Adventures in Hackerspacing: GA Tech’s Invention Studio

 

GaTech's Invention Studio

We feature hacker/makerspaces of all kinds here at Hackaday, and these days, encountering a hackerspace at a college or university isn’t uncommon. School-backed spaces are often mildly impressive, too, with plenty of room and better-than-most equipment.

Georgia Tech’s Invention Studio, however, is different. This space is nothing short of staggering.

Once you’ve walked past the wall of commercial-grade 3D printers lining the entryway, you’ll find yourself in the Electro-lounge, a general meeting and hangout room with some basic tools. Each room beyond has a specific purpose, and is packed full of equipment. We aren’t just going on a tour, though, because this is Adventures in Hackerspacing. Click through the break for a behind-the-scenes look at how this hackerspace provides a top-rate experience for its makers and how Invention Studio thrives with an entirely student-run leadership.

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The Proto BuildBar is Exactly What it Sounds Like, and it Sounds Awesome

Proto Build Bar Combines a Pub with a Makerspace

 

People of Dayton, Ohio have a new reason to get excited with the opening of what is perhaps the world’s first Bar/Makerspace.

Called the Proto BuildBar, it’s kind of a cross between a 3D printing lab, a makerspace, and a cafe. Hang out, drink, eat, 3D print — sounds like most hacker spaces we’ve been to, but this might just be the first one with a cafe being it’s main business model!

The World's Largest Claw Game?

It’s even home to the World’s Largest Claw game, or so they claim.

It has just opened, with a recent press event on Thursday, which was covered by a local news blog. While Dayton has long since been called a technology hub (what with Boeing and other high tech companies in the area), opening the Proto Buildbar is hoped to bring new life to the surrounding area!

For more information on Proto BuildBar (including hours of operation), you can check it out on Facebook.

[Thanks Load.Nikon!]

Hackerspace Tours: Omaha Maker Group

omg main pictureMembers of the [Omaha Maker Group] in Omaha, Nebraska affectionately call their space The Makery. This hearkens back to their humble beginnings in a 900 square foot space that formerly housed a bakery. There was one measly electrical outlet and they had to travel to the nearest restroom, often on vehicles they made. It was in this small space where they built the workbenches and forged the friendships that created the inviting hangout they have today.

[OMG] has been in their current, more centrally located space for the last two years. It was there that I met [Eric] and [Ben] for a few hours in the evening before Maker Faire, for which they are largely responsible. [Eric] had spent the day setting up at the Omaha Children’s Museum and he and [Ben] were kind enough to give me a detailed tour.

MAMEThe new space is a progression of rooms that begins with a combination lounge and meeting space. Here you’ll find the beer and snacks, the brag wall full of framed articles, and one of the remote controllable web cams. A few of the founding members have since flung themselves around the world, but are able to participate through these links. The best part of this room is either the PVC-framed Raspi MAME cabinet or the sign on the bathroom door which doesn’t discriminate against androids.

 

modified Mendel

Next up is a smallish room with their 3D printer, a modified Mendel with a spool holder made by one of the members. There’s a large pile of glue sticks next to it to help prints adhere to the bed. That was a new one to me. [Ben] says they work almost too well. Next to that is their K40 C02 laser cutter that they modified to operate only when closed (!). They’ve also added LEDs and an exhaust fan. The cutter was internally crowdfunded in about three days. This method works well for them according to [Eric]; no one spends money on equipment they won’t use. They are currently in the process of building a second, bigger one using a donated frame.

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Welcome to the Garage of the Future

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Over the last several years, hackerspaces have cropped up all over the world. These places have become a home base for hackers, tinkerers, makers, designers, and engineers alike. One of the biggest problems associated with these creative environments is the hours that are typically available. A lot of the time you just can’t walk in at odd hours of the night and expect to do anything at all. Granted, the best hackerspaces give out 24 hour access keys to those that pay for it, but sometimes it just feels better to do the work from the comfort of one’s home. Also, if a person doesn’t have the privilege of having a hackerspace in the area, then transforming a garage into a work shop can provide a nice entry point into the continuation of the maker revolution.

A trend is emerging where garages are being turned into hackerspace-like workshops that are neatly packed away within ordinary neighborhoods. A great example is EdsJunk Home Shop. His two car garage was converted into a maker shop complete with 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC machines, and more tools than one can dream of. The key, as [Ed] states, to creating such a useful home shop is organizing everything strategically.

This project has been a 5 year venture so far and there is still plenty to do. Years of experience have taught [Ed] to coordinate the tools in out-of-the-box ways. His air compressor, for instance, is stored in the attic with a retractable hose descending from the roof down into the garage which helps to save space and reduce noise.

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Hackerspace Tour: Syn Shop, Las Vegas

While we were at DEFCON, we had the chance to visit a few places in the area that are of interest to the Hackaday readership. We made it over to Syn Shop, the Las Vegas hackerspace.

Years ago, this area of town was home to the Greyhound bus depot, complete with all the adventures associated with that. Since then, Zappos set up their HQ nearby, massive amounts of money flowed in, and gentrification got a big thumbs up from the decaying casinos in the area. Syn Shop is just down the street from the Denny’s with a bar and the twelve story tall slot machine with a zip line, making this space perfect for the community outreach that is lacking in so many other hackerspaces. In the hour or so I was there, no fewer than two groups of people took a gander through the plate glass asking themselves if this was ‘one of those makerspaces or something’. It’s a far cry from hackerspaces found tucked away in business parks, and something that has worked well for the members of the shop.

[Andrew Bogerri] took me around the space, first showing off the PDP-11/23 which you can drive around with a remote control. Yes, it works. No, not Unix. Yes, the entire stack should weigh about 500 pounds, but the guts of the RL02 drives were replaced with something considerably more modern. Just think of it as a 200 pound remote control car, with the momentum that goes along with that.

Syn Shop has a huge space for classes, and the tutors to go along with it. Classes range from CAM design and CNC operation, to tutorials on how to use the huge ShopBot in the space. There’s also a craft night, plenty of help available for running the laser cutter, and enough electronics paraphernalia to work on anything in the sub-Gigahertz range.

Even though most of the Syn Shop members were away at the Rio getting geared up for the con when I went through, you could still tell the space is constantly buzzing with energy and spurious emissions. I caught up with a few of the other regular members at the Hardware Hacking village at the con, but that’s a subject for another post.

Pics below.

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Makerspace Tours: HexLab in Tarzana, California

This time around, we dive into the world of 3D printing and laser cutting at a local community-driven space near Van Nuys, California. We were invited to visit HexLab Makerspace by [Jonathan] and [Mike] who own and run the company. They showed us the large selection of resources that they have made available to the public. This includes a variety of 3D printers, laser cutters, industrial sewing machines, 3D scanners, computer workstations, wood working tools, manual metal lathes, heaps of testing equipment, a leather embossing/hot stamping machine, and even a plastic injecting machine. And yes, they have a ventilator too.

With all this equipment, HexLab has the ability to prototype practically anything that floats into the mind of someone walking in the door. Specialties include paper craft, costume tailoring, laser etching wood products, manufacturing acrylic glass objects, and much more.

What makes this place different from a lot of other makerspaces is the history of the company. Originally, they started as a Research and Design firm about 14 years ago and have recently opened up the doors to the outside community. Because they began as a business that was previously similar to a hackerspace, they had already acquired the necessary tools for the space. The change makes the tools accessible to entrepreneurs, artists, designers, and musicians alike. This has bred a fantastic teaching environment where the community helps each other through the learning process.

In the future, HexLab plans to continue hosting classes and has even hinted at an up-coming mobile project that is certain to spark a local and portable maker movement. Eventually, they would like to help develop a sustainable model that can be given out to other makerspaces in an effort to assist in the creation of additional places like this. In the meantime though, we look forward to seeing how the community grows through them, and what types of amazing products with be produced out of their space.

Hackerspace Tours: Pasadena City College

Pasadena City College is putting together an amazing combination of tools, education techniques, and innovative projects pinning them on the map as one of the best hackerspaces in the Southern California area. Led by [Deborah Bird], the Director of the Design Technology Pathway at PCC, and Sandy Lee the DTP Faculty Chair, this Fab Lab provides students with cutting-edge workshops and internships that will define future jobs.

We were invited to the space by Joan Horvath, the VP of Business Development over at a local 3D printing store called Deezmaker, after meeting her at an Arduino electronics class taught by a young, talented maker named [Quin]. When we arrived, we were greeted by several students who were working on a 3D printed portable map for the blind which was created for an elementary school nearby. The team behind the design attempted to step out of the visual world and into unfamiliar unsighted territory. One of the members gave us a tour of the space showing us the tools and resources they had made available to PCC students. A variety of 3D printers, ventilators, CNC machines, laser cutters, metal lathes, and even a chainsaw were found inside.

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