Regular Member Meeting 2016 01 12

From HacDC Wiki

Time and Location

January 12th, 2016
Called to order at 7:47 pm by Enrique
Members present: Kevin C., Tom I., Bruce H., Don J., Enrique C., Julia L.
Members remote: Matt H.
Others present: Ian
Quorum met? No. 7/10

Approval of Previous Meeting's Minutes


  • Dan, Julia, et al. - Commissioning OpticalTableRobot as a working large-scale high-precision laser cutter under difficult conitions
  • Ethan Waldo - Extensive installing, testing, and configuring WebRTC as well as our PFSense firewall to bring first-class web conferencing capabilities to HacDC.

Director Reports

President's Report

Vice President's Report

Basement Policy

Would appreciate seeing HacDC willing to trust and back its volunteers after a success like the OpticalTableRobot. If additional safety or convenience features were wanted, encouring feature requests might have been nice to hear. Instead, the response included 'not cool' from some of the more sane, senior members of the community.

Honestly, the extent of such negativity at HacDC has exceeded my worst imagination, crushing hopes for the future. If not now, when will HacDC ever take appropriate steps to limit damage that can be done by people who don't know and don't care? This is why we can't have nice things.

Really, the key problem is that the shop areas have been a free-for-all. Too little decision-making or policing authority is given to those who have actually built them up. Consequently, too much is wasted arguing over how shop areas should be repurposed, trying to satisfy competing interests, or repairing damage caused by reckless endangerment. As a specific example, access to the shop areas should involve some kind of vetting procedure that alerts us to persons with special needs, and addresses severe problems quickly.

Some solutions to safety, prioritization, and access control problems in the basement include:

  • Lock the basement permanently, appoint Dan, a self-selecting committee, or the BoD, in charge of who has access or gets kicked out.
  • Transfer ownership of the basement and at least some tools to a new organization focused on representing a more specific mission.
  • State some shop rules, or appoint tool custodians, add a waiver to membership induction, ban members for violation and/or unwillingness to take responsibility.

All of these options have cavets, and/or require effective leadership, though not necessarily a new standing rule or bylaws ammendment. Seeing the membership unanamiously support solving the problem is more important than the specifics of any particular policy. Please dedicate some time toward considering this now, and especially at the annual meeting. Further, please consider running for a BoD position.

Again, this matters, and represents a crucial milestone at HacDC. Please dedicate some time and thought to our future.

With effective leadership and sound policies, we could have a good year, back on track as a real hackerspace.

OpticalTableRobot Repairs

Since the laser tube was found to be damaged or defective, fully re-commissioning our new OpticalTableRobot laser will involve:

  1. Fix the policy around the basement so volunteers can work with less politics.
  2. Replace the tube. Maybe try a cheap, expendable tube for the first few hundred hours.
  3. Stiffen the joints between axes. Not essential, but nice.
  4. Add OctoPi or similar web interface, for usability.
  5. Add walls for safety, to keep the collimated beam on the table.
  6. Add an acrylic lid, again for safety.

If the FullSpectrum's appearance and software stack really is crucially important, then we could literally adapt its control electronics to drive the OpticalTableRobot's systems. Bottom line, we can achive much better performance, usability, an especially durability.

With regard to budget decisions, it is important to consider that we have not only lost a $1k laser tube, but also about the same value in linear motion equipment. Both the long-life tube and extra linear motion equipment are technically non-essential, but would contribute greatly to durability. Keep in perspective that the laser tube is not the only casualty or near-casualty related to either of our laser cutting systems. Moreover, irreplaceable volunteer hours have gone into both. On that note, our custom exhaust system for the FullSpectrum machine was nearly trashed.

Commercial Laser Cutters

Off-the-shelf laser cutters are of throw-away quality with miniscule build area and lackluster precision. However, they have also become cheaply available from eBay. If someone not alreay working on the OpticalTableRobot is up to the task, we could allocate up to $500 for a ~$350 machine.

Treasurer's Report

  • Dwolla balance: $4245.00
  • Paypal balance: $4355.98
  • BB&T balance: $2120.83
  • Income from dues: $1450
  • Income from donations (not earmarked): $195
  • Income earmarked for HARC: $675

Secretary's Report

  • We gained a new member last month but we lost three members also.
  • We're at 38 members, therefore quoum is 10, majority is 20 and 3/4ths is 29.

Director-at-Large Reports



Project Awesome Reports


Nothing to report.


$37.89, More screws for basement printer.


Member Reports

  • Enrique: I brought in a brand new ladder for the basement; it was about $94 and I'd like to be reimbursed either by Expansion or by member vote from the general fund. The sharpies are a donation. The first of the Introduction to Linux events had pretty low turnout. The next one is Friday. I'm also facilitating a Kerbal Space Program meetup next week. CryptoParty discussions are starting up again but we don't have a fixed date yet.
  • mirage335: Finally clearing my schedule. TazMega actually working. On the other hand, time will tell if bringing similar tools or anything else to HacDC is worthwhile. Also, would like to take possession of some linear motion in the basement that has already been mistreted, for future attempts to duplicate the OTR's success elsewhere.

Old Business

New Business

  • EdTechDMV, a non-profit that hosts educational tech events for DC teachers and developers in the education software market, wants to hold classes at HacDC during business hours later this year. This is a problem that's come up before: How to grant access to the classroom to other organizations when a member can't be around to open/lock up. For example, we could make someone from that organization (Bill or Matt Z) a member and waive their dues, but that wouldn't be a "hardship" waiver exactly, and they would count towards quorum and not really be an involved member of HacDC... so another arrangement would be good, preferably more official than just handing them a key. - Enrique
  • Approve some kind of enforceable policy for limiting longstanding competition for and reckless behavior in basement areas. Or, at least pass a non-binding resolution to do so, as a show of support for our volunteers.
  • Approve $2k for fully re-commissioning the OpticalTableRobot.
  • Approve $500 for an off-the-shelf throw-away eBay laser cutter.

New Members

Ian D. voted in 5/5. (Don left)


Adjourned by at 8:57pm by Enrique