Lathes and Hexacopters and CNCs, oh my!
I’ve been wanting to go to Freeside for sooo long, but constraints of time and energy kept me from doing so until yesterday! I am quite happy to have finally visited. What is Freeside? They’re a non-profit space of technology and art that is an exemplary example of third culture collaboration with about 40 members. From their site:
Freeside Atlanta (est. 2009) is a makerspace located in the Metropolitan Warehouses in Atlanta, Georgia. We are a community of makers, tinkerers, engineers, programmers, artists, teachers, and lunatics.
The space is awesome, full of electronics and geekery, a digital media lab upstairs, a lounge and kitchen, the beginnings of a machine shop– you can read and see quite a lot about it at their website.
For me the commute to Freeside is over an hour, involving a transfer from bus to train and then a 5-10 minute walk. The walk is through a pretty sketch area of town, which I am brave enough to try during the day, but was spooky as crap once it got dark. Fortunately, a nice person I met at the space drove me to back to the station. Everyone is friendly, so I don’t expect to have trouble getting a ride back to the station when I go, which eases my nerves quite a bit.
I normally would have taken some pictures, but my phone went dead shortly after I arrived. I was a few minutes late for their Open House event, where they give tours to folks of the space and tell them a bit about what goes on there. I opted to socialize rather than go into the Basic Electronics seminar they held a little while after the tour. I met several cool people, though unfortunately, none of the 3D printing gurus were there. There was someone who had a couple 3D printers who was cool, but new to the space, and there was a younger boy who wants to 3D print some parts for his train set. I learned that even as a non-member I am welcome to use and tinker with the three Makerbots they have there and one of the members there has offered to print me out the parts I need once I email him their .stl files. After I get these parts, I was reminded there that I don’t need to wait until I have attached the hot end to the extruder to test the electronics out and make sure all that is configured properly and working. So that will be my next step after getting the parts. Then I will assemble the extruder and prepare to print. I also found out that they have plenty of spools and I can probably just grab one of theirs.
Of the other technological projects going on at the space, I am most excited about the work they are doing with a brain machine interface, whose name I have unfortunately forgotten. It was a sleek black EKG that also had sensors that would be placed on the face for detecting whether you were smiling or squinting or what not. One of their plans to use this is to control colored lighting and music in the digital media lab. Furthermore, the walls of the digital media lab are going to be painted with RGB art, a technique that causes the visible images to transform depending on the color of the light in the room. It seems like it will be an amazing experience!
I asked whether anyone at the space was looking for someone who does documentation. I was happy to find that they were enthusiastic to find out that was my main skill set. I’m looking forward to hopefully documenting as many of their projects as I can. I think this sort of volunteer work will improve my morale as I seek employment, and hopefully generate the experience I need to apply for jobs.
So I’m excited, and now that I’ve made the trip once, I think it will be easier to make the trip again. I hope to go multiple times a week and eventually become a member. Membership requires a sponsor, but hopefully someone will sponsor me!