CNC Mill tool changer

Community is the most important part of a hackerspace but a good workspace is also critical. Work table, chairs,  couches, internet access etc. are obviously essential but what’s the next step after that? We have been giving equipment plans for Robot Garden a lot of thought and want to share some of what we are thinking and welcome feedback and suggestions.

From our own needs and those who’ve expressed interest so far, the most critical tools that we can’t start without appear to be:

  1. A laser cutter
  2. A 3D printer
  3. A CNC mill
  4. and of course Robots

After that opinions start to vary widely so we would love to hear from more of you who are interested in using Robot Garden what tools would you most likely to be able to use?

What robots is another question. My hope is that, like most hackerspaces provide CNC mills and other tools inaccessible to a lone individual, we can give people access to more advanced, practical and exciting robots then they would otherwise be able to experiment with. My experience doing and teaching robotics and engineering has convinced me of the value of teaching using the same class of equipment and same tools used in the real world and I want to create an environment where we do this. I have written before about why I think Rethink Robotics Baxter is a great choice for a hackerspace. In short, it’s big and exciting but still personable and safe; it’s a real robot intended to accomplish a useful task and it runs ROS, the open source robotic operating system that is quickly becoming standard. I envision all kinds of exciting projects people could do with access to a robot of this capability. I’d love to hear comments on what robots people would find both exciting and useful to have access to and what you would do if you had access to them. We will of course also have a small fleet of STEM standards like LEGO Mindstorms.

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