Are we there yet? Part 1

It’s been almost 14 months since the original post “Let’s Start the Makerspace.” At that point, Kzoo Makers had two buildings connected by a breezeway, some furniture and some equipment. Just like any other new business, things changed all the time. In fact, we joked as we walked in the door and wondered out loud what had changed since the day before. Although not as often as the last few months of 2016, Kzoo Makers is still a relatively new business and not in the least bit static. What has stayed constant is the use of zones and most of the zone areas. For this post, the zone areas and current activities will be highlighted.

Bass Ball #3One topic that most expect or know about in relation to a makerspace would be 3D printing. Blog posts from last year recount the activities of the people who put together a 3D printer over several weeks, starting with this one here. Another post here highlights Jason’s adventure in California at THE maker faire. Jason is also the zone leader of the 3D printing area, and he is usually around on Thursday evenings between 6 and 8pm. If you read Georg’s “Bass Balls” post, then you will recognize he is making a third version, as shown to the right.

Handling the worldNext to the 3D printer area is the laser cutter. The laser cutter has become one of the most popular areas, especially since some 3D printer designs can be modified to a laser cutter file. Also, since more types of materials may be used, the laser cutter can be a better choice. Lately, the nearby display includes a lot of maps. It is also popular to cut poster board paper and make Pepakura designs – which might be for masks or helmets, for example. Chris (member) recently held a workshop for participants to learn more about the laser cutter and Pepakura. Chris has also experimented with mirror etching and maps that look similar to dice. Another member, Kevin, expanded his side business since joining Kzoo Makers. Kevin’s production costs and time went down because of access to the laser cutter. The side project has a potential of becoming a full-time business faster thanks to the collaborative resources of people and machines. 

Fused flowerAround the corner and down the hall on the left is the Arts and Crafts area. As noted in the “What’s up” post, Cathy looks for projects that overlap zones. The Arts and Crafts area has also been the most consistent. Since February, every third Thursday of the month has a focused activity. Also, Cathy is available on the second Thursday of every month to work with or encourage anyone who wants to finish a project. Sometimes that includes completing what did not get finished during the prior month. It’s something I am taking advantage of and have asked at the end of the third Thursday “Can we finish the next time?” meaning the next scheduled time Cathy is there, even though it is two or 3 weeks away. Project highlights can be seen on the walls in the room.

Intro to ElectronicsThe electronics area is across the hall from the arts and crafts room. As noted in the “What’s up” post, Ron and Joe each host monthly activities on the first and third Mondays. Although the electronics room can be used for small activities or one on one sessions, the workshops have been in the meeting area. The actual electronics room is too small and crowded for more than a few people. The meeting area works well, especially since there is a screen projector for any slides or videos and plenty of table space.

Together and independentSpeaking of the meeting area, if you haven’t been to the space since the summer, then it may look different. The meeting and workshop areas have been flip-flopped. Instead of walking through the door into the meeting space (and possibly a meeting), now it is the workshop or assembly area. In the back of that area is a showcase of items from a variety of the zones, along with a bookshelf. Sometimes the best activity (to me) is working on an independent project in the meeting area while others are doing the same. Here’s a peek on the right.

Ras Pi TuesdaysLast, at least for the 1102 side of the building, is the Raspberry Pi room. The Kalamazoo Python users group occasionally meets in there. Also, the Kalamazoo Linux Users Group (KLUG) conducts study sessions in the Raspberry Pi room on Tuesday nights. The shelf is stacked with magazines full of Pi projects and the lab is available to members during the building’s open hours. Look for future activities similar to “Tuesday in the Raspberry Pi Zone.”

The Kzoo Makers includes space in two buildings. The zones in the “blue” building will be included in part 2.

Want to know when events are happening? For a complete listing, check out the events calendar here. You can also find out contact information here,  and membership information here. Look in the header for the current hours.

P.S. The 6 month membership special ends on October 31, 2017

Thanks!

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