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Public Lab Research note

Kits Initiative 2017 Wrap Up!

by Bronwen | December 06, 2017 21:38 06 Dec 21:38 | #15324 | #15324

2017 was an exciting year for Public Lab Kits Initiative. We welcomed new team members said goodbye to others, moved our store from its longtime home in Portland Oregon (so long, City of Roses!) to Providence Rhode Island (the donut capital of the USA!), introduced new variations of our aerial mapping kits, and most recently launched our Community Kits program, a initiative designed to support new kits collaborators in developing and sharing their tools with the rest of the world. Read on below to see some of the things that happened this year!

Kits Team Staffing Changes

Longtime Director of Production (and Public Lab founding member) Mathew Lippincott left Public Lab to pursue other projects, and were joined by myself, Bronwen Densmore as Open Hardware Community Manager and Amanda Snow as our new Inventory and Shipping Manager.


Over the summer we ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to introduce two variations to our aerial mapping kits: a mini kite kit, and a mini-balloon prototyping kit, both of which take advantage of newer, lightweight cameras. Nearly all of our rewards have shipped, and the two kits we introduced in that campaign have joined the rest of our store offerings (and are currently on sale for 15% off with discount code 2017FLY)

Kits Move

In August the kits store was packed into boxes, loaded into a truck and in early September it was delivered to its new home in Providence. The store itself went on a short hiatus while staff got busy sorting boxes, moving things back and forth, building shelves, printing labels, and doing all of the things we needed to do to get back into the swing of things in a new space. By mid October we had resumed shipping orders, and we are excited to be building relationships with community partners in Providence (by now some of you may have received a Public Lab poster: designed for our Kickstarter and printed at AS220, a great Providence makerspace).

Community Kits Program!

We're excited to announce our Community Kits Program, an opportunity for community members to collaborate with the Kits Initiative to develop new tools and kits for distribution through the Public Lab store! We're excited to day that we've already got a few teams of folks ready to get started on projects we hope to be sharing with you all in the coming months, and we invite anyone who is interested in proposing a project or finding out more to start posting their ideas to the website, join us on an open call, or reach out to to find out more! Stay tuned for more information/announcements in the coming week.

Looking Ahead

We're grateful to all of the collaborators and contributors to our kits and hardware projects (and community at large), and want to send out a big thanks to everyone for their contributions this past year. Some of the things we're looking forward to in the year ahead include:

  • Streamlining documentation processes across the store and the website so that it is easier to share (and find) project documentation.
  • Adding new kits (and new KINDS of kits) to the store.
  • Inviting more people to participate in the kits design/production process, via Community Kits and other forms of outreach/collaboration.
  • Keeping up with connections/communications with community members on the Public Lab website and all of our social media and communication channels so that you guys all know what the kits team has been up to (and how you can get involved!). Stay tuned for monthly report-outs from all of us, and participate in conversations about kits-team stuff online.

BIG THANKS TO EVERYONE, for a productive year (growing pains and all!). We're looking forward to all of the relationships and collaborations we build in 2018 and beyond.


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