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Tech Lab FAQ & Resources

Tech Lab FAQ & Resources2024-01-31T10:31:17-08:00

Tech Lab Policies & Basics

How do I connect with my BARN community online?2024-05-28T16:15:51-07:00

Join BARN Circle, BARN’s online community. This community hub is open to everyone participating or interested in activity at BARN. Consider it the digital equivalent of hallway chats, workbench hangouts, and studio bulletin boards. Learn more and get started >>

Where do I find more detailed technical information?2023-01-17T13:23:13-08:00

For help on more advanced technical questions (or just to hang out), join us on Slack and GitHub.  New? Request access.

We have several different Slack channels for different questions.  Some of our most-frequented options are:

  • #eta-general: A “general interest” channel for all Tech Lab Studio members. Intention is for Tech Lab-focused topics not already adopted in other channels.
  • #cnc : CNC machines, plasma tables, CNC router tables, mill and lathe conversions, CAD and CAM discussions
  • #eta-3d-printers: 3D Printer resources
  • #eta-3d-scanners: 3D Scanner resources
  • #eta-cnc: CNC topics specific to the Tech Lab
  • #eta-electronics : Electronics and electrical discussions

We have many more active channels! View them all.

How do I get started in the Tech Lab?2022-12-28T14:25:34-08:00

We make it easy to get started with three different paths:

  1. Come into any open studio. The door is open, and you’re already qualified to use most of the tools.
  2. Come to our monthly Studio Orientation, offered the first Saturday of every month at 10am.
  3. Take a class, like our Laser 101 class, to get trained on our laser cutters.
What does the Tech Lab Offer?2022-12-28T13:25:04-08:00

A variety of tools – and a place to work on things. Check out our equipment list for more specifics on available tools.  In general, we offer:

  • Access to tools
  • Work space
  • Robotics
  • Laser cutters/engravers
  • 3D Printers
  • CNC Engraver
  • Electronic test equipment
  • Soldering workstations
  • Projection Equipment
  • Design workstations
  • Books / Magazines
  • Mentorship
  • Workshops
  • Classes
  • Tech Talks
  • Software
  • Open Studios
  • 3D scanner
General Expectations2022-12-28T13:24:11-08:00
  • Don’t prop the doors open (outside of Open Studio)
  • The “loft” is not for general access
  • Tools don’t leave ETA space (without permission of the studio monitor)
  • Books don’t leave BARN
    • Without permission and checkout
  • Don’t leave your things laying out
    • Unless you want us to take them apart
  • Clean up after use
    • I.e. put things back where they belong
What are the Tech Lab’s Access Policies?2022-12-28T13:24:57-08:00
  • Members and non-members during open studios, classes, workshops, talks.
  • $20 drop-in fee for non-members during open studios
  • Studio Monitors have access outside these hours
  • Studio Monitors may provide access at other times at their discretion
Are there any safety requirements in the Tech Lab?2022-12-28T14:34:21-08:00

Yes!  View our full safety policies. The main mission of a Safety Monitor is to help maintain a safe environment during an open studio.    We expect you to understand safety considerations for the tools you use, and we require you to take our formal training classes for the laser and CNC if you’d like to use those.

How do I get approved to use certain tools?2023-01-03T13:41:04-08:00

Have questions about a specific tool? Just ask!

Training is currently required for:

  • Laser-cutters

Training and/or Orientation available for:

  • 3D Printers
  • Power tools such as micro table saw

Soldering and electronics have no formal certification

  • Follow signage posted at these stations
  • If in doubt, ask the Studio Monitor
What are the policies around materials in the Tech Lab?2022-12-28T13:24:30-08:00

In-Studio Materials

  • Pre-cut inexpensive materials (MDF, plywood) used on laser are available for purchase
    • Materials in scrap bins near laser are free
  • Studio filament for 3D printing is available for demonstration, training, and for small projects

You should bring your own materials for major projects.

Bringing Your Own Materials

  • Non-standard materials must be approved by Studio Monitor.
  • Expect to provide a SDS/MSDS (Safety Data Sheet/Material Safety Data Sheet) or wait for testing
Do I need a Skills Card to access some or all of the Tech Lab equipment?2022-12-28T14:38:27-08:00

Yes, you will get checked off on the laser (and perhaps other equipment) on a card issued to you after completion of the Laser 101 class.

Can I check out Tech Lab equipment and use it at home or off-site?2022-12-28T14:38:31-08:00

Sorry, all equipment and books must be used within the studio.

What are Open Studios in the Tech Lab?2022-12-28T13:24:49-08:00
  • A good way to get started with ETA
  • Hosted by a Studio Monitor
  • Monitors determine their own days and times, typically 2+ hours long
  • All monitors have basic proficiency on our main attractions
    • 3D Printers
    • Laser Cutters
  • Some offer to share their special skills (refer to the instructor’s bio in the class listing)
    • CAD/CAM
    • Robotics
    • Electronics
    • Coding

Check our class and event listing for the most up-to-date information on available Open Studio times.

How do I get Open Studio Access in the Tech Lab?2022-12-28T14:27:19-08:00

The door is literally open to all members during an Open Studio.  Non-members are also welcome (for a small fee).    We would prefer that you register online first, but walk-ins are welcome. 

A trained monitor is present. Open Studio is, however, not like a class where instruction can be given.

When are Tech Lab Open Studios (in general)?2022-12-28T14:32:09-08:00

Please check our calendar for open studio times.    We try to offer times that can accommodate virtually any schedule.   The calendar will also tell you who to expect as the host and what skills they’d like to share with you.

I’m a BARN member. How do I get fob access to the Tech Lab?2022-12-28T14:30:14-08:00

Because the door is open during Open Studios and classes, no fob access is needed. If you’d like access at other times, talk to the studio lead about becoming a volunteer safety monitor. If you qualify, we’ll grant you fob access. Contact us to learn more.

Can I use the Tech Lab for manufacturing at scale?2022-12-28T13:25:12-08:00

The Tech Lab is not a manufacturing facility. Users focus more on one-off personal projects, and sometimes iterative prototyping. Make it. Break it. Change it. Make it again.

The Tech Lab’s emphasis is also not on hosting highly-specialized and expensive software when other options are available.  Getting members up to speed with available alternatives – either open-source or low-cost is a priority. That said, there are sometimes no options available for specific equipment and so we try to find the most workable solutions for our members.

What joint-studio activities and special programs does the Tech Lab offer?2022-12-28T13:24:39-08:00
  • Woodshop: CNC Router, Laser-cut templates, Laser-cut boxes
  • Print: Laser-engraved rubber stamps, laser-cut wood prints
  • Jewelry: laser-etched embossing paper, 3D-printed molds for lost-wax casts
  • Glass: laser-engraved glass, molds for lost-wax glass casts
  • Fiber: laser-engraved leather and paper fabric
  • Metal Fab: Intro to Fusion 360, 3D-printed patterns for sand casting
  • Writers: laser-engraved coasters for spooky stories
  • Media: Video Editing on Mac hosted by ETA
  • BARN-wide: CNC- and laser-cut signs (see Fiber Studio for the latest)
  • Kids: Girls Who Code, Teen Night, Maker Mondays, Summer Youth
  • Kids: Hyla High School STEM
How can I contribute to the Tech Lab?2022-12-28T13:24:04-08:00
  • Hang out with us at an open studio or Tech Talk
  • Share your skills as a studio monitor
  • Give a talk about your passion
  • Teach a class!  (Newbies can teach other newbies!)
  • Mentor others
  • Like kids? Help with Teen Nights, Maker Mondays, Summer Youth, and more
  • Want to help shape the studio? Consider joining our steering committee
  • Community Service projects
How do I access Slack and/or Github?2022-12-28T13:37:05-08:00

ETA members use Slack for studio related discussions.*

Github provides a repository for ETA content.*

* Both Slack and Github are available to ETA members and require member authorization to access content. Request access

3D Printers

Where do I find more detailed technical information?2023-01-17T13:23:13-08:00

For help on more advanced technical questions (or just to hang out), join us on Slack and GitHub.  New? Request access.

We have several different Slack channels for different questions.  Some of our most-frequented options are:

  • #eta-general: A “general interest” channel for all Tech Lab Studio members. Intention is for Tech Lab-focused topics not already adopted in other channels.
  • #cnc : CNC machines, plasma tables, CNC router tables, mill and lathe conversions, CAD and CAM discussions
  • #eta-3d-printers: 3D Printer resources
  • #eta-3d-scanners: 3D Scanner resources
  • #eta-cnc: CNC topics specific to the Tech Lab
  • #eta-electronics : Electronics and electrical discussions

We have many more active channels! View them all.

What programs should I use with the 3D printers?2022-12-17T13:14:32-08:00

Use Prusa Slicer software to slice your model for printing. The default profiles are mostly good, but you may be asked to increase the bed temperature to 60C. This will give you better results and fewer print fails.

gcode.ws is a helpful site to for  visualization and analysis of your gcode file.

What filament should I use with the 3D Printers in the Tech Lab?2022-12-17T13:14:40-08:00

The majority of printing is done using PLA filament. It is easy to work with, gives off no fumes or harmful particulates, is widely available and is inexpensive. PETG and nylon filaments are approved for use, though both are more difficult to work with than PLA.

We have had good results with PLA from MeltInk, eSun, MakerGeeks.com and filament found on Amazon. Check with a studio monitor before purchasing if you have any questions.

Electronics

Where do I find more detailed technical information?2023-01-17T13:23:13-08:00

For help on more advanced technical questions (or just to hang out), join us on Slack and GitHub.  New? Request access.

We have several different Slack channels for different questions.  Some of our most-frequented options are:

  • #eta-general: A “general interest” channel for all Tech Lab Studio members. Intention is for Tech Lab-focused topics not already adopted in other channels.
  • #cnc : CNC machines, plasma tables, CNC router tables, mill and lathe conversions, CAD and CAM discussions
  • #eta-3d-printers: 3D Printer resources
  • #eta-3d-scanners: 3D Scanner resources
  • #eta-cnc: CNC topics specific to the Tech Lab
  • #eta-electronics : Electronics and electrical discussions

We have many more active channels! View them all.

Laser Cutter

Where do I find more detailed technical information?2023-01-17T13:23:13-08:00

For help on more advanced technical questions (or just to hang out), join us on Slack and GitHub.  New? Request access.

We have several different Slack channels for different questions.  Some of our most-frequented options are:

  • #eta-general: A “general interest” channel for all Tech Lab Studio members. Intention is for Tech Lab-focused topics not already adopted in other channels.
  • #cnc : CNC machines, plasma tables, CNC router tables, mill and lathe conversions, CAD and CAM discussions
  • #eta-3d-printers: 3D Printer resources
  • #eta-3d-scanners: 3D Scanner resources
  • #eta-cnc: CNC topics specific to the Tech Lab
  • #eta-electronics : Electronics and electrical discussions

We have many more active channels! View them all.

What programs do you recommend I use for designing for the laser cutter?2022-12-17T13:14:48-08:00

We usually use the free program Inkscape to design for the laser.

Makercase is a tool for generating box plans.

What is the Tech Lab’s Laser Policy?2023-01-03T13:44:59-08:00

The Tech Lab’s large laser ,“Big Red,” is generally capable of cutting wood products 1/4″ thick and beyond. It can also mark many other materials and will cut over an area of  1000 x 600 mm. The small laser can reliably cut wood products 1/8″ thick. Both lasers also cut acrylic well. For more info, consult our approved materials list: Laserable Materials

The Laser is available for use during open studio times, by BARN members who have attended the Introduction to Laser Cutting monthly orientation class.

Download a copy of the Laser Policy. It’s also reproduced below.

We usually use the free program Inkscape to design for the laser.

Makercase is a tool for generating box plans.

Laser Usage Policy

Last updated 4/26/2021

  1. Users

    The laser may be used by (only)

    1. Trained members during open studio time or while under supervision of a studio
      monitor. A list of trained members is kept in the studio.
    2. Studio monitors, or individuals as specifically approved by the studio steering
      committee, at any time
    3. Individuals under supervision of a studio monitor, as a part of training or class
      activity.
  2. Logging

    All laser use will be logged in the laser log. User name, date, start time, and finish time
    will be recorded. Logging is required, regardless of whether or not a fee is collected.

  3. Fees

    1. All laser users will be charged a fee of $1.00/minute, with the following
      exceptions:

      1. Internal BARN or studio maintenance projects
      2. Demonstrations
      3. Class related activities
      4. Training
      5. Specially approved commercial projects where BARN is receiving
        arranged compensation
      6. Specially approved projects that BARN performs as community service
        or donation
      7. Commercial use may be charged under a separate rate (see the section
        Commercial Use)All laser users will be charged a fee of $1.00/minute, with the following
        exceptions:
    2. Fees may be rounded down to the nearest dollar.
    3. Members will be allowed 240 minutes of free laser time per month. This time will be non-transferable, and non-accumulating.
    4. Fees will be paid in cash or check, and deposited in the black “mailbox” by the studio monitor on duty.
    5. A form will be provided for submitting fees. If a form is not available, the users name time will be submitted with the fee. Fee processing will be handled by BARN accounting, until ETA Studio has a process for this.
  4. Commercial Use

    1. Commercial use will be charged a fee of $2.00/minute
    2. Commercial use includes use by businesses, production of objects for the operation of a business, and production for resale.
    3. Prototypes and small jobs may be allowed under the normal fee structure, at the discretion of the studio monitor on duty.
  5. Laser failure and repair

    1. The laser will not be left in a disassembled state, unless it is under repair or otherwise non-functional.
    2. If the laser fails to operate normally, a shop monitor will be notified.
    3. If the laser is to be left in a non-functional state, a sign will be placed on the laser to notify potential users.
    4. All laser maintenance will be performed under direction of a studio monitor. This includes disassembly, optics cleaning, alignment, and firmware settings.
  6. Other

    1. Jobs should not be left unattended.
    2. Users will monitor the laser systems (air, water flow, water temp) while in use.
    3. Jobs requiring the removal of the floor will require permission and supervision of the shop monitor on duty. After a job requiring removal of the floor has been completed, the floor will be promptly replaced, and the laser checked for alignment.

Basics

  • Think “prototype, not production”
  • May be used independently only during Open Studio time
  • Requires training to use or supervision of Studio Monitor as available
  • All usage must be logged
  • Personal usage:
    • Allotted 240 minutes per month free
    • Tnused time is not rolled over
    • Time after that $0.25 / minute
  • “Commercial” usage comes lower priority
    • Rates 2.00 per minute
  • All maintenance and modifications by Monitors.
  • Laser is not to be left unattended while in use. The tool and its supporting ventilation, air-assist and cooling must be monitored.
  • New lasers will require retraining of all members previously certified to operate older laser.. Classes are on calendar and will continue.

Equipment

  • 135 Watt 1000x600mm CO2 laser cutter
  • 45 Watt 500x300mm CO2 laser cutter
  • Ultimaker 2+ 3D printer
  • Prusa I3 3D printers (multiple) including MMU2
  • Four-channel Digital Oscilloscope (Rigol DS1104Z)
  • Microscope and hot air soldering station
  • Multimeters, variable voltage supplies, electronic components, bread-boarding supplies, and salvaged computer components are available for a
  • wide range of electronic projects. Here is a handy multimeter tutorial from SparkFun.
  • Lots of miscellaneous electronic tools, hand tools, electronic parts, etc.
FPV Drone built in a Tech Lab Class
Electronic soldering

Resources

Access how-to articles, course downloads, and other informational items.

Tech Lab

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