What's happening now at Because We Can

Gears and more gears!

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We have been working steadily on the design and fabrication for the interior & exterior building of the Tortoise exhibit area for the Hattiesbug Zoo in MS. The latest completed pieces are the interactive gears going all around the complex.

This larger interactive gear piece goes on the outside wall of the main tortoise house, for kids and adults to play with.

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See a video of this piece in action...

Made of polypro, exterior grade woods and stainless steel hardware, this piece is made to survive the Mississippi weather and children alike.
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Smaller gears are in a cluster next to it, as a sign hangs above, as shown in this early drawing.

L:\BWC Bucket\projects\Miss Zoo\Photos\Hattiesburg\Zoo Education Center_V3_Jillian.pdf

The 'gear cluster' final designs look like this:

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Below is a photo of a 'gear cluster' completed, made of polypro, exterior grade woods and stainless steel.
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See a video of the gears in action...

The interior of the main presentation room will look like this, with another interactive gear wall under the flat screens in the back.

L:\BWC Bucket\projects\Miss Zoo\Designs\Interior Finishes\Zoo Education Center_V3_Jillian.pdf

Here is the final design for the interior interactive gear wall
C:\Users\Jillian Desktop\Documents\Gears Under Flatscreens_Install.pdf

And here is the final fabrication of that piece getting its last bits put in place at our shop
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Steering wheels in three sections of the interactive wall allow for the spinning of the gears
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See a video of this interactive gear wall...

Next up we are working on this small building pictured below, which will be the holding pen and watering hole for the Tortoises.
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Very soon, that building will look like this!
C:\Users\Jillian Desktop\Documents\Zoo Education Center_V3_Jillian.pdf

In production for the Hattiesburg Zoo

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We are in full production right now for a project that finished design phase last fall. Our design of the Galapagos Tortoise enclosure and adjoining "Discovery" Area for the Hattiesburg Zoo in Mississippi is coming to life!

Here Joel, from the BWC fabrication shop, puts together the final pieces for the exterior interactive gear wall.
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For scale, BWC Designer Be stands next to the main attraction of the exterior interactive gear wall. The whole thing will be painted and then final assembly and rotation testing will take place before it is shipped out.
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More gears for an interior interactive wall that will be in the main even space.
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This rendering of the exterior hallways of the zoo building shows the design for the window frames and arches that span the walkway.
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Here is the design for the window frames and spanning arches for the inside of the main events room.
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The final exterior arch. Each arch has a center medallion that is specific to that arch.
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The medallions are all different animals set on a gear scene.
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The final assembly will happen onsite, with stainless hardware and slotting made for the various widths of the walkway.
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The window and door frames are also made of durable exterior materials. The stainless hardware of the arches matches the stainless details and hardware on the window and door frames. Pictured here is the smallest window frame, fully assembled.
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The decorative carving details added to the brackets once again define our company, which I guess we could have named 'Why not', but settled instead on 'Because We Can'.
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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.

Ships, more ships and a Kraken

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We recently had the opportunity to work with the wonderful independent game company, 1st Playable, in Troy NY.

They needed some solutions for their large modular space, to define walkways and give the place a cohesive look that was fun and in their company culture. We created these free standing screens to delineate walkways

There are screens of different styles and sizes to accommodate how they move their desks and teams around

And of course there is a Kraken!

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We gave each ship screen stats, in case it ever needed to go into battle....

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Little boats were made with tall adjustable sails to shade the desks and computer screens from the powerful sun coming into the office

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And graphics were applied to the all glass meeting room to help with its privacy issues.

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See more on this project on our full project page here!

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.

Flat Pack Lanterns

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Before it gets too much later, we really need to show off these lanterns and camp decorations we made for Burning Man 2013! Our camp for The Serpent Twins project has grown, and with it, our camp facade.

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The winged benches, axes and medallions we made for last years camp. This year we went much larger with the light up camp sign and flanking solar lanterns.

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The solar lights inside the lanterns were able get a good charge all day, and then shine all night showing off their lattice patterns.

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Because of the overlapping panels, the lattice carvings threw really neat designs onto the ground.

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During the day the lanterns acted as a tall perimeter marker to the entrance of our camp.

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Dust collecting on the cut outs created a nice softening effect.

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Before the dust was able to get them, the lanterns looked like this in our shop.

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With fun designs, the lanterns are a pleasure to look at from afar or close up.

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Standing over 10ft tall, they give a grand presence!

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And, of course, we designed these to be flat pack for easy transport & assembly!

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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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