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.

[Read more...]

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.

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]!

[Read more...]

Solderless Noise-o-Tron Kit Makes Noise at Chicago Makerfaire

Noise-o-Tron

Anyone who’s manned a hackerspace booth at an event knows how difficult it can be to describe to people what a hackerspace is. No matter what words you use to describe it, nothing really seems to do it justice. You simply can’t use words to make someone feel that sense of accomplishment and fun that you get when you learn something new and build something that actually works.

[Derek] had this same problem and decided to do something about it. He realized that in order to really share the experience of a hackerspace, he would have to bring a piece of the hackerspace to the people.  That meant getting people to build something simple, but fun. [Derek's] design had to be easy enough for anyone to put together, and inexpensive enough that it can be produced in moderate quantities without breaking the bank.

[Derek] ended up building a simple “optical theremin”. The heart of this simple circuit is an ATTiny45. Arduino libraries have already been ported to this chip, so all [Derek] had to do was write a few simple lines of code and he was up and running. The chip is connected to a photocell so the pitch will vary with the amount of light that reaches the cell. The user can then change the pitch by moving their hand closer or further away, achieving a similar effect to a theremin.

[Derek] designed a simple “pcb” out of acrylic, with laser cut holes for all of the components. If you don’t have access to a laser cutter to cut the acrylic sheets, you could always build your own. The electronic components are placed into the holes and the leads are simply twisted together. This allows even an inexperienced builder to complete the project in just five to ten minutes with no complicated tools. The end result of his hard work was a crowded booth at a lot of happy new makers. All of [Derek's] plans are available on github, and he hopes his project will find use at Makerfaires and hackerspace events all over the world.

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.

[Read more...]

Hackerspace intro: Greenville Makers in Greenville, South Carolina

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If you happen to live in the Upstate of South Carolina, and your New Year’s resolution was to get involved with a hackerspace, the [Greenville Makers] are definitely worth checking out. Right now they have several projects their members are working on, including a VoIP payphone (work in progress), and of course several 3D printers and various electronics projects.

They meet at 6:00 on Mondays to discuss projects and group goals at their current location at [CoWork Greenville], and have a dedicated space to keep tools and work in progress. They’re actively recruiting new members, so if you’re a hacker, artist, or just like observing other people’s projects, you should definitely give them a look. Alternatively, you can check out their forum to introduce yourself.

Special shout out to [Chris] for getting things together originally, as well as [CoWork] for helping establish an initial space to work and meet in. We look forward to some great [HAD] material coming out of [GMG] in the future!

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