FAQ

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Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

What is a makerspace?

A makerspace, aka hackerspace, is a shared community workshop, where members and guests can use amazing tools, learn how to build almost anything, and find camaraderie doing so. In our case, we're democratically run, with our membership operating the ship. We are a friendly community of tinkerers, makers, hackers, educators, scientists, artists and crafters, and we welcome anyone who is, aspires to be, or just wants to hang around with folks like us!

What are some of those 'amazing tools'?

You can find a list of our tools and equipment elsewhere on this wiki. One thing about a makerspace is that things are always being made, so the list might be a little out of date. We suggest you email us with questions about specific tools or, better yet, pay us a visit!

Are there any times that tools are not available?

Generally, "Full Maker" members have 24/7 access to all the tools and equipment. Exceptions are when members are probationary (usually new members), when the 'space is closed due to some unforeseen "emergency" (a power outage, for example), or when that specific tool or equipment is out of service due to maintenance or other issues. On some rare occasions, use of certain tools or equipment may be restricted when such use would interfere with another event at the 'space.

Who runs everything?

Rockford MakerSpace has no paid staff. It is completely volunteer run by members, with an Operations Committee of members overseeing.

Do I have to be a member to use the shop?

No, but certain tools and equipment are restricted to members only and/or require training/certification before use. Also, as a non-member, you may only use the shop during "open shop" times, or when a member is available and willing to host you. One of the perks of membership is 24/7 access. Check our Calendar page for scheduled events and open shop times.

Do I have to be a member to attend events?

It depends on the event. Most of our events are open to the public, but some are limited to members only. Please check the description of the specific event for details; events are generally open to the public unless specifically listed as "members only."

May I bring my child?

Yes, but all minors must be accompanied by an adult who is engaged with them while in the shop. Keep in mind that it is a shop with tools and projects that sometimes involve fumes, hot things, and sharp things. It may not be the safest place for very young children unless diligently watched.

How do I contact you outside public hours?

Your best bet for a quicker, more accurate response is by email: contact@rockfordmaker.space. As an all-volunteer operation, with no paid staff and no "business hours," we have no "operators standing by." In fact, if you call us, the call will go to voicemail, and any message you leave will be transcribed and sent to that same email inbox!

Do you do 'work-for-hire'?

Generally, no. We are not a 'work-for-hire' shop. Although some of our individual members may be willing to take on 'work-for-hire' projects, we, as an organization, do not do that.

Can you help me develop a new product?

Again, generally the answer is no. We are not a product-development or entrepreneurship assisting organization. If you are trying to develop a new product or startup business, you may find that joining Rockford MakerSpace will give you access to tools and talented individuals (our other members) which might be helpful in your endeavour.


Questions About Membership

I joined your Facebook page, Twitter Feed or other social media site. Does that make me a member?

Sorry, no. We use those sites to help get the word out about our organization and events. But joining any of those does not make you a member of Rockford MakerSpace.

How do I become a member?

Start as a guest, apply for membership, start paying your dues, endure a short probationary period, and voila! Click here for the details: Becoming a Member

How much does membership cost?

We have different levels of membership, with different benefits and restrictions. Click here for all the details: Membership Rates

Are there any other costs or fees?

We have a few minor charges to help defray costs of some equipment and consumables, but none of these are required expenses. For the most part, these charges are "at or near cost."

  • We charge new members a one-time key fob fee ($5 as of the time this is being written).
  • We charge a small usage fee for some equipment to help defray the cost of maintenance of those machines. (Currently, this is 20 cents per minute for laser cutting/engraving, 50 cents per half hour for vinyl cutting, and 2 cents per gram of 3D-printed filament.)
  • We charge for consumables, unless you provide you own. (Currently, this is 3 cents per gram for 3D printer filament, $3 per square foot for vinyl used with the vinyl cutter, etc.)
  • We offer beverages and snacks in our break room for our members and guests, but you're welcome to bring your own. (Currently, 50 cents per can of soda, 75 cents per bag of microwave popcorn, 50 cents per bag of chips, etc.)

If I become a member, is there a long-term commitment?

No. Our memberships are pay-as-you-go, month-to-month. You are welcome to pay in advance, but we do not require any membership commitment -- other than obeying our member rules, of course!

What are the rules for members and guests?

You can find our rules and guidelines on our Member Handbook page. One of our members summarized them as "Don't be a jerk!"

As a probationary member, when can I attend?

We'd love to have you join us during our regularly-scheduled Member Meetups. You are also welcome to attend whenever an event*, such as a class or workshop, is occurring at the 'space, or whenever another non-probationary Full Maker or higher member is there that is willing to "host" you. Once you complete your probationary period, as a Full Maker or higher, you will have 24/7 access.

  • Note: There may be some events that are "closed" to probationary members (unless participating in the event), including any event in which there are safety concerns and/or attendance has specific "hard" limits. But those are very, very rare. If in doubt, please don't hesitate to ask.

What are the restrictions on 'Casual Makers'?

Casual Makers have all the benefits of Full Makers, except they are limited to one guest and do not have 24/7 access. Casual Makers may attend our regular Member Meetups, classes and other events, are entitled to member discounts, and may use member-only tools, but they may not use the 'space at other times unless another Full Maker is willing to "host" them. See the Membership Rates page for more details.

How can I reduce my membership dues?

  • You may downgrade your membership from Power Maker to Full Maker, or from Full Maker to Casual Maker.
  • Full Makers and Power Makers may reduce their membership dues through Growth Credits (earned by participating in the operation, promotion and growth of Rockford MakerSpace), by new member referrals or by requesting a "starving maker" (hardship) discount. See Discounted Rates for more details on each of these options.


Questions About Classes and Events

How do I know what classes you offer?

Descriptions of our classes and other events are on the Events page on our website, and here on our wiki. Classes and events that are open to the public are listed on our Calendar, and are usually published on social media such as Facebook.

How do I sign up for a class or other event?

Most of our classes, and some of our other events, require registration. Visit our Events Registration Page.

How do I pay for a class or event?

Normally, you can pay with a credit or debit card, or even using your bank account, via PayPal. Payments can be made immediately, thereby confirming your registration. For some events, we will accept payment via personal or business check, but your registration is neither confirmed nor reserved until we have received payment, and your may lose your spot if your payment is lost or delayed. For security reasons, we strongly discourage cash payments, but in some rare cases we may choose to accept "cash at the door."

Why can't I just "pay at the door?"

Most of our classes and events have a limit to the number of participants they can accommodate. Too often, someone will register for an event, but then not show up on the day of the event. This not only reduces our income, but also robs another interested person of an opportunity to attend. We used to allow "pay at the door," but too many people abused it and forced us to take a firmer stance.

Why do the prices vary?

We try to keep our prices low to provide opportunities for everyone. Some of our events are more costly to produce, and we have to pass that extra cost along to those attending.

Why do some classes or events require payment in advance, require greater notice of cancellations, etc?

Some of our classes and events require more upfront preparation and investment. Most of them have limited capacity. Too often, people see an event that sounds interesting, so they sign up but never show up. Doing that costs us time and money, and robs others of the opportunity to attend. Requiring payment in advance and earlier cancellation notice helps to reduce this.

Why was I charged the non-member rate for an event when I am a member?

If you signed up to attend an event, and did not attend without providing adequate notice, you have effectively prevented someone else from attending. We charge you the highest (non-member) rate that an attendee would have paid. You may bring any issues to the Operations Committee, and they will be judged on a case-by-case basis.

When is a class or event canceled due to weather?

Generally, we will cancel events only when we are forced to do so for reasons that are beyond our control or when the situation rises to a level of severe hazard. Routine weather events, such as snow in the winter months, are unlikely to cause us to cancel; terms like "tornado," "blizzard," "dangerous sub-zero windchill," and similar, are more likely to cause a cancellation. If the Rockford Public School District (RPS 205) has not cancelled classes, chances are that we will not cancel an event.

When we do cancel an event, we will usually try to notify registered attendees via email, and post notice on social media, such as Facebook or Twitter.

I paid for a class. Can I get my money back?

We will offer your choice of a refund, or registration at the next event (if available), when

  • we cancel an event due to weather or other circumstances.
  • you cancel your registration with adequate notice (per the event's cancellation policy), unless the event is listed as a "no refunds" event.

Can I schedule a class or event for a private group?

Yes, we are currently working on plans to accommodate private group events. Please contact us (contact@rockfordmaker.space) for further information.