Seek Robotics Makerspace

xanaduxanadu Posts: 2,902
The location is in a town called Vista directly off highway 78 in San Diego county, CA. In an effort to relocate 24U of servers in a local area serviced by Cox coax (cheapest in town) I came across a very low rent 1200'sq two level office. At $1 a foot sq the servers easily pay the rent. It is two floors, and the servers are upstairs for security reasons.

I have the remaining downstairs available basically rent free to play with. It will be there until Cox installs fiber in that area, so potentially three or more years. I would never consider opening a retail electronics location because I know it wouldn't make money. Now I am presented with a low risk option and certainly going for it.

Here is the space:

IMG_0928.JPG

A friend of mine has all kinds of retail stuff like counters and peg boards etc that I can borrow. I'm thinking about selling drones and robots. There's a Fry's right down the street so if I were to sell components I would have to find stuff they don't sell.

I don't want to load it up with expensive stuff that doesn't sell, but I do want to load it up with stuff people cannot buy locally.

I'd also love to hear suggestions, electronics is not my forte but I know the feeling of being able to go somewhere to get a part nobody else has. I wouldn't mind providing that service. It would be easy enough to staff, I could move my office in there's a little private room the back just big enough for my puters.

The other thing is the room needs to convert from retail to micro hacker space. This will definitely be known as the coolest place in the county for (micro) hackerspace. I may even give classes on how breadboards work...

So what do you think?

Suggestions on stuff that isn't expensive that you can't find anywhere?

Suggestions on cheap and durable furniture for hackerspace?
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Comments

  • 68 Comments sorted by Date Added Votes
  • GordonMcCombGordonMcComb Posts: 2,944
    edited May 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Xanadu, Sent you a PM!
  • ratronicratronic Posts: 1,451
    edited May 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    I have family that lives in Vista. Next time I am down there I will have to check it out.
    Fix it, if it ain't broke! .......... D Rat .......... Dave ..........
  • cruXiblecruXible Posts: 78
    edited May 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    This would be great. Parallax products are a must. The branded screwdrivers would be good. Fry's has so much. I will have think about what they don't have.

    Are you opposed to Chinese knock-offs?
  • xanaduxanadu Posts: 2,902
    edited May 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Parallax products are a goal, I plan to apply when I have more info than "not sure" for anticipated sales :)

    I would like to build a brand, but sure parts from China will end up there. Individual components, no blatantly cloned assemblies that hurt the manufacturer.

    I could go with something really weird like sell prepacked kits over the counter. When you come to buy the kit you stay to build it. Or you can just leave with it, jerk. I could show the people I work with how to build the kit so when I'm not there it could still happen.

    Would people be beating down the doors? No, but that doesn't really matter. It's different, that matters more to me. Whatever goes on in there has to be unique. We could call this entire thing an experiment just to see.
  • GordonMcCombGordonMcComb Posts: 2,944
    edited May 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    I wonder if there's a way to use the space (or parking area?) to also offer hands-on quadcopter training. Kits, parts, service, built parties. I mean, these things are robots, too, right? I understand Parallax has a pretty good one they're trying to sell. ELE something or other.

    Also thinking the space will be a good excuse for Erco to come down for his regular marathons and bike rides he likes to do. If he does make it down, he'll insist you sell Parallax hats.

    What Fry's doesn't have is anyone who knows the Parallax products. Because they sell at full retail, there's no discounting needed to attract customers. IMO, just having a place where you could come in and build your robot, with the helpful eye of a keen teacher, is an excellent draw. I know for a fact (won't go into details here) the area schools have active robotics courses and activities.
  • PublisonPublison Posts: 9,400
    edited May 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Move it to the East Coast and I'll run it for you. :)
    Infernal Machine
  • xanaduxanadu Posts: 2,902
    edited May 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    I wonder if there's a way to use the space (or parking area?) to also offer hands-on quadcopter training. Kits, parts, service, built parties. I mean, these things are robots, too, right? I understand Parallax has a pretty good one they're trying to sell. ELE something or other.

    Also thinking the space will be a good excuse for Erco to come down for his regular marathons and bike rides he likes to do. If he does make it down, he'll insist you sell Parallax hats.

    What Fry's doesn't have is anyone who knows the Parallax products. Because they sell at full retail, there's no discounting needed to attract customers. IMO, just having a place where you could come in and build your robot, with the helpful eye of a keen teacher, is an excellent draw. I know for a fact (won't go into details here) the area schools have active robotics courses and activities.

    I think so, if you stayed under 20' nobody would see a copter. The owner of the property doesn't have an issue with it, he loves the idea of all of this and has been really accommodating. There are some second story offices with large windows which need further investigation.

    Screwdrivers and hats are a great start to the list!

    I agree about Fry's. They should have an assembled version of the kits on display. Or put a BOE Bot in a clear case and let it roam. The boxes sitting on shelves doesn't work without someone there who knows the product.
  • xanaduxanadu Posts: 2,902
    edited May 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Publison wrote: »
    Move it to the East Coast and I'll run it for you. :)

    Second location will be on the east coast :)
  • 4x5n4x5n Posts: 716
    edited May 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    I wonder if there's a way to use the space (or parking area?) to also offer hands-on quadcopter training. Kits, parts, service, built parties. I mean, these things are robots, too, right? I understand Parallax has a pretty good one they're trying to sell. ELE something or other.

    Also thinking the space will be a good excuse for Erco to come down for his regular marathons and bike rides he likes to do. If he does make it down, he'll insist you sell Parallax hats.

    What Fry's doesn't have is anyone who knows the Parallax products. Because they sell at full retail, there's no discounting needed to attract customers. IMO, just having a place where you could come in and build your robot, with the helpful eye of a keen teacher, is an excellent draw. I know for a fact (won't go into details here) the area schools have active robotics courses and activities.

    Sadly Fry's here in Downers Grove is going down hill rapidly. High prices, low inventory and bins full of "junk" at very low prices. Even the they're cheap you get what you pay for. Sad to see it.
  • cruXiblecruXible Posts: 78
    edited May 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Maybe you could host a builder competition where all the parts come from a bag you sell.
  • Ken GraceyKen Gracey Posts: 5,947
    edited May 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    We'd be happy to support this effort by making you a distributor. It can take some time to get traction with customers, but knowing the product line makes a tremendous difference as Gordon pointed out above.

    Ken Gracey
  • Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) Posts: 20,927
    edited May 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    I wish there was place like that here! Good luck with your new venture! You do realize, of course, that retailing is a jealous mistress. Customers expect you to keep the hours you advertise, come rain, shine, commuter traffic, kids' soccer matches, and family emergencies. And if you're only open 9-5 and closed on Sundays, you're catering to the unemployed. But if those are non-issues, you should have a fun, profitable time!

    -Phil
    “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • cruXiblecruXible Posts: 78
    edited May 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    I wish there was place like that here! Good luck with your new venture! You do realize, of course, that retailing is a jealous mistress. Customers expect you to keep the hours you advertise, come rain, shine, commuter traffic, kids' soccer matches, and family emergencies. And if you're only open 9-5 and closed on Sundays, you're catering to the unemployed. But if those are non-issues, you should have a fun, profitable time!

    -Phil

    There is a local game store that went to an almost round-the-clock schedule. They are growing extremely fast. They host competitions of all sorts and have all sorts of food and drink. It helps to harbor a sort-of club type atmosphere. Everyone is extremely friendly and excited to be around others who are interested in the same things. It would be great to have the same type of establishment for makers, hackers and programmers, though I don't think that this could work if their numbers aren't that high in North County San Diego.
  • prof_brainoprof_braino Posts: 4,312
    edited May 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Get demo units of any bots you can get your hands on, and run demos continuously. Folks love watching bots, and trying to figure out what they are supposed to be doing, and how they are doing it. Notice sharp kids in the shop, and let them mod the demos to do something more complex or interesting. Instead of "paying" the kids to "work", let then earn the bot after X hours of demo development. All their buddies will want a bot of their own (or not, but it might be an interesting experiment).
  • xanaduxanadu Posts: 2,902
    edited May 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Ken Gracey wrote: »
    We'd be happy to support this effort by making you a distributor. It can take some time to get traction with customers, but knowing the product line makes a tremendous difference as Gordon pointed out above.

    Ken Gracey

    Thank you Ken, that is great news! I will email you soon.
  • xanaduxanadu Posts: 2,902
    edited May 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Thanks for the advice and comments everyone.

    Today I met with Gordon at the new spot! It was the best conversation I've had in many years. We talked about a lot of ideas, and some different ways to go about this.

    As Phil mentioned, customer expectations will need to be met. It will likely start out as multirotor and robotics classes a couple nights a week. We would offer kits and building sessions but try to focus most of it on learning and of course having fun in the process! Hopefully that will bring in more people.

    Doing the classes should provide a lot of insight onto those needs in a controlled and manageable method. Then things can expand into a more retail setting.

    I think the internet was just hooked up, better go run some speed tests...
  • GordonMcCombGordonMcComb Posts: 2,944
    edited May 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    I want to get started on this like yesterday!

    My dog Rubie wants her water dish moved over. She loved the space.
  • cruXiblecruXible Posts: 78
    edited May 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    This is pretty exciting. This will make North County a bit more fun! I want to take my boy when he learns to walk. :D
  • xanaduxanadu Posts: 2,902
    edited May 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Sounds good!
  • cruXiblecruXible Posts: 78
    edited May 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    QElPr8.jpg

    Look familiar?
  • xanaduxanadu Posts: 2,902
    edited May 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Yes that's the area, I think I'm on the opposite end it's hard to tell. PM me your info if you want to meet sometime :)
  • RS_JimRS_Jim Posts: 1,001
    edited May 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Xanadu,
    It looks like I will be in San Diego sometime this summer. I would love to get together with you and Gordon maybe for lunch and a visit to your hacker space. What do you think?
    Jim
  • ercoerco Posts: 17,827
    edited May 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Please advise the date if you guys get together, I may join (OK, dampen) the fun.
    "When you make a thing, a thing that is new, it is so complicated making it that it is bound to be ugly. But those that make it after you, they don’t have to worry about making it. And they can make it pretty, and so everybody can like it when others make it after you."

    - Pablo Picasso
  • xanaduxanadu Posts: 2,902
    edited May 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Perfect, I've met a couple people from this forum already and it's great. In June it should be ready to handle at least 10 people comfortably.

    Jim send me a date in advance and I'll post an invitation and see if we can get a group going.

    Everyone else that lives close by can stop in anytime. PM me, I'm there a lot!
  • GordonMcCombGordonMcComb Posts: 2,944
    edited May 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    xanadu wrote: »
    I'm there a lot!

    Think I saw the old Subaru there yesterday when we drove by on the freeway after doing errands in San Diego.
  • xanaduxanadu Posts: 2,902
    edited May 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Think I saw the old Subaru there yesterday when we drove by on the freeway after doing errands in San Diego.

    Probably, I haven't been using the cloaking device much. By the way the internet is fixed, it was the modem.
  • GordonMcCombGordonMcComb Posts: 2,944
    edited May 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    xanadu wrote: »
    By the way the internet is fixed, it was the modem.

    Ha! And was it also DOCSIS 2.0? I firmly believe Cox regularly sends down corrupting code to mess with those, so you will upgrade.
  • xanaduxanadu Posts: 2,902
    edited May 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    They replaced it with the same model, they mentioned something about checksum values and programming. Still not really sure what it was. I would have really liked a plain ol modem this time around but they dropped off another gigantic modem/router/wifi thing and we bridged it.

    Throwing a patch panel in and running some wires. Then comes the roboweb server :) http://forums.parallax.com/archive/index.php/t-139284.html
  • RS_JimRS_Jim Posts: 1,001
    edited June 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    xanadu wrote: »
    Perfect, I've met a couple people from this forum already and it's great. In June it should be ready to handle at least 10 people comfortably.

    Jim send me a date in advance and I'll post an invitation and see if we can get a group going.

    Everyone else that lives close by can stop in anytime. PM me, I'm there a lot!
    Super, I will start working on a date.
    Jim
  • xanaduxanadu Posts: 2,902
    edited June 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Good to go Jim, looking forward to meeting you. I would have like to be at Riddle (in your neck of the woods) but San Diego isn't bad for flight training. I'm at a new flight school now, I'm student #12. They offer a flat rate based on the rating, and I can stay here and do what I do best to boot!
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