Hackerspacing in Europe: The Chaosdorf in Düsseldorf

chaosdorf

Today we had the opportunity to visit our very first German Hackerspace — the Chaosdorf in Düsseldorf. They are a member of the much larger organization of the Chaos Computer Club, which is Europe’s largest association of hackers. Mostly focused on all things computer-based, they love tinkering around with Raspberry Pi’s and their very own Makerbot Replicator II.

After a long day of wandering around the trade show, we arrived on the doorstep of the Chaosdorf, and pressed the small green door buzzer…

We were welcomed into the large 180m2 hackerspace / computer lab by a friendly character by the name of [Robert]. He introduced us to some of the other members and began to give us the grand tour. What a cool space!

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Immediately inside is a small room dedicated to storing and fixing bicycles for both members and guests. Continuing on we enter the main lounge area that features comfy couches, a big window onto the main streets, and a projector screen for movie nights and presentations.

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There’s even a small area to sleep upstairs!

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Further in is the main computer area, which features a nice messy bench of electronics, monitors, and spare parts!

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They recently purchased a Makerbot Replicator II which sits in front of one of the bedazzeled pillars from the buildings origins as a nightclub (more on that later…)

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The printer is run off this computer, conveniently housed in an old NES!

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Deep in the back of the space is the electronics workshop — which also serves as a bottling room for their very own home brewed beer — which we can confirm, is actually quite good!

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They recycle and clean all of their bottles — their favourite? Hermann Brause lemonade.

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Sometimes they even make labels for it! The Chaosdorf is quite well known among the CCC for their beer brewing abilities — and they almost always bring some brew to the big conferences to sell.

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They also have a full kitchen, and a discount deal with one of the other local restaurants — so if you’re ever hungry, there’s always something available.

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Inside the old cold room from the buildings days as a club is their server room. Electricity is rather expensive in Germany so they have focused on reducing their footprint as much as possible. Almost all the lights are LEDs and everything is hooked up to a home automation system using several Raspberry Pi(e)s!

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Here’s a fun intelligence test they like to give new members. It’s a 10lb sledgehammer with a USB plug sticking out of the end.

There are usually three typical outcomes:

  1. They set the sledge hammer on a table to plug their notebook in, risking damage to the USB port.
  2. They stand the sledge hammer on the floor, and balance their notebook precariously off the end of it.or the smart ones…
  3. Go grab an USB extension cable from the closet.

But then nothing happens. So people try repairing the USB device, checking the drivers, etc… until they realize, it is quite literally, just a USB plug — with nothing attached.

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They also have weekly talks and presentations — this one was about dentistry… or something… It was in German, so we weren’t quite sure.

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Finally, here’s a running joke they have in one of the back rooms designated for smoking — electrical earth.

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All in all, it was a very cool place, and a great hackerspace to visit first! But a lot of work went into it to get it to where it is today…

The building is nearly 100 years old, and its previous function was a rather sketchy nightclub. In fact — it was closed down due to violence. The place remained empty for almost 10 years, before the owners decided to try renting it out again. Chaosdorf found it and spent almost a year of renovating — just check out the pictures on their site.

Next stop, the Garage Lab — Also in Düsseldorf!

12 thoughts on “Hackerspacing in Europe: The Chaosdorf in Düsseldorf

  1. The sub headline should read:
    “Willkommen im Chaosdorf in Düsseldorf”
    (a “dorf” – village – is neuter in German)

  2. One of the local hackerspaces here (Post Tenebras Lab) are based out of what used to be a super sketchy music studio/grow room/sauna. I guess it’s the perfect breeding ground for hackerspaces these days :D

  3. I already was at Chaosdorf multiple times last year, however I found that the situation there is that more people use it for their office for their work-at-home jobs and it’s rather sad seeing all the material and location with a great potential in such a situation.

  4. I’ve actually seen a car audio install that was ‘earthed’ like that. The owner was an electrician and wondered why it wouldn’t work O.o

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