Hackerspacing in Europe: Open Garage in Antwerp

garage space anthony

Welcome to Europe’s smallest(?) hackerspace, whose owner, [Anthony Liekens] might just have the biggest heart! This is the Open Garage!

You might remember the recent post about the 3Doodler in the wild. That was done by [Anthony] and his close friend [Deepak]. After we shared his project he contacted us by email, opening an invitation to visit the Open Garage — as it turned out, we were going to be in close proximity to it in Antwerp, Belgium! After visiting Void Warranties, [Anthony] invited us over for a beer and tour of his unique hackerspace…

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So what makes this Europe’s most unique and perhaps smallest hackerspace?

Well, it’s just [Anthony's] garage for starters. He loves hackerspaces and is a very active member of Void Warranties — but also likes his own tools — of which he has a lot. So he’s decided to open up his personal garage to the community once a week on Thursday evenings. There are no member fees to pay, and everyone is welcome. It has been running for almost 2 years, and in all that time, there was only one Thursday that [Anthony] was by himself! His wife holds crafting groups in the basement of the house — so it works out well that they each have their own little community of makers.

He does have a donation jar, but the main method of contributing to the space is by drinking. People need to bring their own beer (it’s a part of life in Belgium), and it just so happens the bottles have a deposit on them. Members of Open Garage leave their empties, and the bottles pay for [Anthony] to replenish the components drawers containing basic electronic parts.

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He has a very nice CNC mill that was donated by a local school — It was the one seen in the 3Doodler post. They have had to rewire it and install new drivers to make it work, but the group was more than up to the challenge.

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Here are some of the test prints from the 3Doodler hooked up to the CNC machine — it was really cool to come and see one of our featured projects in person!

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This is the main workbench. On the far left you can make out a 3D printer, the component drawers, and many tools along the wall.

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Here’s a close up of the resident 3D printer of the Printrbot variety.

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A view of the other bench — there’s also a CNC lathe hiding under the table that hasn’t been hacked fixed yet.

It’s a small space, but works great. On average about 10 people come out on a weekly basis, but he has more than 100 members registered through MeetUp.com

open garage hospitality

And finally, here’s me. Writing this post from his guest bedroom — which doubles as the kid’s playroom. I think this picture sums up [Anthony's] generosity and community spirit when it comes to all things hacker. Oh did we mention he’s driving us to Eindhoven tomorrow to see MadSpace and the Dutch Design Week?

If you’re ever in Antwerp — you have to come check out the Open Garage, and Void Warranties for that matter. The people here are just great! Oh and if you need a skilled maker, code monkey, or bioinformatician — please check out his site at #AnthonyNeedsAJob — He’s participating in an exciting start-up soon, but in the meantime would love to do some short contract work! We recommend this guy 1000%.

Thank you [Anthony]!

Comments

  1. Downing says:

    I was in Antwerp about 3 years ago and it’s a remarkable place. I only wish I were more into this kind of thing back then and could have found these guys and shared in the European maker scene.

  2. Thanks for the karma.

    BTW, it’s “Open Garage” and our meetup page is over at http://opengarage.org

  3. pcf11 says:

    That must be nice to be able to do.

  4. Dave says:

    Damn.. Been in Antwerp like 3 times a month.. Never visited. Should have.

  5. Sasha says:

    Wow, this is a great idea! Imagine how many people’s garages are filled with tools left unused for months, if not years, at a time.

    Also, as per the smallest hackerspace, CoreDump in Switzerland is tiny, at only 17m^2. I think their garage + basement is a little bit bigger ;).

  6. Roel says:

    Nice read!

  7. Rob says:

    The link to “void warranties” is not correct.
    The English main page is http://voidwarranties.be/index.php/Main_Page/EN .
    And just for the record: Anthony is not a “void waranties” member, however he did help out in the early stages when we started. In general there is a high level of collaboration between the Belgian hakerspaces. (since Belgium is a rather small country).

  8. Woohoo yeah Open Garage for the win! Cya tomorrow Anthony ;). Incidently I live about a 5 min drive away from this little hackerspace and whenever I get a chance to visit on thursdays, it’s allways a blast!

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