Hackerspacing in Europe: ACKspace in Heerlen

ACKspace group photo

Welcome to the ACKspace in Heerlen. So far this has been one of the coolest hackerspaces we have visited — and super hospitable! What makes this space really neat is the location. It’s on the first floor of a mostly empty office building. They have three official rooms on the first floor. The Hackspace, the Slackspace, and the Stackspace — quite self-explanatory.

ACKspace welcome

We were greeted at the train station by [Patrick] who very conveniently offered to pick us up and take us directly to the ACKspace! Thanks [Patrick]!

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This is the 10 storey office building that ACKspace resides in. They take up most of the first floor and (somewhat) have free reign of the rest of it.

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This is the Slackspace, where members relax, watch movies and play games. It might be a bit too comfy!

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They also have a food and beverage accounting system which makes use of a bar-code scanner. Seems to be a common theme among hackerspaces as the first and most important project for any space. The software was written Bash, because, why not!

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Recognize these tables? They are the cheap “LACK” IKEA ones, which just so happen to be the perfect width for a server.

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…They also make great projector supports from the ceiling!

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They also have an old Coke machine they are planning on hacking — it’s still a work in progress but they like to call their projects processes instead, because a project implies an end date.

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A very cool portable telephone box one of the members is working on — we’ll cover it soon!

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While that may look like an old Macintosh, it’s actually just the case.

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On the inside is an array of RGB LEDs. It looks great!

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One of their resident 3D printers, a UtilimakerIMG_0617 (Custom)

A great key organizer using Ethernet jacks. Potential hacks could have the keys detected!

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The large switch on the right is the main “power” switch that changes the status of the space — Members and guests alike can then check the website to see if anybody is home.

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They also have a nice wall of components, in addition the Stackspace which was not shown since it is a bit messy.

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The LED wall clock changes the display every 20 seconds. First the date, then the time…

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…and then again in Unix time.

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Leaving the ACKspace we began to tour the rest of the building. There is a large empty cafeteria on the first floor as well, which can be used by anyone in the building.

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Or not?

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This is perhaps one of the coolest features of ACKspace. Two floors of empty parking garage below ground. Can anyone say laser tag?

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This is an example of one of the many empty spaces on the floors above. Only about 20-25% of the building is occupied. The rent is very cheap (around 250 euros a month for 3 large rooms), but you need to bring a portable shower if you plan on living in one of these spaces.

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They originally wanted the 10th floor, but the landlords didn’t want a lab on the top — so there is a dance studio there instead. They also would of had to run new Ethernet lines to it, as it was never wired up. Did we mention ACKspace runs the IT for the building? They also maintain the magical server room that doesn’t exist.

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Great view from the top! From the roof it is said you can see the Germany and Belgium — great for new years and watching fireworks from every side.

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The building next to theirs wasn’t so lucky — it’s been taken over by squatters. Gotta love Dutch law!

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On the roof you can find a few server cases…

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And a antenna.

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Turns out it’s a T-Mobile station!

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Even though the building is mostly empty, it is sometimes difficult to use the elevator. Only one still works because it costs a lot of money to recertify them every year — so the owners of the building only do one.
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Laser tag pistols.

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Here’s a fun silly hack, the spring hinge on the waste bin broke — so they added a counterweight!

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Club-Mate as usual. If you haven’t noticed yet, every hackerspace drinks Club-Mate (pronounced Club Mat-ay). Only problem is, it’s only sold in Germany, so almost all hackerspaces also go on Club-Mate runs and buy many cases in Germany to bring back home.

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A few of the members enjoy lock picking but the thing we liked about this is the label — it tells you whose it is, who can use it, and other important things. Most hackerspaces use this system and it is quite effective in keeping things organized.

We really enjoyed our time at ACKspace and hope to come back soon! If you live anywhere in Europe, it is definitely worth of a visit!

Comments

  1. kittenmiser says:

    That thing called a server appears to be a Dell fast ethernet switch with a couple lonely gigabit ports. They have VoIP phones, RJ-45 drop cable panels. No wonder why they are called ACKspace. Does that make it a SYN to come visit?

  2. Vicarious says:

    You’re welcome to visit when our hackerspace is open!
    The open/closed status of our hackerspace is mentioned on our website and also via SpaceAPI

  3. Sasha says:

    That’s a really cool space, I love their projects! I can see that there are a lot of creative members, and I’m sure a basement laser tag would be convenient!

  4. Orion says:

    Robosapien! :D

  5. Indyaner says:

    I can see why you started the post with the sentence “the coolest hackerspaces”. It really is. Wow.
    Every hackerspace should have a key-panel with ethernet-connectors. Every.

  6. Acidum says:

    Laser Tag? How about Rovers and UAVs test area? RRRrrrrr….

  7. Tom van Veen says:

    Nice write up! Only the 3d printer is called an Ultimaker ;-)

  8. Eli-0 says:

    I love the IKEA table used as a 19″ rack.

  9. BertoA says:

    I have been in Ackspace and I have to admit; this are are nice people. Yes, the slackspace is seductive. Last summer we met again on OHM2013.

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