(TL;DR at the bottom)
Between Farset’s expansion and closing due to COVID, we haven’t yet had a chance to properly organise the new workshop space. I’ve started some work on tidying the space but the bulk of the work will be defragmenting and organising the parts/equipment. Ideally we’d be able to assemble a task force and take a day at it, but with social distancing this will have to be an asynchronous project. Slack (#facilities) is probably the easiest place for conversation, however to ensure clarity and posterity, I’d suggest that important discussion points and actions are recorded here on Discourse.
This project aims to ensure that:
Outside of induction, anyone will be able to walk into the workshop and easily locate any parts/equipment they’re looking for.
The workshop should be physically accessible to as many individuals as possible, particularly focussing on those with limited physical mobility (wheelchair users, etc)
Health and Safety equipment is available, and made clearly visible and accessible to anyone in the workshop. Whilst all workshop users should be inducted, individuals should not have to complete induction to be able to locate vital safety equipment.
Additionally, this project will hopefully help us improve the usefulness of the space going forward whilst maintaining social distancing within the labs by allowing the event space to be used as an ‘overflow’ for the workshop.
Social Distancing without reducing facilities
A good place to start here is by (credit to @bolster) coming up with sensible ways to fill the new roller drawers with contextually relevant ‘packs’, either for workshops or particular activities. The idea being that rather than everyone being stuck in the workshop all the time, that they come in, grab a drawer, and move to the event space, reducing workshop occupancy and allowing more space for those performing activities that require the workshop itself (laser cutting, sawing, etc.). We’ve got one set of roller drawers so far that I’ve made a start on organising, however at this stage it’s mainly storing screws and spare parts, so any ideas for such ‘packs’ would be a great starting point.
At present, the workshop can be accessed by wheelchair users, however all the benches are too tall to be functional. My first suggestions for adjusting the space itself would be to replace the wooden bench along the back wall (where the glowforge is atm), and adding a similar bench along the right hand side (where the network cabinet is at present, once it’s wall mounted). I’d be more inclined to make the replacement glowforge bench wheelchair height to allow wheelchair users to easily access the glowforge itself, although my concern at the moment is that the adjacent shelves may make it difficult to get in/out.
As @bolster pointed out on slack, “the current questions aren’t so much ‘where do we want to be’ but ‘what can we do now’ and ‘what’s stopping this from being a useful resource at the moment’, i.e. getting people back in and using the place, which then re-cultivates the community, which then makes vision-setting a more inclusive process”, so I think the best immediate action would be to consult the membership on how they use the space at present and what changes can be made to make it more useful for them. Some will simply not be interested in using the workshop however it may only take a few simple changes and/or additions to make the space more functional for a lot more people.
This has been in discussion for some time (since pre-expansion I think), but I believe the original plan was to limit access to the workshop to inducted users only using the maglock and keycards/an access code. I’m not sure this is a high priority right now, but it’s certainly something to discuss further once the workshop is fully operational.
This is more of a personal wishlist than anything else, but I’d like to get ideas/opinions on what equipment would be useful to have in the workshop, and particularly what work it will enable for the membership. For me, I’ve primarily used the workshop for woodwork so far so I’d like an electric sander (or even better, a belt sander), and I’m interested in producing content both personally and for educational purposes, so I’d like to fit out the workshop with AV equipment to enable streaming/recording.
As I pointed out in #facilities, the workshop seems to have issues with insulation causing it to be quite cold, particularly in the evenings and especially now that we’re coming into the winter. It was pointed out that this is likely down to the seals on the escape door and around the extraction chute for the glowforge. Whilst I can personally compensate for the cold with more layers, this also factors into the accessibility point as it will make working in the workshop particularly difficult for those with sensory issues.
In terms of immediate purchases, I see an eye wash station as being essential. I think someone mentioned the possibility of plumping in a permanent solution, but for now I think we should invest in something like this
Also more cans of compressed air. There can never be enough compressed air.
A suggestion was made previously in slack that it may be worth setting up a member’s glowforge account with a premium plan allowing members to access all the paid features of the glowforge without footing the bill for a subscription. Personally, I absolutely support the idea for 2 reasons: the glowforge design catalogue has a lot of (very nice) preset designs which will allow members to get started immediately, and I found the ability to create text and shapes directly on the glowforge app very helpful in reducing the barrier to entry. Most advanced users will likely still stick to custom vector designs, however I think the focus should be on making the equipment as accessible as possible and requiring members to get to grips with inkscape/illustrator as well as the glowforge itself adds a hefty additional hurdle to getting started.
This was discussed at length on slack at the start of the year, but there seem to be issues with power quality in unit 1. I’ve noticed the lights in the workshop flickering often although I’m not sure if there was ever a conclusion.
As mentioned previously, I’ve made a start on tidying and organising the workshop to make it easier to work in in the short term. One improvement I’d like to make probably this week is wall-mounting one of the whiteboards sitting beside the boiler room. Any input on where it should go would be much appreciated. I know getting the vacuum cleaner from under the stairs isn’t a huge task, but I’d also propose moving it’s home to the boiler room to make it more accessible given the workshop will need hoovered more than the rest of the space. Also, whilst everyone should be aware of the induction process at this point, it wouldn’t do any harm to add a sign to the workshop door stating that members must be inducted to use the workshop.
As mentioned on slack, I’ve hooked up one of the unused optiplex machines (the former VPS machine) on the electronics bench with a Ubuntu Live USB - if there are no other plans for it, I’d suggest making it another windows machine (with inkscape etc pre-installed) similar to the 3D printer PC to allow members to work with the glowforge without a laptop.
This has been a fucked-up year at Farset so we haven’t had time to properly organise the workshop and it’s contents. Something of this scale won’t work by just going in and moving shit, so discussing and planning ahead of time is essential, and given social distancing requirements, this will have to be as asynchronous as possible. After all this is done, the workshop should be an accessible space where anyone can easily find equipment and parts, and have access to tools with minimised barrier to entry. Farset is by the members for the members, so please have a say in how the space can work better for you.