Hey everyone... again... double post today, trying to get everyone up to date. 

Important News!

Our Stripe page is now working.  While the rest of the web-based member services we plan to have, i.e. online queue, etc., are not set up, this basic members page will allow members to purchase new subscriptions, and set up reoccurring payments.

We would like to have most or all of our members using Stripe so we do not have to chase people down for subscriptions every month.

Which reminds me, all September members... October's memberships are due.  Please sign up on Stripe, or come down to the space.    Remember, if your membership doesn't stay current, you don't keep your intro rate.  October members, you guys are all paid up, so no worries... yet.  Get signed up with Stripe so you don't have any problems in the future.  We will make sure the payments are counted for the right months.  We will be paying extra close attention to the payment system, as we are anticipating a few bugs as we fini sh building the members page and Google back-end.  That said, the payment system itself is secure, as all payments are handled through Stripe, not us.

It will ask you for permission to use your Google Account, this is how we manage our subscriptions, queue, and permissions to the space.  If you don't have one, you will have to make one.

Here is the Stripe link. 

If you see Alex, thank him.  He set up the payment page in only two days... staying up all night.  He will also be building the members page and a lot of the back-end. 

New Space!

We moved into our new space!  Members used to going in through the glass door next to Running Start... we are now on the other side of the building.  You now enter via the loading dock.  Don't get lost.

All Machines Working!

All of our machines are finally working.  Some still have a few bugs to iron out, but members are now successfully using them to build.  If you see Alex, thank him... he's been slaving over these machines for weeks.

Member Activity.

So we have about a dozen members, new and old... but we seldom see many of them.  So I would like to gently encourage members to come by at least once a week.  We are here to help anyone with the projects they have been working on.  While the lull in activity is great for working out the bugs in our machines, we would also like to see everyone getting the biggest bang for their buck.  That, or maybe we just feel lonely in our new big & empty space.

Halloween Stuff!

Every Sunday is now Hack-a-thon Halloween... uh... HNight.  It's Kevin's favoriate time of year... when he gets to justify dropping everything and making a new Halloween demo robot.  However, this year... he will be making himself available to help others with their Halloween projects and plans.

Starting tomorrow at noon (10/6/13, sorry for the late notice everyone) Kevin will be teaching an intro to animatronics class.   He will be teaching skills that members will be able to use the rest of the week to start their first Halloween creations.

Up Next...

Staff is working on the starting elements of our new Rostock 3D printer design, which will increase our number of operating 3D printers from 1 to 2.  That's an improvement of 100%!!!

We are also using the CNC Router to build new desks and furniture.

We will be building a wall in front of the back wall, this wall will have thee immediate purposes. 

  1. It hides the mess that is the notorious back wall. 
  2. It will serve as a projector screen for our new lecture hall huge, HD, projector.   Movie night anyone?
  3. We are expecting a new vacuum system to be donated to the space, which will exit through a vent behind the dummy wall.  The wall will help us mount and hide the exhaust fan/vent assembly. 

As always, if you would like to get involved in our projects... just drop us a line or stop in.

That's all for now, 

Nick Bold

The Aftermath of the Grand Opening [Video]

Hello everyone!

So the Grand Opening happened last week, and everything totally went according to plan.  Ok, well... maybe not everything.

It has been a busy week, taking care of all sorts of stuff.  Hence, why no new blog posts in a bit.  Remember, these blog posts are a sort of general communication log between the staff and membership.  The goal of these posts is to afford the membership a casual working knowledge of what's happened, what we're doing, and what's on the horizon.

That said, here's a recap of the Grand Opening for those of you who weren't there.  The weeks leading up to the opening were a mess.  We realized we simply didn't have the time to get everything done.  But we prioritized, got some help from good friends, and worked many of late nights.

We were able to scrape and paint most of the walls, and scrub, scrape, and paint the floors.  A reasonably difficult, dirty, time consuming, and expensive endeavor.  But a job moderately well done... for roboticists playing at being amateur painters.  Most importantly the landlord was happy with the work we did.

The full story is a lot more complicated, and riddled with setbacks and pitfalls.  Including, MIA pro painters, Home Depot shenanigans, and a girlfriend with a blister or three.

Below is a nearly complete video of everything we did.  Thanks to a camera Alex set up before we started.

Everything went well at the opening itself.  We had the Mayor of Worcester, Joe Petty, arrived.   We also had friend and Dean of the WPI Business school Mark Rice.  We also had our friends Professor Fischer and Head of WPI Robotics Mike Gennert.

In addition to our VIPs, we also had two other groups joining us for our opening.  Joe Forjette joined us to promote his new Worcester chapter of the Hacker Scouts.  Bruce Mackenzie joined us to promote Mars Foundation, an organization looking for people and technologies that might be well suited for being among the first to colonize Mars.

If anyone would like to contact any of our VIPs or new partners and friends, please fire me an email, and I will put you in touch. 

We had some food, and drink.  Some of it home made by our newest members.   Delicious!  Our presenters presented, we showed off our stuff, and met a lot of new faces.

All told, a great success!

Nick Bold

An update for everyone:

So I realized, somewhat sluggishly, that our community is quite larger than the few fine folks (alliteration hat trick, haha!) that frequent the brick and mortar shop.  As such, I am going to do my best to write a blog post at least once a week, so people know what's going on here regardless of where they are in the world.

So, I suppose the big story from the last week or so is regarding the space itself.   Many of you reading this will likely not know the nomenclature surrounding the space we work out of.  The address for the building is either 95 or 99 Prescott St, Worcester MA, 01605.  Which address you are at depends on which side of the building you enter from.  If you enter from the side with the docks, facing WPI, that's 95 Prescott.  If you enter from the side with the (new) gravel parking lot, facing away from WPI, that's 99 Prescott.

Ok. 

So, the names of  the offices and spaces inside the building are named slightly differently.  The space on the 95 side, next to the street, is building "A" and the first floor is A1, the second is A2.  The space on the 99 side, next to the street, is "B".  Technocopia, Co. and Neuron Robotics have both been in B1 since anyone ever heard of us.  B2 is held by our associates Running Start, but more about them in a bit.  The space of interest is the space behind both A and B, from the street, and is known as "C".

Ok. 

So, about two weeks ago, our landlord asked us to move out of B1 into C1.   Now you might be thinking this is a problem, but it isn't, and for a few good reasons:

  1. Our landlord has been wildly generous, and has invested more into this project than most people.   He has been one of our strongest supporters.
  2. It's the better space (unless you like sunlight).  There had previously been a manufacturing company in the space, so the electrical hook-ups are there, the space is larger, so we can someday expand with more machines and more members.  There is direct access to the loading docks, as well as a sneaky back entrance through the "gardens" which amuses me. 
  3. The landlord, thinks he has a better chance to rent the front buildings with access to the street and sunny windows.
  4. The landlord can stuff Technocopia in the back where we are out of the way.   There is a common misunderstanding at 99  Prescott that Technocopia, and the membership it would attract, might be an unprofessional lot that might drive away other business.  While maybe a little hurtful, it is a genuine concern of our landlord and partners, and in respect to them we work very hard to keep the space as clean and professional looking as we really are.  If moving into the C1 space (which, again, we wanted anyways) helps alleviate this concern, we are happy to do it.

This all said, is all well and good.  Except for the loss of a weekend+ of work we had put into the B1 space,  getting it ready for the Grand Opening.  So the small local membership (mostly just the incorporators) started getting ready, packing and cleaning, in preparation for a big move from one side of the property to the other.  We got delayed due to lack of the key to get into the space.  The landlord had gone on vacation to the Cape.  After some confusion, we finally ended up with the key in our hands and were ready to move.

But wait. 

So the landlord starts telling us, as part of our "don't look like bums" stipulation to setting up Technocopia Shops we would need to scrape and paint the walls and floors of C1 before we could move in.  So that raised a simple set of questions:

Which is more important to the landlord?  Us paying rent (which requires us to open for business)?  Having C1 painted before we move in (which will take time, and gobble up money we had intended to use to pay rent)?  Or us getting out of B1 so he can rent that to someone else (which requires us to move)?

So we compromised.  We stay in B1, until the renovations of C1 are done.  We open the doors, we pay rent... and we move as soon as we're able.   Everyone's happy, right?  Sure, except for everyone who just packed up everything in expectation of a big move that wasn't gonna happen now... oh shit, that's us!

Crap. 

Well, anyways.  That's most of what happened... now I need to get back to unpacking and re-cleaning the space for the opening at the end of the week. 

There should be a way for people to start buying memberships by the end of the day.  Check back later! 

~~ 

And, as always, thank you for your support! 

Nick "Scruffy" Bold

Steward

First Post, building the website, and where to look for information

Welcome everyone to Technocopia's new website!  Please bear with us while we fill it up with content and put a new coat of paint over the whole thing. 

There are many things to come, but allow me to encourage you to check out the pages for the Hackerspace, and for the Development Community.

All of the information about what Technocopia is, the open-source technologies we are developing, and what we are doing today is kept as part of a Google Project, in a very raw way, on the Development Community page.  Over time, we will move that information to Technocopia.org as we make it more presentable and interactive.

It is also currently possible to get involved in the core Technocopia project through the Development Community page.

Information regarding the new hackerspace at 99 Prescott St. in Worcester, MA, can be found on the Hackerspace page.  There will be pictures, as well as details regarding what we offer, and how to join.

That's it for this first post, as I have to get back to building the website.

Sincerely, 

Nick "Scruffy" Bold