Jeffrey McGrew's blog

Bay Area Digital Fabrication Club meets this Thursday

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The Bay Area Digital Fabrication Club meet-up is meeting this Thursday.

Graciously hosted by BlueSprout, Oakland's new tech factory, the Club is an informal and fun user's group where designers, fabricators, and artsts share tips and tricks about these amazing tools. This month's meeting is all about cheap and/or free 3D modeling options for 3D printing & subtractive fabrication.

Remember, bring something you've made to show & tell, and get a chance to win a prize: $60 worth of 3D printing filament or CNC tooling, your pick!

Would love to see you there!

Our BlueSprout project, the Oakland-based business accelerator and industrial coworking space, got a write-up in the East Bay Express

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We are huge fans of Oakland, and so we are very excited to share with you the BlueSprout project we've been working so hard on. It just got a great write-up in the East Bay Express.

Go Oakland!

We're speaking at MakerCon

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We're honored to be included in the first Makercon next week. We're very excited to be giving a talk on Building Codes & Makerspaces: What you need to know to Hack that Space.

We'll be talking about all we've learned first hand in helping BlueSprout, the new Oakland-based hardware / business accelerator and industrial coworking space, get off the ground. There are a great deal of pragmatic and code issues that must be sorted to get to work (legally).

Later in the week, we'll also be at the Maker Faire, riding with the Serpent Twins. We'd love to see you next week!

Bay Area Digital Fabrication Club starting up!

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We're getting a local Digital Fabrication Club off the ground! Click here to join the Meetup.

It's an informal meetup to compare notes, enjoy some pizza and beer, and to help support each other's work. The group will cover the whole range of digital fabrication from subtractive (CNC) to additive (3D printing) to manipulative (Kuka arms!).

First meeting is this Thursday, April 17th. It's going to be at BlueSprout, the Oakland-based hardware, industry, and small business accelerator we've been helping start.

If you love digital fabrication as much as we do, we'd love to see you there!

See us at Autodesk University 2013

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Proud & honored to say that we'll be both presenting and attending at this year's Autodesk University. You can catch us on Tuesday at the panel we've organized, What Fabricators Want, or at our talk later that same day on using Project Dynamo and 123D Make together for fast digital fabrication.

We'll also be at the CASE Hackathon and generally out and about (cough Frankie's Tiki Room cough). Follow us @becausewecan where we'll be posting updates.

Hope to see you there for a great week of learning and networking.

Fall 2013 BWC Open House, this Friday November 22nd

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It's time to celebrate the recent addition of a new CNC Router to our robot army. So stop by and join us in the fun!

We are opening our doors for Because We Can's Fall 2013 open house.

We'll be starting early at 5PM and going until 8PM-ish.

We'll be dancing, drinking, snacking, talking, and showing off great projects recently completed and some currently underway. It's a great time to drop by and talk shop with us, too, if you want to learn more about what we do and how we do it.

Kids welcome, but it is a shop and a party. Lots of sharp corners. And they might learn some interesting new words!

Friday, November 22nd

5PM - 8PM

Just around the corner from Brown Sugar Kitchen, we're not hard to find.

All are invited, so come on by! We'd love to see you.

Meet us at the East Bay Mini-Maker Faire

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We'll be at this year's East Bay Mini-Maker Faire. Very excited to be included in a panel about Digital Fabrication and the future of building. We're honored to be joining the amazing Smith|Allen Studio and Sheet Metal Alchemist in the Maker Skills room at 2:30 PM.

We wanted to do something for East Bay Mini-Maker Faire, because it's such a great local event, but have been too busy to organize something of our own. So when they asked if we'd be on the panel, we jumped at the chance! Hence the short notice, as the event is this Sunday. Fun fact: all the Makers on the panel will also be 'Maker Couples' as Smith|Allen & Sheet Metal Alchemist are both run by a creative couple, just like us.

So come and see us at the Faire!

We Use and Support Open Source Software

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We here at Because We Can are big fans of open source and sharing. We love Blender, the open source 3D modeling software. We donate money to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. We release almost all our work under a creative commons licence, even our business plan. But one area you might not know is that we directly fund the development of modules for Drupal, the open source content management system.

While Drupal runs this public site you're reading now, we also use it 'behind the scenes'. We rolled our own agile production management / project management / Lean-ERP system using Drupal. Drupal, being very modular, can be extended and configured into whatever you need it to be. While we call this system "The Wiki" it's so much more than that. It's become a cornerstone of our business and how we work. And a big part of how we work is keeping track of time.

In the best traditions of Open Source, we reached out to one of the maintainers of a Drupal Module that's critical to our in-house system: Time Tracker. We hired Chris Hertzog of Codework Designs to help add some features we needed to the module. These features are then shared with everyone, given back to the Drupal community, so everyone wins. Which we really dig, as it's our goal to make the world a more interesting place.

Time Tracker is a nice, lightweight system that lets you track and log time on whatever Drupal Nodes you wish. Using it, we made a system that shows everyone in the company exactly where we are on all of our projects, how much time has been spent, how much time is left in the budget, and who's doing what and when. And it's all woven right into the same 'wiki page' that we use to manage and track information about the project. One lean, powerful place to help keep us on time and on budget so we can focus on what we love to do: making great things for great people.

Shopbot Acquired. Bonus x1000. Again.

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So just a hint over eight years ago, we ordered a Shopbot. Bragging about it is actually the very first post on this blog. We got it running, named it Frank, and started making stuff.

First we made stuff for ourselves, then our friends and family, then friends of friends, and next thing you know a year after Frank arrived in our lives we quit our day jobs and jumped in with both feet. The last seven years have been very busy indeed! Since then we've delivered on many wonderful projects for some really great people and companies.

So I'm very proud to say that we just ordered another Shopbot. Slightly larger than Frank, but twice as fast, twice as strong, and much stiffer and more accurate. Technically, it's a PRS Alpha 96x60x12 with a 4 HP spindle. Shopbot has been one of the best vendors we've ever worked with, and we've very excited to get one of their new awesome machines!

Frank is far from being sent to pasture, however! He's busily cutting a job as I post this, and after eight years is still a wonderful, capable, dependable machine. We're going to run them side-by-side, in parallel. In time, we'll probably convert Frank into something that's even better for big 3D carving, maybe even convert him into a 4 or 5-axis machine maybe.

Now the only problem we have is what to name the new robot. If you've got a great idea for a name please let us know!

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