2009 Oakland, CA

On Saturday March 28th we held our first Camp in Oakland, CA at the home of “Because We Can.org”, a design and fabrication shop in the SF Bay area which is run by Jeffrey McGrew, and Jillian Northrup. They have a great work space in which they perform the dual function of both designing, and then creating, everything from office decorations, to complete houses…They are very proficient in a number of different software packages, so they can cover a wide range of cutting tasks, and then integrate it all into complete projects.
We also had a good variety of Campers for this one. Guitar makers, race car fabricators, cabinet builders, sculptors, teachers, etc. The day started off with what has now become the major topic of interest for most people, “how to stay in business, until the economy gets back on track”. There were a number of different approaches suggested, and generally speaking from what we heard in both California Camps, the West coast contingent has been lucky enough to keep work in their shops , with only a slight “bump”in their work flow.
3 dimensional designing, and carving was a major interest as everyone has started to see the possibilities offered by the latest Vectric software, Aspire. In fact Russ Wood of Oregon was quite happy to point out that he paid for his copy of Aspire on his first job ! (Of course the bad news here is that Russ bought his ‘Bot with the idea of a leisurely retirement, and now he’s got a business on his hands again…) Some people wanted to use their machines for thermo forming mold making, while others wanted the artistic abilities of the program to build signage, etc. Jeffrey gave a demo of the program for those who hadn’t seen it’s possibilities yet.
Foam coatings, and finishing techniques were also pretty popular areas, as almost everyone there had one reason or another to generate shapes that weren’t flat in nature. Speaking of which Jeffrey and Jillian have come up with a number of ways to take “2 dimensional”ideas, and create what appears to be “3D”items from those shapes. And we also got into the “slicing”concept a bit for those who were thinking of cutting beyond their machine’s table limits.
Unlike many areas of the country those living in the SF Bay area can easily get Trupan locally. In fact the lumber yard within a few miles of the BWC shop will stock several thicknesses of Trupan on the racks all the time, ranging from .25″to 2.25” ! SO we got into the concept of using the material for sculpting as well as spoil board surfaces…
We also got to see some of the modifications the folks at BWC have made to their machine. As they were one of the last people to purchase a machine before the table was part of the package, they built one of their own, using the Shopbot version for their model. They’ve also added some clever mods to the dust collection pickups ( they do a number of unusual shapes so they needed complete versatility here), and their computer stand arrangement is going to make things a lot easier for them at the table as well.
And it sounds like we’ll see most of the people from this Camp as they stop by the booth at the upcoming Maker Faire in San Mateo at the end of May to catch up on the latest from Shopbot world headquarters…

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