Monadnock Makers going after $25K grant, rental

Makerspace group to hold open house in October at what could be the site of their new facility, the Guernsey building

Scott Lumsden of Lydeborough outfitted a 1940s radio with Arduino computer boards to support a Bluetooth connection. Each Arduino cost less than $30. Lumsden is releasing his designs for this radio to the public soon, and said this kind of project could be completed at a makerspace.

Scott Lumsden of Lydeborough outfitted a 1940s radio with Arduino computer boards to support a Bluetooth connection. Each Arduino cost less than $30. Lumsden is releasing his designs for this radio to the public soon, and said this kind of project could be completed at a makerspace. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

PETERBOROUGH — Artists, hobbyists, engineers, entrepreneurs and teachers banded together in the spring to start a makerspace — a place where anyone in the community could use high-end equipment and technology they might not otherwise be able to afford on their own.

The organization, recently naming themselves the Monadnock Makers, are inching towards opening such a space to the public. They are chasing after a $25,000 grant from the Entrepreneurs Foundation of New Hampshire. They are also conversations to rent a 3,700 square-foot-space at 70 Main St. in Peterborough, also known as the Guernsey Professional Building.

The Monadnock Makers will hold an open house the night of Oct. 3, which is also First Friday in Peterborough.

Scott Lumsden, one of the founders of the organization and a Lyndeborough sound and lighting technician, said Thursday the group’s plan is to be open all week, beginning in January 2015. They are still far from that goal, however, Lumsden said. Between October and January, Lumsden said they would like to host a night where hobbyists could speak about their vision for the makerspace. Lumsden said they are also interested in offering how-to classes to the public.

A benefit of a makerspace, according to Lumsden, is that it could bring hobbyists in the area together to collaborate on projects, creating a community among artists and technicians.

As Lumsden said, it could also be an “incubator of entrepreneurial activity,” which can “impact the community economically, by also spawning entrepreneurs to start more businesses.” O ther makerspaces have led to members starting a small business together selling the products they make.

Key equipment to any makerspace are a three-dimensional printer to make a product from a design on a computer, a laser cutter to precisely cut parts, and a milling machine to groove parts.

Lumsden said this equipment makes it possible for anyone to build products only a large engineering firm could build a decade ago. The printer, laser cutter and milling machine all cost at least $1,500.

To raise money for this equipment and to receive tax benefits, the organization chose in August to become a nonprofit organization. Lumsden said becoming a nonprofit also matches with their purpose of becoming a community organization and not a business. Jeanne Dietsch of Peterborough, another Monadnock Makers founder and a technology entrepreneur, said on Monday they are hoping to become a nonprofit under the umbrella of the Monadnock Center for History and Culture, at least to start out. Becoming your own nonprofit is over a yearlong process. Dietsch said the Monadnock Makers would like to start accepting donations soon.

Becoming a nonprofit allowed the Monadnock Makers to apply for the Entrepreneur Foundation of New Hampshire’s AMP NH grant, with the support of the town and Director of Public Works Rodney Bartlett. Thirty organizations selected by this foundation will compete for two $25,000 grants that will be awarded Oct. 16. They will participate in a “pitch camp” workshop to learn how to better pitch their ideas. Six organizations will be chosen as finalists to present a three minute pitch on the night of Oct. 16. Two of the six organizations will be awarded this grant.

Dietsch expects the group to be one of the 30 finalists, because they have a strong proposal. Although, she said, “You have no idea who you are going up against.”

In addition to buying equipment, the organization would also use the grant to rent out the first floor of the Guernsey building. RJ Finlay and Co. is offering the space to them at a lower rate, because they are a nonprofit. Dietsch said the deal is to be finalized, once Monadnock Makers are insured to rent the space.

RJ Finlay is allowing Monadnock Makers to use the space for their open house on Oct. 3, and to host classes in the building prior to their opening. Lumsden said their goals for the open house are to attract the interest of the public, and to start bringing hobbyists and other “makers” together.

On Aug. 21 at the organization’s twice-monthly meeting, they spoke about having a tutorial of a 3-D printer at the open house. Engineer and Monadnock Maker leader Murray Michaels of Peterborough and Lumsden are experimenting with Michaels’ printer. They have built a plastic duck and cube. Visual artist Rachelle Beaudoin of Peterborough, also a Monadnock Maker founder, offered to display jewelry made using a 3-D printer and clothing that emits sounds. The event is open to the public.

Lumsden said it’s too early to estimate how much membership to Monadnock Makers would cost. MakeIt Labs, a makerspace in Nashua , has two membership options, a $40 basic membership and a $75 professional membership.

Lumsden envisions Monadnock Makers allowing members to use all the equipment, and have the option of taking classes and seminars where they teach students how to build something step-by-step.

Lumsden said, “We definitely want to be involved with things that kind of accelerate or amplify people’s creativity.” If someone came into their makerspaces with a “far-fetched” idea, Lumsden hopes they can say, “Well actually you could totally do that thing. We can point you in the right direction.”

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