Protohaven Member Forum

Classes / lectures SIG

For those of you who were at the meeting last night and were interested in discussing how we can start having lectures and or classes, here’s the place.

I helped run dorkbot Pittsburgh for several years. I don’t think people understand how hard it is to get speakers and crowds on a routine basis. We held dorkbot at a bar with food service and we still had trouble getting a speaker or a crowd some months.

I would be interested in helping get this kicked off!

Maybe we could host a 3 part lecture series over three months with industry related topics. If it goes well, we can extend the program out by another x months indefinitely.

What “industry” should we start with?

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I used to be a part-time member of the Home Brew Robotics Club in the bay area. They have had monthly talks for at least the past 20 years continuously. The way that they have done this is to leverage their own members and friends of members to give talks. This tends to work well because they have highly skilled members. I ran San Francisco Microcontrollers for a while and helped out with the San Francisco Robotics Society. That strategy worked at SF Microcontrollers because we had some really talented people building things there. This didn’t work at SF Robotics Society. The members there were mostly hobbyists who didn’t have a lot of skills. When I could get a good speaker in, the meetings had lots of people. Otherwise, there would be a core group of maybe six or seven.

The approach that I took at SF Microcontrollers was basically “OK, whose shop are we going to next month?” (We didn’t have a fixed meeting place) Sometimes that person would show off something that they were working on. Other times I would get someone else to present or find someone who had a friend that didn’t normally come to the meetings who could present a project that they were working on.

At all of the meetings that I mentioned, we would have a ‘show and tell’ after the talk. Often that ended up being just as interesting as the main presentation.

I have the feeling that the members of Protohaven are the type of people who have lots of skills and could present some interesting things. This would be a good way to drive people to the space, where they would see how the shop was progressing and would start to build a community around Protohaven.

I’m too busy right now but volunteer to present something late in the summer. Who else among our members could present something that people might come in to see?

BTW Jessie, I’m not trying to detract from what you are trying to set up. Industry lectures sound awesome.


The more events and meetups we have in the shop the better!

I’m working on a new version of my el-wire class, focused on costuming, both for Halloween and cosplay, it’s something I’d like to teach in July/August so people have enough time to actually make costumes before the holidays. It’s a ~4 hour class where you learn not only the secrets of soldering el-wire but the design and fabrication issues related to el-wire and costuming. Students go home with a controller, some el-wire, and an info packet. For this class I’m considering an option where for an additional fee, students can also take home a soldering iron, wire cutters, an x-acto knife, and the other tools needed to work with el-wire.

I’m not sure where we are on inventory for that, but it should be easy to round up a dozen soldering stations and tools if we can pick through the TechShop loot box. These tools would remain at Protohaven, I would be selling (at my cost) the soldering kits for people doing the take home.

This is a bit of my self-employement work, so I’d charge enough for the class to get paid for my time, how do we work out what Protohaven charges? Maybe we rent a space/room for $x/hr with additional costs/deposit if we want to use Protohaven tools?

My f/t contract ends next week and I’m ready to put some classes on my schedule for late Spring / early Summer.

I’d like to do an el-wire class, if someone can point me at which bin has all the soldering gear from TS I’m happy to sort/test things. There are a couple of other classes I’d like to teach that mostly need a projector and speakers, I can also help set those up if we have some AV gear in storage.

How do we want to charge students and handle funds? Should this go through the web site? The el-wire class has a component cost per student (that I can buy and get reimbursed), but there’s also the cost of my teaching the class and the overhead that should go to Protohaven.

Scheduling May and June projects, do we have a system yet for teaching not-qualification classes yet? Or should we just make it up as we go on the first few classes?