Category: Community

All things to do with the greater makerspace hacker space community as well as our local community

cela s

Cela Smith: Board Chairperson

Introduction

Cela Smith is the board chairperson at Ace Makerspace. Given the current state of rebuilding that Ace is going through, I thought it would be useful to learn from an executive what’s going on, while also finding out more about another member of Ace. I’m Carter Jenkins, and I had the opportunity to talk with Cela about what she does and how she does it.

History with Ace

Most board members at Ace end up in their position by volunteering their way up the ranks. They start as being regular members, then over time eventually make the shift to becoming a leader in the place they love. Cela’s story, however, was a bit different.

Cela found Ace through Board Match, a networking service that allows non-profit organizations to meet highly skilled professionals in the hopes of recruiting them to a board position. In one building, more than 100 non-profit organizations had gathered to recruit new members. Cela eventually found herself at the booth for Ace, something she had never heard of. However, she quickly learned that Ace was a place that could offer a lot to her. As someone who was interested in education, science/technology, animals, and nature-conservation type stuff, Ace offered a great window into science and education. This prompted Cela to take a tour of the physical space and after that, she was hooked. 2 years later, and Cela is still here doing what she loves.

Upcoming Things at Ace

Despite the recent COVID surge, the officers and the board have some big plans in the works. First, public events are coming back, like those hosted at the Oakland Public Library and Oakland First Fridays. The events, while being a good way to get the word out about Ace, are also incredibly fun for both the participants and the members arranging them so Cela is very excited to have those back. The other is the project-based learning system (I touched on this in another article, you can read about that here). Ace already classes on how to use tools and things like that, but with this new system, you’ll be actually building complicated things that you could take home with you and actually use/look at.

Three people standing together under a gazebo
From left to right: Cela, Miriam Levenson, and Rachel/Crafty

A Few Words from Cela

I asked Cela about what advice she would give to future board members, and what she said was so well thought out that I decided to put it right here, word for word.

“It’s important to be open-minded and flexible. When you’re trying to help out a non-profit, you want to help to guide things in a certain way. Of course, it’s never going to be 100% what you expect, you need to be ready to adapt to the needs of the organization instead of pushing your own agenda onto the org. Having respect for other people is also very important. It’s essential to remember we’re all just people, so even if there are differences of opinion we still need to respect each other.”

To wrap up, Cela loves being in the maker space itself. Walking around, she can get a lot of cool ideas for projects. Even if she doesn’t end up doing them, it’s great to see creativity in action. With a love of the spaces’ values and its ability to be for a broader community for more than just makers, Cela is grateful for the opportunity to be at Ace. I’m Carter Jenkins and thank you for reading.

Interested in joining the Ace Makerspace Board? Contact “[email protected]

Field Trip to Peroba Reclaimed

We recently went on a field trip To Peroba Reclaimed out in Richmond. They specialize in reclaimed lumber and live edge slabs ethically harvested. The staff was lovely and helpful. And really patient with us digging through their off-cuts pile. We were on a mission to get affordable wood to use in Ace project-based workshops. Not only did we find affordable products but really pretty options we can feel good about spending community money on. We definitely recommend going out there when you are ready to level up your solid wood projects.

https://www.perobareclaimed.com/

So many pretty slabs
Rounds and free bark
Reclaimed barnwood
The off-cuts pile
More slabs
Such variety of wood
Free BARK
Really Tall Slabs
josh in mask

Metal Maestro: Josh Leslie

Introduction

josh in maskJosh originally went to the School of the Arts in Chicago for aerospace engineering, with the intention to learn “how to make things.” But after two years, he realized that the field wasn’t for him. So halfway through his college career, Josh made the decision to switch to industrial design. He later graduated with a degree in object design, which is a similar field to industrial design but is based much more on conceptual design rather than more reality-based and pragmatic design.

After moving to the Bay Area several months ago, Josh found Ace Makerspace completely by chance and decided to join for two main reasons. One reason was that Ace offered easy shop access for a recent graduate itching to do some work. The other is that Josh wanted to share his experience with others and spread the knowledge that he has gained both in college and on his own.

Josh’s Work at Ace

Josh primarily maintains the metal shop and is part of a movement to make the entire space more user-friendly. Right before Josh took over as metal steward, the metal shop at Ace was rearranged by a few other engaged members. The main purpose of this was to make the space more friendly towards a wider range of users rather than only those who were already experienced.

In early August, Ace plans to have the storage area and actual work area flipped in the metal shop room, and Josh is a big supporter (and soon to be facilitator) of this change. As of the writing of this article, when you enter the metal shop you’re immediately met with the member storage space. All of the tools are kept behind all the shelving units in a much smaller area. The idea is to put the tools up-front to make it more user-accessible and to make the metal shop more friendly to the people who walk by it.

In terms of more instructor-oriented work, Josh is part of the Ace movement to change up its teaching style. The new style has three varieties, called Access, Exposure, and Experience-based education. In essence, it’s a 3-part process of learning how to use tools properly, doing something constructive and fun with the tools, and offering more elaborate projects for those seeking more experience. In Josh’s words, “Instead of ‘hey, just cut this block of metal,’ we’re developing project and skill-based classes of varying levels so that you’re not banging nails into a board, you’re actually making something.” One of those ideas was instead of just randomly cutting metal for a class, why not make some basic windchimes that you might actually keep? Another is crafting simple metal jewelry.

Even though Josh has only been at Ace for a few months, he has already made an impact on the community with his friendly personality and willingness to help others. When he isn’t in the metal shop, he can be found helping in mutual aid projects around the Ace space such as the 500 filters project. Keep an eye out for the metal shop revamp later this year.

This article is part of an Ace Makerspace interview series by Carter Jenkins.

pink fistbump icon

June 15th Town Hall

On Tuesday, June 15th, Ace held a virtual town hall meeting to discuss a couple of things about Ace’s near future. I had the pleasure of attending this meeting so that I could report on what went down.

A lot of the meeting had to do with dealing with a new, not quite pandemic but not the post-pandemic environment. With Ace’s membership numbers slowly going up to pre-pandemic levels, there were a lot of clarifying questions about relaxing old protocols such as key fobbing and stricter counting of how many people are in a room. Rachel Crafty, Ace’s executive director, asked for input on the new system for keeping track of who’s in the building. This system is called the booking system, and it allows members to claim time in certain workspaces and also see who else is going to be there at what times. Even though this is essentially a more refined version of typing a message in Slack, a couple of things still needed to be sorted such as who has access to older data and how user privacy should be protected.

There was a lot of talk about how masking protocol and vaccination should be considered in a time where both are inconsistent and hard to measure. Ace uses surveys and protocols to keep an eye on these things, however, some meeting attendees thought it would be best if this data was made public. That way, both instructors and members alike could have more information about who they were with and how careful they would need to be. This discussion was eventually tabled after a lot of discourse didn’t result in a clear answer. The newly reopened guest policy was also a topic of discussion, more specifically how member policy and guidelines should apply to the guests they bring. It was eventually determined that the member who brings in the guest is responsible for whatever their guest does during their time at Ace.

The final minutes of the meeting were spent talking about the co-working space at Ace. 15 months ago, the space was reconfigured to make it more COVID protocol friendly, but nowadays it’s more awkward than helpful. Ace is planning to introduce a “rent-a-desk” program, where people outside the Ace community can rent a desk at the Ace building and use it as a personal workspace. Co-working is the ideal place for this program, but at the moment it’s at a weird spot. Besides the obvious rearranging of desks, a few attendees suggested adding lockboxes to the rented desks to guarantee some more privacy to those renting the desks. What privileges these renters should have relative to members was also discussed. It was eventually decided that renters should have similar abilities to members and should be valued at the same level. Ace at the moment wants to diversify who comes to their space, and this desk renting program is part of that plan. It will hopefully get the renters interested in the tooling at Ace, and the members interested in the working space at Ace that will offer a fresh alternative to the year of at-home work we’ve been doing.

Hopefully, you’ve learned a little more about what’s going on behind the scenes at Ace.

Lasering in on Patrick Davies

Introduction

Patrick has been an Ace member for about 4 years. However, in that time he has quickly grown proficient with laser cutting, served on the Ace board, and has become a beloved member of the Ace community. I’m Carter Jenkins, and I had the chance to talk with Patrick about what he does and why he does it.

History with Ace

Close up of wooden dividers labeled "rock"
Some of Patrick’s dividers in a store

Patrick’s story begins after he finished school at the California College of the Arts. Having studied industrial design, he was on the lookout for a place to use the skills he’d learned. His search eventually led him to Ace, located in a neighborhood that Patrick used to live in. Patrick quickly found that Ace fostered a very creative and friendly learning environment that he enjoyed. The close proximity to his home was a boon too. Soon Patrick was working on social media outreach with fellow Ace members as well as doing his own personal laser cutting work. He even served on the Ace board for a year.

Nowadays, Patrick does a lot of laser cutting and is a part of the maintenance crew for that machine. He enjoys working on the machine and likes to see it working well. As a precision-based instrument, he likes fine-tuning the various parts of it in order to get it into tip-top shape.

Patrick’s Work

Multiple pictures of wooden, engraved disks
Examples of Patrick’s work

Over the years, Patrick has created a small business based on the laser work he does at Ace. This whole thing started back in design school when Patrick developed a liking for vinyl record collecting. He made his own plywood inserts for jukeboxes, eventually selling them to small record stores as a side business. Word of mouth spread his work, and now Patrick sells custom-made inserts and dividers to all kinds of record stores. This isn’t the only work he does, however. Even with a name in record-making, he is open to all kinds of design work. Check out his Instagram page to see his work and even get a commission at https://www.instagram.com/fluidcut/?hl=en.

Patrick’s process is simple. He works mostly with plywood to create the products he then sells. He has experimented with different kinds of materials like acrylic and solid wood, but there are a couple of reasons why he has stuck with plywood over the years. Not only are some materials not environmentally friendly, but Patrick has found that the material type he uses doesn’t always make the impact he wants. When his customers see one plywood product and one solid wood product, they don’t see the craftwork that went into making it. They see two identical things with different prices. Patrick continues to use plywood, a material that can do any job at a reasonable price.

Conclusion

This summer, Patrick is looking forward to being in a less covid-restricted environment. With no major projects in mind, he will continue to work with the laser in order to fine-tune and make more creations. After all, the more enjoyable moments of his life happen when a piece of work comes out exactly as he envisioned it.

ace logo on a sunrise

COVID UPDATE: June 15th Reopening

15 months later

It has been a series of hard rapid changes, long swaths of ambiguity, and holding patterns over the last 15 months. The Ace Community has come together to support our neighbors here in Oakland and throughout the bay area — and to support each other. Without the continued support of members throughout this difficult time, Ace Makerspace wouldn’t be here today. Not only is Ace and the Ace community still here but we are poised to be even better and more creative — connecting more people not only to technology and education but to each other.

Masks, Sanitization and Social Distancing

Masks are currently required in all common spaces and hallways of the building Ace Makerspace occupies. Everyone should wear a mask in the hallways and bathrooms and follow all posted notices.

Masks are now optional for vaccinated people in Ace spaces. If you are vaccinated wearing a mask is now optional in Ace Spaces. Please follow all posted signage in other parts of the building.

Unvaccinated people need to wear a mask in all Ace spaces. If you are not vaccinated please were a mask in all Ace spaces with other people for your own safety as recommended by the CDC.

Sanitization is still the policy. Cleaning your touchpoints and sanitizing your hands is still the right thing to do. These are the vectors of infection. Also, avoid touching your face. Ace will continue to provide cleaners and hand sanitizers.

6 Feet is no longer the rule. Per the CDC, social distancing is no longer required for vaccinated people. It is still recommended especially indoors for unvaccinated people. Occupancy limits now revert back to those dictated by physical safety, the fire marshall limits, and common sense.

Visiting Ace

  • We are bringing back the Thursday night 7pm tours! You can still book tours by appointment but they will no longer be 1:1.
  • Then New Member Orientation Workshop is now a live event instead of just virtual. During this live event, food and beverages may be served and it can now accommodate more folks.
  • The sign-up process is much shorter with a COVID Safety Certification no longer required.

Member Privileges

  • Guests. Ace has reinstated our very liberal guest policy for members. Members can have as many guests as they want, as long as they abide by Ace policies and social contract and have a signed guest waiver on file. For more about the ACE guest policy see this wiki page.
  • Eating is now allowed again in the space. We have two great honor bars filled with snacks and drinks with fridges for day use. Members need to clean up after themselves as ants are no fun.

Renovations in the near future

Now that we no longer need to keep 6 feet (or more) apart all of the spaces will undergo renovations in the near future. A few of the updates currently under consideration:

  • Rentable Dedicated desks in Clean Fabrication
  • More fundraising to support the mission!
  • Adding back more hot desks in CoWorking
  • Shrinking the Textiles footprint
  • More events!
  • New kinds of project based classes
The Captain's Chair

Ted Huller: 3D Printing Master

Introduction

Ted Huller is a long-time Ace member and also Ace’s resident 3D Printing Steward. I’m Carter Jenkins, and I had the chance to talk with Ted about his history with Ace as well as some recent work he has done.

Ted’s History with Ace

ted hullarTed is a long-time friend of Ace Executive Director Rachel Crafty, but Ted’s story begins before Rachel was in that role. Ted works in a laboratory, and throughout his working process, he sometimes finds that he needs to make custom-built parts in order to fulfill certain jobs. He normally would make these parts out of wood, (Ted is a master woodworker) but one day the job required a small beaker holder that was too fine to make with wood. Hearing about Ace’s 3D printing workspace, Ted decided that he should learn some basic skills in 3D printing so that he could handle situations like these. He admits the process wasn’t very smooth, but in the end, he had a working product, and that experience made Ted very interested in 3D printing as a whole.

Fast forward a few years, and Ted became a regular Ace member. He still did woodworking at home, but the Ace makerspace had become his new home for metalwork and some 3D printing. Ted quickly got his own 3D printer at home, meaning that his interactions with Ace slowly dwindled as his needs for printing materials shrunk. One day, however, former 3D printing steward Matt stepped down, leaving the position open to anyone in the Ace community. After some deliberation, Ted decided that he should give something back to the Ace community, and with his new expertise, Ted became the printing steward.

The 3D Printing Space at Ace

The 3D printing space is shared with a multipurpose space that houses the electronics lab, a couple of workstations, and the big format paper printer. This room is known as the Clean Fabrication room. There are two Prusa-brand 3D printers, which Ted calls “the Ford F-150 of printers. There’s a lot of them, they’re not the most sophisticated, but they’re pretty darn reliable and thought out.” There’s also a nearby computer dedicated to preparing files for the printers. The printers don’t need a computer to run, but makers will often find that it helps to be able to do last-minute manipulations to the 3D object files.

The Slack community for 3D printing at Ace has members in the hundreds, and pretty much all questions and discussions happen over Slack. Ted considers it the most efficient way to ask, read, and answer questions; he encourages new members to use Slack for almost all of their communications.

An Example of Ted’s Work

Metal plating placed in the Ace metal mill
Some in-progress work being done at the Ace metal mill

Ted and his wife recently bought an old minivan so they can go camping without having to deal with tents. The Toyota they bought was almost perfect for this purpose, except for one thing. The two of them both found the minivan to be a little too small to have both front seating and bed arrangements, so they looked into having adaptable seats that could swivel and lie down to make beds. The Toyota’s seats, however, were bolted to the floor in such a way that commercial seat-adjusting kits wouldn’t work. With no other options, Ted turned to his making skills to fabricate a “captain’s chair,” similar to those found in commercial RVs.

Ted started with drilling out a swivel plate and holes in the floor of the van, making sure to line them up precisely by means of the metal mill at Ace. The actual process of making the seat swivel wasn’t that difficult, but Ted encountered another problem soon after. Modern-day seats in cars and vans have lots of electrical wiring leading into them, whether it’s for operating a heater or controlling the seat’s back-and-forth movement. Ted found that the wires in the seat were dangerously close to shearing themselves on some exposed metal left by the drill holes, which would cause all sorts of maladies if not addressed properly. To solve this problem, he 3D printed a large plastic washer that bolts onto the wire hole. This means that instead of the wires dragging on sharp metal edges, it’s protected by a layer of comparably soft plastic. There were other little 3D-printed objects that Ted made, such as protective sheaths for the wire connectors.

3D printed swivel bushing used in the seat
An example of a bushing used in the project

Interestingly, Ted’s neighbor was going through a similar process with a van of their own at around this time. They had also encountered the same wire-cutting problem, and since Ted had just fitted the washer he offered to print a duplicate for his neighbor. With about a dollar’s worth of filament, Ted solved his neighbor’s problem.

Closing

Ted will continue to make and create at Ace for a long time. There are no big projects in his immediate future, but before our talk ended Ted told me that he was looking forward to, “training some more people, getting them ready, and seeing what people are going to 3D print.” I’m Carter Jenkins and thank you for reading.

Five things to know about joining Ace Makerspace in the Spring 2021

The pandemic has added layers of complexity to everyday things and Ace Makespace is not immune to this. Here are the top 5 things to know about joining Ace in the spring/summer of 2021. For the complete up-to-date sign up steps go to the membership page.

Slack is really important

At Ace Makerspace we use Slack to connect with other members, call dib on tools, and contribute to reporting systems on equipment and so on. While there is no formal requirement to have a Slack account and join the Ace Makerspace Slack workspace, not having an account will limit your ability to engage and access the resources at Ace.

Most of our users have smartphones that they use Slack on when in the space, though slack is available on your computer as well via a browser. 

We recommend this tutorial for folks new to Slack and you can Join the Ace Slack here.

Please keep in mind, that with many things Ace as also added customizations to our Slack workspace in order to get more functionality for our community. These integrations include:

We use email a lot

When you complete any step in the sign-up process an automatic email is triggered with the instructions for the next step. 

You can view all the instructions in one go but often folks forget the next step because the sign-up process is complicated with COVID and all.

We have a New Member Orientation workshop that can really help. RSVP via the link on the calendar.

Class sizes are limited with COVID

We have strict occupancy limits in each room and that has impacted how many people we can certify or have classes with each month.

For example, if the occupancy limit in the shop is 3 people, there can only be 2 students per class. And if there are 2 classes per month that means that we can only certify 4 people per month unless we get more teacher to teach classes.

This is changing quickly as the vaccine rolls out and we expect both occupancy limits and instructor tolerances will follow. Will will update things as they occur so look for more information and change mid-April.

Book Tours 1:1

You can book tours right from the home page! We have staff and volunteers available for tours. And when it is safe we will go back to having small group tours on weeknights.

New Taster Classes! Create in a mentored environment

We are adding a new series of classes called “Tasters”. You come in and make a project with one of our expert makers. You get a complete overview of the process and hands-on experience while making something cool!

An interview with Victor Lane, Ace Instructor

Who is Victor?

victor with CatVictor Lane may live in Sacramento, but he is still an active member of the Ace community. At Ace, Victor did a lot of woodworking with joinery, and over the past few years, he’s eventually made his way to becoming an instructor. I’m Carter Jenkins, and I had the pleasure of speaking with Victor to find out more about him.

Victor’s relationship with Ace began in a similar way to a lot of other members: finding an affordable and welcoming maker space. In his search, he found plenty of alternatives, but they were mostly for-profit organizations with narrowly defined communities that did not have a diverse environment. “You go to a lot of ‘maker spaces and it’s white guys my age making robots or 3d printing…” as Victor put it. He found that Ace fostered a group of people that was full of people that you wouldn’t find in those other maker spaces. Ace also had different technologies that you wouldn’t find in other maker spaces, such as fabric arts. He appreciates the fact that these “non-traditional” making practices have dedicated homes at Ace.

Two coasters with engravings of California
Two custom made coasters designed by Victor

Victor’s New Class at Ace

Victor is hosting an in-person woodworking class for a small group of people at the maker space. It’s a class he has hosted pre-lockdown, but luckily not a lot about the class had to change. Like before, he’s teaching how to make a basic cutting board out of a single piece of wood, teaching how to properly cut and finish the material. The main purpose of the class is not to walk away with a perfect cutting board but to rather learn how to use the tools properly. As Victor said, “If you are not scared of the power tool you are using, you probably shouldn’t be using it.” He believes that gaining a sense of respect is the most important thing that a maker should have for their tools. The class employs the use of the chop saw and table saw, which Victor hopes to make his students comfortable. For the most part, mask protocol isn’t affecting the class. Most of the time, the people in the class were wearing filtered dust masks, so modified masks are being used.

Talking with Victor was a blast, and the Ace community benefits greatly from having a guy like him in it. His charismatic personality and great communication skills make him an excellent teacher and should make for a great workshop experience.