By Nick Raymond, engineering intern Photos by Gregory Hayes, photo intern
For this Intern’s Corner post, we (the MAKE interns) are going to give you a tour of our awesome new lab. It all began in a galaxy far, far away… or at least, in Sebastopol, CA (practically the same thing). We had just finished building and testing the Rubens Flame Tube from Volume 26 when the magazine’s managing editor, Keith Hammond, called us all together for a group huddle. In so many words, he said that the entire magazine department would be moving upstairs and that our current lab needed to be packed up and ready to move as soon as Volume 26 was sent off to the printer. Oh – he also mentioned that the location for the new lab was currently unknown.
Over the next two weeks, we managed to pack up the majority of the lab, but no one really knew where to move all the stuff. The old lab was filling up with boxes, and we were running short on room. Tyler, Eric, and Brian’s desks were lost beneath the rubble, and my desk had been disassembled so that we could put the finishing touches on the Drill Kart and take a few last minute photos for the article. And so it remained this way, with most of our tools and equipment boxed up and in piles while we awaited the moving date.
Late one evening, as we interns toiled in darkness and clutter, Dale Dougherty, the founder of MAKE, poked his head into the chaos of our dilapidated mess and asked, “Have you guys seen the space for the new lab yet? If you all have a minute, lets go and take a look.”
With Dale to guide us, we all marched upstairs to the second floor of the building. (I had heard stories about the second floor, a strange and mysterious area where no intern dared venture alone.) We walked through a dark hallway and past a pair of elevator doors, and then Dale turned around a sharp corner and stopped. He flipped on the lights and the stark white industrial-sized room came into view. The space was four times larger than the old lab and had tall ceilings and a row of windows on the north wall. Dale was the first to speak. “This will be the new Make Labs. What do you think?”
Over the next few weeks, all four of us worked to set up the new lab. We converted three small adjacent offices into mini workshops and a storage room for all of our building materials. The new lab is still a work in progress, but here is an initial tour the new and improved Make Labs.
Electronics Work Bench: This work area is specifically for soldering and working with anything electrical. In the old space, we always found ourselves asking, “Who has the soldering iron?” and most of the time it was hidden under a pile of garbage on someone’s desk or mistakenly put back in the wrong spot.
The area has three bins of electrical components that we use for most jobs which include resistors, diodes, transistors, potentiometers, breadboards, and of course LEDs. The best part of all is that everything is within arm’s reach. This is also where we assemble kits for the Maker Shed to put on display or fix the various gadgets that break around the office. It’s usually a little cluttered, but if you can find space to work, it has everything you need.
Tyler soldering a kit for the Maker Shed
Work Bench and Tool Pegboard: Some of the projects that we build in the lab require a decent amount of space for assembly. Others need a little finessing and the use of a vise and mallet. This section of the lab is set up so that we can have the majority of our hand tools right next to our work bench on the peg board. One bonus feature of the new lab is all the light that comes in from the windows. (The old lab had no windows, and sometimes felt like a nerd cave.) During midday the work bench gets flooded with sunlight. This is where all of the grinding, drilling, and hammering takes place, and for MAKE Volume 27, we even broke out the torch for a major project!
Nick using a torch to test a build for MAKE Volume 27
With the added floor space, we now have the option to expand our tool collection a bit. One tool that was too big for the old shop was a table saw. Three months ago, our friends at Bosch helped us out with our Drill Kart build by sending us a 36-volt cordless drill, and just this month they sent us one of their 10” portable jobsite table saws. It’s a perfect size for the new lab, (thanks Bosch!), and now we can start to tackle some of the larger woodworking projects… Now, if only we had a black and yellow single-bevel sliding compound saw…
CNC Room: One of my favorite spots in the new lab is the CNC room. Before the move, our lab was right next to all the magazine editors’ desks, so whenever we would turn on the ShopBot Tyro CNC router or the Epilog 60-watt laser cutter, the office would reverberate with noise. Now we have our own room just for CNC work, with each machine hooked up to a ventilation system. Most of the time you can’t even tell that we’re using the equipment if the CNC room’s door is closed.
The newest addition to the CNC room will be a MakerBot Thing-O-Matic. MakerBot Industries hooked us up with their latest and greatest, and we have been hard at work assembling the kit. (At posting time, Eric had successfully run the first print!)
Work Space: Sometimes we need to do paperwork or jump online while proofing manuscripts and contacting the project authors with questions. Upon entering the lab, there is a long counter space for setting up laptops or reading over the instructions for the next build. And of course, no office space is complete without your very own arcade system. It’s the perfect remedy for working out any inner-office aggression. Street Fighter 2, anyone?
A large part of working at MAKE is documenting the build process. One great idea came from Steve Hoefer, to make an overhead camera dolly rig using PVC pipe and skateboard bearings. This is a great new feature of the lab, so be on the lookout for time-lapse videos and overhead shots in the future.
Other highlights include our storage and supplies room (not the pile of boxes on the right) and our flammable substances storage cabinet filled with all the nasty things you don’t want spill. The ceiling-mounted electrical boxes are great.
To stay up to code, we also installed an eye wash station. Luckily we have not needed to use it yet, but we perform weekly safety drills to ensure that everyone knows how to operate the equipment.
Those are the highlights for now. Stay tuned to the blog for more Intern’s Corner posts to see what will be coming out of the lab.
Special thanks to Gregory Hayes for shooting the photos.
Gregory shooting in the lightbox