Now we know the answer to the age old question:
Q: How many Kickstarter backers does it take to make a makerspace?
A: 247, obviously.
And talk about feeling the love, look how far we made it toward our first stretch! We’re so excited we may extend our membership ages to include embryos and the walking dead. It's plain and simple, we love you! (It's also peanut and complicated, but lets not go there...)
But seriously, folks, we're filled with honest and sincere appreciation for every dollar, every shared message, every email. THANK YOU for helping us do this... As Jim Rohn says, "Whatever good things we build end up building us." You have +100 Karma for the rest of the year.
To follow our explorations as we venture onward (or, even better, to join us!), please visit us at www.decaturmakers.org. Cheers!
Woo Hoo! Thanks to our amazing backers who helped us reach our $15K goal!
That got us the funds to finish construction on our space so we can officially open our doors to our incredible community!
Thank you! Thank you! THANK YOU!!!
But... there's... more... More time, that is, to help us meet our 1st S-T-R-E-T-C-H goal of another $10K! Your maker love in the form of additional pledges will help us create a large door opening that'll allow for bigger projects & equipment to come in and out of the space, AND we'd like to install a computer server rack to equip our members with some awesome technology.
We have until this Thursday evening at midnight... the Eve of Halloween! We'd so appreciate you helping us scare up just a bit more money!
To entice you, we've added several new classes since we smashed our initial goal:
A cool kid-friendly "Robot Can Build" instructional workshop... Kids will build whatever robot they dream up in their imaginations with all things metal (materials provided). Instruction will include gears and wheels to make these little robots move and twirl, as well as lights for extra pizzazz.
"Build a Little Free Library" workshop with your family... A great class to get the family working together on your very own Little Free Library, a hot item in the City of Decatur! (materials provided).
But also peek to your right for other NEWLY ADDED rewards!
Help Kickstart Atlanta’s first all-ages makerspace!
Located in Decatur, Ga., Decatur Makers is a place and community where people share tools, technology and know-how to tinker, invent, build and make cool stuff.
It began as the mad vision (mad, I tell you!) of a few, then became a grassroots movement. Now it’s a bona fide building, partially outfitted and equipped. With a little help from you, this all-ages makerspace will be open — and making — by the end of the year.
First, a little context. This will be quick.
Decatur Makers is the collection of hackers, programmers, welders, carpenters, mechanics, artists, builders, designers, scientists, teachers, entrepreneurs, students, adults, kids, and seniors creating this makerspace.
Our space is an unused gym at 605 W. Ponce de Leon Avenue, across from the Post Office, graciously provided to us by First Christian Church of Decatur. Inside, makers will destroy and create using an array of materials, from metal to microchips and tools ranging from woodworking equipment to 3-D printers to soldering irons and recycled art.
An initial fundraising effort enabled us to get the structure ready – replacing the roof, building out the interior, and adding little luxuries such as heating and air conditioning. The Kickstarter campaign will propel us to a point where all of the fundamentals are in place — and we can open a functional facility to the community.
As they say in the South… maybe elsewhere, too… if it’s true, it ain’t braggin’
And it IS true – the makerspace is a big deal for Decatur and the surrounding area. Here’s why:
- It connects a community, through physical space and shared knowledge.
- It gives young people a reason to put down the device and pick up a skill.
- It gives old people (not young like you!) a chance to learn and share.
- It enhances the area’s reputation as an inventive, what’s-next community.
- It’s just cool – like, come on, where else would you go to build a robot, write an app, or create a movie?
So far, so many have given time, cash and love to this grassroots effort. Among them: the Decatur Education Foundation, the City of Decatur, the Downtown Development Authority … plus, many local businesses and individuals who’ve generously shared their resources … and scores of volunteers who’ve given talent and time.
So, why a Kickstarter campaign?
Our $15,000 goal will finish off two crucial areas – building construction and equipment. Some details:
Building Construction ($5,000)
- Complete the construction of our woodworking shop and electronics room
- Install a dust removal/ventilation system (to make the woodworking areas play nice with the rest of the building)
- Install an RFID system to maximize the safety of this kid-friendly, all-ages environment, as well as keep track of tools and equipment.
- Purchase table saw (SawStop) for woodworking
- Purchase essential items for planning and collaborating (rolling workbenches, whiteboards, tables and chairs and AV equipment).
And if we surpass the $15,000 goal, we only make Decatur Makers better.
Stretch Goal 1 (another $15,000)
- Secure servers to host virtual machines for programming projects, as well as to host databases and control systems for operating the space safely and securely
- Add spot cooling to the computer server room
- Complete the next stage of the architectural plan: Open the front wall of the building for a level, wide-access entrance, so larger projects can be moved in and out. (Thinking big … literally!)
Stretch Goal 2 (another $20,000)
- Build out our outdoor metalworking shop with welding equipment, a forge, and maybe even a plasma cutter!
- Enhance the machine shop with advanced CNC capabilities.
Not in the Atlanta area?
Decatur may not be the center of your universe, but maker love is worldwide. If you believe in what we’re trying to achieve, consider gifting a membership to Decatur Makers or vouchers for classes to makers you know would appreciate it. Don't know anyone in our area? We will make sure it goes to a deserving starving hacker, who will send you a heartfelt thank you.
You'll surely get a nice warm feeling inside, like using a power tool safely. Pay it forward!
In case you’re insatiably curious about Decatur Makers…
Decatur Makers is taking a broad view of making to include both digital and traditional work. Project types will cover the spectrum — electronics, robotics, programming, 3D printing and other digital fabrication, as well as more traditional activities such as metalworking, woodworking, and arts and crafts.
An impressive tool collection is taking shape: A very nice table saw, a 12-watt laser cutter, a 3D printer (TAZ Lulzbot 2.0), a kiln, lots of small hand tools, some electronics kits, an analog oscilloscope, a vinyl cutter, underwater robots, etc.
You might identify with Decatur Makers’ core values — Build. Share. Explore.
Build. People in our community create, tinker with, and invent things in both the physical and digital worlds. Our community is entrepreneurial and innovative. We want to invent new products and build small businesses.
Share. We love to learn new things and teach people what we know. We share our knowledge with classes, intergenerational mentorships, and informal social collaborations.
Explore. We are curious and creative. Sometimes what we make serves no practical purpose except the pleasure of creating. It may be art or just doing something for fun. We also want to explore and understand the world around us by using science, mathematics, engineering and technology.
Cool things we want to do once we have a space...
We want to do what our community wants to do! Deciding what we'll build, share and explore will be driven by our Decatur Makers members.
The scuttle-butt at our general meetings so far has been that scientists hope to begin working on bio-engineering projects, and our web designers look forward to having virtualization servers. Hackathons, TEDx nights, cos-play (costume construction), wearable technology, Franken-bike rebuilds, special effects movies, Fix-it Outreach events, programming apps, furniture construction, pottery, jewelry and art projects are all part of the discussion.
Decatur and surrounding areas are already home to a thriving robotics community. More than a dozen FIRST Robotics teams, at different levels, are in various schools and homes. We'd love to be a resource for them as they build their competition 'bots and practice gracious professionalism!
Decatur Makers love to share what they know. We'll also be teaching an assortment of cool classes such as:
Furniture Build with pallets: small groups guided in constructing beautiful rustic furniture from simple wooden pallets, working with our friends at the Lifecycle Building Center.
Learn Arduino: step-by-step introduction to an entry level electronics microcontroller board. Control lights, sensors, motors, speakers, and learn to program them all.
Introduction to 3D printing: Create your own designs or explore collections online and print them in 3D. Make a replacement for that one little part you just can’t find anywhere.
Make your own vinyl stencil: Style and cut intricate vinyl stencils to create signs and banners.
Build a Tetrahedral Kite: Alexander Graham Bell’s other clever work (in addition to the telephone) involved designing a kite that will fly despite it’s massive size. Make a kite of your own.
Build a musical instrument: learn basic woodworking and apply the fundamentals of sound to make your own instrument.
LED throwie: receive instruction in soldering techniques and hands-on direction on assembling a light-up toy.
Cool things we’ve already done without a space…
Web Maker Party 2014: Decatur Makers sponsored the Web Maker Party at the Decatur Recreation Center. Dozens of folks joined us who were interested in all things related to making on the web. There were several short presentations and small group workshops.
Decatur Book Festival 2014: We partnered with Big Nerd Ranch and the Children’s Museum of Atlanta to put on the Makers tent at this years Book Festival. Over two days, our program included bee keepers, whiskey distillery, home beer brewing, quilting, woodworking, the making of an iOS app, and more. Plus we helped the Little Shop of Stories convert a small bus into their bookmobile!
Decatur Makers Community Meetings 2014: We gathered monthly as a community for any interested people to discover what we're about, get the latest news and ask questions. Then we broke into groups to brainstorm projects for us to showcase at the Atlanta Maker Faire 2014. Initially, we had to meet at the Decatur Recreation Center, but once our space was cleaned out, we began meeting in and around our space. Projects we're currently completing include building a Rubens tube, a couple of huge SOMA cubes, a human-sized foosball table, two cars for the Power Racing Series, and more.
Decatur Arts Fest 2014: We put together 150 cubic foot cardboard boxes, painted and constructed a 22’ x 11’ puzzle of the City of Decatur logo… Minecraft-style! This maker project also involved some creative engineering. With native Decatur bamboo, cement, zip ties and duct tape, Decatur Makers crafted a clever, secure frame to hold this 3D build. A large bamboo hammock was also crafted to carry all those boxes from the Kids Arts Fest, where they had been prepared, to the Decatur Makers booth where the puzzle was completed. Thanks to the Decatur Arts Alliance for making this happen!
Decatur Lantern Parade 2014: From brainstormed idea to completed project, our 15-foot Caterpillar Lantern transformation was a team effort. With a range of skill sets from lighting/electrical, structure design, and crafts, the Decatur Makers team launched this cool insect into a river of lighted art that was the Decatur Lantern Parade.
PC Build Day 2014: A great turnout unfolded at the Decatur Recreation Center as we held a Build-A-PC class and unveiled our 3-D Printer. With people enjoying a chance to mingle with other local makers, several PCs were built from scratch and an octopus came to life on our 3D Printer (which we purchased, thanks to a "beer grant" from the Decatur Business Association).
Designorama 2014: We joined other STEAM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Arts, Math) groups showing kids at a local charter school science event how different items make different sounds when screaming from inside a balloon.
Cleanup Days 2014: Our first Cleanup Day had dozens of makers carrying out over a ton of garbage from inside our space, including loads of wall paneling. Others built a drain behind the building to help redirect water that was getting inside. The larger Decatur community also helped out as the City sent a sani crew and truck to haul stuff away. Other Work Days had folks putting up wall board, plumbing bathrooms, painting, working electrical, cleaning up brush and cutting limbs, digging a french drain, and more.
Atlanta Science Festival 2014: We had the messiest booth in the Maker Village, as we showed kids of all ages how vibrations change our world with our dancing non-newtonian fluid on a speaker and screaming balloons filled with bolts. Thanks to the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation for funding the maker area.
Decatur Wine Festival 2013: The Decatur Makers brainstormed and created an enormous wooden structure that held almost a case of 4’ tall blow-up wine bottles. This became the “selfie spot” of the Festival! Thanks to local support from The Imperial and the Decatur Arts Alliance for donating funds for materials.
Atlanta Mini Maker Faire 2013: Our community built a non-newtonian liquid hopscotch course and a wine bottle cutter (that cut glass using hot and cold water). They also explored the science behind a theremin enhanced skeleton.
Decatur Arts Fest 2013: We shared a booth with Decatur High School’s robotics team, which showcased their robots while we shared the joy of building 3D origami flexagons.
A little more on our smokin' hot rewards
- $5 - ROUND OF APPLAUSE -- Can you hear us? We're standing up and cheering for you! Go ahead and pat yourself on the back. Your support means so much.
- $10 - THANK YOU NOTE FROM A YOUNG MAKER -- You will receive a hand-made, one-of-a-kind work of art made by one of our young members. Tear stains of joy will dot the message of thanks.
- $25 - A $50 VOUCHER FOR CLASSES -- Your $25 pledge gets you $50 towards any Decatur Makers classes. What a deal! Check out a list of potential classes in the section above. Have an idea for a class? Let us know!
- $30 - HELP PAINT WRITE-ABLE WALL -- We need a big space to work on when we brainstorm projects. You'll make it happen! Once we get our wall painted, your name will be drawn into a big work of art that will be our first creative project. Then we'll post that to our website home page! Inspired.
- $60 - DECATUR MAKER T-SHIRT -- Just for kickin' with us, you'll get an awesome limited edition T-shirt that's ONLY available during our Kickstarter campaign.
- $75 - A $100 VOUCHER FOR CLASSES -- Your $75 pledge gets you $100 towards any Decatur Makers classes. What a deal! Check out a list of potential classes in the section above. Have an idea for a class? Let us know!
- $75 - FLY A DRONE -- You'll learn to pilot the Parrot AR Drone 2.0 quadricopter from launch to landing. While recording your flight around our space, you'll capture video of the area and you/your family on the ground waving excitedly at the camera!
- $100 - CUSTOM HEXAFLEXAGON KIT with YOUR NAME ON IT, GOOD KARMA & THANK YOU NOTE FROM A YOUNG MAKER -- The custom Decatur Maker Hexaflexagon you'll make will flip round and round infinitely. The good karma you'll receive will go on infinitely. The personalized thank you note will send you infinite maker love. Peace.
- $100 - A $150 VOUCHER FOR CLASSES -- Your $100 pledge gets you $150 towards any Decatur Makers classes. What a deal! Check out a list of potential classes in the section above. Have an idea for a class? Let us know!
- $200 - ARDUINO BOOTCAMP -- Get your own Arduino. Learn about your own Arduino. Program your own Arduino. It'll take 4 hours and will blow your mind.
- $400 - SUPPORTER LEVEL INDIVIDUAL MEMBERSHIP + 2 MONTHS -- You'll get an annual membership PLUS 2 extra months. That's $160 savings! What a deal! Only available during this Kickstarter campaign. To see pricing for our regular memberships click here.
- $500 - THROW A "MAKER PARTY" -- You will celebrate with a two-hour "Maker Party" at the space for up to ten guests, ages 12 and older. Think kids' birthday party, ladies night-out, or couples get-together. You bring the group, we'll bring the fun!
- $900 - SUPPORTER LEVEL FAMILY MEMBERSHIP + 2 MONTHS -- You'll get an annual membership PLUS 2 extra months. That's $150 savings! What a deal! Only available during this Kickstarter campaign. To see pricing for our regular memberships click here.
- $1,500 - CUSTOM BUILT PC -- This would be a one-of-a-kind custom built PC with Linux. Plus our maker builder will sign the case with a personalized thank you.
- $2,500 - SPONSOR A MAJOR TOOL -- You buy us a large tool such as a saw stop, server, or 3-D Printer, and we'll put your name on it. Then we can say, "Hey, let's use the Frank.", or "The Cheryl would be a good option for this build."
- $5,000 - SPONSOR A CNC ROUTER -- You buy us a CNC Router and you will route your way into our hearts. Plus we'll put your name on it so we can silently thank you every time we use it.
To finish up, we'd like to send a shout-out to our videographer extraordinaire Ron Borden of Borden Media, Inc.! He very graciously made our amazing video just because he liked what we are trying to do. Thanks, Ron! You rock!
Risks and challenges
As with all new organizations, we face the challenge of reaching a high bar quickly (bringing our space online by a target date). And as with all makerspaces, we will have to work to keep tools and technology in good working order and current.
In addition, Decatur Makers has one important transition ahead: Going from a grassroots endeavor to a full, stand-alone nonprofit.
We’re confident we’ll be able to meet each of these challenges. First, support for this first all-ages makerspace continues to grow almost weekly, both in breadth and depth. People get the idea, and they’re getting behind it, which is a major reason we were able to exceed our initial fundraising goal and make so much progress on the space.
Second, we have a valuable partner in the Decatur Education Foundation, a well-established 501(c)(3) nonprofit that is currently serving as our fiscal sponsor. DEF will be instrumental in helping us make the transition to our own non-profit status — and it doesn’t hurt that the Foundation’s offices are right next door.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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