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NYTimes Visits Menlo Park's TechShop 36

Posted by timothy
from the edison-would-approve dept.
ridgecritter points out this interesting article in the New York Times on TechShop, a membership resource (a.k.a. hackerspace) in Menlo Park, CA, for building stuff. "From hammers to 3-D printers and laser cutters. Fun!" Along similar lines, and also recently in the NYT, a quick on-the-train conversation with Bre Pettis of MakerBot.
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NYTimes Visits Menlo Park's TechShop

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  • by inio (26835) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @06:03PM (#31811670) Homepage

    The article mentions a new location coming is San Jose this year, but their locations page doesn't. Anyone have more details about this? San Jose would be a lot more convenient for those of us on the other end of 17 from the valley.

  • I like the idea (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HungryHobo (1314109) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @06:05PM (#31811678)

    Anything like this in europe?

    • Re:I like the idea (Score:4, Informative)

      by carp3_noct3m (1185697) <slashdotNO@SPAMwarriors-shade.net> on Sunday April 11, 2010 @06:43PM (#31811914)
      Just do a google search for hacker spaces in europe. I know that there are least 2 or three that are considered to be some of the best in the world that are in europe I just cant remember the names. Hacker spaces really are awesome!
      • by MoonBuggy (611105)

        I've just had a look for what's around in the UK, and they look awesome, but the focus does seem to be on the community rather than the resources.

        I'm not trying to devalue group participation at all, and I'm certainly considering going along to hang out with some like-minded people, it's just that last I checked you can't cut intricate patterns out of sheet steel using only community spirit!

        • by GreyFish (156639)
          Dunno where you are in the UK., but the London hack space is activly seeking members so they can get more subscription fees, so they can buy a laser cutter and lathes etc. Also in london is the metropolitan works, http://www.metropolitanworks.org/ [metropolitanworks.org] , expensive, but London hack space is a member, and the blueprint model shop which has a laser cutter.
  • Barrier to entry (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Alwin Henseler (640539) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @06:35PM (#31811858) Homepage

    From the article:

    They will do this because the tools needed to make really cool things have become cheaper and because humans feel good when they make really cool things.

    If the bar on creating "really cool things" gets lowered, that also raises the bar on what's "really cool". Creating cool stuff takes time, effort and usually includes a learning curve. That said: you can start small, and take on bigger/harder projects as you go.

  • by lappy512 (853357) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @06:43PM (#31811918) Homepage
    I'm a student in the Seattle area and we're trying to set up a hackerspace, but more geared to high school students. If there are cool spaces for students to hang out and work on science/tech projects, we'll be able to get more students interested in science and technology. Link in my sig.
    • You're always welcome at Jigsaw Renaissance! [jigsawrenaissance.org]

      We're a multidisciplinary space on 1026 Madison Street, 1st Hill (Capitol Hill.) We're filling out our calendar right now, so if you want to offer a class or hold an event, we invite you to do so freely (no cost.)

      Also, there's open house every Saturday. We have a lot of tools for woodworking, are expanding our visual arts right now, and will be adding a kitchen, metalworking, and more computers later. Projector present, and a giant wall for projecting on to. R [st.imul.us]

  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @06:57PM (#31811996) Homepage

    As someone who uses the Menlo Park TechShop [aetherltd.com], a few comments.

    It's a very broad shop. It's not the only public shop in Silicon Valley. If you want to do electronics, Hacker Dojo [pbworks.com] has better workstations, where surface-mount work is possible. If you're building furniture, The Sawdust Shop [sawdustshop.com] has a better wood shop. But TechShop has both sewing machines and CNC milling machines, a stereolithography machine and a plasma cutter, which you usually don't find under one roof.

    There are Silicon Valley companies which buy memberships and send their employees over to use the machine tools. The four big manual Bridgeport mills, the big lathes, and the stereolithography machine are usually being used by pros. TechShop gives classes constantly, but most of the people who use TechShop already have considerable familiarity with tools. They just need access to the bigger machines. It's a good place to learn how to use CNC machine tools. CNC software is quite good today, and TechShop has reasonable midrange CNC design software (Vectrix Cut2D/Cut3D, SolidWorks, etc.) installed on their rather sluggish Windows Vista desktop machines.

    There's not much electronics and robotics work. Although TechShop gives Arduno programming classes, and people take them and build the projects, not much electronics gets built there. They have power supplies, meters, scopes, and soldering stations, but they're 1980s technology.

    The most popular activity is cutting decorative patterns with the laser cutter. It's easy to do, and two laser cutters are busy doing it almost continuously. Those machines just need line art in CorelDraw; you don't have to learn SolidWorks or Vectrix and do real CNC programming. No one activity dominates, though; there are people building birdhouses and people building rocket engines.

  • RTP, NC has one too (Score:3, Interesting)

    by vw_bob (117531) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @07:05PM (#31812060) Homepage

    I just thought I'd throw this out. The Raleigh/Durham (RTP) area in North Carolina has one of these too. I used it to build a swing set for my son last xmass. I've been playing around with their shopbot and using their wood working room too. Access to Solidworks is a nice feature too.

    Personally, the vast swath of tools and capabilities just wow me. They've got two machine shops (big and little). They've got a wood shop. They've got a plasma cutter. They've got a welding room. They've got a sand blaster. They've got a sewing room (with a surger that was so dangerous they had to hack it to slow it down). They've got a laser cutter. They've got an electronics room. They've got a 3d printer (and they're *building* two others). They've got lots of space to work too. Not to mention storage rooms and offices you can rent. Oh - and they've got classes on most of this stuff. All this for $30 a visit (or $100 a month for unlimited visits). It's a crazy deal.

    Overall it's a great place to see geeks and artists doing their thing. Everyplace should have a TechShop.

    • by gunnk (463227)

      I'm a member at TechShop RDU as well. It's going through some growing pains, but I'm hoping the model works. The laser is definitely the most popular tool, with the ShopBot probably being second. I was able to knock out a retro-styled cocktail table for my living room in short order on it.

      I'm also one of the folks building 3D printers. The group of us are building about 10 printers -- some of us to keep, some to sell to defray our costs, and maybe one or two to stay at TechShop. The original (purchased

  • Hackerspaces (Score:5, Interesting)

    by the_kanzure (1100087) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @08:18PM (#31812518) Homepage
    http://hackerspaces.org/wiki/List_of_Hacker_Spaces [hackerspaces.org]. Be warned that TechShop is a commercial entity in this market, while many hackerspaces are non-profit. TechShop is a franchise with a gym membership model, so with it comes the same pains.
  • I am part of one in Baltimore Harford Hackerspace (http://harfordhackerspace.org) which is one of only three (that I am aware of) that is non profit. There is also another one in Baltimore called Baltimore Node.
  • RDU Techshop (TSRDU) (Score:3, Informative)

    by eagl (86459) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @11:56PM (#31813688) Journal

    The Raleigh-Durham techshop had to move due to a non-renewed lease, but they're rapidly converting the new building and will be up to full speed again soon. I know the owner and he is a true builder and experimenter himself, an enthusiast owner if I've ever met one. Anyone in the RDU area needs to check this place out - it is a great resource, having access to literally hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of tools and expertise, plus shop and storage space, for a small fraction of the cost. With a complete woodshop, an electronics lab, all the way up to high power laser cutters, they have pretty much everything you could need for any sort of project you can imagine.

    When I toured the Menlo Park techshop, I was blown away by the facility and the projects that were in progress there. This new one is more of the same.

    http://www.techshoprdu.com/ [techshoprdu.com]

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