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BOTLab members meeting 25th March 2015

Date/time and location: 7pm, Wed 25 March 2015 at the Hackspace

Agenda

  1. Apologies:
  2. Action points from last meeting
  3. Options for Provision of Serviced and Maintained Laser for Hackspace; clarify the equipment to be bought and who will pay for it, the ownership model/usage charging etc.
  4. BV Studios improvements update: fire cover, new sockets in G10 and wired broadband
  5. Monthly workshop series update
  6. Health and Safety, cleanliness and tidyness in G10 and food areas
  7. Purchasing proposals:
    1. Laser proposal document
    2. Surface plate proposal
    3. Dust Extraction Unit Purchase
    4. Vacuum Cleaner
    5. Dust mask provision

Attendees

18 members: Matt V (chair), Tom G, Ed R, David W (minute-taker), Russ C, Toby S, David H, Joe E, John M, John W, Steph T, Russell D, Mike H, Kaspar B, Jon D, Nic M, Mike T, Jonny T

1 observer: Pedro from Bristol Braille

Points discussed

In progress!

  1. Apologies: Erica B, Mark P
  2. Points from last meeting:
    • Fire cover: landlord is happy for us to provide our own additional fire safety precautions above the building's fire alarm system, but we must take responsibility for it and arrange for our own training in how to use it. JW has obtained quote for £200 for 2 CO2 & 2 foam extinguishers, £42/yr for 4 years for maintenance from 1st Attendance Ltd. DW: how should we decide about expediture to meet H&S/statutory requirements? MV: discuss/vote as committee outside this meeting. RC/MH: Get in touch with local fire brigade for advice? JW: actually fire brigade tend not to support individual fire-fighting. Voted to defer this to committee meeting - close to unanimous.
    • New mains sockets in G10: landlord happy for us to do this in a similar fashion to the ones in G11, i.e. we should plan what we need and & get a quote from an approved contractor - TS is working on producing a design for this
    • Wired broadband: not allowed at the moment
    • Monthly workshop series: going well, 3rd one upcoming & is sold out
    • Buying nuts & bolts: MV hasn't done yet, will do so soon
  3. Laser cutter:
    • No procedure for making large purchases as yet
    • DW: BOTLab constitution doesn't govern how the hackspace is run - purely specifies how the governance structure of BOTLab works, and provides for existence of a committee to oversee the space
    • JW: 4 aspects to making a big purchase: identify which things we could buy, then choose which one to buy, then define how finances will work, and finally administration of usage etc.
    • Finances:
      • JW proposes that we could put some of the surplus income each month into a fund for long-term large purchases - each member could vote for how to spend their share of the surplus each month, or vote for it to be reserved for later
      • Pledges: what do they mean? generally a gift without any string attached
      • Ownership model: co-ownership is generally viewed as a bad thing due to complexities of people wanting to sell their shares
    • JE: bought a laser cutter in Vienna some years ago - came across same sorts of issues as we've encountered. Observed that discussion on mailing list is mostly between a small number of people, not clear what the opinion of the remainder is. Also hasn't seen any clear proposal as yet, often discussion is diverted into details rather than producing a clear overall proposal. If there are guidelines they should be codified somewhere, e.g. if we decide we won't rely on external finance. Would prefer hackspace to own all tools, surprised at lack of clarity over ownership/inductions for tools - surprised at need to have an induction for bandsaw, & low availability/clarity of who can do the inductions - would prefer say 5 people who can do all inductions rather than having to wait for specific people to be available.
    • ER: current laser is unreliable, only kept running by RC's efforts
    • MV: narrow discussion down to financing models? voted - yes
    • JW: happy for people who put up initial funds to get money back, but only at the average rate that the initial purchase cost is being repaid - becomes effectively an unsecured loan from members to hackspace - people could be repaid either in money or in time, doesn't matter - people could even loan money to hackspace in purely financial terms if they felt it was a good thing
    • JM: suggest crowdfunding model to raise funds - e.g. if running costs are £3/hr, have a £6/hr base rate with options to pay £20/month + £3/hr or £240/yr (?+£3/hr?)
    • ER: or just pay upfront for certain number of hours - simpler to administer
    • JE: uncomfortable about having distinctions between different “types” of hackspace members depending on what they've paid for, could end up having “lasercutter members”, “3d printer members” etc.
    • TG: analogy with gliding club's purchase of hangar - people paid upfront for a space in the hangar, £10k for 20yrs - could then sell on the space in the hangar if they left, at a fixed price that was pro-rated by the fraction of the 20yrs left remaining
    • MT: don't be exclusive - don't have any loans, only buy the laser cutter if the hackspace can afford it, supplemented by donations/pledges
    • JD: set a value, say £50, and invite pure no-strings-attached donations of that amount to try to raise funds - DH: could give benefits e.g. priority on tuition
    • Amount to keep in reserve in bank account: DW reported current bank situation. People discussed whether 1yr or 6months reserve is appropriate. DW: could scale back our rental if necessary given that we aren't tied into a contract with BV Studios.
    • MT: issues committee need to decide: how much to keep in free cash, whether to take on loans - worst case scenario: space burns flat to the ground, we have nothing, starting from scratch - yes we might have fewer rental expenses, but equally we might lose members rapidly if we didn't have anything to offer them.
    • MV: Action: come up with proposal for amount of reserve, run pass membership and discuss at next committee meeting. But in general we still need a model for buying large eqpt.
    • JW: uncomfortable with people giving lots of money and not getting anything in return - perhaps have donations up to a certain amount but anything above that gets you a number of hourse
    • ER: We're all trustworthy ⇒ don't need to centrally administer usage, use trust-based system - contentious, people preferred some accountability.
    • TG: concerned about mixing CAPEX & OPEX
    • JD: what is a large purchase? what's the threshold? above £200?
    • RC: Lauren was happy with the idea of getting rid of her machine - she could sell it and contribute the money in some way to our buying a new machine. Amount in question? originally cost £30k, new lasers for it cost £5k ⇒ probably £thousands. NM: she was only interested in ccontributing to the new one if it would be A0
    • MV: how do we decide how much of hackspace funds are contributed to it? NM: decide what we want to buy collectively, find how much money we can raise, hackspace has to fund the remainder?
    • RD: given that we have a working machine, could we get a maintenance contract on it?
    • Individual purchase thresholds: MH: <£80 is petty cash? JW: £500 reserve kept for small purchases? NM: £1000; put remainder into “pot” for large purchases; if we want to buy something, put up a proposal & use money in the large-purchases fund
    • RC: current usage rates of laser cutter? Lauren has a logbook but uncollated - no data on it as yet. If we wanted to, we could.
    • NM: if current machine broke irreparably, how many people would want the space to buy a replacement of some sort? ~10 - TG: How many people would want an equivalent machine to the current one? ~5
    • MH: What fraction of current membership use the laser cutter? MV: most used piece of equipment, anecdotally many people use it - RC: often on a Thursday people will come along with a design and ask him to cut it for them if they aren't inducted - JE: regards laser as a basic tool for a hackspace, so not worth discussing whether we should have one
    • How do we decide what sort of cutter to get/how many people would use it? survey is a good tool
    • NM: if the space agreed we should get a smaller cutter and could fund it, he is prepared (within reason) to top up funding to upgrade to A0 size
    • Discussion on size of laser cutter - having a larger size is beneficial, can we get one with feed-through so we can cut large panels in small sections?
    • MV: proposed process for large item purchase: (Action: will write up and circulate. UPDATE: draft available)
      • Interested parties put together a proposal
      • They pitch it to committee
      • If committee agree that it's financially viable, then it's put to the membership to raise pledges for the money - with a time limit
    • MT: develop analogy with Kickstarter further - have stretch goals in the proposal so proposal can adapt to money available - e.g. upgrading to larger size laser cutter
    • NM: he elicited feedback from forum on which sort of laser cutter to get, consensus was HPC or JustAddSharks, or DIY Lasersaur - MT: TOG have just made a blog post about 7 months after finishing their lasersaur build
    • DH: could get feedback from London on A0 JustAddSharks cutter, ST has contacts in other hackspaces e.g. Cambs to get further feedback on different models
    • KB: informal vote on how much to keep in reserve - reduce reserve to 6months rent? ~5people vote to reduce to 6months, ~3people (including treasurer - DW) vote *not* to - DW: 12 months rent is perhaps excessive reserve, but would prefer >6 months rent e.g. 6 months + £2000
    • ?: How much would Lauren sell us that laser for? NM: Lauren mumbled £10k
    • NM: is not interested in preparing a proposal if we end up with less than an A0 cutter
    • How much should be the limit for what can be bought through the 5+3 supporters process, and the threshold for the more formal process? say £300?
    • MT: Do we need a disaster recovery plan for the space, partly to try to analyse how much reserve it is appropriate to keep? UPDATE: Draft now on the wiki for comment.
    • JT: Can we count assets as part of the reserves, in the sense that we could liquidate them to raise money? can't do this unless we have appropriate insurance, otherwise if the space burns down then we don't have any assets! And at the moment we don't have contents insurance.
    • MT: Note that fundraising for such a purchase would be a good opportunity for a recruitment drive opportunity
    • Summary of actions for committee around lasercutter purchase
      1. Define purchasing policy
      2. Define reserves to keep in bank account
      3. Define process for agreeing large purchases
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