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Davy.Baker
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TechShop and LabVIEW
Davy.Baker   6/26/2014 2:21:51 PM
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Max, great find !  As a LabVIEW developer and TechShop member, I was wondering when they would finally find each other.  Now all that is needed to complete the democratized fab is a reflow oven and their laser etcher upgraded to fiber (from CO2) for a bitless PCB mill.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: TechShop and LabVIEW
Max The Magnificent   6/26/2014 2:26:02 PM
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@Davy: ...a reflow oven and their laser etcher upgraded to fiber (from CO2) for a bitless PCB mill.

I want both of those myself LOL

C VanDorne
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CEO
Re: TechShop and LabVIEW
C VanDorne   7/1/2014 8:59:05 AM
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Not everything wants to be plastic.  Metal and works better for some things, so how about the basics of a machine shop: an engine lathe, a Bridgeport mill, a surface grinder, a band saw, an upright drill and a few sheet metal bending machines.  And from the days when America used to manufacture stuff, I bet there a hundred old machinists around who would take the gig of manning this machinery for peanuts.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: TechShop and LabVIEW
Max The Magnificent   7/1/2014 11:56:23 AM
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@C VanDorne: And from the days when America used to manufacture stuff, I bet there a hundred old machinists around who would take the gig of manning this machinery for peanuts.

I think some of the TechShops and MakerSpaces might have this sort of stuff -- I saw one with a huge water table cutter. I agree that it would be GREAT to get old machinists in there teaching.

I just got back from a quick trip to an antique furniture restoration and reproduction place down town -- just three guys -- two older ones and a 26-year old who is learning the trade -- I told the 26 year old that he's learning a trade that will keep him going the rest of his life.

C VanDorne
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CEO
Re: TechShop and LabVIEW
C VanDorne   7/1/2014 2:08:55 PM
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Good for you.  And on a different subject did you happen to inquire the owners how they're making money at these places?  Is it an hourly rental fee for each station, time in the door, or maybe flat rate by the project?

Max The Magnificent
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Re: TechShop and LabVIEW
Max The Magnificent   7/1/2014 2:15:55 PM
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@C VanDrne: Good for you.  And on a different subject did you happen to inquire the owners how they're making money at these places?  Is it an hourly rental fee for each station, time in the door, or maybe flat rate by the project?


Are you talking about the TechShop/MakerSpace places? If so, my understanding is that all the members pay a fixed monthly fee -- for that you get access to everything in the building, plus free training by their on-staff experts. Some devices that are expensive to run - -like the water cutter table -- might incur an aditional fee. 

C VanDorne
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CEO
Re: TechShop and LabVIEW
C VanDorne   7/1/2014 2:22:25 PM
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Yep, that's what I wanted.  Much thanks.  Btw, I know all too well how a machine shop works, being that there was one in the garage during my youth.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: TechShop and LabVIEW
Max The Magnificent   7/1/2014 2:27:51 PM
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@C VanDorne: Btw, I know all too well how a machine shop works, being that there was one in the garage during my youth.

I did metal work (shop) at high-school. Later, my degree was a type of co-op thing -- 12 months in, 6 months out type thing -- one of my two periods out was at Rolls Royce during which I (and a bunch of other students) went through a 3-year apprenticship program in 6 months -- lathes, drills, mills, grinders, welding (argon arc, electric arc, oxy acetylene), hydraulics ... it was wonderful stuff  

C VanDorne
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CEO
Re: TechShop and LabVIEW
C VanDorne   7/1/2014 2:42:58 PM
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Oh, so you probably actually learned something?  Nice.  I slugged parts for my old man when the real help was busy doing the important things that you learned to do.  So all my knowledge came via osmisis.  Literally, I think it got into me through the cutting oil.

But I do appreciate it now.  Funny how that works.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: TechShop and LabVIEW
Max The Magnificent   7/1/2014 2:49:10 PM
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@C VanDorne: But I do appreciate it now.  Funny how that works.

LOL (in a wry sort of way)

ewertz
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Manager
Re: TechShop and LabVIEW
ewertz   7/2/2014 8:35:11 PM
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all the members pay a fixed monthly fee -- for that you get access to everything in the building, plus free training by their on-staff experts. Some devices that are expensive to run - -like the water cutter table -- might incur an aditional fee.

The training that you mention is definitely NOT free, but to a first approximation the rest of your statement is correct.  Training, or a formal exemption from, is mandatory for almost every class of device that's there.  Certain devices may require multiple classes, each priced <insert adverb here>.  This is definitely an extra expense that you may not fully appreciate beforehand unless you do all of your homework.  The training may or may not have value to you, but it most cases it will have some, if nothing else as a welcome refresher.  The required classes' focus is first on safety and to a lesser extent on function.  Classes may not as available as frequently as you'd like, so you may have to wait a few  weeks to get into a class, only after which can you use the equipment.  You pay for this because you're still being charged the monthly fee while you're waiting.  In a few cases you can delay your sign-up by taking classes in advance without being a member, but you can't touch the equipment again until you pay and the clock starts ticking.

To actually learn how to use a device effectively there are lots of other classes you can take, but past the intro class, they may (or may not) be optional.  If you don't take the classes, you're probably going to waste time and material, but one way or another, you may have to invest a lot to get to the point you want to be.  Some hardware and some software can take a LOT of time to learn to accomplish your particular goals.  It is *easy* for a novice to grossly underestimate how much time (a.k.a. money) it can take to become functional on any device/program.  The expense can add-up very quickly.

Many/most of the consumables are on the subscriber to supply, or pay for there on-site at some <insert your adjective here> markup.  Once you get past the exploring stage, you want to start thinking about bringing your own blades, bits, etc. because there's no guarantee that what's freely available will fit your needs.

Whether or not any given piece of equipment works on any given day is always an open question.  Some machines don't work for weeks or months at a time.  Other popular machines have to be reserved in advance and you may never be able to get as much time on them as you'd like.  The laser cutters are particularly popular.  Once demand gets high enough for long enough (and maybe once enough people complain), more equipment can (and sometimes does) get acquired.  Some machine types seem never to get used, and a few are busy dawn to dusk.

One probably can't appreciate all of the ins-and-outs of setups like this until one has tried them.  But I can tell you first-hand that it's pretty easy to drop a cool grand or two and end up without much to show for it.  In hindsight I would have been better off buying my own equipment for most of what I wanted to do.  However, your mileage can easily vary greatly depending on your own usage patterns.  In some cases it can be a decent deal, it depends on what your expectations and needs are.  If you have absolutely zero space to work at home, this may be a pretty good fit.  But hauling all of your stuff in and out every visit does get pretty old, pretty quickly... :-(

The employees may be the best thing about the place.  They're generally very knowledgeable and friendly.  Getting specific help in specific areas can be a little challenging, but eventually you'll find someone that probably knows exactly what you need.  They don't mill around asking you how they can help you, you have to go and corner them yourself.  Many seem to be working on their own projects (or or off the clock, I can't tell), but they're all very approachable.  A good, domain-specific user group on the intertubes is still going to be a necessity for many people though when you're in your design stage.

The only flat-out "lie" is the old "prices will never be this low again" nearly annual pitch.  I've seen this not be the case multiple times, although I'll grant that it may be true more often than not (see also, "Sales Trick #1").

If I was made of money, I'd definitely join again.  In the abstract, I really, really like the concept -- I hope they can make it work.

 

Max The Magnificent
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Re: TechShop and LabVIEW
Max The Magnificent   7/3/2014 11:03:32 AM
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@ewertz: The training that you mention is definitely NOT free [...] If I was made of money, I'd definitely join again.  In the abstract, I really, really like the concept -- I hope they can make it work.

Thanks for the info -- I stand corrected -- my problem about joining would be lack of time -- but there is a local MakerSpace that's started here in Huntsville -- I really shoudl take the time to at least stick my nose in through the door to say "Hello"

ewertz
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Re: TechShop and LabVIEW
ewertz   7/3/2014 2:16:17 PM
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Yup, it's like any subscription service, if you use it enough, it can be a sweet deal.  Otherwise it's just like having another health club membership that you used in January, and...er... then not so much.

TechShop has both one-day passes and a month-by-month option, so you can minimize the cost of your way in.  But like I said, once you start using tools that require the safety/intro class, the wallet has to swing open again.  If you only need to use hand tools for working wood and a place to spread the work you're slowly turning to dust, you're good to go.  The other benefits are the co-op deals with the software vendors so that you can get access to some pretty decent PCs with all of the Adobe/NI/CAM design software on them under the same price of entry.

Smartest thing is to get all of your materials bought, your design as far as it's going to go, and then join for a month and see how it all really works for you.

They also have frequent tours so that you get to see the whole place, what's available, and a sense for how much equipment is actually operational at one random point in time.

 

Max The Magnificent
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Re: TechShop and LabVIEW
Max The Magnificent   7/3/2014 2:24:04 PM
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@ewertz:  ...it's just like having another health club membership that you used in January, and...er... then not so much.

Have you been following me around? How do you know so much about me? LOL

ewertz
User Rank
Manager
Re: TechShop and LabVIEW
ewertz   7/3/2014 2:33:00 PM
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But at least your mouse-buttoning-fingers are totally buff!

 

Max The Magnificent
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Blogger
Re: TechShop and LabVIEW
Max The Magnificent   7/3/2014 2:35:28 PM
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@ewertz: But at least your mouse-buttoning-fingers are totally buff!

LOL

TonyTib
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CEO
Re: TechShop and LabVIEW
TonyTib   7/3/2014 3:55:32 PM
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Given the limited equipment, maybe it'd be better to do the software learning & designing at home, and only do the "making" at TechShop or equivalent.

The big fly in the ointment here, of course, is the price of some software.  While there are many good options for free or low cost software development, embedded development, 2D MCAD, free-form 3D CAD, and PCB design, there aren't many for areas such as 3D MCAD and CAM.  (The free or very low cost 3D MCAD tools have many limitations that make them almost useless to me, and the much better but getting expensive ones like Geomagic/Alibre Design Elements ($1000) still have limitations (e.g. Geomagic DE doesn't handle surfaces well)).

For physical equipment, eBay and local surplus shops are great resources, if you are persistent.  But you still have to find space to sore and time to use all that stuff: if joining TechShop et al is like joining a health club, then buying your own equipment can be like buying a treadmill: used a lot the first month, but just collecting dust after six months.

ewertz
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Manager
Re: TechShop and LabVIEW
ewertz   7/3/2014 4:21:30 PM
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 there aren't many for areas such as 3D MCAD and CAM.

Recently both AutoDesk and Adobe have liberalized their licensing for the academic/maker/non-profit crowd for their CAD offerings.  It is true that CAM is still lagging behind though.  If you haven't checked Adobe/Autodesk in the last year or two, you may be surprised that they've made a lot of headway in that area.

 

TonyTib
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CEO
Re: TechShop and LabVIEW
TonyTib   7/3/2014 4:42:03 PM
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Details, please.  I don't think Autodesk has changed the terms for the "professional" line like AutoCAD, Inventor, and such.


Yes, they've added the 123D line, which is free for non-commercial use -- and 123D Design is probably one of the more capable 3D MCAD programs (I haven't tried it yet, but it's on my list).


The situation is much better if you can deal with STL file output (e.g. for 3D printers), since that's what you can get from programs such as DesignSpark Mechanical (free) and Cubify Design ($200).

ewertz
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Manager
Re: TechShop and LabVIEW
ewertz   7/3/2014 8:48:41 PM
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In the case of the Autodesk products, "students and educators" can get free 3-year licenses.  The overriding restriction is that no commercial or professional use is permitted.

How difficult it is for you in your country to be a "student or educator" under their rules may vary.  In the US, being enrolled in a single adult-education class would likely be enough.

Autodesk has matured enough to know that it's not in their best interest (anymore) to criminalize non-commercial uses of their products.  They're hooking you in so that you can (and will) pay them when you do your Kickstarter or turn your hobby into a small business.  Until then you're never going to be a paying customer ($2-4K), and everyone knows that.

I used Eagle for years and until I sold my first board, we both knew I wasn't going to pay for the software (because there were plenty of alternatives).  When that changed, Eagle (CadSoft) got paid.  This only happened because they supported non-commerical use. Student licenses and trials are marketing tools that bring in money later, where no money would ever have been had, had you started with any competitor's (free or otherwise) product.  But the second you go public, you're a prosecution target for the software vendors -- as you should be.

Bottom line: If you're intent on using their software for free, you're going to, one way or another.  Incenting bootlegging doesn't help anyone, and this approach eliminates the overwhelming majority of it.

Decent sized outfits like Adafruit never stopped using Eagle because there was no reason to switch once they started.  Only idiot companies continue to systematically push potential licensees away from their products (see also: Altium).  Both Adobe and Autodesk are realizing this.  Their competition is FOSS as much as it is each other -- probably even moreso.

 

 

Denise J. Wasson
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Rookie
Re: TechShop and LabVIEW
Denise J. Wasson   7/8/2014 3:12:21 AM
This conference and the exhibition are really appreciated, this makes the younger generation more enrourage to do better world through using technology. The resume writer will help to learn them about this issue. I also attended that conference and exhibition. That was really enjoyable.

Denise J. Wasson
User Rank
Rookie
Re: TechShop and LabVIEW
Denise J. Wasson   7/8/2014 3:14:56 AM
This conference and the exhibition are really appreciated, this makes the younger generation more enrourage to do better world through using technology. The resume writer will help to learn them about this issue. I also attended that conference and exhibition. That was really enjoyable.



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