Maker Monday: Dallas Makerspace

This is post 1 of 4 in the Maker Mondays series

Each of the long work tables in the main room have these power strips in the center for easy laptop use.

Each of the long work tables in the main room have these power strips in the center for easy laptop use.

All over the world, enclaves of creativity and invention are popping up. Groups of clever folk are building communities called hackerspaces or makerspaces, cooperative efforts wherein members contribute to a shared working space. They collectively work together to purchase large equipment that individuals would rarely be able to purchase on their own such as laser cutters and CNC machines, and they operate with a “do-ocratic” philosophy: Things don’t get done by talking about them, they get done by doing them.

In the DFW area, there are a few hackerspaces, but the most well-known is probably the Dallas Makerspace, or DMS. Established in 2011, it’s grown to a few hundred members and recently had to change venues to accommodate their growing population. Their space in a warehouse on Ladybird Lane near Walnut Hill and I-35 became too cramped with all of their equipment and members even after expanding into more of the same building, they finally picked up and moved to a larger place altogether in Carrollton just this month.  They’re still in the process of settling in and some areas were still under construction when we visited, but they assured us that they were ready and willing to accept guests.

The new location features over 16,000 square feet of usable space with which to host the wide plethora of classes and projects offered by DMS and its members. Among the current list of equipment are an industrial laser cutter, a plasma cutter, a CNC router and mill, welding and blacksmithing equipment, a collection of 3D printers, and woodworking equipment.  Their committees include topics like drone avionics, amateur radio, computer programming, photography, 3D fabrication, and robotics.  (Neither of these lists are exhaustive – there are many more features and classes.)

Members get a lot of perks, such as 24-7 access to the space for personal and business purposes, access to free classes (non-members often have to pay a small fee), and the collected knowledge and experience of hundreds of other makers. Many small businesses and inventions have taken off through DMS and other spaces like it, and there’s always room for more – especially with their new expanded place.

DMS President Andrew LeCody stresses that the culture of Dallas Makerspace is all about collaboration.  People love to share their knowledge and experience, and while there are extensive lists of classes offered ranging from basic data logic to advanced programming to acrylic painting to woodworking, much of the learning happens spontaneously.  Members working on projects can often easily find extra help, expertise, or educated opinions just by sticking their head into a common room and asking.  This kind of openness coupled with their expanding collection of high-end and hard-to-get-access-to tools makes Dallas Makerspace an ideal destination for every kind of tinkerer, inventor, and maker.

You can check out their website, and swing by their location on Thursday evenings from 7PM to 10PM or so for their open house. Memberships are available online and in person, and special discounts can apply to college students and family members.

 

The wood shop has enough room and access to be able to build full-scale furniture without a problem. Tools include a chop saw, a table saw, drill presses, hand tools, cordless electric tools, and lots of table and floor space.

The wood shop has enough room and access to be able to build full-scale furniture without a problem. Tools include a chop saw, a table saw, drill presses, hand tools, cordless electric tools, and lots of table and floor space.

 

Each member has their own storage box that can be kept at DMS. This avoids the dreaded "I don't feel like loading my car" procrastination excuse.

Each member has their own storage box that can be kept at DMS. This avoids the dreaded “I don’t feel like loading my car” procrastination excuse.

 

The main room has three very long tables fitted with power strips in the center (custom-created and welded by the members of DMS) to allow at least 60 people to operate at the same time in a communal environment.  There are plans for a "quiet room" with similar electrical and internet access, but with the caveat of no interruptions.

The main room has three very long tables fitted with power strips in the center (custom-created and welded by the members of DMS) to allow at least 60 people to operate at the same time in a communal environment. There are plans for a “quiet room” with similar electrical and internet access, but with the caveat of no interruptions.

 

DSC_0031_mod1

The craft room (still under construction) is not a scrapbooking-and-glitter space. Resin molds, subversive knitting, costume making, painting, sculpture, pottery, and much, much more is offered. Can’t find what you want? A request is easy to make and quickly acted upon.

 

Workspaces can host any number of hobbies.  Here, we see a quad-drone in the assembly phase.

Workspaces can host any number of hobbies. Here, we see a quad-drone in the assembly phase.

This is post 1 of 4 in the Maker Mondays series

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