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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Hackerspace Tour: IXR in Wall, NJ

IXR2

Hackaday took a little trip out to Wall, NJ last weekend for the Vintage Computer Festival 9.1 East. The event was held at Camp Evans, a former US military installation that can only be described as, ‘The DARPA of a century ago”. This is the site of a Marconi transmitter and the place where [Edwin Armstrong] developed the regenerative receiver a little more than 100 years ago.

There’s a lot more to Camp Evans than a vintage computer festival once a year – it’s also home to MARCH, the Mid-Atlantic Retro Computing Hobbyists, InfoAge, a retro technology museum, and IXR, the Institute for eXploratory Research, a hackerspace located in the old telecom building at Camp Evans.

In our video tour, [Joe Wilkes] takes us around the shop, showing off their equipment and tools. Unlike most of our hackerspace tours, we couldn’t find a Makerbot sitting disused on a bookshelf anywhere, but the space did have a Solidoodle 3D printer, a Shapeoko 2 CNC machine under construction, and enough hand tools to bring any project to fruition.

There were a few oddities in IXR compared to the other hackerspaces we’ve been to. First is an inordinate amount of synths, keyboards, and other MIDI gear. [Joe] didn’t know what these were for, so we’ll leave that explanation for an IXR member in the comments of this post. There was also a small supply of random components for sale (and on display). Most of the merch was from Adafruit, and it seems like a great way to have that one part I need to finish this build for members while providing a little bit of beer money for the space.

Pics and video below.

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Hackerspace Tour: Xerocraft In Tucson, Arizona

xero

While we try to get out to as many hackerspaces as possible, we can’t be everywhere. Not wanting to wait for a Hackaday compatriot to roll through their dusty town, the folks over at Xerocraft in Tucson, Arizona sent in their own video tour of their space.

We’ve seen the Xerocraft space before when [Caleb] rolled through town on his south-west tour a few years ago. Since then, a lot has changed; they have a new, larger, and cleaner space a few miles north of the old one. There’s also a huge increase in the number of tools. While the old space had all the usual metalworking tools, the new space has a much improved wood shop and more 3D printers than anyone can shake a stick at.

From the video, it looks like a great space, and from their blog it looks like they’ve got some really cool projects under their belt. If you’re a member of a hackerspace, we’re always looking for some tour videos. Be sure to send them in so you can share your space with the rest of the Hackaday readership.

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Dallas Makerspace Tour

dallasMakerspace

[Paul] sent us this video tour of the Dallas Makerspace made by member [Andrew Floyd], who walks us around and provides narration for a very impressive space. Once inside the 6000 sq ft facility, he takes us past the entrance lounge and into the electronics room, which has more electronics component storage than visible wall space, and down the hall to show off some laser-cut and 3d-printed creations.

Every makerspace has its specialties, and the Dallas gang shows off their awesome darkroom (complete with creepy, lurking Nic Cage) and blacksmith/forge work areas. They even have bi-weekly blacksmithing classes from a local master blacksmith. The space has since expanded, conquering their next-door-neighbors to expand project storage, add a biolab, a second classroom, a conference room, and more.

Enjoy the video after the break, and then head over to their website for more info: dallasmakerspace.org.

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Hackerspace Tour: Milwaukee Makerspace

hackerspace-tour-milwuakee-makerspace

I had the opportunity last Thursday to visit the Milwaukee Makerspace. I took along a video camera and had a great time on a tour guided by [Brant], [Matt], and [Vishal]. We’ve actually seen quite a number of reputable hacks come from this group already. A couple that come to mind include beer dispenser security and a bottle-free water cooler. This tour shows off a lot of the cool stuff going on at the space. Don’t miss the video after the break, but we’ll also give you the gist of it if you’re looking for a quick rundown:

We start off looking at their craft area, wall of fame (including all their Power Racing Series medals) and laser cutter room. From there we take a peek at one of the big rooms that serves as for-rent floor space and pallet storage. This part of the tour includes a look at Red Lotus and Big Jake-stein, two of the PRS cars used this season. The storage tour rounds up with a look at their set of 19 vaults — these are like deep self-storage closets for members. The space spices things up with awards for best vault of the month.

Moving on to the next large space we encounter this huge Kuka KR 30 industrial robot arm that they acquired for free! A room has been built around the 2500 pound beast for safety and they are working on building their own controller for it. Right now it’s got a jig that holds a spindle motor making it a CNC router. This enclosure is in a larger space that makes up the machine shop and welding area. Through a door is a woodshop that includes a big panel saw which they pick up on Craig’s List. The tour wraps up with a walk-through of the electronics den and a tour of the 3D Printer hangout.

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European Hackerspace Tour

Eurotrip

Wow! What a response we received on our Calling European Hackerspaces post! First off, thank you for such a warm welcoming to your hackerspaces. It looks like HaD is going to have to be way more active in touring and profiling hackerspaces!

Now unfortunately we’re just not going to have time to visit all of the ones suggested, but we’ve outlined a few of the ones we definitely want to check out!

We created a Google spreadsheet to help do this, so if your hackerspace has been mentioned, OR if it happens to be very close to the others and you really want us to come, please fill out some contact info on the spreadsheet so we can setup a time to visit! If you don’t want to put contact info in a shared document, send an email to the tips line instead with the subject [European Hackerspace Tour]. Because its unlikely our trip will coincide with any open nights, we’d love (need) to have someone to show us the space at potentially odd hours!

I will be writing an individual post for each hackerspace tour with lots of photos and details on all the juicy projects you guys are working on. And if we have time, we might even film the tour!

Once again, thank you for the amazing response and we can’t wait to meet all of you in person!

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