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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Makers’ Mountain House Promises Productivity Without Distraction

Maker's Mountain House Retreat

Ever wish you could take your projects with you on vacation? Do you ever take time off from your job just to work on things at home? What if you could combine an actual vacation retreat, with the thing you love most — making? A group of people are starting to plan the Maker’s Mountain House, and it sounds pretty interesting!

Makers Mountain House will be a  mountain retreat and makerspace, whose purpose is to provide time and space for makers to create. Makers Mountain House will be open to the public June through October, and reserved exclusively for makers and artists, November through May.

It’s still completely in the planning stages, but the organizers sound pretty serious about making it a reality. It’s planned for somewhere in Upstate New York (unconfirmed) – so if you’re interested in something like this, do them a favor and fill out the quick survey they’ve posted.

And no – just in case you’re wondering – the picture above is just a stock image of a barn. It is rather pretty though! They plan on having shared work spaces in larger buildings, as well as private cabins for people to stay in.

[Thanks KwartsLab!]

Hackerspace Tour: EG MakerSpace in Victoria, Australia

EG MakerSpace

We’ve just heard word that the East Gippsland MakerSpace, located in Bairnsdale, Australia needs more members! They sent us a wonderful tour video, and their place looks simply awesome.

It’s a very large facility (looks like an old school) that might even rival some of the biggest hackerspaces we saw during our Hackerspacing in Europe tour — seriously they have a room for everything!

They have all of the basic stuff like an electronics lab, a woodworking area, a community lounge, the kitchen, a metal working area, a general arts and crafts area. But then they also have a sound booth (in progress), an aromatherapy and massage room, a pottery room, a sculpture room, a multi-purpose hacking room, the network server room, a retro arcade and computer training lab, and loads of storage!

Stick around for an official walk-through tour by the founder [Scott Lamshed]!

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Cold Call Pop-In To The FreeSide Atlanta Hackerspace

Freeside Atlanta

I was recently in Georgia for a for a non-HaD reason. This was my first trip to Georgia and it was hot, really hot, something I’m not too accustomed too. They also have nice condition roads there, something else I’m not accustomed too. I did have some free time while down there so I hopped on hackerspaces.org to see what was around. There were several spaces that were within driving distance but Freeside Atlanta was the only one that had an open event while I was available. That was the sole reason for my decision to stop in and I’m glad that happened because I had a great time.

Freeside AtlantaNot long after entering I was greeted by a member, my new pal [Steven], who turned out to be the president of the group. After a quick exchange of pleasantries [Steven] started showing me around. My first impression was that the place was inviting. It seemed pretty big and there was little clutter. There were plenty of tables for working on your project and shelves with parts and components. These spare parts were not piled all over the shelves but were in boxes labeled with what was inside. I liked this because it was neat, tidy and it would be easy to find exactly what you were looking for. I know from experience that keeping this level of organization is hard in a community workshop environment.

Freeside AtlantaGetting back to the tour, I was shown a separate dedicated classroom that holds 16 students, complete with dry erase boards. I passed a bunch of open work areas and tables as we continued into the space. A little further down there was a lounge area with couches and a huge projection screen next to the kitchen where I enjoyed some member-baked cookies. At that point I thought I had seen the entire space, but I was wrong, there was another door along what I thought was the back wall. That is the entrance to the shop area.

The front part of the space was pretty big, the shop was at least as large. I later found out that the entire place is about 5500 sqft. They have a pretty capable wood shop with work benches, a table saw, miter saw, planner, etc, not to mention plenty of hand and power tools. Moving a little further back there is a metal shop complete with mills, lathes and welders. There’s also a little CNC Router for cutting out parts. If this wasn’t enough so far, there’s a CO2 laser cutter, which was my favorite part of the tour….

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