Suggestions for future workshops

With the CMS proposal successfully funded (credits to Chaim), I thought it might be a good idea to list suggestions for future workshops we can organise in 2024 (and publicly announce on an update website).

I see two different categories — workshops (mainly) focusing on software, and those (mainly) focusing on equipment. With regard to the ones on software, I’d suggest to limit these to cross-platform software, i.e. software running on al major operating systems (Windows, Mac OS and Linux) in order not to exclude anyone from participating. In addition, a general requirement to participate in a workshop on software would be to install it on your laptop beforehand, so not at the start of a workshop.

Personally, I’d be happy to prepare and organise any combination of the following workshops (preliminary text below, will likely keep updating this with more details):

Inkscape — creating and editing vector graphics (i.e. graphics independent of screen resolution, in some sense the opposite of raster graphics stored as e.g. JPG or PNG)

  1. [Basic] Most commonly used shapes (e.g. line segments, circular arcs, Bézier curves), Boolean operations (union/difference/…), stroke and fill options, snapping and aligning
  2. [Advanced] Focus on paths — what are the different types of paths, what operations can be performed on them (including the Path Effects in Inkscape), how are they stored (using SVG, an XML-based language to store vector graphics)

SVG animation

  1. [Advanced] Yes, SVGs can be animated — currently using three different approaches (SMIL, CSS and JavaScript). This introduction would mostly focus on SMIL, which is an extension of SVG (i.e. does not depend on CSS or JavaScript). We’ll be working with raw SVG (but that’s nothing to be afraid of — most of the SVG syntax is very intuitive).

Laser cutting, engraving and marking using the CO₂ laser (AKA “The Deathray”)

  1. [Basic] Parts of the machine (laser tube, mirrors, lens), controls (motorised X- and Y movement, manual Z movement) and safety. Basics of LightBurn, software used to communicate vector graphics (cutting) or raster graphics (engraving and marking) to the machine. Practical examples include cutting plywood, arcylic or foam, engraving/marking stone, glass or metal
  2. [Advanced] Rotational engraving and cutting. Builds on the previous workshop. Examples include engraving wooden rolling pins, engraving ceramic cups or glasses and cutting bamboo stems

Embroidery on the Brother VR

  1. [Basic] Parts and materials (fabric, backing/stabiliser and thread). What does the machine offer by itself, and how can the — very extensive — Inkscape extension Ink/Stitch be used to embroider your own designs?

FreeCAD — parametric/constraint-based design of 2.5D and 3D objects

  1. [Basic CAD] Designing objects using constraint-based 2D sketches. The idea is to use basic tools (e.g. line segments, circular arcs) and specify relations between them — how far a point should be from a curve, whether a line should be perpendicular or perhaps tangential to a curve, and so on. This type of parametric modelling has a bit of a learning curve, but is a great way to create very flexible designs that can easily be changed: simply change a single value and let the software recompute the overall shape based on the relations/constraints you provided! (Almost) everything is visual, no programming is involved (though FreeCAD does have the option to use Python to interact with its tools).
  2. [Basic CAM] Preparing a design to be manufactured by a CNC router. This mainly involves generating the tool paths (i.e. letting the CNC machine know where and how to move the tool) using the Path workbench. The output is a list of G-code, which we’ll also look at in some detail.

CNC routing on the large CNC in the Werkstatt

  1. [Basic] Tools (i.e. different types of mills) and materials. Coordinate system of the machine and defining a point of reference in X and Y, as well as setting the reference in Z. Relations between chipload (how much material should the tool take away at a time), RPM (how fast should the tool rotate) and feedrate (how fast should the tool move in X, Y and/or Z).

[Edit] I’d be very eager to learn more about the following:

  • Resin 3D printing
  • Carvera 3/4-axis CNC
  • General electronics (I’m Ok with basic soldering, resistors and LEDs, but only have a vague idea about components such as condensators and transistors)

-these are 20 signs my dear- oh btw i really like the AKA naming convention.

We have had a number of initiatives in the past to compile a workshop program. None of them has resulted in anything. So, my advice to everyone who is willing to organize a workshop is simple: a) select a date, b) announce the workshop, and c) make it happen.

I rather have 10 small workshops, which are not 100% professional, but bring people together and foster exchange, than zero workshops which live up to the highest expectations.

I am happy to help with blog posts on our (no so intuitive) web page. And I am also happy to assist with any workshop that somebody is willing to organize.

Once we have the new alarm system up and running I will be happy to host a second Home Assistant workshop and demonstrate how we did the configuration. I assume this will be in May (+/-).