Fat Cat Fab Lab at Maker Faire 2015!

Making for it’s own sake I find is usually the most fun. Sometimes, most times I find, we make things that we need and that are practical.  This project fell somewhere in the middle.  People that know me, know that I’m proud to be one of the co-founders of Fat Cat Fab Lab.  It’s an exciting space with a great community of people. We needed something to bring to the 2015 New York Maker Faire.  I wanted to show off what our CNC router and laser cutter can do.  It also gave us an opportunity to show off a previous project as well: our custom built RFID door system.   This beast is a working demo of our door system.


I wanted to give a very special shout out and thank you to Jimmy Diresta, who helped out with some last minute welding of an internal frame.  If you haven’t already, I highly recommend you subscribe to his youtube channel right away.  Hours of entertainment and learning await you!   He’s a gifted, prolific maker who’s style of video is so compelling, full of personality, and fun to watch.   Plus, he’s just a good guy!  He’s super gracious with his time, especially when it comes to people who want to learn.   Thank you, Jimmy!

We’ve been using Autodesk Fusion 360 at FCFL.  Integrated CAD/CAM is notoriously expensive. Fusion 360 is a boon for educational organizations for whom the licensing terms _seem_ to indicate it will be free forever.  Forever is a long time…we’ll see!  It’s exciting because the product gets updates all the time that bring in new features.  Sometimes if might feel a little “too exciting” when you’re not sure if the update will also bring instability. 😉   It does crash from time to time, but also does a great job at auto-recovering work that was open during the crash.   Kudos Autodesk, and thank you!  Look out for upcoming Fusion 360 classes at  Fat Cat Fab Lab.

I was inspired by some CNCed laminated bamboo material that’s been kicking around the lab.  Using that inspiration, this is the first test cut of some shapes I wanted to incorporate into the design.


This is just to show the internal CNCed parts that provide space for the frame, door-strike, request-to-exit button, cabling etc.



On top I used some 1/2 plywood as biscuits.  I came up with my own registration method for double sided CNC projects.  Did it work well? Yes.  Was it fast? Not so much.  😛   Check out the Core77 youtube channel for a super slick way of registering your work on the machine.  Thanks Jimmy, for hipping me to that.  😉


This turned out to be a great success, and of great interest to other makerspaces who want the same functionality.  The RFID card numbers are stored in our member database.  We use CiviCRM, which is a major windfall for non-profits!  Anyway, the cards get scanned at “door clients” placed at each entrance, and the card numbers are checked against the database.  If the card id exists, the system then checks if that member is in good standing or not.  😉  Automation ftw!  Clients are made of Arduino Yuns, and Adafruit NFC shields programmed by volunteer Gerard Baron.  Thanks Gerard!  I handled the server component which is written in Python….this was super fun!



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