A Partwork As A Hackspace Course

If you watch a lot of TV just after Christmas, you will be familiar with partworks. Or at least, you will if you live in the part of the world this is being written from, and if you aren’t you should count yourself lucky. The premise is simple: buy this magazine once a month, and in each issue you will receive a fresh component which you can assemble over time into a beautiful model of a galleon, a Lancaster bomber, or a patchwork quilt.

The value for money offered by such publications is highly suspect, the quality of the finished item is questionable, and though the slick TV adverts make them sound alluring you’re much better off buying the Airfix model kit or just cutting your own patches.

There’s a partwork that caught our eye which may be worth a second look. It’s probably unfair on reflection to call it a partwork though as it doesn’t deserve to be associated with the scammier end of the publishing business. Swansea Hackspace are currently running a six-week all-inclusive course designed to introduce the participant to robotics through a step-by-step assembly of an Arduino based robot. Tickets were £60 ($85) to hackspace members, and all parts were included in that price.

At first sight it might seem a little odd to feature a course. It’s not a hack, you’ll say. And though the little Arduino robot is a neat piece of kit, you’d be right. It’s hardly ground-breaking. But the value here doesn’t lie in the robot itself, but in the course as an exercise in community engagement. If you are involved in the running of a hackspace perhaps you’ll understand, it can sometimes be very difficult to persuade timid visitors to come along more than once, or to join the space. Hackspaces can be intimidating places, after all.

The Swansea course holds the promise of addressing that issue, to say to an interested but non-expert newcomer that they needn’t worry; if they have an interest in robotics then here’s a way to learn. This community engagement and spreading of knowledge reveals an aspect of the hackspace movement that sometimes remains hidden, and it’s something we’d like to see more of in other spaces.

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.

Continue reading “Hackerspacing in Europe: ACKspace in Heerlen”

The Nottingham Hackspace


Hackerspaces (or hackspace in this case) come in all shapes and sizes, from those just starting up, to some that are very impressively equipped. [Dominic] wrote in to tell us about the Nottingham Hackspace, which would fall solidly into the second category. We’d invite you to take a look at their intro video after the break, but be prepared to wish you lived near their location.

If you do happen to live there, in addition to a nicely polished website and intro video, they have nearly 4500 square feet of space at their facility. Naturally they have the now ubiquitous 3D printers, but they also have an impressive array of more traditional as well as computer-controlled tools. These include a lathe, welders, CNC router, laser cutter, and even basic PCB-making facilities. Storage space is also included, both for member projects and bicycles.

So be sure to check them out. They have around 130 members right now, but naturally would love to see you there! Continue reading “The Nottingham Hackspace”

Bronze casting with MakerBot

That, dear readers, is the smell of a new Hackspace opening up in Davenport Iowa. It is also the lovely scent of burning plastic. Because how do you celebrate a new Hackerspace? By casting bronze coins of course!

Begin by having a MakerBot extrude plastic coins, then compact the plastic coin in sand to produce a mold. Heat up your bronze in a trashcan furnace and pour it into the mold. The plastic melts away and you’re left with a bronze coin.

There are probably some safety measures and precautions that should be followed as well…