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The Geek Group's Hacker-Oriented High Voltage Lab In Michigan Damaged by Fire 65

Tech educational collective The Geek Group, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has more than 25,000 members, scattered all over the world — most of whom have never been to their flagship location in Michigan. Sadly, a fire Thursday damaged one of the facilities at their Leonard Street Labs (damage report starts about 26 minutes into this video), the High Voltage Lab. Since there aren't that many places for amateurs and hobbyists to learn about high voltage (even with the growing number of maker spaces around the world), that leaves a hole that hopefully will soon be filled; lucky for anyone interested, The Geek Group welcomes volunteers.
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The Geek Group's Hacker-Oriented High Voltage Lab In Michigan Damaged by Fire

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  • Not again... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 03, 2014 @09:29PM (#45862559)

    Why is it that every couple of years something catastrophic happens to the group that severely impacts their progress, and trivializes the hard work of many contributors? And, why does it *have* to be something that’s amplified by the group’s “quirky” management who are clearly out of their league?

    My prediction is that their insurance won’t cover this. Eerily enough, the building’s lack of a fire alarm was also made evident. They will have a salvage mission on their hands and they will beg for private donations to cover the expense. Donator’s contributions burnt up in this incident, and donators will again have to swoop in and clean up the mess.

    I have no confidence that the group will cease to have these periodic, major incidents. And, I caution everyone to consider that fact before engaging yourself, and especially participating in one of their far-too-often fundraising drives.

    I’m sure everyone is aware of my perspective by now, but regardless, it’s been published many, many times in the past that despite the majority of the members being reasonable and well wishing, the management of the group need shuffling.

  • Add to the heap (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 03, 2014 @09:31PM (#45862565)

    There's been a lengthy discussion over at HaD regarding the fire:


  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 03, 2014 @11:59PM (#45863145)

    Washington State University has a great one too. As an undergrad, I played in there a bit. In the power lab, I got in trouble for experimenting with seeing how many devices I could cascade before I couldnt get useful power out the other end. I started with a 10HP DC-AC motor-gen set and did a bunch of three phase transformer connection to a couple other gensets and all kinds of other stuff in series until I could only power a 100W lightbulb at the end. The prof came in and made me calculate the efficiency and verify all my other connections and told me he would give me extra credit if everything was perfect and none of the equipment was being operated outside its nameplate ratings. It was all good and I aced the class but went into RF and analog design anyway because power engineering was dead at the time.

  • by Obliterous ( 466068 ) <shawn...somers@@@gmail...com> on Saturday January 04, 2014 @03:45AM (#45863911) Homepage Journal

    Disclaimer up front: I am a IRC moderator and web volunteer for the Geek Group.

    Remember the shrunken quarters that you used to be able to get over at thinkgeek? Yeah, The Geek Group made them. you can still buy them over at thegeekgroup.org/store

    I'll be the first to admit that a lot of people don't like Chris Boden, but really, what large organization DOESN'T have a personality conflict or two?

    Yeah, Chris can be kind of a dick at times, but this whole thing started as his dream, and still is. You'd be a dick too, if people were fucking with or fucking up YOUR dreams.

    Please keep in mind, tho, that every story has more than one viewpoint, and there's more than one person that has been asked to leave and never come back, and some of them stir up shit as often as they can.

    As for the clutter in the room, the area has been used to store a lot of spare parts, both new and used, like high voltage power supplies, actuators, and parts for various future projects.

    So Yeah, lessons have been learned, the cleanup has already started and plans for rebuilding are being made and executed. Maybe they'll even be able to find a smoke detector that can handle being next to a 100KW arc.

    If you're interested in helping out, chatting, or just seeing what the Geek Group is all about, I suggest you watch their videos on youtube, visit their web page, and/or come join us in IRC @ irc://irc.thegeekgroup.org/#thegeekgroup

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 04, 2014 @08:02PM (#45867703)

    Nope, not affiliated with one of the hackerspaces in town. I don't live in town anymore, but I do work with another hackerspace in Michigan. You know, one that has been open to the public for YEARS. As long as Chris is associated with the space, I wouldn't touch it with a 20' pole -- and I advise others to do the same. I'd offer you to look at the other makerspaces in town and around town to see what a real, sane and SAFE makerspace looks like -- not one that just has lots of tools and a lunatic that has no idea how to use them safely.

    I used to volunteer at TGG in the 90's. That was, until Chris pulled a gun on a fellow member and fired it inside the space. That was also the day that he illegally hooked up one of the tesla coils directly to the outside pole on the space on Ionia, and that fellow member threatened to call it in to the power company.

    Why post as an A.C.? I am truly worried he might hunt me down. The dude is unstable and has been.

  • Re:Grand Rapids? (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 04, 2014 @08:24PM (#45867793)

    I'm sure Chris will promise to have the space open within 2 years, just in time for another major mishap that pushes it back again. It's the way that it's been going since about 1998.

    Or you could join as a "member". He gets to yell at you, berate you, and have you clean his shit. If you don't, he kicks you out.

    There is lots of other cool shit happening in the city. Take advantage of those and avoid this asshole instead.

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.