Touring Null Space Labs, Another LA Hackerspace

Null Space Labs prides itself on being the only hackerspace that’s not saving the world. Instead, they focus on more important matters such as repairing an industrial pick and place machine, hoisting laser cutters through third story windows, and generally being extremely awesome. Since some of the Hackaday crew is in LA, we decided to check in on the folks at Null Space, and they graciously granted us a tour.

It’s not an overstatement that Null Space is better stocked than any university EE lab. They have at least four million electronic components, and they honestly have no idea how many different types of components they have. As for tools, a 22 GHz spectrum analyzer and 2 GHz scope are tucked away behind a direct to garment printer. A gigantic laser printer, pro 3D printer, PCB milling and through-hole plating stations, and pick and place machine are just a few more of the fun toys available to Null Space members.

In the video below, [M] walks us through the main electronics work area, filled to the brim with tools and storage cabinets. After that, [arko] shows off the PCB mill and the back room with reels of parts strewn asunder.

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Hackaday southwest tour

Earlier this summer, I took a trip through the southeast of the country. On this trip I was able to visit several hackerspaces and meet some really great people. We started at Squidfoo in Springfield Missouri. Then Moved on to Makers Local 256 in Huntsville Alabama. After that we saw 7hills hackerspace in Rome Georgia as well as Freeside hackerspace in Atlanta Georgia. The final leg of the trip took us to Chatt*Lab in Chattanooga Tennessee and the Hacker Consortium in Nashville.

For this trip, I am taking my family to the Grand Canyon. Well, that’s the part the kids are looking forward to. I’m looking forward to more hackerspaces and fantastic people. If you’re along the route from Springfield Missouri to Flagstaff Arizona, let me know (we’ll be hitting roswell NM on the way back too). We can go a little out of our way, but not hours.  I would really love to visit some hackerspaces on this trip and do a video tour. You can comment here or hit me directly at

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Hackerspace introduction: Makers Local 256 in Huntsville Alabama

When I announced I would be traveling through Alabama and Georgia this summer, [Tim] from Makers Local 256 emailed me pretty quickly and asked if I’d like to swing by for a visit. Since I was planning to take my kids to the space center in Huntsville anyway, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to tour another hackerspace.

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Hackerspaces and Hackaday

It should really go without saying that Hackday LOVES hackerspaces. We want to support hackerspaces to the best of our ability. There have been many ideas tossed around, like a hackerspace directory, or hackerspace calendar of events, project lists, tool exchange programs, etc. For the short term, we can’t implement either of those in a smooth enough fashion that we think it would beneficial. There are several Hackerspace directories out there, with seeming to be the most up-to-date. We even have an “events” area in our forums, though we feel there could be a much better format or delivery device than a forum for that kind of information.

So what can Hackaday do to start helping? Well, the first small step could be to share more information about hackerspaces. We would like to do video tours of your hackerspace. Unfortunately, we don’t have a budget to travel around with a film crew and visit you all. I really wish we did, since I would probably be the one doing the traveling.  So what we can offer for now is that you film a tour, showing off some cool projects going on in your hackerspace, and we’ll share the video.  Contact me directly at to work out the details. Your hackerspace doesn’t have to be a huge one in a big city. We want to help everyone here. If you have a few people gathered and a couple cool projects, we don’t care if you meet in someone’s basement. We want to see what the hacker community is doing!

Toward the end of May I will be spending a few days in Huntsville Al, then a few days in Hilton Head Island SC. I’d love to visit a hackerspace or two while I’m there to do a quick video tour. Again, contact me directly if you’re in those areas.

Spend your weekend contributing to the exploration of space

Earlier today we posted a link to a tournament NASA is holding. NASA is trying to crowdsource the organization of terabytes of data collected from missions all over the solar system. A few Hackaday readers wrote in (thanks [grbgout] and all the others) to tell us there is an International Space Apps Challenge going on this weekend to crowdsourse solutions to the problems of space flight.

The challenge is the product of a partnership between NASA, the National Science Foundation, the UK  and Japanese Space Agencies and a host of other organizations like GitHub, Yahoo Developer Network, and even a few hackerspaces. The idea behind the challenge is simple: spend a weekend solving software, hardware, and science challenges to improve the state of space sciences.

There are a lot of interesting projects like programming an interface to a NASA mission simulator, figure out how to print 3D objects in space, and even develop the hardware and software for an underwater ROV.

Aside from the fancy software and hardware challenges, there are also some very interesting data visualization problems, like clearly explaining the fact that space is mostly empty. If you can figure out how to tell people they aren’t the center of the Universe, take a shot at it – there’s probably a Nobel in Literature in it for you.

Right now there are dozens of locations on all seven continents and in Low Earth Orbit (McMurdo Station in Antartica and the ISS) that will have people contributing to these projects. Of course you’re free to work out of the home and help scientists, engineers, and researchers reach to the stars.

Chinese hackerspaces, or, what happens when a government is run by engineers

Government leadership in Shanghai wants to build 100 community hackerspaces funded by the Chinese government. Each space will be at least 100 square meters, open 200 days a year, and come equipped with wood and metal lathes, saws, drills, grinders, mills, and more electronics than we can imagine.

The official government statement (translated here) says the Shanghai Science and Technology Network wants to build a few dozen ‘innovation houses,’ ostensibly to create a breeding ground for new, innovative ideas and to nurture young builders.

The first Chinese hackerspace, Xin Che Jian, opened last year and they’re doing some pretty cool stuff. A RepRap Mendel is already on the build roster (pictured above) along with a few quadrocopters and small racing robots.

As far as what this means for western countries, we’re going to editorialize a little bit and say that government-funded hackerspaces would increase innovation a little bit more than watching our representatives argue about homosexuals or taxes. Who knows, if this Chinese experiment proves successful, it may move out of Asia and onto the Americas and Europe.

via reddit

Workshop 88 hosts a near space balloon contest


Launching high-altitude balloons to take pictures of the Earth from space is great fun. Heck, even credit card commercials are now suggesting you cash in your rewards points to organize a space balloon adventure for you and your friends.

Capturing snapshots of the Earth from space is such a good time that Workshop 88, a hackerspace located in the Western suburbs of Chicago, is making a contest out of it. They recently kicked off their second annual “Hackerspaces in Space” competition, a contest to see who can build the best near space balloon for under $250. The contest pits individuals, groups, and hackerspaces against one another, assigning each team a score based on the performance of their high-flying rig.

The winner of the contest will have their design replicated by the crew at Workshop 88, who will then hand out the space balloon kits to randomly selected K-12 schools around the country.

If this sounds interesting, but a contest entry just isn’t in the cards, you can always support the kit distribution by funding their Kickstarter project here.