September 2023 - Board Meeting

09/06/2023 - Area 515 Board Meeting

09/06/2023 - Area 515 Board Meeting


  • President: Dave

  • Vice President: Jake

  • Treasurer: Meg

  • Secretary: Brad

  • Director: Carlin

  • Director: Ryan


  • Director: Tom

Approval of Minutes from Previous Meeting

Vote to approve Minutes of August Board Meeting

Yes: 6

No: 0

Result: Passed

Financials/Moving Update

  • We need to estimate how much money we would need to move. Most commercial real estate costs more than we're currently paying so we need to estimate how much we can spend if we push for growth. We should make projections based on

    • different numbers of members

    • different dues amounts

    • changes to insurance.

    • adding monthly internet cost

  • Jake looked at a 7,300 square foot space that might be suitable for us (See Franklin Space, below). Our current area is about 5,000 square feet, and it was felt that 10,000 square feet might be too much.

  • John mentioned finding a place in Ankeney, that's 4 times the cost of our current facility. Board members generally agreed on a desire to stay within Des Moines, or at least a location central to the metro area.

  • Our current rent is $1650 per month, which is about $4 per square foot. We don't pay for internet here or for insurance on the building.

  • In commercial real estate, pricing is all based on square footage. Most available locations are either 5 - 10k square feet, or above 30k square feet, there's not much in between.

  • It was noted that there are some vacant buildings near our present location, but they don't have much parking.

  • Troy asked about adding a kitchen space to our repertoire. The board didn't think that would be a good fit. The fridge, microwave and sinks like we currently have are sufficient.

  • Ways to generate more money were discussed. They boiled down to...

    • Charging money and giving more classes

    • Selling stuff that we make here

  • In looking at how other maker spaces raise funds, many of them...

    • have more members

    • have company sponsorship (see below)

    • charge tool use fees by the hour

  • Area 515 has long resisted partnering with a company because of the loss of independence that would create. Area 515 has always prided itself on being totally member-controlled.

  • Holding a craft fair was suggested as a way to raise money, but Carlin, who routinely sells his wares at craft fairs, didn't think it would work well. At a successful show, he can earn about $100 for every 1,000 people that come through. We would be unlikely to get anywhere near that number of attendees for a show.

    • Our previous artist in residence program was also mentioned in response to this idea. It concluded each year with a craft fair, the last of which very very few people attended.

  • The idea of establishing a VenMo account for the space was brought up. The biggest difficulty would be establishing the automation necessary to support it.

    • Prior to using Zapier for automation, Wild Apricot was looked into as a member management solution. It included integration with different payment systems. We might look into this again.

  • Ryan asked about good, easy fundraising apps or programs that we could use to make more money. All lamented the loss of Amazon smile as a revenue generator because it was easy, required minimal work from the space, and gave us actual money.

    • The space is part of Benevity, which processes workplace giving. (Note from the future: our Benevity membership lapsed on October 3rd and needs to be renewed)

    • The trouble with most fundraising systems is that they require a lot more work on our end. We have the capability to receive donations right now, we just don't advertise it much.

    • When it comes to donations, our "story" just isn't big enough to show macro results.

  • Meg said she'd look into finding the list of grants that a previous board of directors had compiled.

Franklin Space

  • It's a little less "warehouse-y" than our current location. The ceiling in particular is lower than most warehouse space, making it easier to reach.

  • It consists of 3 big spaces/rooms.

  • It already has 3 phase power, and 24 volt outlets

  • Owners have not named a starting price

  • Owners are willing to put some money towards renovation. The bathrooms in particular need to be renovated/constructed.

  • Located close to Faustino's Tacos

  • It used to be a health club, of which Ward was a member!

Laser Upgrades

  • The Full Spectrum lasers are becoming increasingly difficult to use. Full Spectrum uses proprietary hardware so we are forced to use their proprietary Retina Engrave (RE) software. (Other programs like LightBurn are not compatible.) That RE software is no longer supported. In particular, their print driver (which is responsible for loading vector graphics into Retina Engrave) is producing increasingly buggy results. In June of this year, a full 20" x 12" sheet of soldering station parts could be loaded into RE. When the same sheet was tried in August, only a small percentage of the vectors were loaded into RE. The Laser Stewards have spent many hours trying to solve the problem, including but not limited to uninstalling and reinstalling various combinations of RE and Inkscape. No solution has been found. (Note from the future: The RE print driver was written for Windows Vista or Windows 7. Brad tried installing all the RE software on an older computer that still runs Windows 7, but the same problems occured.)

  • TLDR: Our lasers don't go pew correctly anymore. We need new ones or to upgrade what we have.

  • Upgrade option: LightBurn is the standard consumer software for running lasers, but it is not compatible with the proprietary hardware on our lasers. One option would be to replace our lasers' control hardware with something that is compatible with LightBurn. The recommended new control hardware costs around $400-$500. About as much as each laser is worth. In addition, we would have to pay around $150 for the LightBurn software itself.

    • Jake offered the Xpro V5 controller that came from the Lead CNC. (It was removed and replaced from the Lead CNC because it's second Y axis motor controller wasn't working.) Since the lasers only have 1 Y axis motor, it might work. (Note from the future: Caroline was less than enthusiastic about trying to adapt the Xpro to the laser since the XPro is specifically made for CNC machines. Both the Lead CNC and the lasers are technically "CNC machines", but the detailed functionality is different enough that making it function might not be worth the time it would take to make it work.

  • Per Carlin, the cost of a new 50 watt laser is around $6500 right now. A 100 watt machine is around $8500. A 100 watt laser is around $3000. He's heard good things about the OMG brand of lasers from reviews on Facebook. He's also heard good things about the Epilog laser brand (although they're very expensive), but bad things about all other American brands.

  • What kind of new machines to shop for and what features it should have were briefly discussed, but it was quickly realized the discussion should involve Bailey, the other Laser Steward.

  • No other Tool areas have asked for money lately, although the Metal Shop does need to purchase some power supplies.

Current Members: 96

  • Derek needs to be added to the Tools email list

  • New members have had a difficult time scheduling Wood Shop training due to how busy the Wood Stewards are, and in some cases, how burnt out they are.

  • Carlin floated the idea of a Metal Shop Training Day, but that's up to the Metal Stewards, not a Board decision.

  • Carlin would also like to a new leather sewing machine for the space. He said he would start an "In for $10."

    • There is still an "In for $10" button on our website that should be used for all "In for $10" donations, no matter what project they are designated for.

      • We don't have a clear policy about what to do with "In for $10" money for projects that don't work out. Should we return the money? Declare the money to be donations?

    • The idea of creating individual buttons for individual projects was floated. It was difficult to create the one button we already have on the website.

CEC Updates

  • Our booth at the Mini Maker Faire saw 125 people.

  • It was a mixed blessing that we were located right next to the Lego group.

  • About 12 parents expressed interest in the space though.

  • Membership Survey

    • John got some feedback on the survey from the Board.

    • The survey is designed to be a tool to assess the state of the space and the membership. It will help us assess what tools are being used, and help with 5 to 10 year planning.

    • The survey asks membership for some demographic data. The goal being to find out what demographics we are serving well, and what we aren't.

    • The google forms are anonymous so responses can't be tracked back to individual members.

    • The CEC would like to release the survey by October.

Space Updates

  • The next member meeting will be on October 21, at 3:00pm. There will be a BBQ afterwards for everybody.

  • Tom and Ryan have decided not to run for re-election to the Board.

  • John W has already announced that he will be running.

  • For a few days, member Darron's scissor lift was here. We helped adapt it to run on rechargeable lithium batteries, and used it to run some network cables through the ceiling. Unfortunately we did not get the compressed air pipes installed, or reinstall the ventilation fan in the Metal Shop.

  • Don will be renting a carpet cleaner for his house and offered to rent it for an extra day to clean the space's carpets. The board said that would be fine.

Meeting Adjourned

  • When a bake sale was suggested as a way to raise money: "We're not a bunch of cute kids." "Speak for yourself!"

  • "Send it to me if you want the idea to die on its feet." - Carlin

  • Upon realizing that the clock in the classroom stopped moving: "The clock is doing a Mitch McConnell right now."

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