Vote to continue work completion on CNC area

In March there was a vote that passed to complete the CNC area. You can read the entire thread here!topic/cincihackerspace/OBw7YK-TEZg or read my summary in bold below.

I made a proposal at the meeting last night on a plan to get our CNC area finished and ready for certification and classes. I have already talked with Dustin and Brad and they are on board with helping to get these things accomplished. I am giving us a time frame of 4 months (through the end of July) with the hope we can finish sooner.

Here is what I propose:

  • Finish the CNC machine by finishing up the wiring, endstops, and auto squaring.

  • Organize and clean the space so everything is easy to use.

  • Create/make a CNC station to hold the computer and all tools that you would need while using the CNC.

  • Work with Dustin to create a clear path to certification along with direction and materials to reference while using the machine.

  • Large sign to display the steps needed to have a successful cut

  • Videos to show each step

  • Written handbook to also provide these steps

  • Have a budget of $200 to be able to purchase miscellaneous items like small tools, endstops, etc (I will provide receipts at the end of the project to show all money spent on the project.) This budget was above and beyond the Warden budget

If you have any questions or input on this proposal please let us know as we are open to suggestions.

  • John2pt0 suggested that we enclose the CNC tower

Not long after this passed Brad, Dustin, & I got to work and started working on layout designs for the CNC area. In our floorplans we included using the “Medium CNC” that I currently own that sits next to the dust collector (we do not plan for it to sit there). After some members saw that we were including this machine in our layout they expressed concerns for having a member owned tool in our space that our group would be responsible for any maintenance/repairs. Once these concerns were expressed all further planning was halted until we could figure out a solution that our membership could agree on. This was brought up at the meeting last night and below are a list of some pros and cons that were mentioned. I am for having both machines so I have provided rebuttals for the Cons listed below. I encourage everyone to also voice their opinions in this thread so we can have a good discussion on how we should move forward.


  • We only need one large CNC because we have a limited amount of space.

  • With a new layout and some organization it’s my opinion that this space will be much more utilized than before.

  • We do not want to be responsible for a machine that breaks that isn’t ours.

  • If someone misuses a machine it’s going to break no matter what. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Hive’s CNC or mine. The machine we are talking about keeping has cheaper parts (spindle, steppers, drivers) and would be cheaper to fix if any damage occurred. To date I believe most of the damage that has been caused on our CNC has been due to lack of training. Hopefully having a proper training course will curb any future misfortunes.

  • We do not want to spend any money on upgrading any machine when it could leave the space at any time.

  • I do not think we should spend ANY money updating this machine. Also as long as I’m giving training classes and the machine is getting used I have no plans to remove/sell it.

  • Some members believe the Hive should get away from having any member owned machines.

  • In the past we have been very open to non Hive owned equipment being on loan to our members. If we decide to remove all non Hive owned equipment then at that time we can discuss if this machine is needed and if we would like to purchase it or a similar machine.


  • Having two machines will make it much less time consuming to give classes to multiple people. In our classes we plan for people to be able to each make their own item (yet to be determined) to bring home. I’ve taken a CNC training class at The Manufactory and it’s kind of a buzz kill to wait on everyone to make their first cuts.

  • Sometimes using the CNC can be time consuming and cuts can take hours at a time. Having two machines would allow for multiple people to work at once OR allow one person to be making two cuts at once.

  • When new members come to our space it seems that there is a large percentage interested in learning about the CNC. If this trend continues along with some community outreach to teaching classes, it’s my opinion that we may have a real need for multiple machines.

At the end of the day I’m not asking for this machine to be here permanently, though I’m not against it either. I would just like the ability to continue working on our original plan to make our CNC machines safe to use, organize the area, create a curriculum, and hold regular classes for current and prospective members so everyone can properly use these machines. Once everything is complete, and after several months of training and classes we will have a better idea if a second large machine is really needed. If it’s not getting used and just collecting dust I’m the first person that will suggest that we should remove it. It’s easier to keep it here for this trial than to find another one down the road after it’s gone and we decide we want it.

What I had gathered from the previous vote was that pretty much what is being described was addressed in the last vote and that Brad, Coy, Dustin, and other members willing to pitch in were going to do a trial with the new floor plan. Things I noticed that were different was the idea of making some training/ how to videos that seem like it would be a hell of an idea and if they work out well it could really be a new way of info when working with the more complicated machines. The other thing I was already under the assumption on was that during the testing phase of the new floor plan with dual cnc tables that ordinary components that could fail the same as the large CNC and that the failed component would just be replaced. Lastly the end stops and emergency stops I was under the impression were to be installed.
Now onto what the vote is about…and or to clarify…
Is the vote just to clarify the few previous cnc votes and go ahead with the plan that Coy, Brad, Dustin, and other involved with the layout of the project. Are costs from here out only to cover ESSENTIALS and not cover consumables as well as the 2nd cnc is pretty much ready to go already and will not need a bunch of additional money for motor drivers, steppers, etc. (basically the unit is 99% ish ready and just needing the final hooking up of safety stuff.) Im assuming that the 200 is to fnish the wiring of the CNC’s and sensors needed for operation.
I know the recent CNC votes had a lot of discussion that was a little heated during the vote at the meeting and I just wanted to throw out what I had taken in from them. I believe with the videos and trial period it would be a true test of of how much the machines will be used since to date a lot of the training has not been “official yet” and with that if a bunch of people learn the equipment and we could get a better understanding of the use the machines will see. If Brad is on the same page with this and its what I believe has already been covered in the back and forth at the meetings it is something im ok with. Just so everyone is on the same page and that you are not wanting/going to build above and beyond what is needed for the testing/trial that was talked about and what has been already covered in votes. Sorry if I rambled on I will be down at the hive today to finish power tool racers and get them boxed up for shipping really tired right now and figured I would just be the first to ask where the votes from before already stand and what has not been covered if anything. I did miss a meeting or 2 the past few months so I might have missed something.

Let’s see if I can provide a summary after being at the meeting this week…

  1. In March there was a vote that authorized Coy, Brad, and Dustin to spend $200 to get the big CNC finished up in preparation for some training classes.
  2. These members have fixed up the big CNC and have been working on training plans (including video!) plus updated CNC area floor plans.
  3. The training plans and the new floor plan both include use of Coy’s “medium CNC,” which is currently sitting by the scrap wood shelves.
  4. If this current vote passes, the training plans will move forward and the “medium CNC” will become a member-owned “loaner” to the hive.
  5. Like other member-owned loaners, basic wear/tear maintenance would be paid by hive $.
  6. Coy is not asking for $ to finish or upgrade this machine.
  7. After a few months, we can vote on whether to keep this machine as a loaner, buy it from Coy, or tell him to take it home.1. The main concern brought up by members including Jon and Ryan is that the Hive is trying to move away from member-owned loaners.
  8. General member-owned loaner negatives:
  9. may not be the best fit for Hive, vs equipment that was purchased specifically for hive
  10. spending hive $ on maintaining and sometimes upgrading non-hive stuff
  11. possibility that member will take it home unexpectedly
    Feel free to correct any mistakes I made. My take is that moving away from “loaned” equipment is an excellent goal, but it may be worth it to make an exception here to get the classes moving.


Simple solution to address the member-owned-loaners concerns #2 and 3, expressed by Mike above:

Lease member-owned equipment that the hive will be responsible for maintaining.

If Coy’s CNC is leased to the hive for a specified period of time, the hive is guaranteed use of the equipment. Any mantenance and repair costs would be distributed over a known minimum life expectancy (the lease term) of the equipment. This isn’t really that different from how things work in the real world. The hive can lease it for a $1 - perfectly legal to do so. Doing this makes it crystal clear the expectations of Coy in terms of how long his equipment stays at the hive, what can happen to it at the end of the lease period.

You can solve logistical issues. You can’t solve power struggles between members who have different visions for the space. That’s really what this is about.

I agree with Dave that there are a lot of solutions for having member-owned equipment here if that is what we decide we want as a group. It’s my understanding that most other hacker spaces have member owned equipment, including I3 where they also have a member owned CNC (8 min mark). We have focused on the disadvantages of member owned equipment but there are some advantages as well. I’m very indifferent about this topic and think it should be discussed and could possibly be decided on a case by case basis and voted on by the group. Having a blanket policy saying we will never have these kind of tools seems a little shortsighted. With that being said, I totally agree that it does not make sense to upgrade someone else’s equipment unless it can easily be removed and repurposed or sold. As far as repairs go I think that is just something you deal with. If we bought a new tool and repaired it we are still out for the repair cost so why does it matter who made the initial investment? Repairs are just something that goes along with maintenance of all equipment. If the member who loaned equipment decides they need to have it back and it’s something that the members actively used I do not see why at that time we would not vote to replace that tool with Hive funds.

To me, it feels like Dave’s comments about this possibly being more than just about loaned tools is correct. As long as the CNC area gets finished in a timely fashion (it’s taken almost 3 years to get to this point), becomes more safe, organized, and we have better/easier training/certification I will be happy no matter how it happens.


As usual, Dave immediately strikes the heart of the matter. This vote, like the last two related to the CNC, isn’t about the merits of the proposal. It’s again become a question of whether the person putting the most work into a group project should override the opinions of the rest of the group. It’s again being proposed with the familiar carrot “we’ll have training classes” and stick “or I’m done helping.”

At this point, I’m opposed to having the second CNC in the space. Everything regarding the larger machine for at least the past nine months has been nonstop aggression, and I see no signs of this vote changing the dynamic. This sort of behavior, from multiple people, has plagued the project all along. I’m certainly guilty of some of this myself. Adding an personal machine to the mix seems destined to significantly increase the drama potential. Amicable relationships in the community have to come first, and we are traveling quickly in the wrong direction.

If something can be done about the core conflicts, I might be inclined to reconsider. If not, again, put me down for an absentee “no” vote.

The timing of this vote is personally unfortunate, coming as it does while I am out of state. If people are strongly interested in my reasoning and the history behind it, I can explain in detail when I return to Cincinnati next week. With apologies to the membership, I’ve decided not to sacrifice a day of my first proper vacation in years reresummarizing the CNC project.

I would hope I’ve earned at least that much leeway over the years.

  • Ry

I will not be in attendance this evening. However, I have thought a great deal about this matter. I have spoken to a number of members, and I have also reviewed salient emails and minutes from the past year regarding this issue. Like Ryan, I have been present as this situation unfolded as both a member, and as a board member.

I cast my vote against this proposal.

A few days ago, I chose to sit down and write a letter to the entire membership expressing my sentiments. I am including it below. I ask all of our members, new and old to consider our community first. This is a third place to many, including myself. There is a way to make our tools more accessible, available, and functional, but it is not a way which is propelled by individuals – it must be through the renewed momentum of our group.

The following is my rationale leading to my no vote:

Recently, a lot of discussion at Hive13 has centered on the large CNC machine and the greater CNC area. In heated discussions regarding floor plans, tooling, software, hardware, and other details of implementation we have lost sight of our larger mission. The resultant myopia may be leading many to not “see the forest for the trees”. Indeed, it is difficult for me to figure out what is truly in contention, and why some members of our community are so polarized.

At this point, I believe that hyperbole surrounding the use, implementation, and educational intentions of CNC only serve to destabilize our community. As we continue to split hairs about these issues we are losing sight of our greatest assets, triumphs, and worthy priorities. Further discussion in this manner will only serve a habit of always assuming that something is “wrong” or “worthless”, rather than even noticing what is working or what is right.

This leads me to asking myself why we are even faced with a vote that does not propose anything. Being an optimist by nature, I would like to think that it’s just another humorous accident at Hive13 (member self-governance leads to this often in any organization). However, it is more likely that this is born of pure frustration. Therein is the problem. One member is obviously frustrated, as are others at Hive13 (including myself at times). I cannot fault anyone for frustration, however, it is unproductive to dominate discussion with such negative sentiments.

We have an amazing community here, and we do some amazing things. Members build incredible projects of art, technology, and other wizardry; we taught about 1000 kids how to solder last summer; we participated in parades, classes, volunteer activities at libraries. We have now received a grant from a private trust to support our outreach goals, and more are inevitable. This weekend, we are LEADING power tool drag racing at the biggest, baddest, original Maker Faire in San Francisco. We have too many reasons to value ourselves and our community, and far fewer reasons to be frustrated or intimidated.

Regardless of whether Maker Faire short changed us by reduction of their payment amount is meaningless because we made it work anyway. When “Cindy-Lou”, the robot, could not be safely driven in the opening day parade, Jim just chose to pick up a rope and drag her along. I find this latter example extremely amusing, but it also reflects who we are. We are hackers. If a motor, or a cog, or anything else won’t budge, hackers are unafraid to grab a rope or lever and pull. Likewise, we’re willing to take thousands of pounds of equipment to San Francisco, buy our own flights, build our own crate, and follow through with Maker Faire even if we were shorted $10,000. This is the only organization I belong to that wouldn’t give up in such a circumstance. Because that’s the way hackers do things.

There are some things we are not cut out for, or are just plain bad at. There are many examples of shortcomings in our space, failures of equipment, lack of resources, lack of organization, etc. It is easy to find fault. Change here is slow, and never follows a stable or predictable pattern. It is often excruciatingly hard to motivate the group or set forth an agenda one is invested in. Hive13 just continues moving slowly toward an intangible, obscure destination. The only thing we can be certain about is that none of us really has control of that direction. When we initiate something at hive, the plan always changes course and ends up being consumed by the group; the result often becomes quite different from the vision proposed. This is the nature of organizations and communities such as ours.

I urge all of us to continue doing what we do so well – sharing. In speaking about what I value about Hive13, I have spoken of people, not tools. Community is the wellspring of our ingenuity. Relationships, however, are gossamer; community is as fragile as it is complexly beautiful. The tools in our space are only made valuable by the people who use them. Creation is the product of the mind, the will, the hand… We must not continue bickering over tools and money (which is also a tool).

Our organizational mission statement states that our purpose “is to promote technology through education and collaboration.” Of late, our meetings have made our organization resemble something else. An anonymous reviewer of the $6,500 that Hive13 received in collaboration with my class commented on their reservation in awarding the hive with funds last august: " ’Community’ has a vastly different meaning with this [organization]. For other [organizations], the focus was on the under-served, under-privileged. This proposal’s focus is on technology and the people who can afford it.”

Let’s prove them wrong…

Promoting technology through education and collaboration.

Lorin Edwin Parker

Board Member, Hive13 Hackerspace.

This all sounds like a good proposal to me. If its not to late i would like to cast my yes vote.

-Hank Risemberg

I also vote yes.

Really excellent post Lorin.

Didn’t make it to the meeting tonight, and I guess at this point I’m abstaining. Competing visions for the space are always part of the Hive13 experience. Often members reconcile different visions, sometimes they don’t and we settle it by a vote and move on. The goodwill and community within the group are how we get through the bumps.

And ROCK ON to the power tool drag race team!