Tour of Chicago hackerspace: Pumping Station One


As you may know I was on vacation in Chicago last week. I got a chance to jump on the blue line train from Chicago’s downtown loop for a short trip out to the Addison stop where I caught a quick bus ride over to one of Chicago’s hackerspaces: Pumping Station One. I was given a tour by some camera-shy members that were there when I popped in. The space had a large welding area with lots of equipment, metal lathes, metal brake and woodworking equipment. You name the shop tool, I think it was there. I even think I spotted a functioning scanning electron microscope! WOW!

The lower workspace was quite extensive. Yes, there’s a second-floor having sewing machines, vinyl cutters, 3-D printers and an entire room dedicated to electronics and robotics. Also, they are in the process of expanding to make the space even larger. If you’re in Chicago I recommend you check them out, it’s an amazing space and an easy commute from downtown.

I hope my iPhone video is good enough to show off their splendid space.
Follow along after the break to learn more and get a glimpse inside Pumping Station One.

The main entrance sported a gathering center with a full bar where members hangout, chat, have meetings and play instruments. During my tour a couple of members were wheeling in a fresh keg of beer so there’ll be plenty reason for singing later.


  1. Ren says:

    NERP, Not Exclusively Raspberry Pi

    A new term for my vocab

  2. raster says:

    PS:1 is pretty awesome! We should probably do an updated video for Milwaukee Makerspace, as we moved into a 16,000 square foot facility at the beginning of the year.

  3. Protolamer says:

    Man put some effort in the videos or omit them altogether. Swish, swosh and everything is rushed and blurry.

    • Mike Szczys says:

      Thanks for the feedback — we’ll try to do better. That being said, I’m happy to get even a “swish, swosh” peek into a space like this one.

    • Todd Harrison says:

      I do apologize. I was on a family vacation and only had my iPhone with me when I realized I had a short opportunity to visit PS:1.

      • Vonskippy says:

        Nice maker space.

        //Why is it only Apple fops say “iPhone” where every other normal person on the planet just says “phone”?//

        • Todd Harrison says:

          I’m not sure what a “fobs” is but I just got my first apple product 3 weeks ago so I refer to it as an iPhone just to distinguish it from my 6yr old HTC phone my daughter had given me when she upgraded. Does that make me a “fobs”, not sure? I was thinking of putting in “iPhone S” so that viewers know what video from the “S” looks like when uploaded to YouTube. I myself wasn’t sure what it would look like as I had never taken video on a phone before. I think it turned out OK, but wish I hadn’t left my video camera at home.

          • Eirinn says:

            Just call it a phone, it seems horribly pretentious otherwise ;) Calling it iPhone S wont be any better since there’s several iPhones with the S suffix. It is true though, I’ve never met anyone who would refer to their phone by their model name EXCEPT if it was an iPhone. :)

      • colecoman1982 says:

        Personally, I thought the video was pretty good. One suggestion I’d make is that a quick run through something like VirtualDub with the Deshaker filter would probably eliminate most of the shaking related to holding the camera/phone in unsteady hands.

      • Eirinn says:

        Honestly i think the video was ok, quality was a little low, but it was more than fine. :)

    • static says:

      IMO poorer video is better than non. Having said that while there’s nothing actually bad with the iPhone video, Hackaday “corporate” should spring for video cameras, along with external microphones. where Hackaday videos may end up on YouTube, I really can’t blame anyone reluctant to go on camera. Thanks to Todd for squeezing a little work in while on vacation.

  4. loans says:

    We aren’t expanding so much as rearranging. We just muscled the SEM across the shop on Sunday, to make room for our hot metals relocation, and the under-construction plasma table.

  5. greenbacks says:

    I live in Chicago and always wanted to go there just can’t find the time!

  6. Robot says:

    The Rust Belt seems like a good region to have hacker spaces. I imagine equipment to be fairly cheap and that there are a number of skilled workers to pass on their craft.

    Is this crazy talk?

    • colecoman1982 says:

      No, you speak truth. However, as a longtime member of Pumping Station: One I can tell you that I don’t think Chicago can really be considered a part of the rust belt in the way you are referring to it. Rent and equipment are significantly more expensive here than in other areas like the Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

      • Robot says:

        Fair enough, the Chicago Land Area seems to be thriving (thankfully).
        Though I have spent a number of summers exploring abandoned mines and factories in LaSalle which lends to my general impression of IL.

  7. macona says:

    Wow. it’s like my garage only cleaner. Well, add parts of my house too…

    I have way too much stuff.

  8. Dave K says:

    Awesome, i didn’t know something like this existed in the area. I’ll have to plan a visit to Brew and Grow and time it to coincide with one of the orientations.

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